Daily Intel – 5/8/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • No news for the Snakes on their off day, but with their pitching rotation in no way stabilized due to injuries, we figured we’d point out that Double-A SP Taylor Widener has 42 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings, by far the most impressive performance of any pitcher in the team’s high minors (Double-A or Triple-A). The 23-year-old Widener should get promoted to Triple-A soon and could be the guy who gets a July or August call-up if SP Matt Koch doesn’t produce over the long-term as SP Taijuan Walker’s replacement.

Atlanta Braves

  • David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that SP Luiz Gohara, who has struggled in his minor league rehab starts, is likely to return to the major leagues in a relief role.
  • O’Brien also reported yesterday that SS Dansby Swanson won’t even travel with the Braves for their road trip that kicks off today in Tampa Bay, meaning the earliest he’ll be back from his wrist injury is the middle of next week.

Baltimore Orioles

  • RP Zach Britton is scheduled to throw his first live batting practice of the season on May 15, according to Roch Kubatko of MASN.

Boston Red Sox

  • 2B Dustin Pedroia continues to work toward a return in Fort Myers at extended spring training. He played four innings in the field on Saturday and will play another four tomorrow. Manager Alex Cora said Pedroia will have to play back-to-back seven-inning games before he’ll be activated.

Chicago Cubs

  • SP Yu Darvish was surprisingly placed on the 10-day disabled list late yesterday afternoon due to the flu…a little surprising, since he was throwing in the outfield before the game in advance of a planned start tomorrow, but we’re guessing the Cubs need a roster spot and Darvish was not going to be well enough to start tomorrow. So now he’ll be out until at least next Monday, May 14, as the move was retroactive to May 4.
  • 2B/SS Javier Baez hit a three-run home run yesterday, his third straight game with a homer, but left in the eighth inning due to groin tightness. He’ll be evaluated today.
  • 2B/OF Ian Happ had his first big game in ages, going 2-for-5 with two home runs.

Chicago White Sox

  • OF Eloy Jimenez, the White Sox top hitting prospect and arguably the highest-upside fantasy hitting prospect in the upper minors (him or Toronto 3B Vlad Guerrero Jr.), has multiple hits in seven-straight games after going 2-for-5 in last night’s game between his Birmingham team and Pensacola (Reds’ affiliate).

Cincinnati Reds

  • OF Billy Hamilton had a solo home run in his eighth consecutive start batting out of the nine spot. He now has seven hits and four walks in his last six games, but no stolen bases. They’ll come soon, we bet.

Cleveland Indians

  • OF Melky Cabrera has moved from extended spring to Triple-A Columbus, and could be activated in the majors soon. He does have an out clause if he isn’t activated within a certain time frame, so we expect him to end up on a major-league roster one way or another before June 1.

Colorado Rockies 

  • Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post tweeted Sunday that 2B DJ LeMahieu said he would return from the disabled list today. Considering that wasn’t the case as late as Friday, we’re skeptical, but we kept him in our weekly league lineups today just in case, as the upside is too high even if he isn’t back til Wednesday or Thursday.

Detroit Tigers

  • SP Michael Fulmer was cruising for five innings yesterday, holding a 5-1 lead, then lost it in the sixth, giving up four runs and leaving with this line: 5 2/3 innings, four hits, three walks, five earned runs, seven strikeouts. He continued boosting his swinging strikeout rate from last season – it was 9.3 percent in 2017, and after last night’s 16 swinging strikes on 92 pitches, he’s at 11.2 percent.

Houston Astros

  • OF George Springer changed his season-long numbers in one night, going 6-for-6 with a double, home run, three RBI, and four runs scored. That took him from a .264 average and .786 OPS to a .292 average and .857 OPS.
  • INF/OF Marwin Gonzalez also had a big night, going 3-for-6 with a home run and five RBI.

Kansas City Royals

  • Rustin Dodd of The Athletic writes here about SP Danny Duffy returning exclusively to pitching out of the stretch; that was his regular setup in 2016 and 2017, but he changed it up to start this season due to a belief that he was tipping his pitches.

Los Angeles Angels

  • RP Justin Anderson remains a long-shot closing option for the Angels with RP Keynan Middleton hurt, and in reading this feature on Anderson from Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, it is more clear how he has upped his strikeout rate so significantly at both the minor- and major-league level this season.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Rotation updates on an off day: SP Clayton Kershaw is dealing with left biceps tendinitis, and he already started rehabbing on Monday. He’ll miss at least his next scheduled turn this weekend in place of RP Ross Stripling. Meanwhile, SP Alex Wood is ready to go for tomorrow’s start against Arizona after suffering hamstring cramps in his last outing on Thursday.

Miami Marlins

  • SP Jarlin Garcia finally had a bad start, giving up nearly double the amount of runs in one night (seven) than he had in his previous five starts combined (four). Garcia had pretty good command, keeping most of his pitches in the lower half of the strike zone, but the Cubs pounded the mistakes he did make. He allowed those seven runs with six hits and two walks over four innings, striking out three.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • C Stephen Vogt was on track to return to the majors this weekend, but he removed himself from a rehab game at Double-A Biloxi on Saturday and returned to Milwaukee yesterday for further examination. With the injury being in Vogt’s shoulder, odds are high that he’s still a ways away from returning, leaving C Manny Piña in position to remain fantasy relevant due to playing time volume.

