Fantasy Baseball Daily Round Up: May 8
Brett Talley goes around the league, giving a daily state of the union for the world of fantasy baseball. He outlines current storylines and gives insight on what to watch for going forward.
The last time the Kansas City Royals hit two grand slams in a game, John Buck was involved. So yeah, it’s been awhile. Buck no longer owns that bit of trivia as Ryan O’Hearn and Whit Merrifield both hit salamis in Kansas City’s 12-2 blowout of Houston.
The #Royals weren't going to be satisfied with just one grand slam tonight.— FOX Sports Kansas City (@FSKansasCity) May 8, 2019
Whit hits the first grand slam of his career and the Royals have two in one game for only the second time in franchise history.
Catch the action right now on FSKC and FSGO. #AlwaysRoyal pic.twitter.com/crsZ3R2HaF
The Royals were not good offensively last season with a team wRC+ of 88, which ranked 23rd in the league. Whit Merrifield was the only qualified hitter on the team with a wRC+ north of 89. This season they’ve shown significant improvement as they had a 97 wRC+ entering play on Tuesday. They’ve got a whopping five hitters who have been above average, so consider KC differently when you’re considering pitchers facing them.
Pitching Performance of the Day
Let’s give Lucas Giolito the nod here for striking out eight over 7.1 innings while allowing only six baserunners. Unfortunately, half of those baserunners came via walks, which is Giolito’s weakness as his walk rate was 11.5 percent entering Tuesday’s start. But the impressive start lowered Giolito’s ERA more than full run all the way down to 4.06. That’s much more in line with his xFIP which was 3.67 entering the start and is 3.68 now.
Despite the walks, Giolito’s xFIP is solid thanks to a 28.9 percent strikeout rate, which is far better than his 17.3 percent career strikeout rate. Giolito’s swinging strike rate has spiked to 13.1 percent compared to his 8.9 percent career rate. Ditching his sinker completely for more four-seamers and a few more sliders is a pitch mix change that supports the increased whiffs being sustainable. It would be nice if he’d make another alteration by cutting down (or cutting out) his curveball in favor of his slider that has been the far superior pitch. Giolito has a plus changeup, so he’d still be a three-pitch starter without the curve.
With a 5.5 percent ownership rate in ESPN leagues, Giolito is obviously widely available. He’s not without risk, but he’s a streaming candidate at the very least.
Hitting Performance of the Day
Hunter Pence is 36-years-old and has been a decidedly below average hitter in each of the last two seasons. However, after going 3-for-4 with a home run, double, single and walk on Tuesday, Pence now has a 159 wRC+ on the season in 72 PA. While Pence’s .354 BABIP is a bit high, he’s not on a luck-fueled hot streak. He’s walking more than he ever has at 10.3 percent and has never had a double-digit walk rate in a season. His strikeout rate is as low as it has been since 2013, and it’s backed up by higher contact rates and a lower swing rate on pitches outside of the zone. Pence is obviously getting a massive park shift going from San Francisco to Texas, which adds to the idea that his status as a contributor is sustainable. He’ll need to earn a bit more playing time going forward, but he’s a name to keep in mind as he’s widely available in fantasy leagues.
Game of the Day
The Yankees twice had less than a five percent chance of winning their game against the Mariners. In the top of the ninth, Seattle’s Dee Gordon stole second with only one out, and New York’s win expectancy dropped to 4.7 percent. Gordon would not score, and the deficit remained two heading to the bottom of the ninth. The win expectancy dipped again to 4.7 percent when Clint Frazier flied out to lead off the inning. But just two batters later the Yankees were expected to win after Gleyber Torres singled and Giovanny Urshela homered. Urshela’s two-run home run represented a 47.2 percent shift in win expectancy. The Yanks didn’t wait for extras as Cameron Maybin singled, stole second and was driven in by DJ LeMahieu with two outs. Despite all the injuries, the Yanks are a solid 21-14. Here’s a look at the game chart courtesy of Fangraphs.
What to Watch for Today
Forgive me, but I’m a Dallas Stars fan and currently feel as is if there is no reason to watch any sport today or any other day. It’ll pass, but not yet. Whatever ends up happening tonight, we’ll be here to recap it for you in the morning.