Fantasy Forward: Braun back to the DL and Xander still hot

When Ryan Braun left the game last night, his owner’s immediately assumed the worst. They were proven correct when Braun returned to the disabled list due to his calf injury. There’s no immediate timetable, but if it lingers this could sideline him for up to a month. Joc Pederson landed on the seven-day concussion disabled list. James McCann of the Tigers will be out for 10 days with a left hand injury; John Hicks has already been recalled.

After trying to read the tea leaves with John Farrell, it appears David Price will make his 2017 debut for the Red Sox on Monday. Fantasy owners may want to take a wait and see approach due to his lack of command in his first Triple-A start. This feels rushed. It’s a vicious cycle, but the Mets bullpen extended a franchise record using at least three pitchers for the 26th straight time yesterday.

Starting pitcher observations

A pitcher’s duel in Philadelphia? Vince Velasquez struck out seven in five innings of work seeming to trade some velocity for control. He only walked one, but did give up eight hits while inducing 12 swinging strikes. For the Rockies, Tyler Anderson turned in another strong outing. Anderson pitched seven innings allowing six hits, one earned run, two walks, and struck out seven as well. His 20 swinging strikes were the second highest total yesterday.

Rays starter Matt Andriese lasted eight shutout innings giving up six hits and two walks with six strikeouts. He lowered his ERA to 3.24 on the season.

Although Jeff Samardzija allowed three home runs, he still turned in a quality start on the road against the Cubs. Samardzija worked seven innings giving up six hits, three earned runs and one walk with eight strikeouts. The walk represents his first allowed in May. But, he led the night generating 22 swinging strikes.

Making his major league debut, Dinelson Lambert struck out eight Mets hitters in five innings of work against three hits, one earned run and two walks. His average fastball of 95.6 MPH should garner some attention in deeper leagues along with his 11 swinging strikes.

After being seen on television disrespecting his manager, Drew Pomeranz made good on the mound last night. Pomeranz struck out 11 over six innings giving up four hits, two earned runs and one walk. He’s up and down, but the Rangers struggles against southpaws put Pomeranz in a good spot to rebound.

Robbie Ray continues to thrive on the road, which can be odd since Miller Park leans to hitters in ballpark effects. Ray limited the Brewers to two hits, walked no one and struck out nine in seven innings of work. Through 10 starts, five each home and away, Ray is 1 – 2 at home with a 6.75 ERA and 3 – 1 on the road with a 0.81 ERA.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Justin Verlander struggled away from home last night. He allowed three home runs and six earned runs over 5.2 innings of work. At home, Verlander is 2 – 0 with a 1.61 ERA, but on the road, his ERA more than triples to 7.64 with a 2 – 3 mark.

Fresh off the disabled list, Kenta Maeda’s first inning yielded three earned runs. He then settled down to finish with seven hits allowed and two walks with four strikeouts. Not pretty, but he did garner the win.

Bullpen musings

Edwin Diaz ascended back to the ninth inning and recorded his eighth save, allowing a hit but no walks. There’s still some kinks to be worked out here, but Seattle needs him to anchor the bullpen. Ken Giles lost his perfect streak at home giving up a hit last night, but he did record his 13th save of the year with a strikeout. Newly anointed Brad Hand saved his second game in New York, but did give up a run on a hit and a walk.

Two multiple inning saves with Michael Montgomery of the Cubs and Hyun-Jin Ryu each working four innings to save their respective bullpens for the save last night. Think the Mets could use a performance like this?

Hitter highlights

It’s been a rough stretch for the Mariners, but Robinson Cano is back, and things should improve soon as Mitch Haniger hopes to return soon. Cano finished 2-for-5 yesterday with a run and an RBI. Nelson Cruz carried the load once again with a three run home run, his 12th of the year as the team heads to Boston. For the Nationals, Anthony Rendon stayed hot hitting his ninth home run of the year.

It’s time to start looking at Adam Frazier as a waiver wire add in mixed leagues. He hit his third home run of the season with three RBI yesterday, and in 17 games at lead-off he is 30-for-76 (.395) with 15 runs and 15 RBI. Both Josh Harrison and Francisco Cervelli turned in multi-hit games for the Pirates as well. Atlanta rookie Rio Ruiz went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI. He’s going to take time away from Adonis Garcia going forward.

Two struggling power hitters launched in Philadelphia with Trevor Story and Tommy Joseph each hitting their seventh home runs of the year. One has turned his average around of late, and he’s not on the Rockies.

While the Yankees and Red Sox grab headlines, the Rays continue to battle. Colby Rasmus drove in four runs with a double among his two hits, and veteran Evan Longoria went 1-for-3 during their win. Over the last seven days Longoria is 9-for-26 (.346) with five runs, a double, home run and four walks.

Could there be a new lead-off hitter in Chicago? Ben Zobrist seems to be thriving in the role while the deposed Kyle Schwarber struck out four more times. Zobrist’s hit first seven times this year going 10-for-30 with three runs, three home runs, six RBI while producing a .460 wOBA and 186 wRC+ for the Cubs. Kris Bryant (11) and Jason Heyward (5) also homered in the win.

On a night where it seemed like Michael Conforto would continue to shine, he proved to be human taking a golden sombrero. Lucas Duda provided the offense with two hits and his fifth home run of the season.

Elvis Andrus tried to spark the Rangers offense against left-handed pitching to no avail, but he did hit his sixth home run of the year hitting second. Boston’s Xander Bogaerts is on a heater. He finished 2-for-4 with two runs, two RBI and his eighth stolen base to push his average to .335. In May he’s hitting .352/.416/.560 with 10 doubles, three triples, one home run, 12 RBI and eight walks. Both Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts stole their seventh bags of 2017 as well.

Did you know Paul Goldschmidt is on pace for 36 home runs and 40 stolen bases? He stole his 12th base last night and hitting .324/.451/.595 on the season. Teammate Gregor Blanco went 3-for-4 with his first home run of the year while Chris Owings hit his sixth.

Since his return from the disabled list, is anyone hotter than J.D. Martinez? He finished 2-for-4 last night with a double, his seventh home run, and he’s hitting .378 with a 1.513 OPS. Justin Upton added three hits along with his ninth home run and fourth stolen base with three RBI. For Houston, Carlos Correa continues to heat up in May. His 3-for-4 night included his seventh home run. Marwin Gonzalez (11) and Juan Centeno (2) also homered.

With the team heading to Coors, no one’s hotter than Jedd Gyorko on the Cardinals, of course, no one else seems to be hitting well either. Gyorko raised his average to .336 with two hits, a double and two RBI in a loss to the Dodgers. Los Angeles continues to win with support from surprising places. Chris Taylor tallied three hits in four at-bats with a double and an RBI while Chase Utley hit his first home run of the season.

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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