Lots of roster movement yesterday, some of it driven by disabled list moves for big names.
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- RP Archie Bradley pitched the ninth yesterday for his first save of the year, and Zach Buchanan of The Athletic noted that manager Torey Lovullo said it was because RP Brad Boxberger was unavailable after working Sunday. If Lovullo is going to be this cautious with Boxberger (and we’re not questioning it), Bradley is going to end up with close to double-digit saves, reaffirming the value we mentioned yesterday in recommending him for your roster in 12-team leagues.
- 3B Jake Lamb made some progress in his return from a shoulder injury, per Buchanan.
- The Braves lineup was simply a victim of SP Max Scherzer last night, so nothing to deduce there, and SP Julio Teheran was merely mediocre in striking out seven over six innings, so we’ll use today’s blurb to note Mark Bowman’s tweet about whether OF Ronald Acuna will be up to the big leagues this weekend. Bottom line, it is expected, but any struggles this week could slow the timeline a little.
- SP Alex Cobb will make his debut with the Orioles on Saturday in Boston. DO NOT START HIM. Cobb was pretty poor in his three starts at Fenway last year and there’s no reason to take the risk when his pitch count is likely to be limited anyway.
- 1B/OF Trey Mancini had another strong game in the leadoff spot, going 3-for-4 with a walk. Mancini is likely entrenched at the top of the lineup for now, which will help stabilize his value as he looks to find his 2017 power stroke.
Boston Red Sox
- SP Drew Pomeranz made his first rehab start in High-A on Sunday, walking six in 4 1/3 innings. He’s set for another rehab start on Friday in Double-A. If he doesn’t show better command there, he’s not worth starting in his first game back, likely to be next week against the Angels.
- 1B Anthony Rizzo hit the disabled list yesterday with his back injury slow to improve, but the Cubs hope the stay is the minimum 10 days. We like the stability this gives 2B/OF Ben Zobrist for the next week or so, especially because manager Joe Maddon has given Zobrist looks at the top of the lineup. He’s a nice play in DFS this week since he’ll likely be cheap and provides position flexibility to spend big in other spots.
Chicago White Sox
- 3B Matt Davidson sat yesterday, but this article from Cat Garcia of the Chicago Sun-Times about Davidson’s supposed change in approach at the plate is worth checking out if you are on the fence about adding him. We still think a guy with power like Davidson’s is worth adding if you can play wait-and-see in your reserve spot.
- OF Nicky Delmonico hit cleanup with Davidson sitting and went 2-for-4 with a home run off Rays’ ace SP Chris Archer. Delmonico has shown some positive growth signs so far, with just six strikeouts balanced with four walks. He’s only got two extra-base hits now, but we’d consider him worth watching in 15-team leagues.
- SP Michael Kopech made his first start in Triple-A and dominated, going four innings scoreless with only two hits and two walks allowed, with eight strikeouts. It did take him 77 pitches, which is the only negative. One more start like this, and Kopech is a must-stash in 12-team leagues, but if you think he’s going to get snapped up before then, add him now. We bet he’s starting in the Sox rotation by mid-May.
- Some notes on the Reds’ minor-league pitching, because the guys in the major league starting rotation are so shaky.
- First, SP Brandon Finnegan made his season debut in Triple-A and the results were poor: five innings, eight hits, five walks, just two strikeouts. Finnegan’s problem was walks in his one full MLB season – 84 of them in 172 innings in 2016 – so unless he shows something different in his next rehab start, he’s not worth rostering in anything but NL-only leagues.
- SP Hunter Greene is only in A-ball with Dayton, but his skill set is so impressive that it wouldn’t shock us to see him get a chance in September. His debut yesterday: 3 innings, five hits, two runs, no walks, eight strikeouts. He threw several pitches over 100 mph, and 35 of his 53 pitches were strikes.
- A dominant start from SP Corey Kluber yesterday, but it looks like the cold weather is continuing to impact the effectiveness in the Cleveland bats, with the team only racking up four hits in their 2-0 win. Just don’t panic on 2B Jason Kipnis, 2B/3B Jose Ramirez, or any of the other of the Tribe’s top guys.
