Travis D'Arnaud returned from the DL this week. The Mets eased him into action with a pinching hitting role in his first game. After a played game, and then a day off, his swing looked back on Saturday night when he went 3-for-5 with a HR and two RBI. His batting average (.221) looks short in 2017 after 68 at bats, but his production is not (five HRs and 18 RBI). This early success projected over 450 at bats would be 33 HRs and 119 RBI so he should be good for another 10 to 15 HRs with respectable RBI. Solid catching option going forward in 12-team leagues or smaller. I doubt he’s in the free agent pool in 15-team leagues.
If you need a short-term filler at catcher with possible long-term upside, Alex Avila is off to a great start (.337 after 86 at bats with six HRs and 20 RBI). James McCann went on the DL with a minor hand issue after getting hit by a pitch. This will give Alex a bump in at bats over the next couple of weeks. As great as he looks, Avila still has a high K rate (29.3), so a correction in his batting average will come with increased playing time.
The Mariners shipped Mike Zunino back to AAA after a poor start to the season (.167 with no HR and two RBI over 72 at bats plus 30 Ks). He found his stroke in the minors (.293 with five HRs and 11 RBI over 45 at bats) leading to him getting recalled on Monday. He hit a home run on May 23rd in three at bats, but he has no hits over his last 13 at bats with eight Ks. Over his last 362 at bats at AAA, Mike hit .290 with 25 HRs and 76 RBI. This should translate into a solid option at catcher in the majors, but the gap in his K rate between AAA (19.8) and the majors (39.4) is massive over the last three seasons. Possible power out if he starts to make more contact if your team has the batting average covered.
Lucas Duda ended up in the free agent pool in some shallow leagues after being on the DL for three weeks in late April. He responded with a massive run over the last five games (nine hits in 18 at bats with five runs, two HRs, and eight RBI), which will put him high on the free agent list this week. His success screams, “put me in coach.”
I mentioned last week that Brandon Moss was rounding into form. He has three HRs and five RBI over his last 17 at bats (.294), but he’s started only five of the last eight games. Alex Gordon continues to put up zeros so Moss may push his way into more at bats. More of an option in 15-team leagues.
Adrian Gonzalez was dumped into the free agent pool in the 12-team leagues I’m looking at for a reference. His swing looks in line with his career resume over his last six games (7-for-24 with a HR and six RBI). He looks like a snap call if you have a problem at first base in shallow leagues.
After ten days on the DL at AAA with a thumb issue, Yoan Moncada returned to action on May 28th. He’s hitting .329 in the minors over 146 at bats with 29 runs, six HRs, 15 RBI, and 10 SBs. His K rate (28.4) still invites early risk in the majors, but he’s getting closer to a call up unless Chicago feels the need to push his window for his Super-Two status. It would then point to a call-up after the All-Star break. His breakpoint for another year of retention came on May 15th so he could be called up at any time without changing that eligibility.
Tyler Saladino landed on the DL with a back issue, clearing the path for Yolmer (formerly Carlos) Sanchez to get full time at bats. Over his last 16 games covering 62 at bats, Sanchez hit .322 with nine runs, one HR, nine RBI, and a stolen base. Yolmer is a career .284 hitter in the minors with 20 HRs, 238 RBI, and 89 SBs over 2226 at bats. His power did make a step forward over the last three seasons at AAA (.290 with 17 HRs, 103 RBI, and 31 SBs over 803 at bats). Developing player with more upside than meets the eye.
Raul Mondesi has a 16-game hitting streak at AAA (26-for-65 with 15 runs, three HRs, 12 RBI, and six SBs) pushing his average to .340. He has 26 Ks in 104 plate appearance leading to a 25.0 percent K rate, which invites some risk in the majors. The Royals did call him up last week for a game in a doubleheader before sending him back to the minors. I expect him to be in the majors soon and he looks like a speed out in the middle infield.
Pablo Sandoval is trying to work his way back into shape at AAA. Over 21 at bats, he has three hits with a RBI. Even with a slow start with Boston (.213), Pablo did have three HRs and 10 RBI over 61 at bats. This projected over a full season (550 at bats) would be 27 HRs and 90 RBI. I know most are writing him off, but there is still upside in his game if he gets healthy. He just needs some Boston love to get the clutch feel back in his swing. Worth a gamble in 15-team leagues or larger based the weakness in the free agent pool while 12-team leagues must use a wait and see approach.
The Pirates activated David Freese off the DL on May 12th. Over his last eight games, he has two HRs and four RBI, but he did strike out 10 times in 25 at bats. On the positive side, Freeze did start eight of the last nine games for the Pirates. More of a short-term injury cover in deep leagues based on his playing time.
I get the sense that the Rangers will move Jurickson Profar to improve their starting pitching over the next month or so. Profar hasn’t developed as expected over the last two seasons and his game looks to be misplaced if played in the outfield in the majors. With Odor and Andrus tying up 2B and SS, Jurickson looks to their most valuable trading asset without changing the major league roster. Over 96 at bats at AAA in 2017, he’s hitting .281 with one HR, 10 RBI, and a SB. Player to watch especially if he gets middle infield eligibility. Just for some insight, he’s played 21 games at short in the minors this season plus two at second base and one game in the outfield.
Jordy Mercer has been on fire over his last six games (12-for- 24 with five runs, two HRs, and six RBI). He has a six-game hitting streak with two hits or more in five games. His bat has double-digit power with below league average value in runs and RBI, so Jordy only works in deep leagues or as injury cover when he’s playing well.
