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Closing Time: Matt Kemp's resurgent season continues

Los Angeles DodgersMatt Kemp refuses to slow down (AP Photo).

• Matt Kemp had three hits Wednesday with a homer and five RBI, as his improbable season continues. He has four home runs and 13 RBI over the last week and is hitting an NL-leading .353 on the year at age 33. Kemp hadn’t posted an OPS better than .855 since 2012 before this year’s .983 mark, and he’s even playing not atrocious defense. Kemp was an afterthought during fantasy drafts (I was much higher on Joc Pederson), yet he entered Wednesday as a top-75 player. Kemp’s .406 BABIP will regress, and he’s an injury risk who has just one SB since 2015, but he’s hitting in the middle of a good lineup, and his xwOBA (.413) ranks top-15 in MLB. Kemp’s launch angle is up, and his average exit velocity is a career-high (91.3 mph), so fantasy owners shouldn’t worry if he’s not an easy sell-high proposition. The Dodgers have countered a bunch of injuries by getting completely out of nowhere seasons from Ross Stripling, Max Muncy and Kemp.

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• Hector Rondon picked up a save during Houston’s 7-5 win over the Mariners, working 1.1 innings. It was his first time closing since 2016, but he’s done the job before (he averaged 25.7 saves from 2014-2016), and Ken Giles has struggled while Chris Devenski pitched the seventh inning Wednesday. Rondon has averaged a career-best 96.8 mph with his fastball this year, when he’s recorded a 1.64 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP with a 26:4 K:BB ratio over 22.0 innings. There’s a lot of upside for whoever takes control of the Astros’ closer’s role, and Rondon is owned in just two percent of leagues right now.

 Jurickson Profar went 3-for-4 with two homers and five RBI, giving him three long balls over the last two games. He was hitting cleanup Wednesday and now has his OPS up to a career-high .775. Profar is still just 25 years old, and only Coors Field has increased run scoring more than the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington over the past three seasons. Profar is still available in more than 80 percent of leagues.

• Jose Quintana struck out a season-high 10 batters, although his ERA and WHIP are still a disappointing 4.20 and 1.37 this season. He seemed like a candidate for a career-best campaign leaving the AL and a home park that boosts homers for a full year with the Cubs, but a dip in velocity and a big increase in Hard Hit% have contributed to a 4.43 FIP and a fantasy ranking outside the top-300 entering Wednesday’s start. The Phillies struggle against southpaws, but it was nice to see the 10 Ks nevertheless, and hopefully these last two starts are the beginning of Quintana turning his season around.

Quick Hits: Alen Hanson came through with a big pinch-hit, two-run homer with two outs in the ninth, while Jason Heyward wasn’t to be outdone with MLB’s first walk-off grand slam of the year. It marked his first extra-base hit of the season off a left-hander, whom he entered batting .139/.205/.139 against…Andrelton Simmons landed on the DL with a sprained ankle. He’s arguably the best defensive player in baseball, and his 141 wRC+ ranks third-highest among shortstops. Simmons is hitting .330 this year with 10 strikeouts and 24 walks, so hopefully the DL stay is minimal for one of baseball’s most underrated players…The lat injury that cut short Alex Reyes’ first start back from Tommy John required surgery, ending his season. What a shame.

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