SP Sean Manaea, Oakland Athletics
Several weeks back, before Manaea landed on the disabled list, the left-hander was in this report as a faller and mentioned as a buy low. It might be a little late to get him after his last performance. The strikeouts have been there all season and Manaea had some poor luck. Manaea came off the DL on May 15 and had a rough first inning and rebounded to go five innings, allowing five walks, two hits, four runs and struck out seven. In his three starts since, he has pitched 19 innings and allowed 12 hits, three earned runs, two walks and struck out 20. Manaea handled a good Indians offense on Wednesday, going seven innings and allowed three hits, one run, one walk and struck out nine. Manaea had a good second half last season and is one of the top young arms in baseball that might go under the radar since he plays in Oakland. Manaea is 4-3 with a 3.91 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 10.06 K/9 and a 3.54 BB/9. He has increased his ground ball rate to 50.8 percent and has a 14.3 percent swinging strike rate. Manaea has been fortunate with a .233 BABIP, which is below his career average of .270 but he has good skills and is a buy.
2B Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals
The Royals have struggled offensively and Merrifield has earned more playing time with his hot bat. After batting .229 in April, Merrifield turned it on in May. He hit .319 with 13 runs, four home runs, nine RBIs and five steals in 91 at-bats. He has a 16-game hitting streak going into Friday. Overall, he is batting .294 with 17 runs, six home runs, 12 RBIs and six stolen bases in 126 at-bats. Merrifield is worth an add if he's still available for the steals alone. He showed a prowess for stealing bases in the minor leagues.
RP Koda Glover, Washington Nationals
Glover appeared he might be the closer before the season began as the Nationals took a long time to name a closer. We know manager Dusty Baker is hesitant to trust young players and Blake Treinen got the first crack. That fizzled quickly. Then Shawn Kelley got the chance even though the Nationals were worried about his durability and pitching on consecutive days. Kelley landed on the DL as did Glover for a bit, but with no one seizing the job, Glover got the shot and has run away with it. In his last six appearances, Glover has converted all five of his save chances and has gone nine straight appearances without allowing an earned run. Glover has converted seven of eight save chances. In 17.1 innings, he has allowed 12 hits, two walks and struck out 16. He has a 2.08 ERA and 0.81 WHIP. He has a hard hit percentage of 14.9 percent. The biggest concern is the Nationals making a trade for a more experienced closer. It's possible they look for setup men instead if Glover continues to dominate. Either way, be happy if you have Glover. He's very good.
SP Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
Just when you were starting to feel better about Tanaka, he had another terrible outing. Tanaka struck out 13 in 7.1 innings while allowing one run and no walks against the A's on May 26. He followed it up with a dud against the Orioles Wednesday. He went 5.2 innings and allowed nine hits, seven runs, one home run, two walks and struck out four. He has four games of at least six earned runs allowed this season. Tanaka has a 20.5 percent strikeout rate and that's in line with previous seasons. The walk rate is slightly up to 6.2 percent. The Splitter isn't splitting and when he misses his location, he's getting hit hard. He has allowed 14 home runs in 61 innings and it will continue to be a problem at Yankee Stadium. It's easy to say he must be dealing with an injury since he has been pitching with a partially torn UCL, but his velocity is up and he has a swinging strike rate of 13.1 percent, his highest since his rookie season of 2014. There's definite concern here.
2B Jonathan Villar, Milwaukee Brewers
Villar is struggling and not close to the player we saw last season. He's been moved down the order and starting to sit in some games, too. While he did strike out often last season, the strikeout rate is up four percent to 29.5 percent. He had a .373 BABIP last season and it's dropped to .290, which partially explains the .213 batting average. As bad as the average has been, Villar still has 26 runs, five home runs and 24 RBIs with 12 stolen bases. He just hasn't lived up to his draft day cost. It's very difficult to attain stolen bases and Villar is still getting them. If you're in dire need of steals, now is the time to try and get Villar.
3B Maikel Franco, Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies are in a team malaise. There was some rumors that Franco could be sent down to Triple-A to get out of his slump, but the Phillies say it's not imminent. Franco is batting .216 with 17 runs, six home runs, 28 RBIs and a .625 OPS. Franco is swinging at less pitches out of the zone and there's nothing significantly different from last season. He has a .222 BABIP and his career average is .268. He has a hard hit rate of 32 percent compared to 30.7 percent last season. Franco batted .218 with 10 runs, two home runs, seven RBIs and a .596 OPS. This looks like an extended slump and Franco should improve.