Daily Intel – 5/31/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • C John Ryan Murphy’s hot stretch continued yesterday, as he hit out of the cleanup spot and went 3-for-5 with a home run and two runs scored.
  • 1B Paul Goldschmidt hit his third home run in his last 10 starts yesterday, so there’s some daylight in the black hole that has been his offensive production so far. Maybe sitting out Tuesday’s game will be the impetus to get him going.

Atlanta Braves

  • OF Charlie Culberson has started in four of the five games since OF Ronald Acuna Jr. got hurt, so he looks to be the guy in left field rather than OF Preston Tucker.

Baltimore Orioles

  • 1B/OF Trey Mancini is really struggling over the last two weeks – he’s hitting under .130 in 45 at-bats over that time after an 0-for-3 outing last night, with only one home run and 10 strikeouts. He was dropped to seventh in the order for the second consecutive start after leading off 43 times this season.

Boston Red Sox

  • INF/OF Eduardo Nunez returned to the lineup yesterday – at designated hitter, oddly enough – and went 2-for-4 with a solo homer and an RBI double.
  • RP Matt Barnes has been dominant over his last eight outings – with a perfect 1 1/3 innings yesterday, he’s now gone 8 1/3 innings without allowing a run, and in that time he’s allowed only three hits and three walks while striking out 12.

Chicago Cubs

  • OF Jason Heyward had three hits for the second consecutive game, and with eight hits in his last four starts he’s boosted his batting average from .220 to .256. Heyward’s hard hit rate is 34.8 percent, about nine points up from the last two seasons. He’s also hitting 44 percent fly balls, a number he’s never approached in his major league career. He’s doing all that while actually boosting his overall contact rate from 84.7 percent last year to 86.5 percent this year. All this to say: we wouldn’t be surprised if Heyward had a hot couple of weeks at some point this summer, especially in hitter-friendly Wrigley Field.

Chicago White Sox

  • SS Tim Anderson has had a hot stretch after being pretty lousy for most of May. After a two-double day yesterday, Anderson now has 11 hits in his last 10 games, including six for extra bases, along with nine RBI, two steals, and nine runs scored. Anderson’s fly ball rate is up more than 10 percent from last season (28.0 to 38.4), and he’s made noticeable improvements in his plate discipline between contact percentages and an improved strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Cincinnati Reds

  • SP Anthony DeSclafani continued his rehab work at Triple-A Louisville, going 6 1/3 innings and 95 pitches, allowing seven hits, a walk, and two runs (both solo homers), with two strikeouts and 11 ground ball outs.
  • Two slumping outfielders homered yesterday for the Reds – OF Adam Duvall had one hit in five at-bats, but he made it count with a grand slam; OF Scott Schebler went 2-for-4 with a walk, including a two-run home run.
  • RP Raisel Iglesias was activated off the disabled list and worked the last out of the eighth and the whole ninth inning last night for his ninth save of the year. He allowed three hits and struck out one.

Cleveland Indians

  • A three-hit day yesterday for 1B Yonder Alonso makes it 13 hits in his last seven starts dating back to May 22, a stretch that has seen his batting average jump from .213 to .253. Alonso has been on an elite-level power pace all season, tracking to hit 33 homers and 96 RBI. We think that’s pretty close to what he’ll finish with.

Colorado Rockies 

  • 2B DJ LeMahieu is likely to return from his wrist injury tomorrow. He’s missed a couple of weeks with the issue. We are guessing that 1B Ryan McMahon, who hasn’t been playing every day, will head back to Triple-A. McMahon was a late-inning replacement at second last night and got a double in his only at-bat.

Detroit Tigers

  • 3B/OF Nick Castellanos was able to crack the code on SP Shohei Ohtani last night, doubling twice off him as part of a three-hit night where he also drove in a run.

Houston Astros

  • C Max Stassi homered again last night – his fifth of the season. He also added an RBI double and he’s now hitting .303 with an OPS of .929.
  • SS Carlos Correa struck out three times last night and has 15 strikeouts in his last nine games with only two extra-base hits (both doubles).

Kansas City Royals

  • OF Jorge Soler hopefully took the first steps in breaking out of his brutal slump last night, going 4-for-5 with a home, two RBI, and two runs scored. Soler is making contact on 82 percent of the balls he swings at in the strike zone, and 40 percent of his balls in play are classified as hard contact. His overall contact rate is still low, so he’s going to suffer slumps similar to the one he’s in now, but he seems like the type of hitter that could rip off multiple-week stretches that either win you a week in weekly leagues or boost you in the standings in roto leagues. We’d still just leave him in your lineup without worry.

Los Angeles Angels

  • OF Justin Upton went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts last night, his third straight game with multiple strikeouts. He’s now got 17 strikeouts in 10 games since being hit by a pitch on the hand by a fastball from Rays SP Chris Archer two weeks ago.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Both OF Matt Kemp and 1B Max Muncy are producing mixed-league worthy value in what are essentially part-time roles – both guys hit their seventh home runs of the season last night, with Kemp also adding a double and driving in four runs. Muncy has four homers in his last 10 starts dating back to May 19 and, for the season, has an OPS of .894.

