Daily Intel – 7/1/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • We’re confident after two starts to say there’s no reason to own SP Shelby Miller, who was beat up for the second time this week by a mediocre lineup, allowing nine hits, a walk, and six earned runs (including two homers) against the Giants. He struck out six in five innings, at least. Miller’s velocity has been just fine comparative to his pre-injury seasons, but both the Marlins and Giants crushed his two- and four-seam fastballs.

Atlanta Braves

  • SP Max Fried made a successful return to the Braves’ rotation yesterday for the first time in a month, striking out 11 Cardinals over 6 2/3 shutout innings to earn his first win of the year. He allowed only four hits and three walks. Fried was in this spot due to SP Brandon McCarthy’s hamstring injury, and manager Brian Snitker praised his stuff and his ability to go deep in the game, so perhaps this is Fried’s chance to finally stick, as this is his fourth call-up to the majors.
  • OF Ronald Acuna Jr. has hit sixth in his two games since coming off the disabled list. He went 3-for-5 yesterday with a double, a home run, two RBI, and three runs scored.

Baltimore Orioles

  • SS/3B Tim Beckham hit leadoff yesterday for the first time since coming off the disabled list, going 2-for-4 with a run scored.
  • SP Andrew Cashner posted his fourth quality start of June (in five starts total), limiting the Angels to a run on four hits and two walks over six innings. Cashner hasn’t struck out more than four batters in an outing since May 16, but he’s been pretty decent at the art of run prevention, finishing June a 3.21 ERA in 28 innings. He remains an AL-only play that deserves mixed-league streaming consideration in his two-start weeks.

Boston Red Sox

  • 3B Rafael Devers went 5-for-5 with a double, a grand slam, and three runs scored yesterday. Devers has made incremental improvements on his strikeout rate as the season has progressed, and it is no surprise that he posted a season-best .510 slugging percentage in June. He could be in for a big second half.

Chicago Cubs

  • This isn’t a cut-and-paste from yesterday: the three widely-available Cubs on the waiver wire all had big days again yesterday. OF Albert Almora Jr. went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored; OF Jason Heyward went 4-for-6 with two RBI and two runs scored; 2B/OF Ben Zobrist went 2-for-2 with two walks and three RBI. Heyward finishes June having hit .327 (34-for-104) with 19 runs scored, 16 RBI, and 10 doubles. Any sort of heat spike in Chicago turns Wrigley Field in to a complete offensive haven, and all three of these guys should be far more owned than they are.

Chicago White Sox

  • OF Avisail Garcia has hits in all eight of his starts since coming off the disabled list, and yesterday he added his third solo home run in that eight-start stretch. He still hasn’t walked, though, and his only other extra-base hit over this run was a triple on Friday. Still, Garcia’s got power and his home park is hitter-friendly, so he should be an asset in most mixed leagues in the second half.

Cincinnati Reds

  • SP Tyler Mahle delivered probably his best fantasy start of the season despite lasting only 5 2/3 innings, striking out 12 Brewers and limiting them to one earned run. He did allow nine baserunners, though, on six hits and three walks. Mahle used his slider 24.8 percent of the time in this one, the most he’s done so since April 8 (a stretch of 15 starts), and it helped his fastball performance, as the four-seamer generated 14 swinging strikes and 16 called strikes on 74 offerings (plus 14 foul balls). Mahle has two tough outings coming up at the Cubs and Indians, and we’d use him in both unless you have other options with strikeout upside and better matchups.

Cleveland Indians

  • 1B Yonder Alonso went hitless yesterday and finished June with only one home run, but there is still a lot of positive to pull from his batted-ball/Statcast data that makes us want to preach patience if you still own him. His 42.8 percent hard-hit rate is in the top 75 in the majors, and he’s had no massive spikes in his strikeout rate. Alonso is a favorite second-half buy-low option for us, especially if you need power.

