Fantasy Forward: The Year of the Catcher? 4_9_17

Welcome to the first edition of the Fantasy Forward to be posted on Fantasy Assembly. This will be a daily column which attempts to highlight strong performances from the day prior in fantasy baseball along with an eye on the future.

How a manager uses a player, tendencies and what to watch for as the season progresses. Hot streaks, pitch usage and the dreaded bullpen management require research, this tries to save time for savvy fantasy owners.

With a week in the books, it’s amazing to see a catcher lead baseball in all of the slash categories:

  • Batting average – J.T. Realmuto .556
  • OBP: Jason Castro .625
  • Slugging: Geovany Soto 1.200

This should remind everyone its been one week of statistical data. No, Miguel Cabrera will not finish without a hit despite what his first 12 at-bats suggest. Clayton Kershaw allowed back-to-back home runs on Saturday night and leads the majors in home runs allowed (4) to start the year. This will correct itself as well. Fun statistic about the consecutive home runs allowed by Kershaw; it marked the first time he allowed this to happen after 1,772.1 innings of work. Of course, anytime a pitching statistic’s involved, Greg Maddux did not allow back-to-back home runs until 2008, after 2,804 innings. Mercy.

Another pitching fact – the Yankees reached a dubious team feat on Saturday. For the second time in 100 years, their starting pitchers did not work into the sixth inning in any of the team’s first five games for the second time. This will eventually effect the bullpen. For the Diamondbacks, only two starters have worked into the sixth inning, Zack Greinke and Taijuan Walker.

Time to take a lap around the majors.

Hitting highlights from Saturday and the first week

  • Ranger outfielder Nomar Mazara took the collar last night, but leads the majors with nine RBI entering game play on Sunday. Hitting third and slugging .857 must encourage owners. Keep an eye out for his walk though, this will be important to sustain his hot start.
  • Of course, his teammate, Rougned Odor did draw his first walk of 2017 on Saturday. Odor walked three times in the first five games of last year, then 16 the rest of the season. Food for thought.
  • Not many take notice of Nick Franklin landing in Milwaukee off of the waiver wire. He homered in his first start with the team, off of Kyle Hendricks. Ryan Braun sat out last night with a stiff back. Domingo Santana could end up in a platoon with low splits against right-handed pitchers. Those in deeper leagues may need to remember Nick Franklin totaled six home runs and six stolen bases in 2016 with less than 200 plate appearances.
  • Cardinal shortstop launched two home runs on Saturday, finished with three hits and four RBI. He looks comfortable hitting second.
  • Mike Trout logged a 14 pitch at-bat against Felix Hernandez. It ended in a strikeout, but the talented superstar seems locked in already. Trout did homer off of Evan Scribner in the seventh inning to put the Angels ahead for good.
  • Everyone in Philadelphia’s box score seemed to contribute except Freddy Galvis who did not tally a hit. Howie Kendrick finished with three hits, four RBI and stole a base. Cesar Hernandez scored three runs, Michael Saunders only needed a home run for a cycle and Tommy Joseph drove in three. Thanks Jeremy Guthrie.
  • After a week, Yasiel Puig‘s slash line sits at .368/.500/.947 with five walks and two strikeouts. Puig’s scored five runs, hit three home runs and even stolen a base. A happy and productive Puig could be a dangerous thing.
  • Don’t look now but Raul Mondesi Jr. and Mallex Smith sit tied atop the stolen base lead with three apiece. Five other players achieved the total as well after a week, but there’s value in the two young players despite their average being a potential risk.
  • Did the Diamondbacks just score again? It feels like it. Paul Goldschmidt leads the way in runs scored with eight and teammate Jake Lamb trails by one with seven, tied for second with Yunel Escobar. Escobar?
  • Hot start sensation Jeremy Hazelbaker reached base in his first eight plate appearances this year, becoming the first player to do since 2006. David Peralta’s propensity to getting hurt should signal National League-only fantasy players.




Starting pitching highlights

  • Early season waiver wire hero may be Kendall Graveman of the A’s. He carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning in Texas before Mike Napoli’s home run ended it. But, Graveman’s 2 – 0 on the season with a 2.08 ERA, strictly throwing his sinker. Graveman threw 79 last night with four four-seam fastballs and two cutters sprinkled in. His sinker generated six swinging strikes and 15 called strikes.
  • St. Louis must be encouraged to see Michael Wacha start strong. He pitched six innings with six strikeouts, one walk allowed to defeat the Reds. Wacha generated six swinging strikes with his fastball and five with the change. If he gets the curve working, yikes.
  • In Rangers history, Yu Darvish now sits second with eight starts in which he’s allowed one run or fewer with a team loss as a result. His statistics in these outings, 5.1 innings pitched on average with a 1.41 ERA. Only Nolan Ryan and Colby Lewis beat him with nine such starts each. Another note, Darvish leads the majors in walks allowed with eight. Time to be more aggressive Yu.
  • “King” Felix Hernandez gave up 10 hits in six innings Saturday and his WHIP stands at 1.36 after two starts with no walks allowed. Food for thought.
  • Adam Conley and Aaron Nola turned in nice outings totally below the radar.
  • Jordan Zimmerann won his first game since June 14th of last year, his record on that date, 9 – 3.

Bullpen musings and observations.

  • While Mike Scioscia may not call Cam Bedrosian his closer, usage indicates otherwise. Bedrosian recorded a four out save yesterday, with four strikeouts. He’s the only viable arm for fantasy in this bullpen.
  • When Detroit gave Francisco Rodriguez the day off, Justin Wilson flashed his stuff in the ninth inning against Boston. The result? A clean inning with two strikeouts. He’s the handcuff.
  • Keep an eye on Dellin Betances. He struggled this spring and carried it over to his second outing in Baltimore. His arbitration can raise questions about his motivation to do well for a team which clearly hurt him with the media onslaught against the talented reliever.
  • San Diego did not wish to use Brandon Maurer for a third consecutive day so Ryan Buchter recorded the save after giving up a run.

Injury news

  • Trea Turner left the game after tweaking his hamstring stealing a base. Monitor this. Initial reports suggest it’s minor, but a speed guy with a leg injury never warms the heart. Look for Stephen Drew to play on Sunday with a strong batter versus pitcher profile if you play DFS.
  • Roberto Osuna pitched a simulated game in Tampa Bay and looks to be in line to return to the team for their home opener in Toronto.
  • Gary Sanchez landed on the disabled list. There’s no time frame here, but less than optimal for his owners.

This wraps up the Fantasy Forward for today. Best of luck in your head-to-head match-ups which may be ending today and remember to set those lineups early with day baseball on Monday.

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