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Luis Urias launched a pair of homers and in-season trade acquisition Willy Adames clobbered a momentum-shifting grand slam, sparking an incredible comeback on Wednesday afternoon as the Brewers erased an early seven-run deficit, scoring 15 unanswered runs to defeat the Cubs at American Family Field in Milwaukee. Not only did the Brewers record their eighth consecutive victory, but they also extended their NL Central lead to a whopping six games, the largest margin within any division in baseball at the midway point of the 2021 campaign.
The Cubs’ monumental collapse extended their losing streak to a season-high six games, and also capped off a truly disastrous month in which they went 12-16 overall and finished with a .630 OPS, which represented the second-lowest mark of any team since June 1. It’s still way too early to write off the Cubs entirely, or anoint the Brewers as the favorites to emerge out of a crowded NL Central division. However, the Brewers improbable comeback felt like a clear momentum shift in the trajectory for both franchises moving forward this season. While the Cubs’ pitching staff has struggled in the wake of the controversial (cost-cutting) decision to jettison frontline starter Yu Darvish last offseason, Milwaukee boast arguably the most talented starting rotation in the entire game, headlined by hard-throwing righties Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta, and a fearsome bullpen spearheaded by lefty stopper Josh Hader. It would be foolish to write off the Cubs entirely, but with the Brewers going on an extended run, and poised to add reinforcements at next month’s trade deadline, the momentum in the NL Central race has clearly shifted over the last few weeks.
Starting Pitchers with an EDGE
Aaron Nola vs. Marlins
4.2 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 0 BB, 11 K
35% CSW, 10 swinging strikes
Nola authored one of the most bizarre-looking final lines of any starting pitcher this season, recording his second consecutive double-digit strikeout performance on Wednesday evening against the Marlins. The gaudy strikeout total is helpful for fantasy purposes, but he was also torched for a season-high seven earned runs on nine hits, including a pair of homers, and failed to complete five frames in this one. He’ll look to rebound against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Monday.
Max Fried vs. Mets
5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
34% CSW, 13 swinging strikes
There weren’t a ton of quality pitching performances on Wednesday evening as the offenses reigned supreme throughout the baseball landscape, yet Fried managed to record seven strikeouts over five frames to collect a win against the Mets in his return from a brief stint on the injured list. The 27-year-old lefty was staked to a massive lead and managed to keep the Mets off the scoreboard outside of a two-run homer by Pete Alonso in the opening frame. He generated 13 swinging strikes and finished with a solid 34 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs) in this one. He’ll carry a pedestrian 4.16 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 62/22 K/BB ratio across 62 2/3 innings (12 starts) into a tasty road outing against the Pirates on Monday.
Dylan Cease vs. Twins
6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 K
34% CSW, 14 swinging strikes
Cease was staked to a double-digit lead by the fifth inning and was able to cruise to a relatively easy victory in this one. Solo homers by Josh Donaldson and Nelson Cruz accounted for all of the damage against him as he induced 14 swinging strikes, including nine combined on his curveball and slider, and finished with a solid 34 percent CSW. The 25-year-old righty will carry a solid 3.75 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 103/35 K/BB ratio across 81 2/3 innings (16 starts) into a rematch against the Twins on Monday night.
Chris Bassitt vs. Rangers
7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
25% CSW, 11 swinging strikes
Bassitt scattered three hits and one walk over seven scoreless frames to pick up a win against the Rangers for the second consecutive start on Wednesday night. The 32-year-old righty has allowed two earned runs or fewer in five consecutive starts since June 8. He’ll carry a sparkling 3.04 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 109/27 K/BB ratio across 106 2/3 innings (17 starts) into a challenging road tilt against the Astros on Tuesday.
Hitters with an EDGE
Trea Turner vs. Rays
4-for-4, 4 R, HR (14), RBI, 2 SB (18)
Turner celebrated his 28th birthday with an epic offensive performance on Wednesday afternoon against the Rays, hitting for the cycle for the third time in his career. He also chipped in a pair of stolen bases, just for good measure. The dynamic shortstop singled, swiped second base, and scored in the first inning. He doubled and scored in the third inning, and also walloped a solo homer — his 14th round-tripper of the season — off righty reliever Michael Wacha in the fourth inning, before completing the impressive feat with a leadoff triple in the sixth inning. Unfortunately, he also jammed his left middle finger while sliding into third base and Nationals manager Dave Martinez told reporters that he’s “day-to-day” moving forward. Hopefully he’s not forced to miss extended time since he’s been tearing the cover off the ball lately, going deep four times over his last 11 games.
Ozzie Albies vs. Mets
4-for-5, 4 R, 2 HR (15), 7 RBI, SB (11)
Yes, those numbers are correct. Albies spearheaded the Braves’ surreal 20-run onslaught against the division-rival Mets on Wednesday night, crushing a pair of homers and plating a career-high seven runs in the lopsided affair at Truist Park. He kicked off the monster performance with RBI singles in the opening frame and fourth inning before belting a 411-foot solo shot to left field off rookie lefty Thomas Szapucki in the fifth inning. He closed out the multi-homer effort with a three-run shot to right-center field off position player Albert Almora Jr. in the eighth inning. The 24-year-old second baseman has been extremely streaky over the first three months of the 2021 campaign, but remains an upper-echelon fantasy contributor at the keystone moving forward. He’s been in a groove lately, going deep six times over his last 13 games since June 18.
Trent Grisham vs. Reds
2-for-3, 2 R, 2 HR (10), 5 RBI
Grisham homered twice on Wednesday evening in the Padres’ rain-shortened six-inning victory over the Reds. The 24-year-old outfielder kicked off his first multi-homer effort of the 2021 campaign with a solo shot to right field off Vladimir Gutierrez in the second inning and also walloped a go-ahead grand slam against lefty reliever Josh Osich in the fifth inning. He’s missed time due to injury, but remains a dynamic five-category fantasy force, hitting .281/.365/.526 with 29 runs scored, 10 homers, 30 RBI and seven steals across just 219 plate appearances this season. He’s on pace to easily reach the 20-homer plateau and also has a realistic shot at swiping 20 bases as well.
Joey Gallo vs. Athletics
1-for-4, R, HR (19), RBI
Gallo homered for the fourth consecutive game on Wednesday evening, launching a solo shot to right field — his 19th round-tripper of the season — off righty reliever Lou Trivino in the ninth inning. The 27-year-old slugger has been on a tear, going deep a whopping eight times over his last 10 games. Despite an extremely frosty start to the 2021 campaign, he’s on pace to reach the 40-homer plateau for the first time since the 2018 campaign. There’s a chance that he could be one of the highest-profile names jettisoned at next month’s trade deadline, so his recent power surge couldn’t be happening at a better time to help boost his value for the rebuilding Rangers.
Tyler O’Neill vs. Diamondbacks
3-for-4, 3 R, RBI, SB (6)
O’Neill doubled twice and also added an RBI single, propelling the Cardinals to a win over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday afternoon’s series finale against the Diamondbacks. He also picked up his sixth stolen base of the year. The uber-talented 26-year-old outfielder has evolved into a certifiable upper-echelon five-category fantasy contributor, slashing .272/.326/.554 with 36 runs scored, 15 home runs, 36 RBI and six stolen bases across 233 plate appearances. He’ll be an early-round selection in all fantasy formats next spring.
Aroldis Chapman vs. Angels
0.1 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 0 K (4th blown save)
Wow. Chapman melted down in spectacular fashion on Wednesday night, issuing three walks and recording only one out in the ninth inning before surrendering a game-tying grand slam to Jared Walsh later in the frame. It was another brutal performance from the 31-year-old lefty, who has given up an astounding 12 runs (11 earned) on 13 hits (three homers) with a 6/8 K/BB ratio across his last eight appearances since June 10. It’s fair to wonder how long the Yankees can stick with him in the closer role, especially given his recent control issues, and the presence of righty Chad Green, who has pitched exceptionally-well this season. It might not be a bad idea for fantasy managers to consider stashing Green, especially in deeper mixed leagues.
Alex Reyes vs. Diamondbacks
1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (20th save)
It was extremely surprising that Reyes was summoned to pitch at all on Wednesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after requiring 32 pitches to record a six-out save versus the Diamondbacks on Tuesday night. The 26-year-old righty was brought on to protect a three run lead in the final frame, and needed only 15 pitches to slam the door this time. He’s had some persistent control issues, but opposing teams have been unable to take advantage so far. He’s blossomed into an elite fantasy stopper, converting all 20 of his save opportunities this season.
