While it looks worse than it is, Shawn Kelley recorded his third save on Sunday. With Jonathan Papelbon on the disabled list, Kelley has ascended into the closer role. But he has a blown save due to a ball going under a teammate’s glove and also gave up a triple on Sunday when an outfielder lost a ball in the sun which resulted in a triple. But over his six innings as the closer, Kelley has a 10:1 K:BB rate with an ERA of 1.50 and a WHIP of 0.83. It remains to be seen how long he can stay in the role, but it could be until the All-Star break.
When Ryan Zimmerman missed time to injury last year, Clint Robinson had a productive season for the Nationals. This year, he has seen much less playing time but did hit his third home run in Sunday’s win. Robinson has appeared in 44 games this year with a .233/.294/.397 slash line. Last year, he hit .272 with an OPS of .782 in 126 games with 10 home runs. If Zimmerman continues to struggle, it could create a chance for Robinson to see more playing time, especially versus right handed pitching.
Backup catcher Jose Lobaton does not get much fantasy attention due to his average which sits below the Mendoza Line. But he was a large part of the offense with his first home run of the season in an attempt to rest starter Wilson Ramos prior to a big series with the Mets. This was only Lobaton’s 24th appearance this year and he will return to his role as the backup at home versus the Mets.
Taking the mound in place of Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark filled in admirably with his fourth seven strikeout game in his last 10 starts for the Nationals. In his previous four starts, Roark had allowed 12 earned runs but bounced back with a strong performance against the Brewers. His ERA is now at 2.96 for the year with a 1.22 WHIP. Roark will make his next start later in the week against the Reds at home. Cincinnati roughed up Roark scoring five earned runs in three innings of work earlier this year.
Another popular trade target is catcher Jonathan Lucroy. His bounceback this year has not only enhanced his trade stock, but will raise the level of prospects the team will get in a trade if they move the veteran catcher. Lucroy had two hits on Sunday to snap out of a three game hitless streak. His recent slump has caused his average to slip below three hundred on the season but he is still on pace for 80 runs, 22 home runs and 78 RBI with six steals.
Amidst all the trade rumors, Ryan Braun is on an eight game hitting streak. During his last eight games, Braun is 14-for-33 (.424) with six runs, three doubles, a triple, home run and two RBI. His power numbers have slowed down but he is hitting for average and scoring runs. He is on pace for 26 home runs with 13 steals this year as well. Braun was hit on the foot by a pitch on Saturday but played Sunday and legged out an infield hit along with a triple. He should be fine for the week ahead in fantasy but take note.
Although credited with a no-decision, Jimmy Nelson is winless in his last five starts for the Brewers. He had what he thought was a no hitter through five innings but was forced to leave the game after walking the bases loaded in the fifth and escaping with a flyout. But walks have plagued the young starter and in the last five games, he has walked 14 against 10 strikeouts and his ERA is at 5.87 in these games. For the season, Nelson has a 3.60 ERA which is enticing on the surface but take into account his recent performance along with his 9.51 ERA versus the Cardinals in his last 23.2 innings against them to keep him reserved this week.
When Mike Moustakas was lost for the season with a torn ACL, it was not an automatic move to replace him with Cheslor Cuthbert for fantasy purposes. But Cuthbert has a hit in six straight games with his home run on Sunday and has homered in three of his last four overall. For the season, Cuthbert is now hitting .280/.315/.446 with seven home runs and 18 RBI in 42 games. He is pacing for 15 home runs in 92 games this year and has been a pleasant surprise for Kansas City.
After starting the year ice cold, Kendrys Morales has started to heat up for the Royals and his fantasy owners alike. He blasted two solo home runs to raise his total this year to 10 and Morales is starting to show some of his form from last year. In June, Morales is hitting .324 with 12 runs, four home runs and 14 RBI. But this may be in vain as the Royals will play five of their seven games this week in National League parks so his bat may be reduced to a pinch hitting role. Which is tough as Morales has started to swing the bat much better of late.
Fantasy owners have to hope Lorenzo Cain’s back-to-back multi-hit games may be the start of a hot streak. With his three hits on Sunday, Cain raised his average to .271 in June and he is five for his last nine. For the season, he is slashing .288/.334/.417 which are below last year’s pace but in line with his career rates. Cain is on pace to hit 18 home runs and steal 13 bases but is a hot streak away from turning his season around. He will face Adam Wainwright on Monday and is two for six in past match-ups with a double and triple for a 1.167 OPS.