Studs and duds: September 11 – September 17

Offensive stud: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Blue Jays). With another hit and a run last night, Toronto’s hot hitting Gurriel stays the stud for one more day.

In the past week, the outfielder has hit .391/.481/.826 with 3 home runs, 12 RBI and 8 runs scored. In the week ending September 10, he hit .346/.419/.692. This is an extended run of excellence for the slugger, who is one of six Blue Jays with at least 80 RBI and who is third on the club in doubles with 26, behind Marcus Semien (37) and Teoscar Hernandez (27).

Gurriel was signed by the Blue Jays in November 2016 and by 2018, was in the majors. Little minor league conditioning was necessary—he hit .281 with 11 home runs and 35 RBI in 65 games his rookie season and has only gotten better each year. 2021 has been his first full campaign, as he has never played more than 84 games in a big league season before this.

Honorable mention: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays; .500/.552/.846, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 11 R).

Offensive dud: Aristides Aquino (OF, Reds). Aquino has been the dud before, and here he is again, this time with a 0-for-7, 4 strikeout, one error showing since August 11.

This whole season has been a struggle for the outfielder, who hasn’t hit over .200 since August 21 and who has batted .111 with 24 strikeouts in his past 63 at-bats. In his past 42 ABs, he has hit .095 with 17 Ks. Though he doesn’t hit well anywhere, being away from Great American Ball Park, the Reds home turf, really hurts him. In 86 at-bats on the road, he has slashed .140/.232/.291; at home, his line is 233/.364/.534 in 73 ABs.

Aquino excited Reds fans with 19 home runs and 47 RBI in 56 games as rookie in 2019. The excitement has faded: Since 2020, he has batted .180 with 11 home runs and 38 RBI in 97 games.

Dishonorable mention: Andrew Young (2B, Diamondbacks; 2-for-13, 5 K, 2 E).

Castillo owns a career 9.8 K/9 IP ratio. (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Luis Castillo (SP, Reds). It hasn’t been an optimal year for Castillo, who leads the National League with 15 losses and carries a 4.08 ERA through 31 starts.

However, it is never too late to right the ship, and that’s what he has done his past two appearances: In 13 1/3 innings, he allowed just 3 walks and 4 runs, while striking out 15 batters. His 2.70 ERA brought his season mark down a little further—it was 4.53 as recently as August 9.

The 28-year-old was an All-Star in 2019 and has been bubbling under superstardom his whole career. In his rookie season, 2017, he finished 8th in Rookie of the Year voting after posting a 3.12 ERA, 144 ERA+ and 9.9 K/9 IP ratio in 89 1/3 innings. In 2019, he was 15-8, 3.40 with 226 strikeouts in 190 2/3 frames and last year, he had a 3.12 mark, 154 ERA+ and 89 Ks in 70 innings. To fully blossom, he needs a shift to a consistently winning team. The Reds are not it.

Honorable mention: Zack Wheeler (SP, Phillies; 2-0 W-L, 11 2/3 IP, 3 BB, 14 K, 1.54 ERA).

Pitching dud: Tyler Wells (RP, Orioles). Nothing’s changed for Wells. He’s still the dud. His past week (0-2 W-L, 6 ER, 2 BSV, 1 2/3 IP) still stunk. He hasn’t pitched since the 15th. I wonder why.

Dishonorable mention: Kyle Finnegan (RP, Nationals; 4 IP, 7 H, 2 HR, 6 ER, 0-2 W-L, 2 BSV).

Studs and duds: September 10 – September 16

Teoscar Hernandez’s reign ends, but he was just replaced by another Blue Jay.

Offensive stud: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Blue Jays). Oh my Lourde, I cannot get over how well the Blue Jays are doing.

And Gurriel is a big part of it—in the past week, he’s slashed .435/.536/.870 with 3 home runs, 12 RBI and 5 walks in 23 at-bats. The Cuban defector has been a steady, consistent performer since joining Toronto at 24 years old in 2018, hitting .283 with 19 home runs and 80 RBI this year and .285 with 61 home runs and 198 RBI for his career.

The slugger has really ratcheted it up over the past couple months, however, batting .361/.431/.639 with 7 home runs and 36 RBI in 33 games since August 10; the excellent on-base percentage is incredible, as he owns a mediocre .327 mark on the year and for his career. His average is .385 this month and .321 in the second half.

Not bad, not bad. Also not too shabby: His brother. The elder Yuli, of the Astros, is hitting .315 this season after clobbering 31 home runs with 104 RBI in 2019.

Honorable mention: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays; .481/.533/.815, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 11 R)

Anderson has batted .319 in 282 games since 2019. (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Tim Anderson (SS, White Sox). Uh, this is the same Tim Anderson that was an All-Star this year, right? And the one who won a batting crown in 2019? And a Silver Slugger in 2020? Like Gio Urshela before him, the return from the injured list hasn’t been pleasant for Anderson, who in two games has committed 3 errors, while going 2-for-10 with 5 strikeouts at the plate.

Unlike previous duds, this poor sampling is just a blip—Anderson is still batting .300 on the year—and he’ll likely return to his usual self soon. Last month, he hit .315 with a .543 slugging mark.

Dishonorable mention: Andrew Young (2B, Diamondbacks; 2-for-16, 6 K, 2 E).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). Ray stays on top after striking out 21 batters to just 2 walks in 11 1/3 innings over his past two starts.

I’ve gone on about Ray plenty in the past, but I have to be cautious. He has all the makings of a one-year wonder: 6.8 of his 15.2 career WAR have come this season alone, while before 2021, he was 49-51 with a 4.26 ERA and 103 ERA+.; this year, he is 12-5 with a 2.64 ERA and 167 ERA+. He’s always been a master of the strikeout, however, as prior to this campaign he averaged 11.1 per nine innings, while his number is 11.8 this year.

I’m not confident Ray will ever duplicate this season. His trajectory is looking a bit like Dallas Keuchel’s—an underwhelming first few years, a Cy Young season in his prime, then a slide into good-very good territory.

Honorable mention: Julio Urias (SP, Dodgers; 2-0 W-L, 12 IP, 12 K, 3 BB, 1.50 ERA).

Pitching dud: Tyler Wells (RP, Orioles). It is going to be a while before anyone worsts this hurler’s 2 blown saves, 2 losses, 5 hits, 2 walks, 1 home run and 6 runs allowed in 1 2/3 innings over the past week.

Despite his recent cold streak, Wells, a 2020 Rule V Draft pick taken from the Twins, has been one of the Orioles’ most-used relievers this season. Appearing in 40 games (fifth-most on the club), he has—despite his 4.17 ERA—been one of its best pitchers, as well. His 112 ERA+ is second among active relief pitchers on the club, behind only Cole Sulser’s 157.

He’s not what I would call a bright spot, but at least he doesn’t make Baltimore fans groan in agony every time he takes the field … unlike the majority of the team.

Dishonorable mention: Alberto Baldonado (RP, 2 2/3 IP, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 BSV, 1 L).