Daily Intel – 5/20/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • OF Jarrod Dyson and SS/OF Chris Owings both stole two bases last night – that’s eight for Dyson this season and three for Owings. For Dyson, he’s now swiped three bases in three games since moving in to regular playing time with OF A.J. Pollock’s injury.
  • For the second time in three outings, SP Pat Corbin had four walks, and his velocity was down for the third straight start. He also hasn’t gone past six innings in his last four starts after doing it three times in his first six. Corbin may be dealing with an injury here.
  • OF Steven Souza was diagnosed with a strained right pectoral but was not placed on the DL.

Atlanta Braves

  • SS Dansby Swanson went 0-for-2 with a run scored and an RBI in his return from the disabled list, hitting eighth in the order.
  • OF Ronald Acuna Jr. went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored yesterday. He also struck out once, his 12th straight game with at least one strikeout. Acuna is slumping a little, bit he’s walking at a healthier pace over the next week (five walks this week alone) and is still making hard contact when he does put the bat on the ball.
  • 3B/OF Jose Bautista was released by the Braves on Sunday morning. 3B Johan Camargo should return to regular playing time duties, with 3B Austin Riley on his heels in Triple-A.

Baltimore Orioles

  • SP Dylan Bundy’s slider was great, generating 10 swinging strikes in 33 offerings, but he made mistakes in leaving his four-seam fastball and changeup high in the zone and the Red Sox made their five hits against Bundy count – all were extra bases, with two going for doubles and three going for home runs. The final outcome on all of this was Bundy going six innings and allowing four runs, striking out eight. Bundy gets the White Sox next in Chicago and should be started in all formats.

Boston Red Sox

  • OF Andrew Benintendi went 2-for-3 with a home run, three RBI, and a stolen base last night. He’s got 13 hits in his last eight games and has only struck out three times in that span.

Chicago Cubs

  • 2B/OF Ian Happ came up a single short of the cycle in game one of yesterday’s doubleheader and came back in game two with another home run – in all, he went 4-for-7 with three walks, two homers, two RBI, and four runs scored.

Chicago White Sox

  • RP Nate Jones got the final two outs with a 5-3 lead, and he’s now picked up two saves in three games. Jones is the guy to own in the Chicago bullpen, even if they are currently on pace to only win 40 games this year.

Cincinnati Reds

  • SP Luis Castillo walked five and allowed six hits five innings of yesterday’s doubleheader opener against the Cubs. After using his changeup a lot in his previous three starts, he only threw it 18 percent of the time yesterday (his season average was closer to 30 percent) and instead went to the slider as his secondary pitch, using it more than 25 percent of the time. His four-seam fastball remains his primary pitch and his biggest problem. He only threw it for strikes 13 times out of 45 pitches yesterday, and FanGraphs’ pitch value rates it as a -10.5, the third-worst fastball among qualified starters (behind SP Cole Hamels and SP Dylan Bundy).

Cleveland Indians

  • C Yan Gomes homered yesterday, his sixth of the season. He’s got 11 hits in his last nine games, a span of 30 at bats.
  • RP Cody Allen was asked to enter the game in the eighth inning again yesterday, and while he did allow a solo home run that cut the Indians lead to one, he was able to finish the five-out save. Allen continues to allow more contact than in recent seasons, but he’s still a clear top 10 option at closer.

Colorado Rockies 

  • In order to be valuable in 12-team and shallower leagues, SP Jon Gray can not have these types of awful road starts against mediocre lineups like San Francisco – 3 2/3 innings, nine hits, five runs. Gray’s peripheral numbers look good – he’s allowing less contact than previous seasons and he’s getting more swinging strikes, but the contact teams are making is hard and it is making it difficult to decide when to start him and when to bench him.

Detroit Tigers

  • 1B/2B Niko Goodrum started at third base last night for the fourth time this season, and he continued his eight-game hitting streak with a 1-for-3 night that included a stolen base.

Houston Astros

  • 1B Yuli Gurriel was dropped to sixth in the order for the second time in three games. His run at the cleanup spot looks over, and if he doesn’t start producing more power in the next two weeks, he’s someone that owners in shallower mixed leagues should be looking to replace.

