Daily Intel – 5/2/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Per Zach Buchanan of The Athletic, Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said before yesterday’s game that OF Steven Souza will likely return to the lineup this weekend. OF Jarrod Dyson stole two bases yesterday in a pinch hitting role, and maybe he can get going on the base paths in a part-time role to deliver the 25-30 bags he’d need to in order to stay on any mixed league rosters.

Atlanta Braves

  • SP Mike Soroka, the Braves best pitching prospect, was called up Tuesday and made a strong major league debut in New York against the Mets. He went six innings, allowed one run on six hits (no walks), and struck out five. He picked up 13 swinging strikes out of his 80 pitches, using a slider as his third weapon behind  four-seam and two-seam fastballs.

Baltimore Orioles

  • SP Alex Cobb finally didn’t get destroyed, but he still only delivered two strikeouts in six innings of work, allowing seven hits, two walks, and two runs. He was successful setting himself up in most counts, getting first-pitch strikes on 18 of 27 hitters, but he only had four swinging strikes out of 89 pitches. He’ll need more of the latter to start averaging the 6.5 or 7 Ks per nine innings that would give him a shot at deep mixed league relevance.

Boston Red Sox

  • OF Mookie Betts did not start again last night, but he did enter the game as a defensive replacement in the top of the 8th inning. Manager Alex Cora said he will play today against Royals lefty SP Danny Duffy. 
  • RP Craig Kimbrel blew his first save of the season, allowing a home run to Royals OF Alex Gordon, of all people…Gordon hadn’t homered yet this season.

Chicago Cubs

  • 1B Anthony Rizzo hit leadoff 14 times last season, and he got his first shot there yesterday. It paid off, as he hit his first home run since Opening Day, a span of more than 75 plate appearances.

Chicago White Sox

  • SP Carlos Rodon is two more starts in extended spring training away from starting an official minor league rehab assignment, per Scott Merkin of MLB.com.
  • RP Joakim Soria blew his second save of the season, allowing three hits in the ninth and getting only one out.

Cincinnati Reds

  • We’re pretty confident in saying that the time of OF Billy Hamilton leading off has come and gone, as he hit ninth again yesterday even though regular leadoff man OF Jesse Winker sat out. SS Jose Peraza led off for just the second time this season and took the opportunity to steal two bases, upping his total to five on the season.

Cleveland Indians

  • 2B Jason Kipnis was the lone bright spot in the Cleveland offense for the first eight innings of last night’s game, picking up a two-run double and a walk in his first three appearances. He finished 2-for-5 overall, also scoring a run when OF Michael Brantley tied a 6-2 game in the ninth with a grand slam off Rangers RP Keone Kela.

Colorado Rockies 

  • SP Jon Gray had his second straight dominant start, holding the Cubs to just three hits, a walk, and one run (the 1B Anthony Rizzo homer we mentioned in the Cubs’ blurb) over seven innings. Gray struck out six and now has 41 Ks in 39 2/3 innings this season. Gray is in line for two home starts next week against the Angels and Brewers, two deep lineups that rightly deserve some fear from fantasy owners. Considering Gray’s last two home starts went a combined 10 innings and led to 15 earned runs, we don’t blame you if you want to bench Gray in shallower mixed leagues. In 15-team and larger leagues, and NL-only leagues, we will start Gray.

Detroit Tigers

  • RP Shane Greene worked consecutive nights, and after his meltdown in a tied ninth inning cost Detroit on Monday, he worked a perfect ninth last night with two strikeouts to get his fifth save of the year.

Houston Astros

  • C/DH Evan Gattis got just his third start in the Astros’ last seven games, and he continued to struggle mightily with an 0-for-3 night with 2 strikeouts.
  • SP Justin Verlander was saddled with a no-decision in probably the single best fantasy performance by a starting pitcher this season – eight innings, no runs, no walks, three hits, 14 strikeouts.
  • And that no decision came mostly in part due to a quiet offense, but also because RP Ken Giles had a horrifying ninth inning, getting just one out and allowing four hits and four runs, including a mammoth 423-foot home run by New York C Gary Sanchez.

