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- SP Matt Koch has made us look foolish in his first two starts – we figured he was a total non-factor based on his track record, and he may still be one in the long-term due to his lack of strikeout ability, but for now he’s put together back-to-back six-inning starts with three combined earned runs. One positive, though: against Philly yesterday he picked up 10 groundball outs for the second straight game, and the Phillies only had two balls-in-play that went for outs but had hit probabilities of higher than 50 percent, per Baseball Savant. If you want to take a risk in deep leagues next week, Koch gets two starts against the inconsistent Dodgers offense and the Astros, who will be seeing him for the first time ever.
- If you haven’t seen the shot OF Ronald Acuna Jr. hit off SP Homer Bailey in the second inning yesterday for his first major league home run, go check out the highlight now. He finished his second game with three hits in four at bats, along with two RBI and two runs scored.
- RP Arodys Vizcaino picked up his second save of the season, working an uneven ninth inning where he allowed a walk, a hit, and picked up one strikeout.
- A few injury updates from MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli here – most notably, 2B Jonathan Schoop should get in to game action in extended spring training next week, and OF Mark Trumbo may return Tuesday when the O’s open a road series with the Angels. Trumbo should be owned in all leagues, for the sole fact that his power production and lineup viability in shallow formats should be readily apparent within two weeks of him returning. If he is hitting the ball hard, keep him and hope he lucks in to a 30 HR season. If he isn’t, cut him and move on.
Boston Red Sox
- Two “bad” starts in row for SP Chris Sale, at least by his standards – six innings, three earned runs, four hits, two walks, and only four strikeouts. Sale’s also had 21 fly ball outs in his last two starts compared to just 10 ground ball outs. There’s nothing to be worried about at all, just very small trends worth watching.
- 3B Kris Bryant took batting practice before Thursday’s game, but it still doesn’t sound like he’s better than a 50/50 chance to play this weekend.
- SP Kyle Hendricks put his best start of the season together last night, going seven scoreless innings and allowing just four baserunners (all hits). Check out Hendricks’ pitch chart on Baseball Savant, and you’ll see why he was so good last night, of his 94 pitches, only one of them was above the top of the strike zone. That led to 11 ground ball outs, four fly outs, and five strikeouts. Hendricks continues to be worthy of a start every time out.
Chicago White Sox
- SP Lucas Giolito took a minor step forward last night, going 5 2/3 innings and allowing two runs, five hits, and two walks, but only striking out two.
- 2B Yoan Moncada hit his sixth home run of the season and also picked up two singles. He’s now hit in five straight games and has three home runs, two doubles, and a triple in that span.
- 3B Eugenio Suarez made a much earlier comeback than expected from a fractured right thumb, with Thursday’s return marking just 18 days since the injury. He hit fifth and went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. If you had Suarez in your lineup before the injury, go ahead and get him back in there now.
- 1B Joey Votto made it three straight games with a home run, taking Atlanta SP Sean Newcomb deep for a three-run shot.
- The left hamstring injury RP Andrew Miller suffered on the mound Wednesday did end up leading to a 10-day disabled list stint. He’ll likely miss the minimum or just beyond that.
- 1B Yonder Alonso was the only Cleveland batter to make a dent in Mariners’ SP James Paxton yesterday, hitting his sixth home run of the season and picking up a single as well. Alonso was bumped down to seventh in the lineup, but his bat continues to come alive.
- Some injury news on an off day for the Rox, via Thomas Harding of MLB.com: SP Kyle Freeland has a bruised heel that may cause him to miss a start, which would give SP Antonio Senzatela a spot start. And OF Carlos Gonzalez is improving after going down with a hamstring strain last week.
- Another update on OF Leonys Martin: in a day where the Tigers offense did nothing, Martin hit another triple, his fourth of the year, and picked up a single as well in four at bats.
- SP Michael Fulmer put together his best start of the season, working six scoreless innings and striking out nine Pirates. Fulmer picked up 24 swinging strikes on his 98 pitches, including 11 on his four- and two-seam fastballs, per Baseball Savant. Fulmer wasn’t generating many swing and misses with those pitches so far this year, and with both of those hanging around 95 mph on average, they could be the pitches that help elevate him to the next level as a fantasy asset.
