Fantasy Forward: Starting pitchers surge on Thursday

Fantasy owners knew the 10-day disabled list could provide more volume in terms of players landing on it due to the shorter time frame, but things may need to be monitored. Following a 8.1 inning performance, Kenta Maeda went on the disabled list with hamstring tightness. It seems as though the Dodgers and other teams will utilize the disabled list to give players time off in order to manage innings, but regulation may be in order. In the revolving door which describes the Dodgers rotation, Brandon McCarthy will start on Monday and Rich Hill on Tuesday against the Giants.

Francisco Liriano landed on the disabled list as well because of his shoulder, Hisashi Iwakuma is out for the Mariners as well, leaving both rotations short in terms of starters. Both teams bullpens will be taxed in the days ahead. The face of the Brewers should land on the list today due to calf and elbow injuries. Trevor Story is out for the Rockies with a shoulder injury, and Jeurys Familia owners need to see if Addison Reed was dropped or plan ahead for saves with his diagnosis of a blood clot in his right shoulder. Head spinning yet? On to the recaps.

Starting pitcher observations

Remember when Zack Greinke’s velocity drop in spring made everyone nervous? He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning last night, struck out 11 against one walk, lowered his ERA to 2.79 this year, and produced 14 swinging strikes with is slider in a win over the Pirates.

With his win in Los Angeles, Michael Fulmer now has twice as many wins as any pitcher on the Mets to start the year. He worked seven innings with seven strikeouts giving up one earned run.

Could Dallas Keuchel be the steal of fantasy drafts this year? He is 6 – 0 on the year, lowering his ERA to 1.69 this year while generating 10 swinging strikes with his slider and nine strikeouts overall.

Despite taking the loss, Michael Pineda did provide a quality start in 6.2 innings, allowing six hits, three earned runs, one walk and seven strikeouts.

Waiver wire hero, Jason Vargas ran his record to (5 – 1) defeating the Rays on the road with seven shutout innings and striking out four. His ERA (1.01) on the year does not show too many signs of regression with a 2.17 FIP.

Pitching in Miller Park can be daunting, but Eduardo Rodriguez continues to emerge with six strong innings of three hit one run ball. He struck out five, lower his ERA to 2.80 this season, and produced 13 swinging strikes – seven from the fastball and five from the change.

Bullpen musings

Too many overlooked Craig Kimbrel this preseason in regards to rankings and ADP. He faced six hitters in Milwaukee yesterday, allowing one hit and striking out five. Kimbrel gained the win in relief, lowered his ERA to 1.15, his FIP to 0.47, and raised his strikeout percentage to 55.4 this year.

After writing about the pending regression to hit Brandon Kintzler, he also worked 1.2 innings for his eighth save with three strikeouts – his best outing this season. His 2.40 ERA is accompanied by a 3.89 FIP and 4.46 xFIP, and his strikeout percentage of 14.8 still give me cause to worry.

Chris Devenski is morphing into the right-handed Andrew Miller for the Astros. Through 23 innings he has struck out 42 this year as the Astros high leverage “extinguisher”.

Another day, another save for Greg Holland ; he’s 15-for-15 this year and fueling the Rockies strong start. Fernando Rodney earned his ninth save to lower his ERA below double digits. Raisel Iglesias notched his seventh save, allowing two hits with a strikeout. Wandy Peralta could be moving up in the pecking order for the Reds. His 58.6 ground ball percentage, 1.20 ERA, 1.89 FIP and 38.9 strikeout percentage hints at upside for those who need ratio relief.

Hitting highlights

After a slow start, Mookie Betts raised his average to .311 yesterday, finishing 2-for-3 with two runs, a double (12), home run (5) and three RBI (22) to lead the Red Sox to victory. He has 17 extra-base hits, 15 walks and 10 strikeouts on the season.

One day after being benched for base running errors, Jonathan Villar returned to lead-off with two hits in four at-bats. Fantasy owners need his stolen bases to return in order to maintain his value.

With many catchers struggling, Salvador Perez keeps hitting. His 1-for-4 day included a double and two RBI, and his average sits at .283 on the year.

Carlos Correa stayed hot and he enjoys hitting in Yankee Stadium. He launched his fifth home run, and over his last 17 games he is 24-for-68 (.353) with four home runs and 17 RBI. Teammate George Springer extended his hit streak to 10 last night, and he’s 13-for-38 during that time with six runs, three doubles, six walks and six RBI.

Although the Yankees did not produce home runs, they did run the bases aggressively. Aaron Hicks (6), Aaron Judge (2) and Jacoby Ellsbury (8) all stole bases.

Running hot and cold, Justin Smoak may finally be on fantasy radars. He went 3-for-3 with a walk, his sixth home run, and four RBI in the Blue Jays win over the Mariners.

Last April Mike Napoli hit .205/.262/.410 with four home runs in 78 at-bats. This year in the same month he slashed .146/.224/.281 with three home runs in 89 at-bats. Either he starts slow or needs the warmer weather to heat up. With two home runs last night, he may be a perfect buy-low target for those needing power. Jonathan Lucroy did finish 3-for-4 and hit fourth last night as well.

The Twins home run barrage continues with Miguel Sano (9) leading the way. He’s hitting .304 with a 1.108 OPS. Eduardo Escobar went 2-for-3 with a run, double, home run and four RBI in the win. Brian Dozier added his fifth homer.

Jean Segura also reached a 10-game hit streak and he is hitting .447 during that span. Since his return from the disabled list he is 28-for-71 (.394) with 16 runs, five doubles, two home runs and 10 RBI in 15 games.

Colorado scored 10 runs without a home run. Nolan Arenado doubled twice, as did Ian Desmond, and Mark Reynolds stole his first base of the year.

Gregory Polanco provided all the Pirates offense with his first home run of the year – this is not a typo.

Billy Hamilton has scored a run in 11 straight games and the Reds record in those games is 8 – 3. He does provide a spark atop the lineup despite his propensity to be streaky. In this same game, Denard Span returned to the Giants lineup with four hits, a double and a home run. Brandon Belt added his fifth home run.

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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