Fantasy Forward: Tanaka fires a “Maddux” in Beantown and more

Trying to figure out the thought processes of the Mets front office can prove to be futile. Reports surfaced Noah Syndergaard could not lift his arm above his shoulder, but he’s pushed back to a tentative start for Sunday. As news of his injury continue to surface, those who own “Thor” should pay very close attention. Especially in light of how the team handled Yoenis Cespedes. Their star outfielder tried to play through his hamstring injury, but aggravated it once again, instead of resting it to allow it to heal. Due to a depleted roster with not much waiting to fill the holes, the Mets risked the injury in the near term instead of taking the long view approach.

More disturbing, Mets beat writer Marc Carig intimated the team did not warn Matt Harvey he could be pressed into action on Thursday and he showed up to the park expecting an off day then took the mound. His five walks in 4.1 innings pitched seemed out of character, but with no heads up regarding the possibility of pitching, seems unfair to blame him for the rough outing. April’s much too early to panic, but this team needs someone to take the wheel and turn things around or else injuries along with mismanaging the roster could befall a potential contender.

On the rehab trail, Sonny Gray received glowing reviews after his six inning outing at Triple-A allowing two hits, no runs or walks and striking out seven. He will rejoin the team, and the rotation, in Detroit early next week. Tampa Bay activated Mallex Smith then sent him to Triple-A. Didi Gregorius will rejoin the Yankees on Friday. With Shelby Miller on the 60-day disabled list, the Diamondbacks need to decide much earlier on where to deploy Archie Bradley. Will he fill the potential void at the back-end of the bullpen or shift to the rotation?

Starting pitcher observations

Maybe fantasy owners should not be as worried about facing the Red Sox with their pitchers? Masahiro Tanaka not only shut them out with 97 pitched in Fenway, but he recorded a “Maddux” with no walks and only three hits allowed. Remember when everyone panicked about his first outing?

As for Chris Sale, after leaving Chicago, run support did not seem like a factor for him in Boston. After 37.2 innings this year, Sale’s 1.19 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 52 strikeouts do not fail to impress, but his 1 – 2 record does not do them any justice.

It’s the Padres, but Taijuan Walker worked eight innings, tying a career high with 11 strikeouts and limiting San Diego to four hits and two runs. The stuff’s there, he just need the results and more important, consistency.

Matt Moore rebounded for a strong outing in San Francisco against the struggling Dodgers offense. Moore struck out eight over seven innings of work with two hits and three walks against. But, if he does not improve on the road, he may morph into a home stream for fantasy as evidenced by his home ERA (3.05) versus the road (8.68).

Corey Kluber won against the Astros working seven innings with three runs allowed and 10 strikeouts. He does start slow so owners will hope he improves upon his 1.25 WHIP and lowers his 8.5 walk percentage.

Bullpen musings

Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna continues to struggle and has not looked right dating back to the WBC when he melted down for Mexico. He allowed two earned runs in the first game of the double-header to blow the save. Osuna’s working with reduced velocities so monitor his usage and effectiveness closely.

Hector Neris bounced back with a much-needed clean inning for his third save. It appears the Phillies will stick with him due to recent usage and trends.

Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez continues to scuffle. He’s allowed runs in three straight appearances, five of his last six and in six of his nine all season. Rodriguez has seen his WHIP balloon to 1.85 with a 6.23 ERA and 6.09 FIP. Stash Justin Wilson if possible.

With so many closers in time shares or struggling, Bud Norris notched his fourth save in as many tries for the Angels last night. As long as Cam Bedrosian is out, Norris will be worth a waiver add this weekend.

Hitter’s highlights

Do not look now, but Maikel Franco may be heating up. Franco has recorded multi-hit games in four of his last six with two home runs and 10 RBI. His underlying statistics of a 36.8 hard contact percentage along with a 9.3 walk percent and 11.6 strikeout percentage suggests he’s doing well despite the low batting average.

Did the Cardinals double-header wins wake up a slumbering Dexter Fowler? He finished the two games 7-for-9 with four runs, a double, home run and two walks. Teammate Matt Carpenter launched a walk-off grand slam in the first game. His slash line of .238/.375/.397 suggests better days lie ahead in terms of batting average and slugging, but he needs to improve on his hard contact rate. Health issues may be lingering, but once he gets hot, a surge may ensue.

Jose Ramirez recorded three more hits on Thursday to raise his average to .548 at Progressive Field (17-for-31).

Those who own Nationals bats will be sad to see them leave Coors Field. Adam Eaton hit his second home run with two RBI and two walks yesterday, Bryce Harper hit his eighth home run and Daniel Murphy reached 25 RBI in less than 100 at-bats this season. Yikes.

Speaking of yikes, Trevor Story is hitting .175/.267/.375 with a total collapse of his hard contact rate to 27.7 percent this year compared to 44.9 in 2015. It’s hard to explain since his swinging at pitches outside the strike zone has improved, but contact and swinging strike percentages increased.

Maybe Corey Seager is good for fantasy baseball and real alike? After 23 games he is hitting .318/.398/.565 with 14 runs, five home runs, 17 RBI and two stolen bases. His wRC+ of 157 along with a .247 ISO stand out almost as much as the 51.5 hard contact rate. He’s hitting more fly balls and still producing. Impressive.

Teammate Justin Turner extended his hit streak to 14 but has zero home runs to accompany his .363/.433/.475 slash line.

Overshadowed by other Diamondbacks, Chris Owings hit two more home runs last night, and after 22 games he has 12 runs, four home runs, 19 RBI and six stolen bases. He is slashing an impressive .325/.365/.550. Buying the speed, but the 25 percent home run per fly ball rate has to migrate towards his career 5.9 percent mark. But as a speed option with runs and overall production, Owings seems to be on the right path. Speculate.

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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