Fantasy Forward: Harper’s back, Miggy’s sore and more

Staying on top of the latest baseball news can be daunting, which brought about the Fantasy Forward. Trying to identify trends such as Miguel Cabrera hitting two-thirds of his balls in play to the opposite field hinted at him not being healthy. Then he left Sunday’s game with a tight back. Zach Britton is one of the best closers in baseball, but when his WHIP climbs to 1.67, questions arise and he landed on the disabled list Sunday. Sometimes it stinks to be right.

As for other injury concerns, Josh Donaldson, Aaron Sanchez, Jake Odorizzi, Marcus Semien and Brandon Finnegan joined Britton on the disabled list as well. Early injuries can be less than ideal, but owners will hopefully be able to find an affable fill-in. Now, off to the recaps.

Hitting heroes

  • Homering in his first game in 10 days, Bryce Harper liked it so much, he hit two with the second being in walk-off fashion during the Nationals come from behind win over the Phillies. Joaquin Benoit will be fine as their closer, but facing Harper in this at-bat did not feel like a fair fight. As for Harper, he cooled a bit in the power department but hits them in bunches, so this could be a good week for his owners.

  • Braves leadoff hitter, Ender Inciarte hit three home runs in 578 plate appearances last year, but has only needed 50 to hit four in 2017. Inciarte is hitting .400 the last five games with seven runs, four home runs and six RBIs.
  • Fellow leadoff hitter, Cesar Hernandez continues to fly below the fantasy radar. Over the last seven days he is 11-for-26 (.423) with six runs, two home runs, four RBIs and a stolen base.
  • Raise your hand if you knew the leading hitter in baseball resides in Chicago. Avisail Garcia, long a fantasy tease arrives in New York with a .465 average, hit a game winning home run in the 10th inning on the road, and has reached base in all 11 of his starts this year. Maintaining the gains will be difficult, but will be fun to track.
  • Rookie Padres continue to grab headlines, but Wil Myers owns a seven-game hit streak with 19 hits in 13 games. During the streak he is 12-for-27 with five runs scored, three doubles, two home runs and six RBI.
  • Watching the Marlins game I picked up an interesting tidbit about Christian Yelich. His teammate, Giancarlo Stanton, does not like people stealing during his at-bats. So, Yelich, who does have two steals to start the year may finish with a lower number batting ahead of the Marlins slugger.
  • Eric Thames ladies and gentlemen. With his home run on Sunday, Thames hit five in a four-game series in Cincinnati. Other hitters would be happy with five in a month. He’s also on a nine-game hit streak with 13 hits in his last 33 at-bats, six home runs in the streak with nine RBIs. How the league adjusts to him will be intriguing.
  • Speaking of hot, Mitch Haniger‘s hit streak reached 10 yesterday. He is 14 for his last 40 (.350) with 10 runs, two doubles, four home runs and 11 RBIs. Keep an eye on teammate Guillermo Heredia who led off on Sunday with three hits and scored three runs. The Cuban import could wrestle at-bats from Jarrod Dyson (.200 average) and Leonys Martin (.119 average).
  • Those tracking the injury to Jean Segura, he could return by April 21st if his rehab remains on pace.
  • Spring training hero, Greg Bird, emerged from the doldrums on Sunday night. He entered the game zero for 10 on the home stand but finished with three hits in as many at-bats – a home run and walked to reach base all four times. Breathe.
  • Teammate Chase Headley remains hot and leads the American League with seven multi-hit games. He’s scored 11 runs with two doubles, two home runs, and currently slashes .410/.531/.615 for the Yankees.
  • With Matt Holliday sidelined by a bad back, Aaron Hicks continues to rake. Hicks launched his third home run and sports a .713 slugging percentage.
  • Not only is Trey Mancini still swinging a hot bat with his seventh home run in 12 games yesterday, two of his teammates hit a home run using his bat in the same game. Baseball can be fun.

Starters and chasing wins

  • There’s no happy medium in the wins versus quality start debate since six innings and three runs or fewer can be skewed by performance. However, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey combined for 19 innings this weekend with 22 strikeouts against three walks with only a combined four earned runs allowed and the Mets finished 0 – 3?
  • Toronto starter J.A. Happ did not appear in the introduction, but he left his start on Sunday with elbow soreness? If he lands on the disabled list (very likely), Toronto will be down two starters after two weeks of baseball. Rich Hill only lasted three innings in his start and may not be far behind.
  • Cincinnati used 15 starting pitchers last year, as of Sunday, none of them remain in the rotation.
  • Surprised by Matt Boyd‘s win in Cleveland? The Indians are hitting .125 versus left-handed pitchers change-ups according to Statcast. Boyd, threw 27 changes during the win on the road. Scouting reports work.
  • A pitching duel between Ian Kennedy and Tyler Skaggs highlighted a one run game in Kansas City where reliever Kelvin Herrera tallied the win. See above. Kennedy struck out 10 Angels and limited them to two hits and two walks over eight innings. Skaggs finished with nine strikeouts against two walks and zero runs allowed.
  • Jameson Taillon’s stock continues to rise with a win at the Cubs. Taillon’s first win of the season and his ERA sits below one with 16 strikeouts in 20 innings of work.
  • Another below the radar start by Hector Santiago. He’s frustrating to own, but limited the White Sox to six hits over seven innings of work with no runs allowed and six strikeouts. His ERA stands at 1.47 after 18.1 innings of work.
  • Diamondbacks starter Taijuan Walker won in Los Angeles, but left early with some tightness in his back. Walker struck out seven in five innings with one run allowed and four hits against. Encouraging but track the back.
  • It’s hard to imagine we live in a world where Wily Peralta‘s 3 – 0 with a 2.65 ERA. His FIP of 3.75 and xFIP of 4.40 should temper running to get him off the wire.

Bullpen musings

  • Last year, Texas went 36 – 11 in one run games. This year, so far, they are winless in four decisions. Sam Dyson‘s tenuous hold on the ninth inning may have finally teetered with another blown save. Matt Bush owners had to be encouraged to see he returned and struck out the side. The dreaded committee approach could ensue, but with health, Bush may run with the role.
  • In this same game, Edwin Diaz allowed a run in the top of the ninth, but won his first game in the majors due to the Dyson meltdown. Keep an eye on Diaz who jas struggled with his command to start the year.
  • Greg Holland recorded his sixth save and Craig Kimbrel locked down his fifth on Sunday.
  • Although they are the defending champions, the Cubs bullpen needs to be addressed soon. With Carl Edwards Jr. out for personal reasons, the team could not hold leads or keep the Pirates from scoring during the weekend. As a team, the Cubs bullpen carries a 4.19 ERA in 38.2 innings pitched with a 4.77 FIP, 1.29 WHIP, and only 11.4 strikeout minus walk percentage.
  • Kelvin Herrera bounced back with a clean inning and strikeout and tallied the win when Kansas City scored in the bottom of the ninth against the Angels. Again, breathe.

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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