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The Cardinals were a literal afterthought entering the final month of the regular season, but have stormed back into playoff contention, winning 14 of their last 20 games since September 1. Tommy Edman went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a pair of stolen bases and unheralded righty Jake Woodford tossed five scoreless innings on Tuesday night, improbably outdueling Brewers ace Brandon Woodruff, to lead St. Louis to their 10th consecutive victory. After dispatching the pitching-starved Padres last weekend, the Cardinals have taken two straight against the division-leading Brewers, going from a virtual lock to miss the postseason just a few weeks ago, to the overwhelming favorites to secure the senior circuit’s final playoff berth.
It’s been burgeoning fantasy stalwart Tyler O’Neill who has served as the Cardinals’ main offensive catalyst during their recent surge, hitting .319 (23-for-72) with seven homers, 17 RBI and three stolen bases this month. The 26-year-old outfielder delivered a go-ahead RBI sacrifice fly in the opening frame on Tuesday night and also made a run-saving catch in the left-field corner in the bottom of the frame. There was an additional positive development on Tuesday when ace Jack Flaherty, who has been on the shelf since late August due to a shoulder strain, faced hitters for the first time in his third throwing session. He’s expected to return in a piggyback role in the next few days and could provide another boost to their postseason chances. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, their reward for a surreal late-season surge is a potential one-game road playoff contest versus either the Dodgers or Giants, a pair of 100-win juggernauts, in early October. It feels inevitable that veterans Max Scherzer and either Adam Wainwright or Jon Lester will lock horns in a win-or-go-home elimination game between the Dodgers and Cardinals in less than two weeks, just like everyone predicted back in spring training.
Starting Pitchers with an EDGE
Brandon Woodruff vs. Cardinals
6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K
39% CSW, 17 swinging strikes
Woodruff didn’t get enough run support from the Brewers’ offense to eke out a victory on Tuesday night, but he racked up 10 strikeouts to eclipse the lofty 200-strikeout plateau for the season. It was his fifth double-digit strikeout effort of the year. The hard-throwing 28-year-old righty limited the Cardinals to just a pair of hits, generated 17 swinging strikes and finished with an elite 39 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs). He'll carry a stellar 2.52 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 208/43 K/BB ratio across 175 1/3 innings (29 starts) into a rematch against the Cardinals on Tuesday night. He’ll wind up as a first or second-round selection in all fantasy formats next spring.
Trevor Rogers vs. Nationals
5.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 10 K
31% CSW, 15 swinging strikes
Rogers looked like the first-half version on Tuesday night, piling up double-digit strikeouts for the second time this season, and also working into the sixth inning for the first time since June 29. The 23-year-old left-hander’s velocity was up significantly on all three of his offerings, which enabled him to generate 15 swinging strikes and finish with a strong 31 percent CSW. He’ll carry a sparkling 2.74 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 151/46 K/BB ratio across 128 innings (24 starts) into a road tilt against the Mets on Tuesday afternoon. He should be an early-round selection in fantasy drafts next spring.
Hitters with an EDGE
Shohei Ohtani vs. Astros
2-for-4, 2 R, HR (45), RBI
Ohtani crushed his 45th home run of the season on Tuesday night in the Angels' blowout loss to the Astros. He ended a nine-game homerless drought with a solo shot to right-center field off Astros righty reliever Cristian Javier in the eighth inning to pull within one homer of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Salvador Perez for the major-league lead in round-trippers this season. The 27-year-old two-way sensation is hitting .257/.358/.593 with 95 runs scored, 45 homers, 95 RBI and 23 stolen bases across 589 plate appearances and will most likely take home American League MVP honors at the conclusion of the season.
Kyle Tucker vs. Angels
1-for-4, R, HR (27), 3 RBI
Tucker set the tone early in the Astros’ one-sided win over the Angels, kicking off the scoring with a gargantuan two-run homer to right-center field off lefty Packy Naughton in the second inning. He also picked up an additional RBI with a fielder's choice against righty reliever Kyle Tyler in the sixth inning. The 24-year-old outfielder has blossomed into one of the most valuable five-category fantasy contributors in the game, slashing .296/.354/.557 with 78 runs scored, 27 homers, 87 RBI and 13 stolen bases across 522 plate appearances.
Austin Riley vs. Diamondbacks
1-for-4, R, HR (30), 2 RBI
Riley clobbered a 424-foot two-run moonshot to left-center field off righty Luke Weaver in the opening frame, snapping a 12-game homerless drought, and reaching the 30-homer plateau for the first time in his career. The 24-year-old third baseman has put together a remarkable breakthrough campaign, slashing .300/.369/.524 with 83 runs scored, 30 homers and 94 RBI across 616 plate appearances.