- 3B Jeimer Candelario got his first off day of the season due to a sore left wrist.
- Absolutely no fantasy news of note on Houston’s off day yesterday, but in reading this Houston Chronicle article about the incredible pace the Astros five-man rotation is setting, we can’t but remember how rare it is for team’s to make it through a season with their top five starters staying healthy. We’ve seen leagues where Collin McHugh, Chris Devenski, and Brad Peacock were dropped from teams – if/when the Astros have a rotation opening, one of those three guys are going to get the call, and they’ll instantly be valuable in all formats.
Kansas City Royals
- The underlying issue with the excitement for SP Jake Junis’ strong start was the home run issue that hurt him last year (15 HR allowed in 98 1/3 innings). In Junis’ three starts before last night, he had only allowed home runs in one game – three against the Angels over 4 2/3 innings on April 14. Last night, Junis allowed five HRs against the White Sox in 5 2/3 innings, but still struck out five. There’s no predicting this trend, considering Junis allowed no home runs in 22 combined innings over three starts against the Mariners and Tigers, two lineups that are better than the White Sox in terms of power talent. Junis is still a worthy start every time out in most formats.
Los Angeles Angels
- The Angels were off yesterday as they prepare to host the Yankees for a big “prove it” series starting tonight, with the rotation lining up like this for the weekend: SP Andrew Heaney, SP Garrett Richards, and SP Tyler Skaggs.
Los Angeles Dodgers
- Other than the news that Miami’s win over LA on Wednesday was the biggest upset in MLB from a gambling perspective since 2007, we’d recommend checking out this piece from True Blue LA about the Dodgers’ pitching depth and the lack of appreciation for SP Kenta Maeda. It’s valuable for gauging the fantasy value in 2018 for SP Walker Buehler, as the Dodgers have very little impetus to give him many starts with the big club this season, at least for the parts of the season that will decide the fate of most fantasy teams.
- Joe Frisaro of MLB.com has injury updates here on SP Wei-Yin Chen and 3B Martin Prado, with both guys looking likely to return this weekend for a home series against Colorado. Chen should be starting on Saturday, meaning deep mixed league and NL-only owners will have a look at him before Sunday waiver deadlines.
- SP Chase Anderson put up his fourth start of the season where he went at least six innings and allowed two runs or less. Anderson’s swinging strike rate is down about two percentage points from last year, and his low strikeout totals limit his upside, but he’s got an effective style that continues to help fantasy owners in the ratio categories.
- An absolutely dominant outing for SP Kyle Gibson, striking out 10 Yankees over six scoreless innings. Gibson had 19 swinging strikes and used a devastating slider to pick up 11 of those. His swinging strike rate for the season is now 11.5%, well above the 10 percent or less he posted for most of his full seasons as a starter. He’s also allowing less hard contact so far this year. We’ll continue to recommend Gibson as someone worthy of being on rosters in all leagues, but you’ll have to pick and choose when you start him based on matchups and current form. He gets two starts next week at home against Toronto and on the road at the White Sox, and we consider that a must-start set in all formats.
New York Mets
- RP Jeurys Familia blew his third save of the season and second in less than a week, allowing a two-out double to St. Louis 1B Jose Martinez that scored OF Tommy Pham, who got on with a single. After the game, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com tweeted that Familia was dealing with an undisclosed family issue, but it sounds like he won’t miss time this weekend for the San Diego series.
New York Yankees
- 1B Tyler Austin will begin his suspension tonight after having it reduced from five games to four.
- C Gary Sanchez hit a three-run walk-off home run yesterday, and now has six home runs and 21 RBI. Despite holding a batting average of .202, Sanchez is on pace for a 41 HR/142 RBI season; we think he’ll give a little of that back, but the average will come up at that same level. If he finishes with a .240 batting average, 35 HR and 110 RBI, you’re looking at a guy who justified his top-20 draft position in most leagues, especially considering how little production the rest of the catcher position is providing so far.
- Opening Day starter SP Kendall Graveman was optioned to Triple-A yesterday, the result six starts that have left with with the league “lead” in hits allowed (41) and earned runs (28). Because bringing back one piece of the team’s 2011 rotation – SP Trevor Cahill – has worked well so far, we’re guessing the A’s will double up and use Graveman’s open spot to bring back SP Brett Anderson, who has struck out 25 batters in 19 innings with just two walks in four Triple-A starts this season.
