Framber Valdez has been on quite a run lately. On Monday, he kept it rolling with his first career nine-inning complete game.
Facing an overmatched Athletics lineup, Valdez threw a career-high 114 pitches and yielded just one run on two hits and three walks as he went the distance. The left-hander’s seven strikeouts tied a season high and his 13 swinging strikes were just one off his season high.
Valdez carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Kevin Smith led off the frame with a double. He yielded an RBI single to Ramón Laureano later in the frame, but that’s the only time the A’s were able to dent the scoreboard against the southpaw in the Astros’ 5-1 victory.
Yordan Alvarez backed Valdez with a pair of mammoth solo home runs. The first one went a whopping 469 feet and was measured at 113.9 mph off the bat. The next one “only” went 444 feet and was 110.1 mph off the bat.
Valdez has seen his ERA drop from 4.50 all the way down to 2.57 over his last seven starts. He boasts a 2.02 mark during that stretch, along with a 38/12 K/BB ratio across 49 innings. The strikeouts haven’t really been there, but Valdez’s groundball rate coming into Monday sat at 65.8 percent, which is by far the highest among qualifiers. He’s also been superb at suppressing hard contact, coming into the start versus the A’s with a hard-hit rate in the 88th percentile and a barrel rate in the 97th percentile.
The 28-year-old is throwing harder than he ever has, averaging 94 mph with his sinker which is a full mph better than his previous high-water mark. That, combined with a nice whiff rate on his curveball – his other most-used pitch – gives you some hope that the strikeout totals can perk up a bit.
With a matchup in Kansas City looming this weekend, Valdez would seem to have a good shot at his fifth win in as many starts.
Starting Pitchers with an EDGE
Aaron Ashby vs. CHC – 6+ IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 12 K
Ashby gave up a long solo home run to Willson Contreras to lead off the fourth inning, but that was all the Cubs managed off the young left-hander. It was career highs across the board for Ashby for innings, strikeouts and also swinging strikes, of which he had 21 on 100 pitches. The southpaw does owe a debt of gratitude to Brad Boxberger, as Ashby was pulled with the bases loaded and no one out in the seventh before the reliever got a strikeout and double play to escape the threat. Ashby should have a rotation spot indefinitely with Freddy Peralta (shoulder) and now Brandon Woodruff (ankle) out, and he showed his immense upside in this one.
Logan Webb vs. PHI – 8+ IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 10 K
The bad news is Webb gave up three home runs Monday in Philadelphia, including one to Kyle Schwarber to lead off the ninth inning which tied the game and ended the right-hander’s day. It was one more home run than he had surrendered all season coming into this one. The good – and much more important – news is that Webb easily set a season high with his 10 strikeouts, and it appears he’s found his strikeout groove again with 22 over his last 20 innings covering three outings. He had managed just 28 punchouts across 41 1/3 frames prior to that. If Webb can maintain around a strikeout per inning along with his elite ground ball rate, he’ll be a potential fantasy ace.
Tyler Wells vs. BOS – 6 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 3 K
Wells cruised through six innings in Boston on Monday in the Orioles’ 10-0 laugher. It’s just the second time that he’s gone six frames in the big leagues as he transitions from reliever to starter and the first time he’s done so without allowing a run. Wells’ strikeouts have generally been lacking, but he has the look of a guy who could be a solid member of the Orioles’ rotation for a while. The big right-hander is sitting on a 3.71 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in his first 10 starts this season.
Hitters with an EDGE
Tyrone Taylor vs. CHC – 2-for-7, 2 HR, BB, 3 R
Taylor slugged a solo home run in both games of Monday’s doubleheader sweep of the Cubs. The 28-year-old has provided a big boost offensively with Hunter Renfroe (hamstring) sidelined, going 15-for-44 (.341) with five home runs and 14 RBI over his last 12 games (eight of which that have come while Renfroe was on the IL). Renfroe is expected back later this week, but with Lorenzo Cain’s struggles at the plate and his need for load management, Taylor could continue to play regularly.
Ryan Mountcastle vs. BOS – 4-for-5, HR, 4 R
The Orioles punished the Red Sox 10-0 on Monday night at Fenway Park, and Mountcastle had one of three long balls. He also scored four of their 10 tallies, marking the first time in his major league career that he’s scored four runs in a game. It was the second of his six home runs this season to come on the road, as Mountcastle has actually been just fine at Camden Yards in spite of the new pitcher-friendly dimensions.
Eli White vs. TB – 3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R
I’m including White in this space not only because of his big night at the plate, as he popped his second home run of the season while also added a couple singles and an additional run scored. He’s also here because he made arguably the best catch of the season, robbing Ji-Man Choi of a potential three-run home run in the first inning. I mean, look at this thing. It’s the second career three-hit game for White, who came into action Monday in a 1-for-28 rut at the dish.
