Happy Wednesday, everyone! Now that Tuesday’s Memorial Weekend hangover is behind us, we can focus in on some of the top nuggets in the Fantasy Baseball world — a collection of key takeaways from Tuesday’s action and leftovers from the weekend. We’ll dive into some detective work involving a potential top prospect on the Reds being called up shortly (hopefully), we’ll discuss some of the pitchers who have turned it around recently and more. But let’s first discuss a starting pitcher who was red hot out of seemingly nowhere but has now come back down to earth.
Mariners SP Bryce Miller, known for his consistent performances as of late, faced a significant setback in his latest start on Tuesday against the Yankees. In just 4 2/3 innings, Miller allowed 11 hits and eight earned runs boosting his ratios. Despite the shellacking, Miller maintains a 3.00 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP over 36 innings pitched this season. In this outing in particular, although he managed to strike out just three batters, the positive sign is that his command wasn’t a major issue as Miller didn’t issue a single walk. He exited the game with just 86 pitches and hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come as teams see more of Miller.
One noticeable aspect of Miller’s start was his decreased usage of the fastball, which accounted for only 58% of his pitches. Interestingly, his fastball struggled to find the strike zone consistently with a 16% called strikes plus whiffs rate — a low number that underlined his biggest flaw in the outing, an ineffective fastball.
Miller’s secondary pitches displayed a decrease in velocity compared to his previous outings. His curveball was down by 1.6 miles per hour (MPH) and his slider decreased 1.4 MPH. These lowered velocities led to harder exit velocities from the Yankees batters.
If it were up to me, he’d be a top player on my trading block — the sooner I sell, the better.
Time for De La Cruz?
Reds infielder Elly De La Cruz recently sparked excitement among fantasy owners. The top prospect generated buzz when he posted a cryptic message on his Instagram, hinting at a potential call-up to the major leagues. This social media activity has piqued the interest of Fantasy managers, who are eagerly awaiting any official announcements regarding his promotion.
Further fueling the speculation surrounding De La Cruz’s call-up, an article on The Athletic this past weekend shed light on the Reds’ internal discussions regarding the talented player. With Jonathan India performing admirably, the decision is a tricky one for the Reds.
For Fantasy managers, our advice is to closely monitor this situation, as a potential call-up could offer significant Fantasy value immediately. This is one of the highest upside potential prospect call-ups we have left on the board for the 2023 season.
Braves promote exciting pitching prospect
The most shocking MLB news of Tuesday came in Atlanta with the. Taken in the seventh round of the 2021 MLB Draft, Smith-Shawver posted a 5.11 ERA for Class-A Augusta last season while looking nowhere near ready for the big leagues, though he did strike out 103 batters in 68 2/3 innings to go with a 5.1 BB-per-9 rate.
However, Smth-Shawver’s seven minor-league starts this season have completely changed the narrative. He first struck out 23 batters over 14 scoreless innings with High-A Rome, then had nine strikeouts over seven scoreless innings with Double-A Mississippi. That was enough for the Braves to move him to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he finally allowed a few runners to cross the plate while posting a 3.00 ERA in 12 innings over two starts with 13 strikeouts. In all, Smith-Shawver delivered a1.09 ERA in 33 innings with 45 strikeouts and 12 walks prior to his promotion to Atlanta.
“We’re going to pitch him out of [the bullpen] for a while, kind of like we did with Spencer Strider last year,” Brian Snitker said after the move was announced Tuesday. “Try and get him multiple innings when we can. I think his future’s going to be starting, but this is a way to kind of break him in.”
Citing Strider is certain to make Fantasy managers’ ears perk up, and Smith-Shawver is worth a speculative add to the bench in most leagues to see how he responds to the aggressive promotion.
SPs who have turned it around
White Sox SP Lance Lynn has been a reliable force on the mound as of late delivering three consecutive quality starts. Over this span, Lynn has posted an impressive 1.89 ERA and a solid 1.11 WHIP, and has limited opposing hitters to an average exit velocity of just 86.9 miles per hour. Lynn’s ability to generate swings and misses over this stretch is evident with a 10.6% swinging-strike rate (SwStr rate), and it’s the number one factor in why you should be getting excited about the veteran keeping this recent surge up. You can still buy on Lynn at a reasonably cheap price given his overall numbers.
Rangers SP Jon Gray has been on a remarkable run, largely thanks to the effectiveness of his new and improved slider. In his last four starts, Gray has been virtually untouchable, racking up a sparkling 1.00 ERA, a minuscule 0.78 WHIP, and an impressive 27 strikeouts with just five walks over 27 innings pitched. If you’re looking for reason to get excited about Gray long term, it’s his slider that has undergone the most striking transformation, now registering at an average speed of 87.6 miles per hour. This is up a remarkable 4 MPH compared to his first six starts.
May proved to be a fruitful month for Padres SP Michael Wacha, as he strung together an impressive five consecutive quality starts. His latest outing against the New York Yankees showcased his skills, as he threw seven innings, allowing just two earned runs on five hits with four strikeouts and no walks. Wacha is once again relying heavily on his changeup, and it’s making the difference.
