Daily Intel – 7/8/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • OF David Peralta led the 20-run barrage for Arizona last night, going 5-for-6 with three RBI and three runs scored. 1B Paul Goldschmidt added his 20th home run in going 2-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored.
  • SP Robbie Ray couldn’t pick up a win despite the incredible offensive support, lasting only 4 1/3 innings and allowing four earned runs on four hits and four walks. He’s now allowed five home runs this week between this start (three) and his loss Monday against the Cardinals (two). It is a little distressing to see Ray allowing this many home runs in his home park that has been engineered to cut down on home runs. He needs to sit in all formats next week when he faces the Braves in Atlanta.

Atlanta Braves

  • OF Ronald Acuna Jr. sat out yesterday’s game after leaving Friday’s game with groin tightness.
  • SP Anibal Sanchez was tremendous in winning his fourth game of the year, needing only 82 pitches to get through 6 2/3 innings, throwing 57 strikes in the process. He allowed two singled, a walk, and an earned run, striking out eight.

Baltimore Orioles

  • 1B Chris Davis went 1-for-3 with a two-run home run yesterday. Davis has only struck out seven times in his last 34 at-bats, a 20.5 percent number that is a far cry from the 36-37 percent range he’s lived in for most of the last two seasons.

Boston Red Sox

  • C Christian Vazquez broke his right pinky finger sliding in to second base last night and will miss an extended period. Sandy Leon should be the regular starter moving forward and has had enough hot streaks before to be worth keeping an eye on in two-catcher leagues.

Chicago Cubs

  • OF Jason Heyward left yesterday’s game after taking a foul ball to the groin. It didn’t look as serious as a similar injury that put Cardinals C Yadier Molina out for several weeks earlier in the season, but we should know by tomorrow whether the injury will require a 10-day disabled list stint leading in to the All-Star Break.
  • 2B/SS/3B Javier Baez went 4-for-5 with a solo home run and two RBI yesterday, also stealing his 16th base of the year.

Chicago White Sox

  • C Omar Narvaez has received increased playing time in the last week or so after picking up some hits in spot duty in late July. He went 2-for-4 yesterday with a double and three RBI, his third multi-hit game of the week, with six hits in 14 at-bats.
  • OF Avisail Garcia homered again yesterday, a solo shot in the eighth inning off Houston RP Ken Giles. He also drove in a run on a sacrifice fly and scored two runs.

Cincinnati Reds

  • OF Billy Hamilton continues to get his season back on track hitting at the bottom of the order. He went 3-for-4 yesterday with a stolen base and three stolen bases. Hamilton has stolen 10 bases in the last month and could easily have a second half that gets him closer to the 50 bags many people expected in the spring when they drafted him as a top-75 pick.

Cleveland Indians

  • SP Corey Kluber shut out the A’s for seven innings yesterday, allowing only five hits and two walks. But the problem was that he only struck out three, and in four of his last five starts he’s struck out five or less, and in his last 26 2/3 innings he has only 20 Ks. We’re not worried about him at all yet, and of course he still starts all the time in all formats, regardless of matchup, but it is something to track in the second half.

Colorado Rockies 

  • 1B/OF Ian Desmond stole a base for the second consecutive game, giving him nine on the season. Desmond is a very intriguing high-risk/high-reward option for the second half if you’re looking for a trade target – yes, he’s hitting .216, and his 27 percent strikeout rate limits the chances he’s going to have to raise that batting average, but he has actually hit better on the road than at Coors Field so far, and he’s been able to deliver enough stolen bases to give him week-to-week value even when he goes in to power slumps, like he is now.

Detroit Tigers

  • 2B/SS Niko Goodrum got on base in all five of his plate appearances yesterday with a double, three singles, and a walk, scoring a run and stealing his seventh base of the year. That’s 13 hits in the last seven games for Goodrum.

Houston Astros

  • The team’s top prospect, OF Kyle Tucker, was called up prior to yesterday’s game, after a season in Triple-A where he’s hit .306 with 14 homers, 14 steals and 66 RBI. Tucker is up to play every day and is likely the most impactful prospect left to make his debut this season when you combine major league readiness with the likely amount of playing time he’ll get, so we’d sell out on FAAB budget if you need any sort of hitting help. Tucker started in left field yesterday and hit seventh, going 1-for-4 with a single, a walk, an RBI, a run scored, and three strikeouts.
  • C Max Stassi was back in the lineup after missing a couple of games this week, going 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI.

Kansas City Royals

  • SP Brad Keller struggled for the first time as a starter, allowing 11 base runners and four earned runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Red Sox, only striking out two.
  • 1B Lucas Duda went 1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI yesterday, and now has four extra-base hits in his last four games. Duda is slugging close to .500 in 12 games since returning from his foot injury.

Los Angeles Angels

  • OF Kole Calhoun is struggling again after a good stretch earlier this week. He’s gone hitless in his last three games out of the leadoff spot, striking out twice in all three contests.
  • OF Mike Trout went 3-for-4 with a solo home run last night, his 25th homer of the season.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • SP Ross Stripling improved to 7-2 with six very good innings of work last night at the Angels, allowing only a solo home run to OF Mike Trout and two singles, with no walks and seven strikeouts. Stripling has struck out at least six batters in 10 of his last 11 starts. Still, his career high in innings since turning pro is 127 2/3 in 2013, and he’s already at 89 1/3 this season, so that’s something to watch in the second half, especially as the Dodgers’ rotation continues to get healthy with SP Hyun Jin Ryu nearing a return in late July.