The Angels’ offense is on the rise and Andrelton Simmons is doing his part. Over his last 37 at bats, Simmons has 17 hits (.459) with four runs, a home run, and seven RBI. He has two hits in a game or more nine times in his last 14 contests. Andrelton is on pace for 31 doubles, 12 HRs, 62 RBI, and 12 SBs so he’s real close to being a strong upside option at a middle infield option in deep leagues. If he gets his combined steals and home runs to 35, Fantasy owner would be pleased with his growth. Simmons did hit 17 HRs over 606 at bats in 2013 so a power run wouldn’t surprise me and his swing has a long ball feel far as aggression even with a low strikeout rate.
Over the last week, I’ve been thinking about Alex Gordon. He sucked me in in the high-stakes market after his excellent spring (.323 over 62 at bats with two HRs, nine RBI, and two SBs). Over his last 592 at bats in the majors, Alex hit .209 with 17 HRs, 58 RBI, and nine SBs. He did hit 10 HRs over his last 197 at bats in 2016 to light a dim candle of his possible rebound this year. My thought led me to believe maybe he was an ex-juicer after getting drafted second overall in 2005. He signed a four-year, $16 million contract in January of 2016. The Royals may need to take a salary dump to create a better opportunity for Jorge Bonifacio who is being productive (.271 with six HRs and 15 RBI over 96 at bats). Jorge has a hit in nine of his last ten games (12-for-37) with four HRs and nine RBI. Bonifacio should be picked up in deep leagues while Gordon looks to be roadkill in the Fantasy market.
There’s a lot to like about Cameron Maybin over the last ten days or so. He has 17 hits in his last 39 at bats with 13 runs, two HRs, five RBI, and three TDs. Maybin raised his average from .180 to .247. Also, he has nine walks over his recent hot steak and 28 over 150 at bats in 2017, which supports a leadoff opportunity. If your team needs speed in any format, Cameron is an excellent option while adding value in power as well.
Down at the bottom of the free agent pool is the dusty, cobweb-covered, Curtis Granderson. He has 13 hits in his last 47 at bats (.277) with seven runs, two HRs, eight RBI, and a SB while starting eight of the last ten games for the Mets. New York will be faced with a problem this week when Yoenis Cespedes returns from the DL. Michael Conforto has been great while Jay Bruce is productive. Granderson is trending upward, but his at bats may only offer value in deep leagues. For now, only an injury cover while I expect a hot streak.
Jake Marisnick has hit his way into the starting lineup of the Astros over the last couple of weeks. He has eight hits in his last 22 at bats with seven runs, four HRs, seven RBI, and two SBs. Marisnick started four of the last five games for Houston, and they will ride him while he’s hot in a similar way as Marwin Gonzalez. Tough to trust over the long haul, but he brings more to the table than Norchika Aoki. Week-to-week option with a playable power/speed combo to cover an injury.
The Mets are expected to activate Steven Matz off the DL next week. He threw the ball well over 22 starts in 2016 (3.40 ERA with 129 Ks over 132.2 innings). Over two starts in the minors in 2017, he allowed six runs and 11 base runners over seven innings with seven Ks. Matz will make one more start in the minors before returning to the starting rotation for New York. He has a live arm with high upside, but his underlying injury risk makes him tough to trust. I’m sure he’s a free agent in shallow leagues so ride him while he’s upright.
Brian Johnson gave the Red Sox an electric start (five-hit complete game shutout with no walk and eight Ks), but he was shipped back to AAA with Boston not expected to need a fifth starter for a couple of weeks with David Price expected back on Monday. Over seven starts at AAA in 2017, Brian has a 2.82 ERA over 44.2 innings with 37 Ks. He looks like the best options to be the fifth start for Boston going forward, so he’s an excellent buy-and-hold if you have an open roster spot. If Price has a setback, he’ll be back in the majors quickly.
The A’s will call up Daniel Mengden this week who missed the first month of the season with a foot injury. Over four starts at AAA, Daniel went 2-1 with a 2.21 ERA and 20 Ks in 20.1 innings. His arm looked to offer upside in his last two outings (one run over 13 innings with no walks and 12 Ks). Mengen has an ugly major league resume (6.50 ERA over 72 innings in 2016), but he did show K ability (71). Over four seasons in the minors, Dan has a 22-7 record with a 2.73 ERA and 257 Ks over 260.1 innings. With the free agent pitching pool looking thin in deep leagues, Mengden is worth a short-term gamble.
I’ll continue to track Frankie Montas Frankie Montas also with Oakland as he could emerge in the starting rotation if/when they trade Sonny Gray. Over his last 8.1 innings, Frankie hasn’t allowed a run with 13 Ks. He’s resume is short at AAA (11.1 innings with a 2.38 ERA and 15 Ks), so he’ll need some time to develop.
It’s only a matter of time before Mike Minor moves into the starting rotation. Another major league should be interested in his success in 2017. Over 26.2 innings, Mike has a 1.69 ERA with batters hitting .174 against him. Minor hasn’t allowed a run over his last 14.1 innings with five hits and 19 Ks. His average fastball (94.3) is the best of his career and well above his years in the starting rotation (never higher than 92.0 mph. I view him as the 2017 version of Danny Duffy, so he’s a buy-and-hold for me. Kansas City wanted to limit his innings early in the year after missing the last two seasons with injuries.