Daily Intel – 6/28/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • The velocity wasn’t all the way back on his fastball, slider, or curveball, but SP Robbie Ray had a successful return to the majors last night in his first start since April 29. He limited the Marlins to two singles and two walks over six shutout innings, striking out six. Ray went 83 pitches, so it’s fair to assume he’ll be closer to his normal workload for his two-start week next week, home starts against the Cardinals and Padres. He should be started in all formats.

Atlanta Braves

  • Just when it looked like the Braves’ lineup was going to be back to full strength, the last game before the return of OF Ronald Acuna Jr. saw OF Ender Inciarte (oblique)  leave yesterday’s game and 2B Ozzie Albies not play at all after being hit in the foot by a pitch on Tuesday. Inciarte should be able to play Friday, per manager Brian Snitker, but that seems dubious considering the length of time that even the least severe types of oblique injuries keep hitters out for.
  • SP Mike Soroka was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. He won’t even start throwing again for four weeks, so his fantasy value is gone for the balance of this season, with the best-case scenario looking like a four or five-start return in late August/September, though it’s hard to see the Braves trusting him if they stay in the playoff race.

Baltimore Orioles

  • We’re realizing how hard it is going to be to find fantasy-relevant items for this team as they spiral toward a season where they are on track to win 47 (!) games. So forgive us if we once again update you on the plight of 1B Chris Davis, who homered (!) yesterday and added a single, driving in three runs total. There have been articles written about Davis being on track for the worst season in major league history this year, but there’s still a one percent chance he could deliver a double-digit homer month that could help some fantasy owners. He just may strikeout 60 times in that same month.

Boston Red Sox

  • 2B Brandon Phillips was added to the team on a minor league contract. The team said it had nothing to do with 2B Dustin Pedroia’s continued health issues and that Phillips will play third base at Triple-A. That actually makes us wonder about 2B/3B/OF Eduardo Nunez’s value over the course of the season, should he stand to lose at-bats to Phillips. Same thing with hot-and-cold 3B Rafael Devers. 
  • Speaking of Nunez and Devers, they both had nice games yesterday – Nunez went 1-for-3 with a solo homer, a walk, and two runs scored, and Devers went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs scored, and a stolen base.

Chicago Cubs

  • SP Kyle Hendricks gave up six runs on eight hits and two walks over 2 2/3 innings yesterday, striking out just one. Hendricks allowed two homers, and now has given up 16 on the season – his worst number in a season before this was 17. Hendricks gets a bounceback opportunity Tuesday against Detroit, but if he struggles there it’ll be time to take a hard look at his value in mixed leagues.

Chicago White Sox

  • Very brief follow-up note from yesterday’s speculative recommendation on OF Avisail Garcia: he homered for the second consecutive day.

Cincinnati Reds

  • SP Luis Castillo had another rough outing yesterday, lasting only 76 pitches and four innings as the Braves strung together six singles and a walk to put up five runs (four earned) on Castillo. He struck out four. Castillo’s problem remains that his fastballs and changeup are living in the middle of the strike zone far too often, giving hitters ample “mistake pitches” to drive – it’s why Castillo seemingly has starts where he’s rolling for long stretches, then comes unraveled over a short period to ruin his overall line for the day. He gets a two-start week next week with a Chicago doubleheader – home for the White Sox on Monday and at the Cubs on Sunday.

Cleveland Indians

  • SP Shane Bieber remained unbeaten yesterday, limiting the Cardinals to a run on six hits and a walk over six innings yesterday for his third win of the year. Bieber had 23 called strikes and 13 swinging strikes on 99 pitches, striking out five. His elite-command approach is going to lead to some unexpected bad outings, but he really has earned an opportunity to be started in all formats, regardless of matchup. There’s too much ratio upside in him to play the matchups game.

Colorado Rockies 

  • SP Kyle Freeland shut out the Giants for seven innings yesterday, allowing only four hits and a walk while striking out four. He’s the Rockies’ best pitcher for fantasy purposes, but note that he’s pitched 61 2/3 innings on the road compared to just 36 2/3 at home. Still, he’s got a 2.95 ERA at home, so there isn’t as much potential regression danger as there may be with other starters with more Coors Field starts looming.

Detroit Tigers

  • On a day when the Tigers fired pitching coach Chris Bosio for “insensitive comments to a team employee” (no details beyond that), one of his primary success projects for the season, SP Mike Fiers, had a great outing, limiting the A’s to a double, four singles, and a walk yesterday over seven innings. Unfortunately, he allowed one run, which was too much to avoid a loss as the Tigers were shutout. Fiers struck out five and had a double-digit swinging strike rate for just the third start this season. If the Tigers keep their six-man rotation, Fiers will only get one-start next week at the Cubs. That’s a tough spot to start him in for any league format beyond AL-only.

Houston Astros

  • SP Dallas Keuchel’s first-inning woes continued yesterday in a no-decision against Toronto. He allowed two walks, two singles, a double, and two sac flies, leading to five earned runs. After that, he was very good until the sixth, when he gave up two more hits, a walk, and his sixth and final earned run before being removed with one out in the inning. Keuchel gets a two-start week next week at a Texas team that is 11th in the majors in OPS against lefties, then he returns home to face the White Sox, who rank 27th in that category. Start him at your own risk – while he’s got as good a shot as any starter to get two wins in a week, there is massive downside with the contact he’s allowing.

Kansas City Royals

  • We’ve got a trend to follow in the Royals’ bullpen, with RP Wily Peralta getting his second save in three games yesterday in a 5-4 win over Milwaukee. It is worth noting, though, that RP Tim Hill actually started the ninth inning as a non-save situation (up 5-1) and was hit very hard (three baserunners, three runs, no outs) before Peralta stepped in to save him. RP Kevin McCarthy, who we thought would be the guy after RP Kelvin Herrera was traded, looks to be entrenched in more a “relief ace” role, as he worked two scoreless innings yesterday in the seventh and eighth.

