Fantasy Forward: Yo Yo again, little d strikes and an Ozuna salami

With the Mets playing another marathon extra-inning game, fantasy owners need to note Adam Conley worked in relief, so he will not start on Friday night. Instead, Edinson Volquez will match-up with Noah Syndergaard. Thursday provided a mix of day and night baseball which will be recapped below for fantasy purposes.

But first, on the injury front, news popped up throughout the day. David Price threw off the mound and seems to be progression towards a rehab stint within two weeks. He did not throw any breaking pitches, but reported no lingering issues. Tigers slugger, J.D. Martinez will head out on rehab as soon as next week. This should be encouraging news to those who took a chance on him; just monitor for any setbacks since lisfranc injuries can be tricky.

Jonathan Gray left his start in the fourth inning after jumping to field a high chopper to the mound – he landed awkwardly, then threw to first base. Gray hurt his toe in the spring, so a 10-day disabled list stint could occur. Former MVP and fantasy first rounder, Josh Donaldson, left Thursday’s game due to lingering issues with his right calf. He tried to play through this twice. Odds seem likely he could also land on the disabled list so his owners need to plan accordingly. Now to the recaps.

Pitching standouts and starts of note

  • Fantasy tease, Luis Severino flashed his upside in an 11 strikeout performance at home against the Rays. Severino generated five swinging strikes with his fastball and 15 called strikes as he poured pitches into the strike zone. Even more encouraging, Severino’s change and slider each produced three swings and misses. Cautiously optimistic on Severino as the velocity and stuff proves exciting. His consistency however, not so much.
  • It may be time to take a look at Jimmy Nelson as a stream candidate or stash starter for fantasy. He worked seven innings in Cincinnati with five hits allowed, one earned run and five strikeouts. Nelson threw 101 pitches with 73 of them being strikes. His 1.38 ERA, 2.64 FIP and 3.45 xFIP point to a solid skill set. Add in his increased velocity with the fastball and there could be something here.
  • After a rough debut, Yu Darvish bounced back with 10 strikeouts against the Angels on the road. More important, he only allowed two walks. Pitching for a contract should ensure fantasy owners get the best Darvish possible on a nightly basis.
  • Should we pay attention to Jason Vargas? American League only players may need to. Vargas tossed 7.2 shutout innings against the A’s at home with eight strikeouts. He has struck out 14 in 13.2 innings of work this year and increased his ground ball rate to 50 percent. Vargas induced eight swinging strikes with his change last night and currently owns a 0.66 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. I have no words.
  • Popular breakout candidate Robert Gsellman busted again last night. Seduced by his 3-1 record last September with a 2.06 ERA and 35:11 K:BB rate in 35 innings of work, Gsellman allowed eight earned runs in Miami to push his ERA to 9.28 to start the year. There’s time for him to bounce back and the arsenal’s there, but he needs to throw more strikes and limit hard contact.
  • Red Sox southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez struck out eight in 5.1 innings of work. However, due to his high pitch count and four walks with two earned runs, he did not factor in the decision. Another pitcher whose stuff suggests a breakout could be imminent; he just needs to take the next step in aggression to attack not react.
  • Does the catcher matter? Absolutely. Francisco Liriano could not make it out of the first inning in Tampa Bay with Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the plate, but bounced back with 10 strikeouts at home against the Orioles. Liriano lowered his ERA from above 100 to nine after his quality start loss at home. He also registered seven swinging strikes with his change and slider. Framing does matter folks.

Hitter’s delight

  • So, Yoenis Cespedes may be on a heater right now. Over his last three games, he has hit two doubles and five home runs to push his major league leading home run total to six. Cespedes average exit velocity sits third in the majors at 96.3 MPH and his average distance of a ball in play, 261.3 feet in 28 events. Mercy.
  • Under the radar, Travis d’Arnaud could be emerging to the fantasy catcher many drafted two years ago. Injuries have taken the luster off of him, but his bounce back against left-handed pitching needs to be noticed. Last year d’Arnaud hit .190 versus south paws, but after yesterday’s game he is 6-for-9 (.667) with five extra-base hits, three walks and nine RBI versus left-handed pitchers.
  • Speaking of crushing lefties, Wilmer Flores hit his 13th home run against left-handed pitchers since the start of 2016. This places him fourth over this time frame. Only Nelson Cruz (19), Kris Bryant (14) and George Springer (14) have hit more.
  • One more Mets teaser, Michael Conforto‘s hit a home run in both of his starts this year, and dating back to last year, in three of his last six starts. Of course, he’s fighting for playing time, but with the extra-inning affair from Thursday, Conforto may start on Friday night.
  • While many focus on Cespedes’ hot start, Marcell Ozuna leads the majors with 16 RBIs. He launched a grand slam last night and carries a .389 average and 1.175 OPS to start the year.
  • With Brett Gardner sidelined, Aaron Hicks continues to make his case for more playing time. This will be difficult to do given the hot start by Aaron Judge, but Hicks hit two home runs batting second last night with a .313/.476/.750 slash line after six games. More impressive, Hicks five walks against one strikeout.
  • Mitch Moreland started slow with the Red Sox to much derision. After yesterday he has doubled in seven straight games with a .324/.410/.559 slash. Breathe.
  • Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain swiped his fourth base last night. He’s hitting .345 but with a .379 slugging. Speed seems to be back; his blend of power remains to be seen.
  • Trevor Story homered off of Madison Bumgarner last night. Maybe this jump starts the streaky shortstop. His 36.6 strikeout percentage remains supported by a 14.6 walk rate and the power will happen. Patience.
  • Could this be the Miguel Sano everyone drafted last year? He leads the majors in OPS (1.253) with eight walks against 11 strikeouts, three home runs and 11 RBIs.
  • Teammates Max Kepler and Robbie Grossman continue to rake as well making the Twins lineup more formidable despite Byron Buxton’s struggles. Kepler hit a double and home run yesterday. Grossman homered, and as a Twin he is slashing .280/.389/.448 in 106 games.
  • Speaking of Byron Buxton, he struck out for the 19th time yesterday. Tony Gwynn struck out 19 times or fewer for the season between 1991-through-1996.
  • Whether or not one likes Avisail Garcia, he reached base four more times on Thursday; he’s slashing .452/.500/.645 to start the year with six runs scored and eight RBIs. May be time to speculate in deeper formats.

Relief Recaps

  • Those who drafted Greg Holland continue to reap the reward with his sixth save through 11 games for the Rockies. He did allow his first two hits of the season, but fantasy owners will overlook this.
  • Zach Britton‘s four saves places him second in the majors, but his four strikeouts in six innings and 1.67 WHIP seem out of character. Pay attention to this.
  • Kelvin Herrera allowed six home runs in 72 innings last year. This year he has already given up two in three innings of work. Patience.
  • Those hoping Ryan Madson may work his way back into the saves equation in Oakland – he pitched the eighth inning in a game they were losing 3-0 last night; it’s Santiago Casilla and Sean Doolittle in the ninth for high leverage games.

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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