Fantasy Forward: Please stop the injuries, signed, fantasy owners everywhere

Enough’s enough. It feels like my twitter feed’s littered with a new litany of injuries every day. Thursday’s smaller, split slate did not fail to produce more players to worry about. Byron Buxton left his game with the potential for concussion symptoms. Ian Kennedy’s start was cut short by a hamstring injury. Nationals superstar Bryce Harper left his game with “groin tightness”. He joked after the game he did not wish to miss any games in Philadelphia where he loves to hit, but keep watch on his reports.

A slow start for Carlos Gonzalez has his owners frustrated, and now he’s nursing a sore right calf. With a .200 average, a day or two off to clear his head may be on tap with the Rockies heading home to host Arizona. If this happens, look for Mark Reynolds to benefit playing first and Ian Desmond heading to the outfield. Ryan Braun threw inside prior to the game last night, but reports suggest it did not go well. He may be limited to pinch hitting all weekend in Pittsburgh with a damp forecast.

Things went from bad to worse for the Cardinals outfield. First, Stephen Piscotty left the game with a hamstring injury then Dexter Fowler was removed from the game after hurting his shoulder making a diving catch. Tommy Pham was removed from his Triple-A game and will join the team with Piscotty not making the trip. Fowler’s injury will need to be tracked closely by his owners. Now for the game action.

On the comeback trail, Rich Hill left the game early during his rehab start, but did extra work in the bullpen after he left the game. Perhaps a pitch count was in play to work on extending his pitch count prior to returning to the Dodgers. David Price pitched another simulated game touching 95 MPH as he works towards a rehab outing.

Starting pitcher observations

Remember when worries over Max Scherzer depressed his average draft position? He won his fourth game, pitched seven innings allowing two hits, one earned run, two walks and struck out 11 to lower his ERA to 2.66 on the year with 51 strikeouts in 40.2 innings of work.

Reds starter Tim Adleman won his first game of the year with five strikeouts in six innings and two earned runs allowed. Remember he’s 29 with a 4.22 ERA and 4.92 FIP before taking a flier on him for fantasy.

A’s starter Jharel Cotton evened his record at 3 – 3 with a win in Minnesota with a season high nine strikeouts over six innings pitched. He did allow his first home run off of his change-up in this game, but there’s hope in his 4.64 ERA migrating towards his 3.98 FIP with improved control.

Health and consistency have never been A.J. Griffin’s modus operandi, but for those desperate for a flier, he could be worth it in mono leagues or leagues of at least 15 or more. Not for me, but he did strikeout seven in five innings to lower his ERA to 3.54 on the season. Tread lightly.

Former teammate, Derek Holland moved to 3 – 2 on the year with seven strikeouts in 6.1 innings, allowing three hits, two runs (one earned) and one walk. His 2.02 ERA with a 3.72 FIP exemplifies where his season should head, but if healthy, he’s a better flier than Griffin above.

Rockies rookie Kyle Freeland took a no-decision, turning in a quality start in San Diego. His 64.2 ground ball percentage provides more optimism than his strikeout ability. He does need to cut down his walk percentage to be trustworthy for leagues smaller than 15-teams.

Fantasy tease Matt Andriese showcased his upside with eight strikeouts over seven shutout innings against the Marlins at home. He lowered his ERA to 3.09, but his 4.67 FIP should be heeded as a warning. Andriese’s 85 percent strand rate along with 1.29 WHIP is due to too many free passes.

Crafty southpaw Ariel Miranda reached the seventh inning for only the second time of the year to defeat the Angels at home. His record improved to 3 – 2 on the year with a 3.55 ERA. Miranda struck out five against one walk and two earned runs.



Bullpen musings

What has Greg Holland meant to the Rockies bullpen? His 12-for-12 start in save situations provide much needed stability at the back end of the bullpen, and he’s anchoring a much improved staff for Colorado this year.

