Fantasy Baseball: Hitter stock watch

Fantasy Baseball: Hitter stock watch

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Yasmani Grandal, C, Padres: He's finally all the way back from his oblique injury - Grandal has been hitting line drives all week - and he's a super plug-and-play this weekend, working at Coors Field for three games. Grandal already has three homers in 16 at-bats against the putrid Rockies pitching staff this summer, and he went deep twice during his first MLB start, which came late June in the thin air. Gravity always wins.
Josh Rutledge, SS, Rockies: A sore quad cost him a handful of starts this month, though Rutledge still gave us a homer and a steal as a regular pinch-hitter. He's finally back at shortstop, adding to a splashy 40-game debut (.350 average, seven homers, five steals). Don't worry if Troy Tulowitzki eventually returns to the fold - the Rockies want to see Rutledge at second base anyway, a position he played in the minors.

Trevor Plouffe, Utility, Twins: Thumb injuries are known for their ability to sap power, but Plouffe has finally gotten back to full health and he was locked in during the Seattle series, even if the results don't show it (3-for-13). See the forest for the trees here: Plouffe had a homer, four RBIs and three walks against the M's, and hit a couple of rockets right at defenders. Look for 4-6 homers in September, along with a useful four positions of eligibility in Yahoo! leagues.

Sell

Mike Aviles, SS, Red Sox: He only started one game at short during the Anaheim series, in part because the Red Sox have turned their final quarter of the year into community auditions. And while the Boston lineup was a fun place to be for most of the summer, it's a ghost town now: no more Gonzalez, Ortiz, Youkilis or Crawford. This probably won't be a Top 10 offense the rest of the way, and Aviles won't be a full-timer besides.

Matt Joyce, OF, Rays: He's fallen into some bad habits during the second half of the year (.217.293.342, 32 strikeouts, just three homers), and now a forearm injury has crept into the picture. The Rays also know Joyce can't be exposed against too many left-handed starters - he has a puny .620 OPS against them. In mixed leagues, you need someone more reliable (and someone who plays more often).

Joaquin Arias, SS3B, Giants: Manager Bruce Bochy is going to ride the hot hand with Arias, but anytime you see a .429 average tied to a .450 on-base percentage, be skeptical. Arias is an ordinary journeyman with a .280.318.389 line over 202 MLB games (just four homers). He might be worth holding if you need a push in batting average, but otherwise there's nothing to see here.

Many Machado, SS3B, Orioles: The opening weekend against Kansas City was a blast, but since then Machado has gone 9-for-50 with 14 strikeouts (and just two walks). Baseball is still hard, especially for a teenaged Double-A prospect who was having a so-so year in the minors. We still love the future for Machado, but we're not going to bet on his present. Growing pains are here.

Hold
Todd Frazier, Utility, Reds: He's turned into a surprising Rookie of the Year candidate, posting a handy .294-49-18-62 line and qualifying at three positions in standard Yahoo! leagues. Some gamers are worried about Frazier for the final month - Joey Votto is coming back soon, which means Frazier doesn't have the first-base slot to himself anymore - but we can't imagine Scott Rolen being hale for the balance of the year. Dusty Baker can also slot Frazier in the outfield if he wants. Trust the skills here, and have faith that Frazier will keep a spot, somewhere.
Nate McLouth, OF, Orioles: He's still zipping around with plus wheels, even at age 31, which is why McLouth has 15 runs and six steals during a snappy month with Baltimore. And while McLouth isn't going to threaten the warehouse too often at Camden Yards, he still can knock a ball out of the park now and then (two homers over 80 at-bats). Buck Showalter is a believer; he's using McLouth in the No. 3 slot against right-handed pitching. McLouth is a solid No. 5 outfielder or utility play in deep mixed formats.

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Giolito decent, but Nats offense falls short in loss to Colorado Rockies

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Giolito decent, but Nats offense falls short in loss to Colorado Rockies

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 5-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park.

