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”

Daily Intel – 4/2/2018

Well, those of us in the northeast woke up this morning to the threat of snow and the harsh reality of falling temperatures. This week already had some teams with short slates due to the new additional off days, but we expect we’ll see quite a few days this week with postponed games (last-minute add: the Yankees home opener against the Rays has been postponed until tomorrow at 4 pm, delaying SP Jordan Montgomery and, maybe, SP Austin Pruitt for a day. Pruitt may not start, since SP Chris Archer will be on his regular four days of rest tomorrow).

Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Coming off a series win against Colorado, the D-Backs were off yesterday, but MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert has a mailbag worth checking out, especially for his reasoning behind why there shouldn’t be much concern about SP Robbie Ray’s diminished velocity in his first start.

Atlanta Braves

  • Couldn’t find anything interesting on the Braves’ off day in terms of an article, but David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a stat here showing just how dominant Freddie Freeman can be: with seven walks in his team’s first three games, Freeman has reached a mark not seen since Gary Sheffield with the Marlins in 1997.
  • Incredibly, Atlanta believes SP Anibal Sanchez is a worthy of a major league job in 2018. He’s joining the team today and will be a threat to start (yes, a threat) when the Braves need a fifth starter for the first time, per Joel Sherman. Load up against him that day in DFS!

Baltimore Orioles

  • There’s not much use in analyzing how bad Baltimore’s offense looked in most of this series against SPs Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson, and Jose Berrios. But it is a little worrisome to see 2B Jonathan Schoop continue to show little improvement in his plate discipline. He saw just 23 pitches over eight plate appearances this weekend. If he’s ever going to make his 2017 performance sustainable, he’s going to need to be more selective.
  • SP Kevin Gausman was not quite as popular as teammate SP Dylan Bundy in the 2018 sleeper pitcher discussion, but his second half performance last year had many ready to believe he was set to start meeting the expectations that came with his lofty college performance and Rule 4 draft status. Then 2B Brian Dozier hit a leadoff home run on the first pitch of Gausman’s season, and the Gausman who has a 5.85 ERA in 95 innings before the All-Star Break last year was back. Sit him in his next turn, just don’t let him sink your ratios this early in the season until he has one good start.

Continue reading “Daily Intel – 4/2/2018”

Daily Intel – 4/1/2018

Another rain out in Detroit prevented all 30 teams from taking the field for the first time this season. That helps us…less games to go over! But we’ll still give you some news on the Tigers and Pirates, and take a look at the other 28 teams who played Saturday.

Arizona Diamondbacks

  • OF Yasmany Tomas was placed on outright waivers, per Nick Piecoro of AZ Central. Tomas will likely not be back with the big club even if he clears and accepts an assignment to Triple-A Tucson. This doesn’t make a huge impact, but we would say it assures OF Jarrod Dyson of a spot on the roster all season.
  • SP Zack Greinke owners can breathe a sigh of relief. After a spring training of stories about diminished velocity and a nagging groin injury, Greinke came out struck out nine Rockies in 5 2/3 innings, allowing just five baserunners and one run. The velocity wasn’t at 2017 levels yet, about 1 to 1.5 mph down across the board for his three main offerings (four-seam fastball, changeup, slider), but he got 15 swinging strikes and, at least visually, seemed ready for a bigger workload next time out.

Atlanta Braves

  • In his first start since being recalled due to C Tyler Flowers‘ oblique injury, C Chris Stewart went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI hitting out of the eight spot. We’ll keep an eye out on how C Kurt Suzuki‘s hand responds after a hit by pitch, but the MRI was clean. Nevertheless, two-catcher leagues make owners desperate sometimes for anything resembling regular playing time at that position, so Stewart bears watching for the next few days.
  • OF Ender Inciarte was 3-for-6, putting the ball in play on the first pitch three times, and another time on an 0-1 count. Inciarte averaged 2.8 pitches seen per plate appearance last year – he was well above three in his first two games this year, but yesterday was a return to form, with 15 pitches seen in his six appearances. I thought, perhaps, the presence of 2B Ozzie Albies behind him may have driven Inciarte to take more pitches and focus on getting on base over anything else, perhaps threatening his best fantasy skill, batting average. We’ll see if anything changes over the course of the season, especially once OF Ronald Acuna comes up, but for now, Inciarte seems as aggressive as ever. Just need to see him attempt a steal soon.

Continue reading “Daily Intel – 4/1/2018”

Daily Intel – 3/31/2018

Hopefully, today will be our first day with all 30 teams making it on to the field.

A reminder, if you want the top news item on all 30 teams delivered to your inbox by 8 am Eastern every day, email fantasybbnow@gmail.com with “Subscribe to FB Now” in the Subject Line.

Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Two games with the new humidor in Chase Field, and a total of 27 runs and five home runs have been hit so far. Small sample size and all, but maybe this won’t be the offensive drain most thought it would, especially for fringe-value guys like 3B Jake Lamb and 2B/SS/OF Chris Owings. 
  • SP Robbie Ray picked up just one swinging strike out of the 39 four-seam fastballs he threw, per Baseball Savant. Those fastballs came in at an average of 92.6 mph. Last year, he averaged 94.5 mph on that same pitch. He walked three batters in his five innings, but still struck out eight. This looked more like 2016 Robbie Ray, not the 2017 version that vaulted him in to borderline SP1 status this draft season.

