- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
Cincinnati Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto tossed six shutout innings at Wrigley Field on Thursday, earning his 18th win in what could result in a Cy Young Award-winning campaign. Cueto had allowed 14 earned runs over his past three outings (15 1/3 innings), scaring his playoff owners. He walked four Thursday, but Cueto, the No. 12 starting pitcher for the season, again looks safe for use next week.
Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Juan Pierre hit five singles Thursday, helping the team to a 16-1 win in New York. A rejuvenated Pierre is hitting .318 with 35 stolen bases in 374 at-bats this season, and he is 33rd among outfielders on the Player Rater, ahead of Shane Victorino, Nelson Cruz, Andre Ethier and Bryce Harper, among universally owned others. Pierre, owned in 23 percent of leagues, can do this again in 2013.
Detroit Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez saw his string of five consecutive quality starts end Thursday, as he allowed six runs (five earned) over 5 2/3 innings. Sanchez was a bit disappointing for the Miami Marlins before the July trade (3.94 ERA, 1.25 WHIP), but those numbers are considerably worse in the American League (4.55 ERA, 1.41 WHIP). Be careful in trusting Sanchez.
Arizona Diamondbacks lefty Tyler Skaggs struggled Thursday, allowing seven hits, three walks and four runs in five innings. The rookie gave up five earned runs in his first three starts with the big club (17 1/3 innings), but his past three outings have been poor, with 14 runs allowed in 12 innings. Skaggs, 21, is a wise dynasty-league pickup but way too risky for standard league use the next few weeks.
Oakland Athletics outfielder Seth Smith homered, doubled, knocked in four runs and scored three Thursday. Smith's platoon role in Oakland is similar to what it was in Colorado, as he hits right-handed pitching well but isn't an attractive add in standard leagues. Spot-start Smith in daily formats when he is playing, as he should this weekend against Yankees right-handers Ivan Nova and Hiroki Kuroda.
Boston Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey got hammered Thursday for five runs while retiring one batter, and his ERA ballooned from 3.09 to 6.75. Bailey should remain Boston's closer for the final weeks, as Alfredo Aceves certainly hasn't been better. Bailey's now-bloated season numbers, in only 12 innings, could lower his value for 2013 drafts, making him an attractive sleeper.
Eric Karabell has the fantasy highlights and lowlights from Thursday's games, including Johnny Cueto getting back on track with his 18th win.