Zac Gallen (SP-ARI) went the distance during Friday afternoon's tilt at Wrigley Field, firing a complete-game shutout against the Cubs. He scattered three hits (all singles) and one walk while punching out nine, throwing 71 of his 107 pitches for strikes. Gallen came up big for Arizona in a crucial matchup between two Wild Card contenders, delivering a 1-0 victory despite having no margin for error. He improved to 15-7 with a 3.31 ERA in the process while establishing new career highs in innings (187 2/3) and strikeouts (195). It was only Gallen's second career shutout, too, with his first coming back in 2021. Friday's performance was an encouraging rebound performance for the All-Star hurler after he surrendered 11 runs and 17 hits in 10 2/3 innings over his previous two outings combined. Gallen proved why he's Arizona's ace in this one and lines up for a somewhat easier road start against the Mets next week.
Jameson Taillon (SP-CHC) took a no-decision on Friday against the Diamondbacks despite throwing six innings of one-hit ball. Taillon allowed only a single and a walk while racking up a season-high nine strikeouts over six scoreless frames, but unfortunately for him Zac Gallen was even better and threw a complete-game shutout. Taillon threw 52 of 77 pitches for strikes, so he was efficient with his pitches as well. He did not allow a home run for the first time since July 29 and lowered his ERA to 5.27. It's been an up-and-down season for Taillon, who can't seem to find any consistency in what has been his worst season as a professional. A career-worst home run rate has played a major role in his struggles as well as an elevated hit rate, so he needs to do a better job of limiting hard contact. With his next start coming up at Coors Field, it's probably best to fade him there at such an important stage in the fantasy season.
Willson Contreras (C-STL) powered the Cardinals to a 9-4 win over the Reds on Friday, going 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, two runs scored and a walk. Contreras opened the scoring with a three-run shot in the top of the first and St. Louis cruised from there. It was the 18th homer of the year for the veteran backstop, five of which have come in his last seven games. He has 10 RBIs during that stretch as well, raising his season total to 61. Despite a slow start with his new team after signing a giant contract in the offseason, Contreras has his numbers back up to his career levels and is only two bombs away from his third straight 20-homer season. At 31, he remains one of the best-hitting catchers in baseball and is a top fantasy option behind the plate for the rest of 2023 and looking ahead to 2024.
Yoan Moncada (3B-CHW) stayed hot in Chicago's 6-0 win over Detroit on Friday, going 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs. Moncada broke a scoreless tie in the seventh with a two-run shot, homering for the third game in a row. He also singled, making three straight multi-hit games for him as well. With the White Sox already well out of contention, he's been on fire over the past few weeks, hitting safely in eight straight games and 12 of his last 13. It's encouraging to see Moncada finally hit his stride after struggling and being hurt for much of the season, boosting his average to .264 and his OPS to .726. The 28-year-old former top prospect has only shown flashes of living up to his potential, and he's running out of time to become the star player that many expected him to become. He's been an overall disappointment in both real life and fantasy, but there's still some time to salvage this injury-riddled campaign.
Trea Turner (SS-PHI) remained unstoppable at the plate on Friday, going 2-for-3 with a solo homer, two runs scored, a walk and a stolen base against the Marlins. Turner picked up right where he left off in his first game back from paternity leave, going yard in his first at-bat of the game. He later singled, walked and stole a base for good measure, but it still wasn't enough as the Phillies fell, 3-2. The dinger was his 23rd of the season and seventh game in his last eight with a big fly. He's now hit safely in 16 straight games as well with multiple hits in four straight, lifting his average to .265. Turner has been the hottest hitter in baseball for over a month now and is showing no signs of slowing down, carrying his fantasy teams to the playoffs after being a massive disappointment in the first half. It's been quite the redemption arc for Turner in his first year in Philly, proving that he's still capable of being an elite player after looking totally lost for months.
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