Although the Giants will try to win a road series in Arizona, they will do so without Hunter Pence in the lineup. He’s recorded one hit over his last 17 at-bats with 10 strikeouts and two batted balls reaching the outfield. During his first 17 games, Pence carries an anemic isolated power 17 percentage points higher than my own. Pence’s slash lines have cratered to .172/.197/.190 with three runs, three RBI and a stolen base.

Small sample size aside, he’s not playing well and it’s especially magnetized on a team needing to find run production. Another part of the problem, Mac Williamson ’s surging in the hitting friendly environment of the Pacific Coast League with six home runs in 11 games and hitting just 13 points below five hundred. There’s no telling Williamson will be more than a Quad-A player, but at this point, can he be worse than Pence? Deep league players should consider stashing Williamson due to a pending promotion, especially if looking for power.


That Just Happened

It’s been a bit boom or bust for the Cubs offense this year. On Thursday afternoon, they scored eight runs in a win, which falls below the team’s average during victories this year. In eight wins, the Cubs plated 69 runs (8.63 on average) compared to only 14 runs during their eight losses.

Jon Lester owners let out a sigh of relief after his outing. Lester allowed an unearned run on two hits over six innings with seven strikeouts and one walk. It’s his second win this year against no losses and moves him to 45 - 25 record and a 3.32 ERA in 100 starts as a Cub, a mark he reached on Thursday.

A new lead-off hitter against a right-handed pitcher in Albert Almora Jr. Often overlooked in fantasy, Almora’s pushing for more playing time while Ian Happ continues to swing and miss (47.2 percent of the time). Combining his last 64 games last season with his 13 games of this year, Almora’s hitting .327 (56-for-171) with six home runs and 35 RBI.

Do not look now, but somewhere Rick Wolf’s beaming with Javy Baez slotting in second in the lineup on Thursday. Baez responded with two hits and two runs in five at-bats. Of his 14 hits this year, Baez has racked up 11 extra-base hits with three doubles, three triples and five home runs resulting in a .429 isolated power and .679 slugging percentage. By the way, the Cubs head to Coors for the weekend. Plus, Baez owns a .243 BABIP to open the season versus a career rate of .327, so more positive migration could be in the offing.

José Altuve ’s hit safely in 16 of his last 18 games and finished Thursday 3-for-4 with two doubles and four RBI. He’s now second in the American League in hits trailing Jed Lowrie by one.

Cheap catcher extraordinaire Max Stassi notched two hits and his second home run in Seattle. He’s reached safely in seven of eight starts and ranks in the American League’s top five for catchers in extra-base hits (four) and RBI (7). Again, our own Rick Wolf and Glenn Colton nod in approval.

Speaking of Astros, another starting pitcher turned in a strong performance. Charlie Morton won his third straight decision needing only 86 pitches to fire seven shutout innings yielding only three hits with eight strikeouts. Morton’s whiffed 33.3 percent of hitters faced this year. And, yes, the team wishes to keep him healthy, so extending to him beyond the seventh did not make sense.

Detroit’s Jeimer Candelario recorded a career high four hits on Thursday afternoon including his third home run. He drove in three runs, scored one and also walked to reach base in all five plate appearances.

Lead-off hitter Leonys Martín cracked a grand slam, registered his seventh multi-hit game of the season and for the fourth time in his last six starts. Martin’s hitting .295 with a .833 on-base plus slugging percentage. It may not last, but enjoy it while he’s hot.

Speaking of hot, Manny Machado blasted two home runs of his three hits with four RBI. It’s his eighth multiple hit game, he’s just behind the American League hits lead with 26 and producing a 1.037 on-base plus slugging through his first 77 at-bats. Mercy. Pay the man.

Paul DeJong knocked in a run with a bases loaded walk. It’s his first RBI not from a home run all season. Tyler O’Neill did appear as a pinch hitter, his six home runs and 18 RBI in 12 games at Triple-A led both categories.

Not so nice days for Alex Cobb who allowed five earned runs in 3.1 innings. He’s only pitched seven innings this year and allowed 15 runs (12 earned) in them and owns a 15.43 ERA so far as an Oriole. Luke Weaver incurred BABIP damage in Chicago giving up six earned runs in four innings on nine hits. There’ll be better days ahead for the young pitcher. For Cobb? Not so sure.


Night Moves

The Yankees activated C.C. Sabathia from and started him at home against Toronto. In the according move, Luis Cessa landed on the 10-day disabled list.

Houston reported Ken Giles missed the past few games due to lingering back issues. It’s certainly not from carrying the bullpen.

Another collective sigh of relief from the South with Freddie Freeman not only passing his X-rays with no structural damage in his wrist, but he’s starting at home versus the Mets. Please remember he struggled in the second half last year playing through pain. It’s admirable to be in the lineup, but monitor his production this weekend.

Teammate Tyler Flowers will begin a rehab assignment in the minors this weekend.

Detroit sent Chad Bell to the minors and will be able to promote two players for Friday’s doubleheader.

Last, but not least, Ryan Braun looks to return to the Brewers lineup on Friday night.


Burning Questions

Will the Reds promote Nick Senzel now that they’ve fired dead man walking Bryan Price? Will Teoscar Hernandez continue to rake with a trip to the Bronx? Do the Diamondbacks fire up the offense versus Ty Blach on Thursday evening, humidor be damned? Which pitcher will fare better in Anaheim tonight? Will the Mets do what they should against Matt Wisler ?

Be sure to stop back in the morning to find out the answers above and more in Friday’s Round Up for Fantasy Alarm subscribers.


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