Cole Sulser vs. Astros
1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (3rd save)
Sulser didn’t allow a baserunner and recorded the final five outs of the Orioles’ three-run victory over the Astros on Wednesday evening to pick up his third save of the season. The 31-year-old righty has reeled off five consecutive scoreless appearances and appears to be the team’s primary closer moving forward. He’s converted all three of his save chances so far this season and remains worthy of a roster spot for fantasy managers in deeper mixed leagues.
Raisel Iglesias vs. Yankees
1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (15th save)
Iglesias generated a pair of ground outs from Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres before whiffing Rougned Odor to close out the Angels’ incredible comeback victory over the Yankees on Wednesday evening. The 31-year-old righty hasn’t allowed a baserunner, while recording 11 strikeouts across 5 1/3 innings, over his last four appearances. He’s converted 15 of his 18 save opportunities so far this season.
Lou Trivino vs. Rangers
1.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (13th save)
It was a shaky outing overall for Trivino on Wednesday night, but he managed to hang on against the Rangers. He served up a one-out homer to Joey Gallo, and also surrendered back-to-back singles to Nate Lowe and Eli White, but eventually settled down to whiff Jonah Heim and coax a game-ending fly out from Nick Solak to preserve the narrow victory. The 29-year-old righty has converted 13 of his 15 save opportunities so far this season.
Drew Steckenrider vs. Blue Jays
1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (2nd save)
Steckenrider received the call to guard a three-run lead in the 10th inning after Mariners primary stopper Kendall Graveman worked a scoreless ninth inning to send the ballgame into extra-innings on Wednesday evening. He gave up an RBI double to Cavan Biggio, but managed to prevent any further damage to pick up his second save of the year.
Tim Hill vs. Reds
1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (1st save)
Hill tossed a scoreless sixth inning in relief of Joe Musgrove, protecting a two-run lead at the time, and was eventually credited with a save after the contest was called after six innings on account of inclement weather on Wednesday evening.
EDGE Priority Pickup
Willy Adames, SS, Brewers
Adames has been sizzling-hot at the dish since his arrival in Milwaukee last month, slashing .280/.362/.523 with 18 extra-base hits (seven home runs), 28 RBI and a pair of stolen bases across 37 games. The 25-year-old shortstop appears to have benefitted from a much-needed change of scenery and has thrived in the hitter-friendly environment of American Family Field over the last few weeks. Simply put, we’ve reached the point where there’s large enough of a sample size to determine that he’s absolutely worthy of a roster spot in all fantasy formats moving forward.
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Thursday’s Matchup of the Day
Given all of the off-field (and on-field) fireworks between these two squads over the last few days, there’s no better way to kick off Thursday’s abbreviated slate, and close out an incredible three-game rivalry series, than a matchup between two of the premier pitchers in the American League this season. Get your popcorn ready, folks.
American League Quick Hits: Chris Sale (elbow) threw a simulated inning on Wednesday at Fenway Park … Shohei Ohtani recorded only two outs and surrendered seven runs in a no-decision against the Yankees … Jared Walsh clobbered a game-tying grand slam in the Angels’ comeback victory over the Yankees … DJ LeMahieu hit a three-run double in the Yankees’ loss to the Angels … J.D. Martinez crushed a three-run homer, propelling the Red Sox to a win over the Royals … Yasmani Grandal homered twice and plated five runs, while Jose Abreu, Andrew Vaughn, Brian Goodwin and Gavin Sheets also went deep in the White Sox’ lopsided victory over the Twins … Josh Donaldson and Nelson Cruz slugged solo homers in the Twins’ loss to the White Sox … Harold Castro went 3-for-3 with three RBI, Jonathan Schoop tallied two hits and three RBI and Akil Baddoo went 3-for-5 with a stolen base to lead the Tigers to a win in the front-end of Wednesday’s twin-billing against the Indians … Bobby Bradley clobbered a pair of solo homers, while Jose Ramirez and Cesar Hernandez also went deep in the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Tigers … Eric Haase and Miguel Cabrera went deep as the Tigers emerged victorious over the Indians in the nightcap of the twin-billing as well … Dylan Moore tattooed a go-ahead three-run homer and also stole a base, lifting the Mariners to an extra-inning victory over the Blue Jays … Lourdes Gurriel Jr. went 2-for-4 with a game-tying solo homer and three RBI in