Daily Intel – 4/25/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • The pitch chart on Baseball Savant for SP Robbie Ray‘s start last night is a work of art, with an incredible mix of pitches high out of the strike zone, an array of curveballs and sliders in the dirt, and a bunch of swinging strikes – 16, to be exact. Ray ended up going 4 2/3 innings, needing 107 pitches to do so but striking out 11 Phillies in the process. He gave up five hits, three walks, and three earned runs. Ray now has 20 strikeouts in his last two starts, spanning 10 2/3 innings – and, we’re sorry, if you spent the top 50 pick needed to get Ray, that’s why you’ve got to deal with the insanely high WHIP and just slightly-less-insanely high ERA and keep starting him every time out.

Atlanta Braves

  • OF Ronald Acuna, arguably the top prospect in the game, will be called up today, per Mark Bowman of MLB.com. It is expected the OF Preston Tucker will move to the bench.
  • C Tyler Flowers could return this weekend, per this update from Gabriel Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but C Kurt Suzuki continues to hit the ball well – he went 3-for-5 last night with a home run, two runs scored, and two RBI. Both Flowers and Suzuki had value in two-catcher mixed leagues last season, but you’ll need to see how the playing time situation shakes out upon Flowers’ return next week before making any judgment on either of their long-term futures moving forward.

Baltimore Orioles

  • Before rain washed away the O’s series opener against Tampa Bay, their lineup card did come out, and there were two items worth noting: OF/1B Trey Mancini was back in the lineup after missing three games with a knee issue, and C Chance Sisco was hitting second. In his 11 previous starts this year, Sisco hit no higher than seventh, and in the majority of those 11 starts (six), he hit ninth.

Boston Red Sox

  • SP Rick Porcello had a strong night – seven innings, nine strikeouts, three hits, three walks, three earned runs – but it could’ve been even better if not for a second inning where a mix of bad ground ball luck and some poor Boston defense let him down and led to those three runs being scored. If there’s a such thing as a “buy high” in leagues where you can trade, we’d call Porcello that – maybe there’s an owner out there who is wary still of last season’s performance and thinks they are going to get out from under Porcello before he regresses. If that’s your situation, go and get him.

Chicago Cubs

  • OF Kyle Schwarber took full advantage of his first opportunity to play designated hitter this season, going 2-for-5 with two home runs off Cleveland SP Josh Tomlin. Schwarber now has nine hits in his last five games and has raised his batting average from .222 to .302 in that time. Perhaps the most impressive thing is that he only has one strikeout in those five games.

Chicago White Sox

  • As mentioned in yesterday’s Intel, the hamstring issue that forced OF Avisail Garcia out of the game Monday led to a 10-day disabled list stint. His regular number two spot in the lineup was filled by 2B/3B Yolmer Sanchez, while SS Tim Anderson led off for the second time in four games after spending the first 16 games of the season hitting sixth of lower. As a fringe option in 12-team mixed leagues, Sanchez does gain some value moving up in the order, especially because he’s reached base at a .346 clip so far.

Continue reading “Daily Intel – 4/25/2018”

Daily Intel – 4/24/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • On an off day for the Snakes, the biggest recent news is the injury status of 3B Jake Lamb, who is dealing with inflammation in his right elbow and will not return to the lineup this week, as expected. If you’ve held Lamb this long, there’s no reason to dump him now. Also in this article late Sunday at AZCentral.com is an update on OF Steven Souza, with a target date of this weekend for his first game action in extended spring training.

Atlanta Braves

  • This was an odd start for SP Mike Foltynewicz. He only lasted 4 2/3 innings, and it took him 104 pitches to get that far, but he earned 18 swinging strikes and struck out seven Reds batters. After a 30-pitch first inning where he left the bases loaded, he then went through the next two innings in just 27 pitches. He then gave up a home run on an 0-2 pitch to OF Scott Schebler in the fifth and faced two more batters before coming out. The upside for his strikeouts on a per-start basis is too high to sit him in most formats unless it is a clear bad matchup.
  • OF Nick Markakis went 3-for-4 with three RBI and a home run last night. With eight hits in his last five games, Markakis is doing more than enough to hold OF Ronald Acuna‘s call up and insertion in to the starting lineup. OF Preston Tucker, Acuna’s other roadblock, went 1-for-4 but did have another double, his third extra-base hit in four games.

