Hello all, I’m back again for a Friday night recap. I swear Dan Pants took the night off just to subject me to the horror show of the latest round of City Connect uniforms.

Friday night saw the Reds, Orioles, Rangers, Pirates, and Mariners proudly (?) sport their brand new City Connect uniforms and subject my maligned millennial eyes to the whims of the Nike design algorithm bots. And of course, not to be outdone, the Cubs busted out their Canadian-tuxedoed Wrigleyville jerseys that are certain to proudly display all of that vomit from a 15th malort short.

When watching Big Inning, you can’t tell the difference between the all-blacks of the Orioles and Reds. Like who needs a uniform with a unique, cool identity in orange or using the ACTUAL NAME OF YOUR TEAM.

And don’t get me started on the Rangers. I know they have been received with some fanfare, but come on? Navy blue pants and white top? Did our return to the office (will now be referred to as RTO to save time and space in our future memos, thank you) fail to account that we’ve all relished wearing sweatpants 24/7? How rude. And why no name on the back? You want to emulate the pretentious pricks in New York and Boston? I just want to know who is batting because my ‘Murikan mind can’t read no Olde English font.

They say that your music tastes solidify at the age of 30. No new music brings joy to your life. Maybe it’s the same with taste in sporting uniforms.

And maybe I’m bitter about the All-Stars still not wearing their own team jerseys anymore. You can’t tell me that seeing Elias Diaz hoist the MVP trophy in a Rockies jersey wouldn’t have given Rox fans their first bit of non-edible-induced joy since 2007.

I guess my main takeaway is stop trying to make dark pants happen.

To the game action…

Michael Kopech  – 0.2 IP, 4 BBs, 1 hit, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 4 ER, 0 Ks – Kopech returned from the IL and looked like he was ready to pack it up and head right back to the shelf as he opened the game with following sequence: six pitch walk to Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies hit-by-pitch, five pitch walk to Austin Riley, Matt Olson grand slam. A very tidy way to bring Ko-puke’s season ERA to 4.47 and hand the Braves an 87.6% win expectancy in 38 total pitches (with a paltry 14 strikes!). With the White Sox looking totally dead, not sure Kopech is worth owning any league while he isn’t on the IL.

Oscar Colas – 0-for-3, 2 Ks – I want to watch Colas play no más. His major league slash line now stands at .206/.250/.268 with a 26.7% K-rate and with a 4.8% BB-rate. He struggles to make solid contact and looks over matched constantly. Not sure he’s anything more than a left-handed Aristides Aquino without the hot streak.

Charlie Morton – 7 IP, 3 hits, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 10th win – The ageless wonder has rounded back into form and rattled off his fifth straight win. His ERA over those five starts is 2.17 and has come with a 9.3 K/9. Buy him where you can, but the price will be steep. If he rolls to a sixth win in his next start versus the Diamondbacks on Thursday, Morton will be untouchable.

Matt Olson – 1-for-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 4 RBI – Olson is now up to 30 homers and 76 RBI with a .254/.358/.573 line. Maybe Manfred can institute extra awards for MVP (non-Acuna and Ohtani) division just so that Olson can feel the thrill of possibly winning some hardware.

Ronald Acuna Jr. – 0-for-3, 2 BBs, 1 R, 1 SB – Now up to 42 stolen bases, but the chump couldn’t even hit a homer.

Yu Darvish – 6 IP, 1 ER, 5 hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks, 6th win – Just when I thought I was out, they pull be back in.

Manny Machado – 1-for-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB – Through June, Machado was slashing .243/.286/.392 with an 86 wRC+ while nursing still-healing fractured hand. It was easy to dance on his grave and point and laugh at those who panic bought him early or expensively in drafts as the third base pool was shallower than a bird bath. But since the calendar flipped to July, Machado has been on a tear with a .389/.463/1.000 (!) line with seven bombs in 40 plate appearances. Who’s laughing now?

Gary Sanchez – 1-for-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 RBI, 0 Ks – The Kraken took the All-Star break to collect himself and focus on his true life goal – changing the lexicon for hitting .200 from the Mendoza Line to the Gary Line. Oh yeah, he’s hitting .200 on the nose again.

