Daily Intel – 5/1/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • SP Robbie Ray was diagnosed with a grade 2 oblique strain, and while manager Torey Lovullo said it was “impossible” to put a time frame on his recovery, Angels SP Tyler Skaggs missed more than two months with the same severity of oblique injury last year. If Ray gets a 10-12 week recovery time frame, owners in 10- and 12-team leagues will have to seriously consider dropping him. None of the likely options to replace Ray – Braden Shipley, Kris Medlen, and TJ McFarland – are going to be valuable in any mixed-league format.
  • An eventful night for the Arizona outfield against the Dodgers – OF A.J. Pollock continued his torrid start with a three home-run game, giving him nine on the season. All three homers were solo shots. OF David Peralta was hit by a pitch on the right hand and left the game, but thankfully X-rays were negative and he’s day-to-day.

Atlanta Braves

  • In this off-day mailbag from MLB.com’s Mark Bowman, he takes a look at whether the Braves’ optimal lineup has OF Ender Inciarte batting ninth, whether top prospect SP Mike Soroka will be up before the All-Star Break, and how the team is approaching the third base position with 3B Johan Camargo and OF Jose Bautista. 

Baltimore Orioles

  • OF Mark Trumbo will be activated from the disabled list today, and he remains a recommended add for us if you’re desperate for a potential season-long power source.
  • In other injury news, Roch Kubatko of MASN writes this about RP Zach Britton, who will throw a bullpen session in front of his surgeon on Wednesday and, barring any negative feedback, will begin a rehab assignment shortly after that. Britton should be owned in all formats.

Boston Red Sox

  • OF Mookie Betts missed his second straight game, with manager Alex Cora saying the team was being extra careful with Betts’ hamstring and that he was available to pinch hit if needed. He wasn’t, though, as 1B Mitch Moreland got a chance to play in Betts’ absence with OF J.D. Martinez playing the field and 1B Hanley Ramirez going to DH, and Moreland took advantage with a 3-for-4 night that included a double, a home run, two RBI, and three runs scored.

Chicago Cubs

  • With both RP Brandon Morrow and RP Carl Edwards getting the night off due to recent workload, the Cubs split their ninth inning between RP Brian Duensing and RP Steve Cishek, with Cishek getting the last two outs and his first save of the season.
  • 2B/SS Javier Baez made his seventh error of the season, but the defensive metrics at FanGraphs still have him as a positive contributor in the field, so we wouldn’t be worried about him losing any playing time simply due to accumulation of a shaky stat like errors, which hinge on the whims of an official scorer.

Chicago White Sox

  • Scott Merkin of MLB.com tackles some fantasy-relevant issues in this off-day mailbag: 2B Yoan Moncada’s lineup spot and how it ties in to his overall development, and the call-up timelines for top hitting prospect OF Eloy Jimenez and top pitching prospect SP Michael Kopech. We’ve added Kopech in a few 12-team leagues because we expect him to be an immediate impact player when he’s called up, and there’s likely no other pitcher in the minors right now that you can say that about with confidence.

Cincinnati Reds

  • 3B Eugenio Suarez had a two-run single and a two-run double last night, and now has eight hits and seven RBI in his five games since returning early from the disabled list, with three of those hits being doubles.
  • OF Jesse Winker led off again and OF Billy Hamilton hit ninth again. In the 10 games that manager Jim Riggelman has put together a lineup card, Hamilton has led off just once.

Cleveland Indians

  • 2B Jason Kipnis hit his third double in five games and went 2-for-5 with an RBI last night.
  • RP Cody Allen was asked to take on more than an inning for the first time since April 4, and he was rewarded with his second win of the season thanks to Cleveland’s eighth-inning comeback. Allen got in to some trouble in the ninth, and overall he went 1 1/3 innings allowing two hits, two walks, a run, and striking out one.

Colorado Rockies 

  • It didn’t seem like the hamstring injury 2B DJ LeMahieu suffered Friday in Miami was too serious, but he was placed on the 10-day disabled list Monday. It sounds like he won’t miss more than the minimum, and 2B Pat Valaika should get most of the starts in his absence. In the corresponding roster move, OF Carlos Gonzalez was activated but didn’t start Monday. He should be back in the lineup tonight, though.

Detroit Tigers

  • RP Shane Greene pitched in a scoreless ninth inning last night and gave up a walk, followed by home runs to Tampa Bay 1B C.J. Cron and 2B Brad Miller. Greene had blown saves in two of his previous five appearances, and while the Tigers lack a readily-apparent backup option to close, this type of inconsistency can’t be good for Greene’s safety in the role.

