by Ray Kuhn
For a Thursday, we had a pretty large slate of games. Of the 13, one of which was suspended due to rain (San Francisco and Colorado), they were spread out pretty evenly throughout the day. Let’s take a look at some of the stories you should be following.
1) Who Will be the Beneficiary of Prince Fielder’s Season Ending Injury?
If today’s lineup and this season to do date are any indication, it will be Michael Choice. In small doses, Choice has had success this season, but after getting the start at DH Thursday afternoon, his batting average sits at .196 on the season. Mitch Moreland will now move full time to first base, and he should continue to be on your radar as he now will certainly be playing every day. But if there is anyone would see a boost in value, it would be Choice. Last night, Choice drove in two runs to bring him to 16 RBI’s on the season, and he has shown the ability to drive the ball. Again, the issue is going to the batting average for Choice, but the regular playing should put him on your radar, especially in AL-only leagues.
2) Is Nick Castellanos’ Time Running Out?
Entering the season, Castellanos was a popular sleeper option as he was now going to get regular at bats. But now after 37 games, his average sits at .237 and you have to wonder if it is time to cut bait. I think for at least another month his role in Detroit is safe, but he has been moving down in the batting order. Against the Rangers on Thursday, Castellanos was batting out of the eighth spot and went 0-4 while leaving three runners on base. In the last 10 games, Castellanos only has one RBI which is simply not acceptable. He did start the month off with some improvement, but the third baseman is also striking out 25.2% of the time this season, so it might be time to look for another option.
3) Will Jenrry Mejia Solve the Mets Closer Woes?
Well the one unanswered question at this point, is how will he do pitching in back to back games? But tonight saw Mejia get his second save of the season without much trouble against the Dodgers. It was a perfect inning with two fly balls and a strikeout to end the game as his ERA now sits at 4.43 on the season. However, most of that came as a starting pitcher so I would not entirely hold that against him. Another factor in Mejia’s favor is that his FIP looks a lot better at 4.07 with an xFIP of 3.50. A lot of his problem as a starter was what happened to his velocity as he moved deeper into games in the fifth and sixth innings. Now as closer, that problem is eliminated, and we can expect Mejia to strike out a batter an inning without issue.
4) Is There Any Doubt Chris Sale is Alright?
If anyone had a question about Sale’s health coming off the disabled list, he answered them pretty quickly on Thursday. Sale faced off against the Yankees at home and retired the first 17 batters in order. As they should be, the White Sox were cautious with Sale pulling him after six innings and 86 pitches. Sale struck out 10 batters and allowed just one hit while lowering his season ERA to 1.89. So, yes, fantasy owners can erase any worries they might have had about Sale.
5) Is Mark Buerhle Drinking From the Fountain of Youth?
Buerhle faced the Red Sox on Thursday afternoon and just continued to ride the wave of success he has been on so far this season. Seven innings of two run ball lowered the southpaw’s ERA to 2.16 as he earned his eighth win so far on this young season. But that is the past, what does it mean for the rest of his season. Well for one thing, I wouldn’t expect to see Buerhle end the season with an ERA under 3.00. Up to this point in the season, he has a FIP of 3.15 which is reasonable; however the potential issue is that his xFIP is 4.09. As usual Buerhle is keeping the ball on the ground, to the tune of a 44.8% ground ball rate, and limiting the walks, but there has been a little luck involved. Buerhle is leaving 80.4% of runners on base so far this season which is a few points higher than it has been in the past. I would list Buerhle as a sell high candidate, but it is hard not to believe in him to some degree.
6) I Think We Can Also Conclude Alex Cobb is Healthy
One of the strengths for Tampa Bay entering the season was their starting pitching, well at least until injuries hit. Thursday saw Cobb return from injury and although he only got a no decision, he gave the Rays a boost. Cobb threw six shutout innings to lower his ERA to 1.40 on the season allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out six A’s. While they are not incredibly imposing on paper, Oakland is always a tough opponent, and he dispatched them with little trouble. Cobb is a pitcher you can count on going forward.
7) Is Ryan Braun Heading Back to DL?
Braun returned just about a week ago from a stint on the disabled list with a right oblique issue, so it was not good news to see him leave tonight’s game with another issue in right side. Hopefully this is just minor soreness and will not be anything major, but is certainly something to keep an eye on moving forward if this is something that will linger. If Braun is forced to miss an extended amount of time, I would expect to see Caleb Gindl get the call to replace him once again and share time with Logan Schafer. Last season Gindl had some success, but in a small sample size this season he is hitting just .158 while Schafer is hitting .185. Both these players are best left to the waiver wire unless they catch fire.
8) Is Every Ninth Inning Going to be This Stressful for Ronald Belisario?
Thankfully for the White Sox, they added an insurance run because Belisario needed it. He did close out the game for his second save of the season, but it was hairy to say the least. A walk and a single put two guys on base and they both scored on a Mark Teixeira single before a strikeout ended the game. Chicago manager Robin Ventura has said that Belisario is his closer, but a few more outings like this might change that. For now he is a good source of saves and should be owned, but don’t go too far all in.
9) Should We be Concerned About Manny Machado’s Groin?
Since returning from injury a few weeks ago Machado has been struggling to the tune of a .234 average with only one home run and four RBI’s in 19 games. Machado left tonight’s game with a groin injury, the severity of which we are currently unsure of. Should this linger, Ryan Flaherty’s playing time will likely increase and Steve Lombardozzi could be summoned from AAA. Neither player would have much fantasy value outside of AL-only leagues. Regardless of the injury, I think it is still too small of a sample size to give up on Machado, but he should be moved out of your starting lineup and expectations should be adjusted accordingly.
10) Is This What Carlos Santana Needed to Get Going?
If you thought about, or already did, give up on Santana you are forgiven. His average now sits at a robust .153 and to say that he has struggled this season would be an understatement. In a 13 inning marathon tonight, Santana went 2-6 and out the Indians ahead for good with a two run double giving him 15 RBI’s on the season. The Indians have moved him down in the order, and so far even that does not appear to be helping. I do still think we have already seen Santana which makes him a solid buy low candidate.