This has been a crazy week, as every time we look up, another prospect has either been promoted or is making their debut. Additionally, Thursday afternoon’s games brought with it a great deal of offensive fireworks. With the way pitching has gone this season though, no one should really be surprised by this at all. Let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out:
1) Parra Shows Off Some Power
If anyone pegged Gerrardo Parra as someone who would potentially make a fantasy impact, then you are likely in the minority; well if there is anyone that is. And at that, who thought it would be coming at first base for the Washington Nationals? I suppose, that is why we play the game, as we never know what will happen. But there we were Thursday afternoon as Parra went 3 for 3 with a walk. Yes, he is now batting just .214 on the season, but he is taking advantage of the regular playing time he is receiving with Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Adams sidelined. In his last seven games, including yesterday, Parra is hitting .316 with two home runs and seven RBI in 19 at bats. One of those home runs, three on the season, along with three of his 13 RBI, came on Thursday. This is strictly a short-term option, but with injuries abound, it is a path worth exploring.
2) I Guess He Can Hit on the Road
We could talk about one of the better pitching performances of the day on Thursday as Zach Davies picked up his fifth victory of the season while lowering his ERA to 1.54, but instead we can’t ignore Christian Yelich. Also, I’m still skeptical of Davies and his 4.66 xFIP and 6.15 strikeouts per nine innings. Instead, we have to continue to give props, really for lack of a better term, to the Milwaukee outfielder. After struggling on the road earlier in the season, Yelich has started to produce away from Miller Park. That was certainly evident on Thursday as he went deep twice against the Phillies. Yelich, who had three hits on the afternoon, is now hitting .342 on the season with 18 home runs and 40 RBI (both were solo shots). After posting a .272 ISO last season, which was by far his career high, this season Yelich’s ISO is currently an absurd .418. And did we mention he has also stolen nine bases so far in 2019? What is there to do but enjoy this? However, Yelich still only has three home runs and eight RBI in 22 road games, so we have to at least pay attention to that from a DFS standpoint.
3) Some Bottom of the Order Punch
One of the points I continue to make, is the dearth of options at the catching position. However, if you work hard enough, there is value to be found. Out in Oakland, Josh Phegley has been receiving semi-regular playing time, and he is making good on that. Out of the ninth spot in the order yesterday, Phegley went 4 for 5 with two runs scored and four RBI. The catcher is now batting .295 on the season with five home runs (he hit one yesterday), and 26 RBI. As long as he continues to hit to this level, playing time with continue to abundant and he is worth a look in just about all leagues.
4) Is Odor Getting Going?
We went through this last season with Rougned Odor as he got off to a slow start, and he ultimately finished the season with a .253 average, 18 home runs and 63 RBI. While it was a drop-off from the two previous years in which he eclipsed 30 home runs, it was still a solid performance. Once again, Odor is struggling, but I would wait to send the second baseman packing. His three hit effort on Thursday brought his batting average up to just .167, and Odor’s OPS still sits at .587. For starters, Odor’s BABIP this season is just .213, but in his last seven games, he is hitting .259. Odor went deep twice yesterday, five home runs on the season, and his four RBI gave him 14 on the season. This is as low as a buy-low option gets, but there is still value to be found.
5) Another Struggling 2B Comes Through
The outlook isn’t as bright for Jason Kipnis as it is for Odor, but the Cleveland second baseman also went deep twice yesterday. It was the first two home runs of the season for Kipnis, who is now hitting just .216 in 97 at bats. Each of the last two seasons haven’t gone too smoothly for Kipnis, as he hit .232 in 2017 followed by .230 in 2018. Last year though, he did hit 18 home runs while driving in 75 runs, so there is still some value to be had. Kipnis drove in six runs on the night, more than doubling his total to 11. It’s just one game, but it certainly is a start. Well, we hope that is as long as you don’t look for Kipnis circa 2016 as his skills have diminished from the prime of his career.
6) The Follow up Performance is Pretty Good
All Austin Riley did in the minor leagues was hit as he showed the ability to hit for average, power, and to drive in runs. It is clear that the Braves promoted Riley for him to play, for now in left field, and as long as he continues to hit, his playing time won’t go anywhere. After hitting a home run in his major league debut, Riley followed that up by going 3 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored. And batting sixth in a strong Atlanta lineup will also serve to benefit Riley.
7) Only the Rain Could Stop Him
Luis Castillo was cruising en route to his fifth victory of the season, and the right-hander was only slowed by rain. After getting through 5.1 innings of work, the rain picked up the game was delayed last night. At that point, Castillo had thrown just 76 pitches, but his night was over. He allowed two runs on two hits and one walk while striking out six and seeing his ERA drop to 1.90. The walks for Castillo are up this season, 3.65 per nine innings, but the same can be said for his strikeouts (11.09). Hitters are clearly having trouble making contact against him, and his .235 is partly a reflection of that as they are not squaring up the ball, and there is also some luck involved. While we can’t expect his ERA to remain at the level it is at now all season, a regression to his 2.98 xFIP would still leave fantasy owners with a nice value on their hands. Castillo’s hard hit percentage is down about 10% from last season to 28.1% while he is also seeing a large increase in ground balls (45.9% to 61.5%). That is why his success appears to be sustainable.
8) A Hidden Speed Threat
We honestly will take stolen bases any place we can get them. When they come with a pretty good batting average, .292 after yesterday, regular playing time (144 at bats) and some positional flexibility (one game at 2B and three at SS), then we should pay attention. If you didn’t realize it, we were describing the White Sox lead-off man Leury Garcia. Getting a start at shortstop last night, Garcia went 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI (13 for season). What we really care about though, is the fact that it was the 29th run Garcia has scored so far this season, and more importantly, he also picked up his sixth stolen base.
9) Cron Continues With the Power
C.J. Cron is far from an exciting player. I mean he hit 30 home runs last season, is just 29 years old, and was discarded by Tampa Bay while receiving little to no attention on the open market. Minnesota picked up Cron, plugged him into the middle of their order, and he just continues to hit. After a 4 for 5 performance on Thursday, Cron is still hitting just .259,. but let’s be honest, it is the power we are after. And in that department, Cron is once again delivering. Last night, he hit his 10th home run of the season while also driving in two runs to bring his RBI total up to 25. Not bad for someone who was essentially free on draft day.
10) Reyes Makes it Count
Franmil Reyes only had one hit last night, but the slugging outfielder made it count. While there certainly is a glut of options in San Diego’s outfield, with 139 at bats so far this season, it is clear to assume that Reyes has received (and earned) a regular role. We also have to like the fact that he bats in front of Manny Machado, so seeing quality pitches to hit is quite common place. Last night, Reyes hit his 13th home run of the season, and with a .266 batting average, he isn’t exactly a liability in that department either. The only issue, and this is where batting second hurts him, is that despite the home runs, Reyes only has 24 RBI.