Kansas City Royals

  • If you didn’t give up on SP Danny Duffy after his last start, we at least hope you benched him for this bad matchup against the Yankees. The results were predictable – seven hits, three walks, five runs in four innings. The Yankees just kept aiming to put the ball in the air on Duffy, and it paid off.

Los Angeles Angels

  • OF Justin Upton returned to the Angels lineup last night after being hit in the hand by a pitch on Thursday. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • In game one of yesterday’s doubleheader, SP Ross Stripling delivered the best start of his career, striking out nine in six innings and allowing only four hits and a run. In game two…well, SP Rich Hill also had a career-first, but it was the fact that he only threw two pitches before being removed because he had a recurrence of the blister problem that has plagued him before.
  • RP Kenley Jansen saved both of the Dodgers’ wins in yesterday’s doubleheader. His ERA is down to 3.20 and he hasn’t walked a batter since May 2.

Miami Marlins

  • 3B Martin Prado went 0-for-4 last night and is now hitting .164 on the season with a .178 slugging percentage (he has one extra-base hit in 79 plate appearances, a double). He can’t be owned in any mixed league.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • The hype will probably slow now on SP Freddy Peralta, who followed up last weekend’s 13-strikeout outing with a command-bereft dud against the Twins – four innings, three hits, six walks, four earned runs. He did strike out five and generated 12 swinging strikes on 82 pitches, but the problem is the other 70 pitches he threw, 38 of them were balls. Both SP Chase Anderson and SP Zach Davies should be back this week, so that’ll probably be it for Peralta’s run in the rotation, for now.
  • 1B Jesus Aguilar homered again and drove in two runs yesterday. He’s now hitting .327 with an OPS of .973.

Minnesota Twins

  • SP Fernando Romero had his worst start since being called up, but it still wasn’t a total bomb – five innings, three hits, two walks, three earned runs, two strikeouts. His command was off for most of the day, with only 58 of his 94 pitches going for strikes and Romero uncorking two wild pitches and hitting a batter. He’ll get the Mariners next in Seattle on Friday followed by the Royals in Kansas City the following Wednesday. We’re fine using Romero in all formats in both of those starts.
  • 1B Joe Mauer was placed on the 10-day DL due to concussion-like symptoms. Mauer has had neck and concussion issues before, so this sounds like an open-ended recovery timetable.

New York Mets

  • Both OF Michael Conforto and C Devin Mesoraco hit their fourth home runs of the season last night, continuing respective hot streaks – Conforto’s average is up to .234 after picking up 11 hits in his last eight games, and Mesoraco’s regular playing time since joining the Mets has resulted in three homers and five RBI in 21 at bats since the trade.

New York Yankees

  • C Gary Sanchez had a night that showed why his skill set is so valuable in most fantasy formats – because he walks so much, he entered the game a .204 average, but the four-hit night he produced upped his average all the way to .225. Three of Sanchez’s hits went for extra bases – two home runs and a double – and he drove in three. Sanchez is on pace for 46 homers, 127 RBI, and 104 runs. Take five percent off of all of those numbers and you’re still looking at a borderline first-round pick in two-catcher mixed leagues.

Oakland A’s

  • Yesterday made it four straight mediocre starts for SP Sean Manaea since his amazing run to start the year – he went five innings yesterday and allowed five hits and a season-high three walks, striking out a season-low two. He didn’t run in to trouble until the fifth inning, but after that he was at 97 pitches, a threshold he’s only crossed once this year, and that was for his no-hitter on April 21.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • RP Seranthony Dominguez worked two perfect innings for the first save of his career, holding a one-run lead on the road against a good St. Louis team. Dominguez has now opened his career with 6 2/3 perfect innings and seven strikeouts.
  • SP Jerad Eickhoff will make a rehab start at Triple-A today and could be ready to take SP Zach Eflin’s place in the rotation as early as next weekend.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • SP Nick Kingham gave up a walk, three doubles, and three runs in the first inning last night against the Padres, but after that he allowed just two hits over the next five innings and finished with a pretty respectable line. Kingham’s changeup was a little better last night, which will be a big key long-term, and he used it more than his slider, which was his main secondary offering in his previous two outings. He was sent back to Triple-A on Sunday morning with SP Joe Musgrove set to return this week.
  • 2B Josh Harrison was activated on Sunday morning and should return to his regular leadoff spot.