Cristopher Sanchez – 5 IP, 3 ER, 3 hits, 1 BB, 5 Ks – Don’t hang up on this Cristopher if he’s still on the waiver wire and calling your name. Despite allowing eight hard hits yesterday, he survived and has yet to allow more than three earned runs in any starts this season. He now has a 3.26 ERA and 4.13 FIP on the year, which should be usable even in 12-team leagues.

Trea Turner – 0-for-5, 3 Ks – After starting July with a .229/.250/.429 slash line and 78 wRC+, the nightmare has continued for Turner post-break. All owners are left holding a feeble stick and hoping for a turnaround.

Shane Bieber – Heading for an MRI on his tingly right forearm. We all know how this story plays out. And nothing like emboldening the Guardians’ front office that probably wanted to ship him out this past offseason because letting a player accrue 20 WAR with your team is obviously just too much. Logan Allen should be up on Tuesday to start and take Bieber’s rotation spot indefinitely.

Brandon Nimmo – 1-for-4, 2B, 2 Ks – When Mets fans saw Nimmo lead the game off with a double, visions of comebacks, playoff appearances, and happy thoughts danced in their heads. Too bad that was the only Mets hit of the night.

Justin Verlander – 5 IP, 3 ER, 6 Ks, 6 BBs, 2 hits, 5th loss – Verlander hasn’t had a six walk night since an outing on April 21, 2017 in Minnesota. He now sports a 3.72 ERA and 1.23 WHIP and has morphed into Justin Average-lander.

Julio Urias – 6 IP, 0 ER, 7 Ks, 1 BB, 1 hit, 7th win –  Urias absolutely shoved against the anemic Mets offense and showed Steve Cohen how far his team has to come to become the next Dodgers.

Freddie Freeman – 1-for-3, 2 RBI, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – Now slashing .320/.398/.557, Freddie still can’t believe that MLB banned the shift, the only thing that was stopping him. He’s going to be in the conversation as a top five pick next year because I don’t see how his average ever dips below .310 ever again.

Luis Matos – 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, SB – Matos now has a .263/.333/.342 line in his first 76 at-bats as a 21-year-old. He has great bat control and solid speed with the path to an important role for this Giants team down the stretch.

Tyler Rogers – 2 IP, 0 ER, 2 Ks, 1 hit, 21st hold – Rogers has been an absolute workhouse in saves/holds leagues with his dazzling 2.08 ERA and 1.03 WHIP to go with his 23 SVHLDs. Friday was his eighth multi-inning outing of the season, and he’s starting to creep into consideration for non-holds leagues too.

Elly De La Cruz – 0-for-4, 3 Ks – If you own Elly, you know that annoying “buy low” guy will be hitting you up for a trade this weekend.

Graham Ashcraft – 6 IP, 1 ER, 5 hits, 2 BB, 2 Ks, 7th loss –  Hooray, Graham, you got that ERA under six again! It’s now 5.95 on the season. This is his third straight outing going at least six innings while allowing just a single run. He’s sitting on lots of waiver wires after his stretch of 33 innings between May 7 and June 24 with a 12.82 ERA, 2.21 WHIP, and 3.0 HR/9.

Corbin Burnes – 6 IP, 0 ER, 13 Ks, 2 BB, 2 hits, 8th win – Burnes torched the Reds like they were a goombah making eggs.

Joel Payamps – 1 IP, 0 ER, 2 Ks, 17th hold – Look at you, guy who’s looking for relief pitching and read further down than your league-mate that stopped at Tyler Rogers above. You found an even better option as Payamps now has a 1.87 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, and 20 SVHLDs in his 43.1 innings on the season.

Kyle Hendricks – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 hits, 4 HRs, 5 Ks – When you can’t crack 90 on the radar gun in the modern game, you are just playing with fire. Friday night in Chicago provided plenty of gasoline for that fire between the 90 degree day and a hungry Red Sox lineup. As summer stays hot, it’s best to make this Professor an adjunct one for your lineup.

Cody Bellinger – 2-for-4, 2 HRs, 2 Rs, 2 RBI, 1 K – Now slashing .302/.357/.518, he’s in line for a major pay day this offseason from a team looking for a non-Ohtani left-handed bat.