Spencer Strider, SP/RP, Braves – available in 56 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues
The final line in his first major league start on Monday against the Diamondbacks didn’t wind up being all that great, as Strider was charged with five runs over 4 1/3 innings of work. It wasn’t difficult to see why so many are very intrigued by the hard-throwing right-hander, though. Strider struck out seven on the night, had 14 swinging strikes on 72 pitches and produced an excellent 39 percent CSW rate. He also didn’t drop off much velocity-wise from his relief outings, averaging 98.2 mph with his fastball while topping out at 99.9 mph. There are going to be workload and walk concerns, but Strider has immense upside.
Josh Hader became the seventh player in Brewers history to record a save in both games of a doubleheader when he did so on Monday against the Cubs. He allowed just one runner to reach base while striking out four in his two scoreless innings. Hader remains unscored upon this season and has notched a save in all 18 of his appearances. He’s permitted just four hits while posting a 26/7 K/BB ratio in 16 2/3 innings.
Camilo Doval allowed the automatic runner in the 10th inning to score but didn’t permit a baserunner of his own doing in closing out the Giants’ win over the Phillies on Monday. The young right-hander had been shaky lately in giving up six hits and four runs – three earned – in his previous three appearances. He still looks to have a strong hold on the Giants’ closer job, though. No one else on the club has notched a save since April 20.
Giovanny Gallegos recorded three outs without allowing a run after entering the game in the sixth inning Monday versus the Padres. Ryan Helsley came on in the eighth with one on and two out with the Cardinals up four and finished things out, although he did give up his first earned run of the season in the process. This closer situation doesn’t appear cut and dried, but Helsley does seem to be the preferred option right now. He’s notched each of the club’s last two saves.
Gregory Soto pitched around a hit to record a save on Monday versus the Twins, picking up a strikeout along the way. Soto has been shaky for much of this season, but he’s unscored upon in his last eight appearances and hasn’t walked a batter in seven straight outings. He has a pretty firm grip on the ninth inning role in Detroit at the moment.
David Bednar blew a save in the eighth inning on Monday against the Dodgers but was credited with a win after the Pirates re-took the lead and he closed things out. The closer wound up throwing a whopping 50 pitches in the appearance, so he'll need at least one day off. Meanwhile, Craig Kimbrel blew his first save of the season in the same game and took the loss.
Tuesday’s Matchup of the Day
Lucas Giolito (CWS) vs. Kevin Gausman (TOR)
Giolito has missed time with an abdominal strain and also while on the COVID-19 IL, but he’s been awfully good when on the mound. Over 37 2/3 innings and seven starts, the right-hander boasts a 2.63 ERA and 51/15 K/BB ratio. Gausman, of course, has been even better. The big free agent acquisition has posted a 2.25 ERA and ridiculous 65/5 K/BB ratio across 56 frames covering nine starts. It’s the series opener for two teams with playoff aspirations.
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American League Quick Hits: Carlos Correa will be placed on the COVID-19 IL after testing positive for the virus. … Kyle Tucker missed a second straight game Monday, but tests on his injured left foot came back negative. … Wander Franco had to be removed from Monday’s game against the Rangers after aggravating a quad injury. He’ll be re-evaluated Tuesday. … Jose Altuve was removed from Monday's game versus the Athletics following a collision and went into concussion protocol. … Zach Plesac tossed six frames of one-run ball Monday against the Royals. … Jose Ramirez went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBI against the Royals on Monday. … Derek Hill went 2-for-3 with a solo homer Monday in the Tigers' win over the Twins. … Glenn Otto limited the Rays to two runs – one earned – in six innings Monday. … Gio Urshela went 3-for-4 with a solo homer Monday in the Twins' loss to the Tigers. … Zack Greinke landed on the IL Monday with a right flexor strain. … The White Sox have officially released Dallas Keuchel after he cleared waivers.
National League Quick Hits: Brandon Woodruff was placed on the IL Monday with a high right ankle sprain. … Nolan Gorman homered and reached base four times Monday against the Padres. … Clayton Kershaw (pelvis) resumed throwing from a mound on Monday. … Seiya Suzuki was placed on the IL on Monday with a sprained left ring finger. … Starling Marte and Nick Plummer both went 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBI Monday as the Mets routed the Nationals. … Ryan Feltner struck out six in seven innings of one-run ball against the Marlins on Monday to net his first major league win. … Pablo Lopez threw six shutout frames but took a no-decision Monday in Colorado. … Nelson Cruz was lifted from Monday’s game versus the Mets following a hit by pitch on the left ankle, but X-rays came back negative. … Cody Bellinger was a late scratch Monday because of left leg stiffness. … Drew Smyly was removed from Monday’s start against the Brewers with right oblique soreness. … Joey Wendle was removed from Monday’s game versus the Rockies after aggravating his hamstring injury. … After being called up for his major league debut, Nelson Velázquez went 2-for-7 in the two games of Monday’s doubleheader versus the Brewers.