San Diego Padres

  • 3B Christian Villanueva continues to slowly emerge from his month-long slump – after picking up three hits, including a home run, in two starts earlier this week against Colorado, he picked up two more yesterday, including another home run and two RBI.
  • SP Clayton Richard has had a very sharp sinker for three straight starts now – after going eight innings in both of his previous starts, Richard went 7 1/3 yesterday, allowing only seven hits and two runs, generating 15 ground ball outs.

San Francisco Giants

  • SP Chris Stratton picked up his fifth win of the season yesterday, but he only struck out one batter in five innings, and he needed 80 pitches to get to that point. After the game, San Francisco Chronicle beat writer Henry Schulman wondered if “Stratton’s rope as a starter is growing short,” rightly pointing out that “he is a fastball command pitcher who also relies on a good curveball. Both have been missing.”

Seattle Mariners

  • OF Ben Gamel has a four-game hitting streak, including three multi-hit games, after a 2-for-4 effort last night that included his first home run of the season. Gamel’s playing time looks more assured with 2B/OF Dee Gordon moving back to second base from the outfield, and he’s capable of a worthy contribution in deep mixed leagues if he can hit like he did for parts of last season when had 43 extra-base hits in 134 games.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • Manager Mike Matheny brought in RP Greg Holland with a one-run lead in the eighth inning, and if you’ve paid attention at all this season, you know how that ended – the one-run lead became a one-run deficit after Holland allowed two hits, a walk, and two earned runs in just 2/3 of an inning.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • SS/3B Daniel Robertson has home runs in consecutive games and has reached base 11 times in his last four games. David Laurila at FanGraphs wrote a piece earlier this month about Robertson’s swing changes over the winter, with the gist being that he simplified his mechanics to keep the barrel of the bat in the zone longer. While Robertson’s 20 percent walk rate has been a positive factor in his performance so far, the swing change mechanics have also led to more consistent line drive contact and an ability to pull the ball more, making it seem likely he can continue down his current pace of a batting average approaching .300 with mid-to-high teens home runs.

Texas Rangers

  • 2B/3B Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit third in the order for the second consecutive game. For a guy with an OPS under .700, Kiner-Falefa does get prime opportunities to drive in and score runs – the Rangers don’t have an off day again until June 14, so if you need a volume at-bats option in your corner or middle infield spots, you could do much worse than taking a flyer on Kiner-Falefa.
  • SP Ariel Jurado made his first major league start yesterday, and he took the roster spot of SP Matt Moore, who hit the DL with right knee soreness that was clearly the only factor behind his ERA that was nearing 8.00. Jurado went 4 2/3 innings, allowed four earned runs on six hits and two walks, and struck out two. He will probably start again on Thursday. Jurado isn’t much of a strikeout guy but has shown good control in the minors since signing out of Panama in 2012. He’s only a factor in AL-only leagues.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • RP Tyler Clippard entered in the eighth inning yesterday with two runners in scoring position, one out, and a 4-1 lead. He left the game after finishing the eighth innings, but not before he allowed a walk to the first batter he faced and a grand slam to the second batter he faced, turning that 4-1 lead in to a 5-4 deficit.

Washington Nationals

  • With OF Michael Taylor hitting under .200 and getting worse at the plate by the day, and the news yesterday that 2B/OF Howie Kendrick is out for the season with an Achilles injury, the Nationals made the surprising move of calling up 19-year-old OF Juan Soto after just 511 plate appearances in the minor leagues and just 35 above High-A. Between three levels this year Soto is hitting .362 with 14 home runs and 52 RBI. If you need hitting help, you have to do whatever you can to pick up Soto now. He’s going to play everyday and he’s a potential league-changer if he can carry this over to the majors. There’s maybe a 10 percent chance of that happening, but that upside is worth the risk.

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