Minnesota Twins

  • SP Fernando Romero looks a lot like a pitcher who is going to mow down lineups for a month or two until scouting reports are up-to-date and reflective of his major league performer. He was great against the Cardinals last night, going six shutout innings and striking out nine, allowing just three hits and three walks. Romero’s slider was a real weapon – he threw it 24 times and got six swinging strikes, five called strikes, and it was put in play only once.

New York Mets

  • OF Michael Conforto was back in the lineup after two days off, and delivered a nice game out of the leadoff spot, going 2-for-5 with a home run to lead off the game.
  • RP Robert Gsellman continues to rack up value out of middle relief. He won his fourth game yesterday, going 2 2/3 innings and allowing only one hit, a solo home run to Cincinnati 2B Scooter Gennett. 
  • OF Yoenis Cespedes played after leaving Sunday’s game early due to a right quad injury. He hit second and went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.

New York Yankees

  • 1B Greg Bird participated in an extended spring training game yesterday for the first time, going 1-for-3 with two walks. Per the New York Daily News’ Mike Mazzeo, Bird is still “expected to need 10-to-14 days of minor-league rehab games before returns.”
  • RPs Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren are still throwing off flat ground and haven’t progressed beyond that, so they won’t be back any time in the next two weeks.

Oakland A’s

  • Very little good out of the A’s 16-2 home loss to Houston, but on the hitting side both SS/OF Chad Pinder and C Jonathan Lucroy had two hits.
  • Not the outing we expected from SP Brett Anderson, as the Astros pounded his four-seam fastball and knuckle-curve en route to 10 hits and nine runs (seven earned) in three innings. He gets the Yankees next this weekend and should be benched in all formats.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • 3B Maikel Franco hit cleanup for the first time this season and went 1-for-5 with a run scored.
  • 1B Carlos Santana hit behind Franco in the fifth spot, delivering a three-run home run and four RBI.
  • Last week we recommended benching SP Zach Eflin in all formats for his two-start week. He made us look very bad yesterday, going 6 2/3 shutout innings and striking out nine in getting his first win of the year. Unless he has a complete meltdown against the Mets this weekend, he’ll have produced enough in this outing to have made him a worthy start this week.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • SP Nick Kingham was optioned to Triple-A on Monday, primarily because the team has enough off days coming up to go with a four-man starting rotation. Odds are he’ll return next Wednesday or Thursday for a home game against either the White Sox or Padres.

San Diego Padres

  • RP Jordan Lyles is replacing SP Bryan Mitchell in the Padres rotation. Mitchell will go to the bullpen and work in a relief role. Lyles is only a consideration in NL-only leagues.
  • SP Tyson Ross continued his own “good start, bad start” streak yesterday, following up his six-inning, one-run performance last Tuesday with a six-inning, five-run performance last night. Ross’ fly ball rate is climbing with each start, and while normally that wouldn’t be an issue with his home ballpark, there are still chances he’s going to have bad games like this because he allows multiple home runs. Ross remains a solid option in most outings, though, and we’d be confident in most formats starting him at home against St. Louis this weekend.

San Francisco Giants

  • We’re starting to get worried about SP Jeff Samardzija, who looks like a guy that just wasn’t ready to return from the disabled list when he did, and is now playing catch up with his readiness in every subsequent start. He opened yesterday’s game in Philly like this: walk, walk, three-run home run. He finished his four-inning stint with three walks total, along with four hits and five earned runs allowed, striking out two.
  • SP Johnny Cueto does not have a tear in his elbow ligament that necessitates surgery, but he will be out 6-8 weeks. Whether you hold on to him in your league depends on your league depth, where you are in the standings, and how badly you need the roster spot he’s taking up.

Seattle Mariners

  • In this off-day mailbag from Greg Johns of MLB.com, he speculates that OF Ben Gamel will continue to start against right-handed pitchers in the near future, which will likely prevent OF Guillermo Heredia from receiving more starts any time soon.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • OF Tommy Pham sat out again yesterday with a groin issue, and OF Harrison Bader filled in in center field and in the two-hole of the lineup. Bader went 1-for-3 with a single and a walk, and he also threw at a runner at home plate.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • The Rays open up a two-game set with Atlanta tonight. In an interesting matchup, lefty SP Blake Snell will take on lefty SP Sean Newcomb. Interesting, because the Braves and Rays have the top two team OPS against lefties this year – .831 and .802, respectively. We would avoid starting either pitcher in DFS formats, but the Rays’ hitters could make for a smart under-the-radar stack.

Texas Rangers

  • Dual bits of positive injury news yesterday for Texas: 3B Adrian Beltre will return today or tomorrow from his hamstring strain, and 2B Rougned Odor is moving up to Triple-A in his hamstring strain rehab today and should be back by this weekend.
  • OF Nomar Mazara hit another home run, a solo shot, and added in another walk, hit, and run scored.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • We mentioned in the White Sox blurb that OF Eloy Jimenez was on fire…we also mentioned that either he or Toronto 3B Vlad Guerrero Jr. is the highest-upside fantasy hitting prospect in the upper minors. Guerrero had a big night of his own yesterday, hitting two home runs to continue a 12-game hitting streak in which he’s had multiple hits eight times. Vlad Jr. is 19 and is destroying Double-A. If you’re in a spot where you can afford to spend a roster spot on a hitter stash for a month or six weeks, Vlad Jr. is the guy to stash. The Jays may have no choice but to bring him up if they stay in the wild card race.

Washington Nationals

  • 1B Ryan Zimmerman sat out again on Monday due to soreness in his side, but he did do work in pregame and should be back today or tomorrow. In his place, 1B/OF Matt Adams had another huge game, going 2-for-4 with two home runs and five RBI.

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