Baltimore Orioles

  • OF Trey Mancini sat again last night after tweaking his knee of Friday, but he did pinch hit and should be back in the starting lineup tonight. We’d put him back in our lineups without concern, especially because we expect him to be right back to leading off.
  • Monday marked the best start of the season for SP Kevin Gausman, who has now put together three straight starts we would qualify as valuable in all formats. He threw eight-innings of two-run ball against Cleveland, striking out seven. Gausman’s velocity is still down from last year, and he has an increased fly ball tilt that could spell trouble in his home park as the weather warms, but for a pitcher who was an incredible drag on fantasy teams in the first half of last season, his start this year makes him worth rostering in all formats and, at this time, starting most times he’s on the mound.

Boston Red Sox

  • SP Jalen Beeks was named pitcher of the week in the Triple-A International League, and he’s off to a strong start in repeating the level, with 26 strikeouts in 14 innings. The Sox have a lot of rotation depth even if they suffer injuries, but Beeks is by far the closest minor leaguer of fantasy relevance to the majors. Here’s John Sickels quick scouting report on him from the Minor League Ball site: “fastball anywhere between 88 and 94 MPH with good command and deception; good change-up that helps heater play up, mixes in adequate curveball and slider; doesn’t get a huge amount of attention but could be a sneaky fourth starter or a fine bullpen lefty.”

Chicago Cubs

  • Think pieces abound in Cubs Land on the struggles of SP Yu Darvish, but we thought this article from ESPN’s Jesse Rogers did the best job of explaining some of the factors behind the bad numbers and analyzing them piece by piece. We’re still not that worried about Darvish and wouldn’t be benching him anywhere this week.

Chicago White Sox

  • OF Avisail Garcia suffered a strained right hamstring running down the first base line in his second at-bat yesterday. He had to be helped off the field, and we’d almost definitely expect a placement on the 10-day disabled list today.

Cincinnati Reds

  • SP Sal Romano continues to take very small steps toward fantasy relevancy, with last night’s six-inning start delivering his highest strikeout total of the season (five). “Relevancy,” at this point, means maybe he’s worth a pickup in 15-team leagues when he has two start weeks, but the improved strikeout totals in his last three starts (13 total after just three in his first two starts) plus a better groundball rate have upgraded him from someone most owners were completely ignoring.
  • OF Scott Schebler led off for the first time under new manager Jim Riggleman, and he took advantage with a two-run home run to go along with a single, generating both three runs scored and three RBI. OF Billy Hamilton, meanwhile, once again hit ninth, but he reached base twice, scored twice, and stole his fifth base of the year.

Continue reading “Daily Intel – 4/24/2018”

Daily Intel – 4/23/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • If you didn’t consider SP Pat Corbin a must-start in all formats every time he pitches, you should after yesterday’s six inning, 11-strikeout performance. Most impressive of his early-season breakout remains the lack of hard contact he’s allowing. Yesterday, the Padres only put three balls in play against him with a hit probability of higher than 50 percent, per Baseball Savant.

Atlanta Braves

  • The Braves were postponed at home yesterday due to rain, but there was a key piece of news regarding recent acquisition OF Jose Bautista. Per this article from Mark Bowman of MLB.com, recent reports have been positive on Bautista, and he’ll likely join the big league club next week after his stint in Triple-A that starts today.

 Baltimore Orioles

  • We’re not running out to buy shares of SP Andrew Cashner in 12-team and shallower mixed leagues, but for a guy who seemed like such a surefire candidate to provide much less fantasy value in 2018 than he did last year, he’s finding ways to stay relevant thanks to an increased strikeout rate. Cashner struck out 86 in 166 2/3 innings last year – after yesterday’s outing where he struck out seven Indians, he now has 28 Ks in 30 innings, with just 13 walks. Cashner is worth a start-by-start judgment of his value in deep mixed leagues, and a few more starts like this would give him increased relevance in 12-team leagues.

