Daily Intel – 4/4/2018

Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Big blow to the Arizona lineup with 3B Jake Lamb going down with an AC joint sprain in his left shoulder. Per Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, manager Torey Lovullo said he will “mix and match” to fill in, but the bigger fantasy impact will be who moves in to the cleanup spot in the order full time behind 1B Paul Goldschmidt. On Tuesday, it was OF A.J. Pollock, who had already hit cleanup twice this season. We’ll see if anyone fills Lamb’s role of alternating with Pollock when the team faces right-handed starters.

Atlanta Braves

  • Great note here from Mark Bowman of MLB.com via Baseball Savant on the quality, or lack thereof, of pitches that 1B Freddie Freeman has seen so far this season. In summary: before Tuesday’s game, Freeman had seen 93 pitches this year. Only 28 were in the strike zone. Our guess is that changes as soon as OF Ronald Acuna is up, but perhaps that depends on where Acuna is slotted in the batting order.
  • Five games, three multi-hit outings for OF Preston Tucker. Tucker is hitting fifth, and as we noted above, 1B Freddie Freeman isn’t getting much to hit, but clearly Tucker and OF Nick Markakis are. Today probably isn’t best day to play Tucker or Markakis in DFS with SP Max Scherzeopposing them, but the Braves are in Colorado this weekend! Add Tucker if you can, we have a feeling he’s in for a big three-game set. Hell, add Markakis too. Both guys are going to have value hitting behind Freeman for the foreseeable future (Acuna arrival may impact that, obviously).

Baltimore Orioles

  • The Baltimore bullpen is lacking in those middle-inning bridge guys to get the ball to Darren O’Day, Mychal Givens, and Brad Brach, and it showed on Tuesday. Rule 5 pick entered a 5-5 game in the seventh inning (which, in fairness, was only 5-5 because Givens gave up two runs in an inning of work in the sixth) and was bombed out after hitting a batter, walking two, and then giving up a grand slam to OF Josh ReddickSP Alex Cobb’s value in mixed leagues, unless his dominance of pre-Tommy John Surgery returns, is going to depend on him getting innings to get to the back-end of the O’s pen. If he doesn’t, he won’t be winning more than eight games with the way the middle-inning guys currently look.

Boston Red Sox

  • OF Jackie Bradley Jr. is really slumping to start the season, with a 1-for-5 night Tuesday pushing his batting average down to .118. Bradley’s plate discipline seems fine, but his mixed-league relevance was already borderline this season, and hitting eighth isn’t going to do him any favors with his counting stats. You may want to bench him for a few days in daily transaction leagues.

Chicago Cubs

  • Before the Cubs’ game with the Reds was rained out, there was another new wrinkle in the lineup, with 2B/OF Ben Zobrist getting his first shot in the leadoff spot this season and OF Albert Almora moving down to sixth, but still in the lineup in place of 2B/OF Ian Happ. 

Chicago White Sox

  • 3B Matt Davidson watch: probably what we thought he was before the season, reserve-worthy in 15-team mixed, waiver fodder in any smaller mixed format. He’s now 1-for-12 with a walk and five strikeouts since his Opening Day three-homer game.

Cincinnati Reds

  • Rain in Cincy led to another PPD game, with the Reds and Cubs making this one up as part of a doubleheader on May 19. SP Cody Reed loses out on a start, per The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans, with the rotation for the Reds’ next series against Pittsburgh going: Homer Bailey, Luis Castillo, Sal Romano, and Tyler Mahle. 

Cleveland Indians

  • Terrible debut for SP Josh Tomlin, who gave up six runs in the first inning, eight total over the three innings he worked, and as Jordan Bastian of MLB.com tweeted, was lacking the usual command that drives any value he actually does have. We’re still semi-believers that SP Danny Salazar can provide fantasy value if he is in the rotation, and his best path there is through Tomlin’s failure.

Colorado Rockies 

  • 1B Ryan McMahon finally got a start, batting eighth and going 0-for-3 with a walk and strikeout. McMahon was a popular mid-to-late round draft choice as he continued hitting well in spring training and there was no OF Carlos Gonzalez on the roster. Gonzalez signed, and McMahon’s been a forgotten man in terms of playing time. We were one of those who drafted him in early-to-mid March, and time is running out for him to remain on the roster in 12-team leagues where reserve spots are scarce and you have to make early moves on potential breakout players. If he doesn’t get at least 8 more at bats this week, he’s off our rosters.

Detroit Tigers

  • We wouldn’t be too excited about the box score on SP Matt Boyd – six innings, one run, four hits, no walks, one strikeout. Boyd only threw first-pitch strikes to nine of 22 batters, and he was behind 2-0 or 3-1 in the count on five of those 22 batters. Somehow, none of those five plate appearances ended with the batter getting on base. Boyd has some talent, and we do believe in Chris Bosio as a pitching coach, but we’ll need to see at least one more good start from Boyd with a little more dominance before recommending him.

