It’s another early start to the MLB schedule and fantasy baseball owners need to make their roster adjustments for the day. Be sure to stay on top of all the latest fantasy baseball news and fantasy baseball injury reports so you don’t leave any holes in your lineups. While doing this, you should also start preparing for the calendar to flip to June. We’ll have another run of updates to our fantasy baseball player rankings, more MLB rookie highlights in the fantasy baseball prospect report and stay updated on our ever-changing fantasy baseball player projections. We’re just two months into the season, so there’s still a long four months to go. Keep that momentum rolling and we’ll have you in the winner’s circle before you know it.
Now let’s get to the action.
Fantasy Baseball News
Joey Votto is Climbing Back to the Top
OK, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s great to see the 38-year-old veteran return from a 15-game absence due to COVID-19 and get back on-track at the plate. Since returning, Votto has hit safely in five of six games with two doubles, one triple, two home runs and six RBI. I know, it’s tough to get too excited about an old guy who is still batting just .161 on the season, but it’s times like these where you want to get him into your lineup and watch the numbers climb. Will they ever get to where we would ideally want them? Probably not. But Votto is a pure hitter with an amazing approach at the plate. If you can get a nice hit streak from him over the next couple of weeks, you take it and run. If he should get cold again, just put him on the bench. It will come in waves the rest of the way, so be prepared to strike while the iron is hot.
Is William Contreras an Everyday Player Now?
It sure seems like it, doesn’t it? With Ronald Acuna banged-up, Eddie Rosarios on the IL and Adam Duvall still not hitting his weight, the door has opened a little wider for Contreras to take over full-time DH duties for the Braves. It’s not a 100-percent lock, but as this offense continues to struggle, manager Brian Snitker is going to ride the hot hand…or bat. Contreras has now hit safely in four-straight games with one double, three home runs and four RBI. Granted, it’s a small sample size, but if he’s going to see regular at-bats, you can get a nice boost from your catcher spot which is where he qualifies. The 24-year-old may get pulled back once the rest of the team is healthy, but thanks to the universal DH, you should be able to squeeze out decent production for a little while.
More Disappointment for Charlie Morton Owners
While the Braves ultimately won the game, when Phillies second baseman Jean Segura knocked an RNI-single in the fifth inning, Morton owners hung their heads again in disappointment. The veteran righthander was charged with his fourth earned run as he exited the game and fantasy owners wondered just how bad things could get. Morton’s ERA was now 5.28 for the season, his WHIP is a robust 1.58 and there doesn’t seem to be much hope of turning things around. Could he? Sure. But Morton has now allowed at least three earned runs in six of his nine starts, he’s gone six innings just once all year, his strikeout rate is way down and he continues to labor every time he steps on the mound. If you are struggling with your ratios, you may need to consider benching him at this point and wait to see if he turns things around. He’s got the Diamondbacks up next, a team sporting a .314 wOBA against righties, so use at your own risk.
Kole Calhoun Continues to Dominate the Month of May
If you’re looking at career numbers, Calhoun, traditionally, doesn’t start to power up until the summer months, but here in May, the Rangers outfielder has been absolutely on fire. After a miserable April in which he hit just .164 with no power and just one RBI, the 34-year-old is now slashing .328/.387/.716 with seven home runs, 15 RBI and a stolen base over the month of May. While it’s difficult to see this lasting much longer, keep in mind that, while he’s never been a big batting average guy, his isolated power numbers start to climb in June and take off in July and August. If your fantasy team’s batting average is suffering, you should probably look to sell off the power, but if you can withstand a few slumps here and there, it looks like the power and run production could be there in a strong complementary fashion.
Bryce Harper Seems Back On-Track, But for How Long?