- C Francisco Mejia played outfield in Triple-A last night, a trend to watch as the team looks for ways to get his bat up to the majors faster.
- SP Jon Gray struggled again at home, giving up six runs with two outs in taking the loss to San Diego. Gray struck out seven in five innings and now has 17 on the season in just 12 innings, and there are other positive signs that have us confident in telling you to continue starting him, even in Coors.
- SP Francisco Liriano got the job done over six innings, allowing just two runs, three hits, and three walks, with four strikeouts. Liriano only has value in AL-only leagues, but if he can control fly balls, there’s a chance he could be worth streaming in 15-team leagues when he gets two starts in a week.
- More intrigue and unpredictability in manager A.J. Hinch’s bullpen deployment, as RP Chris Devenski was asked to clean up RP Brad Peacock’s eighth-inning jam, and then Devenski stayed on for the ninth, giving up a double to SS Eduardo Escobar and getting two outs before handing it over to RP Ken Giles for the one-out save opportunity. Giles promptly gave up the game-tying home run to OF Byron Buxton…except the ball landed just foul. Buxton then grounded out to second to end the game. Good luck guessing what the usage pattern is for Giles – if you own him, you play him and hold your breath. We still like Peacock as the backup option to own for both future saves and overall value purposes.
Kansas City Royals
- We said last Wednesday that SP Jake Junis was worth an immediate add after his strong first start. And Junis gained a lot of helium from across the fantasy baseball landscape last week. But, much like SP Jameson Taillon yesterday, we’re going to preach a little bit of caution after a second consecutive shutout performance yesterday in which Junis allowed just one hit and two walks. Issue one – Junis hit three batters, so the line score isn’t exactly telling the whole story. Issue two – Junis had just six swinging strikes out of 90 pitches, and only threw first-pitch strikes 15 of 26 batters, which is solid, but not what you’d expect for seven perfect innings. We still like Junis as much as we did in the spring, but don’t overpay for him in a trade and if someone is willing to overpay you for him, jump on it.
Los Angeles Angels
- SP JC Ramirez is likely to have Tommy John surgery, per Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register, meaning the Angels now have two rotation openings after SP Matt Shoemaker’s departure via injury last week.
- So here is where their rotation stands: SP Andrew Heaney said he’s ready and will likely get his debut start Thursday or Friday. SP Nick Tropeano, per Fletcher, is likely to get the other opening. Neither guy is worth adding for this first start, but with a good performance, we’d be willing to recommend Heaney in 15-team leagues with reserve spots where you could play the waiting game for at least one more start after this week.
- SP Garrett Richards’ ugly walk trend continued – three in his first start, four in his second start, five in last night’s third start. The 19 strikeouts in 15 innings is comforting, as is his ground ball rate when compared to his three full seasons of solid work between 2014 and 2016. No reason to worry too much yet, especially with his next two starts lining up to be home against Kansas City and San Francisco.
Los Angeles Dodgers
- No news about the Dodgers in their off-day yesterday, but with the A’s coming to town today, SP Hyun-Jin Ryu is in about as early of a “make or break” position as possible. With the Dodgers rotation depth and minor league assets like SP Walker Buehler ready for the big leagues, we can’t imagine them waiting long to send Ryu to the bullpen full-time if he isn’t giving them innings when he gets the chance to start. He draws a tough matchup tonight against A’s ace SP Sean Manaea.
- OF Braxton Lee got another start in right field, this time with OF Lewis Brinson sitting and OF Cameron Maybin starting in center. Lee has stolen 20 bases or more in two of his last three minor league seasons, and although those steals came with double-digit caught stealing totals, he’s worth tracking if you drafted Brinson and/or Maybin with a hope that they’d be a regular steals source on your roster. It wouldn’t shock us to see Lee starting every day by June 1.
