Amidst a barrage of home run records, Wild Card chases and the start of the football season, Sunday featured some tremendous starting pitching performances. Jack Flaherty fired eight shutout innings giving up five hits and a walk with 10 strikeouts en route to his 10th win. He generated 20 swinging strikes and 18 called for a 33.9 called plus swinging strike (CSW) percentage while continuing his surge in the second half:



Flaherty currently owns the second-best ERA in history in any second half behind only Jake Arrieta ’s 0.75 in 2015. 

Gerrit Cole racked up 15 strikeouts over eight innings giving up a solo home run representing the only hit and run he yielded in an Astros rout. Cole’s the second pitcher with at least 14 strikeouts in three consecutive starts joining Pedro Martinez (1999) and he moved his team record of at least 10 strikeouts to 17 games this year. This outing also marks his sixth of the season with double digit strikeouts with no walks tying a major league record. Only Clayton Kershaw (2016), Randy Johnson (2004) and Curt Schilling (2002) share this feat with Cole. Here’s a taste of Cole’s day versus Seattle:



Pretty good timing considering Cole will be a free agent this winter in a climate starved for starting pitching. Cole also produced an eye popping 24 swinging strikes with 27 called for a 53.1 CSW percentage. 

Here’s the other notable starting pitcher notes from Sunday:

  • Sandy Alcantara , Miami: 102 pitches, 11 swinging strikes, 22 called, 32.4 CSW%. On any other day, Alcantara’s complete game shutout would lead the way. He’s fired two such outings this season and one of three pitchers to do so this season. Alcantara yielded four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts. Over his last six starts, Alcantara’s ERA lowered to 2.68 in them with 38 strikeouts in 43.2 innings. 

  • Max Scherzer , Washington: 98 pitches, 17 swinging strikes, 18 called, 35.7 CSW%. Scherzer recorded his 10th win allowing two hits, one earned run and two walks with nine strikeouts in Atlanta. With his team reeling, Scherzer’s start proves timely. 

  • Mike Clevinger , Cleveland: 113 pitches, 18 swinging strikes, 17 called, 31 CSW%. Clevinger gave up four hits, two earned runs and two walks with seven strikeouts during his 11th win. Each of his last 10 decisions dating back to July third has resulted in a win. 

  • Sean Manaea , Oakland: 96 pitches, 23 swinging strikes, 14 called, 38.5 CSW%. Back from injury, Manaea surged ceding two hits, one earned run and two walks with 10 strikeouts for his first win of the year. Yes, he will be in a six man rotation, but Manaea’s planting the seeds for a potential breakout in 2020. However, he needs to prove health will not be an issue going forward. 

Hitter Highlights: Houston explodes, again

Behind Cole’s strong pitching performance, the Astros also scored 21 runs accruing 11 doubles, 22 hits and some history along the way:



And unfortunately for Félix Hernández :



Yordan Alvarez snapped out of a slump going 4-for-6 with three doubles and six RBI. As a team, Houston owns a 16-1 record versus Seattle this year with 55 home runs. 

In Cincinnati, Eugenio Suárez launched two more home runs moving within one of the major league lead. He’s hit 10 home runs since August 25th driving in 17 and:



During a loss, Ketel Marte hit his 32nd home run as his breakout season continues:



Both Francisco Lindor and Scott Kingery homered along with stealing a base on Sunday. For Lindor, he’s up to 29 home runs and 21 stolen bases needing one more home run to become the second primary shortstop to record three or more 30+ home run seasons before turning 26. Kingery went 1-for-4 with his 18th home run and 12th stolen base in a win over the Mets. 

Mitch Garver hit his 29th home run and owns a .634 slugging percentage through 82 games. He’s also on fire hitting .474 (nine-for-his-last-19) with six home runs, nine RBI and a 2.051 on-base plus slugging percentage his last eight contests. 

It’s tough to notice a hot Marlins hitter, but Starlin Castro racked up two more hits including his 18th home run on Sunday. Since June 28th, he’s hitting .324 with 36 runs, 17 doubles, 13 home runs, 44 RBI and notched 24 multiple-hit games. 

Yan Gomes hit two home runs in Atlanta and Juan Soto continues to make history swatting his 33rd home run: 



Last, but not least, the Yankees broke their team record for home runs in a season on Aaron Judge ’s 21st dinger in the fifth inning. He’s homered in five of his last 11, in eight of his last 15 and nine of his last 18 contests. Gleyber Torres also hit his 35th home run and 20th against an American League East opponent. He leads all major league middle infielders in the category at the age of 22. 

Bullpen Notes: Iglesias gets a little help from his friend

Entering a tied game in the top of the ninth, Raisel Iglesias worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. Then, his teammates rallied in the bottom of the inning with fellow reliever Michael Lorenzen providing the walk-off win: 



It’s the third win of the year for Iglesias who stays entrenched as the closer despite his streakiness in the role. 

Here’s the rest of the high leverage events from Sunday:

  • Héctor Neris locked down his 24th save despite giving up two hits with two strikeouts in New York. 

  • Notching his 19th save since July fourth, Carlos Martínez preserved Flaherty’s shutout win. 

  • Back on track, Josh Hader recorded his 29th save striking out both hitters he faced on Sunday. 

  • Save number 34 for Brad Hand walking one and striking out one. 

  • Liam Hendriks secured his 19th save with a clean ninth inning and a strikeout. Over his last 32 outings, Hendriks owns a 1.85 ERA. 

  • Keeping the game tied, Kirby Yates fired a clean inning striking out two and Craig Stammen gets his eighth win with two strikeouts. 

  • Kenta Maeda took over for the Dodgers in the third inning tossing four shutout innings allowing one hit with six strikeouts for his ninth win. 

What To Watch For

For starters, a new general manager in Boston next year with news of Dave Dombrowski being relieved of his duties after Sunday night’s loss to the Yankees. It’s been a rough season for the Red Sox and it appears Dombrowski will be the fall guy. Rough news with Mookie Betts on the verge of free agency so the ripple effects will be intriguing. 

As for baseball, the Wild Card races continue to evolve with some clarity emerging in the American League. A three-way race between Tampa Bay, Oakland, and Cleveland ensues:

Prior to action this week, Tampa Bay owns the highest chance of 85.6 percent then Oakland at 76.8 percent and Cleveland trying to remain in contention in spite of a rash of injuries at 37.9 percent. Mike Fiers will start in Houston and Shane Bieber toes the rubber for the Indians against the Angels. 

On the senior circuit, Washington leads the pack with a 96.3 percent chance of the postseason but some juxtapositioning could occur behind them the rest of the way: 

Arizona faces the Mets with Merrill Kelly on the bump facing Jacob deGrom trying to keep New York in the conversation. Chicago heads to San Diego with Kyle Hendricks on the mound but with injuries piling up while awaiting news about the status of Javier Báez

Be sure to stay with Fantasy Alarm to remain ahead of the competition across all fantasy formats going forward. 

Statistical Credits: - Game Notes