Fantasy Forward: Reds fueling Thames fire

While Eric Thames continues to lead the way for Milwaukee, Ryan Braun left last night’s game after fouling three pitches off the same foot. After x-rays confirmed there’s no break, the team may proceed with caution in regards to Braun. Steven Souza Jr. could not hit in the ninth inning after hitting cement trying to catch a home run in Baltimore. Reported as swelling for now, monitor as always. Dodger Joc Pederson landed on the 10-day disabled list, but his replacement Brett Eibner disappointed those who stashed Cody Bellinger.

Pitching well after six innings, Matt Cain took his warm-ups to start the seventh then walked off with the trainer. No details as of yet, but with Ty Blach already with the team to replace Madison Bumgarner, Tyler Beede may not be far behind teammate Christian Arroyo’s promotion on Monday night. Arroyo has been hitting the ball very well at Double-A but feels like a better real life player than fantasy one. Of course, he is a prospect so many will ask about picking him up, but in anything smaller than a 15-team mixed league, I’m not sure there’s value here yet. A side bar to Arroyo’s arrival, Eduardo Nunez will resume the super utility role he served with the Twins which may mean he will be fighting for at-bats.

A late transaction after lineups locked, Travis Jankowski of the Padres landed on the disabled list with Jabari Blash replacing him. There’s not timetable for Jankowski’s foot injury. In rehab news, Ian Desmond took 25 swings in batting practice and seems to be making progress.

Hitter’s delights

  • Not only did Eric Thames hit two more home runs to raise his total to 10, he’s slugged seven against the Reds. In doing so, Thames tied the Brewers team record of 10 home runs in April set by Carlos Lee with five days remaining to break it. After 19 games, Thames’ slugging percentage of .911 and OPS of 1.391 have to merit attention. Many will say to sell high, and everyone has their price. If nervous, float his name out in leagues to see what’s there.
  • Teammate Manny Pina tallied two hits to reach a 10-game hit streak. Pina’s hitting .439 and combined with Jett Bandy makes for a nice catching tandem in Milwaukee. Hernan Perez started against southpaw Amir Garrett and finished with a home run along with a stolen base, his first steal of the year. Also under the radar in this game, Billy Hamilton stole his 10th base of the year, which took him until the end of May to do so last year.
  • It seems as though all of us valued Jason Heyward too low in the preseason. He hit his third home run on Monday night, and his exit velocities of 106.8 MPH, 104.6 and 105 all exceed his best number from last year. Addison Russell finished with a career high four hits in this same game.
  • Spring training sensation Jose Osuna’s defense left much to be desired, but he fell a home run short of a cycle in the Pirates blowout loss. When playing DFS or streaming hitters, remember Osuna’s .952 OPS in Triple-A last year against left-handed pitching.
  • Baltimore hit well against Chris Archer again with Adam Jones, Hyun-Soo Kim and Jonathan Schoop all homering off the Rays ace. In this same game, Corey Dickerson launched his fifth home run and second leadoff shot of the year.
  • It’s been a slower process than many fantasy owners hoped for, but Joey Gallo may be turning a corner. He’s being more aggressive early in counts with four home runs on the first pitch, one on a 1 – 0 count and his other on a 3 – 0 count. More importantly, in at-bats when he’s down no balls and two strikes, he’s 3-for-14 this year with three RBI and a walk. Prior to this season, 0-for-36 with two walks. Speaking of progress, Byron Buxton walked twice in this game after seeing a total of 23 pitches during his at-bats.
  • In Colorado, Charlie Blackmon homered off a left-handed reliever to turn the tide. Two wily veteran first basemen, Ryan Zimmerman and Mark Reynolds each hit a home run as well. Zimmerman’s now hit seven this month which ties his third best total for a month during his career. As for Reynolds, he thinks it’s 2009 with 18 RBI in 77 plate appearances with a .319/.377/.652 slash, and the Rockies considering having Ian Desmond spend some time in the outfield after all when he returns. Stay tuned.
  • Chris Owings hit the first grand slam of his career, batted third and presently hitting .319/.356/.464 for Arizona. His teammate David Peralta is also hot with three more hits on Monday night. Austin Hedges hit his sixth home run in nine games. He’s good, so look beyond his low BABIP and try to add him where available.

Starting pitcher observations

  • When trying to justify adding a pitcher like Miguel Gonzalez, the stigma of the Orioles releasing him factors in. But here’s his statistics from the start of the second half last year through his start last night: 92.1 innings, 64:16 K:BB, 2.73 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. He won his third game of the year and does not feature flash, but merits attention as a fifth starter for fantasy teams.
  • Bearing in mind he faced the Padres in back-to-back outings, Zack Greinke’s 17 strikeouts in 14 innings of work should provide hope along with only two earned runs allowed. On the other hand, do not start Jhoulys Chacin outside of San Diego. He’s worked 14.2 innings at home with no earned runs allowed. However, on the road, he’s served up 19 earned runs in 14.1 innings of work.
  • Those who focused on Chris Archer’s second half surge cannot be encouraged by his five walk, five earned run outing in Baltimore. Although he struggles with them, 11 base runners allowed in 6.2 innings of work translates to way too much traffic to record a quality start.
  • In a pitching duel in San Francisco, Matt Cain left ahead with no runs allowed in six inning of work with three strikeouts. He did warm-up to pitch the seventh then left the game. Hyun-Jin Ryu also pitched six innings giving up one earned run with three strikeouts as well.
  • Sometimes a blowout can provide a player the perfect chance to debut. For instance, Ariel Hernandez of the Reds entered the game for Amir Garrett and worked 2.2 innings with five strikeouts. Of his 30 pitches thrown, Hernandez generated seven swinging strikes. Remember his name as Hernandez averaged 98.9 MPH with his fastball.

Bullpen musings

  • Walking the line seems to be Brandon Kintzler’s thing for the Twins. He has yet to allow an earned run and saved his fifth game last night. His five strikeouts against four walks does not provide a warm fuzzy feeling, but Kintzler’s getting the job done so far. However, do not be afraid to sell high if possible.
  • Filling in for Zach Britton has not fazed Brad Brach. He’s already saved four games and retired every batter he has faced as the closer except for the walk he allowed on Monday night. Britton’s scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday as long he does not report any soreness on Tuesday. Until things become clearer, there’s no timetable of yet as to his return.
  • With Cam Bedrosian on the disabled list, Bud Norris notched his second save, but it did not come easy. But as Fernando Rodney teaches fantasy owners, a save can be a save. Norris allowed the first two hitters to reach, then struck out Chris Coghlan and induced a double play ball by Devon Travis to end the game. Hold on tight.

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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