by Ray Kuhn
Sometimes, shorter slates aren’t exactly the worst thing in the world. With just eight games yesterday, and six in the evening, we were able to spend more time concentrating on what was going on in each game. We saw Cole Hamels return for Texas, albeit not well with seven runs in 4.1 innings of work, a wild ending in Washington, and Chris Sale take on Jose Berrios in Boston. Let’s take a look at some of the fantasy performances that caught our attention from around the league yesterday:
1) Quality, Not Quantity in Arizona…
If you didn’t watch the game, after a quick look, you would think that Zack Greinke cruised to his ninth victory of the season. While he did win his ninth game of 2017 as he gets ready for a likely All-Star berth, but I wouldn’t exactly describe it as cruising. Greinke only lasted five innings and relied on the bullpen for four scoreless innings to preserve the victory. After the fifth inning, Greinke had to leave, as at that point he had already reached 102 pitches. Despite the pitch count, the right-hander allowed just one run on six base runners (three hits and three walks) while striking out five and lowering his ERA to 3.08. With a 3.30 FIP and a 3.17 xFIP, you no longer have to make a choice, as you did last season, about whether to use Greinke or not.
2) Grichuk Steps Up…
There are a lot of things that have not gone exactly according to plan for the Cardinals so far this season, and one of those things is Randall Grichuk. With decent size expectations prior to the season, Grichuk has struggled and been shuttled down to Triple-A. With the injury to Dexter Fowler, the Cardinals had no choice but to re-call Grichuk. In his defense though, he was hitting .270 in 14 games and was in the midst of a hot streak at the time of his promotion while going deep six times. Grichuk homered again yesterday, the second time in two games after being re-called as he went 2 for 5 with three RBI to raise his average to .232. In 177 major league at bats this season, Grichuk has six home runs and 23 RBI as he looks to build on these past two games. If you are looking to fill a fifth outfield spot, Grichuk is worth taking a flier on; just don’t expect a home run every night.
3) Contreras Gets Things Started…
By this point, we should know that the Cubs are anything but traditional, and seeing Willson Contreras in the lead-off spot shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. In fact that, the catcher lead the game off with his eighth home run of the season. It was Contreras’ 35th RBI as he later added a single to raise his average to .252. While Contreras’ production so far this season isn’t anything special, he is still a solid, young catcher with upside so won’t hurt you even if he continues at his current pace. At some point, the Cubs will likely catch fire, and at that point, we might see a hot streak from their catcher.
4) Moreland Continues a Solid Season…
There certainly are better first baseman out there than Mitch Moreland. He isn’t going to be a difference maker or a player who wins a fantasy title for you. At the same time, he bats in the middle of the order for Boston, and will be a steady performer. Moreland picked up two more hits last night, including his 12th home run of the season, and drove in two runs to give him 41 RBI. Moreland is batting .275 so far this season for the Red Sox, and with power being so plentiful these days, it’s easy to overlook the “boring” first baseman if you are looking to plug a hole.
5) A Balanced Effort for Cleveland…
The Indians scored 15 runs on Monday, but no player drove in more than three runs, and no one scored more than three runs. And, they did it without the benefit of a home run. One of those players who drove in three runs, Lonnie Chisenhall, did it without an extra base hit (three singles). Despite missing some time due to injury, Chisenhall is very quietly having a good season despite batting towards the bottom of Cleveland’s lineup. The outfielder is currently hitting .311, and after Monday, he is up to 40 RBI on the season with a .962 OPS.
6) Elvis Andrus, a Run Producer…
Don’t look now, but that is exactly what is happening with the Texas shortstop. Andrus went deep twice on Monday to give him nine home runs on the season. In the second inning, Andrus helped Texas pile on Carlos Carrasco with a three run shot, and he followed that up with a solo blast in the fourth inning. While stolen bases are obviously important, and a lot more scarce than power these days, that is where Andrus’ true value lies, and he has not disappointed there either. Andrus didn’t steal a base on Monday, but he has 18 stolen bases on the season to go along with his 45 RBI as he puts together an All-Star type campaign while batting .299.
7) Headley is Coming Around Again…
After getting off to a hot start and being snatched of every waiver wire, Chase Headley found himself back where he started pretty quickly. Glyber Torres was right behind him prior to his arm injury, but now Headley making another case for fantasy relevance. We know how streaky he can be, so I wouldn’t invest too heavily, but it certainly is worth a look. Headley three hits, including his 15th double of the season, on Monday, as he drove in his 32nd run of the season and brought his average back up to .262. After hitting .165 in May, the streaky third baseman is hitting .333 so far in June as he looks to hold onto his job.
8) Another Win for the Shark…
Despite his 6.1 innings of two run ball, Jeff Samardzjia’s ERA still doesn’t look appealing. It currently sits at 4.63, but a closer look makes it a lot easier to handle. After struggling to start the season (a 6.32 ERA in April) the right-hander recovered quite nicely with a 3.32 ERA in May. His June ERA is 4.64, but if you take out his Coors Field start (eight runs in six innings), which he was hopefully on your bench for, things look a little better. Samardzjia struck out five and scattered just five hits on Monday as he picked up just his third victory of the season (San Francisco has been terrible). Good times will likely continue for Samardzjia as evidenced by his 2.96 xFIP.
9) Posey Keeps on Raking…
Don’t tell Buster Posey that the Giants are out of it. Any concerns we might have had about the catcher aren’t applicable this season; at least so far. Posey went 3 for 4 on Monday to raise his average to .347 on the season. The catcher drove in three runs, but with a general lack of traffic on the base paths all season, Posey is up to just 33 RBI on the season. Not to take anything away from Posey, but he also has a career high BABIP of .358, and with the Giants not playing for anything in the second half of the season, they likely will be careful with his playing time. To me, that makes Posey a prime sell-high candidate.
10) Escobar Drives in Two…
Batting cleanup generally means you have more chances at driving runs. And the thing is, that no matter what, every team will have a cleanup hitter regardless of how good that team is, and how good that player is. Not to take anything away from Yunel Escobar, but he is not an ideal cleanup hitter. In fact, he is far from it. But that is where he batted on Monday, and that means there is a possiblity for cheap RBI’s. And that is exactly what happened as Escobar picked up two hits, both singles, and drove in two runs. On the season, Escobar is hitting a bland .283 with 23 RBI, and really is just a warm body who won’t hurt your team. His true value is in DFS if you are looking for a cheap option with minimal risk.
Make sure to check out all of our updated rankings:
|First Base||June 3|
|Second Base||June 5|