The legend continues…Reds infielder slash phenom slash messiah Elly De La Cruz lifted the Cincinnati Reds onto his back Friday night doing it all quite literally by hitting for the cycle to upset the consensus best team in baseball, the Atlanta Braves, Friday night in an absolutely wild slugfest that extended the Reds win streak to a historic 12 games in a row. It’s the third-longest win streak in Reds history and hasn’t been done since 1957. That means this squad has done something the famed Big Red Machine, a team that included hall of famers Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, and oh yeah, some guy named Pete Rose, never did, win 12 in a row. But back to Friday night, the atmosphere was buzzing at the Great American Smallpark. A park that was struggling to fill seats mid-April is now a sold-out stadium with a sea of Red shirted fans waiting to see if their team has got what it takes to keep the streak alive. Their starter Luke Weaver and his 6.86 ERA (10.80 ERA in June) does not get off to a good start giving up five runs in the first inning. That takes the crowd right out of it. Confidence is low–unless, of course, you’re Elly De La Cruz. The rookie started his night off with a double in the second inning and went on to score to get the Reds on the board. In the third inning, he hit a 2-run bomb to bring the Reds within one run. By now the squad is amped, and no one more than Joey Votto (a BUY), who goes back-to-back with EDLC to tie it. Huge! The Braves immediately counter with a 2-run homer in the fifth. But remember, cause this is important, the Reds have Elly De La Cruz. In the bottom of the fifth, EDLC singles home Matt McClain to bring the Reds within one again, and then the previously mentioned amped Joey Votto hits another jack to give Cincy their first lead of the night! Sweet sassy molassy! If that was a lot to read at once, imagine what it was like to watch. But Elly was not done yet. Clearly, the kid’s got a flair for the dramatic, and just a triple away from the cycle Elly-DLC made all those fans dreams come true and delivered the cycle in just the sixth inning! OMG. Did you get chills watching that, cause I did. Literal goosies, folks. It took Elly all of 60 ABs and 15 games to hit his first cycle, and he’s the youngest player to do it since some guy named Cesar in the 70s. Julius I assume? Well now, that got me all worked up. I could clearly go on about Elly for hours. I could tell you about his league-leading exit velocity or how he’s top five in fWAR. I could gush about his speed or how effortlessly he rocks those new CityConnect unis. So drippy. But I think the biggest thing Elly’s doing for this city and this team is winning. He’s lost just three games in the bigs so far, and it’s hard to credit anything or anyone but him for the success. The dude is electric and it’s contagious, just ask Joey Votto. The Elly-MANIA is real, and consider me an Elly-maniac!

Here’s what else I saw in fantasy baseball Friday night:

Jake Fraley – 1-for-4, HR (10). Rake Fraley was a BUY! And you should grab him if only for the proximity buff he gets from EDLC. Let me in on all the Elly action! I’m obsessed! Ahh!

Matt Olson – 2-for-5, 2 HR (23). Matty O, with the oppo-slicer then added a second 420+ footer in the 8th to bring the game within one. This was a wild game as I said above. Olson leads the NL in homer runs after hitting his fourth in the past week. He also leads the league in strikeouts but that’s a lot easier to swallow when you’re hitting shots like this.

Ronald Acuña Jr. – 3-for-5, 2 runs, HR (16), SB (33). Tildaddy says how’d you like to mow my lawn! We don’t want the neighbors talking. Alt-165 served me admirably for many years in my personal keeper league. He was just the best we were inseparable and won multiple championships together. His keeper eligibility expired last year and he became a free agent and it’s honestly brutal watching him play so well on someone else’s team. I want my precious Ñ back. I miss it.

Austin Riley – 3-for-5, 3 runs, HR (13), 2 RBI. Might be the only Braves who hasn’t had an extended hot streak? Well, maybe this 460-footer will snap him out of it. Nothin like the Great American Smallpark to make you feel like Barry Bonds for a series. Also, shifting Olson and Albies around in the lineup worked so well why not try the same with Riley?

Alexis Diaz – 1.0 IP, BB, SV (21). I like owning Alexis cause I’ve been rooting for Reds wins since day one. No bandwagon jumping here! Nope! Reds diehard since April 2023.

Lucas Sims – 1.0 IP, 2 hits, 3 ER, 2 K, 3 HR in 8th. I really hope the Reds are buyers at the deadline because this pitching staff without Greene and Lodolo is not it. Bullpen is average but could use another guy.

