by Will Overton
The NFL took center stage last night with the draft, but there was some baseball being played too and there were some noteworthy things coming out of the games as well. Here is a rundown of the top ten stories:
- George Springer Hits His First Home Run Of What I Assume Will Be Many
Maybe the hands can be pulled back a little bit off the panic button now that George Springer has officially hit his first home run. Springer took Drew Smyly deep yesterday in his 78th at-bat of the season. Springer’s home run also extended his hitting streak to eight games as his batting average has leaped 52 points in eight games. These are all good signs that Springer is putting it together, but do keep in mind that he has still struck out 14 times in these eight games too. Springer is coming around and he’s only going to get better as he adjusts to big league pitching.
- Dallas Keuchel Cools Off The Red Hot Detroit Tigers. Do Fantasy Owners Care?
The Tigers have been hitting the ball hard lately, but they couldn’t get to Dallas Keuchel yesterday. Keuchel went 7.2 IP with 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB and 7 K for his third win of the year. After seven starts this season Keuchel has a 8.18 K/9 ratio and a 2.25 BB/9 ratio which is a nice balance. Keuchel has a 1.18 WHIP so far and a 3.68 ERA. Keuchel is a groundball heavy pitcher who does have some strikeout upside to pair with decent control. Keuchel isn’t a standard league grab, but he’s worth a look in 14 teams and deeper leagues at this point as a nice sleeper.
- Ubaldo Jimenez Looks Better, But Still Not Worth Owning In Standard Leagues
Over his last four starts Ubaldo Jimenez has lowered his ERA from 7.31 to 4.73 which is a pretty nice drop. Jimenez only allowed the Rays to score one run over 5.1 IP yesterday and now has allowed just one run in 12.2 IP over his last two starts. However, it took him 117 pitches to make it through these 5.1 IP and his last start was against the Minnesota Twins. Whatever Jimenez found last season in Cleveland seems to be lost again now in Baltimore despite what we’ve seen the last two starts.
- This Has The Making Of A Breakout Year For Michael Brantley
At age 26, almost 27, Michael Brantley looks like a guy who is finally realizing his full potential. The Indians are using Brantley in the middle of the order and he’s responding by hitting the ball like a real middle of the order guy. Brantley went 3 – 5 yesterday with 2 R, 1 HR and 3 RBI, the homer was Brantley’s sixth of the year. Brantley’s career high in HR’s is 10, last season, and he’s already got six this season. Brantley also has 29 RBI so far and suddenly he has the look of a top 35 outfielder when he started the season as a fringe standard league pick. You also have to love the plate discipline as he has struck out just 10 times so far this season which is such an impressive number.
- Is The Old Asdrubal Cabrera Back?
It wasn’t just Michael Brantley hitting the ball for Cleveland yesterday. Asdrubal Cabrera had a big day as well going 4 – 5 with 2 R, 2 2B, 1 HR and 3 RBI. He now has six hits in his last two games which is certainly encouraging. Does that mean the Asdrubal Cabrera of two years ago is back now? I am not ready to go there just yet. Cabrera has been the epitome of inconsistent from the beginning of 2013 until now and two good games aren’t going to convince me that has changed all of the sudden. Shortstop is a shallow position, so there’s still plenty of use for Cabrera in the fantasy baseball world, but don’t get too worked up about these two games just yet.
- I Hope You Didn’t Sell Low On Edwin Encarnacion
If you were starting to worry about Edwin Encarnacion I can’t really blame you. For your sake though I hope you didn’t trade him too low because he’s coming around. After hitting just 1 home run leading up to April 30th, he has five of them since then and he has four in his last three games. Encarnacion went deep twice yesterday as the Blue Jays roughed up the Phillies pitching staff. For the second straight game he knocked in three runs. Encarnacion hasn’t looked like up to this point, but he’s still a top 25 – 30 player overall.
- Is There Still Hope For Mike Olt?
Fantasy owners will take one look at the .184 batting average Mike Olt is sporting and walk away. No one is going to blame you for that. I do believe there is still hope for Mike Olt in fantasy baseball though. Olt went 2 – 4 last night against their crosstown rivals and he drove in four runs, three of them on a home run. This is the second night in a row Olt has homered and he has six of them on the year in just 76 AB’s. It almost feels like it’s a given that if he makes contact, he swings and misses a lot, that the ball could be headed over the fence. Olt has legit power and while he won’t hit .300, he’ll get over the Mendoza line soon enough and near the .230 – .240 range eventually. In NL only leagues and in deep leagues power doesn’t come along on the waiver wire often, so sometimes you have to consider biting the bullet on the average and grabbing the power when it’s there.
- Ian Kennedy Dominates The Miami Marlins
It’s a shame he didn’t get any run support, because Ian Kennedy was really dealing on the mound last night. Kennedy allowed just one run last night in seven innings while striking out 12 batters on the night. Kennedy has looked a lot like the Kennedy of old so far this season in San Diego. In his last three outings Kennedy has a 28:3 K/BB ratio in 19 IP. Kennedy is having a much easier time keeping the ball in the park now that he is pitching in Petco and suddenly it’s not so hard to remember that he once was a Cy Young candidate. He’s currently owned in just under 50% of leagues which is far too few with the way he is pitching now.
- Hisashi Iwakuma Looks A Lot Like He Did Last Year
Last night was just his second start of the season due to a tendon injury in his hand, but Hisashi Iwakuma already looks like he has picked up where he left off last season. Iwakuma stymied the Royals bats for eight innings of three hit, no run baseball last night, striking out seven and not walking a single batter. Iwakuma came out last season and established himself as one of the better pitchers in fantasy baseball, showing really strong control and a 7.58 K/9 rate which is good considering the amount of innings he threw. Iwakuma is now looking to prove that it was all for real, which it sure looked real last night.
- Brandon Hicks Power Is For Real. Does That Make Him Worth A Roster Spot?
Another home run for Brandon Hicks last night, and that’s now six on the season for him and four in the last ten games. Not only is he hitting home runs, but he is hitting them a long way too, ranking in the top ten in fly ball distance. It’s hard to argue with the power, and it’s been there throughout his minor league career. It’s still hard to own him though considering the high amount of strikeouts and history of poor batting averages in his minor league career. We talked about Olt earlier, and I think the difference there is that I believe Olt can raise his average up a bit more, I’m not sure Hicks can or will. If you need power and you’re desperate for middle infield help, you can do worse than Hicks at this point. However, you’re taking a big hit to get the HR’s he provides so be warned.