Fantasy Forward: Turner rides the cycle in Coors

For once, a promotion sort of overshadows the litany of April injuries which usually take the lead in the Fantasy Forward, so keeper league and deep league owners of Cody Bellinger, rejoice. With the Dodgers in need of a spark, they promoted Bellinger and will play him while their outfield remains replete of bodies. He finished with an infield single and a walk, but fantasy owners will hope he does not hit eighth during his time in Los Angeles.

Bellinger’s power will play in the majors, but hitting left-handed pitching and maintaining a decent batting average with his high strikeout percentage will determine how long he stays. His slash line at Triple-A, .343/.429/.627 provides hope, time will tell. Also worth noting, Julio Urias will start on Thursday. If he’s available in your league, now’s the time to add him. He will remain in the rotation going forward.

Back to the injuries. A tough day for Seattle with Felix Hernandez getting tattooed in Detroit, then heading back to see team doctors after admitting to shoulder tightness and a “dead arm”. Hernandez has been working with reduced velocities the last two seasons and there is a lot of tread on his arm. Last year marked the first time in 10 seasons Hernandez did not pitch at least 190 innings. This may further lower expectations of the “King” returning to his former self. Arguably the best Mariner so far, Mitch Haniger, also left the game with a strained oblique. He will accompany Hernandez back to Seattle to see the team doctors and could be out for at least a month. Plan accordingly.

An ugly collision during the Astros game between Jose Altuve and Teoscar Hernandez. Hernandez left the game on a cart; Altuve did walk off the field but left the game. Altuve passed the concussion protocol but may sit out a game to insure his health. That noise you hear is his owner’s breathing a collective sigh of relief. Veteran Rajai Davis landed on the disabled list for Oakland further depleting a struggling offense. Keep tabs on Brandon Crawford who injured his groin last night but was scheduled to miss the next two games on the bereavement list. Whether or not he lands on the disabled list remains to be seen.

Starting pitcher observations

Once again Ervin Santana fired a strong outing, this time in Texas. He allowed one earned run on four hits with six strikeouts and two walks against. His ERA remains under 1.00, but take heed of his 3.06 FIP which points to some regression, but not a collapse moving forward.

Fueled by a 65.6 ground ball percentage, it appears Dallas Keuchel is back. He pitched a complete game in Cleveland with five strikeouts and six hits allowed to lower his ERA to 1.22 on the year, but again, a 3.70 FIP.

Much needed bounce back games by Kyle Hendricks and his Milwaukee clone, Zach Davies on Tuesday night. Hendricks beat the Pirates on the road allowing four hits with three strikeouts in six shutout innings. Davies worked five innings giving up six hits with six strikeouts and a walk.

Gerrit Cole continues to pitch well, but with no reward as took the loss on an unearned run. Cole’s velocity spikes along with eight strikeouts makes him someone to see if his owner may be disappointed with the wins and want to deal him.

It’s always been about health with Michael Wacha who struck out six Blue Jays en route to another quality outing at home with two earned runs allowed in six innings of work. Marco Estrada matched him with a strong game striking out nine in six innings with one walk against.

In the underrated pitching duel of the day, Jesse Hahn and J.C. Ramirez both pitched well in Los Angeles. While each may have more appeal in deeper league formats, they need to be looked at. Hahn’s firing his sinker at an average of 94.6 MPH according to BrooksBaseball.net, and his curve’s generating a 40 percent whiff per swing rate. He’s teased in the past, but if Hahn is healthy, his 20:9 K:BB in 26 innings of work with a 2.94 FIP means he’s borderline 12-team mixed worthy. As a starter, Ramirez has 19 strikeouts in 17.1 innings of work with a 4.15 ERA but, a 2.36 FIP. Numbers seem to ebb towards the underlying statistics, so there’s some strikeout upside lying ahead for Ramirez.



Bullpen musings

Working with reduced velocities, Roberto Osuna has yet to find his way to effectiveness this year. He did have a back injury to start the season, so he needs more time to regain his repertoire, but monitor him closely. He has worked five innings this year with his ERA reaching 5.40 last night, but his 1.34 FIP suggests he deserves better. However, his swinging strike percentage is down 5.1 percent with contact allowed up and O-swing (swings at pitches outside the strike zone) down as well.

Both Santiago Casilla (blown save) and Ryan Madson allowed runs against the Angels late in Tuesday night’s game. This should be expected of them, and Sean Doolittle owners should wait just a bit longer as he may wrestle the closer job away from the right-handed tandem above.

Wade Davis and Alex Colome recorded their fifth saves last night. Kenley Jansen worked 1.1 innings to lock down the Dodgers win in San Francisco.

Hitter’s delights

After hitting his eighth home run against the Reds in six games played, Eric Thames underwent his second “random” drug test this week. PED’s do not lower a player’s swings at pitches outside the strike zone from over 35 percent in 2012 and 2013 to 19.8 percent this year. Teammate Keon Broxton did not strike out. He walked twice, recorded a hit, and stole two bases – more please. Also, Jonathan Villar hit two singles but netted four RBI’s to help spur the Brewers to a victory.

While many focused on the games in Arizona and Colorado for DFS purposes, the Tigers burst out for 19 runs and the two teams set a record for most combined hits in a game at Comerica with 40. James McCann launched his fifth home run, and his 44.4 hard contact rate so far suggests the power breakout may be real. Justin Upton is bouncing back nicely this year with his fourth home run and he’s hitting .294/.419/.608 after 16 games. Those looking for a second catcher in deeper leagues, Alex Avila is playing first base with Miguel Cabrera out and hit his fourth home run last night. His .578 wOBA along with a .519 ISO means he’s red hot. Ride him while it lasts.

On the opposite side of the diamond, Nelson Cruz homered in back-to-back games and looks to be heating up with hits in his last six games. Jean Segura returned to the lineup with three hits and a home run. With the Haniger injury, Taylor Motter will become the team’s super utility player and his five home runs with two stolen bases point to short-term upside for fantasy.

It’s easy to see Miguel Sano’s three hits and fifth home run in Texas. But, Byron Buxton is starting to hit. With hits in three of his last four games and two walks in the game he did not record a hit – it’s too early to give up on him. Kick the tires if he was dropped.

Mark Reynolds continues to rake with his seventh home run last night to match teammate Charlie Blackmon as they battle to lead the team in RBI.

Hitting for the cycle remains special so kudos to Trea Turner who accomplished the feat in Coors. He also scored four runs and drove in seven. Daniel Murphy tied his career high of five RBI’s in this game as well, which he set earlier this month. The Nationals are going to score runs.

Last, but not least, the Diamondbacks A.J. Pollock finished with two hits and two stolen bases (six this year) to push his average above .300. Chris Owings continues to hit with a triple, three RBI’s and a run scored. Those who faded Paul Goldschmidt will rue the choice as he went four-for-four with a home run and three RBI last night.

Statistical Credits: BaseballSavant.com, Fangraphs.com, BrooksBaseball.net, MLB.com

 

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Greg Jewett
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