Boston Red Sox

  • C Christian Vazquez went 1-for-4 yesterday, but he only has three hits since April 12th and hasn’t hit a home run yet. You may want to consider dropping him in leagues where the catcher pool goes anywhere from 15 to 24 players deep – so, basically, one-catcher 15-team leagues or two-catcher 12-team leagues. You could find safer value from part-time guys like Houston’s Max Stassi. 
  • SP David Price was left in to face one batter too many, as OF Khris Davis hit a three-run shot on the first pitch of his at bat with two outs and two runners on in the eighth inning, giving the A’s a 4-1 win and Price a pitching line that doesn’t convey an otherwise strong performance. Price did allow a little more contact than you’d like to see, as the A’s collected nine hits in the game, but only walked one after walking nine in his previous three starts, and he struck out six.

Chicago Cubs

  • 3B Kris Bryant took a 96 mph fastball from Rockies SP German Marquez in the first inning of yesterday’s game and had to depart. After the game, reports were positive on his status, and Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune tweeted that Bryant would travel with the team tonight to Cleveland and have more tests on Monday. As of right now, we’d keep him in your lineup for leagues that lock for the week today.

Chicago White Sox

  • 2B Yoan Moncada was back in the lineup after leaving Saturday’s game early with a cramping issue. He was also back at the leadoff spot after a few games in the six hole, doing some good (on base twice with a hit and walk) and some bad (two strikeouts).

Continue reading “Daily Intel – 4/23/2018”

Daily Intel – 4/22/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • SP Zack Godley got back on track after a poor outing last time on the mound against Los Angeles. He picked up the win against San Diego, going 5 1/3 innings, striking out eight, and allowing seven baserunners and two earned runs. The only minor red flag that carried over from that six-walk outing against LA was Godley only throwing first-pitch strikes to 11 of 22 hitters, but even that was offset by him picking up 14 swinging strikes on his 94 pitches.

Atlanta Braves

  • Yesterday makes three very good starts in a row for SP Julio Teheran, as he went seven scoreless innings, allowing just a walk and four hits, and striking out six. Over his last three starts, he’s gone 19 innings, has allowed a total of three runs, and has struck out 22. He gets the Reds on the road on Thursday and is a must start in all formats.

Baltimore Orioles

  • C Chance Sisco threw out three runners yesterday and is now 7-for-11 on shutting down stolen base attempts this year. This is a trend to consider when you weigh whether some fringe players are worth starting in a given week that they have to play the O’s.
  • OF Craig Gentry hit leadoff yesterday with OF Trey Mancini out due to some knee swelling and soreness. Mancini’s CT scan showed no issues, and he should be back in a few days, per Roch Kubatko of MASN.

Boston Red Sox

  • Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reported that SS Xander Bogaerts will begin his rehab with Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday, with the goal to activate him on Friday when they return home. In that same tweet, he reported that SP Chris Sale will start on Thursday, meaning SP Drew Pomeranz will start on Friday, giving him six full days of rest between starts. That seems like a smart move considering Pomeranz’s injury to begin the season, and we consider him a must-start in all formats this week.

Chicago Cubs

  • The fantasy momentum for 2B/OF Ben Zobrist came to a halt yesterday with his placement on the 10-day disabled list. If you picked up Zobrist, be patient – if nothing else, this time away may give 2B/OF Ian Happ more playing time with which to continue striking out. Play it this way – hold Zobrist for now, monitor his injury recovery, and if Happ continues to play poorly, figure he’s likely getting sent down soon, leaving Zobrist in a position to play every day upon his return. If Happ starts striking out less, than maybe you can consider dropping Zobrist if you need the spot. Happ hit sixth on Saturday against Colorado and went 1-for-3 with no strikeouts before being removed in a double switch.

