On Thursday, Murphy smacked a game-tying home run in the ninth inning off Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg, sending the game into extra innings and making Strasburg's frustrated owners sad. It was Murphy's fourth home run since Monday, and while it's still a small sample size of 58 at-bats, his .328 batting average is noteworthy. It's going to drop a lot soon, because it's tough to hit for average when you strike out a quarter of the time and don't draw walks, and a .482 mark in isolated power is just ridiculous, even though Murphy does have some pop.
To think, there was little reason to expect Murphy would even get a chance to play in the majors this season. He hit .185 and .216 in brief playing time for the Miami Marlins the past two seasons, and in the minors he wasn't exactly breaking records; Murphy hit .265 for Triple-A Iowa this season with 12 home runs in 89 games. However, incumbent Cubs third baseman Luis Valbuena strained his oblique, prospect Mike Olt hasn't hit at all at Iowa -- Murphy wasn't going to take his at-bats -- and that opened the door. Murphy's home run/fly ball rate this month is unsustainable (36.4 percent), but he's going to keep playing, so even if he hits .250 in September, another seven or eight home runs the rest of the way isn't outrageous.
[+]Enlarge Howard Smith/USA TODAY SportsDarin Ruf has nine homers in just 39 games and is available in more than half of ESPN leagues.
By the way, there are other surprise options hitting for power in August who are readily available in ESPN standard leagues. Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Darin Ruf has seven blasts this month, a year after bashing 38 home runs at Double-A Reading. He shouldn't be a starting outfielder for the team next year, but if he is, I could see 25 home runs. San Diego Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko has hit six home runs in August, though that's all he's doing. In fact, he has scored just seven runs! Longtime Seattle Mariners first base tease Justin Smoak has five home runs, and for you deep-league owners, Khris Davis, Brett Wallace and Juan Francisco have value if you covet power.
Box score bits (NL):San Francisco Giants right-hander Matt Cain left his Thursday outing prematurely when a Gaby Sanchez line drive struck his pitching arm. Cain was pitching poorly to start with, but the injury does not appear serious. For all the whining I've heard about Cain this year, his 1.14 WHIP is just outside the top 20 among all qualified starting pitchers, and better than Zack Greinke's, Cole Hamels', Mat Latos' and Shelby Miller's. Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Adam Eaton had two hits and a run scored Thursday, and is hitting .313 over the past two weeks, but he still hasn't stolen a base in 32 games. At this point, we shouldn't expect that he will. More bad news for the Braves in the wake of losing outfielder Jason Heyward on Wednesday: Right-hander Brandon Beachy is scheduled to meet with the well-known Dr. James Andrews, who will examine the pitcher's sore elbow. Beachy was pitching better than his ERA noted, with 23 strikeouts and four walks, but good news or not from Dr. Andrews, we shouldn't expect to see him pitching in the bigs anytime soon. Cubs outfielder Brian Bogusevic had double digits in home runs and stolen bases in the minors. His home run Thursday was his second in three days. Those in deep leagues should take note. The Giants continue to use Brett Pill in left field, and he had three hits Thursday. At least they're not sitting Brandon Belt anymore. With Andres Torres on the DL for perhaps the rest of the season, Pill could get a longer look. He reminds me of Philly's Ruf, another first baseman who shouldn't be anywhere near the outfield but has intriguing power if playing often. St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Joe Kelly beat the Braves on Thursday, and over the past two months, he's 5-0 with a 2.01 ERA. Oh, those amazing Cardinals!
[+]Enlarge Brian Kersey/Getty ImagesDavid DeJesus, now with the Rays, is hitting just .247 this season, but he had a respectable .280 career average coming into this season.
Box score bits (AL): The Tampa Bay Rays picked up outfielders Delmon Young and David DeJesus on Thursday, though it's hard to see how there's much fantasy value there. That likely spells bad news if you spent a buck in your AL-only league on Jason Bourgeois, though. Yankees lefty Andy Pettitte got back on track against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday, allowing one run in six innings. Pettitte had permitted 11 runs (eight earned) in 13 2/3 August innings before Thursday. Pettitte isn't totally safe to trust again, but because his next outing is in Toronto against the same last-place Jays, go for it. Those who thought Minnesota Twins lefty Andrew Albers was safe when his first two big league starts yielded 17 1/3 shutout innings have certainly seen the quick regression since. Albers, a 27-year-old with average stuff, allowed nine hits and five runs in 5 2/3 innings Thursday. More cheap power in Chicago: White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie hit his 11th homer late Thursday. He's not Donnie Murphy, but he's 25 and can draw walks. Those owners who drafted and eventually gave up on Emilio Bonifacio won't like this: In eight games for the Kansas City Royals, he has stolen six bases. We might never know why he didn't run much in Toronto, but that's cheap speed on your waiver wire.