MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels

It was a wild night in baseball and certainly for your Fantasy Baseball teams if you rostered any Astros or Rangers batters. The two teams engaged in an intense battle, providing fans with a rollercoaster of emotions. The Rangers took an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but the Astros answered back with four runs in the bottom of the inning. The see-saw nature of the game continued, with the Rangers regaining a 5-4 lead in the second. However, the Astros fought back and tied the game 6-6 in the fifth. The drama escalated as the Rangers surged ahead 9-6 in the top of the seventh, only for the Astros to hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the inning. The game came down to the wire, and the Astros secured a thrilling 10-9 victory on a walk-off single in the ninth.

We'll dive into some notable performances from that game in the Fantasy box score column, what to make of Yu Darvish's struggles, a pair of Tigers to get on your radar and more.

Notables from Astros-Rangers thriller

  • Josh Jung had an impressive performance, going 2 for 5 with his 20th home run of the season.
  • Travis Jankowski also stood out, going 2 for 5 with a run and RBI. He boasts a .319 batting average, with one homer, 15 bags and an .812 OPS this season, making him a valuable asset, especially against right-handed pitchers.
  • Alex Bregman contributed significantly, going 3 for 5 with a double and two runs scored.
  • Chas McCormick had an outstanding game, going 2 for 3 with a walk and a career-high six RBI, including his 13th home run of the season. Chris Towers and the FBT team have been discussing -- including Tuesday's podcast -- McCormick's recent surge in performance, and it seems that he's gained popularity among Fantasy managers. He currently holds a .282 batting average, 13 homers, steals, with an impressive 10% walk rate and 26% strikeout rate. His underlying stats, such as an 88.1 AVG EV and 10% barrel rate, suggest he might be an intriguing addition to your roster. Currently, he is rostered in 55% of leagues. Add McCormick now if you need help on offense.

Starting pitcher question marks

A topic of debate among Fantasy managers that Frank brought up on FBT is whether to choose Kenta Maeda or Tarik Skubal for the rest of the season. Skubal showcased a strong performance in his recent outing against the Giants, completing five innings without allowing a run and he racked up nine strikeouts. His past four starts have been promising, with a 3.71 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and an impressive 12.2 K/9. Skubal's 83% rostered status indicates a growing interest in his potential.

On the other hand, Maeda has been consistent in striking out batters. In his latest start against the Mariners, he pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing only one earned run while striking out eighth. Maeda has demonstrated his ability to rack up strikeouts, averaging 16% SwStr rate over his last six starts. He's currently rostered in 80% of leagues.

Rest of season, I prefer Maeda due to the track record. Both are probably sell-high candidates.

Drop-O-Meter on Gray

Jon Gray has been experiencing a rough patch since developing a blister in June. His struggles continued in his recent game against the Astros, where he allowed six earned runs over five innings. Gray's increased usage of his slider was a tactical move, but it didn't yield the desired results, with opponents managing a .204 batting average against the pitch and a 37% whiff rate. 

His recent numbers show a 6.49 ERA, 1.79 WHIP, and a concerning 9% SwStr rate. Despite these challenges, Gray remains rostered in 90% of leagues, so managers are torn about dropping him. Considering you won't find any trade partners at this juncture, Gray is worth moving on from if you need the roster space.

What's wrong with Yu?

Yu Darvish showed promise after the All-Star break, but his recent game against the Pirates on Monday night raised some concerns. He gave up seven earned runs and four home runs, tying a career-high in a single game. Darvish's fastball, sinker, and splitter have seen a decline in velocity, which could be contributing to his struggles. 

While his underlying metrics like FIP and xFIP suggest improvement, his 3.2 BB/9 and 71% strand rate are worrisome. With a .311 BABIP, it appears that Darvish has been facing some tough luck. Fantasy managers are contemplating whether to buy low on him before their league's trade deadline. 

Big July for these Tigers

The Tigers are having a notable month, and some of their young talents are making waves. 

Riley Greene has been impressive, going 3 for 4 with a double and two runs. Over 13 games since his return, Greene is batting .370 with two homers. He's currently rostered in 78% of leagues.

Spencer Torkelson is another Tigers prospect who has been catching Fantasy managers' attention. In July, he has posted a .270 batting average with four homers and 14 RBI, boasting an .843 OPS. Torkelson's rostered percentage has climbed to 75%.

Kerry Carpenter is yet another Tiger to keep an eye on. In July, he holds a .281 batting average with four home runs and 16 RBI, showcasing an .885 OPS. Carpenter is currently rostered in 25% of leagues.

News and notes

  • Astros manager Dusty Baker said it's possible Jose Altuve can be activated without going out on a rehab assignment. Altuve has been out since early July with a left oblique strain.
  • Yordan Alvarez did not return Monday but the hope is for him to be activated on Tuesday or Wednesday.
  • Adolis Garcia has missed two straight after getting hit by a pitch on his right hand Saturday. He's day-to-day and should be able to avoid the IL. 
  • Brandon Woodruff will make his second rehab start at High-A on Thursday before likely moving up to Triple-A. He could rejoin the Brewers in early August.
  • Shane Bieber was transferred to the 60-day IL, which means he can't return until Sept. 10 at the earliest. He's on the IL with right elbow inflammation.
  • Clayton Kershaw is expected to throw a bullpen session Tuesday. He'll likely be re-evaluated after that to determine the next step in his rehab.
  • Starling Marte, who's on the IL with migraines, will likely require just the minimum time.
  • Byron Buxton was placed on the paternity list. Trevor Larnach was recalled by the Twins.
  • J.D. Martinez was out of the starting lineup Monday with hamstring tightness but expects to return on Tuesday.
  • C.J. Cron has missed three straight with lower-back tightness but is "getting closer" to a return to the lineup.
  • Kris Bryant has missed two straight after getting hit by a pitch on his right index finger this past weekend. 
  • Ryan Helsley was transferred to the 60-day IL, which means he'll be out until at least Aug. 12. Jordan Hicks should remain the Cardinals closer, assuming he doesn't get traded.
  • The Braves acquired Pierce Johnson from the Rockies and Taylor Hearn from the Rangers on Monday, looking to fortify that bullpen.