Atlanta Braves

  • SP Mike Foltynewicz had a successful season debut, going five innings and allowing just six baserunners, striking out seven. His fastball and sinker velocity at in the same 95-96 mph range as last season, but the key to note was his curveball, which he threw 20 percent of the time after using it just 13 percent of the time last year. If Folty can make this consistent pitch mix stick, he’s going to have great breakout potential. Watch his next start and add him if he puts up another line like this.
  • OF Preston Tucker has been a consistently above average hitter at Triple-A and in brief major league stints with Houston over the last four seasons. He’s got the skill, he’s just always needed a chance. OF Ronald Acuna is going to be up soon, and the Braves did bring in OF Peter Bourjos to split time in left field with Tucker while they play service time games with Acuna, but we’d recommend keeping Tucker on your watchlist for the first half of the season. All he needs is playing time, and there’s no guarantee that Acuna sets the world on fire (he probably will, though, he’s that good), and OF Nick Markakis is due for an injury, because he’s played 147+ games every year of his career but one (2012)! Tucker’s a long-shot flyer, we get it, but we like his skill set.

Continue reading “Daily Intel – 3/31/2018”

Daily Intel – 3/30/2018

One day down, 185 to go. Here are the most important fantasy items from every team in the majors over the last 24 hours. As a reminder, if you want the top item for every team delivered to your inbox by 8 am Eastern every day, email fantasybbnow@gmail.com and put “Subscribe to FB Now in the subject line.

Arizona Diamondbacks

  • RP Archie Bradley went 1 2/3 innings with no baserunners allowed and two strikeouts, a fine debut for anyone who drafted him hoping for about 4 innings a week of dominant relief work. He also inherited two runners, neither of which moved up on the base paths.
  • OF Jarrod Dyson hit eighth in the lineup and stole a base in a 2-for-4 effort. As we mentioned yesterday in Spring Training Trends, the SB totals of Dyson and SS Ketel Marte are worthy of day-by-day tracking, due to the outsize importance the stat holds in the values of both players.

Atlanta Braves

  • RP Arodys Vizcaino looked fantastic, striking out the side in the ninth inning of a 5-5 game. RP AJ Minter has earned a lot of praise for being a potential “next big thing” at closer, but for a team like the Braves that could either contend for a wild card or fall off the map early, Vizcaino has a ton of value staying in the closer role, because he could bring back a great haul at the trade deadline when bullpen arms are most valuable. Don’t be afraid to get Vizcaino in a trade if you need a closer, he shouldn’t cost much with his mid-round draft value.
  • 1B Freddie Freeman looks primed for an incredible season. He faced 24 pitches yesterday and didn’t swing and miss once. He faced three called strikes, but two of them were blown calls outside the strike zone, per Baseball Savant and Statcast data. It’s always been about health with Freeman, and in some cases he’s been the victim of bad luck (i.e. a wrist injury caused by a hit by pitch).

Baltimore Orioles

  • SP Dylan Bundy was a popular sleeper in some circles, and starts like yesterday show why. 88 pitches in seven innings, 64 strikes, and more positive signs with the slider he added to make his repertoire four pitches last season. Twenty-four sliders led to 16 strikes, 12 of them swinging. If the Orioles are going to once again buck the projections, it’ll be with Bundy giving them 190-200 innings of this type of pitching.
  • 3B/SS Manny Machado stole a base early in the game. Many fantasy players lamented the stolen base drop from 20 in 2015 to none in 2016 to 9 last year, so if yesterday is a sign of his willingness to run like he did in 2015, Machado can threaten to be the top player in fantasy.

Continue reading “Daily Intel – 3/30/2018”

Spring Training Trends – Part 2

Earlier today, we posted the first part of this series examining a few Spring Training trends for every team that are worth keeping an eye on in the first few weeks of the season. We’re valuing these trends from  1 to 10, with 1 being “if this trend keeps up for the first week of the season, I’ll make a note of it” and a 10 being “I need to do something about this right now.”

Part 1 looked at the first 15 teams in the majors, in alphabetical order, starting with Arizona and ending with Miami. We continue now with the other 15, starting with Milwaukee and ending with Washington.

And, again, starting tomorrow, for the next 186 days (through October 1, the day after Game 162), check back here every morning by 11 am Eastern for the actionable fantasy items on all 30 teams’ previous day of work, whether they play or not. You can get a first draft of that daily check in, which will cover the one thing you need to know for all 30 teams, every morning by 8 am Eastern, just by emailing fantasybbnow@gmail.com and putting “Subscribe to FB Now in the subject line.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • 1B/OF Eric Thames was one of the least popular players we personally observed during drafts this spring. That’s anecdotal, but we understand why – Ryan Braun is set for increased duty at first base, Domingo Santana is too young and perceived to be too high upside to sit regularly, and Thames really sucked against lefties last year. But there’s no denying Thames’ power and for all his struggles against lefties, last time I checked most major league teams were fielding primarily right-handed heavy pitchers. Braun is older and injury prone. Santana could easily play himself in to a bench role after his luck-fueled 2017. Watch Thames’ playing time this week and pounce if he’s getting in there even four days a week. (Impact: 6) 
  • The double play combo of 2B Jonathan Villar and SS Orlando Arcia are slated to hit eighth and seventh in the batting order, respectively. For Arcia, this is nothing new – he only hit higher than seventh in the order five times last year despite playing 153 games. But how will it impact Villar, whose fantasy value is predicated primarily on speed? It’s worth tracking how manager Craig Counsell deploys these two on the basepaths, especially with an improved top of the order. (Impact: 6)

Continue reading “Spring Training Trends – Part 2”