- SP Jose Urena wasn’t as bad as his Opening Day start against Chicago, but he wasn’t as good as his start last week against Boston. Still, though, five innings with four strikeouts, a walk, five hits and three earned runs is not a bad result against the Mets right now, and Urena did get 12 swinging strikes in his 80 pitches. Right now, Urena is lined up to go home vs Pirates, at Milwaukee, home for Colorado in his next three starts. We’ll see how he does in that first start before making any new recommendations.
- 2B Jonathan Villar received his third off day of this young season, with 2B Eric Sogard stepping in and going 3-for-4 with two doubles. Sogard has very little fantasy value, but with Villar having struck out 10 times and not walked once so far this season, his owners will need to monitor manager Craig Counsell’s patience level, especially if his batted ball luck starts to drop (Villar has 11 hits in 35 at bats so far, but only one of those went for extra bases).
- Small progress for SP Lance Lynn, who struck out nine over five innings but needed 105 pitches to do this and got in to full counts on seven of the 21 batters he faced. Lynn’s next two starts are home against the White Sox and at Tampa Bay, so the matchups are in his favor if you want to take the risk. If you’re off to a slow start in the wins or strikeouts categories, we’d take a shot on him in both of those outings.
New York Mets
- We really didn’t think we’d be talking about 1B Adrian Gonzalez, but here we are after another game with an RBI, his sixth of the season, and continued proof that he’s not leaving the lineup anytime soon. Gonzalez is like some pitchers we’ve referenced this year who need to be in your lineup everyday because of their health instability and/or innings limits – he’s clearly still got the hitting chops, but between his back problems that ruined his 2017 season and 1B Dominic Smith’s presence, you have to figure his playing time ceiling is limited. Then again, if the Mets contend all year, and it is hard to see how they won’t based on their start, Gonzalez won’t leave the lineup if he’s healthy. A good week here, and we’ll be recommending Gonzalez in 12-team leagues this weekend.
- Per Anthony DiComo, SP Jason Vargas will get a simulated game on Thursday, meaning SP Zach Wheeler will get at least one more start after his turn in Miami this week, likely at home against Washington.
New York Yankees
- C Gary Sanchez should be back in the lineup today, but as Erik Boland of Newsday tweeted, it will likely be at DH and there’s no guarantee it’ll happen since Sanchez hasn’t been cleared.
- With the troubles the A’s have had with their rotation to start the season, the progress of SP Brett Anderson in Triple-A is worth monitoring. In his first start, Anderson gave up five runs, but Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle notes that those runs were unearned. Anderson struck out four and walked two over his four innings. Anderson could be worth speculating on this week in AL-only leagues.
- IF/OF Scott Kingery started at shortstop for the first time this season and hit his first major league home run. Kingery is owned everywhere, so we’re noting this for the impact on SS/3B J.P. Crawford who, despite manager Gabe Kapler’s insistence that he’s doing good things like “seeing a lot of pitches,” is in imminent danger of losing playing time if 3B Maikel Franco stays hot. You can safely dump Crawford in 12-team leagues.
- Not a super-important fantasy item, but Pirates closer Felipe Rivero announced yesterday that he legally changed his name to Felipe Vázquez, and his jersey will soon say that. With how volatile closer has been across the league, I’m sure a few fantasy owners will be excitedly confused when they see a new name finishing the ninth for the Pirates later this month.
San Diego Padres
- Bullpen update: RP Brad Hand had another impressive outing to stabilize his numbers, striking out all three Rockies he faced to earn third save of the year. But, somehow, RP Craig Stammen has pitched himself in to consideration in deep leagues and RP-spot leagues, with two innings last night putting him now at 8 1/3 scoreless to start the year, which includes eight strikeouts, just one walk, and 13 ground ball outs. If you’re in a league where 8th inning guys have value, add Stammen now – we’re not sure he’ll stay at this innings pace, but if he can deliver 70 more at even 75 percent of this current level, he’ll be valuable.
San Francisco Giants
- SP Tyler Beede was spotted warming up with the team before yesterday’s game, meaning it is likely he will get the spot start tomorrow against Arizona. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle has a nice look at Beede here.
