Daily Intel – 6/24/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • SP Zack Greinke overcame two rain delays to get through six shutout innings yesterday, limiting the Pirates to two singles and striking out seven. This was Greinke’s best start in well over a month, and it was due primarily to improvement in his four-seam fastball, which generated 10 called strikes (but no swinging strikes) on 38 pitches. More importantly, the three times the Pirates put the pitch in play, they ended in groundouts.

Atlanta Braves

  • SP Julio Teheran’s fastball velocity was better again in his second start off the disabled list, but the Orioles put in play for hits three times, including for a grand slam and an RBI double. Teheran is living up in the zone way too much for the lack of zip on his both his four-seam fastball and his two-seamer. He finished last night with 4 2/3 innings pitched, allowing six hits and three walks, seven runs, and struck out six.

Baltimore Orioles

  • RP Zach Britton received his first save chance of the season with a 7-5 lead in the bottom of the ninth yesterday, and he handled it with relative ease, throwing 10 of his 17 pitches for strikes, allowing one walk, and striking out a batter to close out the Orioles’ win. After his meltdown Friday in a non-save chance, this was an encouraging bounce back.
  • We encouraged patience with OF Mark Trumbo’s power a couple of weeks back, and he’s starting to get going now with another home run yesterday and four in his last six games. If he was dropped in your league and you could use a home run boost, grab him now.

Boston Red Sox

  • 1B Mitch Moreland got a day off last Saturday to help him break out of a 2-for-25 slump, and since then he’s got hits in five straight games, going 9-for-19 with a double, two triples, seven runs scored and three RBI.

Chicago Cubs

  • 1B Anthony Rizzo went 0-for-3 yesterday, and he’s gone eight games with an extra-base hit. Rizzo hasn’t been the predictable source of value he has in previous seasons, dropping off in June after a very strong May, but if his recent struggles aren’t due to a recurrence of the back injury that bothered him earlier today, we expect him to come out of this slump soon and have another strong run, as all of his batted-ball and plate discipline indicators look stable.

Chicago White Sox

  • SS Tim Anderson hit his first home run in June on Friday after going 72 plate appearances without one, and he added a three-run homer yesterday in a 2-for-4 effort that also included two runs scored and a stolen base. Anderson’s launch angle has shifted way up this year, and while his 28-homer pace may be a little high, we don’t see him finishing the year with less than 24 bombs, even if it will come at the expense of a sub-.250 batting average.

Cincinnati Reds

  • 3B Nick Senzel will miss the rest of the season, essentially ending any threat to SS Jose Peraza’s playing time for the rest of the year. Senzel has a torn tendon in his right hand, so he should be good to go for a full offseason program that will set him up to start the season in the majors next year.

Cleveland Indians

  • OF Rajai Davis was moved up to fifth in the batting order yesterday, another positive sign for his playing time stability moving forward. He got on base once via an error and stole his 15th base of the year.

Colorado Rockies 

  • OF Gerardo Parra went 1-for-2 with a two-run homer yesterday. He’s got nine hits in his last six games, four of them for extra bases, and 13 RBI over that period.

Detroit Tigers

  • OF JaCoby Jones went 2-for-4 yesterday with a run scored and a stolen base. Jones has attempted four stolen bases in his last nine times reaching base, with a 50 percent success rate. If Jones is getting the green light in a role that sees him earning 15-18 at-bats a week, he’ll have value in deep mixed leagues.

Houston Astros

  • RP Chris Devenski got his first two-inning outing of the season, and he’s now gone nine appearances in June (10 innings) without allowing a run, having struck out 11 and allowed only four hits and two walks in that period.

Kansas City Royals

  • RP Brandon Maurer got the save chance last night after RP Tim Hill closed it out on Friday. Maurer blew it, allowing a walk and two singles that cost the Royals their one-run lead.

Los Angeles Angels

  • OF Mike Trout remains limited to designated hitter duty for the fourth straight game as he deals with a sprained finger. He went 1-for-4 with three strikeouts. That’s six strikeouts in his last three games. It’s Trout, he’s the greatest player in the game, but there’s still something to monitor with this finger issue and his performance at the plate.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • SP Clayton Kershaw kind of looked like a guy who could’ve used a rehab start at Triple-A last night, but he said he felt good about his 55-pitch start that saw him last three innings, allow five hits, a walk, and two runs, while striking out four. The velocity was mostly at the same level as his early season starts, about 91 mph on the fastball, 88 mph on the slider, and 73 mph on the rarely-used curveball. Start Kershaw in all formats without hesitation moving forward.
  • OF Matt Kemp hit a pinch-hit grand slam last night, continuing his tremendous season – he now has 13 homers and 47 RBI.

Miami Marlins

  • 3B/OF Derek Dietrich is on a hot stretch after homering in consecutive games in Colorado – over his last nine starts, he’s got 12 hits (five for extra bases) and five runs scored.
  • SP Trevor Richards had a surprisingly great start in Colorado yesterday, striking out eight over six innings and holding the Rox to a double, two singles, two walks, and a run. Richards’ changeup has been his best pitch, and yesterday he threw it 25 times to generate seven swinging strikes, with it only being put in play for a hit once. Richards gets a great matchup at home on Thursday against Arizona.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • OF Domingo Santana was optioned to Triple-A yesterday, cutting the first base/right field logjam down to OF/1B Eric Thames, OF/1B Ryan Braun, and 1B Jesus Aguilar. 1B/2B Brad Miller was up to replace Santana and started at second base, hitting sixth and going 1-for-2 with an RBI and a walk.

