by Ray Kuhn
We concluded the weekend yesterday with another day of exciting action around the league, and there were plenty of fantasy performances that stood out. Of course we now must replace Robinson Cano for the next two months after he was hit by a pitch and broke his forearm, but that is par for the course with how this season has gone so far. Instead, let’s focus on the good and take a look at some of the things that went right on Sunday:
1) Talk About a Debut
Yes, he we know all about how difficult and intimidating it can be to make your major league debut. The same can also be said for starting in Coors Field. Combine the two, and it could be a recipe for disaster. However Freddy Peralta certainly did everything he could to make sure that what was expected to be a one start engagement, continues. Peralta allowed just a single in 5.2 shutout innings of work as he walked two, and struck out 13 batters.
Talk about not being intimidated, as if he didn’t need all of those 98 pitches to strike out Rockies’ hitters, Peralta likely could have pitched deeper into the game. After just one start, you certainly want to temper your enthusiasm some, at least until you see if Milwaukee truly creates a rotation spot for him, but it is difficult to do. Dating back to last season, the 21-year old has had minor league success, a 2.26 ERA in 63.2 innings at Double-A last season and a 3.63 ERA in 34.2 innings at Triple-A (Colorado Springs) this season, but you can still consider his debut unexpected.
2) Stanton is Pretty Good Hitter
There were some times early this season, when people did question Giancarlo Stanton. Maybe the issue, is that we can’t judge Stanton against Aaron Judge as the latter leads the former by nine RBI so far this season; 35 to 26. And that takes into account the three runs Stanton drove in on Sunday while Judge only added one RBI to his total. In fact, Stanton had a perfect day at the plate against Oakland as he went 4 for 4 and hit the only home run of the game for the Yankees. The solo shot gave Stanton 10 for the season as he also raised his batting average to .252. While there is still a lot of baseball left to be played, and Stanton can be a streaky hitter, this is why you don’t panic in April.
3) Rickard Leads the Way
In no way am I going to suggest that Sunday’s performance will be the start of something for Baltimore this season, after all they are 13-28, but maybe we do have to pay some attention to their lineup. Granted it was Tampa Bay, but the Orioles did put 17 runs on the board yesterday. Baltimore was led by Joey Rickard and his five RBI as he certainly made his presence felt. It was just the second game of the season for Rickard, who was just promoted from Triple-A, but in the previous two seasons, he has had minimal value at times; more so as a value option in DFS. While there is no need to rush out to waiver wire to acquire him, AL-only leagues are a different story, Rickard went deep twice on Sunday as he picked up three hits and drove in five runs. The Orioles have nothing to lose at this point, so keep an eye on the situation.
4) No Adjustment Necessary
So far this season, JD Martinez is having no issues with his new home. Martinez has taken to both Boston, the Red Sox, and being a DH, and that success continued on Sunday. He picked up two more hits, and also a walk, in four bats yesterday, and that included his 10th home run of the season. That brought Martinez’s average up to .342 so far this year, and with 33 RBI he has seamlessly fit into the middle of Boston’s lineup. While we know all about the power and run producing abilities, don’t bank on the batting average continuing at the same level, as Martinez’s is benefiting from a .427 BABIP. Also, one of the concerns about Martinez entering the season was if he would be able to continue his 33.8% home run to fly ball rate from last season, but at 29.4% so far in 2018, that hasn’t been an issue. What is of slight interest though, is the fact that Martinez has seen his fly ball rate rate drop from 43.2% last year to 32.1% so far in 2018. The fact that he has traded fly balls for line drives though does somewhat ease my concern.
5) Kluber Dominates, But Leaves Us Wanting More
I know, I shouldn’t be complaining about seven innings of no earned runs, but that is the bar Corey Kluber has set. The right-hander did allow two unearned runs to cross the plate, but they didn’t hamper Kluber picking up his sixth victory of the season, so they aren’t of concern to fantasy owners. Kluber did scatter eight hits against the Royals, but he didn’t walk a batter as he lowered his ERA to 2.34 on the season. But if we are going to be honest, it would have been nice to see Kluber strike out more than four batters. Overall, the right-hander is striking out 8.40 batters per nine innings this season, and while it is down from his career average of 9.82, there is minimal cause for concern. We should note though, that Kluber’s BABIP this season is just .212 and his FIP of 3.73 (3.10 xFIP) doesn’t paint the best picture. While it is something I’m going to keep an eye, there is also no reason to overreact.
6) Holland Picks Up His Second Victory
Is the state of starting pitching really that bad that we are interested in Derek Holland? Unfortunately, as a streaming option, that is the case. And while it wasn’t a truly attractive picture, overall, Holland did come through in Pittsburgh yesterday. The southpaw picked up his second victory of the season with six shutout innings to bring his ERA down 4.79. It wasn’t all that easy for Holland, who did strike out seven, as he allowed four hits and five walks on the day. Essentially what you see from Holland is what you get, and he really is just a streaming option. However, you have to like the fact that after striking out 6.93 batters per nine innings last season, he is up to 8.49 so far this year.
7) Minimal Issues for Keuchel
At this point, you have to be careful not to overlook Dallas Keuchel in Houston’s rotation. On Sunday, the southpaw made sure of that against the weak hitting Rangers. Keuchel shut Texas out over seven innings to pick up his third victory of the season, and never was really in trouble at any point in the afternoon. The Rangers managed just three hits and one walk against Keuchel as he struck out eight and lowered his ERA to 3.10. The strikeouts were a good sign for Keuchel as he is striking out just 6.98 batters per nine innings so far this season, but his walks are down to 2.33 per nine innings (from 2.90 in 2017). Yesterday, eight of Keuchel’s outs came on the ground (four in the air) as he looks to improve on his 56% ground ball rate; compared to 66.8% last season.
8) More Domination from Ohtani
Yesterday’s victim was the Twins as Shohei Ohtani continues to put the spring in his rear view mirror. While Minnesota did manage to get a run off Ohtani, on three hits and two walks, the right-hander also struck out 11 batters. It was actually an inherited runner that was allowed to score by the Angels’ bullpen in the seventh inning, as Ohtani’s ERA now sits at 3.58 for the season. With 11.85 strikeouts per nine innings, it’s hard not to like what Ohtani is doing when he is on the mound, and his 3.39 FIP illustrates that we can trust in what he is doing as well.
9) This is Why We Roster Hamilton
Billy Hamilton truly has trouble reaching first base. We know all about his speed though, and how stolen bases are becoming an increasingly rare commodity to find these days, so Hamilton still garners a relatively high draft spot. This season though, things have been a little rougher than normal as Hamilton is spending most of his time batting ninth. On Sunday though, he did reach base three times, two singles and a walk, and he raised his average to .215. What is of greater importance though, is the three bases Hamilton stole. While he still just has eight on the season, it’s hard to argue with that production as it is enough to keep you on the hook.
10) Reynolds Didn’t Miss a Beat
If you need power and Mark Reynolds is available, it is certainly worth taking a look at him. Reynolds wasted no time after his promotion, the Nationals placed Ryan Zimmerman on the DL, to make his presence felt on Sunday. In his first game this season, Reynolds picked up three hits, but more importantly, two of those hits left the park. It appears, and that is also how Washington played it on Sunday, that their best lineup includes Reynolds at first base and Matt Adams in left field. That means, playing time, at least on a temporary basis, shouldn’t be an issue for Reynolds. And we know he still brings power to the table.
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