Colorado Rockies 

  • SP Jon Gray was demoted to Triple-A yesterday, an unsurprising development. Gray has posted one of the largest gaps between his actual ERA and his expected ERA (per FanGraphs) in modern baseball history, and in a lot of starts he’s been undone by one bad inning. The hope here is that he can get back by the end of July and deliver two strong months to end the year, so if you can afford to stash him on your bench, we’d do so.
  • The “SP German Marquez is a Cy Young candidate on the road” trend continued yesterday, as he dominated the Dodgers in LA for eight innings to earn his sixth win of the year. Marquez struck out nine and only allowed two hits – a single and a solo home run. His next start comes at Seattle on Friday, and we’d use him everywhere.

Detroit Tigers

  • We recommended benching SP Matt Boyd after his slider looked awful in his last two starts – yesterday, the pitch generated seven called strikes and five swinging strikes, and was only put in play twice in 25 offerings – the overall result was six good innings for Boyd where he allowed three runs on four hits and two walks, striking out seven. Toronto OF Randal Grichuk did homer off Boyd’s slider, though. Boyd gets the Rangers at home on Thursday and should be started everywhere he is owned. His last start before the All-Star Break is at Tampa Bay on July 10, another solid matchup.

Houston Astros

  • SS/3B Alex Bregman homered for the fifth time in six games yesterday. He also has five doubles over that six game stretch.
  • RP Ken Giles worked a scoreless inning yesterday and has allowed just one run in his last eight appearances, a span of 8 2/3 innings.

Kansas City Royals

  • SS Rosell Herrera is getting what looks to be everyday at-bats now, as he actually started at designated hitter yesterday and hit second, going 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. After being a bench player for the first two months of the season in Cincinnati, Herrera has picked up 47 plate appearances in 12 games since being acquired by the Royals, hitting .271.

Los Angeles Angels

  • SS/3B David Fletcher has started six of the Angels’ last nine games, picking up hits in five of those outings. Fletcher went 2-for-4 yesterday with two RBI, and he’s looking like a solid AL-only play right now, especially considering the fact that he was hitting .350 with a .953 OPS in 275 Triple-A plate appearances this year.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • SP Kenta Maeda went seven strong innings yesterday, striking out nine and allowing two earned runs on five hits and two walks.
  • 2B/SS/OF Kike Hernandez homered again yesterday, closing out his month with seven home runs, 17 runs scored, and 13 RBI.

Miami Marlins

  • 3B/OF Brian Anderson hit a two-run home run off Mets’ ace SP Jacob deGrom yesterday. He also scored two runs in the game.
  • 1B Justin Bour has seen his power dip a little over the last few weeks, with just one home run and no other extra-base hits in his last 10 games.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • The Brewers look committed to getting 1B/2B Brad Miller at-bats as often as possible – he hit leadoff and played shortstop yesterday, and he’s now started five of the team’s six games this week.
  • 1B/OF Eric Thames homered yesterday for the second time in three games. He’s got four homers in 16 games since returning from the disabled list, a 40-homer pace if you run that out over a season.

Minnesota Twins

  • To show how little RP Fernando Rodney is threatened in losing his job, RP Addison Reed worked the fifth inning in yesterday’s game at the Cubs, allowing four hits and four runs in 2/3 of an inning. The Twins are now 35-44, so Rodney’s biggest threat to losing saves may be a trade.

New York Mets

  • OF Brandon Nimmo has just one hit and six strikeouts in 13 plate appearances since missing a few days earlier this week with a finger issue. Nimmo had an interesting June, hitting only .250 and striking out an absurd 39 times, but he did hit six homers and slugged .500 in 96 at-bats.

New York Yankees

  • SP Sonny Gray has always been able to pitch to better numbers than his stuff would indicate he should, but he’s got an “out pitch” problem now, and it was magnified yesterday. Gray made 20 pitches with two strikes yesterday against the Red Sox, and not once was he able to get a third strike. The result was 2 1/3 inning meltdown where Gray allowed seven hits, two walks, and six runs. Gray is best left for weak matchups at this point, ideally at hitter-friendly parks (aka not Yankee Stadium).