Aaron Judge vs. Rangers
2-for-4, R, HR (36), 3 RBI
Giancarlo Stanton, Joey Gallo and Judge homered on Tuesday evening in the Yankees’ lopsided victory over the Rangers. It was Judge who put the finishing touches on the blowout victory with a mammoth three-run shot to right-center field off southpaw Kolby Allard in the seventh inning. The 29-year-old middle-of-the-order force has gone deep six times over his last 11 games and is up to 36 round-trippers this season.
Victor Reyes vs. White Sox
4-for-4, R, 2B, 2 RBI, SB (5)
It’s been a bit of a lost season for Reyes, who has missed time due to injury, shuttled back-and-forth between the Tigers’ roster and Triple-A Toledo, and registered an underwhelming .250/.277/.407 triple-slash line with five homers and five steals across 215 plate appearances at the major-league level. The 26-year-old outfielder has shown some flashes of fantasy relevance due to his double-digit stolen base potential. He tallied a season-high four hits on Tuesday afternoon, including a two-run single off lefty reliever Aaron Bummer in the seventh inning, and also stole a base in the Tigers’ victory over the White Sox. It’s unclear whether he’ll blossom into an everyday player next season (or in the future) but he’s worth monitoring in deeper fantasy formats moving forward.
Michael Fulmer vs. White Sox
1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (11th save)
With primary stopper Gregory Soto sidelined for the remainder of the season, Fulmer has taken over as the preferred option in Detroit moving forward. The 28-year-old righty has excelled in relief this season and managed to hang on Tuesday afternoon against the White Sox, recording the final four outs of the Tigers’ victory. He’s converted 11 of 15 save opportunities this season.
Emmanuel Clase vs. Royals
1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (24th save)
Clase has arguably been the most valuable closer in baseball in the second half, allowing just three runs on 14 hits with a 29/2 K/BB ratio across 29 innings since the Midsummer Classic. The hard-throwing 23-year-old righty has converted 24 of his 28 save chances this season. He’ll be one of the first closers off the board in fantasy drafts next spring.
Jordan Romano vs. Rays
1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 K (20th save)
Romano was summoned to protect a two-run lead in the ninth inning and managed to induce a game-ending fly out from Joey Wendle to strand the bases loaded in the final frame. The 28-year-old righty has reeled off seven consecutive scoreless appearances since September 7. He’s converted 20 of 21 save opportunities this season.
Giovanny Gallegos vs. Brewers
1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K (11th save)
Gallegos made things interesting in the ninth inning on Tuesday, loading the bases before striking out pinch-hitter Pablo Reyes to preserve the Cardinals’ narrow one-run victory over the Brewers. The 30-year-old righty has recorded nine saves since taking over as the team’s primary stopper back on August 30.
Alex Vesia vs. Rockies
0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (1st save)
With Kenley Jansen unavailable after tossing a scoreless ninth inning earlier in the contest, Brusdar Graterol and Vesia combined to record the final three outs of the Dodgers’ extra-inning victory over the Rockies on Tuesday night. The 25-year-old rookie lefty has emerged as one of the most valuable relievers in the Dodgers’ bullpen, recording a 2.45 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 49/19 K/BB ratio across 36 2/3 innings this season.
Drew Steckenrider vs. A’s
1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (10th save)
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EDGE Priority Pickup
Shane Baz, SP, Rays
Baz delivered one of the more impressive major-league debuts in recent memory on Monday evening, recording five strikeouts and allowing just two runs over five innings to collect a win against a formidable Blue Jays’ lineup. The dynamic 22-year-old righty induced an eye-popping 15 swinging strikes and finished with a robust 32 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs). He gave up a pair of solo homers, but those represented the lone hits against him in a fabulous effort. He’s lined up to face the Astros on Tuesday evening in a challenging road tilt, but showcased enough strikeout upside to warrant a roster spot in all fantasy formats moving forward.
