Closing Time: Talking Jake Arrieta and more

Philadelphia PhilliesJake Arrieta throws a gem and a look around Tuesday’s fantasy baseball action (AP Photo).

• Jake Arrieta picked up the win Tuesday by tossing seven scoreless innings against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, which was encouraging considering he entered with a 5.12 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP with an ugly 6:8 K:BB ratio over 19.1 innings on the road this season. Despite the extreme splits, he now sports a 2.16 ERA and 1.15 WHIP on the year, but his K/9 (6.17) and K% (17.0) are both extremely underwhelming (especially in today’s climate) and well below his usual marks. In fact, Arrieta came into Tuesday’s start with an alarming 6.6 SwStr% that ranked No. 86 out of 89 qualified starters.

He does an excellent job of inducing weak contact and groundballs, so a total collapse isn’t likely forthcoming, but Arrieta’s 4.3 HR/FB% seems especially fluky given only Yankee Stadium has boosted home runs more than Citizens Bank Park over the past three years, and the Phillies’ poor defense doesn’t help either. Arrieta’s coming off another strong outing and now sports a 0.90 ERA this month, but there are real warning signs suggesting you should see if you can sell high.

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• Michael Brantley went 3-for-4 with a homer, extending his hitting streak to 18 games and giving him a .343/.380/.573 season line. He’s back hitting the ball hard again and looks healthier than he has in years while cutting his strikeouts way down. Brantley is still likely a bigger injury risk than most, but it appears he’s back to being a star again, in which I admit I was skeptical. Cleveland entered having scored 24 more runs than any other team in baseball in May.

• Juan Soto went 3-for-3 with a walk and a steal. The rookie didn’t run much in the minors, and the Baltimore battery of Dylan Bundy and Chance Cisco was also abused for two bags by Michael Taylor, but Soto now sports a 5:5 K:BB ratio and a 195 wRC+ over his first nine games. He’s 19 years old.

• Daniel Palka had two hits for the third time in his last four games and homered out of the cleanup spot. The rookie is a batting average risk thanks to a high strikeout rate, but he has decent power potential and is available in more than 95 percent of leagues. The White Sox’s home park has increased home runs for left-handers by 22 percent over the last three seasons, which is the third-most in MLB over that span.

• Jeimer Candelario homered for the third time in five games since coming off the disabled list, and he’s now batting .274/.367/.530 on the year and locked in as Detroit’s No. 3 hitter. Comerica has continued to play as a big hitter’s park this year, and Candelario isn’t even owned in a quarter of leagues.

• Eddie Rosario, who entered with a .299-32-98-13 line over the last year, had another three hits. He’s carried over last season’s change in the second half, when he really increased his launch angle, and it sure seems to be working.

• Evan Gattis’ hot streak continued, as he hit another homer and is up to nine RBI over his past five games. He picked a good time to raise his OPS 100 points over the past week, as he’s remained a regular since J.D. Davis was called up.

• Chris Devenski was given a save opportunity, but he blew it by allowing Brett Gardner‘s second homer of the game. Devenski had been dominant this season, and Ken Giles is tough to trust right now, but it remains to be seen who gets the next save chance in Houston. It’d be shocking if the Astros don’t trade for a closer this summer.

• I talked about Brandon Nimmo during my latest pickups piece, and he added two steals hitting leadoff Tuesday night. He sports a .271/.422/.533 line with five homers, five steals and 22 runs scored over 107 at bats this season and is still available in nearly 80 percent of leagues.

• Asdrubal Cabrera knocked two homers, and his current OPS (.903) is nearly 100 points higher than his previous career-best mark (.810). He’s on pace to finish with 31 homers, 94 runs scored and 106 RBI. The 32-year-old is 2B/SS/3B eligible and was a relative afterthought during most drafts.

• Felipe Vazquez pitched a scoreless inning, which was good to see after he blew his third straight save Sunday and then reported forearm discomfort. He might be someone to shop right now.

• Jeff Samardzija left after the first inning with a tight right shoulder, while Buster Posey hit just his third long ball of the year (and first away from home). Evan Longoria also went deep twice, and he’s already halfway to last year’s HR total of 20 and somehow has a healthy 113 wRC+ despite hitting .149/.167/.277 with a 16:1 K:BB ratio over the first dozen games with his new team in San Francisco.

• Matt Carpenter homered for the third time in the last four games and added two walks, as St. Louis’ patience with the veteran has paid off. He’s raised his OPS 220 points over the last two weeks and has been back hitting leadoff.

• Kenta Maeda was pulled in the second inning with a right hip strain, burning many DFS owners in what was a terrific matchup. It’s been dangerous to be a Dodgers starting pitcher this season.

• Sergio Romo recorded his first save of the year (and his first since 2016), as he’s apparently toggling between starting and closing. Romo gave up two runs, has a 6.33 ERA on the year and isn’t a great bet for further saves given his struggles against lefties, as Tampa Bay’s ninth-inning situation remains up in the air.

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