- DH Nelson Cruz will be back on Friday. If you have daily transactions, play him immediately. He doesn’t need to run to hit bombs.
- In this tweet, Greg Johns on MLB.com also notes that OF Ben Gamel will be back Friday and that the Mariners will go with a 9-man bullpen for their ongoing series in Kansas City.
- After an 0-for-4 effort, we feel it is important to preach patience with 3B Kyle Seager, who hit his first home run this weekend but still has an average under .175 and a slugging at exactly .300. Seager will get hot, and you don’t want to risk having him on your bench in a weekly-transactions format.
St. Louis Cardinals
- An awful season-debut for RP Greg Holland, who threw 19 pitches and only managed six strikes, which led to four walks total (one of them intentional). Holland’s velocity was only slightly down from last April, so we’re not worried yet, but this is the fear with putting guys in your lineup who didn’t get a full spring training (see our note above on Alex Cobb and his first start Saturday).
- 1B/OF Jose Martinez left yesterday’s game with an Achilles contusion, but manager Mike Matheny didn’t make it sound serious after the game. If he misses any time, it may damage 1B Matt Carpenter, who was tracking to pick up third base and second base eligibility before an injury to 2B/3B Jedd Gyorko.
Tampa Bay Rays
- Bullpen status: A little calmer. RP Alex Colome gave up a walk to 1B Jose Abreu and a seeing-eye single to OF Nicky Delmonico to start the ninth, then uncorked a wild pitch to put both of them in scoring position with nobody out. He then got three straight infield ground balls, two of them softly hit, to close out his first save of the season. Meanwhile, RP Sergio Romo had another great outing, striking out three batters in a 1 1/3 inning stint. Outings like this make us all the more confident that Romo is getting the job if/when Colome loses it, either due to performance or trade.
- There’s no predicting OF Mallex Smith’s playing time pattern, but with OF Kevin Kiermaier in a walking boot and likely out at least a few days, and 1B/2B Brad Miller hitting the disabled list with a groin injury, the odds are better that Smith will be in the lineup regularly this week. If you are short on steals so far this season and have a chance to grab Smith in a daily league, we’d do it. He took three chances yesterday and converted two, only failing on a steal of home that required a review.
- 2B Rougned Odor left Monday’s game with a left hamstring issue, something that had creeped up last week and now looks likely to put him on the disabled list for at least a minimum 10-day stint. If that happens, OF Jurickson Profar will finally get a chance at regular playing time. Profar wouldn’t be worth adding anywhere but AL-only leagues, but when a guy who was considered a one-time can’t miss prospect gets another chance, there’s always a reason to watch.
Toronto Blue Jays
- 1B Kendrys Morales suffered a grade one hamstring strain early in Monday’s game. There’s some fallout.
- First, 3B Josh Donaldson moved to first base. If you have JD, he’s playing at third, but we do think some time at first base can only be positive for his overall performance, as he’ll have to worry less about the dead arm issue that bugged him at the start of the year.
- Second, OF Steve Pearce, who started again and hit cleanup, is red hot and likely to be in the lineup every day now. Pearce hit a home run yesterday off SP Dylan Bundy, and if you want to stream anyone for a few days, this is a perfect guy to use.
- Dan Fetes, a sports anchor in Rochester, NY, shared this video of the injury suffered by Nats’ top prospect OF Victor Robles. It doesn’t look good, as Robles left arm was hanging at his side as he left the field. Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post noted about 90 minutes after the injury that X-rays were negative and Robles will be in DC today for further evaluation, but anyone who had long-term playing time concerns about OF Michael Taylor should feel better about Taylor’s lineup spot.
- Speaking of Taylor, though, he continues to struggle in the bottom of the lineup, having gone 1-for-4 yesterday but getting picked off that one time he reached base. Taylor is striking out a lot and not making much hard contact, either. But hey, he has four steals, and that’s what should keep you intrigued if someone in your 12-team league drops him. If/when he gets going, even a little more than he is now, the steals could come in bunches.