Houston Astros

  • RP Ken Giles got a shot in the ninth with a one-run lead last night and struck out the side against the Yankees, needing just 13 pitches and getting four swinging strikes.

Kansas City Royals

  • 3B Mike Moustakas was hit by a pitch on his right forearm and left Monday’s game. X-rays on the injury came back negative, so he should only be day-to-day.
  • 2B/OF Whit Merrifield is warming up a little since moving in to the leadoff spot. He had his second consecutive multi-hit day yesterday, going 3-for-5 with two doubles, two RBI, and a run scored.

Los Angeles Angels

  • While we know defense is not a very fantasy-relevant topic, this article from the Orange County Register’s Jeff Fletcher about OF Mike Trout improving in center field is a nice window in to the mindset of a guy who should still be someone all dynasty league owners are starting their team with and making every effort in the world to trade for. Trout is going to be the best player in baseball for at least another five years, and he’ll likely be a fantasy factor for another 10 or 12 years.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • SS Corey Seager has a serious elbow injury that will require Tommy John surgery, ending his season. 2B/OF Chris Taylor got the start at short on Monday and could pick up eligibility there at some point this month. This may also result in 2B/SS/OF Kike Hernandez getting full-time at-bats even when OF Yasiel Puig is healthy, either at second or in center field. He started in center last night, with 2B Chase Utley playing second and batting second.

Miami Marlins

  • SP Dan Straily’s return to a major league mound wasn’t great – four innings, four runs, six hits, four walks, and just one strikeout. But he did say he felt healthy, and the command of his breaking stuff looked less like someone with diminished stuff and more like someone who is rusty.
  • 2B Starlin Castro has hits in 23 of 28 games this season, and 39.3 percent of the contact he’s made has been classified as “hard” by FanGraphs, which far outpaces his career-best of 31 percent in 2013 and 2016. Castro is hitting the ball on the ground almost 60 percent of the time, though, a trend that didn’t hurt him last year at Yankee Stadium when it was more like 50 percent of the time and he had a friendly ballpark that carried his lower fly ball total to a passable home run rate. Nevertheless, Castro looks like a solid middle infield option in shallow mixed formats with a potential for more if he gets dealt to a more hitter-friendly ballpark before the trade deadline.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • RP Josh Hader should be owned in all leagues, and if he isn’t in yours go add him immediately, but we do want to point out how ridiculous his performance was last night. All eight of the outs Hader recorded were strikeouts, and he needed just 37 pitches to do that. Of those 37 pitches, 26 were strikes, and 11 of them were of the swinging strike variety.
  • The Crew had five stolen bases last night. OF Lorenzo Cain, OF/1B Ryan Braun, 3B/OF Hernan Perez, 2B Jonathan Villar, and OF Christian Yelich each swiped one bag.

Minnesota Twins

  • 3B Miguel Sano sat out for the third straight game yesterday, and before the game manager Paul Monitor said that Sano tested his hamstring before the game but “is not making a lot of progress.”
  • SP Fernando Romero will be called up to make his major-league debut on Wednesday, moving SP Phil Hughes out of the rotation. Romero seems like a potential mixed league addition if he has a good start, especially with a likely two-start week coming up next week. Here’s a scouting report on him from John Sickels of Minor League Ball: “solid season in Double-A with 3.53 ERA, 120/45 K/BB in 125 innings, a mere four homers allowed; campaign ended on a down note with poor pitching in August (8.38 ERA) punctuated by a trip to the disabled list with a shoulder impingement; status unclear at the moment; when healthy combination of plus stuff and command could make him number three starter or impressive power reliever.”
  • OF Eddie Rosario hit third in the lineup for the third straight game with Sano out and went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored.

New York Mets

  • Per this article from Kristie Ackert of the Daily News, Monday’s off day will allow the Mets to start SP Noah Syndergaard on Wednesday, and regularly-scheduled starter SP Steven Matz will move to Saturday after feeling soreness in his back. This sets Syndergaard up next week for two starts.

New York Yankees

  • SP Sonny Gray worked with C Austin Romine for the fourth time out of his six starts so far this season, and the results were much better than his two starts working with C Gary Sanchez. Last night, Gray gave the Yankees six good innings, allowing just seven Houston baserunners and two runs, while striking out six. In two starts with Sanchez this year, Gray has gone just 6 1/3 innings total and allowed 13 earned runs. With Romine, he’s gone 20 2/3 innings in four starts and allowed nine earned runs.
  • 1B Tyler Austin’s suspension ends today and he should be back in the starting lineup in place of 2B Neil Walker, who has filled in at first over the last four games.