Houston Astros

  • Updating an item we covered a few days ago, 1B Yuli Gurriel was not ready to go after his five-game suspension, and instead will spend time on the 10-day disabled list as he completes his recovery from a spring hand injury. Gurriel can safely stay on the bench in weekly leagues next week as well, which should give owners time to see him at the plate a little before deciding if he’s worthy of starting.
  • Another update from yesterday: SS Carlos Correa‘s big toe injury was not bad enough to keep him out of the lineup for last night’s game, in which he hit cleanup and went 2-for-2 with three runs, 3 RBI and a walk before being pulled for defense in the eighth.

Kansas City Royals

  • We mentioned SP Jake Junis, along with teammate SP Nate Karns, as sleepers to watch early in the Royals’ rotation, and Junis didn’t disappoint in his debut yesterday, getting a win with seven shutout innings, allowing just four baserunners and striking out six. The Tigers’ lineup did not make much loud contact on Junis, and he was efficient in needing only 87 pitches to get through his start. Junis gets the Mariners at home on Monday, and if you want to speculate early, go ahead and grab him and take advantage of his two-start week.
  • Leading in to 2017, RP Kelvin Herrera was a top 100 pick in the high-stakes National Fantasy Baseball Championship, coming off several great seasons as a bridge reliever to Royals’ closers Greg Holland and Wade Davis. He was pretty bad last year, to the point where he lost his job in the second half of the season, and was being selected in the bottom third of closers in drafts this spring. He converted his first save chance of the season yesterday, striking out two Tigers in a perfect ninth that took only 11 pitches, and now has five strikeouts in the first 2 1/3 innings of his season. It’s easy to forget that as quickly as closers flame out, they can just as easily regain their dominance and turn in valuable fantasy seasons (the 2017 examples of that include Holland, Fernando Rodney, Jim Johnson, and AJ Ramos).

Los Angeles Angels

  • Yesterday we mentioned some of the most likely candidates to move in to the rotation if/when SP JC Ramirez loses his fifth starter role. One of those names – SP Parker Bridwell – got the call yesterday with SP Matt Shoemaker heading to the disabled list with right forearm discomfort. The injury is bad news for any pitcher, but especially for Shoemaker who, as Jeff Fletcher from the OC Register notes here, had the same injury last year, which led to him only throwing 77 innings. You can dump Shoemaker in all formats. Bridwell, meanwhile pulled off the amazing feat of going 10-3 last year with the Angels despite only striking out 14.8 percent of the batters he faced and giving up nearly a home run and a half per nine innings. Bridwell doesn’t walk guys, but nothing in his minor league track record points to him being roster-worthy in anything beyond an AL-only league or a deep 15-team mixed league as streamer fodder.
  • SP Garrett Richards cemented his status as a must-start guy last night, striking out nine in 5 2/3 innings. Richards allowed two batted balls with more than a 50 percent hit probability, according to Baseball Savant. One was 2B/3B Jose Ramirez’s home run, and the other was a lineout by OF Lonnie Chisenhall. Efficiency is what is holding him back from moving in to ace consideration, as he needed 102 pitches to get those 17 outs, and he only threw 58 strikes, but with the specter of injury always looming with Richards, he needs to be in your lineup every time out so you get him while you can.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • No humidor help at Chase Field for SP Clayton Kershaw, who gave up two solo home runs for the only damage he allowed all night over six innings. Kershaw allowed a career-high 23 homers last year and is up to three in his first two starts this year. It’s Kershaw, you’re not doing anything with him if you have him, but if you want him in a trade, maybe that’s a stat to use when talking to his owner (though we’ve never understood the tactic of saying ‘your player sucks, let me trade for him!’ in fantasy trade negotiations).
  • Very little is going right so far for OF Matt Kemp, who went 0-for-4 and is now 3-for-15 on the season with only two walks. We had hoped Kemp would get out of the gate fast like last season and provide some short-term value before the inevitable injury, but he’s on the verge of being droppable in all formats except NL-only and 15-team mixed if he doesn’t show something in the balance of this week.

Miami Marlins

  • C J.T. Realmuto starts his rehab assignment today, per Craig Mish of SiriusXM. Realmuto should return by April 20.
  • A surprising and impressive bounceback for SP Jose Urena, who went seven innings and struck out seven Red Sox, allow just five baserunners and one run. Urena’s fastball was averaging 96 mph and his primary pitch was his slider, which generated 12 strikes, five of them swinging, and only five balls in play, all of which went for outs. Urena will get the Mets at home next, and he isn’t a bad streaming option in weekly leagues since he’ll probably get two starts next week (we’ll confirm that this weekend).

