Frank Schwindel is a feel good story. Let’s enjoy his excellent play while he’s on top. Also, Robbie Ray is back.
Offensive stud: Frank Schwindel (1B, Cubs). Schwindel is certainly the least likely Stud we’ve had so far. The 29-year-old rookie, who debuted two years ago with a 1-for-15 showing for Kansas City, has hit an incredible .462/.500/1.038 with 5 home runs, 12 RBI and 7 runs scored over the past week. And he’s not swinging randomly and getting lucky—in 26 at-bats, he has just 3 strikeouts.
With three 3-hit games in a row, he is riding a seven-game hitting streak and hasn’t gone more than one game without a knock since August 21. Since being selected off waivers by Chicago from Pittsburgh on July 18, he has hit .370/.409/.706 with 10 home runs, 8 doubles, 29 RBI and 22 runs scored. His season average has gone from .143 to .338 in a little more than a month.
Honorable mention: Lourdes Gourriel (OF, Blue Jays; .389/.450/.944, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 1 GS).
Offensive dud: Charlie Culberson (3B, Rangers). Culberson’s shoddy performance over the past seven days (1-for-6, 2 K, 3 E) keeps him in this inglorious position. Depressed offensive statistics are the norm for the utilityman, who last year had an OPS+ of 2 in 9 games with Atlanta and who, in 95 games with Colorado in 2014, slashed just .195/.253/.290 with 62 strikeouts in 210 at-bats. Though his defensive versatility is a plus, his defense as a whole is middling, as his career dWAR is -1.5. On the bright side, he ranks sixth in the American League in sacrifice hits this season, with 4.
Dishonorable mention: Ryan McKenna (OF, Orioles; 1-for-11, 8 K, 1 E).
Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). Another week, another incredible run by Robbie Ray. In 13 2/3 frames over his past two starts, both of which he won, Ray Ked 20 men and walked just 4; batters hit .111 against him and scored just 2 earned runs. That brings his ERA since June 1 to 2.05 in 114 innings.
While Toronto has pitched well this season—their 3.89 team ERA is fifth-best in the American League—Ray and his league-leading 2.60 ERA and 172 ERA+ stand head and shoulders above the rest of the staff. No other starter has an mark under 3.63 (Alek Manoah).
If I was a betting man, I would say the Cy Young race will be between Ray and Gerrit Cole, who is 14-6 with a 2.73 ERA and league-leading 215 strikeouts. For his part, Ray is also pacing the loop in innings pitched (166), batters faced (657) and H/9 IP ratio (6.7).
Honorable mention: Julio Urias (SP, Dodgers; 2-0 W-L, 11 2/3 IP, 15 K, 2.31 ERA).
Pitching dud: Dillon Tate (RP, Orioles). Tate won’t go away for another day; because of his poor play, he’s here to stay. Three losses in three appearances will do that to you, especially when your job is to, uh, maintain the lead. Andres Machado (2 2/3 IP, 5 ER, 2 L, 1 BSV) and Joe Smith (1/3 IP, 2 ER, 1 L, 1 BSV) were close on his tail, but his futility keeps him here yet again. I’d say, “send him packing, Baltimore!” but who, really, can replace him?
Dishonorable mention: Andres Machado (RP, Nationals; 2 2/3 IP, 5 ER, 2 L, 1 BSV).