By Jesse Pantuosco, Fantasy Sports Writer
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Anybody remember baseball? That sport with the ball and the bat?
Now that football is in season, most of us have left baseball for dead like Tom Hanks in the movie "Castaway." I think I may have even seen the camera pan to Bobby Valentine talking to a volleyball in Thursday night's Red Sox/Yankees game.
I'm here to say that this is unacceptable. America's pastime plays second fiddle to no one.
If you've been too caught up following RG3's and Matt Ryan's success on the gridiron to notice what's been happening on the diamond, here's what you may have missed:
1. Jeremy Guthrie got really good: Trust me, I'm as shocked as you are. Guthrie was laughably awful during his stint with the Colorado Rockies earlier in the year (3-9, 6.35 ERA in 19 appearances). However, the Royals were equally fed up with their own underachieving starter Jonathan Sanchez (1-6, 7.76 in 12 starts), leading to a midseason swap that sent Sanchez to Colorado and Guthrie to Kansas City.
So far, the move has paid off for the third-place Royals. Guthrie is a stellar 2-0 with a 1.21 ERA in his last three starts. If you take away his mess of an outing August 25 in Boston (6 ER in 2 1/3 innings), his ERA over his last six appearances is a stunning 0.60. Not bad for a player who looked like he was headed for Triple-A about two months ago.
2. Pujols is still Pujols: That 27-game homerless streak to begin the season is ancient history. In the 110 games since, Pujols has left the yard a remarkable 30 times. With his home run Wednesday night against Oakland, Pujols became the fourth player in big league history to record 12 seasons in a row of 30-plus homers (Barry Bonds, Jimmie Foxx and Alex Rodriguez are the others). With four more RBI, he'll have reached 100 ribbies in a season for the 11th time in his career.
3. Trumbo is stumbling: While Pujols has enjoyed a second-half surge, the season's second act hasn't been as kind to teammate Mark Trumbo. The struggling Angels outfielder has managed just eight homers since the All-Star break after ripping 22 round-trippers in the first half. He's hitting .215 since July 13 (.306 prior to that date) and just .107 in 28 at bats in September. Yikes.
4. The Phils are coming back: You're not dreaming. The Phillies are indeed back in the Wild Card race. Philadelphia is 15-5 in its last 20 games and righthander Kyle Kendrick is a big reason why. Over his last six starts, Kendrick is 5-1 with a 1.49 ERA. His strikeout to walk ratio in that span is 4.71 to 1. It also doesn't hurt that Cliff Lee has figured out how to win again. He's undefeated in his last six outings (3-0, 1.73).
5. Don't count out the Brew Crew: Milwaukee is scorching hot right now. The Brewers have won 18 of their last 23 contests and are now just three and a half back in the NL Wild Card race. Rickie Weeks has kept Milwaukee afloat with six home runs since the start of September (only Adrian Beltre and Mark Reynolds have tallied more homers this month). Meanwhile, left fielder Ryan Braun has silenced his critics by producing a career-high 38 long balls and a .310 batting average.
6. Aces in Oakland: Losing Bartolo Colon (drug suspension) and Brandon McCarthy (fractured skull) within three weeks of each other would be enough to sink most team's playoff chances. Yet, somehow the resilient A's just keep chugging along.
Maybe their impossibly deep starting rotation has something to do with it. Before Thursday's loss to the Angels, Brett Anderson had been 4-0 with a 0.69 ERA since his return from the disabled list. No-name righthander A.J. Griffin has been just as dominant, compiling a 0.89 ERA in his last three appearances (3-0). Of the last 82 batters the 24-year-old has faced, Griffin has walked only one of them (Mariners first baseman Luis Jimenez).
7. Gio dominating: Pretty soon we might be referring to Gio Gonzalez as "NL Cy Young winner Gio Gonzalez." The Nationals ace has an absurd 0.41 ERA over his last three starts and leads the major leagues with 19 wins this season.
Gonzalez has been able to keep hitters off-balance all season with his deadly fastball. The average velocity on his heater this year is 93.4 mph, eighth- fastest among MLB starting pitchers (his teammate Stephen Strasburg leads the majors at 95.8 mph). With one more victory, Gonzalez will become the franchise's first 20-game winner since Ross Grimsely accomplished the feat back in 1978.
8. Jeter is raking: The captain is still kicking. The 38-year-old went wild last weekend in Baltimore (9-for-19 with four RBI) and carries an eight-game hitting streak into Friday night's series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays.
His .323 average is the American League's fourth-best and Jeter's highest since 2009 (.334). If Jeter can pass Mike Trout by the end of the season (Trout leads Jeter by eight points), he'll be the league's oldest batting champion since Barry Bonds won it at age 40 back in 2004.
Of course, you're never going to find guys like Jeter or Pujols on the waiver wire. Griffin (36 percent owned on Yahoo), Guthrie (15 percent) and Kendrick (45 percent) are a different story. Each would be a valuable add for any fantasy owner looking for a difference maker in the season's final two weeks.
09/14 17:58:45 ET