Zach Eflin – 6.0 IP, 7 hits, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 9th win versus Zack Greinke 4.2 IP, 9 hits, 7 ER, BB, 3 K, 8th loss. In the battle of the Zac(h/k)’s the “ch” Zach came out on top, I mean obviously. Zach is that Eflin good. Nick Pratto tagged him for a leadoff homer and Salvador Perez also hit his 15th but this one was Eflin over by then.

Jose Siri – 3-for-4, HR (13). Siri, please find hot bats in my area.

Josh Lowe – 3-for-5, run. Rays scored 11 runs (ELEVEN) on 17 hits without Wander Franco who is being forced to sit in the corner all weekend for being a “bad teammate.” Is this like a Valorant thing? One thing I’ve learned over the years from being terrible at team sports is if you think your teammates suck, it’s probably actually 100% you who is doing all the sucking. Stop sucking Wander, I need you in my lineup. Ain’t no room for divas on the Rays.

Kenta Maeda – 5.0 IP, 3 hits, 2 BB, 8 K, 1st win. I mean the Tigers are all kinds of awful, but props where props are due Kenta looked the best he has in years, even striking out the side in the 2nd. The win was his first in almost 700 days! He got into trouble in the 5th but convinced the manager to let him stay in for one more batter and proceeded to strike him out like a boss. Kenta looked solid in his rehab and last night but I’m not about to tell you to pick him up with a matchup in Atlanta on the slate. I am watching him closer than the Black Mirror premiere, not because it’s good but because of what Annie Murphy is doing in a church. If that’s not a jump-the-shark moment, Lizzo and Jack Black would like a word with the Mandalorian.

Jhoan Duran – 1.0 IP, BB, 3 K, SV (10), 1.50 ERA, 0.97 WHIP. Only mentioning him here so I can link to all his nasty strikeouts.

Max Kepler – 2-for-4, HR (10). Mad Max is slashing just .209/.276/.423, but he’s hitting .353 with three homers in the past week. Non-coincidentally the Twins have now won three in a row and are starting to look like the first place team that their division says they are.

Royce Lewis – 1-for-4, HR (4). Make some noise for Royce! I know he’s not EDLC, but he’s done nothing but hit since being called up, batting .425 with 2 bombs and a steal in the past week. I’m sorry his team has not been good. Also, check out his solo bomb and all that proud dad energy that surrounded it. The one-hander w/ baby! Well done @dad.

Luis Ortiz – 8.0 IP, 7 hits, ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 2nd win. Here’s what I know about Luis Ortiz from the WBC. He has a filthy slider and one of the best fastballs of any young pitcher out there, honestly look at the movement on this thing, fortunately, the Bucs offense was finally able to provide him a run of support and it was enough to get him the dubya. I’m not ready to start him versus San Diego next week, but this was nice to see. This also means the Pirates have more 8 inning pitchers than the Red Sox and Yankees.

Jesus Luzardo – 7.0 IP, 2 hits, 0 ER, BB, 9 K. Luza was dealing Friday night, against what looked like a mostly sad Pirates lineup. JL generated 19 swinging strikes and a 35% CSW. His 103/23 K/BB ratio is elite, his bullpen is meh, and his offense is even more meh. The win should have been his but the bullpen coughed it up. We’re looking at you AJ Puk (0.2 IP, 3 hits, 3 ER, BS (2)). Yes, barf is the appropriate response.

Luis Arraez – 3-for-4, run, hitting .402. Luis makes it look so AaraEZ.  He’s batting .520 with 22 hits in the past week, and if he keeps this up someday his head could be cryogenically frozen on that shelf next to Ted’s for all fans to admire and wonder, “Why would anyone think this was a good idea.”

Henry Davis – 2-for-3, SB (1). He was a BUY! How many steals does your catcher have?

Kodai Senga – 5.1 IP, 4 hits, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K. Ticker shock! Honestly, Kodai got shafted in this one, where all the runs should have been unearned if not for this boneheaded play in the sixth. This is the most Mets play ever. Who got it!? Who got it!? Oh, no one got it.

Taijuan Walker – 6.0 IP, 3 hits, ER, BB, 5 K, 8th win. Is it still a revenge game for Taijuan when he’s been on like five teams now?

Adolis Garcia – 1-for-5, go-ahead HR (17) in the 10th. Your honor, members of the esteemed jury, pertaining to Adolis Garcia v. Major League Baseball in the case for MVP you can clearly see in Exhibit B that Garcia’s June 23rd, 2023 game at Yankee Stadium was stricken from the record.

Clarke Schmidt – 5.1 IP, 6 hits, 0 ER, BB, 3 K. Speaking of tough luck pitchers (hi Kodai!), Clarke has allowed just three earned runs over his past three starts but hasn’t gotten a win since May 19th. He hasn’t gotten a whole lot of run support, but I don’t really see anyone in the Yankee lineup who’s up to support him. He does get a juicy matchup in Oakland next week and yeah I’d stream that!