News and notes
- Riley Greene felt discomfort in his leg in the first inning on Tuesday and was removed from the game to undergo further evaluation, and it’s possible Greene’s injury requires a stint on the IL. Jake McCarthy, who was acquired from the White Sox in a Tuesday trade, will join the Tigers on Wednesday and could fill in for Greene in the lineup while he’s out.
- Julio Urias threw a 15-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday as part of his recovery from a left hamstring strain. He’s expected to see some mound work on Saturday before pitching three simulated innings early next week. At that point a timetable for his return will likely become clearer.
- Triston McKenzie made his third rehab start with Triple-A on Tuesday, throwing just 43 pitches over three innings before the game was suspended due to rain. McKenzie surrendered a solo home run that was his only hit allowed in the outing, in which he also had three strikeouts and one walk.
- McKenzie’s teammate Aaron Civale is slated to return from the IL to start against the Twins on Friday after missing nearly two months with an oblique strain. Coupled with McKenzie’s progress, the Guardians have a rotation crunch on the horizon with rookies Tanner Bibee and Logan Allen pitching well. Cal Quantrill could be in danger of losing his rotation spot after a brutal outing on Tuesday.
- Manny Machado went through a full pregame workout on Tuesday as he recovers from a small fracture in his left hand. He’s likely to be activated from the injured list during the team’s homestand that starts on Friday.
- Jacob deGrom is slated to throw another bullpen assignment on Wednesday, after which he’ll be re-evaluated to determine the next step in his recovery.
- Cedric Mullins landed on the 10-day injured list with a Grade 2 right groin strain on Tuesday. The hope is that he’ll be out weeks rather than months. The Orioles signed former Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks on Tuesday, and he could be in line for playing time quickly due to the Mullins injury. Jorge Mateo is also reportedly an option to see some time in center field.
- Giancarlo Stanton started a rehab assignment with Double-A Somerset Tuesday, going 0 for 3 and drawing a walk as the team’s DH. He’s been on the IL since mid-April because of a hamstring strain.
- An MRI revealed Harrison Bader is dealing with a low-grade strain to his right hamstring, per Yankees manager Aaron Boone, but is still expected to miss at least a couple weeks of action after going on the IL on Tuesday.
- In more Yankees injury news, Josh Donaldson is expected to return from his hamstring injury during the team’s series against the Dodgers this weekend.
- Eduardo Rodriguez was placed on the 10-day IL on Tuesday with a finger injury after looking sharp in his last start Tuesday while giving up just one run in six innings of work.
- Peter Fairbanks has no structural damage in his hip after undergoing an MRI on Tuesday. He’ll be shut down from throwing for at least a week while on the injured list.
- Nick Senzel is expected to return to the lineup on Wednesday after being scratched due to right knee soreness on Tuesday.
- Adam Duvall began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Tuesday, going 0 for 3 and striking out twice as the Worchester DH. He was batting .455 with four home runs in eight games before injuring his wrist, and he can first be activated off the 60-day injured list on June 9. He’s 67% rostered and could be out there in some shallower leagues.
- Kenta Maeda began a minor-league rehab assignment Tuesday at Triple-A, striking out four over two hitless innings for St. Paul.
- Trevor Rogers also began a minor-league rehab assignment on Tuesday, allowing just one hit and one walk over four scoreless innings while striking out seven for Class A Jupiter.
- Mitch Garver played his first full game on his rehab assignment, going 0 for 4 with a walk as the DH for Triple-A Round Rock. He’s expected to play a few more games this week, including one in the field, before a potential activation during this weekend’s series against the Mariners.
- Michael Conforto was removed from Tuesday’s game due to a bruise on his left heel after going 2 for 4 with an RBI. After missing all of 2022 due to injury, any issue with Conforto is one to monitor, but it seems likely he’ll return to the lineup within a few days.
- Dave Roberts said on Tuesday that it “makes a lot of sense” for Michael Grove to be activated from the injured list to start Saturday. The rookie has struggled in 2023, posting an 8.44 ERA in 16 innings over four starts. Gavin Stone was optioned back to Triple-A on Tuesday following his own struggles with the Dodgers.
- Darick Hall began a rehab assignment with Class A Clearwater on Tuesday, going 2 for 4 with a walk as the designated hitter. He’s been out since early April after tearing a thumb ligament and is first eligible to come off the 60-day IL on June 5.
- TJ Friedl was removed from Tuesday’s game due to hamstring tightness and is considered day-to-day, though it’s unlikely he’ll start Wednesday.
- Grant Anderson made his MLB debut for the Rangers on Tuesday, striking out seven of the nine batters he faced to earn the win over 2 2/3 scoreless innings of work. He’s struck out 47 batters over 28 innings in Double-A and Triple-A this season while posting a 3.54 ERA and should be on the radar for deeper leagues as a non-saves relief option.
- Jose Trevino returned from the IL on Tuesday, going 0 for 4 with a walk while hitting eighth for the Yankees.
- Padres catching prospect Ethan Salas was assigned to Class A Lake Elsinore on Tuesday, where he went 2 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout as the designated hitter in his pro debut. Why bring him up here? Salas is just 16 years old (turning 17 this week), so debuting him at Class A rather than the Arizona Complex League shows the Padres are willing to be aggressive with his development. If he handles himself well at the level, expect him to rise quickly in prospect rankings.