by Ray Kuhn
While it is nice to have baseball fully underway this early in April, that also means we have weather to deal with. Rain, snow, and cold have made getting regularly scheduled games in difficult, but that doesn’t mean are without games and performances to follow. The good thing though, is that there have generally been at least one or two afternoon games each day instead of just waiting for the evening. Let’s take a look at some of the things that caught our eye from a busy Tuesday around the league.
1) Junis Deals for Kansas City
One start certainly does not make a season, in either direction, but it is always a good thing to see a pitcher start out strong. That is especially the case when it’s a young pitcher who had generated some buzz and interest as a sleeper option entering the season. While you don’t want to hold the opponent against him, it’s also part of the reason why we were interested in Jake Junis, you have to take note that he faced the Tigers yesterday.
There was a lot to like about Junis as he threw seven shutout innings against Detroit, and for the most part was economical. Junis held the Tigers to just three singles and one walk while striking out six. He did it all in 89 pitches, of which 62 were strikes. If you are in need of a back of the rotation streaming option, Junis is certainly worth a look if he is still available in your league.
2) Didi Shows off the Power
It’s hard to argue with Didi Gregorius’ home in the batting order. The left-handed hitting shortstop is batting between two of the best right-handed sluggers in the game, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez, and it’s hard to argue with the results we saw. Yesterday, Gregorius hit dual three run home runs, and then for good measure, he added a two RBI single in the ninth inning. He finished a triple shy of the cycle while reaching base in all five plate appearances, Gregorious also doubled and walked, while scoring three runs. This early in the season, all you need is one game like this to change your statistical profile, and that is what happened for the shortstop who is now hitting .444 on the season. With 25 home runs and 87 RBI last season, this isn’t coming out of nowhere.
3) Another Long Ball for Donaldson
Yes, Josh Donaldson has gotten off to a slow start, but I would keep my concern to a minimum. He will likely need more time at DH early in the season, but that will just impact Kendrys Morales. Last night, Donaldson was in the lineup at third base, and watching him at the plate, you would never know that there was an issue. He went deep for the second time this season, a two run shot, and also added an RBI to bring his RBI total on the season to four. Hitting just .238, it isn’t an ideal start to the season for the third baseman, but I’m not getting too concerned.
4) The Dark Knight Surfaces
While I wouldn’t refer to the Matt Harvey’s performance on Tuesday as a resurgence of his Dark Knight days, fantasy owners should still feel good about it. Harvey turned in five scoreless innings against the Phillies before being lifted for a pinch hitter after 86 pitches. Of those 86 pitches, 55 were strikes and Philadelphia didn’t manage much, if any, strong contact against Harvey. While he did get five fly ball outs, along with four ground balls and five strikeouts, there weren’t many hard hit balls. Harvey walked just one batter, and the hit he allowed was a weak single into right field by Rhys Hoskins. There was a noticeable different in watching Harvey this season as compared to 2017 as he looked more comfortable as a pitcher who wasn’t trying to do too much.
5) Who Needs Acuna, Atlanta Has Preston Tucker
Through the first week of the season, that is what it seems like. While obviously it is not true, it’s hard to argue with the performance we are seeing out of Tucker. Batting fifth, the outfielder added two more hits last night as he brought his average up to .421 on the season. Tucker got things going for Atlanta in the first inning with a three run homer; his first of the season. It is clear that Tucker is a placeholder for Acuna as well he has had some minor league success, he doesn’t have much of a track record. Don’t go all in on Tucker, but keep an eye on him (especially in deeper leagues) as long as he continues to hit.
6) Don’t Worry About Tommy Pham
The Cardinals outfielder was one of the more divisive players this spring, and his slow start this spring, and then this season, certainly didn’t help. There was more concern about his vision and approach at the plate, but after Tuesday’s game, Pham appears to be right where he should be. It was a night of firsts for the outfielder, as he went deep for the first time in 2018 while also adding his first double and finishing a triple shy of the cycle. Pham is now hitting .368 on the season, and his home run was actually his first RBI of the season. It is just one game, but it shows you that it is too early to give up on anybody.
7) A Grand Night for Reddick
A day after taking to Twitter looking for a hit, Josh Reddick did a little better than that last night. After robbing Baltimore of a three run homer, the outfielder took matters into his own hands at the plate. Reddick’s grand slam put Houston ahead for good an inning after he hit a two run homer. He is now on the board with two home runs and six RBI on the season, and you have to like what the Astros are doing with the batting order to start the season. Yuli Gurriel has been sidelined, but so far, Reddick has been batting fifth behind Carlos Correa after right-handed pitching. And on Tuesday, the certainly took advantage of it.
8) Ohtani Shows off the Power
In his second game at DH this season, Shohei Ohtani looked like a different player than he did this spring. After singling in his debut at the plate, Ohtani wasted no time joining with the Angels’ offensive fireworks on Tuesday. In his first at bat of the night, Ohtani drove a three run homer out to right field, and he subsequently added two more singles. We now have two games of Ohtani as a hitter to work with, and so far, it’s hard to argue with those results. However, he is at his most valuable in leagues where he can be used as both a pitcher and hitter depending on the game. Also, with his big swing, there will likely be growing pains at some point this season. But after what we saw last night, the hype is understandable.
9) An Unexpected Three Home Run Game in San Diego
We know that the Padres are a rebuilding team, and with that there is opportunity, but it was a little surprising to see Christian Villanueva batting fifth on Tuesday. It did make sense with a southpaw on the mound, and it’s not like San Diego has many other options, but Villanueva certainly took advantage of the situation. In all three of his at bats, the third baseman went deep, and he now gives us something to think about moving forward when the Padres face southpaws. And they weren’t cheap home runs either as Villanueva certainly showed off some power.
10) Godley Picks up Where He Left off
Entering the season, there was a decent amount of positive hype surrounding Zack Godley. The addition of the humidor to Arizona only helped to increase that helium. And on Tuesday, the right-hander lived up to those expectations. He shut the Dodgers down over seven innings of work while limiting them to just one run on four hits and one walk. There were just a few spots in which Godley had to pitch out of trouble. The right-hander struck out just three batters, but he once again kept the ball on the ground forcing 11 ground ball outs.