Daily Intel – 6/19/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • RP Archie Bradley converted the save chance yesterday after RP Brad Boxberger imploded on Sunday. Boxberger had worked three of the previous four days, so this could just be a rest thing, but Bradley has only allowed a run once in his last 12 appearances, so he’s the obvious clear choice if Boxberger continues to struggle. RP Yoshi Hirano, Arizona’s other strong back-end option, worked the seventh inning yesterday.

Atlanta Braves

  • For now, SP Brandon McCarthy has been demoted to the bullpen as the Braves will stick with a five-man rotation that has SP Anibal Sanchez at the back end instead of McCarthy. He could still start this weekend if SP Mike Foltynewicz is not ready to come off the disabled list with his triceps issue.

Baltimore Orioles

  • SP Andrew Cashner will return to the rotation tomorrow against the Nationals after showing no signs of soreness or re-injury in his lower back yesterday following a Sunday bullpen session.

Boston Red Sox

  • SP Drew Pomeranz is not close to returning, as he just started making pre-game throws from the outfield during the weekend.

Chicago Cubs

  • The Cubs were rained out yesterday, but lineups were posted and 2B/SS Javier Baez was not in it after being hit by a pitch on the elbow Sunday. However, he is likely to be back in the lineup and/or available as a reserve on Tuesday, per Carrier Muskat of MLB.com.

Chicago White Sox

  • 3B Matt Davidson hit his first home run in 19 games on Sunday, and he added another one yesterday. Davidson’s been dealing with back issues since his early-season power surge, so if he’s healthier now, there’s a chance he could use the warm weather and his friendly home ballpark to go on another power tear. If you roster Davidson, you have to accept his awful strikeout numbers and just keep him in your lineup for the power surges he’s very likely to deliver.

Cincinnati Reds

  • SP Homer Bailey cut his rehab assignment off over the weekend due to knee soreness, which keeps SP Matt Harvey’s rotation spot safe for now.

Cleveland Indians

  • 2B Jason Kipnis got off to a good start this week after getting just three hits in his previous 26 at-bats, going 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBI, and two runs scored yesterday. We continue to preach patience with Kipnis and expect him to performance like a top 12-15 second baseman for the balance of the season.
  • OF Michael Brantley stole a base yesterday, his second game in a row where he took a bag. Brantley’s had lower-body injuries before, but if he’s feeling confident, there’s no reason he can’t pick up 8-10 steals over the rest of the season. He’s a smart baserunner and has had double-digit steals in every season of his career where he had at least 300 plate appearances, including 11 last year in 369 PAs.

Colorado Rockies 

  • We pointed out yesterday RP Wade Davis’ struggles recently, but with RP Adam Ottavino being too important to the team in a flexible role, the only realistic option right now that could take save options from Davis is RP Jake McGee. For now, Davis’ job is very safe because McGee has been hit hard in his last three outings – after giving up a double and a solo homer yesterday, he’s allowed four runs in his last 2 2/3 innings.

Detroit Tigers

  • SP Alex Faedo and OF Daz Cameron, two of the Tigers’ top 10 prospects, were promoted to Double-A on Monday.

Houston Astros

  • 2B Jose Altuve went 3-for-4 yesterday with a double, two runs scored, and a stolen base. Altuve got off to a slow start on the base paths, with just one stolen base by the end of April, but he stole five in May and already has five in June, as well. Even if Altuve struggles to get to 15 home runs, we still expect him to finish with close to 30 steals.

Kansas City Royals

  • With RP Kelvin Herrera being dealt to Washington yesterday, RP Kevin McCarthy looks like the immediate best option to grab if you’re desperate for saves, but this is a fluid situation on a bad team, so don’t go running out to add McCarthy in formats beyond deep mixed and AL-only leagues.

Los Angeles Angels

  • 2B Ian Kinsler went 2-for-5 yesterday with a double. In 71 at-bats this month, he’s been able to raise his OPS from .617 to .684, but that’s primarily all slugging percentage, as he still isn’t walking very much and has an OBP under .290. We still don’t trust Kinsler that much and would be inclined to take 2B Jason Kipnis, over him, just a means of comparing two struggling veterans at the same position.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • The Dodgers were rained out yesterday, but there was news that SP Clayton Kershaw is ready to be activated following a clean three-inning simulated game yesterday in Chicago. Manager Dave Roberts said Kershaw’s options are a rehab start in Triple-A this weekend or a start against the Mets this weekend. There should be clarity on this situation by tomorrow, at the latest.

Miami Marlins

  • SP Caleb Smith lasted only four innings yesterday against the Giants, allowing six hits, two walks, and four runs. He struck out four. Smith’s changeup hasn’t been there for him as a secondary pitch to support his fastball – he threw it 20 times last night and the Giants put in play six times, with four of those being hits. Smith gets the Rockies in Denver next on Sunday and can’t be trusted there if you’re in a daily league that you can bench him in.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • RP Jhoulys Chacin allowed only one run or less for the sixth time in his last nine starts yesterday, limiting the Pirates to six hits, two walks, and a run over six innings. Chacin has proven to us that despite his middling strikeout numbers, he’s worth trusting in almost all situations in all league formats if you’re looking for stability, good ratio numbers, and high win probability.

