Daily Intel – 4/9/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Arizona’s bullpen was a puzzle for fantasy owners drafting this spring, but the layout of Brad Boxberger closing, Yoshi Hirano setting up, and Archie Bradley being the relief ace ready for any duty has worked to perfection so far. Boxberger looks great, his stuff relatively similar to his best season as a closer in Tampa Bay, but if someone gives up on Bradley because they are frustrated by the lack of saves/wins, we’d encourage adding him 12-team leagues if you have the reserve space.
  • SP Taijuan Walker has just seven strikeouts in 11 innings so far, and his command hasn’t been good enough for him to work deep and get a win in his two starts despite just four earned runs allowed. What does all this mean? 12-team league owners can’t get sucked in by the good ERA – if Walker doesn’t start getting closer to 7.5 or 8 strikeouts per nine innings, he’s not worth rostering when higher-upside starters are usually available and two-start guys become more important in weekly leagues.

Atlanta Braves

  • If you were brave enough (no pun intended) to start SP Sean Newcomb in Colorado, congratulations. Newcomb’s struggles with walks are well documented, and in this outing he became just the third starter to ever go six scoreless with nine strikeouts and no walks. Newcomb gets the Cubs at Wrigley Field next, and while we can’t recommend him in 12-team leagues because of the start-to-start volatility, his upside is high enough to say he’s another start like this away from being on the watchlist.

Baltimore Orioles

  • We noticed that RP Zach Britton was available in a couple of our 12-team National Fantasy Baseball Championship leagues this weekend. If you’re in a league like that, even 10 teams, add him. RP Brad Brach isn’t doing anything special (two walks in an inning yesterday) to make you think he’s going to be the closer once Britton gets back in late May, and four months of a top-end closer like Britton could still produce a top-15 performance, especially as some closers get traded in July and lose their role.
  • OF Anthony Santander had a nice day, going 3-for-6 with three RBI and a run scored. Santander was a popular deep sleeper in the spring, and we’ll be watching his playing time this week to see if he’s in line for more regular looks, though that seems unlikely with OF Mark Trumbo due back soon.

Boston Red Sox

  • SS Xander Bogaerts left the game yesterday late with an ankle injury, and he needed help getting down the dugout steps. There will be more today after an MRI, but bench Bogaerts in all weekly-lineup leagues.

Continue reading “Daily Intel – 4/9/2018”

Daily Intel – 4/8/2018 (Waiver Wire Focus)

The first full week of the season wraps up today, so today’s Intel will take an increased look at guys more likely to be available on your league’s waiver wire as well as the guys you may want to consider dumping.

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • 2B/SS Chris Owings is strking out a lot, with nine in his first 28 plate appearances, but he’s showing small signs of a potential increase in power output, including continuing a trend from last year of pulling the ball more. We have a feeling Owings is going to continue getting enough playing time to have borderline relevance in 12-team leagues, and with OF Steven Souza close to returning, the odd-man out could be OF Jarrod Dyson. If you have Dyson in a 12-team or smaller league, and even a 15-team league, we’d be fine moving on with him, as we’re just not sure when you’d feel comfortable putting him in for a weekly league.
  • We’re not worried about SP Zack Greinke, despite him allowing five runs in five innings Saturday. He’s not walking anybody, he still struck out five, and he had 19 first-pitch strikes out of the 24 batters he faced. Be patient, keep starting him.

Atlanta Braves

  • 2B Ozzie Albies swiped his first bag of the season. Albies is owned in all leagues, so this isn’t a waiver wire play, but we are moderately concerned about his lack of walks and low number of pitches per plate appearance so far. Albies was a very popular sleeper this spring, and if someone is willing to give you full value in a trade, we’d be fine with pursuing that.

Baltimore Orioles

  • 1B/OF Trey Mancini’s second game at leadoff went well from a contact perspective – 2-for-4 – but he only saw 10 pitches. Still, Mancini has five walks and six strikeouts so far this year, making him a much better leadoff option in his current performance state than 1B Chris Davis or SS/3B Tim Beckham.