Continue reading “Daily Intel – 4/22/2018”

4/21 – Week 5 Waiver Wire + Two-Start Pitchers

We’re taking a look today at all 30 teams from the perspective of a new waiver-wire option, a consideration for cutting from your roster, and the upcoming two-start pitchers in week five.

Here’s the same disclaimer we gave last week on identifying waiver options that fit for all readers: It is next to impossible to find ownership levels that are applicable to all formats, so we’re going to use the numbers provided by the National Fantasy Baseball Championship, since their leagues vary in size (mostly 12- and 15-team mixed) and involve money, so they tend to give a more accurate read of owners that are engaged on a weekly basis.

Unlike last week, where we gave low-owned, medium-owned, and high-owned options, we’re going to focus this week only on guys who are owned in 60% of leagues or less.

Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Waiver wire add: 2B/SS Ketel Marte (59% owned)
  • Cut consideration: SP Taijuan Walker – yes, this is cheating in a way, but if you didn’t know that Walker was declared out for the season with Tommy John surgery looming earlier this week, now you know.
  • Two-start pitcher(s): SP Robbie Ray draws road starts at Philadelphia and Washington with SP Vince Velasquez and Gio Gonzalez as his opponents. Ray is a must start in all formats, as his strikeout potential is too high to let his season-opening struggles with run prevention scare you from using him.

Atlanta Braves

  • Waiver wire add: SP Brandon McCarthy (44% owned)
  • Cut consideration: RP A.J. Minter (88% owned) – we’re not sure Minter is getting the closer role anytime soon, and he’s not striking out enough guys yet to be a starter in most mixed leagues.
  • Two-start pitcher(s): SP Brandon McCarthy and, as of right now, SP Matt Wisler will get starts on the road against Cincinnati and Philadelphia. McCarthy’s opponents are SP Sal Romano and SP Nick Pivetta, while Wisler will draw SP Tyler Mahle and SP Vince Velasquez. We would start McCarthy and Wisler in all 12-team mixed and deeper formats.

Baltimore Orioles

  • Waiver wire add: OF Craig Gentry (0% owned)
  • Cut consideration: RP Darren O’Day (2% owned)
  • Two-start pitcher(s): A seven-game week at home gives SP Kevin Gausman and SP Alex Cobb shots at a two-start week. Gausman goes Monday against Cleveland, drawing SP Carlos Carrasco, and Saturday against Detroit, drawing SP Francisco Liriano. Cobb’s first-ever start against his only other major league team, Tampa Bay, comes Tuesday against SP Jake Faria, and he returns Sunday against Tigers SP Matt Boyd. We like Gausman’s chances on Sunday, and with the Cleveland lineup not hitting on all cylinders yet, we think he’s a good risk in 12-team mixed leagues and anything deeper than that. Cobb is a bench in all formats except AL-only.

Continue reading “4/21 – Week 5 Waiver Wire + Two-Start Pitchers”

Daily Intel – 4/20/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • SS/OF Chris Owings was hurt on a collision in the outfield, and had to leave the game for concussion protocol. After the game, MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert tweeted an update Owings, and the positive news is that he does not have a concussion.

Atlanta Braves

  • 1B Freddie Freeman did not suffer any broken bones after being hit on his left wrist in Wednesday’s game, and actually played last night, going 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI.
  • SP Matt Wisler picked up an unexpected start after SP Anibal Sanchez suffered a freak leg injury in warmups on Wednesday, and he took full advantage of the opportunity, delivering seven innings of one-run ball, striking out eight and allowing just two hits and a walk. Wisler wasn’t perfect, as he did get behind on a few hitters, but he still threw 66 of his 102 pitches for strikes and retired 20 of the first 21 hitters he faced. Wisler was a prospect at one time, and he’s still only 25. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that he produces value for fantasy owners if he gets a sustained shot in the rotation.

Baltimore Orioles

  • We hope you took our advice to bench SP Alex Cobb after his disastrous season debut last Saturday, because Thursday wasn’t much better – 10 hits and five earned runs (seven runs total) in 3 1/3 innings. The Baltimore defense wasn’t good at all behind Cobb, but for a guy as dependent on ground balls as he is, that’s going to be a season-long risk factor. For us, Cobb gets one more start to turn it around before we cut him in all mixed formats.
  • RP Zach Britton will throw off a half-height mound today, another big step in his return from an Achilles injury.