Los Angeles Angels

  • SS/3B Zack Cozart will miss the rest of the season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
  • SP Andrew Heaney allowed three home runs yesterday for the second time in his last four starts, lasting only 3 1/3 innings in taking a no-decision against Boston. In addition to the homers, he allowed five singles and three walks, leading to six runs. He struck out four. Heaney gets Seattle on the road next on Tuesday – they were the other team that hit three homers against him in a start at Safeco Field earlier this month.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • The three hot hitters that have carried the Dodgers back to shouting distance of first place (2.5 games back of Arizona) over the last month or so all homered yesterday – OF Joc Pederson (two-run homer), 1B Max Muncy (solo homer, also walked and scored twice), and 1B/OF Cody Bellinger (solo homer plus a single and two runs scored).

Miami Marlins

  • The upside of 3B/OF Derek Dietrich’s strong performance this month is that he’s started playing more against his same-sided pitchers (lefties). The bad part is that facing lefties leads to games like yesterday, where he goes 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Dietrich is an intriguing power option for the balance of the season if he stays with Miami, but you need to be aware that his batting average is likely to crater from its current near-.300 level to his career-norm of around .260.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • 2B Jonathan Villar led off yesterday’s game, going 2-for-4 with a stolen base. It was Villar’s first time leading off since May 2, and he should get some chances there with OF Lorenzo Cain on the disabled list with a groin strain.

Minnesota Twins

  • OF Max Kepler went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts yesterday, extending his awful June that has seen him hit .135 over 82 plate appearances. He’s lost all relevance in 12-team mixed leagues and shallower.

New York Mets

  • 3B Wilmer Flores homered again yesterday, giving him two in the last three days, hits in last six games, and a 13-game streak of reaching base.
  • Manager Mickey Callaway has taken fellow NL East manager Gabe Kapler’s place as the guy getting the most questions about his bullpen management – RP Jeurys Familia blew another save yesterday, an unsurprising development considering he worked 1 2/3 innings the night prior and had only thrown on back-to-back days once since April 21. Familia didn’t retire any of the four batters he faced, and all four eventually scored.

New York Yankees

  • SP Domingo German worked in relief yesterday, so he’s almost definitely having his scheduled start skipped this weekend against Boston. RP Luis Cessa started yesterday, putting SP Luis Severino in position to start Sunday’s game against Boston on normal rest. German should start next on July 2 at home against Atlanta.

Oakland A’s

  • RP Lou Trivino got his second save of the year yesterday, working a perfect ninth inning with one strikeout. He seems like the second-best option in the A’s bullpen and the likely candidate to take over for RP Blake Treinen if the A’s move him at the trade deadline for what would likely be a king’s ransom.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • In Saturday’s Waiver Wire outlook, we talked about SP Zach Eflin’s improvement in his fastball and slider, per FanGraphs’ pitch value measurement. Last night continued that trend, as he limited the Yankees to four hits and two walks over seven shutout innings for his sixth win of the year. He struck out seven, getting 21 called strikes and 13 swinging strikes on 92 pitches.
  • RP Seranthony Dominguez relieved Eflin in the eighth and needed only 25 pitches to work two perfect innings for his fifth save. He struck out three, and his other three outs came via grounder.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • RP Felipe Vazquez worked the eighth inning with the Pirates down 3-1 yesterday, then stayed in for the ninth with the team up 5-3. He allowed just a single, striking out two for his third win of the year. It was his longest outing of the season, and we’re officially no longer worried about the forearm/elbow issue that plagued him late last month.

San Diego Padres

  • OF Manny Margot has now led off in three of the last four games (two against lefties) after spending most of this month hitting out of the seven hole.

San Francisco Giants

  • SP Madison Bumgarner had another scoreless outing last night, making it two straight and 15 innings without allowing a run. He limited the Rockies to two hits and two walks, striking out eight. He gets a two-start week next week, starting with a trip to Coors Field to face the Rockies again, and ending with a home start against the Cardinals. There’s danger, but you don’t bench Bumgarner when he’s showing this ace-level form again.

Seattle Mariners

  • DH Nelson Cruz missed his second straight game with back issues, but he should be back in the lineup today.
  • 3B Kyle Seager’s wild streakiness continued yesterday, hitting a homer in consecutive games and adding five RBI over that period. 1B/3B Ryon Healy also homered yesterday – both he and Seager have 15 bombs each this year.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • OF Tommy Pham went 0-for-4 yesterday and doesn’t have a hit in his last 24 at-bats.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • RP Wilmer Font will become SP Wilmer Font starting this weekend against Houston, when he officially moves from one of the Rays’ “openers” on Bullpen Days to a full-fledged starting pitcher. When SP Chris Archer returns, the Rays will be down to one Bullpen Day, which will be carried in innings bulk by RP Ryan Yarbrough. 

Texas Rangers

  • Saturday’s Waiver Wire newsletter also brought up SP Mike Minor’s value as a streaming option in good matchups, and he delivered yesterday with seven one-hit, shutout innings against the Padres. He struck out five. Unfortunately, Minor’s next two starts are lined up as home for Houston and at Boston.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • OF Randal Grichuk’s recent hot stretch earned him the leadoff spot in yesterday’s lineup – he went 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored. OF Teoscar Hernandez, who usually leads off against lefties (the Jays faced Houston lefty SP Dallas Keuchel) hit second.

Washington Nationals

  • OF Jayson Werth retired yesterday after the Nats’ moved on from him this winter and he was unable to find a job with another team.

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