by Ray Kuhn
On the last Thursday in May, we had a pretty solid slate of games. As the calendar turns to June, it is important to begin evaluating your fantasy teams in a different light. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the storylines from Thursday’s games.
1) Will George Springer be Able to Top This in June?
Everyone knew who Springer was entering this season and he was stashed on the benches of many speculators. After being called up, Springer had his share of struggles hitting just .182 in his first 14 games. But once May hit, and really the last three weeks specifically after his first home run; the outfielder has certainly lived up to his potential. Thursday’s game winning home run was Springer’s seventh home run in as many days and 10th overall on the month to go along with a May batting average of .322. So at this point, yes, Springer is for real and can be counted on both to help for the rest of this year and also in the future. However, his May BABIP of .400 can’t be expected to continue and his average will likely regress to the .260-.270 range. That does not change the fact that Springer is a prolific player who has real long ball potential although strikeouts are always going to be an issue.
2) What Will Edwin Encarnacion Do in June?
In April the concern was that Encarnacion’s power was not going to recover due to the wrist injury he suffered last season. I think at this point, he has put those concerns to rest. Two more runs last night give him 16 on the month which is well above the two he managed in April. Talk about rewarding owners who either stuck with him or bought low. While he a BABIP of just .250 to go against a batting average of .268, I don’t think we will see much more improvement that department, as it in line with his career norms. In fact, just about all of Encarnacion’s season totals and ratios seem to be at least reasonable with what we have seen in the past from him.
3) Will Chris Young Start to Heat up Now?
To be honest, I think the Mets believed more in Young than fantasy owners did. With Thursday’s 2-4 performance including a two run home run, his average now sits at .203 on the season with four home runs and 13 RBI’s. At this point, Young has pretty much fallen off the radar of fantasy owners, and the Mets were even playing Bobby Abreu ahead of him this past week. While Young is talented and capable of repeating that performance, I wouldn’t bank on it. Before I buy Young, I need to see a few more games like this.
4) Will Sergio Romo Keep This Up?
Entering this season Romo was a popular target for those thinking a regression was in order. So far that has not been the case, and on Thursday he recorded his 17th save of the season. Especially in a season like this one where there has been so much volatility in the closer position that is production that cannot be taken lightly. But recording last night’s save was not smooth sailing for Romo as he allowed a few hits and a run to make it interesting. That brought his ERA up to 3.52 which is about a run higher than last year’s total and two runs above his ERA from the two seasons prior. Romo’s strikeouts have gone down slightly, but his WHIP has not been impacted. I wouldn’t rush out to sell Romo, but it is a situation worth keeping an eye.
5) Welcome Back Jamie Garcia
After making just nine starts due to injury last season, Garcia looks like he is regaining his pre injury success. On Thursday, Garcia made his third start of the season, and at this point he should be fully owned in all leagues. After allowing four runs over seven innings in his debut and following that up 5.2 innings of two run ball to earn a win, Garcia gave the Cardinals seven strong innings last night. Garcia got a no decision as he allowed three runs in seven innings while striking out seven. So far this season the southpaw is yet to allow a walk and has struck out 19 batters in 19.2 innings. I would expect more of the same from Garcia as he shakes off the rust.
6) Are There Any Pitchers You Can Start Against Toronto?
Yes, Edwin Encarnacion is responsible for a good amount of the Blue Jays’ success, but as a whole Toronto is a team should be stayed away from. The usually reliable James Shields who has been having a good season was their latest victim on Thursday. Shields gave up three home runs, the other was the Jose Bautista, while giving up six runs over seven innings to raise his ERA to 3.36. I would not read too much into the start by Shields as he has been solid once again this season, and instead just tread carefully around Toronto, especially when they are at home.
7) Craig Kimbrel Lost, Will the Earth Still Spin?
I am as shocked as you. Seeing Kimbrel with an “L” next to his name is not something anyone is used to. He got out of a bases loaded situation he inherited in the eighth inning, but Boston got to him in the ninth. Walks were the culprit as he walked two, for the first time ever, to start the inning and a Chris Johnson error ultimately did him in. There is nothing to see here, just move on and keep him as your top ranked closer.
8) Should you be Buying on Brock Holt?
If you are basing your decision solely on recent performance and spot in the batting order, then the answer is yes. But I would stop right there. Yes, the Red Sox did recently move Holt to the top of the order, and he is batting .315 on the season, but he is little more than a temporary fix. The sample size of 82 plate appearances is small, and while Holt does a good job of getting on base, he does not offer much in the power and speed departments (7 RBI and 2 SB). Thursday night, Holt was a large factor in Boston’s victory going 3-4 with a walk, run, and RBI double, but Stephen Drew is looming.
9) Could Zach Wheeler Finally be Figuring it Out?
We know that Wheeler is a very talented young starter with electric stuff. The problem though, is that so far the young right-hander has been unable to harness his talent and turn it into repeatable and consistent results. But his outing Thursday night in Philadelphia showed that there is real potential. On the season his ERA is 4.31 while he has walked 27 batters in 62.2 innings, but I would not give up just yet. Wheeler struck out nine Phillies while allowing just a solo home run on his last batter of the game to earn the victory and give him 62 strikeouts on the season. Wheeler has the talent to duplicate this performance, and should be given up on. Tread carefully in certain matchups, but the strikeouts will be there regardless.
10) What do We Make of Josh Collmenter?
I almost did a double take. Collmenter pitched a complete game shutout at home against the Reds allowing just three hits and no walks while striking out five and forcing two double plays. The right-hander struck out five batters while he lowered his ERA to 3.39 on the season. While it is hard to argue with the results, Collmenter doesn’t strike out many batters, 38 in 62 innings, and has been helped this season by a .238 BABIP against. If you want to play the matchup game with Collmenter and use him as a spot starter, that is alright, but beyond that you are just a few pitches away from disaster.