- OF Aaron Altherr has some momentum going, with hits in five straight games and eight RBI over that time. He’s also raised his average from .091 to .177. Altherr has basically played every day for a week now, and he’s done nothing to lose playing time – if you’re in a mixed league where an owner lost patience and dumped him, we’d pounce now.
- In a bit of shocking news, 3B Jung Ho Kang was granted a work visa to return to the U.S. after more than a year away due to multiple legal issues. Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic has the exclusive story here. With 1B Josh Bell and 3B Colin Moran both young and productive at the corners, and 2B/3B Josh Harrison back soon, we’re not sure where Kang will play on the current roster. But he was a fairly valuable asset in NL-only and some mixed formats during his last full season in 2016, so his status is worth monitoring.
San Diego Padres
- OF Franchy Cordero has a ton of believers in the fantasy baseball punditry, and Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune does a full breakdown on the goods and the bads on Cordero’s game here. When you read stuff like this about Cordero, it makes him that much more fun to own as a fantasy baseball player, especially in keeper leagues.
San Francisco Giants
- OF Hunter Pence is starting a rehab assignment today in Triple-A, per Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area. It doesn’t look like he’ll miss more than the minimum 10 days, but the trend to watch will be the playing time between Pence and OF Mac Williamson.
- 1B/3B Ryon Healy made his return to the lineup, and 1B Dan Vogelbach was sent back to Triple-A in a corresponding move. Healy batted ninth yesterday and played firs tbase, going 1-for-4 with a run scored and a strikeout.
- SP James Paxton bounced back from his bad start last time out at Texas, limiting Cleveland to two earned runs (on a home run by 1B Yonder Alonso), five hits, and three walks, while striking out 10 over six innings. Paxton now has 44 strikeouts over 31 2/3 innings.
St. Louis Cardinals
- Because of the potential value of RP Greg Holland and the current value of RP Bud Norris to owners, we do find every sign of change in the St. Louis bullpen worth noting. Yesterday, Norris worked the eighth inning with the Cards down 2-1, delivering a perfect inning with two strikeouts. Holland worked the ninth of a 2-2 game, giving up a single and picking up a strikeout.
Tampa Bay Rays
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported before Thursday’s game that 3B Matt Duffy could return today when the Rays begin their three-game series in Boston. Duffy’s return would impact the playing time of SS/3B Daniel Robertson, who has played every day at third in Duffy’s absence.
- SP Chris Archer was set out to a 6-0 lead, and he still couldn’t deliver a truly valuable start for fantasy owners, going just five innings and allowing 11 hits and four earned runs. Most concerning for Archer remains the lack of value he’s getting out of his slider so far – according to FanGraphs’ pitch value system, where a 0 is average, the slider was worth 22, 21.7, and 17.1 runs over the last three seasons. So far this year, it’s worth negative 0.8. All of Archer’s other underlying numbers look good, so maybe you want to take a risk as a buy low, but in watching him pitch, he’s leaving too many pitches in spots that will usually lead to hits.
- On an off day for the Rangers, no news of note emerged, but Jamey Newberg of The Athletic has an in-depth mailbag here discussing some fantasy relevant issues, including long-term positions for Willie Calhoun and Joey Gallo, and a lot of talk about one of our emerging favorites, INF Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
Toronto Blue Jays
- 2B Devon Travis had his best offensive game of the season last night, going 2-for-4 with a triple and a home run. 2B/SS Lourdes Gurriel is playing more recently, including in the place of Travis. But Travis still remains the type of player that deep mixed league owners should be adding if he’s available for free – he has a track record of some skills, and the Jays will likely give him more chances to fail than Gurriel.
- Matt Kelly of MLB.com analyzes the approach that Nats closer Sean Doolittle takes on the mound – notably, his long-standing style of keeping his fastballs elevated. We weren’t big believers in Doolittle coming in to the season, primarily due to the injury concerns, but it’s hard to argue with articles like this that explain why he’s so dominant despite using just one pitch – a four-seam fastball – almost 90 percent of the time.