Photo courtesy of Brew Crew Ball
By: Ross Sutton
This offseason, the Nationals signed Matt Adams to a 1-year $4M contract, and he has already proven to be worth the investment. To this point in the season, Adams has a .304 batting average while hitting 10 home runs and collecting 24 RBIs. The backup first base position is crucial for the Nationals, as Ryan Zimmerman has struggled to stay healthy over the last few seasons. Adams is also valuable off the bench for the Nationals as a pinch hitter late in the game when the pitcher comes to the plate. If Matt Adams can keep it up, the Nationals will have a much easier time winning their division.
To this point in the season, Carlos Martinez is third in the MLB with a 1.62 ERA, only trailing Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. In his eight starts in 2018, Martinez has struck out 47 batters through 50 innings. There has been a lot of hype around Martinez in previous years, but he often fell short of expectations. This year seems different though, as Martinez looks like a true ace that the Cardinals will need in order to make it to the playoffs this year. Unfortunately, Martinez was placed on the 10-day DL yesterday due to a strained lat. Hopefully Martinez can get healthy quick, as he has been one of the league's top starters this season.
Jed Lowrie definitely needs more recognition than he has been getting this season. Through 36 games this season, Lowrie has been tearing the cover off of the ball as he is tied with Dee Gordon for the second most hits in the MLB with 49, only behind Jose Altuve. Lowrie is hitting .338 with eight home runs and is playing great defense at shortstop. After this season, Lowrie will be a free agent, so the A’s could look to trade Lowrie to a contender that needs a shortstop (maybe the Dodgers??).
Scherzer is certainly not a very “under the radar” player, but I still think he deserves some more recognition, as he has been virtually unhittable to this point in the season. Scherzer has struckout a whopping 80 batters through just 51.2 innings while also racking up a league-best six wins. Mad Max has been one of the few players on the Nationals that has been great this year and I believe Scherzer has established himself as baseball’s most valuable starting pitcher. Others might disagree and say that Kershaw is the most valuable starter in the league, but I would rather have Scherzer as the number one for my favorite team, as he has stayed healthier than Kershaw over the last few years and has been just as dominant in the postseason as he has in the regular season. Kershaw on the other hand, has not pitched well during his playoff career. Scherzer's next start is tonight against the first place Diamondbacks in Arizona.
Chad Bettis is probably the least recognized guy on this list, but he has been masterful this season as his ERA sits at just 2.05 this season. Rockies’ pitchers usually don’t have the shiniest ERAs in the league, but Bettis has been fantastic this season, inducing a lot of weak contact to opposing hitters. Bettis is 4-1 so far this year, and is establishing himself as a starter that the Rockies can trust to keep them in the game before handing the ball to their great bullpen. Bettis will start at home tonight against the Brewers.
Stats courtesy of mlb.com
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