SP Sonny Gray, Oakland Athletics
Early in the offseason, I thought Gray was going to provide good value. I wasn't a fan of his draft price a few years ago, but coming off an awful season, he was worth the risk. In a draft champions league in February, I took Gray in round 17 of a 15-team league. I was happy. Gray had two stints on the DL in 2016 and was shut down in March with a lat strain. There was no timetable for his return and he took a tumble down my draft board. Gray made his season debut May 2 and he was mediocre his first two starts. His last three starts have been good, including a dynamic outing on Wednesday against the Marlins. He pitched seven innings, allowing three hits, one run and one walk, while striking out 11. He went to his slider more and made hitters look silly. It's a pitch that is difficult for hitters to lay off with two strikes and Gray was ahead in the count often. Gray is 2-1 with a 3.34 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and a 28:8 K:BB ratio in 29.2 innings. Gray has a 58.5 percent ground ball rate, an 11.2 percent swinging strike rate and the velocity on his fastball is up to 93.4 miles per hour. There's a chance he gets traded to a better team, too.
SP Matt Shoemaker, Los Angeles Angels
Shoemaker didn't get off to a good start this season. Shoemaker emerged last season by using his best pitch, the splitter, more and he had a stretch of dominance. He allowed hardly and any walks and induced a lot of ground balls. That wasn't the case in April with a 3.71 BB/9 and a 2.03 HR/9. He has improved in May, although the walks are still a bit high at 3.6 BB/9. The big difference is the decrease in home runs. After a 4.73 ERA in April, Shoemaker has turned it around in May. In 30 innings, he has a 3.30 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and a 30:12 K:BB ratio. Shoemaker has been good the last three starts, spanning 18.2 innings. He has allowed 15 hits, three earned runs, one home run and a 21:5 K:BB ratio in that span. Shoemaker is someone you want on your roster.
1B Matt Adams, Atlanta Braves
There's no doubt Adams has flaws. He strikes out often, doesn't walk much and struggles against left-handers. Still, he can help teams in need of a corner infielder. He's going to play as long as Freddie Freeman is out and it's looking like that should be about 10 weeks. Adams has legit power and the ball is flying out of Atlanta. Since coming to the Braves, Adams is 7-for-22 with four runs, two doubles, one triple, two home runs and four RBIs in five games, all at home. Adams had 16 home runs and 54 RBIs in 118 games last season. He hits a lot of fly balls and hits the ball hard.
SP Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
Verlander is really struggling and had another bad start Thursday, going 5.2 innings allowing nine hits, six runs, three walks, three home runs and struck out four against the Astros. A start in which he allowed nine runs in four innings has inflated his numbers, but Verlander hasn't been sharp in several games. He is 4-3 with a 4.87 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 8.56 K/9 and a 4.28 BB/9. He has allowed nine home runs, has a 50.6 percent fly ball rate and a 34.8 percent hard hit rate. Verlander is averaging almost 95 miles per with his fastball for the first time since 2011, but his swinging strike percentage is down to nine percent. Hitters are making more contact against Verlander and he has a 1.61 ERA at home and 7.64 on the road. A lot of people gave on Verlander last season after he had a 4.07 ERA in the first half and he had a 1.96 ERA over the second half in 110.1 innings. There are some concerns, especially with the walks and hard contact, but an owner can't get proper value for him in a deal and needs to have some patience.
OF Odubel Herrera, Philadelphia Phillies
Herrera is having a miserable season. He is batting .226 with 15 runs, three home runs, 13 RBIs, four stolen bases and a .614 OPS. He has not been able to build on a season in which he had 15 home runs and 25 stolen bases. Hererra's strikeout rate is up 5.5 percent to 25.9 percent and the walk rate is down to 3.8 percent to 5.8 percent. He has a .296 BABIP and that's below his career average of .357. Herrera has a 30.5 percent hard hit rate and that's the best of his career. Herrera is being more aggressive and it's leading to more swings and misses and swinging at more pitches outside of the strike zone. Herrera is batting .194 this month after a decent April and he should turn it around.
OF Curtis Granderson, New York Mets
Granderson is off to another slow start with a .173 average, 19 runs, four home runs, 17 RBIs and a .586 OPS. Granderson is 36 and at some point you start to wonder if he's losing some skills. The biggest concern is playing time. With Yoenis Cespedes set to return shortly, Granderson is likely to lose playing time. Granderson is walking less, hitting less line drives and hitting more fly balls. Granderson is also swinging at more pitches outside the zone. His stock is going down unless another injury happens.
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