Fantasy Forward: Freddie Freeman and opposite field power

Sunday proved to be a volatile one for bullpens along with some players breaking out from slow starts. Seattle became the second team to to lose a lead of six runs or more entering the ninth since 2011. Teams record with this type of cushion were 2,529 – 1 prior to yesterday, now add a second loss to the statistic.

With so many items to cover in the fantasy forward, time to take a spin around the box scores to prepare effectively with an early lock of 1:05 EST on Monday.

Chasing Saves

  • It seemed innocent when Casey Fien started to create traffic on the bases against the Angels, then things escalated quickly when Edwin Diaz entered the game with zero command of his pitches. End result, a nuclear meltdown by the Mariners bullpen. Diaz will be given plenty of leash after his strong season last year, but keep tabs on both Dan Altavilla and Tony Zych as the year progresses.

  • Mark Melancon recorded his first save for San Francisco and tied Santiago Casilla with one apiece this year. Melancon did allow a hit and a walk during his outing.
  • Shoot that broken arrow… yes, Fernando Rodney did lock down his second save, but only after giving up an unearned run. Archie Bradley finally worked a high leverage situation. Cleveland put two on with no outs and Arizona summoned Bradley. He fielded a bunt, then the next two outs to quell the rally and worked the eighth inning only giving up a single to Edwin Encarnacion. Through 5.1 innings as a reliever, Bradley’s 8:1 K:BB represents future potential as a closer if left in the bullpen. Speculate.
  • Seeing a closer enter a game without a save opportunity for “work” never seems to end well. The latest victim? Kenley Jansen worked the ninth inning in Colorado with a 10-4 lead and allowed two runs on three hits. Someday managers will learn.
  • Don’t look now, but the Phillies change at closer seems imminent with Jeanmar Gomez giving up the lead and benefiting with another win after a blown save. Maybe his manager finally realized what most fantasy owners knew with Hector Neris being drafted way ahead of Gomez despite not having the ninth innings. Skills over role. By the way, if Neris sits on your waiver wire, please add him if saves remains a need.
  • Jim Johnson finished 2016 with a tremendous run, but his lack of strikeouts point to potential future struggles. Monitor his next few outings closely. Arodys Vizcaino lurks in the shadows.
  • Detroit’s bullpen currently sports a cumulative 7.53 ERA with a 1.40 WHIP. No bueno. Two words for the future: Joe Jimenez. Stash him now.

Starting pitchers and run support or rough bullpen days

  • Despite not allowing an earned run this season, Julio Teheran does not have a win yet with a 1.08 WHIP and 10 strikeouts in 13 innings of work. He deserves better.
  • During his tenure with the White Sox, Jose Quintana has received one or fewer runs in support in 56 of his 153 starts (36 percent). He also deserves better.
  • Jake Arrieta made one mistake, and it resulted in a three-run home run by Ryan Braun. He then settled in with five consecutive strikeouts and finished with 10 against the Brewers during his win. Of course, Arrieta usually starts strong, but will pitch his heart out as a pending free agent.
  • Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr. became the first Astro to whiff 10 batters with no walks in a start for the franchise since Dallas Keuchel did so in July of 2015. Yes, no Houston pitcher accomplished the feat last year. His team won in comeback style, but McCullers did not factor in the decision. Take note of his 17:2 K:BB over 13 innings of work.
  • Why can baseball be frustrating? Scott Feldman shut out the Cardinals for six innings with six strikeouts to defeat Carlos Martinez in St. Louis.
  • Overlooked Ervin Santana fired six shutout innings with two hits allowed and four strikeouts for his second win this year and his ERA sits at 0.69, nice.

Hitting recap

  • Last year, Freddie Freeman hit 34 home runs to set a career high, 12 of these went over the wall from the left-field foul pole to left-center. His ability to drive the ball to all fields along with health point to a repeat this year. Freeman finished Sunday with four hits, two home runs (one to the opposite field) and a stolen base. He’s only the third player in franchise history to accomplish this feat.
  • Tiger third baseman Nick Castellanos seems to be adjusting to hitting second. He launched his second home run on Sunday. Hitting higher in the order points to a bigger runs scored total and the opportunity for more counting statistics going forward.
  • While many focus on the power surge and improved physique of Corey Dickerson, of which both are impressive, do not forget about Steven Souza. After Sunday’s win over Toronto, Souza’s slash line sits at .417/.533/.667 with six RBI to start the year. Dickerson hit an opposite field home run himself and his line of .360/.407/.680 should enjoy a visit to Yankee Stadium and Fenway this week.
  • Salvador Perez homered in his fourth straight game on Sunday. Mercy.
  • Houston’s George Springer set a major league record himself becoming the first player to hit three leadoff home runs in his team’s first seven games. He also hit a walk-off home run last week. He’s on pace for 93; odds are he regresses a bit.
  • Some questioned Joey Gallo staying in the lineup to face south paw Sean Manaea. Gallo hit a home run and drove in five runs. His average still sits at .200, but the power’s for real. Side note, Adrian Beltre will not be activated yet from his injury.
  • Could Jason Heyward be on his way back to relevance? His draft stock cratered, but Heyward’s exit velocity increase this year may be cause for hope. Heyward went 2-for-5 Sunday with three RBI’s and his slash line sits at .333/.391/.429 heading home to Chicago.
  • If Yunel Escobar is leading the majors with batted balls with an exit velocity of 95 MPH or better and no one notices, does it matter? Well, guess I noticed. Escobar sits near the top of runs scored with eight this year and currently carries a .414/.452/.586 slash line. Ride him while he’s hot?
  • Last but not least, Jonathan Villar is off to a slow start. He’s struck out 15 times in 30 at-bats and could be suffering from a lack of use during the WBC. Contact needs to come first, but keep watch on him as he adjusts to a new position as well. Patience will be required.

Injury News

  • Jason Kipnis finished 1-for-3 during his rehab game at Double-A Akron.
  • Roberto Osuna remains on track to return on Tuesday. Drop Jason Grilli if you added him, but still watch to see how Osuna does when he takes the mound again. His WBC appearances did not go well.
  • Josh Donaldson left Sunday’s game early due to his right calf flaring up again. He’s not worried about missing time, but monitor the reports.

This wraps up the Fantasy Forward. Be sure to check back with to stay atop of the latest fantasy news.

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Greg Jewett

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I am a father, PE teacher & fantasy baseball writer. Using saber metrics & information to evaluate players & trends is exciting to me."Passion is the oxygen of the soul." Bill Butler