We kicked the week off well with a strong slate of action Monday night, so let’s jump right into some of the performances of note. Just don’t try and figure out many of the bullpen situations around the league, as projecting who gets the save opportunity is akin to a dart throw at this point. Yes, Jacob Webb, we are looking at who. And if you had to do a quick internet search on who got the save for Atlanta last night, something tells me you are not alone. But don’t worry, with Cody Bellinger picking up another RBI, 37 overall, we did have some predictability.
1) Soroka Picks up Another Victory
To say that Braves have a plethora of young options for their starting rotation would be an understatement. Options are good though, well at least for major league teams that is. When taking a look at the Atlanta pitchers, Mike Soroka does stand out as one of the better options. The talented left-hander picked up his second victory of the season on Monday as he attempts to hold onto his role. Soroka, helped by another Ozzie Albies home run, was victorious as he limited the Padres to just one run on four hits and a walk while striking out eight. With a 1.62 so far this season, and a 2.85 xFIP, in 16.2 innings over three starts, Soroka’s role does appear to be secure. Well, for now that is, but if he continues to pitch the way he has thus far, that shouldn’t be a problem.
2) Odorizzi Cruises to Victory
Facing Houston’s vaunted lineup shouldn’t be this easy, but it certainly was Jake Odorizzi on Monday. The right-hander generally doesn’t dazzle you from a fantasy perspective, but he has proven to be a solid streaming option who is somewhat match-up dependent. Yes, facing the Astros is not a match-up that we would necessarily consider ideal, but he did deliver on Monday. Odorizzi kept Houston off the scoreboard while scattering just four hits and a walk to go along with eight strikeouts. So far this season, he is striking out a batter per inning, he is at 8.35 for his career, and that helps to at least establish a value floor. While Odorizzi is now sporting a 3.34 ERA on the season, his 4.75 xFIP should serve as a reminder as to his true value.
3) Bader Returns
With Harrison Bader making his way back from the Injured List, St. Louis’ outfield got a little more crowded on Monday. Last night, the playing time casualty was Dexter Fowler, and while Marcel Ozuna will likely be spared, it is a situation that bears watching. Prior to the injury, Bader was struggling to get going, but he did go deep in his return to action last night. Batting eighth isn’t exactly ideal for any hitter, yet alone a young one, but Bader did make it work on Monday by going 2 for 3 with his third home run of the season (seven RBI overall).
4) This Time It’s the Victory
As far as closers go, Raisel Iglesias is one of the better options; both with skill level and job security. Then came the talk that Reds wouldn’t exactly use him as a traditional closer, but a month into the season, Iglesias has six saves. However, on Monday, Cincinnati went a different route with the right-hander as they brought him into a tied game on the road in the eighth inning. After a Jesse Winker solo homer, his eighth of the season, Iglesias picked up his first victory of the season with two scoreless innings while striking out four. While the walks are a bit of a problem, 4.40 per nine innings, Iglesias is striking out 14.44 to go along with a 3.14 ERA. At this point, there aren’t too many relievers better. One thing to keep an eye on though, is that his ground ball rate is currently just 23.1%.
5) Davies Picks Up Another Win
I’ll admit it, Zach Davies isn’t a starting pitcher who I generally feel comfortable inserting into my lineup most weeks. But after picking up the victory on Monday, he is now 3-0 on the season. It wasn’t exactly pretty, 5.1 innings of one (unearned) run ball with three hits and three walks, but Davies got the job done against Colorado. He isn’t going to dazzle you with the strikeouts, just two on Monday and 5.79 per nine innings, but the wins and that low ERA are going to put him on your radar. However, you must be strong and resist the urge to chase his 1.38 ERA. Between the 3.93 FIP and 4.99 xFIP, there isn’t much to see.
6) We Have an Aguilar Sighting
You don’t have to go too far to find early season disappointments this year, and Jesus Aguilar is at the top of that list. Entering action on Monday, the first baseman had yet to do much of anything at the plate, but he reminded us what he is capable of last night. Aguilar went deep twice, his first two home runs of the season, as part of a three hit and four RBI effort against Colorado. Aguilar’s four RBI’s brought his total for the season to nine while he is hitting just .136 overall. And that is after picking up three hits. It is a good sign for Aguilar that Milwaukee is still committed to him in the middle of the order, he hit fourth yesterday, but Eric Thames is lurking if the struggles continue. We saw what Aguilar was capable of last season, and to this point, really nothing has gone right for him. His BABIP is just .179 while his ISO checks in at .104. Perhaps the only good thing you can say about him, is the fact that is still walking 10% of the time.
7) Chavis Gets Another Position
It is clear that Boston promoted Michael Chavis with the intention of playing him. Last night, Chavis got the start at first base as he continues to work his way around the infield; with the exception of shortstop that is. In case you haven’t heard, there are a few other rookies who made their debut this weekend with a little more buzz than Chavis, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore him. After going 2 for 4 on Monday, he is now hitting .286 on the season with eight RBI; three last night. We also have to keep in mind, that Chavis benefits from a strong lineup around him.
8) A Quiet Debut
We had another, highly acclaimed, rookie get the promotion on Monday, and Tampa Bay inserted him right into the middle of their lineup; batting fifth. Nate Lowe went 1 for 4, with a double and run scored, but there certainly was the possibility for more. The slugging first baseman left five runners on base last night, and that is likely not a trend we can expect to see continue after his track record of minor league success. Even if it takes him a few games to get going, Lowe is a player who needs to be owned in all formats.
9) An Unlikely Cleanup Hitter
While he didn’t specifically “clean” anything up on Monday, we still should take note of James McCann. There aren’t many catchers that we see batting cleanup, and especially not one whose price is essentially free. While McCann is in in somewhat of a timeshare with Wellington Castillo behind the plate, he does have 56 at bats so far this season, and with a .357 batting average, he is making good on his opportunity. McCann went 3 for 5 with a run scored on Monday, and while he has just two hits, five RBI, and nine runs scored, it’s worth take a shot on the Chicago catcher.
10) Longoria Makes it Count
It’s safe to say that 2019 hasn’t gone according to plan for Evan Longoria. The veteran has been losing more time as of late to Pablo Sandoval at third base, and at this point, he has become replaceable in most formats. However, it is also just a month into the season and Longoria does have a clear track record of success. On Monday, he came through with a bases clearing, pinch hit, RBI double that gives him 11 RBI on the season along with a .210 batting average. The career .267 hitter (BABIP of .296 for his career but .240 this season) should rebound, but at the same time, he is no longer the pitcher he once was.