Milwaukee Brewers

  • Another start at first base and in the fifth hole of the lineup for 1B Eric Thames, who went 1-for-4 with a strikeout. Manager Craig Counsell said in the last week of the spring that Thames wouldn’t see a playing time drop from last year. So far, that’s held true.
  • Worth noting the incredible comeback by the Brewers; down to their last strike, OF Christian Yelich homered to tie it, and OF Ryan Braun followed him on the next pitch with a walk-off shot off of Cardinals RP Dominic Leone. Yelich has been everything those who drafted him in the top-40 thought he would be so far.

Minnesota Twins

  • The Twins’ return today after an off-day Tuesday in Pittsburgh, with SP Jake Odorizzi back on the mound after a fantastic performance in Baltimore on Opening Day. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press has a good profile of Odorizzi here, and, as we said last Friday, if you’re interested in trading for Odorizzi, or perhaps adding him in a 10-team league (we doubt he’s available anywhere else), this will be a start to watch to see if he can carry over the positives from the opener.

New York Mets

  • If you drafted SP Matt Harvey because you believed in the spring stories, yesterday’s start should confirm your instincts, and the recommendation here is that you start Harvey every time out, primarily because his health remains a question mark and we don’t know how many innings we’ll get out of him. Harvey’s five innings were close to perfect – one hit, one walk, five strikeouts, no runs. The weather was a factor, no doubt, and that could be used to explain the less-than-normal velocity and some of the iffy command, but, again, Harvey is a start every time out if you own him.

New York Yankees

  • Manager Aaron Boone went early again with his starter, giving SP Jordan Montgomery just 80 pitches over five innings before he went to his bullpen. SP Luis Severino is the Yankees’ leader in pitches thrown for a starter so far, having gone 91 in his first start. Boone is on pace to burn out the Yankees’ tremendous bullpen by the trade deadline, but maybe he’ll be a little more willing to let his starters, at least the veterans, work to the 100-pitch mark and beyond as the season goes on and the weather warms up.
  • 1B Tyler Austin is beginning to perform well enough to be on our radar for a potential deep-league add. There’s enough power in his minor-league profile to figure that he’ll be competent there if you need him at a corner infield spot, and even if he remains hitting ninth in the Yankees order, like he did yesterday, the top of their lineup is so good that Austin could see a nice bump in runs scored. He’ll need to play a little more than three out of every five games, but that’s a decent amount of plate appearances for 15-team mixed leagues.

Oakland A’s

  • SP Kendall Graveman could have been seen as someone that earned newfound value for fantasy owners, but after two starts at the top of the A’s rotation, it’s best to put him in the back of your mind for now. Graveman went five innings on Tuesday for the second straight start and, also for the second straight start, only walked one batter. The one positive was that Graveman kept that ball much lower in the zone, and generated 11 ground-ball outs to just one fly out, after that ratio being 6-to-8 in the opener against Texas.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • The usage of 2B Scott Kingery at non-second base positions continued Tuesday, as he received another start at third base in place of 3B Maikel Franco. Kingery has now played two games at third, along with one each at shortstop and outfield. It wouldn’t be shocking for him to be this year’s Marwin Gonzalez, earning eligibility at all non-catcher infield positions and the outfield by the All-Star Break. If he does that, he gains incredible value in 12 and 15-team formats. Kingery hit sixth and went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Not much news on this Pirates’ off day, other than an item on SS Jordy Mercer being day-to-day with a finger injury and this news from Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette confirming that SP Steven Brault will start tomorrow in SP Joe Musgrove’s place.

San Diego Padres

  • It’s hard to remember now, but one of the rumblings surrounding the Rays’ trade of 1B/OF Wil Myers after the 2014 season was that they feared he was “injury prone.” Myers only played 60 games in 2015, but over the last two seasons he played in all but 12 games. Still, there has to be some pause for fantasy owners knowing that Myers has been dealing with a back issue and, after Monday’s game, had an X-Ray done on the triceps of his right arm. Myers is back in the outfield now, for better or worse, due to 1B Eric Hosmer. If he’s going to be dealing with this type of stuff all season because of the increased strain of playing corner outfield defense, we guarantee it’ll hurt his value. If you can get fair return for him in a trade, shopping Myers wouldn’t be a bad idea.
  • C Austin Hedges sat again with back issues, the second straight game where that ailment kept him out.
  • 3B Christian Villanueva hit three home runs last night, which caused us to dig deep in to our keeper-league memory banks and recall Villanueva as a Cubs prospect who generated some level of interest before the franchise kickstarted their farm system with a wave led by 3B Kris Bryant, who essentially blocked Villanueva from ever getting a shot in the majors. No idea if Villanueva is going to play more often and hit fifth like he did last night, but the minor league track record says it probably isn’t worth watching for any owners beyond NL-only leagues.