Dane Dunning – 7.0 IP, 5 hits, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. If you have doubts about the Rangers magical season look no further than Dane Dunning’s 2.76 ERA.

Chris Bassitt – 5.0 IP, 5 hits, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K. Unlike Clark Schmidt, Bassitt has had a June to forget allowing 15 runs over his past three starts. Bassitt is doggin’ it! Against the A’s, too? Do better!

Trevor May – 1.0 IP, 1 hit, SV (4). All four saves have come in June, and if you’re desperate for saves you could do worse, but not much worse.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – 2-for-4, HR (10). His first home run in Toronto all season, slugging just .299 at home. Hey bud-day? You good? Feel like we haven’t talked all season. Still, bummed about the Leafs or something?

Shea Langeliers – 2-for-4, HR (9). One, two, three, one, two, three, swing. One, two, three, one, two, three, swing. I want to swiiiiiing on Shane Langelierssssssss, on Shane Langelierssssssss.

Willy Adames – 4-for-5, 2 HR (12), 5 RBI. Maybe if we prop him up like this and open his mouth real wide he’ll scare away the birds, they keep eating all my fresh-grown veggies! Wait–Willy just moved, he’s alive!

Wade Miley – 6.0 IP, 3 hits, 0 ER, 3 K, 5th win. Miley can buy his own flowers! And he’ll write his name in the sand as, “Brewers Ace by default.”

Shane Bieber – 5.0 IP, 5 hits, 4 ER, 2 BB, 8 K. Couldn’t make it through six as he ran into Willy Adames zombie’ing him with a 3-run bomb to take him out of this one. Biebs has been the subject of some trade talks, but I’m not sure his value would change much regardless of destination. Maybe if he goes to the Dodgers I’m back in.

Rafael Devers – 1-for-4, HR (18), 2 RBI.  Raffy was rizzing up Natti Natasha pre-game so you knew a big game was coming, his first bomb since June 13th. He also made this great play. Hey, whatever motivates you, friend, show her how we do it. Also, don’t ask me who Natti Natasha is, though I assume she’s on TikTok and I can see why he’d want to impress her.

Brayan Bello – 6.2 IP, 6 hits, ER, BB, 5 K, 5th win, ERA at 3.27. Bello showed off his new cutter tonight and he’s looked pretty impressive in his first season posting a 2.35 ERA, 1.08 WHIP over the past month. This is the first pitcher for the Red Sox I can remember successfully developing since like Clay Buchholz. Yeah, it’s been a long time. Bello seems criminally under owned at this point and gets a nice start versus Miami next week. He should be owned everywhere, he’s basically the Sawx Ace right now.

Lucas Giolito – 6.0 IP, 3 hits, ER, BB, 10 K, 5th L. Red Sox struck out 17 times yet the White Sox still couldn’t get this one done, even outhitting Boston 8-4. LG is another name that’s coming up in trade talks and another pitcher I’d be very happy to own if he was on the Dodgers.

Teoscar Hernandez – 3-for-5, HR (14), 2 RBI. Tom Murphy also homered as the M’s had 17 hits and scored 13. Uncle Oscar has been grouchy cause the Mariners offense has been struggling, well don’t look now but they’ve now scored 23 runs in the past two games. I’m not ready to buy low here, but I’m happy to see he’s doing well.

Joe Musgrove – 7.0 IP, 6 hits, ER, 7 K, 6th win. Retired seven straight to start the game and the Padres are starting to look like the dominant force everyone wouldn’t shut up about in the preseason. As for Musgrove, I’m sure the seven runs of support spotted him fuels the confidence a bit.

Juan Soto – 2-for-3, HR (14). Five straight multi-hit games for Soto, and hit his fourth bomb of the month Friday night. It’s hard to call this a revenge game because the Nats are such sad sacks, what are you avenging exactly? The fact that they traded you to a contender? Ooh, you’re gonna get it for that. Take that, you losers! Anyway, Soto’s on pace to match his homer total from last year but that .932 OPS remains elite. Some team’s gonna pay him an awful lot of money next year, I hope it’s yours!

Xander Bogaerts – 2-for-5, HR (8), 3 RBI. Awesome X!

Ha-Seong Kim – 2-for-5, lead off HR (7), 3 RBI. Second straight game with a bomb. HSK is hitting .391 in the past week with 2 homers and 2 steals! He’s also got an eight game hitting streak and sometimes leads off for this team and their unreal lineup. If he’s available, yeah, I’d say you should probably pick him up! But that’s just my opinion, man! Makes sense to me!