How it happened: Given the circumstances of his start and the lineup he was facing, the Nationals couldn't have asked for much more than they got from 22-year-old rookie Lucas Giolito on Sunday against the Rockies. It wasn't his fault their offense couldn't manage much of anything against Chad Bettis, who took the mound with a 5.29 ERA.

Giolito stared down the best lineup in the National League and made it a career-high five innings with four runs allowed. He gave up six hits and two walks, including a pair of home runs. One was by Charlie Blackmon, the other by Nolan Arenado, who also tripled.

It wasn't the greatest outing, of course, but the Nats have certainly seen worse both lately and against the Rockies. They didn't give him nearly enough support and only scored three runs on the day, all on solo homers.

Trea Turner led off the game with his fifth home run of the season. Wilson Ramos smacked his 20th to lead off the seventh. That gave Ramos a career-high 69 RBI on the year. And Bryce Harper hit his 23rd in the bottom of the ninth. For Harper, he has now reached base in all 15 games since coming back from his neck injury.

The Rockies got another run off reliever Koda Glover. He allowed a one-out double to Daniel Descalso in the top of the eighth. Descalso then scored from second on a wild pitch that drilled home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski in the left shoulder. The ball bounced off the backstop and Ramos turned to check on the ump. That, in part, allowed Descalso to score on what was an all-around bizarre sequence.

The Nats' offense got six hits and a walk off Rockies pitchers. Ben Revere, Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman went a combined 0-for-14.

Washington lost their second straight game and have now dropped six of their last eight overall.

What it means: The Nationals fell to 75-55 on the season and lost their first home series since July 22-24 against the Padres. The Marlins lost on Sunday, so the Nats' division lead remains at eight games. The Mets are just behind them at 8 1/2 back after pummeling the Phillies.

Giolito okay, but questions remain: Giolito again saw his fastball top out at around 93-94, which is fine but nowhere near the high-90s and triple-digit heat that helped make him the top prospect in all of baseball. Manager Dusty Baker has been asked about this several times this season and has yet to give a full explanation as to why the team thinks he has lost so much velocity. Baker doesn't seem concerned about it one bit, but it does seem like at least somewhat of a big deal if he's lost, say, five or six ticks off his most oft-used pitch.

Turner sets franchise record: In the same week Turner tied the franchise mark for hits in consecutive plate appearances, he became the sole owner of first in Nats/Expos history with 27 runs in one month as a rookie. His 27th came on his solo homer, which was one of two hits for him on the day. He now has 20 multi-hit games this season in 41 total outings. 

Turner, in fact, has six multi-hit games in a row, which ties the longest streak in MLB this season. Six other players have done that this year. Turner's homer, though, gave him just his first RBI during that stretch, which goes to show how much the bottom of their lineup has struggled in recent games. 

Zimmerman keeps struggling: After looking good initially when he returned from the disabled list on Aug. 20, Zimmerman has fallen back into a major slump. He went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts on Sunday and is now just 1-for-20 with seven strikeouts in his last five games. That one hit was a single and he has no walks during that span. Zimmerman's season OBP has dropped to .276, the lowest it's been since Opening Day.

Up next: The Nats hit the road to play at the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday night. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. with Tanner Roark (13-7, 2.99) and rookie Jake Thompson (1-3, 9.78) set to square off.

[RELATED: Harper explains ejection vs. Rockies: 'It's not a strike']

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Gausman gets first road win in more than 2 years

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USA TODAY Sports

Gausman gets first road win in more than 2 years

NEW YORK---After two blowout losses, and the bullpen chewed up, the Orioles looked toward Kevin Gausman for relief, and he delivered. 

Gausman won his first road start since Aug. 17, 2014, a total of 25 starts on the road without a win.

He had some late offensive help—Steve Pearce, who drove in three runs and Mark Trumbo, who hit his 40th home run as the Orioles beat the New York Yankees 5-0 before 38,002 at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.

The Orioles (71-59) escape the Bronx with a win after two games when they allowed 27 runs and 36 hits. In their seven games here this season, they’ve won only two—both on getaway days.

Gausman (6-10) has won three straight for just the second time in his career, and the first time since June 2014.

