With the third full month of the MLB season coming to a close, gone are the thoughts of hot and cold starts, as it’s all about the present now. Division leaders are emerging and we’re now able to begin distinguishing the pretenders from the contenders.
Many of the players on this list are now showing their true colors, and likely will up through the All-Star break.
Here are eight players that are either peaking at the right time or hurting their respective team by consistently struggling at their craft. Keep note of these hot players as their teams may be worth wagering on at Casino Shark.
4. Jon Lester
No doubt, the 32-year-old is widely forgotten these days. Rotation mate Jake Arrieta overshadows him primarily (with good reason). In terms of left-handed starters, a fellow by the name of Clayton Kershaw usually takes precedence (when he’s healthy). But Lester has emerged as one of the more dominant arms in the NL. In June, he went 4-0 with a 1.41 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP over 44.2 innings. Unfortunately, despite allowing just three runs over his last two starts, he’s been the victim of consecutive no-decisions.
3. Michael Fulmer
The trade deadline deal made last July 31 between the Tigers and Mets, featuring Yoenis Cespedes, was unquestionably a move that benefited New York. But now, we’re quickly finding out that it also helped Detroit. Fulmer, one of two prospects the Mets sent away in exchange for the power-hitting outfielder, is living up to the high praise placed upon him by his original organization. From late May through June 17, he was able to string together 33.1 scoreless innings, the second-longest streak by a rookie pitcher since 1961. That stellar run has helped him garner some lofty comparisons.
2. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant
It’s hard to choose one young Cubs slugger over the other. Rizzo has the edge in terms of averages for the month (a slash line of .384/.471/.756) and both share the same amount of runs driven in (21 apiece). It’s Bryant, though, who is responsible for the most staggering single-game performance. On Monday against the Reds at Great American Ballpark, the Chicago third baseman went 5-for-5 with six runs batted in, four runs scored, and made history with 16 total bases.
1. Jose Altuve
When it comes to Houston’s second baseman, less is more. Altuve stands just 5’6″ and weighs 165 pounds, but he’s done some seriously heavy lifting for the Astros offense during their recent surge. By going 4-for-5 on Wednesday in Anaheim, he extended a streak of reaching base safely in 32 consecutive games — concluding June with 42 hits and a .420 batting average. It was also his second four-hit performance over the past five days.
Seems Jose Altuve flirts with a cycle every other day or so. He’s a great player anyway you define it. @astros
— Richard Justice (@richardjustice) June 29, 2016
4. Michael Conforto
With four home runs and 18 RBIs in April, it appeared the Mets had their next great young star. Conforto may eventually turn into a quality everyday hitter, but the 23-year-old completely lost his way since the calendar turned to May. His struggles “earned” him a demotion to AAA Las Vegas last week, but considering how horrendous some other Mets hitters have performed, any signs of progression in the minors could easily lead to reprise in the big leagues before long.
3. James Shields
How do you think White Sox management is feeling about this trade? Shields’ June 29 outing against the Twins (in which he allowed one run over 6.2 innings) can’t overshadow the disastrous tenure he’s had since coming to Chicago from San Diego some four weeks ago. The only thing big about “Big Game James” is his ERA — a hefty 11.07 for June. Over his initial three starts representing the South Side, Shields allowed an amazing 31 runs in 8.2 innings of work.
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2. Ryan Zimmerman
The emergence of Wilson Ramos and the steady hitting of Daniel Murphy have pushed Zimmerman down the batting order. He drove in 12 runs during June, but was far too inconsistent at the plate — hitting a mere .188 and getting on base at just a 27 percent clip. And although he remains a veteran presence and one of the face’s of the franchise, he’s been relegated to an afterthought in the Nationals’ hierarchy.
1. Jhoulys Chacin
His recent stat line is not for the squeamish. In no start during the past month did Chacin (who was acquired by the Los Angeles Angels in May from the Atlanta Braves) last more than 5.1 innings and all his outings had him tagged for at least three runs. His June ERA was a staggering 8.59 with 17 walks and just seven strikeouts. Thanks to some run support by an otherwise so-so Angel offense, Chacin managed to get a victory against Minnesota. But overall, his month (and season, up to this point) can’t be looked at any other way than being a total loss.