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Fantasy Forward: May opens with Gyork-Store bombs and Kershaw looks human

A moment of silence for those who own Noah Syndergaard. Fantasy baseball can be rough, and losing a pitcher with his talent for “weeks” not days, will not be easy to replace. Just like those who took Madison Bumgarner. Syndergaard’s lat injury will not be easy to overcome. If interested, a great read about how today’s pitchers train compared to the past by Tyler Kepner of the New York Times., Also landing on the 10-day disabled list, Steven Wright (knee) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (hip).

For some good news, Sonny Gray will take the mound on Tuesday night for the first time this year and Miguel Cabrera will return to the Tigers lineup. With the rash of injuries of late along with the reduced number of minimum days on the disabled list, be prepared for a constant stream of players on and off the list.

Starting pitcher observations

Just when you thought it was safe to start Luis Severino, he cedes five earned runs to the worst offense in baseball at home giving up eight hits and two walks in 5.2 innings of work. His ERA rose to 3.86, but his FIP of 3.76 and nine to one strikeout to walk ratio do provide hope for a rebound in his next outing.

Toronto’s Marco Estrada stymied the Yankees offense holding them to one run on seven hits in seven innings with five strikeouts. Estrada generated six swinging strikes with the change and kept hitters off-balance all night.

Rookie Amir Garrett squared off with Gerrit Cole in a match-up in Cincinnati. Things looked great for Cole as he surged to seven strikeouts, but a three-run homer allowed to Adam Duvall changed this game. Garrett hung tough with Cole as each finished with a no-decision. Cole averaged 96.8 MPH with his fastball with 10 swinging strikes on 99 total pitches.

On the first day of May, Rick Porcello matched his loss total from all of last year, four. Over his last three starts, Porcello’s pitched 19.2 innings with a 1.86 ERA and 21:5 K:BB, but received no run support for 25 straight innings. His strikeout percentage and swinging strike rates remain higher than last year, with nothing to show for it.

Dylan Bundy won again against the Red Sox lasting seven innings and allowing five hits, two earned runs, but four walks against two strikeouts. For now, Bundy’s 1.82 ERA impresses, but stay aware of his 3.25 FIP – migration will occur.

Off of the disabled list, Jake Odorizzi pitched well for Tampa Bay. He worked five innings with six strikeouts against Miami and should be activated in fantasy leagues.

Another day, another win for Jason Vargas who moved to 4 – 1 this year, but like Bundy above, walked (3) more than he struck out (1). It’s baffling to see his ERA at 1.42 with a 2.07 FIP, but it’s been a strange year. Still not fully buying in, but I’m stubborn.

Using his curve more than the fastball, Lance McCullers rode its success for 10 strikeouts against the Rangers. He did not factor in the decision, but the quality outing along with nine strikeouts via the curve provide more hope for his pending breakout.

Giving up on Vince Velasquez seems trendy, but he won in Chicago with the wind blowing out, lasting five innings with four strikeouts. He still needs to cut down on the walks, but he may be turning the corner as well, evening his record at two wins and two losses.

Clayton Kershaw entered Monday’s start at home with a 10 – 0 record in his past 11 starts with a 0.65 ERA and a ridiculous 96:6 K:BB in these outings. But he struggled early giving up a home run to Hunter Pence and more barreled balls than seems normal. Kershaw finished with eight hits allowed, three runs (two earned), no walks and five strikeouts.

Opposing Kershaw was Johnny Cueto with varying speeds and deliveries. Cueto worked seven innings allowing six hits, three earned runs, one walk and six strikeouts for the win.



Bullpen musings

Both Brad Brach and Alex Colome bounced back with clean innings for saves. Brach may be on borrowed time, and Colome’s team acknowledged he cannot continually be asked to record five out saves, but fantasy owners will take the saves to the bank.

Speaking of extended outings, Seung-Hwan Oh seemed to be turning the corner, but during his second inning of work on his 25th pitch, Travis Shaw launched a three-run home run to defeat the Cardinals and hand Oh his first loss of the season. Neftali Feliz saved his seventh game for the Brewers, but gave up a run for the second time in his last three outings, all on home runs.

Jeurys Familia saved the game for the Mets – the team does have a closer Sandy Alderson.

With Raisel Iglesias out, Michael Lorenzen took the role of stopper working two innings with three strikeouts to garner the win when the Reds walked off against the Pirates in extra-innings.

Having worked in four of the last five days and in five of the last seven, Mark Melancon received last night off. Steven Okert worked 1.2 innings and departed with Derek Law coming on to strikeout Yasiel Puig. Do not overreact to the lost save for Melancon, but take note of the evolving high leverage setup pitchers.

Hitter highlights

Everyone had Jose Bautista and Ryan Goins each hitting their second home run on May first, right? Even so, it happened, along with the Blue Jays scoring seven runs to show some life. Bautista’s almost off the freeway (hitting .191 now).

Remember when Giancarlo Stanton was hitting home runs almost every day? He’s slumping with two hits in his last 21 at-bats. Being streaky will forever be a part of his game. Take the bad with the good, but be patient.

Both Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton stole three bases last night. Gordon finished 2-for-3 with a walk and pushed his season steals total to seven. Hamilton leads the majors with 13 swipes, and his walk-off hit may spark his average which sits at .222 as May ensues. Teammate Adam Duvall hit his eighth home run joining Joey Votto and Scott Schebler for the team lead.

With a clear path to playing time, the Mets will be hard pressed to keep Michael Conforto out of the lineup when Lucas Duda and Yoenis Cespedes return. Conforto hit his seventh home run with three RBI on Monday night to push his average to .333 on the season. Let him play Sandy. It should be Curtis Granderson who sits when Cespedes returns.

Not to be outdone by a leadoff home run, Ender Inciarte did the same to raise his total to five this year in 110 plate appearances. He hit four all last year. Matt Kemp stayed hot with three hits in four at-bats and two doubles scoring two runs.

Wait, the Royals scored some runs? Jorge Bonifacio and Eric Hosmer homered to push the Royals to a 6 – 1 win over the White Sox. Salvador Perez tallied two RBI as well.

It’s only fitting Jedd Gyorko launched two home runs during a 4-for-5 performance at the plate during his long time fantasy backer’s birthday – cheers Nando DiFino. Matt Carpenter hit his fourth and Aledmys Diaz his fifth as well.

Sparking the Brewers to the win, Travis Shaw crushed his sixth home run and may help allay his fantasy owners worries about being hit in the hand with a pitch this past weekend. Jonathan Villar may be waking up as well; he hit his fourth home run and scored two runs.

With the wind blowing out in Chicago, the Phillies strike for 10 runs while the Cubs continue to struggle. Cesar Hernandez raised his average to .337 with three more hits and two runs scored, Aaron Altherr drove in three with two doubles, but the dinger of the night belonged to Tommy Joseph who is hearing footsteps from Rhys Hoskins raking at Triple-A.

Javier Baez hit a home run (2) for the Cubs as the offense languished at home with the wind blowing out. Kyle Schwarber incurred another 0-for-4 to drop his slash line to .196/.322/.330 with 30 percent strikeout rate.

Hunter Pence hit his first home run off of Clayton Kershaw and it was the ninth ever hit against his curve. Rookie Christian Arroyo continues to put up competitive at-bats with an RBI off Kershaw to put the Giants back ahead last night.

The Dodgers rookie, Cody Bellinger hit a home run and bunted for a single against the shift as he makes the most of his time until Joc Pederson returns on Friday.

Statistical Credits: Fangraphs.com, BaseballSavant.com, MLB.com, ESPN.go.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

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