Minnesota Twins

  • SP Fernando Romero was demoted to Triple-A yesterday, a move we found somewhat-surprising considering the overall mediocrity of the Twins’ rotation beyond SP Jose Berrios and SP Kyle Gibson. The Twins didn’t select a new fifth starter, but there are no realistic options that would have fantasy relevance beyond AL-only leagues.

New York Mets

  • 1B/3B Todd Frazier went 2-for-5 with a stolen base yesterday. Frazier looks healthy and is going to get at-bats every day, and there are worse options to take a risk-laden shot on in your lineup – any sort of lucky run for Frazier could manifest itself in a month where he hits double-digit homers.
  • OF Brandon Nimmo’s on-base percentage is back to .400 after a 3-for-5 night yesterday that included a triple.

New York Yankees

  • 1B Greg Bird has one hit in his last six games after going 0-for-2 with a walk yesterday. Bird’s surface numbers – a .193 batting average, 27 strikeouts in 83 at-bats – are ugly, but he has walked eight times in his last seven stats, and the Yankees don’t have any great alternatives with 1B/2B Neil Walker also struggling and 1B Tyler Austin back in Triple-A.

Oakland A’s

  • OF Stephen Piscotty went 2-for-3 with a two-run home run, a walk, and two runs scored yesterday. Piscotty is playing every day in June and has hit .311 with three home runs in his 10 games.
  • OF Dustin Fowler picked up two singles, a walk, an RBI, and his first stolen base since June 5 yesterday. Fowler’s playing time has been unpredictable – he hadn’t started in more than a week before starting both games of Friday’s doubleheader and yesterday’s game – but he’s hit the ball better in June with a .283 batting average, eight runs scored, and three homers.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • RP Seranthony Dominguez received a “traditional” save opportunity last night, getting the ball to start the bottom of the ninth with a 5-3 lead and pitching a clean inning with two strikeouts. With the Phillies playing their best baseball of the season right now, we should get some more data soon on whether this is the start of a shift to a more traditional closer role for Dominguez, at least in the short-term as the Phillies consider trading for another option.
  • 3B Maikel Franco had four hits last night, his first such game since July 14, 2017.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • SP Joe Musgrove got hit hard last night for the second consecutive outing, allowing seven hits, three walks, and five runs over four innings. Musgrove gave up two runs in the third inning because he couldn’t find an out pitch, twice allowing hits on two-strike counts. He’ll need to show improvement in his sinker or his changeup in those situations to make any sort of progress long-term.

San Diego Padres

  • We pointed out in Monday’s Intel how well RP Matt Strahm has been as an every-fifth-day “opener” for the Padres, and that continued yesterday with his longest outing of the season. He went 3 1/3 innings against the Giants, striking out five and allowing two hits, two walks, and a run.

San Francisco Giants

  • RP Sam Dyson worked the ninth inning with a 5-1 lead last night, and it didn’t go well – two doubles, a single, two runs scoring (one earned). If you’re in a move where weekly leagues run tonight, don’t break your budget for Dyson.

Seattle Mariners

  • SP Mike Leake delivered a shockingly great start last night, shutting out the Red Sox for eight innings and allowing only three singles and two walks. He struck out five.
  • 2B/OF Dee Gordon has hits in 11 straight games after a 1-for-6 night yesterday, but he hasn’t successfully stolen a base since June 3.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • OF Tommy Pham struck out in all four of his at-bats last night. This, after he was ejected Friday after striking out in his first at-bat. Pham is again struggling with making contact, and if you own him you just have to deal with these struggles for the periods where he produces.
  • C Yadier Molina went 2-for-3 with two home runs yesterday, giving him five bombs this week in 20 at-bats.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • SP/RP Wilmer Font has been very good since moving to Tampa Bay in late May, and yesterday’s outing against the Yankees may be the one that gets him an extended opportunity to pick up innings every fifth day. He shutout the best offense in baseball (as measured by OPS) for 5 2/3 innings, limiting them to three hits and a walk, striking out four. Last Sunday, he limited the Yankees to a run on four hits in 4 2/3 innings while striking out five. The Rays made some adjustments to Font that have improved his fastball, and if he gets a real shot at pitching 6-8 innings, he’ll have value in deep mixed leagues.
  • 2B Joey Wendle played left field yesterday for the first time – the set pieces in the Rays’ infield moving forward look to be 1B/OF Jake Bauers at first base, SS Willy Adames at shortstop, and 3B Matt Duffy at third base. Everyone else will shift around that, but Wendle, 2B/SS/3B Daniel Robertson, and 1B C.J. Cron should all continue to find regular at-bats.

Texas Rangers

  • OF Delino DeShields has moved back to the bottom of the order with the return this week of SS Elvis Andrus, but it hasn’t slowed down his improved performance at the plate. DeShields went 2-for-4 with a double, a run scored, and two RBI yesterday. In his last 10 games, he’s got 13 hits and has only struck out four times while walking six times. He’s raised his on-base percentage to .332, and if that pace keeps up for the rest of the way he’s going to threaten stealing 25 bases in the remaining time left this season.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • SP Aaron Sanchez was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a right finger contusion. It should be a short-term injury, but it keeps SP Sam Gaviglio in the rotation for now after he was likely to lose his spot to SP Marcus Stroman.
  • Speaking of Stroman, he returned last night for his first start since May 8, shutting out the Angels for five innings. He went 81 pitches, allowing just six singles and a walk, striking out five. Stroman’s velocity was the best it has been all year, with his fastball averaging 93 mph after being under that mark all April.

Washington Nationals

  • 3B Anthony Rendon is finding his power stroke over the past week-plus, hitting his second home run in three days yesterday on top of the five doubles he’s hit in his last nine games.
  • OF Bryce Harper went hitless again last night – he has homered once in 75 June plate appearances, with a concerning 24-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

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