American League Quick Hits: Chris Bassitt (face) will return to the Athletics' starting rotation on Thursday against the Mariners … White Sox manager Tony La Russa said he's hopeful that Carlos Rodon (arm) is dealing with normal soreness … Jonathan Loaisiga (shoulder) threw from a distance of 120 feet on Tuesday … Xander Bogaerts went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and four RBI to lead the Red Sox to a win over the Mets … Lourdes Gurriel Jr. went 2-for-4 with a solo homer to power the Blue Jays to a victory over the Rays … Nick Gordon tallied three hits, including a two-run homer to lift the Twins over the Cubs … Akil Baddoo went 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI to lead the Tigers past the White Sox … Ernie Clement hit a solo homer and Yu Chang delivered a three-run triple to propel Cleveland to a win over the Royals … J.P. Crawford went 3-for-5 with a solo homer and two RBI to power the Mariners to a victory over the Athletics … Jose Altuve went 2-for-5 with a two-run homer in the Astros’ win over the Angels … Starling Marte went 2-for-3 with a solo homer and Matt Olson clubbed a solo shot in the Athletics’ loss to the Mariners … Luis Robert went 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI in the White Sox’ loss to the Tigers … Hunter Dozier belted a solo homer in the Royals’ loss to Cleveland … Andy Ibanez went 3-for-4 with a double in the Rangers’ loss to the Yankees … Brandon Lowe reached base safely in three of his five plate appearances in the Rays’ loss to the Blue Jays … Phil Gosselin drilled a three-run homer in the Angels’ blowout loss to the Astros … Alek Manoah struck out seven, walked six and allowed two runs over six innings in a win over the Rays … Cal Quantrill notched six strikeouts and allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings in a win over the Royals … Jordan Montgomery fanned six batters and allowed one run over 5 2/3 innings in a win over the Rangers … Jose Urquidy allowed four runs over 5 1/3 innings on Tuesday in a win over the Angels … Marco Gonzales allowed two runs over six innings in a win over the Athletics … Eduardo Rodriguez gave up two runs over 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Mets … Drew Rasmussen yielded two runs over five innings in a no-decision against the Blue Jays … Dallas Keuchel allowed two runs over five innings in a no-decision against the Tigers … Tyler Alexander gave up two runs over five innings in a no-decision against the White Sox … Griffin Jax was shelled for three runs over three innings in a no-decision against the Cubs … Daniel Lynch coughed up four runs over six innings in a loss to Cleveland … Dane Dunning gave up two runs over 2 2/3 innings in a loss to the Yankees … Packy Naughton surrendered four runs over four innings on Tuesday in a loss to the Astros … Paul Blackburn was charged with four runs (three earned) over four innings in a loss to the Mariners … Luis Severino tossed two scoreless innings in a relief appearance against the Rangers. It was his first big-league appearance since the 2019 ALCS.
National League Quick Hits: Dodgers placed Cody Bellinger on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to September 18, with a left rib fracture … Jacob deGrom (elbow) threw 20 pitches off the mound at Fenway Park on Tuesday … Noah Syndergaard (elbow, COVID-19) will make a rehab appearance with Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday … Seth Beer will undergo season-ending surgery on Thursday to repair his dislocated left shoulder … A.J. Pollock (hamstring) is set to be activated from the 10-day injured list on Thursday ... J.T. Realmuto walloped a walk-off two-run triple, lifting the Phillies to an extra-inning victory over the Orioles … Albert Pujols delivered a go-ahead RBI single in the 10th inning to lift the Dodgers to an extra-inning victory over the Rockies … Ke’Bryan Hayes went 3-for-5 with an RBI and a stolen base in the Pirates’ win over the Reds … Ozzie Albies hit a two-run homer and Jorge Soler slugged a solo shot in the Braves’ win over the Diamondbacks … Alcides Escobar hit a two-run double in the Nationals’ win over the Marlins … Pete Alonso belted a solo homer in the Mets’ loss to the Red Sox … Willson Contreras went 2-for-3 with a solo homer and two RBI in the Cubs’ loss to the Twins … C.J. Cron went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI in the Rockies’ extra-inning loss to the Dodgers … Nick Fortes went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in the Marlins’ loss to the Nationals … Kyle Farmer went 3-for-4 with a run scored in the Reds’ loss to the Pirates … Daulton Varsho singled, walked and stole a base on Tuesday in the Diamondbacks' loss to the Braves … Jake Woodford whiffed five batters over five scoreless innings in a win over the Brewers … Josh Rogers yielded one run over 7 2/3 innings in a win over the Marlins … Mitch Keller gave up two runs over 5 2/3 innings in a win over the Reds … Kevin Gausman surrendered four runs over four innings in a no-decision against the Padres … Julio Urias was charged with four runs over six innings in a no-decision against the Rockies … Antonio Senzatela allowed four runs over six innings in a no-decision against the Dodgers … Joe Musgrove gave up five runs over 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Giants … Marcus Stroman surrendered four runs over five innings in a loss to the Red Sox … Tyler Mahle fanned six batters and allowed three runs over 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Pirates … Alec Mills was charged with seven runs (six earned) over four innings in a loss to the Twins … Luke Weaver was charged with five runs (three earned) over 6 2/3 innings on Tuesday in a loss to the Braves.