Since coming back from a five-game absence, Harper has is 9-for-23 (.391) with three doubles, one home run and four RBI. Seven of those hits have come in the last two games and it would appear that things are getting back to normal for the perennial all-star, at least at the plate. But while you don’t want to overreact to news or hit the panic button, one does have to wonder, just how long Harper can keep this up. They say the partially-torn UCL isn’t going to get worse if he limits himself to just DH work, but how long before he needs another PRP injection and how long before he needs another break. It’s still too fresh in everyone’s mind, so trading him just yet isn’t much of an option, but see how far into these six weeks of not playing the field he can go and consider the possibility of a deal once we near the six-week mark. Just saying – something to think about as we move forward, especially if you’re in a keeper or dynasty league.
Rays Starting Pitcher Drew Rasmussen is Vastly Underrated
You don’t need me to highlight guys like Lucas Giolito, Yu Darvish or Robbie Ray, all of whom pitched well last night. But how is no one paying any attention to Rasmussen who earned his fifth win of the season (his fifth in his last six outings) and maintained a 2.68 ERA? Maybe it’s because he’s completed six innings just once this year, but that’s also about lode management from the Rays than anything else. Rasmussen has allowed fewer than three runs in seven of his nine starts, has five or more strikeouts in four of his last six and has allowed just three home runs all year. He also hasn’t walked more than two batters in any start this season. He’s not a marquee name at all, but he is quietly becoming one of the strongest fantasy assets of the season and deserves some notoriety, even if it’s just in these pages.
Is Hunter Strickland the New Closer for the Cincinnati Reds?
Hard to believe we’re still looking at the Reds when discussing fantasy baseball closers, but how many times have we seen the fantasy community go bonkers with FAAB over a guy who even sniffs a save at any point? Save opportunities are going to be few and far between for the Reds, but to make matters worse, we’ve now seen four different guys pick up saves over the past week. Tony Santillan, Alexis Díaz and Art Warren all notched saves in recent appearances, so it’s difficult to get excited about Strickland joining the fray. We don’t even have Strickland listed on the Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid yet, but you can expect Joe Gallina to offer some clarity in his next Fantasy Baseball Closer Report. If there is any such clarity, that is. We’ll just have to keep monitoring the situation but it doesn’t appear as I manager David Bell is in a hurry to anoint someone as his ninth-inning guy.
Ronald Acuña Jr. is Day-to-Day with a Quad Strain
To be specific, it’s a Grade-1 quad strain for the Braves outfielder and the club doesn’t believe it will require a trip to the injured list. Manager Brian Snitker said Acuna is unlikely to return to the lineup Thursday, but he also didn’t completely rule him out. They’re going to let Acuna test his leg in pre-game warm-ups, but don’t bee too surprised or too alarmed if he sits out today’s action. Atlanta hosts the Marlins for a three-game set this weekend and Snitker would like to have Acuna rested and ready.
New York Yankees Add Giancarlo Stanton to their List of Injured
Originally believed to be a calf injury, Yankees manager Aaron Boone told the media that Stanton is actually dealing with ankle inflammation and not a calf strain. Now, obviously, we’d like to know more about what is causing the inflammation and whether or not it’s just a sprain he is dealing with, but having seen the way calf injuries linger, I’m relieved that it’s just the ankle. The worst part about calf injuries is how they recur because players think they’re getting better, they then put more pressure on it and ultimately aggravate the injury over and over again. Perhaps the Yankees can convince Stanton to don a walking boot for a week and let him get the proper rest. Either way, expect him to be out for all of next week.
Marlins Place Closer Anthony Bender on IL with Back Injury
My cousin Tony hasn’t pitched since May 18 and the team has finally decided to put him on the 15-day IL and make the necessary roster moves. Even making the move retroactive to the 18th, Bender is expected to be sidelined until mid-June at the earliest. From there, the team will re-evaluate. In the meantime, we should see a closer-by-committee approach in Mimi with Cole Sulser, Dylan Floro and Anthony Bass all getting looks in save situations. It’s unfortunate, but hopefully it’s just a temporary issue for fantasy owners.
