It finally happened, home runs dominated fantasy coverage this year and a Jonathan Villar blast set the major league record in total home runs during a season at 6,106 last night. Of course, the onslaught did not stop with Villar’s home run and the total can be raised over the last 18 games of the year. 

As the divisional winners seem to crystallize, the Wild Card races in both the American League and National League continue to percolate. Milwaukee won its sixth straight contest pushing into a tie for the second Wild Card spot with the Cubs. A Nationals win in Minnesota keeps them in line to host the play-in game ahead by three and a half games. Here’s the Fangraphs playoff odds chart for the National League: 

Not shown in the graph, Washington owns a 97 percent chance of qualifying for postseason with the Cubs next at 49.9 percent, Milwaukee (33 percent), the Mets (19.9 percent), Arizona (5.3 percent) and the Phillies (3.6 percent). Hang on tight. 

In the American League, it seems down to a three team race for two playoff spots between Oakland, Tampa Bay and Cleveland:

Within the chart, along with the ups and downs over the last 30 days, Oakland owns the highest chance entering game play on Thursday at 75.5 percent, the Rays at 69.3 percent and Cleveland just under 50 percent (47.3). Add in some of the injury issues the Indians will need to overcome but all three teams remain separated by only a half-game. 

Getting Atlanta back on track in Philadelphia, Dallas Keuchel won his fifth straight decision giving up three hits, one earned run and three walks with eight strikeouts. Over his last 37 innings, Keuchel owns a 0.97 ERA with 35 strikeouts. Last night, he generated 10 swinging strikes and 18 called for a 28.9 called plus swinging strike (CSW) percentage. 

Here’s the other notable starting pitching performances from Wednesday night: 

  • Steven Matz , New York Mets: 108 pitches, 18 swinging strikes, 16 called, 31.5 CSW%. Matz won his 10th game tossing six shutout innings allowing four hits and three walks with seven strikeouts. 

  • Stephen Strasburg : 104 pitches, 15 swinging strikes, 11 called, 25 CSW%. Moving his career high win total to 17, Strasburg logged six inning yielding four hits, two earned runs and two walks with seven strikeouts. He’s one of three pitchers this year to reach 17 wins and owns a 1.91 ERA his last five starts. 

  • Chris Paddack , San Diego: 93 pitches, 20 swinging strikes, 11 called, 33.3 CSW%. Recording his sixth start without giving up a run, Paddack fired six shutout innings ceding three hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. On fire of late, Paddack’s yielded one earned run over his last three outings spanning 18.1 innings with a robust 23:3 K:BB in them. 

  • Sonny Gray , Cincinnati: 111 pitches, 12 swinging strikes, 25 called, 33.3 CSW%. Tough luck loser Gray carried a no hitter into the seventh inning then served up a three-run home run to rookie Kyle Lewis resulting in his seventh loss. Gray worked 6.1 innings giving up two hits, three earned runs and three walks with nine strikeouts. 

  • Marco Gonzales , Seattle: 109 pitches, 15 swinging strikes, 18 called, 30.3 CSW%. Holding on for his 15th win, Gonzales allowed five hits, two earned runs and two walks with seven strikeouts versus the Reds. 

Hitter Highlights: Soler shines again

Racking up four hits, including two more home runs, Jorge Soler finished Wednesday with four RBI while hitting third in the lineup. Each home run Soler hits adds to his Royals franchise record:

Soler’s up to 43 this season with 20 in 191 at-bats since the All-Star break. Adalberto Mondesi went 3-for-5 with three runs, two RBI and two stolen bases. Despite missing time with a left shoulder injury, Mondesi’s within two steals of the major league lead. 

During a loss to Kansas City, Eloy Jiménez launched his 26th home run while driving in four runs. He’s recorded seven multi-hit games over his last 13 with nine runs, four doubles, four home runs, 14 RBI and a .345/.368/.636 slash. José Abreu added his 32nd home run pushing his league leading RBI total to 114. His last 35 games yields a .364 average with 13 doubles, nine home runs and 37 RBI. 