Boston Red Sox

  • SP Eduardo Rodriguez was very good last night, getting beat on a good 3-2 pitch that OF Chris Young reached outside of the strike zone to pull for a home run, but otherwise quieting the Angels’ strong lineup over six innings. In all, he allowed three hits, two runs, and three walks, striking out five. Most impressively, he picked up 20 swinging strikes out of his 104 pitches, and generated a lot of weak contact from some of LA’s top hitters. He gets Toronto next on the road this coming Wednesday, and we’d start him everywhere.

Chicago Cubs

  • 2B/SS Javier Baez hit second in the order yesterday, the first time this season he’s hit higher than sixth. He went 2-for-5 with a triple and two runs scored, but for as good as his offense has been recently, he’s been just as shaky defensively. He made two errors yesterday, and arguably could’ve had a third. But with 2B/OF Ian Happ and SS Addison Russell not hitting and 2B/OF Ben Zobrist dealing with a nagging injury, Baez would probably have to have a bunch of multi-error games to risk losing every day playing time right now.

Chicago White Sox

  • On an off day for a team this bad, it is always best to look to the future, and while we usually reserve that space for SP Michael Kopech, today’s we’ll refer you to this Chicago Sun-Times article on the White Sox top position player prospect, OF Eloy Jimenez, who will begin his season in Double-A in the coming days after finishing up extended spring training while recovering from a strained left pectoral muscle. If Jimenez hits well in the first month at Double-A, we wouldn’t be surprised to see him tracked for a call to the majors some time around the All-Star Break.

Continue reading “Daily Intel – 4/20/2018”

Daily Intel – 4/19/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • RP Brad Boxberger allowed his first two runs of the season in taking the loss on Wednesday night after entering the 10th inning in a tie game.
  • Nick Piecoro of AZCentral writes here about SP Taijuan Walker needing Tommy John surgery, and Triple-A SP Matt Koch being the first man up with a shot to replace Walker. Koch is 27 and not really a “prospect” by the accepted definition of the term, and isn’t a play in anything but NL-only leagues. Here’s what John Sickles of Minor League Ball wrote about Koch in December 2016, when he was ranked Arizona’s #17 prospect: “although he started in the minors I think he is better-suited for relief work; throws strikes, fastball in low-90s, good slider; change-up is mediocre, another reason for him to fit in relief.”

Atlanta Braves

  • Anyone who has owned 1B Freddie Freeman at all these last few years knows that wrist injuries have been a constant problem, so seeing him leave last night’s game after getting hit by a pitch on his left wrist is more cause for concern than it would be with your average player. The best news at this point is MLB.com’s Mark Bowman saying “it appears” he avoided a broken bone, but nobody will know for sure until Thursday.
  • SP Brandon McCarthy showed no ill effects from his minor shoulder separation last week, going 5 1/3 innings and allowing just one run on five hits and two walks, striking out six.

Baltimore Orioles

  • The most troubling sign about OF Adam Jones’ slow start is his strikeout rate – he’s now up to 22 on the season, on pace for nearly 200. Jones has been in the 110s-130s range for strikeouts in every full season in his career. We don’t see him dropping out of the cleanup spot anytime soon, and his HR/RBI numbers have been fine so far, but your appetite for starting/holding on to him will have to be based on him making more contact and getting his batting average closer to the .270 range that most people expected when they drafted him.

Boston Red Sox

  • Home runs in consecutive games for 3B Rafael Devers, who seems to be taking a more aggressive approach at the plate over the last week or so, having only earned one walk in his last seven games. Devers hit seventh last night against lefty SP Tyler Skaggs, but he should still continue to get plenty of RBI opportunities if he remains fifth or sixth in the order most nights, helping prop up his value is his average continues to dip due to his aggressiveness.

Continue reading “Daily Intel – 4/19/2018”