Daily Intel – 8/15/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • C Alex Avila has started four of the last six games behind the plate for Arizona. He went 1-for-3 yesterday with a solo home run and a walk. With regular playing time down the stretch, Avila could be an intriguing option in two-catcher leagues.

Atlanta Braves

  • We said in Sunday’s Intel that we could see OF Ronald Acuña Jr. having a “monster stretch run.” Since then, he’s gone 8-for-16 with five home runs, 11 RBI, three walks, one strikeout, eight runs scored, and one steal.

Baltimore Orioles

  • RP Mychal Givens worked a perfect ninth inning yesterday, throwing strikes on seven of his eight pitches, to earn his fourth save of the season and third in the last nine days.
  • OF Adam Jones went 2-for-4 with a double and a solo home run. He will miss the weekend’s series in Cleveland due to a funeral he’s attending in San Diego.

Boston Red Sox

  • SP Rick Porcello was awful in his last start against an average Toronto lineup, and last night he came out in Philadelphia and dominated a much better Phillies team, striking out 10 over seven innings where he allowed only two hits and an earned run with no walks. Porcello gets a two-start week next week against the Indians and Rays and should be started everywhere.
  • 2B Ian Kinsler will be activated off the disabled list for either today’s game or, worst-case, Friday’s series opener against the Rays.

Chicago Cubs

  • SP Jose Quintana was down again yesterday, allowing five runs on six hits and a walk over five innings against the Brewers. Both his curveball and his changeup have been negative value pitches for four consecutive starts, making him, at best, a matchups play in mixed leagues. He gets the Pirates on the road on Sunday and we wouldn’t start him in shallow formats if you don’t need to take the risk.

Chicago White Sox

  • SP Lucas Giolito threw what was, for him, an unfathomably efficient 73 strikes on 99 pitches last night in earning his eighth win, striking out seven over six innings and allowing eight hits, a walk, and three runs. Giolito has been much more reliable in soft-touch matchups like last night against the Tigers, and he gets a nice two-start week next week against the Twins and Detroit again, making him a sleeper streaming option.

Cincinnati Reds

  • OF Billy Hamilton reached base twice yesterday on a single and a walk, but he was caught stealing for the fifth time this season.

Cleveland Indians

  • SP Trevor Bauer will miss a bit of time after an MRI revealed what an X-ray couldn’t: a small fracture in his fibula suffered after he took a line drive off his leg on Saturday. While his rehab timetable is unclear, SP Adam Plutko will be the clear option in the rotation for now, with his first start back with the big club coming Saturday against Baltimore. Plutko has been hot and cold in his six major league starts this year, but he does sport a 1.70 ERA and 81 Ks in 84 2/3 Triple-A innings.

Colorado Rockies 

  • SP German Marquez would be this year’s Cy Young winner in the NL if he could only pitch on the road. He went in to Houston last night and outdueled SP Justin Verlander, striking out seven in seven innings and allowing only three hits, two walks, and an earned run. He did have some command issues, including two wild pitches and a hit batter, but he overcame them to lower his road ERA to 2.92 on the season, with 78 strikeouts in 74 innings and a 1.01 WHIP. Overall, he’s had three home starts and five road starts in his last eight outings, and he’s posted a 2.90 ERA overall in that run, going 5-1. He gets the Braves next in Atlanta on Sunday.

Detroit Tigers

  • 3B Jeimer Candelario has led off for three consecutive games; he went 2-for-5 last night with a run scored.

Houston Astros

  • Both RPs Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock worked in relief yesterday, but the team still does not need a fifth starter to replace SP Lance McCullers Jr. until August 21 at Seattle. It will likely be McHugh or Peacock, but with more off days scheduled before the end of the month, they likely wouldn’t make a second start until August 30 against the Angels

Kansas City Royals

  • 2B/SS Adalberto Mondesi continues to be the only intriguing fantasy option on this team beyond 2B/OF Whit Merrifield, as he posted another strong game last night going 4-for-4 with two doubles and three stolen bases.

Los Angeles Angels

  • 3B Taylor Ward made his major league debut last night and should be an everyday player for the Angels down the stretch. He went 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, an RBI, and a run scored. He was hitting .349 with a .977 OPS and 18 stolen bases in 102 games between Double-A and Triple-A this year, his best season since being drafted in the first round out of college in 2015.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • SP Kenta Maeda took the loss after allowing a run in his first appearance since shifting to the bullpen, but it looks like the Dodgers late-inning woes are going to end much sooner than originally expected. RP Kenley Jansen has done throwing and conditioning work on back-to-back days, and if everything checks out next Monday with a follow-up doctor’s visit, he should be activated that day.

