Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 11/15/14

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1. Jose Altuve went 4-for-5 for the Astros and has his season average up to .377. He scored three more runs, giving him five in the last two games, and has been a real catalyst at the top of a pretty good Houston offense. He’s struck out 11 times in 69 at-bats (15.9%), which is a pretty good rate, and he’s walked seven times in 79 plate appearances (8.9%). That’s not too bad either. Both rates are pretty much in line with his minor league numbers, and he has a career .327 average in the minors. He probably won’t be that good for Houston, but it shows his potential. Imagine a .300 season with 80-90 runs and 20-30 steals. That’s a great value. The word play with his name? That’s just a bonus.

2. James McDonald continued his breakout season for the Pirates. He went seven innings and allowed just one hit (3 BB, 8 K) to lower his season ERA to 2.78 and WHIP to 1.01. He only threw strikes on 53 of his 101 pitches, though, which is far less than impressive, but that’s been McDonald’s M.O. for his career. It was his best outing of the year by far, but control will soon become an issue. Sell if you can.

3. Carlos Beltran stole two more bases giving him five on the season. That’s more than he had in 142 games last year and 64 games in 2010. The strikeouts are up, but with five homers and five steals on the season fantasy owners will find a way to cope.

4. David Freese went 2-for-4 with his fourth homer of the year. He’s now batting .339 with those four homers and 18 RBI, but his walk and strikeout rates are a bit out of whack. He’s hitting line drives at an incredible rate right now and appears to be on the cusp of second tier third base status (health permitting). Given the stars atop the position, that’s saying something.

5. Oh, and Lance Lynn did it again. Buy in the short term, but I’m skeptical of his long-term prospects. His 14-to-4 grounder-to-fly ratio is very encouraging, though.

6. Hector Santiago imploded for the White Sox, allowing three runs and five hits in a third of an inning. He hasn’t managed a 1-2-3 inning in his last six appearances and has blown two saves on the season. His numbers are skewed by Wednesday’s outing, but his job was anything but secure entering the season. Keep an eye on Addison Reed.

7. Yoenis Cespedes got back on track with a homer against the aforementioned Santiago. I’m buying Cespedes now that he has the strikeouts under control. He struck out 15 times in his first 10 games but has fanned just seven times in his last nine.

8. Pedro Strop picked up his second save in two days for the Orioles. Jim Johnson, the team’s closer, is still in the hospital with an infection and doesn’t appear to be on the way back anytime in the near future. Roll with Strop until further notice.

9. And Jason Hammel dominated again (7 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 7 K, W). He allowed 13 grounders to just four fly balls. That’s been the story for Hammel in 2012. As long as that trend continues, so will the success.

10. Alex Liddi homered for the Mariners. If you don’t know who he is, it’s time you do. He’s the M’s power-heavy third base prospect who slashed .259/.332/.488 at triple-A last season with — wait for it — 30 homers, 121 runs and 104 RBI. He strikes out a ton, but he has a lot of power. He’s like Pedro Alvarez I guess, except he’s actually producing this year. He figures to platoon with Kyle Seager at third, starting primarily against left-handed pitchers (like Detroit’s Adam Wilk yesterday).

11. Clay Buchholz blew again for Boston. His ERA now sits at 8.87 despite the 2-1 record, and he doesn’t appear to be getting any better. I shouldn’t say that, actually. He didn’t allow a homer against the Twins after allowing five versus the Yankees in his last outing. I really don’t like Buchholz from a fantasy perspective, so much that I’d suggest dropping him if a suitable replacement can be had on free agency. And I’d consider someone like Danny Duffy a suitable replacement.

12.  Ted Lilly has allowed just nine hits in his first 20 innings, improving his ERA to 0.90 (actually, it got worse despite allowing just one run in seven innings). He has a very poor 10-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio, though, so that ERA should be on the rise shortly. Then again, Lilly will always have a low BABIP as a fly ball pitcher in Dodger Stadium. He’s a great bargain starter.

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