Oakland A’s

  • SP Edwin Jackson may be on his 13th major league team, but his performance in his first two starts with the A’s makes it likely he won’t have to look for number 14 at any point this year. He struck out six Cleveland batters in 6 2/3 innings yesterday, allowing just two solo home runs and no walks. Jackson’s fly ball heavy approach is perfect for Oakland’s home park, but you’ll have to hold off on adding him until after the All-Star Break, as his last two starts leading up to it are at Cleveland and at Houston.
  • OF Dustin Fowler finished a solid month with a 2-for-4 day that included his fourth June home run and two runs scored. Fowler is striking out a little too much to be confident he’ll remain the A’s leadoff hitter, especially as they work their way up the standings, but he’s proven he’s got a good power/speed skill set that could produce some very enticing hot streaks for fantasy owners.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • SP Vince Velasquez was hit on the right arm by a line drive early in yesterday’s game and had to leave after throwing two innings and allowing three hits, a walk, a run, and striking out three. The injury was diagnosed as a bruised forearm, so the hope is that Velasquez avoids a disabled list stint.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • OF Gregory Polanco reached base in all four of his plate appearances yesterday, and he’s gone 9-for-17 with four walks, five extra-base hits, and seven RBI in the last week.

San Diego Padres

  • SP Joey Lucchesi went five shutout innings yesterday despite four walks, overcoming that shaky command to limit the Pirates to one hit.
  • 1B/OF Wil Myers went 2-for-4 with a solo home run and three RBI.

San Francisco Giants

  • SP Dereck Rodriguez was great again yesterday, generating a career-high 11 ground balls and striking out five as he shutout Arizona for 6 1/3 innings. He only allowed two doubles, two walks, and four singles.

Seattle Mariners

  • 1B/3B Ryon Healy went 4-for-4 yesterday with a two-run home run and an RBI single.
  • OF Mitch Haniger had three hits yesterday, his fifth multi-hit game in his last nine starts. Haniger had a solid June after struggling in May, hitting .284 with six homers, 21 RBI, and 15 runs scored.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • SP Luke Weaver was destroyed for his worst start of the year last night, as the Braves tagged him with 10 hits and two walks over 4 2/3 innings, leading to eight earned runs. He struck out five. Weaver is the ultimate example of the “third time through the order” penalty; this season, he’s faced a hitter three times in a game on 84 different occasions. Out of those 84 plate appearances, he’s allowed a .365 batting average and a 1.089 OPS, including 10 extra-base hits and 18 RBI. To compare, his OPS allowed for the first and second time facing hitters is .750 and .610, respectively.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • What has been most impressive about 3B Matt Duffy’s season has been his ability to avoid very weak contact – among qualified hitters, his 13.1 percent soft-contact rate ranks in the top 25 according to FanGraphs, and puts him in the same company as OF Mookie Betts and a tick better than OF Mike Trout. Duffy went 3-for-4 yesterday with two runs scored, and with a nine-game hitting streak has a season-long batting average of .322. He’s also stole two bases in the last five, so with six on the season he’s adding a little bit of skill for any owners who want to take the risk on an “empty batting average” player.
  • SP Wilmer Font will indeed miss about two months after suffering a back injury on Friday. The Rays will go back to having three bullpen days until SP Chris Archer returns in a week or two and SP Jake Faria returns in late July/early August.

Texas Rangers

  • 1B/3B/OF Joey Gallo has homers in consecutive games and walks in his last four games, a small consolation after he finished June with a strikeout rate over 40 percent and a batting average of .143 (10-for-70).

Toronto Blue Jays

  • OF Randal Grichuk closed out a great month of June with a two-run home run yesterday. He finished with 90 plate appearances in the month, getting 25 hits, five walks, six doubles, eight homers, 20 RBI, and 15 runs scored.

Washington Nationals

  • 3B Anthony Rendon hit a home run for the second consecutive night and fifth time in the last nine games. That nine-game stretch has been a red-hot one for Rendon, as he’s hit .342 while also chipping in four doubles, eight RBI, and eight runs scored.

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