Daily Intel – 6/7/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • 1B Paul Goldschmidt needed two games to get his batting average from “should I cut this guy?” territory to “he’s better than Joey Gallo, at least” territory. He went 4-for-5 yesterday with three doubles, two RBI and a run scored, and, on top of a three-hit night on Tuesday, raised his average from .210 after Monday’s game to .233 after yesterday.
  • SP Clay Buchholz was strong again yesterday, striking out seven over six innings and limiting the Giants to two runs on seven hits and a walk.
  • OF Jon Jay was acquired and should get regular playing time in play in center field until OF A.J. Pollock returns.

Atlanta Braves

  • 1B Freddie Freeman continues to crush left-handed pitching in a manner he never has before – his home run off Padres SP Matt Strahm yesterday was his sixth of the season off same-sided pitchers, and he’s slugging well over .600 against them in more than 90 plate appearances this year. Over the past three years, Freeman had just 16 homers in 486 plate appearances against lefties and a .464 slugging percentage. Freeman is making a very good case to be a top-5 pick in next year’s drafts, as he doesn’t turn 30 for another 15 months so he should be just starting to entering the prime of his power production.

Baltimore Orioles

  • RP Brad Brach recorded his 10th save of the year, but more impressive is the fact that he hasn’t allowed a run since May 1, a span of 11 appearances. It’ll be interesting to see how the Orioles approach the closer role when RP Zach Britton returns in a couple of weeks – Brach and Britton both hold trade value if healthy.

Boston Red Sox

  • C Christian Vazquez went 3-for-4 with a double and a solo homer yesterday. He has hits in seven of his last 10 games and homers in two of his last three. He’s also walked twice in the last three games, which wouldn’t be worth celebrating were it not for the fact that those two walks represent one-third of season total of six. Vazquez continues to get playing time so any other signs of a hot streak this week would make him worth adding in two-catcher leagues in advance of next week’s games.

Chicago Cubs

  • Alright, you wouldn’t expect us not to brag loudly about OF Jason Heyward hitting a walk-off grand slam, right? Yes, it was Heyward’s only hit of the night in four at-bats, but it is another sign that the unexpected power surge we speculated last week may be imminent is, in fact, imminent. Grab Heyward if you want to speculate on an outfielder in shallow mixed leagues – he’s playing every day, more frequently toward the top of the lineup, and give him two or three weeks to see if this emergence is legit. If it isn’t, you’ll probably still get some valuable runs scored and batting average, and you can cut him.

Chicago White Sox

  • More bullpen watch stuff for the Sox: RP Nate Jones worked a perfect eighth inning with two strikeouts to set up RP Joakim Soria, who also struck out two and allowed a hit in the ninth to save his second straight game and sixth of the year. This is looking like a case of the Sox building up Soria’s value for a trade in the near future, but if you need saves in the short-term, we’d grab him.

Cincinnati Reds

  • OF Jesse Winker has shown some good signs of growth at the plate over the last few days, with five hits and two walks in three games after a five-game stretch with no hits (though that included two pinch-hit appearances). If you’ve held on to Winker out of hope that he gets his power going, we’d recommend giving him this month to show some progress. Winker’s hard-contact numbers – around 40 percent – and fly ball rate – 33 percent with only two percent of those resulting in home runs (the baseline is closer to 10 percent) say he should turn it around soon, and the Statcast data on his batted balls put his hard-hit consistency in the company of guys like 1B Jesus AguilarOF Scott Schebler, and 3B Jeimer Candelario, all of whom are at or approaching double-digit home runs this season.

Cleveland Indians

  • SP Carlos Carrasco righted the ship after two consecutive bad outings, holding the Brewers to a run on eight hits and a walk over seven innings. He struck out 10, only his second start this season where he K’d double digits. Carrasco gets two starts next week at the White Sox and home for the Twins, which is an elite-level matchup set. Obviously he should be started in all formats.

