Fantasy Forward: April takes a toll on fantasy owners

Early season injuries to fantasy players rears its ugly side, especially the first month of the season. Although Madison Bumgarner will not require surgery, the partial tear in his AC joint will keep him out of action until the All-Star break. Mitch Haniger will be out 3-to-4 weeks for the Mariners. Sean Manaea of the A’s did throw yesterday, but all signs point to him being pushed back with Sonny Gray pitching Tuesday and Kendall Graveman on Wednesday when the team faces the Tigers.

During the ninth inning last night, Adam Eaton possibly hurt his leg during a play at first base. He needed to be carried off the field and landed on the disabled list today (knee strain). Fantasy owners and Nationals fans will need to hold their collective breath as the injury did not look good at all. Those who own Eaton should see if Kevin Pillar is available – immediately.

With Shelby Miller on the shelf, Arizona seems to be leaning towards putting Archie Bradley back in the rotation. This may not bode well for the pitcher who thrived in the bullpen in a move which could weaken both spots. Bradley’s success in the bullpen can be attributed to using his fastball and curve 82 percent of the time. He will need to carry this over to starting, but it remains to be seen if he can maintain the same success.

For some good news, Miguel Cabrera ran in the outfield on Friday and took 20 minutes of batting practice. Albert Pujols hit his 594th career home run and moved into 15th place all-time in RBI as a result with 1,838. Now for the recaps.

Starting pitcher observations

Not only did Jacob deGrom out duel Max Scherzer on Friday night, he helped snap the Mets six-game losing skid. deGrom struck out 12 Nationals in the process to push his K:BB to 44:11 over 31.2 innings of work. His ERA (2.84) sits in line with his FIP (2.91) and the 17.6 swinging strike percentage to start the year is a career best.

Remember when owners were dropping Kenta Maeda last week? He finished the seventh inning for the first time since July 10th of last year with eight strikeouts, five hits allowed and only two earned runs. His ERA of 6.58 still is not pretty, but his xFIP of 3.83 provides hope. Maeda does need to regain his ground ball rate from last year to continue the turnaround.

Marcus Stroman deserved a better fate than the no-decision he received last night. Stroman struck out 10 in 7.1 innings of work and left with the lead. This outing pushed his K:BB to 28:7 in 36.1 innings this year with a 2.97 ERA and 2.84 FIP.

On the surface, Charlie Morton‘s four runs allowed hurts, but he still won the game and finished with 12 strikeouts against Oakland. He also finished seven innings for the first time. His ERA stands at 4.50, but his 3.47 FIP along with the bump in strikeouts suggests he could be worthy of a flier in mixed leagues.

Do the Cardinals corner the market on vanilla starters? Lance Lynn won his third game last night with five strikeouts, six hits allowed, one earned run and two walks. He lowered his ERA to 2.45, but the 4.30 xFIP warns of some regression ahead.

Red Sox Drew Pomeranz entered Friday’s match-up with the Cubs owning decent peripherals against the defending World Champions. He delivered a quality outing for the win, allowing five hits, two earned runs, and two walks while striking out seven. Through 21.2 innings this season, he’s struck out 27 against seven walks.



Bullpen musings

Another strong performance by Edwin Diaz with his fourth save and three strikeouts in his 1.1 innings of work. Kenley Jansen struck out the side for his sixth save, Craig Kimbrel allowed a hit, but also whiffed three for his eighth save. Rockies closer Greg Holland continues to lead the way and hit double digits before any other closer with his 10th save Friday night.

It would appear Seung-Hwan Oh is returning to form. He worked a clean four out save with a strikeout. Nice bounce back for Jim Johnson with two strikeouts and his fourth save.

Rough outing by Brad Brach who allowed three earned runs on two hits and two walks. His ERA only rose to 2.08, so fantasy owners using him as a bridge to Zach Britton’s return will accept it. Jeurys Familia is still trying to find his way and only recorded one out last night after allowing three hits. Josh Edgin bailed him out but the Mets and fantasy owners alike need Familia to round into form.

Hitter highlights

Aaron Judge continues his assault on baseballs and Statcast data alike. His home run last night registered as the hardest one hit in the Statcast era with a 119.38 MPH exit velocity. Under the shadow of Judge, Starlin Castro hit his fifth home run of the year in only 21 games and pushed his RBI total to 16 for the Yankees.

It’s been a rough start for Mark Trumbo, but he hit a grand slam as one of his three hits to push his average above .200 on the season.

Not only did Travis d’Arnaud hit two home runs, they both were against Max Scherzer. Hopefully this will kick-start his bat for those who took a chance on him in two catcher leagues.

One cannot stop Ryan Zimmerman who hit two more home runs to push his total to 10 this month. Ignoring his start remains hard to do. Matt Wieters also hit one to push his average to .279 on the year. He’s also below the radar.

Hitting leadoff has not curtailed Corey Dickerson’s power. He has up to six home runs with a .329 average as the month of April wraps up. Toronto’s Kevin Pillar recorded four hits in as many at-bats with his fourth home run as well in this game. Both could be decent pivots if available for Eaton if he’s out for an extended period.

Andrew Benintendi keeps hitting for Boston. His average sits at .325 and he hit his second home run on Friday night. Keep tabs on Sandy Leon’s slump as Christian Vazquez may wrestled more at-bats away for Boston. At some point, Blake Swihart may force his way into this equation.

Like Zimmerman above, Avisail Garcia is having a month to remember. He went 3-for-5 with his fifth home run to push his RBI total to 19 in April.

Do not underestimate Josh Harrison hitting leadoff for his fantasy status. His three hits raised his average to .329 to go along with his two home runs and two stolen bases so far.

Freddie Freeman waited until late to hit his eighth home run, but it propelled the Braves to a win in Milwaukee. In this same game, Hernan Perez continues to force his way into the lineup with three hits. Domingo Santana did hit a pinch-hit home run, but the Brewers at-bats may stay in flux due to performance.

Khris Davis accounted for all four of the A’s runs with two home runs off of Charlie Morton. Davis has nine home runs this year, but only 16 RBI due to the lack of traffic on the bases ahead of him.

Houston’s Yuli Gurriel started slow, but after hitting his second home run on Friday along with three hits, his average is up to .347 on the year. George Springer returned to the lineup with two hits in four at-bats.

St. Louis needs Dexter Fowler to heat up, and his three home runs over his last three games may be the spark he needs.

Miguel Sano continues to rake. He launched his sixth home run with his average at an impressive .297 with the month about to expire.

During the Rockies win, Charlie Blackmon pushed his modest hit streak to 13. He’s hitting .302 with a .958 OPS and seven home runs to start the season. A.J. Pollock stole two more bases to push his total to nine for the Diamondbacks.

Statistical Credits: MLB.com, Fangraphs.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