Daily Intel – 5/29/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • C John Ryan Murphy continues to build a case for ownership in two-catcher mixed leagues, hitting his sixth home run of the season yesterday and third homer in his last four starts.

Atlanta Braves

  • OF Ronald Acuna Jr. was diagnosed with a mild left ACL sprain and a lower back contusion after slipping on first base Sunday. He’s not expected to much more than the minimum 10 days required for a disabled list stint. OF Preston Tucker should play most of the time in left field in Acuna’s absence – he did so in game of of yesterday’s doubleheader and went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.

Baltimore Orioles

  • OF Mark Trumbo returned to the lineup for the first time since May 22, batting seventh and going 0-for-2 with a walk.
  • We bag on SP Alex Cobb so much that it is only fair to praise him for a solid start yesterday – other than a two-out rally in the third inning that saw SS Trea Turner and OF Bryce Harper reach before 3B Anthony Rendon hit a three-run homer, Cobb didn’t allow a run, going seven innings for the first time this season and generating 11 ground ball outs. All this to say…Cobb may be worth using in AL-only leagues again if he can put together one more start like this against a good lineup, and he’ll get that shot this weekend at home against the Yankees.

Boston Red Sox

  • OF Andrew Benintendi is killing the ball right now – with three hits yesterday, including a triple and a home run, he now has 13 hits in his last eight starts, including four homers, two triples, a double, and 14 RBI.

Chicago Cubs

  • SP Yu Darvish will have an MRI on his right arm today after being put on the disabled list last week with right triceps tightness. RP Mike Montgomery was very good in Darvish’s spot yesterday, limiting the Pirates to two hits over 5 2/3 shutout innings for his first win of the season. Montgomery struck out five. Montgomery was hit or miss as a starter last year, so if he moves in to the rotation for a longer run, he’s not much more than an NL-only option and mixed league streamer.

Chicago White Sox

  • 28-year-old 1B Matt Skole made his major league debut yesterday, playing first base and hitting fifth. He went 2-for-3 with a home run, RBI, walk, and two runs scored.
  • OF Adam Engel has nine hits in his last six games after a 2-for-4 day yesterday. Engel also has two steals over that time and eight on the season, so any continued improvement in his bat-to-ball ability will make him an intriguing speed option in mixed leagues.

Cincinnati Reds

  • OF Adam Duvall was hitless in his last 19 at-bats, but he picked up a single in a pinch hit appearance on Sunday followed up with a two-hit day yesterday, including a double and four RBI.

Cleveland Indians

  • Top prospect SP Shane Bieber will make his major league debut on Thursday on the road against the Twins, with the Tribe giving SP Trevor Bauer an extra day of rest due to the 127-pitch workload in his last outing over the weekend. We’ve said several times this month how much we like Bieber, and we think he’s worth adding for this start with the hope that he impresses enough to supplant current number five SP Josh Tomlin. 
  • 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion has eight hits in his last four games after a 2-for-4 effort yesterday that included a home run, four RBI, and two runs scored.

Colorado Rockies 

  • RP Adam Ottavino was diagnosed with a left oblique strain after his outing on Sunday and placed on the 10-day disabled list. The strain is considered mild, so Ottavino should miss more than the minimum.
  • OF Carlos Gonzalez had his second consecutive multi-hit game last night, putting up two singles to go along with a walk.

Detroit Tigers

  • SP Matt Boyd overcame a righty-heavy Angels lineup to win his third game of the season yesterday, needing 102 pitches to get through five innings, but still not allowing a run. He gave up two hits (both singles) and three walks, striking out four. Boyd’s fastball command was his biggest issue, but he continues to have a tremendous slider that gets him out of jams and is by far his most valuable offering of his five pitches.

Houston Astros

  • 2B Jose Altuve is beginning to find his power stroke after a quiet April – with a home run yesterday he’s got two in three games, along with three doubles in his last four and 10 in the month of May. Altuve’s slugging percentage is now .467, not yet at the levels most expected coming in to the season, but getting there – we bet he still finishes the season with 18-20 home runs.

Kansas City Royals

  • OF Jon Jay has hits in 24 of 26 games this month, including 10 straight, after a four-hit day yesterday that included three doubles and a run scored. He’s hitting .367 this month with 15 runs scored, six doubles, and nine RBI.

Los Angeles Angels

  • SS Andrelton Simmons picked up two more hits and an RBI yesterday. With four walks and no strikeouts in his last nine games, Simmons walk rate (9.4 percent) is now double his strike out rate (4.7 percent), a nice indicator that his hot start of a .337 batting average and .865 OPS is more reality than his track record would indicate.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • OF Joc Pederson led off for just the sixth time this season yesterday, but it is the fourth time he’s done so in the last nine days. SS/OF Chris Taylor was moved down to sixth. Pederson went 1-for-3 with an RBI double and a run scored, and Taylor went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.

