Phil Hughes (SP-NYY)- Hughes earned another loss on Thursday, as the Angels were able to take an 8-4 win over the Yankees. The right-hander didn't pitch that poorly, allowing only three runs on six hits and one walk in six innings of work. Hughes struck out five, but did manage to allow another home run. While his ERA is now hovering at 4.97 (4.71 FIP and 4.38 xFIP), Hughes is essentially the same pitcher he has been in seasons past. His HR/FB ratio (12.5 percent) is almost identical to last season's (12.4 percent), but the difference is that he is allowing a few more walks (2.52 BB/9) and his line drive rate is up from 19.4 to 22.4 percent. Yankee Stadium has not felt like much of a home considering 17 of his 23 home runs allowed have come in the Bronx, and he has 3.67 ERA on the road. Hughes might be worth looks on the road for daily fantasy players, but he does not deserve to have that roster spot in standard leagues.
Sonny Gray (SP-OAK)- Gray made his second major league start on Thursday, and delivered a strong performance to help lead the A's to 5-0 win. The rookie right-hander threw eight shutout innings to earn his first major league win. He allowed four hits and one walk while striking out nine. Gray almost averaged 94 mph with his fastball, and he has relied mostly on his curveball and slider while mixing in a change-up. With two strong performances, it is hard to imagine Tommy Milone reclaiming his spot in the rotation anytime soon. Gray has shown above average control (2.10 BB/9) in his brief stint, but I have been impressed with his ability to consistently miss bats (11 percent swinging strike rate) and generate ground balls (46.7 percent). Even if Gray is on an innings limit, Gray is worth a pickup for owners in any league. Making half of his starts in Oakland is another plus.
Casey Janssen (RP-TOR)- Janssen threw a perfect inning on Thursday to record his 22nd save of the season, and preserved the Blue Jays 2-1 win over the Red Sox. Janssen now has a 3.15 ERA in 40 innings this season, and his DIPS (2.72 FIP and 3.27 xFIP) are even more impressive. The veteran struggled the other day in a non-save situation that caused his ERA to inflate, but he has remained reliable despite dealing with some shoulder problems. Janssen's velocity is down across the board on of his pitches, and it helps to explain the drop in his strikeout rate. Janssen has made it sound as if he will continue to pitch throughout the rest of the season, but it is worth wondering whether or not the Blue Jays might shut him down towards the end of the season. In that case it might be wise to keep an eye out on Brett Cecil and Sergio Santos, but I expect Janssen to remain in the role. His control is still above average (2.25 BB/9), and he generates his fair share of ground balls (46.4 percent).
Wil Myers (RF-TB)- Myers turned in one of his better days at the plate on Thursday night, as he went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs scored and four RBI. The rookie is now hitting .326/.379/.524 with nine home runs and five stolen bases in 47 games (208 plate appearances). With a .385 wOBA and 150 wRC+, Myers has been everything owners hoped for since being called up in June. While August has not been his best month, Myers has shown better plate discipline and has improved his walk rate to 8.4 percent. His strikeout rate continues to be a concern (22.7 percent), and his 11.9 percent swinging strike rate indicates that number could increase over time. With that said, Myers has produced a 22.7 percent line drive rate that has fueled his .385 BABIP. His ability to steal some bases is an added bonus, and he has been worth the payoff for owners who drafted him rather high in March.
Trevor Plouffe (3B-MIN)- Plouffe went 2-for-4 with a home run to help lead the Twins to a 4-3 win over the White Sox. The home run was his twelfth of the season, and he managed to improve his line to .236/.299/.393. Except for that home run outburst in the middle of last season, Plouffe's numbers over the last three seasons have remained very consistent. His wOBA has ranged from .308 to .327 to .305, but I do think the some improvement is coming. Plouffe's strikeout rate has taken a step back this season increasing back to 20.7 percent, but his 7 percent swinging strike rate is the best of his career. In addition, Plouffe has been hitting line drives at a 24 percent rate but he has been unlucky with balls in play for most of the season (.267). Owners looking for power from third base and the infielder might want to consider.