Fantasy Forward: Nova’s revenge, Gausman’s a gas can again and Andrus hitting cleanup?

When Kevin Gausman pops up on the waiver wire this week, should one buy low or take a shot on a popular breakout candidate? He cannot stay this bad, right? This could be more perplexing than meets the eye. Entering Sunday’s start against Boston, his chase rate on pitches outside the strike zone plummeted by nine percent, his swinging strike percentage sits two points below his previous two seasons levels, and he’s getting hit hard. Over his last two starts, Gausman allowed 13 runs, 16 hits and six walks in eight innings of work with only six strikeouts. His 7.50 ERA does have FIP support with a 5.63 mark, but the 2.04 WHIP to start the year will test fantasy owners mettle.

Injuries keep piling up. Initially reported as a groin injury, suddenly once the game ended, Shelby Miller left with forearm tightness? No bueno. In this same game, Joc Pederson left with groin tightness and will be listed day-to-day, but a 10-day disabled list stint could be in the offing. Turnover in Seattle with Leonys Martin being released and the team promoted Daniel Vogelbach along with Chris Heston. Danny Valencia could be next.

In lineup news, Elvis Andrus hit cleanup in Texas, Aaron Altherr seems to be entrenched hitting second for the Phillies, and Brandon Phillips shifting to second in the batting order as well with Dansby Swanson dropping to eighth. Now for the recaps.

Starting pitching observations

  • While Kevin Gausman struggled, Eduardo Rodriguez flashed upside holding the Orioles to one run over six innings of work with one hit allowed, five walks and seven strikeouts. Rodriguez generated seven swinging strikes with both his fastball and change to hint at his upside. But he needs to limit the walks in order to take that next step in his development. If he does, invest.
  • What’s the best way to gain revenge against your former employer? Beat them at home with seven strikeouts over seven innings of work. Ivan Nova accomplished this, and his numbers with Pittsburgh continue to fly below the radar. He’s pretty good kids as his 2.00 ERA speaks to. Strikeouts may not be sexy, but strong ratios and win potential can be.
  • Rookie southpaw Jordan Montgomery showed himself well in the loss with a quality start on the road and five strikeouts in six innings of work. After three starts, Montgomery’s ERA stands at 3.78.
  • Just when one thinks predicting baseball can be easy, Derek Holland defeats Danny Salazar. Fading the big favorite can be a very rewarding venture in DFS and this will be example number 5,678.
  • Usually a guy who pitches to contact, Zach Eflin survived a home start against the Braves lasting seven innings with three hits allowed and three strikeouts with one earned run. He’s difficult to trust.
  • Bounce back game of the day goes to Michael Fulmer who stymied the Twins for a win on the road. Fulmer worked seven innings, allowing four hits, two earned runs, one walk and striking out seven. He’s pretty good.
  • Speaking of, Yu Darvish survived a rocky third inning to work eight innings with eight strikeouts and touching 98 MPH on the gun prior to his exit. Rumors of whether or not the Rangers will trade him will hover above him all season, but fantasy owners hope he turns in his first full season since 2013.
  • Vanilla Leake struck again in Milwaukee. He won his third game in four decisions to start the season with three hits allowed, two earned runs, three walks and six strikeouts. His ERA (1.32), FIP (1.86) and 20:4 K:BB rate over 27.1 innings of work does not get noticed, until now.
  • Pitching a southpaw against the Giants and Dodgers seems favorable. Add Kyle Freeland to the list of left-handed starters to defeat San Francisco. He limited them to six hits in seven shutout innings of work, with one walk and three strikeouts.
  • Marcus Stroman received run support, this is not a test. Stroman worked a complete game for his second win in Los Angeles against the Angels. Stroman struck out five against seven hits and one walk to lower his ERA to 3.10 on the season.
  • For the first time since last September, Yovani Gallardo struck out as many as seven in a start. Of course, he only lasted 3.1 innings the last time he did. On Sunday, Gallardo whiffed eight A’s hitters. Do not be seduced.
  • During Sunday’s game in Arizona, Shelby Miller left early due to injury while Brandon McCarthy worked five inning with six strikeouts for the win.