Continue reading “Daily Intel – 4/8/2018 (Waiver Wire Focus)”

Daily Intel – 4/7/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Not much news on an off-day for the D-Backs, but for anyone worried about the performance of 1B Paul Goldschmidt, the AZ SnakePit team tweeted out some nice perspective on 2017 stretches of 25-plus plate appearances where Goldy has struggled like this. Don’t bench him, ever. He could be one game away from a 2-homer, 6-RBI kind of night.

Atlanta Braves

  • We noted yesterday Marc Bowman’s article on the improvement of SS Dansby Swanson, and that run continued yesterday in Colorado with a 3-for-5 day with three RBI, a double, and a triple. If you need a middle infielder to speculate on for your waiver run this weekend, we’d recommend Swanson as your best bet. He’s going to play every day, he’s got a pedigree, and he’s off to a great start. You can’t find a better combo when speculating this early in the year.
  • We like what we’re seeing from SP Brandon McCarthy, who is throwing strikes, and, for a Coors Field start yesterday, did impressive work in limiting the amount of hard contact the Rockies lineup made. McCarthy is seemingly always one pitch away from a disabled list stint, but his next four starts go @Nats-Phillies-Mets-@Phillies. We feel good about starting him in at least two of those, maybe even three (depending on the weather in Philly in late April). Those last two starts are likely to be in the same week. All this means he’s worth considering in 12-team mixed leagues.

Baltimore Orioles

  • SP Alex Cobb will make another extended spring training start on Monday, per MASN’s Roch Kubatko. That pushes back his debut to April 14 at the earliest.

Boston Red Sox

  • RP Bobby Poyner has been an unexpected source of valuable relief innings so far, with 4 2/3 innings in four appearances and only one run allowed with no walks and six strikeouts. We’ve been big on tracking relievers on track for 100-inning seasons, and, hey, we are willing to be surprised by who those guys are. Alex Speier of the Boston Globe writes about Poyner here.

Chicago Cubs

  • Daren Willman, the MLB’s director of research & development, tweeted out a cool Statcast leaderboard on early season hard-hit leaders. OF Jason Heyward is among the more surprising names, with 11 of his 14 balls in play being hit harder than 95 mph off the bat. Listen, we’re still in the territory where EVERY item should be caveated with “yes, but it’s early.” That said, Heyward has been a disaster for fantasy owners the last two years. Any positive signs on his batting performance is worth noting, because his defense is going to assure him playing time.
  • 1B Anthony Rizzo sat out yesterday’s game with back tightness, and Carrie Muskat of MLB.com notes here that he’s likely to sit today, too.
  • SP Kyle Hendricks was hit pretty hard the third time through the order yesterday against Milwaukee, and the result was a five-inning outing that only saw him go 84 pitches, allowing four runs and ten baserunners (9 hits/1 walk) with just one strikeout. Hendricks goes Pirates-Cards-@Rockies next, the last two likely in the same week. You’re going to have a tough decision to make during that week because of the Colorado start. We’d sit him, unless he shows something in that Pirates game that shows he’s going to be able to limit contact.

Continue reading “Daily Intel – 4/7/2018”

Daily Intel – 4/6/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Nick Piecoro of AZCentral noted that OF Steven Souza could be back as early as next weekend (April 14-15) as the team wraps up a long homestand with a series in Los Angeles. Souza’s placement in the order will be worth watching early with 3B Jake Lamb on the disabled list. Souza’s injury is/was upper body, so maybe there’s some slow going with the bat, but it’ll also be worth watching how often he attempts steals. As noted earlier this week, Souza needs to steal 10+ bases to be worth rostering, because his power will likely dip to luck regression and park-related factors.

Atlanta Braves

  • OF Preston Tucker and the Braves return to action tonight in Denver to kick off a three-game set with the Rockies. Mark Bowman of MLB.com has a nice look here at positive trends for SS Dansby Swanson, who went undrafted in many leagues, as well as early-season indicators for 1B Freddie Freeman, SP Mike Foltynewicz, and SP Julio Teheran.