Fernando Tatis Jr. – 3-for-4, 3 runs, SB (13). Padres scored 13 runs on 15 hits. FTJ is hitting close to .400 in the past two weeks with four homers, six steals, and 16 runs scored. He hasn’t exactly been the best player in the world like we’ve wanted him to be, but he’s been pretty darn close.

Emmet Sheehan – 6.0 IP, 3 hits, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 2 HR, 1st win. Give me a Dodgers starter that I don’t want to own and I’ll give you a Ed Sheeran single that isn’t completely catchy. These things don’t exist! Shutting down Houston like that is certainly impressive but the start at Coors next week does give me pause. Start him with your eyes closed.

Mauricio Dubon – 1-for-4, HR (4). Don’t look now but Dubon may be fully supplanting Jose Abreu at first base this season.

Mookie Betts – 1-for-3, HR (18). Mookie Beast! Missinghimsobadrightnow.

Logan Webb – 7.0 IP, 5 hits, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 7th win. Webb has turned into one of the most reliable, if not a little boring, starters on my staff. I do enjoy his tendency to go 7.0 IP basically every time. We call that a good ol’ fashioned workhorse, which is basically a thing that doesn’t exist anymore. Webb has gone seven innings in nine of his 15 starts (105.1 IP). That’s kind of unreal for 2023, with Aaron Nola the only other pitcher with over 100 IP. Oh the tangled Webb, Logan weaves. Speaking of Webb, did you hear there are multiple versions of the Spiderman Multiverse movie out in the universe? That means you definitely have to go see it at least twice. Genius marketing!

Corbin Carroll – 2-for-4, SB (23). Evan Longoria also hit his 10th. The Christmas Carroll has got me singing joy to the world! God bless us! Every one! Especially Corbin Carroll owners.

Patrick Bailey – 2-for-3, HR (4). He’s batting .400 in the past week and basically hasn’t stopped hitting since he got to the bigs, what are you waiting for? Is it because his name sounds like he murders young women while blasting Huey Lewis?

Michael Conforto – 3-for-4, 2 runs, 4 RBI.I think the most impressive thing about the Giants recent 10 game winning streak is that Conforto was batting sub-/200 with zero home runs during that stretch. Still a better signing than Carlos Correa, I guess!

Logan Gilbert – 7.0 IP, 2 hits, ER, BB, 5 K. The Buy low window hasn’t exactly slammed shut with a start versus the Gnats on the slate this is likely your last chance to make a move before Weapon X owners realize everything’s coming up Gilbert!

Kyle Gibson – 3.0 IP, 7 hits, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K. Regression fairies were coming hard for Gibson, they’ve been posting tasteless memes regarding the submarine story, are could care less about James Cameron’s or Cardi B’s take. They don’t want your opinion on the whole ordeal and they will destroy your ratios.

Elias Diaz – 3-for-5, Grand Slam HR (9) slashing .293/.347/.477. I said it before and I’ll say it again, when in doubt, whoever the backstop in Colorado is gonna be is always a pretty safe bet. Wilin Rosario truthers where you at!?

Justin Lawrence – 1.0 IP, 2 K, SV (3). Is this the long-lost Lawrence brother!? Woah! He’s slowly blossomed into the closer in Colorado, and despite the save chances I would anticipate owning Lawrence to be a little, dot, dot, dot…rocky.

Shohei Ohtani – 3-for-5, HR (25) slashing .298/.391/.603 slash line. The 25 homers lead the league. That didn’t take long. That would be nine homers in the past two weeks. *Pro tip* that will help your fantasy team! I’ve seen this Mets potential trade for Shohei floating around, including three top 10 prospects on the Mets farm. I see Mets fans outrage over giving up too much for Shotime. I mean, is it really too much? If we’re being honest with ourselves, is it even enough? I think not.

Mike Trout – 1-for-4, HR (16). His second in the past week and Trout is finally showing some signs of life after a career-worst slump. I was always under the impression Shohei was in Anaheim, yes he actually CHOSE to play in Anaheim, because of Mike Trout. He wanted to play with the best player in the world. You think he still believes that? About Trout I mean? Or do you think Shohei would take a discount this offseason to play for the Reds? Am I getting ahead of myself? Make it happen baseball!

Thanks for reading! Questions? Problems? Complaints to management? Advice, small gifts, or large bribes? Please leave it in the comments below. Join us next Saturday for another Friday recap as fantasy baseball continues next week, all week long!