Miami Marlins

  • The defense, specifically 3B Miguel Rojas, cost RP Brad Ziegler another loss (his fifth), but Ziegler didn’t do himself any favors leading up to the walk-off throwing error, managing only to get one out and allowing two hits and two walks. Even though the Marlins have shown no inclination to remove Ziegler from the closer role for good, RP Kyle Barraclough should be in line to get chances occasionally, especially because he’s pitched very well recently, having pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings in nine appearances since May 8.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • OF Christian Yelich homered for the second time in two games yesterday, also picking up a single and two RBI. Yelich’s hard-hit rate is 43.6 percent, smashing his pervious career high of 38 percent, but he’s still only hitting around 25 percent of his balls in the air. Until he get that rate closer to 30 percent, it’s hard to see how he tracks the 20-homer mark this year.

Minnesota Twins

  • OF Byron Buxton went back on the disabled list with the same issue in his left big toe that hampered him earlier this month.

New York Mets

  • In a surprising bit of news, SP Steven Matz won’t need a disabled list stint after getting an MRI on the left middle finger injury that caused him to leave Tuesday’s game early.
  • It was likely a matchups thing, but RP Jeurys Familia worked the eighth inning last night with the Mets up 3-1, allowing two hits but getting out of it with that lead in tact. RP Robert Gsellman worked the ninth with a 4-1 lead and got the save.

New York Yankees

  • 1B Tyler Austin was back in the lineup for the first time since last Friday and went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.

Oakland A’s

  • Two injury updates: OF Khris Davis will return to the lineup for this afternoon’s game against Tampa Bay. He’ll have missed the minimum with a groin strain. SP Andrew Triggs threw for the first time yesterday since going on the disabled list with a nerve issue in his pitching arm. He’ll likely be out at least another month.
  • SP Sean Manaea was off his game again last night, with spotty command of his fastball that got him in some trouble – he only walked one, but he also only struck out three over five innings, allowing five hits, the biggest one being a three-run home run.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • 1B/OF Rhys Hoskins was placed on the disabled list, somewhat unexpectedly, after being diagnosed with a fractured jaw because of the foul ball he hit off his face on Monday. As of right now, it is unclear if he’ll go for surgery, and that is what will drive his return timeline. OFs Aaron Altherr and Nick Williams should no longer be platooning with Hoskins out and gain some increased value in 15-team mixed leagues.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • RP Felipe Vazquez was back on the mound after his injury scare over the weekend, getting the save in a 2-1 win despite allowing two singles in the ninth inning. He did strike out a batter.
  • SP Joe Musgrove was good for the second straight start back off the disabled list, holding the Cubs to one run over seven innings on seven hits and four walks. Musgrove’s fastball is coming in at around 95.5 mph on average so far, and it has been a much better pitch for him than it was in relief with Houston last year. He’s also cut way back on his slider usage while bumping up his cutter usage. We think he’s worth owning in all leagues now simply based on the small chance that he could be a top-30 starter the rest of the way.

San Diego Padres

  • C Austin Hedges was pulled off his rehab assignment earlier this week with soreness in the right elbow that put him on the disabled list on May 1, but after returning to San Diego yesterday for an exam he was cleared to begin throwing again. He’s likely looking at a mid-June return to the lineup.
  • SP Clayton Richard was strong again last night in a no decision, working seven innings and striking out five Marlins hitters, allowing only four walks, one hit, and two runs (both on a homer by Miami 2B Starlin Castro).

San Francisco Giants

  • RP Mark Melancon will be activated from the disabled list on Friday. He hasn’t pitched this season with a forearm issue, so it is very unlikely he’ll take the closer role for RP Hunter Strickland anytime soon. Strickland got his 11th save of the year last night, he’s striking out nearly a batter an inning, and he hasn’t had any sustained stretch of poor performance.

Seattle Mariners

  • 2B/OF Dee Gordon is expected to be back in the lineup today after missing the minimum 10 days on the disabled list with a fractured right big toe.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • The much-hyped return of super-prospect SP Alex Reyes was a mixed bag – he threw four scoreless innings, limiting the Brewers to three hits, two walks, and a hit by pitch, but he only threw 42 strikes on 73 pitches, with three of them being swinging strikes. Worse off, his velocity dipped a little with each passing inning, and while he ramped it back to the mid-90s in his final pitches, he still only got to that four-inning mark before being removed. His next two starts are likely to be at home against Miami and San Diego – he is a must-start in both cases, but it’ll be instructive to see how long he can go against two bad lineups.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • SP Nate Eovaldi was almost perfect in his first start since late August 2016, throwing six no-hit innings with only one walk and striking out four. He left the game after 70 pitches, a move that made sense considering the Rays had a 4-0 lead and the health of their three “true” starting pitchers (Eovaldi, Chris Archer, and Blake Snell) is, arguably, the most important factors in them remaining in the playoff race they’ve thrust themselves in to with a terrific stretch of play since mid-April. Eovaldi’s four-seam fastball averaged 97 mph on 32 offerings, and he also worked in his splitter, cutter, and slider an almost equal number of times, 13, 13, and 12, respectively. We think Eovaldi is immediately relevant in all formats and should be owned.

Texas Rangers

  • C Robinson Chirinos had three hits last night and has reached base nine times in his last four starts, a span of 16 plate appearances. He drove in three last night and has five RBI in his last three games.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • With OF Curtis Granderson sitting out consecutive games against lefty starters, OF Kevin Pillar was moved up to the number two spot in the lineup, his highest of the season. He went 1-for-4 with an RBI single.

Washington Nationals

  • OF Adam Eaton will begin a rehab assignment on Friday as he continues to recover from his left ankle surgery. He’ll be eligible to return next Friday, so he’s likely to be ready for use in weekly leagues for the Monday after that (June 11).
  • OF Juan Soto led off for the first time last night, with SS/OF Trea Turner moving down to second for the first time in 16 games.

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