San Francisco Giants

  • Some good news for 3B Evan Longoria, who hit a 2-run home run and had another long, loud out in cavernous AT&T Park. Longoria was a borderline corner infield guy in most 12-team leagues, so I doubt many of you are depending on him, but he’s at a point where you should be checking his performance day-by-day to decide whether or not to bench him in daily transaction league. If you’re in a weekly league, take a hard look on Sunday at how the rest of his week goes before keeping him in next week for a home series against Arizona and a trip to San Diego.

Seattle Mariners

  • Not surprisingly, DH Nelson Cruz hit the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday after Sunday’s dugout-stairs mishap. In this tweet from Greg Johns of MLB.com, he notes that the M’s don’t expect Cruz out more than the minimum (so, an April 11 return date) and that C Mike Zunino “is already swinging a bat” and on a positive track to return soon, starting with participation in a simulated game yesterday.
  • 2B/OF Dee Gordon stole his first two bases of the season and went 3-for-5, while SS Jean Segura went 3-for-4. Two very good reasons to believe in the ability of OF Mitch Haniger to be a top-25 outfielder this season if he continues to hit in the cleanup or five spot in the Mariners lineup.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • As we speculated yesterday, 2B/3B Jedd Gyorko was in fact put on the 10-day DL with a right hamstring injury. OF Harrison Bader was called up to take his roster spot. 2B Kolten Wong got the start at second and hit eighth, while 1B Matt Carpenter returned back to third base after two straight starts at second, hitting in his normal number three spot in the order.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • With a roster full of guys who could easily be replaced, the minor league system of the Rays is well worth watching. In this piece from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, you can track where some of their top guys are headed. For fantasy purposes, the names to watch for 2018 impact at Triple-A are 1B/OF Jake BauersSS Willy Adames, and 3B Christian Arroyo on the offensive side, and SP Anthony Banda and SP Chih-Wei Hu on the pitching side.

Texas Rangers

  • 2B Rougned Odor was moved back to seventh in the lineup after consecutive games in the six spot, and went 2-for-4 with two RBI. The problem? Both times he reached base, he was thrown out trying to steal second by C Jonathan Lucroy. Odor needs at least 12-15 steals to hit that top 100 draft pick status, and in the last two years he was only 69 percent successful in stealing 29 bases total (13 times caught stealing). Nothing to act on yet, but something to watch.
  • SP Cole Hamels struck out 11 batters, his highest since a 12-K game against Kansas City in July 2016. The A’s are going to do this for a lot of pitchers this season, but Hamels’ draft stock was incredibly low this spring. If you got him, start him with confidence, especially now in the spring before the weather warms up and the Rangers’ home ballpark becomes more hitter friendly.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • 3B Josh Donaldson returned to playing defense at third base on Tuesday after several days of DH duty due to a dead arm. He also had a great game at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a walk, a home run, and three RBI.
  • SP J.A. Happ had what looks like another ineffective start after he came up short on innings in the season opener, but there are some positive signs with Happ that may want to make you target him. Happ got 14 swinging strikes on his 93 pitches, and for the game he struck out nine White Sox. Happ’s increased slider usage from his first start was up even more yesterday – he threw 17 percent yesterday after throwing 14.6 percent on Opening Day, and 12.6 percent last season. One slider was put in play – a home run by OF Avisail Garcia – but it was a helpful pitch otherwise, and could help Happ take another step with his dominance.

Washington Nationals

  • If we had to guess, time is running out for SP A.J. Cole to remain in the major league rotation off of the reputation he built in the minors in three seasons between 2012 and 2014. Cole was annihilated by the Braves in offense-friendly SunTrust Park, facing just 14 batters in two innings, allowing eight of them to reach base and, in a nice bit of symmetry, eight of them to score. SP Erick Fedde is the obvious name for fantasy owners to know, as he is the Nats’ best pitching prospect in terms of a combination of upside and readiness. But for a team with World Series aspirations, they may be looking for a veteran option to fill the hole for now while they decide whether they want to make a run at a trade deadline option like Chris Archer. Who could that be? Well, their Triple-A Syracuse rotation includes three guys who have all had some measure of recent major league success: Edwin Jackson, Jeremy Hellickson, and Tommy Milone. 
  • We’re going to stop worrying, for now, about SS Trea Turner’s stolen base opportunities because of his continued low placement in the batting order. He stole two bases in the first three innings, bringing his total to three in five games.

2 thoughts on “Daily Intel – 4/4/2018”

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