Baltimore Orioles

  • 1B/OF Trey Mancini got his first look in the leadoff spot, which 1B Chris Davis had in the first five games and SS/3B Tim Beckham had on Wednesday against Houston. Mancini only walked 33 times last year in 586 plate appearances, and he’s basically a non-factor for stolen bases. This doesn’t do much for his value, but if Beckham can find regular time at the top of the order, he becomes worth roster consideration in 12-team leagues.

Continue reading “Daily Intel – 4/6/2018”

Daily Intel – 4/5/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • We’d like to welcome SP Patrick Corbin to the “start him every time out except Coors” club! Corbin dominated the Dodgers yesterday, going 7 1/3 innings and allowing one hit, one walk, no runs, and striking out 12. OF Matt Kemp’s double in the fifth broke up a perfect game and was, unsurprisingly, the only batted ball contact by the Dodgers that had a better than 50 percent chance of being a hit, per Baseball Savant. Corbin will get the offensively-challenged (so far) Giants in San Francisco next time out.
  • Stolen bases from OF A.J. Pollock and 2B/SS Chris Owings bring the Arizona team total to five this season. A good sign that perhaps any yet-to-be-seen power impacts of the humidor at Chase Field could be dampened by continued speed value from those two, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, SS Ketel Marte, and, when he returns, OF Steven Souza Jr. 

Atlanta Braves

  • We hope you took our advice yesterday and added OF Preston Tucker, who hit a 3-run home run off SP Max Scherzer to continue his hot start.
  • SP Mike Foltynewicz with another nice start, striking out eight Nationals in 5 1/3 innings of work, with just two walks and four hits allowed (one run). Here’s the funny thing – as we noted after his first outing, Folty had thrown his curveball considerably more than he had last year (nearly 20 percent, after averaging 12.4 percent last year). Yesterday? He threw it just three times in his 98 pitches, per Baseball Savant. If he’s available in your league, grab him…though I’m guessing unless it is 10 teams or smaller, he’s gone for sure.

Baltimore Orioles

  • Yesterday, we mentioned our fear of the middle part of the O’s bullpen hurting the value of SP Alex Cobb once we is on the roster. That’s still valid, but it is worth noting that Cobb had a nice line in a tune-up against Orioles’ minor league players and OF Mark Trumbo, per MASN’s Roch Kubatko: five innings, three hits, one run, two walks, four strikeouts on 74 pitches.
  • SP Dylan Bundy is joining SP Mike Foltynewicz in the “all good news” category for young pitching sleepers – six innings, seven baserunners, eight strikeouts, just one earned run allowed on the road against the defending champion Astros. We noted Bundy’s slider effectiveness in his first start – he threw 24, 16 were strikes, 12 of those were swinging strikes. Not quite as pretty this time, per Baseball Savant, but still effective – he threw 24 again, with 10 strikes, four of them swinging. The ball was put in play twice – once by 2B Jose Altuve for a fly out, once by red-hot OF Josh Reddick for a line drive single. Bundy is a must-start every time out until further notice. He gets Toronto next at home.

Continue reading “Daily Intel – 4/5/2018”

Daily Intel – 4/4/2018

Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Big blow to the Arizona lineup with 3B Jake Lamb going down with an AC joint sprain in his left shoulder. Per Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, manager Torey Lovullo said he will “mix and match” to fill in, but the bigger fantasy impact will be who moves in to the cleanup spot in the order full time behind 1B Paul Goldschmidt. On Tuesday, it was OF A.J. Pollock, who had already hit cleanup twice this season. We’ll see if anyone fills Lamb’s role of alternating with Pollock when the team faces right-handed starters.

Atlanta Braves

  • Great note here from Mark Bowman of MLB.com via Baseball Savant on the quality, or lack thereof, of pitches that 1B Freddie Freeman has seen so far this season. In summary: before Tuesday’s game, Freeman had seen 93 pitches this year. Only 28 were in the strike zone. Our guess is that changes as soon as OF Ronald Acuna is up, but perhaps that depends on where Acuna is slotted in the batting order.
  • Five games, three multi-hit outings for OF Preston Tucker. Tucker is hitting fifth, and as we noted above, 1B Freddie Freeman isn’t getting much to hit, but clearly Tucker and OF Nick Markakis are. Today probably isn’t best day to play Tucker or Markakis in DFS with SP Max Scherzeopposing them, but the Braves are in Colorado this weekend! Add Tucker if you can, we have a feeling he’s in for a big three-game set. Hell, add Markakis too. Both guys are going to have value hitting behind Freeman for the foreseeable future (Acuna arrival may impact that, obviously).