Oakland Sends Ramón Laureano for CT scan
There was hope that Laureano would return from his bruised hand on Wednesday, but after experiencing difficulty gripping the bat in pre-game warm-ups, the oft-injured outfielder was scratched and immediately sent for a CT scan to see if they missed any structural and/or ligament damage. Two sets of x-rays came back negative, so hopefully we’ll get some final clarity on the situation and see if we can get him back into our lineups soon. Unfortunately, it’s pointing towards an IL stint so keep an eye on things.
Detroit Tigers Rookie Riley Greene is On the Mend
Fantasy baseball rookies have been all the rage this season and the hits are just going to keep on coming. I was very high on Riley Greene coming into the season and was devastated when he fouled a ball off his foot towards the end of spring and landed on the IL with a fracture. Well, the waiting is almost over as Greene appeared in his first intra-squad game yesterday and, according to the coaches at the Tigers spring training facility, looked good in his plate appearances. Keep an eye on his recovery and if you can stash him away until mid-June when he is scheduled to return, you could get a nice boost. What I’m hoping for also, is that his return helps spark Spencer Torkelson who has struggled without his best friend this season, The two were mashing during the spring and everything derailed when Greene got hurt. Fingers crossed on that front, but the important takeaway is that we could be seeing another rookie power bat within two weeks.
Other Day-to-Day Injuries to Monitor:
Jazz Chisholm Jr., 2B MIA – he’s missed two games with a hamstring issue, but was active in pre-game warm-ups Wednesday. Miami has an off-day Thursday, so maybe he returns for the weekend series against the Braves.
Willson Contreras, C CHC – he’s missed four-straight games with a hamstring issue and now with Yan Gomes on the IL, the Cubbies are struggling behind the plate. If he doesn’t show improvement soon, they may need to put him on the IL and make some procedural moves to get catching help.
Thursday MLB Best Bets for Today
Yesterday’s Best Bets: 2-1
MLB Season Best Bets: 43-27-1
Nestor Cortes has been an absolute blessing for the Yankees this year, posting a 1.80 ERA with a 0.89 WHIP and 56 strikeouts over 45 innings. He earned back-to-back wins against the White Sox recently and hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any start this season. In fact, he’s allowed two or fewer in seven of eight. The Rays may not be big strikeout victims, especially against lefties, but they are middle of the road, at best, regarding offensive production with a .305 wOBA and just a .128 ISO. On the other side, the Yankees may be without Giancarlo Stanton, but have still posted a .333 wOBA against southpaws and will get Ryan Yarbrough to start. The Rays lefty hasn’t gone past the fifth inning in any appearance so look for the Yankees to try and jump on him early before tangling with the Tampa bullpen.
Pick: New York Yankees Money Line (-120 on BetMGM)
Over the past week, the Red Sox and White Sox have combined for 20 home runs and 88 RBI. Boston has a .420 wOBA during that span while Chicago has a .327 mark. With Michael Wacha and Dallas Keuchel on the mound today, it’s difficult to see any of these bats get held down, even when you consider Boston’s struggles against southpaws this season. These offenses are too hot and these pitchers are just too hittable.
Pick: Red Sox/White Sox Total Runs OVER 9 (-115 on Caesars Sportstbook)
I don’t really know who Konnor Pilkington is, other than from just 8.2 innings of work this season, but the kid is being called up to replace the injured Aaron Civale and he gets a Tigers team that is posting a league-worst .264 wOBA with a 27.5-percent strikeout rate over the pst week. On the other side, Tarik Skubal takes the mound against a Guardians team that has a .269 wOBA and a 20-percent K-rate over the past week. Not to mention a .276 wOBA against lefties this season. You can go two ways here – you can go a little ballsy and take the Under 7 on BetMGM at +100 or you can play it safe and go Under 7.5 on Caesars for -125. For the sake of building the bankroll and the possibility that sketchy bullpens get involved, I’m going to play it safe.
Pick: Tigers/Guardians Total Runs UNDER 7.5 (-125 on Caesars Sportsbook)
Related Articles & MLB Tools:
- Fantasy Baseball Week 7 Prospect Report
- Fantasy Baseball Player Spotlight: Whit Merrifield
- MLB Lineups
- MLB Weather Center