Oakland A’s

  • Those of you who have read this newsletter throughout April know we were semi-early riders on the bandwagon of 2B Jed Lowrie. Lowrie has been a favorite of ours going back to his days as a Red Sox prospect, as we’ve always believed his approach at the plate would deliver years of fantasy value. In this article from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Lowrie explains how an off-season surgery allowed him to change his training routine to, hopefully, overcome the injury issues that have plagued many of his professional seasons.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • We wondered last week when 1B Carlos Santana would lose his grip on the two hole of the Phillies lineup, and the first step toward that yesterday happened yesterday when manager Gabe Kapler hit him fifth. OF/1B Rhys Hoskins moved up to second. Both Hoskins and Santana went 0-for-4 last night, though Hoskins had a walk.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • SP Jameson Taillon bounced back over six innings last night, allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks, and getting five strikeouts over 101 pitches. Taillon kept the ball down in the zone better than in his previous outing against the Tigers, and Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic wrote about how Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage spotted a mechanical flaw in Taillon that was improved in this start. Taillon gets the Brewers on the road this weekend and is a borderline start in 12-team and shallower leagues.

San Diego Padres

  • RP Brad Hand blew his second save of the season last night, allowing the Giants to get two hits, two walks, a hit by pitch, and ultimately three runs in the ninth inning to turn a 5-3 lead in to a 6-5 loss.

San Francisco Giants

  • 2B Joe Panik had surgery on his injured left thumb and will miss six weeks, per Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic.
  • Before Monday’s game, manager Bruce Bochy said SP Madison Bumgarner could begin throwing off a bullpen mound in “a couple of weeks,” per Chris Haft of MLB.com. If that’s the case, it would stand to reason that mid-June would be his return to the San Fran rotation.

Seattle Mariners

  • Greg Johns of MLB.com writes here about a few items of fantasy note for the M’s, including OF Mitch Haniger’s spot in the batting order and the roster status and long-term outlook for OF Guillermo Heredia and 1B Daniel Vogelbach.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • The struggles of RP Greg Holland have reached the point where beat writers like Joe Trezza of MLB.com are answering questions about whether a $14 million closer can be sent to the minors. In this off-day mailbag, he also breaks down some very relevant fantasy items on the St. Louis rotation and the numbers behind 1B/3B Matt Carpenter’s slow start.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • 1B C.J. Cron hit his seventh home run of the season last night, an opposite-field bomb that came off his bat at 111.1 mph. Cron’s made noticeable changes for the better at the plate, and while the Rays’ front office said they saw something in the second half last year that drove them to acquire him this winter, it is now actually coming to pass.
  • SP Jake Faria delivered the best start of his young career last night, going eight shutout innings and allowing just three hits and a walk, and striking out six Tigers. Most encouraging was that Faria’s split-change was his best pitch, drawing seven swinging strikes on just 24 pitches, and only being put in play four times. That was the pitch that drove his solid debut last season, and it hasn’t shown out this well in any start before last night.

Texas Rangers

  • It is getting easier to support the take that SP Cole Hamels will have fantasy value in all formats for at least the first half of this season, as he struck out eight batters in five innings yesterday against Cleveland and allowed just one earned run. This was a lineup stacked with righties, no less, as regular starting catcher Yan Gomes actually started at DH and regular DH Edwin Encarnacion started at first base for just the second time this season in place of lefty 1B Yonder Alonso. He worked hard to keep his breaking stuff down in the zone, as evidenced by his pitch chart on Baseball Savant, and while the result was three wild pitches, we believe it is a conscious move by Hamels to lessen the damage from the high number of fly balls and line drives he allows.
  • 2B Rougned Odor took batting and fielding practice yesterday, and he may be able to return for at least part of fantasy week seven (May 7-13).

Toronto Blue Jays

  • OF Curtis Granderson delivered another solid night out of the leadoff spot, walking three times in five plate appearances and scoring a run and getting an RBI when one of those walks came with the bases loaded.

Washington Nationals

  • SS Trea Turner picked up three hits yesterday and now has 11 in his past five games. The Nats lineup is struggling and Turner hasn’t been able to pick up volume runs or RBIs because of it. Still, it is looking like Turner is coming out of his mild malaise, and considering he’s already picked up 12 stolen bases and is on pace for 67, he could be setting himself up for a run at 70+ steals.

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