Miami Marlins

  • OF Rafael Ortega led off for the fifth consecutive game last night and produced his best outing since being called up, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored, a double, a walk, an RBI, and a stolen base. Ortega has three steals already despite only reaching base nine times, making him an interesting speed option for owners in need of SBs.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • 1B/OF Ryan Braun went 2-for-4 yesterday with two home runs, two runs scored, and four RBI. Braun has five multi-hit games in his last seven starts and is hitting .382 this month; despite the injuries that have plagued his playing time this season, Braun is still on pace to finish in the top 50 among outfielders with a 19-homer/12-steal season.

Minnesota Twins

  • RP Trevor Hildenberger needed just seven pitches last night to earn his second save in the last few days. He’s the guy to own in this bullpen down the stretch.

New York Mets

  • OF Brandon Nimmo had two hits and a walk for the second consecutive game, with August shaping up to be his best month since his breakout May. He’s currently hitting .256 this month with a .918 OPS and he’s cut his strikeout rate from 42 percent in July to 28 percent so far in August.

New York Yankees

  • SP J.A. Happ is three-for-three in strong starts since joining the Yankees after throwing seven one-hit innings against the Rays yesterday, allowing four walks but no runs and striking out four.
  • RP Aroldis Chapman had his first stress-free outing in a while last night, allowing just a single in the ninth inning and striking out one to earn his 31st save in a 4-1 win.

Oakland A’s

  • The double play combo of SS Marcus Semien and 2B Jed Lowrie is on fire right now – both guys picked up two hits last night, including a home run. Semien is hitting .357 this month with 10 runs scored, three homers, and six RBI, and Lowrie is at .293 with five extra-base hits and eight RBI in August.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • 1B/OF Rhys Hoskins homered yesterday, his first extra-base hit in his last 32 plate appearances. He was dropped from second in the order to cleanup, where he was hitting .294 with a .943 OPS in 31 games entering last night.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • OF Gregory Polanco has gone ice cold again after a season-changing stretch of power between June and July (11 homers); he struck out four times yesterday and is now hitting .119 this month with a .405 OPS, having struck out in 17 of his 46 plate appearances.

San Diego Padres

  • OF Travis Jankowski reached base twice yesterday and stole another base, his 20th of the season.

San Francisco Giants

  • 1B Brandon Belt was activated yesterday after missing two weeks with a left knee issue. He should be back in the starting lineup today after being available off the bench last night and going 1-for-1 with a run scored in his pinch-hit appearance.

Seattle Mariners

  • SP James Paxton will miss at least one start after being hit by a line drive in the forearm early in his start last night against the A’s.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • RP Bud Norris is dealing with hip soreness and was unavailable yesterday after blowing a save Monday, so RP Jordan Hicks got the chance to close out Washington and did so successfully, earning his fourth save of the year.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • OF Tommy Pham looks likely to return to the lineup this weekend in Boston, as he prepares to start a rehab assignment today at Low-A. This would be him returning at the low-end of the original 2-4 week timeframe thought to be needed to recover from his foot injury.
  • We were off by one day on SP Jake Faria, as he’ll actually return to the mound tonight to pitch against the Yankees.

Texas Rangers

  • OF Shin-Soo Choo reached base three times yesterday in four plate appearances, scoring a run. He’s lost his power stroke over the last 30 days, with only two home runs and a .366 slugging percentage, but to balance that he has reached base more in August, posting a .429 OBP after finishing with a .363 mark in July.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • C Danny Jansen hit his first major league home run last night, his lone hit in four at-bats. He’s started both games behind the plate since being called up on Monday, and with a solid record of plate discipline and power in the minors (he was hitting .275 with a .390 OBP and 12 homers in 88 Triple-A games this year), Jansen is someone to keep on the radar in two-catcher leagues down the stretch.

Washington Nationals

  • RP Ryan Madson will miss a couple of weeks with a lower back injury that he first mentioned as an issue after allowing a walk-off grand slam on Sunday. RP Sean Doolittle threw a bullpen session on Tuesday but still sounds at least a week or so away from being ready, and RP Kelvin Herrera just began the process of playing catch, so RP Koda Glover will be the closer for now.

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