There were fireworks all around yesterday for Independence Day, much to the dismay of my 75-pound Bernedoodle, but there were also plenty of fireworks across the Major League Baseball slate, too. Byron Buxton homered and initiated a triple play from center field, because of course he did! Julio Rodríguez made MLB history yesterday and Seiya Suzuki hit a go-ahead inside-the-park-homer off Josh Hader in the ninth inning in his return to the Chicago lineup. On the bump, Max Scherzer is making his return to the mound for the New York Mets, and fantasy baseball managers should be ecstatic to get him back in their lineups in an advantageous matchup against the strikeout-prone Cincinnati Reds. Top prospect Brayan Bello will start on Wednesday for the Boston Red Sox, and he figures to be a prominent name on the fantasy baseball waiver wire. As we put a close to yesterday’s baseball action, we’ll preview the games on Tuesday, and I’ll even give you my best bets and favorite player props for the day of games. Additionally, be sure to check out our updated fantasy baseball player rankings for July, as well as our fantasy baseball waiver wire report and injury report.
Fantasy Baseball MLB News
Brayan Bello Expected to Make MLB Debut on Wednesday
Brayan Bello appears to be the individual who will replace Rich Hill in the rotation for this upcoming start after the veteran southpaw was placed on the injured list. According to MLB Pipeline, Bello is the Red Sox’s top pitching prospect and fourth ranked prospect overall. Bello has already logged 85 innings in the minors this year between Double-A and Triple-A, and he’s been excellent at both, as he has combined for a 10-4 record with a 114:33 K/B ratio. In both levels this year, he has a strikeout rate north of 32 percent, and a walk rate at or below 10 percent. When he’s not striking guys out, he keeps a good job keeping the ball on the ground, and that should help him at the big league level, assuming that trend exists. If your fantasy baseball team needs pitching, Bello is a guy to scoop up, and if he dominates the Rays on Wednesday, he’s going to be the hottest name on the fantasy baseball waiver wire.
Julio Rodríguez Adds to Impressive Rookie Campaign
Forget just winning Rookie of the Year, what about being a member of the American League All-Star Team? Julio Rodríguez’s home run last night made him the fastest player in the history of Major League Baseball to reach 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Rodriguez did it in 81 games, which just bested by Ellis Burks (82) and some guy named Barry Bonds (90).
This kid is exceptional. From being unsure whether or not he would break camp with the team, to leading Major League Baseball as of today with 20 stolen bases, and being the only player in the 15/20 club. What a year. What a talent.
Daulton Varsho’s Big Game
Everyone’s favorite fantasy baseball catcher Daulton Varsho has put together a modest four-game hit streak, and while that won’t set records of any kind, it’s encouraging nonetheless. In the nine games prior to this hit streak, he was hitting just .139 with a .195 wOBA, 18 wRC+ and just a 2.6 percent walk rate. Last night, hitting out of the eight hole, he went 3-for-4 with three RBI, one run scored and one stolen base. After hitting just .176 in the month of June, Varsho is hitting .429 through his first 14 at-bats in July, and hopefully the changing of the calendar month will flip the switch for Varsho, and fantasy baseball managers can get the production needed from Varsho. The catcher-outfielder hybrid has already tied his career-high in home runs, and is just one stolen base away from tying last year’s mark.
Cole Irvin Twirls a Gem Versus Blue Jays
Cole Irvin did allow a ton of hard contact, but it didn’t hurt him, as he held Toronto to just one run on four hits with four strikeouts over eight excellent innings. Was there a little bit of luck? Sure, but sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. Looking at the breakdown over at Baseball Savant, of balls hit at least 96 miles per hour against Irvin, there were five batted balls with an xBA above .300 that went for outs. If we look just at those batted balls with an xBA above .300, eight went for outs, and four went for hits.
Irvin has a 3.38 ERA over his last four starts, but his 3.35 ERA on the year is overshadowed by a dearth of strikeouts, a 5.39 xERA, and a mid-4s FIP and xFIP.
Max Scherzer Returns to the Mound Tonight
Max Scherzer makes his return to the mound for the Mets and fantasy baseball managers alike. Prior to hitting the injured list, Scherzer was 5-1 on the year with a 2.54 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and a 10.69 K/9. You will most certainly want to activate him for his start tonight, as he should be equipped to handle nearly a full workload, after throwing 80 pitches in his last rehab start with Double-A Binghamton. The Mets have said that the plan is for him to go around six innings and 90 pitches, but it all depends on feel. The Reds have the third-highest strikeout rate in all of baseball over the last two weeks, so do with that what you will.
Seiya Suzuki Returns to Lineup, Hits Inside-The-Park-Home Run in 9th
A little go-ahead inside-the-park-homer is quite the welcome back from Seiya Suzuki! We hadn’t seen Suzuki since the end of May, but he came back in a big way, putting the Cubs ahead in the top of the ninth, and registering two hits in this contest. Prior to the injury, Suzuki was hitting .245 with four home runs and three stolen bases on the year, but he needs to eat into that 30.1 percent strikeout rate. He’s still a prime candidate to hit double-digit home runs and stolen bases, and fantasy baseball managers should be excited for his return. However, an inevitable Chicago fire sale may impact his counting statistics, but he’s still a solid power-speed guy worth rostering, even in shallower formats.
Reyes Moronta Struggles, but Yency Almonte Closes the Door
What will Los Angeles do while Craig Kimbrel is nursing a back injury? Well, hopefully what happened last night isn’t exactly a precursor to the unforeseen timeframe that the L.A. bullpen is Kimbrell-less. Reyes Moronta came in and needed just 19 pitches to allow two earned runs on two hits (1 HR), and one walk. Yency Almonte then came in, allowed one hit, but got the strikeout to secure his first save. While Moronta got the save chance yesterday, one would figure that Almonte could be in line for the next one, given the happenings on July 4. Almonte only has 2.2 innings in high leverage situations this year, per FanGraphs, but he’s held the opposition to a .125 batting average and .111 wOBA in those situations, while posting a 44.4 percent strikeout rate and 1.24 FIP. I would be looking towards Almonte for future save chances of these two while Kimbrel is unavailable.
Tuesday’s Best Bets
OVER 4.5 Strikeouts (-175 DraftKings Sportsbook)
Hammer the over here. Nick Pivetta has surpassed this mark in seven of his last nine starts, and the Rays have the 10th-highest strikeout rate in baseball over the last two weeks. At home this season, Pivetta has a 23.7 percent strikeout rate, and he’s coming off a quality June where he posted a 24.8 percent strikeout rate. If you don’t like the -175, head over to FanDuel and look at taking the over of 5.5 strikeouts for +130.
OVER 1.5 Total Bases (+110 Caesars)
Christian Walker is hitting .286 here in July and I’m loving the over tonight. Sure, his BvP numbers aren’t great against Alex Wood (2-for-10), but he’s mashed lefties this year, to the tune of a .281 average, a .421 wOBA, and 1.004 OPS. Alex Wood has allowed a .303 average and .352 wOBA to right-handed hitters this season and away from his friendly home park this year, Wood has a 5.59 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. He’s allowed a 1.61 HR/9 to right-handed hitters on the road this season and Wood has a 7.50 ERA over his last four starts.
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