Rafael Devers – 3-for-5, 2 HRs, 2 Rs, 2 RBI, 2 Ks – Raffy’s slugging percentage now stands at .512. That is second on the team (for qualified hitters) to Jarren Duran’s .521. That .512 feels less cool now.

Kenley Jansen – 0.1 IP, 1 K, 20th save – Jansen entered with the bases loaded in an 8-3 game and promptly fanned Mike Tauchman on three pitches. Doesn’t get any easier than that.

Josh Naylor – 1-for-2, HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, 2 BBs – Josh joined Bo in in nailing a homer, becoming the first pair of brothers to go yard in the same game on the same team since the Brothers Upton in 2014.

Adolis Garcia – 3-for-5, HR, 3 Rs, 3 RBI, 1 K – Given that he hit a 431-ft tank off him, maybe Adolis should have had Cody Morris pitch to him in the Home Run Derby?

Nathaniel Lowe – 4-for-4, HR, 4 Rs, 1 RBI, 1 BB – There must be some satisfaction being as good at one’s job as Lowe was last night with his immaculate night at the plate. He loves the home cooking in Texas as he sports an interesting split on the season with a 148 wRC+ in Globe Life versus 104 wRC+ on the road.

Jonah Heim – 3-for-5, HR, 2 Rs, 4 RBI, 1 K – The Jonah Heim for #1 fantasy catcher campaign starts strong for the second half as he passes Sean Murphy for that top catcher spot in our Player Rater with this performance. Heim was totally free on draft days in the spring. Good work, all of us.

Corbin Carroll – 2-for-4, 1 K – The jelly shoulder holds up for another day.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – 2-for-5, HR, 2 Rs, 1 RBI – Vladito continued imagining that John Schneider, the narc who took away his cool home run jacket, was feeding him pitches with a big game including his 14th bomb in his first post-ASG at-bat. Who knew that a simple blazer with ironed-on patches could be so motivating?

Giancarlo Stanton – 2-for-4, HR, 1 R, 2 RBI – Nothing like some fresh Rocky Mountain air and Rockies pitching to kick start Stanton. That is until he suffers his 362nd career soft tissue injury in ten days.

Nolan Jones – 1-for-2, HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K – FREE NOLAN JONES. FREE NOLAN JONES. FREE NOLAN JONES. He didn’t even need to start to smash his 469-ft nuke after entering the game when Carlos Rodon was pulled.

Kenta Maeda – 3 IP, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 hits, 6 Ks – Kenta, baby, what you doin’? This one was supposed to be a streaming layup but just turned into a reminder that control is the last skill to return post-TJ.

Griffin Jax – 1 IP, 5th win – Since we are going whole hog on relievers today, let’s cover another great one. Jax hasn’t allowed a run since May 19 with 17 Ks in 18.2 IP since then. Sorry for jinxing him.

Kerry Carpenter – 1-for-3, HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 K – Carpenter annihilated a homer off Luis Castillo in the first that I was excited to give you Statcast info on, but sadly, it didn’t register in the system. I love Kerry as a cheap power option if you are lacking as his slug now sits at an even .500.

Shohei Ohtani – 5 IP, 4 ER, 5 hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks, 5th loss, 2-for-5, 1 R, 2 Ks – After Shohei’s All-Star interview in which he expressed that losing sucks, you can’t help but feel bad for him. The Angels are now on a L6 and are six back of the third Wild Card spot. Things won’t get much more cheery as Arte Moreno marches him out there for the rest of 2023 like a homesick circus lion. I’m sure that will create plenty of goodwill to spur Ohtani into re-signing in Anaheim.

Jose Abreu – 3-for-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB – There is no person on this planet that hates temperatures below 75 degrees more than Abreu. He’s slashing .291/.319/.485 with a 119 wRC+ and six homers since June 1, after plenty gave up on him. Look out, he has a career 129 wRC+ in July, which rockets to 163 in August.

As always, if you want advice on specific roster decisions you might have, feel free to leave a comment. You can also find me on twitter (@mcouill7).