Baltimore Orioles

  • The Baltimore bullpen is lacking in those middle-inning bridge guys to get the ball to Darren O’Day, Mychal Givens, and Brad Brach, and it showed on Tuesday. Rule 5 pick entered a 5-5 game in the seventh inning (which, in fairness, was only 5-5 because Givens gave up two runs in an inning of work in the sixth) and was bombed out after hitting a batter, walking two, and then giving up a grand slam to OF Josh ReddickSP Alex Cobb’s value in mixed leagues, unless his dominance of pre-Tommy John Surgery returns, is going to depend on him getting innings to get to the back-end of the O’s pen. If he doesn’t, he won’t be winning more than eight games with the way the middle-inning guys currently look.

Boston Red Sox

  • OF Jackie Bradley Jr. is really slumping to start the season, with a 1-for-5 night Tuesday pushing his batting average down to .118. Bradley’s plate discipline seems fine, but his mixed-league relevance was already borderline this season, and hitting eighth isn’t going to do him any favors with his counting stats. You may want to bench him for a few days in daily transaction leagues.

Chicago Cubs

  • Before the Cubs’ game with the Reds was rained out, there was another new wrinkle in the lineup, with 2B/OF Ben Zobrist getting his first shot in the leadoff spot this season and OF Albert Almora moving down to sixth, but still in the lineup in place of 2B/OF Ian Happ. 

Continue reading “Daily Intel – 4/4/2018”

Daily Intel – 4/3/2018

More snow! More postponements! 14 games on the docket today, but as we’ll get to in the notes below, no guarantee they get all of those games in.

Arizona Diamondbacks

  • SS Nick Ahmed had another nice night, going 3-for-6 with a walk, a run scored, and a game-tying RBI in the 15th inning. Nick Piecoro of AZCentral wrote about Ahmed’s adjustments at the plate, and there are signs here that the hot start is a real harbinger of season-long value from Ahmed. If you’re not thrilled with your middle infield slot or need a reserve shortstop, you could do worse than giving Ahmed a roster spot for the next two weeks to see if this continues.

Atlanta Braves

  • We ragged on the Braves for giving SP Anibal Sanchez a roster spot starting yesterday, but Sanchez was much, much better yesterday than SP Sean Newcomb, a former first-round amateur draft pick who could’ve been considered a deep sleeper coming in to the year. Newcomb walked 57 batters in 100 major league innings last year, and last night he walked four in 4 1/3 innings. That’s always been the thing – “if Newcomb cuts down on the walks, he’s valuable…” For now, if you own Newcomb, bench him until he shows something. He’s pitching at Colorado next, so you shouldn’t be starting him next time out anyway.

Baltimore Orioles

  • After Sunday’s game, manager Buck Showalter said he wasn’t married to keeping 1B Chris Davis in the leadoff spot, but there he was again on Monday, going 1-for-3 with a walk and no strikeouts. Nobody on the Orioles is hitting well right now, especially leadoff-alternative-option 3B/SS Tim Beckham, but if Davis drops out of the top part of the lineup, you may want to consider benching him until he gets going, as there are too many good options at first base/corner infield to play Davis while he is on one of his patented cold streaks.

Boston Red Sox

  • DH Hanley Ramirez stole his second base of the season and hit his first home run. He’ll likely have first base eligibility soon, and it doesn’t look like he’s leaving the top part of the Red Sox lineup anytime soon. Know how we just said there are too many good options at first base regarding benching 1B Chris Davis? Ramirez is one of those options. His track record and good start make him a worthy speculative add, even in 10-team leagues.

Continue reading “Daily Intel – 4/3/2018”