the Blue Jays’ loss to the Mariners in an extra-inning marathon … Mike Zunino clubbed a two-run homer in the Rays’ lopsided defeat at the hands of the Nationals … Cedric Mullins stole a base, Ryan Mountcastle scalded a two-run double, and Austin Hays blasted a pinch-hit solo homer in the Orioles’ win over the Astros … Frank Schwindel hit a two-run homer in the Athletics’ narrow victory over the Rangers … Salvador Perez swatted a solo homer in the Royals’ loss to the Red Sox … Wily Peralta recorded five strikeouts over five scoreless innings in a win over the Indians … Luis Garcia was roughed up for four runs over four innings in a loss to the Orioles … Kolby Allard notched five strikeouts over six innings of three-run ball in a loss to the Athletics … Domingo German gave up three runs over three innings in a no-decision against the Angels … Justus Sheffield was torched for four runs over four innings in a no-decision against the Blue Jays … Steven Matz allowed four runs over 2 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Mariners … Jose Urena allowed four runs over 3 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Indians … Cal Quantrill served up four runs over 3 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Tigers … Bailey Ober was lit up for five runs over 3 1/3 innings in a loss to the White Sox … Matt Harvey allowed two runs over 4 1/3 frames in a no-decision against the Astros … Martin Perez allowed two runs over 5 1/3 innings in a win over the Royals … Mike Minor coughed up five runs over five innings in a loss to the Red Sox … Logan Allen gave up three runs (two earned) over 3 2/3 innings in a loss to the Tigers … White Sox placed Aaron Bummer on the 10-day injured list with a right hamstring strain and also activated Michael Kopech from the 10-day injured list … Astros placed Jose Urquidy on the 10-day injured list with right shoulder discomfort … Royals placed Emmanuel Rivera on the 10-day injured list with a left hamate fracture and recalled Edward Olivares from Triple-A Omaha … Astros designated Francis Martes for assignment.
National League Quick Hits: Juan Soto went 3-for-5 with two RBI and a pair of stolen bases before exiting Wednesday’s win over the Rays with an apparent left hamstring injury … Padres placed Blake Snell on the injured list due to illness … Kris Bryant (side) and Anthony Rizzo (back) remained out of the Cubs’ lineup Wednesday afternoon … Kolten Wong (calf) was held out of the Brewers’ lineup Wednesday … Colin Moran (wrist) remained sidelined from the Pirates’ starting lineup Wednesday … Fernando Tatis Jr. walloped his 26th round-tripper of the season in the Padres’ rain-shortened six-inning victory over the Reds … Ronald Acuna Jr. slugged a solo homer, Freddie Freeman went 3-for-3 with four runs scored, Austin Riley went 3-for-6 with three RBI and Ehire Adrianza drilled a two-run homer in the Braves’ lopsided victory over the Mets … Josh Bell went 2-for-3 with three RBI, and Starlin Castro went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and four RBI, powering the Nationals’ to a blowout win over the Rays … Paul Goldschmidt went 3-for-5 with an RBI in the Cardinals’ win over the Diamondbacks … Adam Duvall went 3-for-5 with a solo homer, Starling Marte tallied four hits and Joe Panik also went deep to lead the Marlins past the Phillies … C.J. Cron drilled a solo homer and Garrett Hampson went 4-for-5 with two RBI to lead the Rockies past the Pirates … Bryan Reynolds went 2-for-2 with a solo homer and a pair of walks in the Pirates’ loss to the Rockies … Pete Alonso swatted a two-run homer in the Mets’ loss to the Braves … Nick Castellanos went 2-for-3 with a three-run homer in the Reds’ loss to the Padres in a rain-shortened six-inning affair … Joe Musgrove yielded five runs over four innings and was credited with a win in a rain-shortened contest against the Reds … Jon Gray allowed two runs over six innings in a win over the Pirates … Kwang-Hyun Kim gave up one run over five frames in a win over the Diamondbacks … Vladimir Gutierrez coughed up six runs over 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Padres … Jon Lester served up five runs over five innings in a win over the Rays … Chad Kuhl was tagged for three runs over 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Rockies … Jordan Holloway allowed five runs over three innings in a no-decision against the Phillies … Riley Smith coughed up four runs over three innings in a loss to the Cardinals … David Peterson was charged with six runs (five earned) over three innings before departing Wednesday’s game against the Braves with an apparent injury … Patrick Wisdom exited Wednesday’s game against the Brewers due to neck tightness and a left eye contusion … Dellin Betances will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery … Reds optioned Tony Santillan to Triple-A Louisville.