Miami Marlins

  • 2B Starlin Castro picked up his sixth home run of the year yesterday, his lone hit in three at-bats. He did add a walk. Castro has 25 hits in his last 59 at-bats over a 15-day stretch, a .424 batting average that comes with a 1.095 OPS.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • SP Aaron Wilkerson made his first start of the season in place of injured SP Brent Suter, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks over five innings. He struck out five. Wilkerson is a flyball pitcher in a park where that isn’t ideal, and he shouldn’t even be owned in NL-only leagues.

Minnesota Twins

  • SP Kyle Gibson delivered another quality start yesterday, finally getting enough run support to win his third game of the season, a number not aligned with his 3.59 ERA and 105 strikeouts. This was Gibson’s sixth quality start in his last nine outings, as he allowed three runs in seven innings on four hits and four walks, striking out nine. Gibson is getting close to must-start status and should definitely be used for his last start of the first half at home against Tampa Bay next week.

New York Mets

  • SP Steven Matz was a hard-luck loser at home against the Rays yesterday, allowing just one run on five hits and three walks over 6 1/3 innings, striking out five. Matz has gone at least six innings with three runs or less allowed seven times in his last 12 starts, and he’s generally a safe option in most matchups.

New York Yankees

  • RP Aroldis Chapman left yesterday’s game with the same left knee tendinitis issue that has previously bothered him. He’s apparently worked through this for weeks, but any Chapman owner with roster space should consider adding RP Dellin Betances as a backup option in case this knee injury worsens.

Oakland A’s

  • 3B Matt Chapman had his first big game since coming off the disabled list on Tuesday, going 4-for-4 with a walk, two doubles, a run scored and a stolen base.
  • We said earlier this week that OF Khris Davis was going to break his home run drought and get going soon – yesterday he hit a game-tying solo shot in the eighth inning for his first homer since June 14. Don’t be surprised if Davis goes off now and hits three or four home runs before the All-Star Break.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • Manager Gabe Kapler used RP Seranthony Dominguez as an eighth inning guy yesterday, as he was asked to face the heart of the Pittsburgh order with a 3-2 lead, leaving the bottom of the order in the ninth inning to RP Victor Arano. Both relievers held on to the lead, with Arano securing his second save of the week, as he also closed out Wednesday’s home win against Baltimore. Arano isn’t a threat to Dominguez’s value in mixed leagues.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • 2B/3B Josh Harrison went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts yesterday. Besides his three-hit game on Friday, Harrison has just one hit in his last 20 at-bats.
  • OF Starling Marte went 3-for-4 with a solo home run and two runs scored yesterday. Marte is off to a much better start in July (7-for-14) after hitting .183 with a .547 OPS in 99 June plate appearances.

San Diego Padres

  • 1B/OF Wil Myers hit three home runs last night, but unfortunately the Padres didn’t do much in front of him so he only drove in four.
  • SP Tyson Ross has fallen apart in his last two starts – after giving up seven runs and three home runs last Sunday, he allowed eight runs in two innings last night. The difference has been his slider, which his become extremely hittable for opponents in the last three games, sporting a negative run value of -2.6, -3.3, and -1 according to FanGraphs. In his previous 15 starts, it was a positive value pitch in 11 of them. Ross doesn’t have a good enough fastball to make up for this if he’s lost something on the slider, and we’d bench him for his next start at home Thursday against the Dodgers.

San Francisco Giants

  • SP Jeff Samardzija returned from the disabled list yesterday after missing more than a month with right shoulder tightness. He was good, not great, over 81 pitches in five innings, allowing seven hits, but only one for extra bases, walking one, and allowing three runs. He struck out three. His fastball was mostly the same as it was prior to going to the disabled list stint, and he remains a matchups play moving forward. His next matchup is Friday at home against Oakland, and we’d use him there in most formats.

Seattle Mariners

  • 2B/OF Dee Gordon sat out last night after leaving early Friday, but OF Mitch Haniger was back in the lineup after missing a few days with knee issues. He reached base in all four of his plate appearances, picking up two singles and two walks.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • RP Bud Norris was able to work the ninth inning with a one-run lead yesterday after dealing with finger soreness on Thursday. He closed out his 17th save of the inning with a perfect outing, striking out one.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • SP Blake Snell’s development in to an ace-level starter isn’t surprising based on his minor league track record, but what is surprising is the accelerated pace at which it has occurred since his return from the minors to start the second half of 2018. Snell now has a 2.09 ERA after shutting out the Mets for 7 1/3 innings yesterday, winning for the eighth time in his last 10 outings to up his record to 12-4. He allowed only six hits and three walks, striking out nine. Snell’s biggest step forward has come from improvement in his slider and his changeup, and both look like sustainable elite-level secondary offerings moving forward. Snell may take a small step back in ERA in the second half, but we see him as a top-10 pitcher in the game moving forward.

Texas Rangers

  • SP Cole Hamels couldn’t make it out of the first inning yesterday, allowing five hits and two walks in 2/3 of an inning – he was hurt by an error with the bases loaded that turned four of the seven total runs to be unearned, but Hamels has now struggled for three consecutive outings and has to be approached with caution in his final outing of the first half at Baltimore on Friday. The Orioles are bad enough to give Hamels some value in that spot, but there’s danger with him pitching like this in a park that allows a lot of home runs.
  • 2B Rougned Odor stayed hot with a double and a solo home run yesterday.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • SP J.A. Happ has now allowed 13 earned runs in 8 1/3 innings over his last two starts after getting pounded by the Yankees yesterday – 10 baserunners and six earned runs forced him out in the third inning, though he did strike out five. There’s nothing wrong with Happ’s velocity, he’s just been all over the zone and missing in bad spots – we’d sit him in his last start before the All-Star Break at Boston on Friday, but we expect him to get back to normal after the break.

Washington Nationals

  • 1B Mark Reynolds became the first player this year with double-digit RBI in a game, going 5-for-5 with two home runs, a double, and two singles, which led to him scoring three times and driving in 10.

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