Colorado Rockies 

  • 1B/OF Ian Desmond homered for the second time in three games and added one two hits and two walks yesterday. He’s been much better recently, with a .271 average, five homers, 16 RBI, 13 runs, and three stolen bases over a 60 at-bat stretch since mid-May.

Detroit Tigers

  • 3B Jeimer Candelario sat out yesterday’s game after jamming his left middle finger on Tuesday, but he took batting practice and should be back for this weekend’s series at home against Cleveland, at the latest. 3B Ronny Rodriguez got the start in his place and batted ninth, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout.

Houston Astros

  • OF Josh Reddick was activated from the disabled list yesterday after missing about two weeks with a left leg issue. He started in right field and hit sixth, going 1-for-4. Reddick has struggled so far this year with a .229 batting average and .733 OPS, but he usually has a hot stretch or two for several weeks each year, so keep an eye out for that.

Kansas City Royals

  • OF Jon Jay was traded to Arizona yesterday, opening up center field for, surprisingly, 2B/OF Whit Merrifield. Merrifield also led off for the first time in three weeks – he had a several week stretch in late April/early May where he led off as Jay struggled – and went 2-for-5 with a caught stealing.

Los Angeles Angels

  • SP/DH Shohei Ohtani is dealing with a blister issue for the second time this season, and it cost him with a shortened start on Wednesday. He only threw 63 pitches and four innings before being removed, allowing a run on four hits and three walks, striking out four.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • 1B/OF Cody Bellinger started in center field for the 12th time in the last three weeks yesterday, but, more importantly, he homered for the second straight game and walked twice. The idea of Bellinger being demoted to Triple-A wasn’t completely dismissed by manager Dave Roberts a few days ago before this Pittsburgh series, so it is encouraging to see Bellinger come out and have two good games in response to that.

Miami Marlins

  • SP Trevor Richards was brought back to the majors yesterday and will likely slot back in to the rotation full-time beginning with a start today against St. Louis. Richards was great in Triple-A, striking out 37 and walking only four in 39 1/3 innings. He also, famously, struck out 10 Dodgers in an April game that was said to be the biggest single game upset based on Vegas odds in MLB history when the Marlins beat SP Clayton Kershaw. 

Milwaukee Brewers

  • There’s very little reason to hold on to SP Chase Anderson in most mixed formats. Short outings like yesterday, where he only lasted 4 1/3 innings, are becoming the norm, and he is rarely ever able to top five strikeouts in a start.

Minnesota Twins

  • 1B Logan Morrison was able to pinch hit yesterday, so his back injury shouldn’t keep him out of the starting lineup too much longer.

New York Mets

  • OF Yoenis Cespedes ran the bases, sprinted in the outfield, and took live pitches at the plate over the last two days, so he should be set to come off the disabled list early next week pending the Mets’ decision on a rehab assignment.

New York Yankees

  • Yesterday marked the third very good start out of the last four outings for SP Sonny Gray, as he shutout the Blue Jays for eight innings but walked away with a no-decision in the Yankees’ extra-innings win. Gray limited the Jays to two hits and two walks, striking out eight – in his 12 road starts since joining the Yankees last July, he has a 2.51 ERA, compared to a 6.44 ERA in 11 home starts. That tells you how you approach Gray in your lineup moving forward – even in AL-only leagues he’s a tough guy to start at home against a good lineup.

Oakland A’s

  • SP Daniel Mengden finally had a bad start, his first since April 28 (a stretch of seven outings), allowing four home runs to Texas over four innings – in total, he gave up six runs on five hits (the only non-homer hit was a double) and three walks. Mengden allows a lot of contact in the air, so starts like this are going to be more likely to happen in the summer, especially in hitters parks like Arlington, but we still say start him every time out, including next week with a tough two-start week at home against Houston and the Angels.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • The one dominant piece of the Phillies’ bullpen – RP Seranthony Dominguez – was finally cracked last night at the worst possible time. He entered in the eighth inning in a 3-3 tie and worked an easy 1-2-3 inning against three very good hitters – 3B Kris Bryant, 1B Anthony Rizzo, and C Willson Contreras. After taking a 5-3 lead in the top of the ninth, which included letting Dominguez hit, the Phillies sent him out in the bottom half of the inning and things got bad quickly – a walk and a single put the tying runners on, pushed Dominguez out, and RP Adam Morgan allowed a walk and a walk-off grand slam to OF Jason Heyward. The Phillies are a legit playoff contender and need to get another reliable arm to pair with Dominguez, unless there is supreme confidence that RP Pat Neshek is going to return from injury and be that guy. Neshek tossed his third bullpen session yesterday as he nears a return from the disabled list.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • RP Felipe Vazquez pitched for the second consecutive day after going four days without an appearance after his blowup on May 31 at St. Louis. Vazquez threw 32 pitches over 1 1/3 innings and held on to an 11-9 lead for his 11th save of the year, walking two and striking out two. Forearm issues usually don’t just disappear, so we’ll continue to monitor Vazquez’s usage and performance – it is worth noting he only threw 17 strikes on those 32 pitches, with one being a swinging strike.

San Diego Padres

  • RP Brad Hand has 18 saves now, second in the National League behind Colorado RP Wade Davis, and yesterday was his most impressive outing of the year, as he worked two full innings and struck out four, allowing only a hit. With Hand and setup man RP Kirby Yates both dominating, the Padres will have an interesting decision to make over the next few weeks as they linger on the fringes of contention but stand to potentially gain a big haul if they consider trading either pitcher.

San Francisco Giants

  • 1B/3B Pablo Sandoval is getting every day playing time and is hitting well, against all odds. He went 2-for-5 yesterday with his second homer in three games and has hits in nine of his last 10. Sandoval is going to play every day for the forseeable future and the Giants have even tried him at second base, which tells you a lot about how far they are willing to go to get him in.

Seattle Mariners

  • 3B Kyle Seager homered for the second consecutive game, an impressive feat considering the strength of the Astros’ pitching staff. He’s now got three homers and two doubles in his last five games, pushing his slugging percentage (.427) closer to his career mark (.446), though he’s still way off the pace on batting average (.224 compared to a .261 career mark).

St. Louis Cardinals

  • SP Alex Reyes had surgery on the torn tendon in his back yesterday, and that will end his season. It is a six-month recovery per Mark Saxon of The Athletic, so Reyes should be able to get a full ramp up en route to a large workload as a starter in 2019.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • The fruits of the Rays’ very deep farm system have paid some dividend already this season on the mound, but we’ll get our first real look at the hitting side of their prospects with 1B/OF Jake Bauers getting the call to the majors today. Bauers is a high/hard contact guy with less-than-average power for a corner infield/outfield spot, but he should hit right away in the majors and, with regular playing time, could have immediate value in 15-team mixed leagues.

Texas Rangers

  • SS/OF Jurickson Profar went 3-for-4 with two home runs and five RBI last night – he’s got three homers, two doubles, and a triple in his last seven games.
  • OF Delino DeShields only reached base once in three plate appearances, but he stole second and third base and scored a run off that walk. He’s got 12 steals on the year now.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Converted reliever SP/RP Sam Gaviglio dominated the Yankees for seven innings last night, shutting them out and allowing only three hits and three walks. Guys who throw 89 mph fastballs and sliders in the low-to-mid 80s usually don’t get these results for the long-term, but Gaviglio is generating enough soft contact to see where he could perform well over the next month or so before the league writes the book on him. He gets two starts next week at the Rays and home for the Nationals, and if you’re looking for a high-risk, high-reward option in shallow mixed leagues, Gaviglio is a good one.

Washington Nationals

  • OF Michael Taylor went 3-for-5 with a double, three RBI, two runs scored, and a steal yesterday. We mentioned Taylor a few days ago because he still possesses a very relevant fantasy skill set with power and speed – OF Adam Eaton is due back soon, but we doubt he’ll impact Taylor’s playing time in center, so if you want to take a risk on a hitter who may tank your batting average but deliver good counting stats, grab Taylor.

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