Garnering the valued one out save on Thursday was Alex Colome who raised his total to eight on the year. Neftali Feliz also recorded his eighth save giving up a walk. Raisel Iglesias netted a traditional one inning save on Thursday with a hit allowed and a strikeout.

Poor Philadelphia. They’ve taken on the role of late inning punching bags already giving up 21 home runs as a bullpen this year to lead the majors.

Hitter’s highlights

With Jose Peraza struggling, keep tabs on Arismendy Alcantara who finished with three hits in as many at-bats yesterday along with a stolen base. He’s now hitting .333 on the year in his limited sample size. Billy Hamilton’s average sits at .214, but the 16 stolen bases keep him in the lineup.

Perennial All-Star, Joey Votto is being more aggressive and he may be turning the corner. After a usual slow start, he hit two doubles, drove in two runs and walked to raise his average to .270 and his OPS to .985 after 100 plate appearances this season.

Adam Eaton is out for the year so the Michael Taylor audition resumes. He went 2-for-2 yesterday with two walks and two stolen bases. In this same game, Paul Goldschmidt hit his fifth home run and Jake Lamb his seventh to account for both Diamondback runs.

Ryon Healy launched his fourth home run but is hitting just .236 for Oakland. While most pay attention to Miguel Sano’s hot start or hoping for Byron Buxton to come around, Eddie Rosario is in the midst of a 14-game hit streak during which he’s 22-for-55 (.400) with two doubles and three home runs.

Many things seem to be in flux with the Rangers. Rougned Odor moved to second in the lineup and hit his fifth home run of the year. Did you know he’s 25-for-49 in his career stealing bases? Hitting second may not be ideal. Joey Gallo hit his ninth home run of the year to accompany his .211 average. He hit sixth last night. Always underappreciated Elvis Andrus hit his fifth home run as well.

When Marwin Gonzalez gets hot, it’s nuclear. He homered for the ninth time and stole a base (his second).

Did you know Matt Davidson has more home runs (5) than Jose Abreu (4), a higher batting average by six points, and one more RBI despite each homering yesterday? Me either. Avisail Garcia is still hitting with two more hits – his average moved to .371 with 23 RBI.

Cesar Hernandez recorded four hits in seven at-bats during an extra-inning affair in Chicago along with stealing his fourth base. Aaron Altherr added two hits, two walks, an RBI and his third steal. Both are hitting .333 or higher this year. Third baseman, Maikel Franco launched his fifth home run as well.

With Carlos Gonzalez dinged up, Ian Desmond could transition to the outfield. He tallied two more hits off of the disabled list and Mark Reynolds had three.

Leadoff hitter Seth Smith finished 4-for-4 with a double, two RBI and a stolen base. Manny Machado may be emerging from his slump hitting his seventh home run and third in four games. Jonathan Schoop continues to hit in the bottom third of the lineup, but with three more hits, he’s up to .305 on the year.

Former number one draft pick Tim Beckham may be becoming relevant for fantasy. He hit two more home runs last night to raise his total to six this year and his slash lines to .278/.311/.536. A 32.7 strikeout percentage gives cause for the average to drop as the season progresses.

If Keon Broxton could face Adam Wainwright daily, he would be a fantasy monster. Broxton finished 4-for-5 on the night with his second home run and two RBI. And, he did not strikeout. Hernan Perez added three hits batting third with Braun out again. Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong went 3-for-4 with a run to move his average above three hundred. If Fowler misses time due to his shoulder injury, Wong may move atop the lineup in St. Louis which would enhance his fantasy value.

Yunel Escobar’s 4-for-4 night will be shrouded by the Mariners onslaught. Ben Gamel went 3-for-3 with two walks and two RBI to raise his average to .333 – does everyone who hits second for Seattle this year produce? Remember when Nelson Cruz was off to a slow start? His average reached .330 last night. Speaking of hot, Danny Valencia recorded a hit in each of his last four at-bats with an upper deck home run and three RBI’s.

Statistical Credits: BaseballSavant.com, Fangraphs.com, Yahoo.com, 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