RELATED: DAVIS, MACHADO, TRUMBO HAVE ALL HIT 30

In seven innings, Gausman allowed seven hits and struck out nine without walking a batter. 

The Orioles had to go against CC Sabathia, who owns 19 regular season wins against them. 

Sabathia (8-11) allowed just two singles, to Manny Machado in the first and Pearce in third, and a walk, to Nolan Reimold in the fifth before Pearce’s 12th home run of the season.

It was Pearce’s second home run since he was reacquired by the Orioles on Aug. 1. 

In the seventh, Sabathia loaded the bases with two outs. After Jonathan Schoop singled and Matt Wieters struck out, Reimold had an infield single and Hyun Soo Kim, who is hitless in 17 at-bats against left-handers walked to load the bases. 

Adam Warren replaced Sabathia, and his hitter was Pearce, who bounced a single to center field for a 3-0 lead.

Gausman had one difficult inning, the fourth, when he allowed three hits, but none scored. Gary Sanchez led off with a single, but he tried to advance to third on Mark Teixeira’s single to right, but Pearce’s throw to Manny Machado was in time to nab Sanchez. Teixiera advanced to second on Didi Gregorius’ single, but he couldn’t advance, and was the last New York (68-62) runner to reach second. 

Brian McCann singled to right with one out in the seventh, but Aaron Judge lined to Kim in left and Ronald Torreyes hit a hard grounder to third that Machado fielded on his knees to grab and throw Torreyes out. 

Trumbo hit a two-run home run off Ben Heller in the eighth. It was Trumbo’s 40th home run, and he became the eighth Oriole to hit 40. 

Tommy Hunter, re-signed earlier in the day by the Orioles, pitched a scoreless eighth. 

Zach Britton retired all three batters he faced to complete the Orioles’ fifth shutout of the season, the first since June 25. 

NOTES: Gausman started three of the shutout wins, Chris Tillman has the other two. …The first place Toronto Blue Jays come to Baltimore for three games beginning Monday night. Marco Estrada (7-6, 3.47) faces Wade Miley (8-10, 5.51). 

MORE ORIOLES: HUNTER: 'BALTIMORE IS SPECIAL TO ME'

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Davis is part of a special Orioles power group

Davis is part of a special Orioles power group

NEW YORK---In the midst of the Orioles’ eight-run loss on Saturday, a milestone went unnoticed, the second one in as many days to pass with little attention. 

Chris Davis’ third-inning home run was the Orioles’ 200th of the season, the fifth consecutive year they’ve done that, and the second fastest in team history. Davis and Mark Trumbo hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning, giving the Orioles 202. 

On Friday, Manny Machado hit his 30th and 31st homers of the season, giving the Orioles three 30 homer hitters for the first time in franchise history. Davis has 32, and Trumbo leads the majors with 39.

In spring training once Pedro Alvarez was signed, there was talk of the team’s potential to hit home runs, and it has fulfilled the early predictions.

“I think it is pretty special. I think the most impressive to me is what Pedro has done. You know, the fact he has been so consistent with his power not playing every day. That is a really tough thing to do. As a power hitter, a lot of it is rhythm and timing so when you are not getting consistent at-bats every day, to be able to stay in there and be productive is impressive. It has been fun to be a part of,” Davis said. 

While Davis is happy with the team’s power, he’s hoping for better pitching.

“There’s no doubt. We knew we were going to be able to hit the ball going in. I think one of the advantages is, we have a lot of veteran hitters, guys that have been around and been through the fire, so to speak. You can kind of see the writing on the wall. Our big question going into spring training was pitching. It’s been for the past few years, and it will be until some of the younger guys get experience, until we’re able to consistently field a starting rotation and we don’t have to empty the bullpen all the time. That’s what’s frustrating as a player. You see the potential for the guys that are here. You know it’s not translating, and you know there’s not anything you can do as a position player other than play defense and go out there and try and score as many runs as possible,” Davis said.

RELATED: Hunter: 'Baltimore is special to me'