Sparking the Braves offense in Philadelphia, Tyler Flowers hit his 11th home run driving in all three runs. For those starved at the catcher position, Flowers owns a .333/.489/.636 slash his last 13 games with 12 RBI in them. 

It feels like the A’s offensive contributors not named Khris Davis fly below the fantasy radar. Marcus Semien went 3-for-5 last night including his 28th home run. He’s scored 109 runs this year and hitting .337 his last 24 games with 22 runs, eight doubles, nine home runs and 25 RBI. Sean Murphy added his fourth home run in just 18 at-bats this season. So far, the rookie’s on-base plus slugging percentage sits at 1.368 since his promotion. 

Rookie Kyle Lewis provided the go ahead home run in Seattle’s win over Cincinnati last night: 

Following up his ninth inning heroics from Tuesday, Manuel Margot notched a smash and dash hitting his 12th home run while stealing his 20th base last night. Wil Myers extended his hit streak to 11 games, drove in two runs and stole his 15th base. During his streak, Myers owns a .471/.486/.794 slash with five runs, two doubles, three home runs, 10 RBI and three steals his last 37 plate appearances. He also heads to Coors for the weekend where he possesses a career .355 average with a 1.050 on-base plus slugging percentage in 158 plate appearances. 

Bullpen Notes: Committee in Cleveland? 

With less than three weeks remaining, fantasy owners of Brad Hand will need to heed the news surrounding the Indians closer. Battling arm fatigue, Hand underwent an MRI which provided good news, but he returned to Cleveland for further testing with the team’s doctors. Last night in Los Angeles, Terry Francona deployed three relievers for the save with Adam Cimber recording the last out for his first of the season. Nick Wittgren , Oliver Pérez and even Tyler Clippard could be a factor for saves with Cleveland going forward. Stay tuned. 

Here’s the rest of last night’s high leverage events: 

  • Save number 11 for Mark Melancon navigating around two hits in Philadelphia. Melancon’s converted all 10 chances since joining the Braves. 

  • Josh Hader continues his rebound notching his 30th save giving up a hit and striking out three. Brent Suter garnered his second win with three scoreless innings of relief allowing a hit with two strikeouts. José Ureña absorbs the loss yielding a two-run home run to Mike Moustakas in the top of the ninth. Moustakas finished with a double dong effort in his first game back in the lineup. 

  • Texas closer José Leclerc recorded his 12th save despite ceding two hits and one earned run with two strikeouts. 

  • Surging Liam Hendriks set the major league record for strikeouts by an Australian born player with 112 this year en route to his 20th save. Jesús Luzardo made his major league debut getting his first hold working three innings allowing a solo home run and striking out two. 

  • Ian Kennedy secured his 28th save, and 17th in the second half with a clean inning. 

  • Jairo Diaz locked down saves in two straight games pushing his total to three this year working around a hit and a walk in the top of the ninth inning. 

  • Pirates closer Felipe Vázquez closed out his 27th save with a clean frame striking out one in San Francisco. He did not get into a fight. 

  • Once again, no Mat Magill for Seattle with Anthony Bass striking out the only two batters he faced for his fourth save. 

What To Watch For

Injury updates on Brad Hand . Plus, Mike Trout will return to action on Friday while Joey Gallo remains on track for activation on September 20th. 

During the day slate, Lucas Giolito looks for his 15th win. Matt Boyd will take on the Yankees at home and Caleb Smith tries to snap the Brewers win streak. 

Justin Verlander takes the mound versus Oakland in the evening games and Rich Hill will try to build up his pitch count for the postseason starting in Baltimore. 

Be sure to stay with Fantasy Alarm across all fantasy formats to remain ahead of the competition. 


Statistical Credits: - Game Notes