Minnesota Twins

  • 3B Miguel Sano played his first game in the minors since being demoted to High-A yesterday, going 2-for-4 with a double, two runs scored, a walk, and, most importantly, no strikeouts.

New York Mets

  • SS Amed Rosario went 3-for-5 with two doubles, a run, and two RBI yesterday – he has hits in four consecutive games.
  • OF Brandon Nimmo hit two home runs yesterday, part of a 4-for-6 day that also included a two-run single. Nimmo is striking out a ton, with five multi-strikeout games in his last six starts, but he’s increasingly hitting for power and has the profile of a potential top-20 outfielder for the rest of the season.

New York Yankees

  • OF Aaron Hicks went 2-for-5 with a double, two runs scored, two RBI, and a home run yesterday. Hicks is warming up, with home runs in three of his last five games and only two strikeouts over that time. He’s got the ability to rip off a big stretch of homers and steals for a couple of weeks or even a month, so if you’re in the market of speculating on a hot streak, go grab Hicks.

Oakland A’s

  • In interesting off-the-field news, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that A’s ownership is considering moving on from the long-standing leadership team of Billy Beane and David Forst. If that happens, it’ll likely be after the 2019 season.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • We pointed out in June 14’s Intel that SP Nick Pivetta was having issues with his slider, which had carried him during his elite start to the season. Last night, he only used the pitch 12 percent of the time, and instead leaned on his curveball to support his four-seam fastball. He threw the pitch 37 times and had 11 swinging strikes and 12 called strikes, a dominant performance for a single pitch. The result was Pivetta’s best overall outing of the year – seven innings, four hits, a walk, two runs (both solo homers), and 13 strikeouts. He threw 80 of his 108 pitches for strikes. Pivetta has impressed us with his ability to adjust from start to start, and he’s someone to trust every time he takes the mound, because you don’t want to miss dominant outings like this.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • SP Trevor Williams went seven one-hit, shutout innings yesterday against the Brewers, striking out seven and only walking two. It was Williams’ first good start since he also threw seven shutout innings against the White Sox on May 15. We can’t recommend adding Williams outside of NL-only leagues, as we still his rotation spot being in jeopardy at some point this summer.

San Diego Padres

  • Both C Austin Hedges and OF Wil Myers could be ready to return later this week – both guys are at Triple-A right now for their rehab games.

San Francisco Giants

  • RP Hunter Strickland blew a two-run save opportunity last night against the Marlins, of all teams, walking two batters and allowing a double and two singles. Three of those baserunners scored and Strickland only picked up one out before being replaced by RP Tony Watson. 

Seattle Mariners

  • RP Juan Nicasio returned from the 10-day disabled list on Monday, which will give manage Scott Servais options to close out games in an effort to slow down RP Edwin Diaz’s heavy workload.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • 1B/3B Matt Carpenter hit his third homer in four games and fourth in eight games yesterday against the Phillies, also adding a double. Carpenter’s power has been terrific for the last month-plus, and over the last 30 days he’s hitting .306 with a .966 OPS.
  • C Yadier Molina homered yesterday, his first since April 21. Molina is starting to find his groove at the plate after returning from his groin injury on June 5 – he has hits in three of his last four games and has only struck out once in his last 26 plate appearances.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • 1B Jake Bauers went 1-for-2 with two walks, a double, and two runs scored yesterday. It is incredibly early, obviously, but Bauers has a 50 percent hard-hit rate and a 43 percent line drive rate. This was his minor-league profile – lots of hard contact – so it isn’t all that surprisingly to see him not only carry it over, but have it manifest itself in to slightly more power thanks to the difference in the baseballs between the minors and majors. Bauers should be owned in all leagues.
  • OF Kevin Kiermaier is set to make his return to the lineup today after missing an extended period with a thumb injury. This should be the end of everyday playing time for OF Johnny Field.

Texas Rangers

  • 3B Adrian Beltre continues to hit the ball hard since returning from his most recent disabled list stint on May 31 – he hit a three-run homer yesterday, and now has three extra-base hits in five games and 10 hits in his last six starts.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • RP Roberto Osuna’s court case began on Monday afternoon, and while he intends to plead not guilty to an assault charge, his administrative leave was extended by MLB and he won’t have another court date til July 9.

Washington Nationals

  • The Nats acquired Royals RP Kelvin Herrera yesterday. We’ve been saying since late April that manager Dave Martinez was setting his injury-prone bullpen up for potential overuse, and with both RPs Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler already having disabled list stints this year, this move seemed necessary. There’s no clear indication of whether Herrera or RP Sean Doolittle will close, but our money is on Doolittle taking a 75/25 split of the save roles with Herrera for the rest of the year.

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