Kansas City Royals

  • SP Jake Junis bounced back after delivering two duds among his previous three outings, limiting the Red Sox to eight baserunners and two runs over six innings, picking up five strikeouts along the way.
  • It is starting to look like the Royals are slowly losing faith in 1B Lucas Duda. Duda hit seventh against lefty SP Chris Sale last night, and while that shouldn’t be surprising considering Duda has been awful against lefties for his career, it is surprising when measured against his usage so far this season, when he’s been trusted in his regular cleanup spot or the fifth spot in the order in seven of his 10 starts against lefties. Duda should be owned in any mixed format.

Los Angeles Angels

  • RP Keynan Middleton was placed on the 10-day disabled list yesterday with right elbow inflammation. Those three words together are never good, and while there has been no official UCL injury diagnosis, it’s far to speculate that it isn’t far away. RP Cam Bedrosian seems best positioned to move in to the closer role vacated by Middleton, so if you need to make a move now he’s the best option, but for those of you in weekly leagues. He did get a shot on Tuesday with a 2-0 lead and blew it in the ninth, allowing three hits and two runs before the Angels got him the win with a run in the bottom of the ninth.
  • For what its worth, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweeted that he wouldn’t be surprised if RP Justin Anderson got the closer role. Perhaps he gets a shot this week after Bedrosian’s failure last night.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • A few shifts in the Dodgers rotation, with SP Rich Hill now actually set to make a start during this fantasy week against the Padres on Sunday. Meanwhile, SP Alex Wood will pitch on either on five or six days rest on Friday or Saturday, with SP Walker Buehler starting the game that Wood doesn’t.
  • OF Alex Verdugo got his third start in four games since OF Yasiel Puig got hurt. He is a good NL-only addition for the time being.

Miami Marlins

  • SP Jarlin Garcia gave up one run in six innings last night at home against the Phillies, and his ERA actually rose to 1.09. Garcia has now delivered five out of six starts that would be valuable in all fantasy formats (yes, even the 5 BB/2 K outing he had on April 17 had value since he got the win and didn’t allow a run), and at this point there’s no excuse for him to be unowned in any format, unless you’re in a points league where wins are the most important stat, because the Marlins continue to struggle to give him run support, and Garcia isn’t going beyond six innings yet.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • RP Josh Hader was unavailable after his dominant eight-strikeout performance Monday, so RP Matt Albers and RP Jacob Barnes provided two total innings of mediocre relief work and RP Jeremy Jeffress got his first save of the year, picking up the last five outs of the game without allowing a baserunner. Hader and Jeffress will likely split save chances until RP Corey Knebel returns at some point this month, with Hader the top choice.

Minnesota Twins

  • SP Ervin Santana took his first tangible step toward a return, throwing 15 pitches (just fastballs and changeups) off a mound at the Twins’ spring training site in Fort Myers, Florida.
  • OF Byron Buxton still isn’t able to run after doing some minor running work over the weekend – we’re worried that his injured toe is going to be a problem even when he’s back in the lineup.
  • SP Kyle Gibson wasn’t quite as dominant as his outing Thursday against the Yankees, but he was still valuable for fantasy owners, delivering five innings with six strikeouts, allowing seven baserunners and two earned runs.

New York Mets

  • OF Michael Conforto went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, and while his on-base percentage is borderline elite at .372, most fantasy owners are more concerned with his batting average (.209) and the fact that he hasn’t had an extra base hit since April 16, a stretch that spans his last 44 plate appearances.

New York Yankees

  • SP Jordan Montgomery left his start Tuesday after one inning with tightness in his left elbow (a common theme in today’s newsletter), and RP Domingo German, a potential candidate to replace Montgomery should he miss time, stepped up with four scoreless innings, allowing four hits and a walk, and striking out four.

Oakland A’s

  • 2B Jed Lowrie hit another home run, his seventh of the season, and he now has 28 RBI. Even if you don’t believe in Lowrie keeping up a portion of the pace he’s set out on, he’s going to continue playing every day and he’s going to do so in front of an elite power hitter in OF Khris Davis. He should be rostered in most formats.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • SP Zach Eflin had a solid debut in his season debut replacing injured SP Ben Lively, going six innings and allowing just one run on three hits and no walks. He struck out four. He was actually perfect through five innings before giving up a pinch-hit home run to 1B Justin Bour. Eflin gave up a lot of contact on his slider, and he’s going to need more than five swinging strikes in 72 pitches to be relevant in any mixed-league format

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • RP Tyler Glasnow gave up six earned runs in an inning of relief last night, allowing four hits and two walks. His ERA was 1.50 after his first three appearances, but allowing multiple runs in three of his last five games now has his ERA at 7.71. We had hope that Glasnow would continue to pitch well in long relief and eventually earn a rotation spot, even recommending him as a stash in some mixed formats, but at this point he can be safely dropped, as SP Nick Kingham has moved ahead of him in the rotation pecking order.