Miami Marlins

  • SP Caleb Smith used his changeup and slider a bit more than his season averages so far yesterday and the result was his second most efficient start of the season, needing only 103 pitches to get through seven innings en route to his fourth win of the year. Smith only allowed a solo home run, a double, two singles, and a walk, striking out four. Of the eight times the slider and changeup were put in play, only two went for hits.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • OF Christian Yelich has hit in six straight, with multi-hit games in his last four. He went 2-for-4 yesterday with a homer and two steals, along with three runs scored.
  • 1B/OF Ryan Braun went 3-for-3 yesterday with an RBI, stolen base, and three runs scored.

Minnesota Twins

  • 3B Miguel Sano hit his first home run yesterday in four starts since coming off the disabled list. He also struck out three times and has seven Ks in 17 plate appearances since returning.

New York Mets

  • C Kevin Plawecki returned from the disabled list and delivered three hits in the second game of the Mets’ doubleheader split with Atlanta. Plawecki drove in a run and scored twice. C Devin Mesoraco has hit very well since coming over from Cincinnati, including going 2-for-3 with a home run, two RBI, and two runs scored yesterday in game one of the doubleheader, so our best guess is that this starts as a near 50/50 split of playing time.

New York Yankees

  • A good sign for 1B Greg Bird – not only did he homer yesterday for the first time, but he did it off SP Justin Verlander, who hadn’t allowed a home run since April 25. Bird hit cleanup with OF Giancarlo Stanton getting a day off, and he also picked up a single.

Oakland A’s

  • OF Khris Davis took part and did well in pregame agility drills, and he should be good to return Thursday from the groin strain that put him on the disabled list last week.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • C Jorge Alfaro went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored yesterday. Alfaro has quietly put up a decent month, hitting .277 with four extra-base hits and seven runs scored. His defense, specifically his arm, is going to keep him on a path to pick up between 425 and 500 plate appearances this year, so if he’s been dropped in your two-catcher league, we’d continue monitoring his progress at the plate.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • After starting off hot in May, 1B Josh Bell has been struggling for the last week-plus. After an 0-for-3 day yesterday, he’s now got just four hits in his last 28 at-bats and he hasn’t homered since May 12.
  • SP Nick Kingham will start today in place of SP Ivan Nova. 

San Diego Padres

  • OF Hunter Renfroe started in left field and hit cleanup in his first game off the disabled list, driving in a run on a single in four at-bats. OF Travis Jankowski was the odd man out yesterday, pinch hitting in the eighth inning and picking up a single.

San Francisco Giants

  • OF Gorkys Hernandez had another big game yesterday out of the leadoff spot, going 2-for-4 with a solo home run, two runs scored, a walk, and a stolen base. He’s now hitting .362 with a 1.044 OPS in 73 plate appearances this month.

Seattle Mariners

  • SP Marco Gonzales delivered another strong start yesterday for his fifth win of the year, allowing only an unearned run in 6 2/3 innings to go with four hits, four walks, and four strikeouts. Gonzales has not gone three straight starts – a span of 19 1/3 innings – without allowing an earned run.
  • SS Jean Segura sat out yesterday’s game in the concussion protocol, but he should be back today.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • Inconsistency has been the most descriptive word for SP Luke Weaver’s season, and yesterday continued that trend – he allowed five hits, two walks, and four runs in four innings, striking out just three. He was burned by a misplay at first base by 1B Jose Martinez, but Weaver’s declining strikeout rate and increased fly ball rate are both reasons we don’t remain convinced he’s going to fully bounce back to last season’s level.
  • SP Carlos Martinez is on track to make a rehab start at some point this week. He hasn’t missed much time, so he should only need one start to get back in to the Cardinals’ rotation.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • Not a lot of insight in the first save chance since the trade of RP Alex Colome, as the Rays needed to use four relievers over 6 2/3 innings just to get the ball to the left hand of RP Jonny Venters, who struck out OF Matt Joyce to get the one out he needed for his first save since 2011. The Rays’ bullpen capped off a solid effort from SP Chris Archer, who was only allowed to go 88 pitches but did manage to get through six scoreless innings. It wasn’t too long ago when Archer needed 88 pitches to get through four innings, so it is good to see the efficiency trend he’s shown over the last several weeks continue. Archer has gone at least six innings and allowed two runs or less in six of his last eight starts.

Texas Rangers

  • 2B Rougned Odor has shown signs of life in the last week or so, picking up his third multi-hit game in four starts yesterday and attempting two stolen bases – he was successful once. Odor has hits in six of his last eight games and has raised his batting average from .169 to .215 in that time.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • We’re fine with dumping SP Aaron Sanchez in 12-team mixed leagues after yesterday’s awful outing, where he allowed nine hits, a walk, and seven earned runs over five innings. Sanchez, even if he improves, is struggling to go deep in to games, as he hasn’t been beyond 99 pitches this season and hasn’t gone further than five innings since April 30. There’s not enough upside in Sanchez’s current skills profile to justify holding on to him in formats where you can take chances on hot starters or stream two-start guys.

Washington Nationals

  • OF Michael Taylor went 2-for-4 yesterday with an RBI. Taylor is still striking out a ton, but he’s put the bat on the ball more over the last week, with seven hits in his last seven games, including three doubles, two triples, and a homer.

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