Bullpen musings

  • Appeasing his owners, Seung-Hwan Oh saved three games in three days for the Cardinals in Milwaukee. Breathe. More encouraging, seeing four strikeouts in the three innings of work.
  • Working on back-to-back days, Matt Bush saved the first game for the Rangers besides the one recorded by Jose LeClerc, on April 12th. Bush hit 98 MPH on the gun as well.
  • After a suspect couple of outings, Ken Giles reasserted his role as the closer for the Astros with three this week and his fifth overall on Sunday.
  • After Matt Barnes threw at Manny Machado, Craig Kimbrel was forced into a game for his seventh save. Good for fantasy owners, but the Red Sox will play the next 10 days in a row.
  • Pirates closer Tony Watson locked down his sixth save allowing a hit and a walk but holding on. Speaking of which, his 0.00 ERA is accompanied by a 6.26 FIP, sell high time in case of regression?

Hitter’s delights

  • Anthony Rizzo will be disappointed to leave Cincinnati after homering in three straight games.
  • In the other dugout, how long will Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza occupy the top two spots in the batting order? Hamilton’s hitting .225 and Peraza’s average of .216 may be contributing to Joey Votto‘s more aggressive approach. Despite this, many seem to overlook Eugenio Suarez who has hit five home runs with 12 RBI in 62 at-bats with a 1.200 OPS.
  • Post-hype poster boy this year may be Steven Souza Jr. He’s slashing .347/.424/.613, hit his fourth home run on Sunday with 17 RBI. Perhaps he’s finally healthy?
  • Atlanta’s Matt Kemp hit his first home run off the disabled list, his third of the year. Take note of Brandon Phillips and his five steals shifting to second in the lineup.
  • It’s going to be hard to maintain, but Cesar Hernandez hit his fourth home run. He’s hitting .338/.376/.503 with three stolen bases as well. With Howie Kendrick sidelined, Aaron Altherr‘s batting second, hit his second home run of the year and may be worth a look in deeper formats for the week ahead.
  • When Mookie Betts visits Camden Yards, his owners benefit. Betts hit a three-run homer in the first inning to add to Gausman’s tough day, finishing with two hits and two walks in five plate appearances. Andrew Benintendi became the youngest player since Tony Coniglero to record five hits in a game since 1967 for the Red Sox franchise. Mitch Moreland seems to enjoy the American League East so far. He’s hitting .315/.390/.548 and leads the majors in doubles.
  • Did Tim Anderson awaken from his early season slumber? He finished with two hits, but his average and on-base numbers need to recover for fantasy relevance. Teammate Todd Frazier stole his second base, but enters week four in fantasy hitting .108/.214/.216.
  • With Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez on the disabled list, fill-ins Jim Adduci and John Hicks did their best impressions for a day. The two combined to go 6-for-9 with seven RBI. Those in deep leagues should check on Hicks in case he carries catcher eligibility. Whatever it takes.
  • Mike Moustakas continues to hit for power and launched his sixth for the woeful Royals offense. How bad is it? Emilio Bonifacio hit third on Sunday. Enough said.
  • Cementing his role, Joey Gallo hit his sixth home run as well on Sunday and the Rangers seem committed to him staying in the majors even when Adrian Beltre returns. Robinson Chirinos homered for the third time in his last two games played on Sunday. With Jonathan Lucroy starting slow, Chirinos could fight his way to more at bats with a 1.111 slugging percentage so far.
  • San Francisco woke up Charlie Blackmon. He finished the three-game set 5-for-11 with a double, two triples and a home run. Come on down Washington.
  • Giancarlo Stanton‘s also hot with a three hit day in San Diego to finish 6-for-14 in the series which featured three home runs and he heads to Philadelphia.
  • Another power hitter seems to be waking up with Nelson Cruz hitting a double and a home run to drive in five during the Mariners 11 – 1 win over Oakland. Add in Robinson Cano heating up to the spark Taylor Motter‘s provided (he hit a grand slam) and the Mariners may battle in Detroit and Cleveland this week.
  • Yasmani Grandal hit his first home run since his two on opening day to fuel the Dodgers to a win in Arizona. He’s so underrated year after year.
  • Keep an eye on Devon Travis who may be emerging from his deep slump to open the season. Especially if he moves up in the batting order in the days ahead.
  • Another player gaining more revenge, Daniel Murphy hit a grand slam in the first inning to continue his dominance of the Mets, who allowed him to walk after his postseason heroics of 2015.
  • Hitting leadoff with Max Scherzer did not faze Michael Conforto who launched his second home run to start a game and his fourth of the season. Let him play Terry, let him play.

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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