San Diego Padres

  • C Austin Hedges was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday with…you guessed it…an elbow issue. If you think that’s the last one we’re mentioning today, you’re wrong! Hedges shouldn’t be gone for much beyond the 10-day minimum stay, and the Padres have no relevant fantasy options beyond him.
  • 1B Eric Hosmer is starting to hit the ball harder since returning to the lineup Friday, going 2-for-4 with a triple, home run, and two runs scored.

San Francisco Giants

  • If you didn’t read the Angels’ blurb about what “right elbow inflammation” means for a pitcher…well, it isn’t good, and now SP Johnny Cueto is back on the disabled list with that very issue. If there were odds in Vegas on the over/under for the innings Cueto will throw the rest of this inning, we’d take the under on 1.
  • RP Hunter Strickland took the loss last night after allowing 1B Eric Hosmer to break a 1-1 tie in the ninth with a home run.

Seattle Mariners

  • SP Felix Hernandez is a combined five outs away from having quality starts in six of his seven outings this season. As it stands, he’s still gone more than five innings and allowed three runs or less six times, including yesterday’s six-inning, three-run, four-hit, three-walk performance that led to his fourth win of the season. He also had seven strikeouts. Hernandez has settled in to pitching in the high-90s/low 100s for a pitch count every game, so he makes for a good volume play in deep mixed leagues and a worthy streamer in easy matchups and two-start weeks for shallower mixed leagues.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • RP Bud Norris is back in the ninth-inning role for St. Louis. Manager Mike Matheny has said as much, and Norris worked there last night in a 2-1 deficit, eventually getting the win after he threw a perfect top of the inning, as 1B/3B Matt Carpenter hit a solo homer to tie the game in the bottom half and C Yadier Molina won it with a single that scored OF Marcell Ozuna. Norris has to be owned in all leagues, he’s pitching too well and should receive plenty of save chances.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • SP Chris Archer was better last night, allowing two earned runs in six innings and striking out six Tigers, but his velocity was down on all three of his pitches, ranging from a little less than 1 mph on his fastball to nearly 2 mph on his slider.
  • RP Yonny Chirinos has an elbow…ok, actually, it’s a right forearm strain, and while the Rays seem confident the injury isn’t serious, forearm strains are just as much a precursor to season-ending surgery as “elbow soreness” or any other general ailment in a pitcher’s throwing arm. The Rays are now back to just three true starting pitchers, with SP Nate Eovaldi at least three weeks from returning.

Texas Rangers

  • SS Jurickson Profar has produced since officially taking over the shortstop job in mid-April after SS Elvis Andrus’ injury. After last night’s 2-for-6 effort, which included two doubles and three RBI, Profar has now hit in 9 of his last 11 games and is sporting a nearly even strikeout-to-walk ratio. Profar is going to be in the lineup all season as long as he is healthy, as we expect him to get time in the outfield even when Andrus returns and OF Willie Calhoun is called up. He should be owned in all 12-team mixed formats, and per current data from the National Fantasy Baseball Championship, he’s only owned in 42% of leagues.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • DH Kendrys Morales had his first big fantasy game of the season, hitting two home runs in a 3-for-3 effort that included two walks as well. Morales didn’t have a hit in his previous nine games (24 plate appearances), so we’ll see if this is the start of him normalizing his season. He’s going to have to have several games with contributions before any mixed-league team would see him as a starter again, due to his limited position eligibility.

Washington Nationals

  • A new wrinkle in the Nats’ lineup last night, as OF Bryce Harper moved in to the leadoff spot for the first time since 2013, and SS/OF Trea Turner moved back to second. Harper hit a three-run home run and also scored a run after getting on via walk.
  • We mentioned in the April 26 Intel that 1B/OF Matt Adams would be a smart short-term add for owners looking for a power boost. Adams delivered two more home runs last night and now has five on the season. He also was boosted up to third in the lineup.

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