Home runs reduced the Yankees magic number to one in order to host the Wild Card play-in game. As a franchise, New York sits within four of Seattle’s record of 264 home runs hit in 1997 with three games left in Boston. Both Chicago and Colorado won to extend their leads to one game in their respective divisions. Chicago’s win ensures the National League Central winner will be the first seed in the National League even if the Brewers can move ahead in the next three days. Colorado won for the seventh straight game and plays host to the Nationals this weekend while the Dodgers will head to San Francisco for a potential tough three game finish to the season. Stay tuned.

That Just Happened

Fueling the Yankees home run barrage on Thursday, Giancarlo Stanton hit two with Luke Voit and Miguel Andujar also launching bombs in Tampa Bay. Of Stanton’s last 37 hits, 23 have resulted in extra-bases (11 doubles, 12 home runs) and he’s now hit 37 this year. Voit continues to flourish with his new team. He’s hit 12 home runs since August 24th to lead the majors and over these 30 games slashing .349/.425/.736 with 24 runs while driving in 28 in only 106 at-bats. Andujar hit his 27th home run and recorded his 52nd multi-hit game of the year.

Although he’s lost playing time, C.J. Cron launched his 29th home run and hitting .324 his last 12 games with three home runs in only eight starts. Tommy Pham lost his 10-game hit streak but did reach safely for the 29th straight game. He’s hitting .374/.463/.614 his last 30 games with seven home runs, 19 RBI and three stolen bases.

Could David Dahl finally be breaking out? He homered for the fourth consecutive game and drove in 11 runs against the Phillies in their series. In September, Dahl’s slashed .319/.351/.681 with seven home runs and 25 RBI. Trevor Story added his 35th home run and racked up five extra-base hits (two doubles, one triple, two home runs) versus the Phillies in his return from a bothersome elbow. Wade Davis notched his 42nd save, the most in Rockies history, preserving the win on Thursday. He’s only yielded one run his last 17 appearances (0.53 ERA) with 23 strikeouts in them.

Flying below the radar in the second half, do not sleep on the Mets. Jason Vargas for the fifth time in his last eight starts throwing seven shutout innings against the Braves with six strikeouts. In this stretch, Vargas owns a 2.62 ERA and 41:10 K:BB in 44.2 innings. Jay Bruce tallied two hits raising his average to .281 his last 19 games with five home runs and 18 RBI.

Reliable veterans rarely get draft helium, but Jon Lester won his 18th game and has made at least 30 starts for 11 straight seasons. Yes, he walked (4) more than he struck out (3) against the Pirates, but since the inception of the second half last year, Lester’s now 26-8 over his last 44 starts, plus:

Jesse Chávez locked down his fifth save giving up a hit and striking out one. His last 20 games yields two wins, three saves and a 0.84 ERA. He’s also been scoreless his last 10 innings spanning nine outings.

Tigers rookie Christin Stewart racked up three hits with an RBI and a walk. Through 17 games he’s hitting .267/.375/.417 with seven runs, two home runs, 10 RBI, 10 walks and 13 strikeouts.

Another rookie, Willians Astudillo went 2-for-4 with a run and four RBI. He’s hit safely in 13 of his last 15 games with an impressive .357/.372/.524 slash this month along with two home runs and 15 RBI. Astudillo’s also a rare breed with only three strikeouts and one walk through his 86 plate appearances this year. This translates to a minuscule 4.8 swinging strike percentage and eye popping 92.1 contact percentage.

Hidden within an Indians loss, Josh Donaldson tallied three hits in Kansas City. Donaldson’s played in 13 games with Cleveland batting .275/.408/.450 as he tries to ready for the playoffs. Good news for the DFS crowd, Donaldson’s recorded five multi-hit games in Kauffman Stadium with 10 RBI and a .310/.390/.535 slash line in his career.

Whit Merrifield extended his personal hit streak to 17 games and stole his 42nd base to pull within one of the major league lead. He’s swiped 25 bases in the second half and hitting a robust .327/.369/.500 in his streak to take over the major league lead in hits (188) after last night’s game. Adalberto Mondesí continues to add to his legacy in the second half. He hit his 13th home run and stole two more bases to reach 30 on the season. Over his last 26 games, Mondesi’s slashing .327/.359/.655 with 22 runs, nine home runs, 19 RBI and recorded 13 multi-hit games. In the last 45 years, only six players have attained at least 13 home runs and 30 stolen bases in their Age-22 season: Mike Trout , Hanley Ramírez , Jimmy Rollins, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds.

Amidst the rubble of the Rangers season, Jose Leclerc ’s finally flourishing. He converted his 12th straight save and has been scoreless his last 21 appearances with 32 strikeouts in them. LeClerc’s only given up two runs his last 32.2 innings (0.55 ERA) and allowed runs in three of his last 44 outings (1.26 ERA) with 66 strikeouts in them. Let others chase the saves of this past season and target LeClerc in the 12th round if he falls that far. Sneaky value for 2019.

What To Watch For

After Thursday’s rainout, the Astros pushed back Gerrit Cole for today and will pitch Justin Verlander in Game 1 on Saturday with Dallas Keuchel in Game 2. Sunday remains to be determined so anticipate a bullpen game in their finale.

Adam Wainwright will oppose Kyle Hendricks trying to keep the Cardinals playoff hopes on life support. J.A. Happ will start in Boston trying to secure a home game in the play-in game. Joe Ross opposes Kyle Freeland in Colorado while two southpaws square off in San Francisco with Hyun-Jin facing Madison Bumgarner .

Last, Mets fans and baseball fans alike will bid farewell to David Wright , a career ending too soon. Here’s a blueprint for the next two days:

Stay ahead of the competition with the days dwindling on Fantasy Alarm and Nate Miller will cover the Round Up on Saturday morning. Good luck in the final weekend, let’s fly those flags FA Family!

Statistical Credits: