Daily Intel – 6/14/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • OF Jon Jay had his second straight multi-hit game out of the leadoff spot, going 2-for-4 with a run, a walk, and two RBI. Jay has already scored seven runs in just 25 plate appearances with Arizona.

Atlanta Braves

  • SP Mike Soroka was great in his return from the disabled list, going 6 1/3 innings and allowing only a hit and walk, while striking out four. Soroka did a good job keeping the ball in the lower half of the strike zone and generating weak contact, even though both his four-seam fastball and two-seam fastball were both down about 1 mph from his average this year. Soroka is in line for two starts next week at Toronto and home for Baltimore.

Baltimore Orioles

  • It wasn’t a bad debut for SP Yefry Ramirez, who struck out six Red Sox over 4 1/3 innings and allowed three runs on four hits and two walks. Ramirez, who took the rotation spot of injured SP Andrew Cashner, had thrown 60 1/3 innings at Triple-A with 63 strikeouts and a 4.33 ERA. He was mostly fastball/changeup yesterday with a slider mixed in about 15 percent of the time, and he looks like an AL-only option at best.

Boston Red Sox

  • After sitting out Tuesday, OF Mookie Betts was back leading off on Wednesday and went 1-for-4 with a solo homer, a walk, and two runs scored.

Chicago Cubs

  • SP Mike Montgomery continues to make his case for a long-term rotation spot after limiting the Brewers to a single, a solo home run, and one walk over six innings yesterday. He struck out four and threw 53 of his 79 pitches for strikes.

Chicago White Sox

  • RP Nate Jones was placed on the disabled list with a forearm strain, which cements RP Joakim Soria’s value as closer for the next few weeks until he’s presumably traded to a contender.

Cincinnati Reds

  • SP Tyler Mahle produced his best outing in over a month yesterday, shutting out the Royals for 6 1/3 innings on three hits and two walks. He only struck out one, though. Mahle has settled in as a streaming option in most mixed leagues, and we’d definitely use him in his next outing against Detroit.

Cleveland Indians

  • SS Francisco Lindor has put up multi-hit games in three of his last four games, snapping a mini-slump that had seen him going 24 plate appearances without a hit. He went 2-for-5 yesterday with a run scored.

Colorado Rockies 

  • It has been an awful season on the road for SS Trevor Story, who last season didn’t have as big a gap in production between home and away as most of his teammates. So there is something encouraging about a night like last night, where Story went 3-for-5 with two doubles, a run scored, and two RBI. Still, in 124 plate appearances at home, Story has a 1.262 OPS. In 158 PAs on the road, even after last night, his OPS in .585. If you’re in a position to bench him when he’s on the road, keep doing so, but there’s been enough incremental improvement from him this year to think maybe he can be better on the road in the second half of the year.

Detroit Tigers

  • We mentioned yesterday with SP CC Sabathia the value of consistency with starters, even if the output isn’t always great. SP Matt Boyd is in that same boat – yesterday’s five innings of work saw Boyd allow only three hits, two walks, and two runs, with five strikeouts. Boyd left his April 25 start with an ERA of 2.74. Since then, the highest his ERA has gotten is 3.29 after his May 22 start. The lowest it has been is 2.48. Most of the time, it’s been in the low-3s. That’s a valuable asset in most mixed leagues, as you can trust Boyd to give you between five and seven innings of decent-to-solid work almost every week.

Houston Astros

  • 1B Yuli Gurriel is on fire this week, with a three-hit night last night giving him 11 hits in his last four games. For the month, he’s 18-for-46 with 11 RBI, but the power still isn’t showing up, with only five of those hits going for extra bases.

Kansas City Royals

  • SP Jason Hammel continued his solid stretch of starts with a 7 1/3-inning outing yesterday where he limited the Reds to two earned runs on seven hits and no walks. He only struck out three and continues to allow a ton of fly balls, but Hammel’s increased slider usage that began with his 10-strikeout start on May 27 has continued, and it’s making him a viable option in deep mixed leagues. He gets an interesting two-start week next week, at home against a mediocre Texas lineup, and on the road against the elite Astros lineup.

Los Angeles Angels

  • Left hamstring tightness knocked out SP Garrett Richards after two innings and 35 pitches last night. He said he thought it was minor, but an MRI will be done today.
  • SS/3B Zack Cozart also left yesterday’s game early with a left shoulder strain after making a diving play on defense in the third inning. He said after the game that he felt “not great,” so a disabled list stint could be coming.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • It was a relatively successful return to the rotation for SP Kenta Maeda after a few weeks out with a hip injury. He went 76 pitches and five innings, allowing five hits, three walks, and two earned runs. He only struck out one and had just five swinging strikes, but Maeda was on a very good strikeout pace before the injury and we expect him to get back on that track shortly. He’s a must-start in all formats next week with two road starts against the Cubs and Mets.

Miami Marlins

  • SP Caleb Smith went 6 1/3 innings for a no-decision against the Giants yesterday, allowing eight hits, no walks, and three runs. He struck out four. Smith’s strikeout numbers have dipped a lot since his hot start – he’s only struck out more than five batters in one start since May 5. Still, he’s improved his walk rate in that time and his extremely high fly ball rate of 50.3 percent hasn’t burned him yet, in part because of his home ballpark and in part because he generates a lot of pop-up contact when guys aim to put the ball in the air against him. That could be a problem next week though, as the second of his two starts comes at Coors Field against the Rockies. His first is at San Francisco. There’s a big risk profile with Smith next week, so only start him if you can take some damage to ratios.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • RP Corey Knebel had only worked twice since his last save on May 30, which we know was worrying some of his owners, but he was given the opportunity to start the ninth inning with a one-run lead yesterday and he worked a perfect inning with two strikeouts to lock down the save.
  • OF Lorenzo Cain hit a solo home run yesterday and is having a very good month so far, with a .311 batting average, two homers, six RBI, five runs scored, and two steals.

Minnesota Twins

  • RP Addison Reed continues to struggle, and after opening the season as arguably the most important non-closing asset to own in all leagues (besides maybe RP Andrew Miller), Reed really shouldn’t be rostered anywhere but AL-only leagues. He allowed five hits and four runs (three earned) in 2/3 of an inning yesterday, and he’s given up at least a run in five of his last seven outings, taking blown saves in three of those. It’s 2018 and 41-year-old RP Fernando Rodney is one of baseball’s safest closers. That’s a microcosm of why fantasy baseball is so great.

New York Mets

  • SP Jacob deGrom‘s luck has been unfathomably bad this year – he dominated the Braves yesterday for seven innings, allowing just a run on seven hits while striking out seven, but because the Mets lineup is a disaster right now, he suffered his second loss of the season. Despite a five-start stretch where deGrom has allowed five earned runs in 36 innings, he hasn’t won a game since May 18.

New York Yankees

  • 1B Greg Bird was dropped to seventh in the order for the first time since May 27 after spending most of the last two weeks in the three hole. He responded by hitting a double and a solo homer, so we’ll see if manager Aaron Boone bumps him back up for the weekend series against Tampa Bay.

Oakland A’s

  • OF Khris Davis hit two solo home runs last night and also scored a third run after reaching on a single. Even with his missed time, Davis is on pace to pass his previous two elite home run seasons of 42 and 43, as he’s tracking now to hit 45.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • SP Nick Pivetta uses his slider in the 20 percent range in most starts, and it was a good weapon for him during his elite stretch in late April and May. But he’s had issues with it for three starts now, including giving up a two-run home run to Colorado 1B/OF Ian Desmond on the pitch yesterday, part of a fourth inning that sunk him for a third-straight bad start. Pivetta lasted five innings and allowed eight hits, three walks, and six runs, striking out five. He’s carrying an 8.36 ERA and 1.86 WHIP in 14 innings this month. He’ll get two starts next week against the Cardinals and Nationals, so there is some risk, but we’d still start him in all formats.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • RP Felipe Vazquez had his fastball working yesterday in the ninth inning, averaging 99.2 mph on 23 offerings of the pitch, but his command was awful and he almost blew a 5-2 lead, allowing two hits, three walks, and two runs in an inning of work. He was able to strike out Arizona 3B Jake Lamb with the bases loaded and two out to preserve a 5-4 win and earn his 12th save.

San Diego Padres

  • 2B/3B Cory Spangenberg could be a threat to the playing time of 3B Christian Villanueva as the Padres get close to full strength in their lineup – after yesterday’s 2-for-4 performance, Spangenberg now has four multi-hit games in his last eight starts and is hitting .297 this month with three homers, six RBI, two steals, and eight runs scored. Villanueva went 0-for-3 yesterday and is 4-for-25 this month with no extra-base hits.

San Francisco Giants

  • The bullpen pecking order still looks pretty clear in San Francisco, with RP Mark Melancon starting the sixth inning yesterday and allowing a run on two hits. RP Hunter Strickland is still the guy to own here, and if you held Melancon in a deep mixed league, we’d free up that roster spot with another speculative closer rather than waiting for him to get chances here.

Seattle Mariners

  • SP Marco Gonzales failed to go six innings for just the second time in his last 10 starts, but he still delivered value with seven strikeouts over five innings in taking a no-decision yesterday against the Angels. He allowed seven hits, two walks, and three runs. Gonzales is a two-start guy next week with about as tough a slate as you can get – at the Yankees and at Boston. He does draw the Yankees’ worst starter – SP Domingo German – so that win opportunity makes us more than comfortable sticking with Gonzales in all formats next week. Don’t get cute with your lineup choices, he’s pitching too well right now to bench.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • SP Luke Weaver’s four-seam fastball has been his best pitch in this up-and-down second season, which is why it is a little concerning to see a game like yesterday where a bad lineup like San Diego’s put that pitch in play for hits six of the 10 times they made contact. Weaver is unpredictable from start-to-start, as yesterday was the eighth time in the last 10 outings where he didn’t go further than 5 1/3 innings, and in five of those outings he allowed four earned runs each time. With a 4.52 ERA and a pedestrian strikeout rate, Weaver is worth cut consideration in shallower mixed leagues.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • Since being called up on June 6, RP Diego Castillo has been very good – he threw two scoreless innings yesterday with a hit allowed and two strikeouts to earn his first career win. In his four appearances, the Rays have allowed him to twice face seven or more batters, so Castillo bears watching in AL-only leagues as a potential 5-6 inning per week reliever with elite strikeout skills.

Texas Rangers

  • SP Cole Hamels struck out six in six innings last night, though he did allow a season-high four walks. He also gave up five hits, but the Dodgers only strung together two runs, one of which was unearned. Hamels’ next four starts are against the Royals, Padres, White Sox, and Orioles, so if you have the means to grab him via trade, we’d recommend it, because he could be in line for an elite stretch.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • 2B/SS/3B Yangervis Solarte went 1-for-4 yesterday with a single, but we point him out because he’s got seven hits in his last five games after a 50-plus plate appearance stretch where he hit .149 with a .446 OPS, and his batting average on balls in play is only .255 despite a big jump in line drive rate from last season. Solarte could be in line for a good stretch at the plate soon if his luck straightens out.

Washington Nationals

  • OF Juan Soto is not going anywhere anytime soon after bashing two home runs yesterday and driving in four. He is 10-for-26 in his last eight starts, with four homers and eight RBI. More impressively, he’s walked six times in that stretch and only struck out three times.

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