With Opening Day fast approaching, news continues to surface by the hour. Our Snapshots does its best to provide as much fantasy information to help in redraft leagues and roster construction for the upcoming season.
However, it will be fun to see if teams get creative with how they present games without fans in the stands. Milwaukee’s Brent Suter could be an excellent source of content:
Humor goes a long way to providing relief in these uncertain times and the potential of baseball does the same for myself. Now off to the latest news around the MLB.
Toronto Blue Jays
Under normal circumstances, this time of the season might have led to trade talk for closer Ken Giles playing under an expiring contract. He recorded an impressive 1.87 ERA last year with an eye popping 14.1 strikeouts per nine. However, elbow issues prevented him from working on consecutive days most of the season and cost him time on the injured list. How Toronto starts the season could determine what happens to Giles but fantasy owners need to account for the fact he could be traded before the end of August.
One should not forget the display Vladimir Guerrero Jr. put on during last year’s home run derby. Yes, his 2019 disappointed the much ballyhooed debut of the talented prospect. However, no one recorded as many batted ball events of 115 MPH or better by Guerrero Jr. who racked up eight of them. He also finished tied for 14th in the majors with 29 batted balls with an exit velocity of at least 110 MPH. If Guerrero Jr. truly adjusts his average launch angle this season, his power may emerge along with his transition to first base to ensure health.
With Anthony Santander in camp, it remains to be seen if he can ramp up activity in order to be ready for Opening Day on July 24th. As for closing out games when the season starts, pitching coach Doug Brocail had this to say:
“I don’t know if it’s going to be Mychal (Givens) or if it’s going to be Hunter (Harvey). (I) don’t know if we’re going to mix. If there are lefties, hell, it could be (Richard) Bleier.”
Those searching for clarity with limited roster spots may wish to mine saves elsewhere this season.
On a positive note, in Joe Trezza’s column in The Athletic, when musing about which prospects could appear this year in Baltimore he listed two of the obvious in Austin Hays and Hunter Harvey . Remember, Harvey’s only made seven major league appearances. However, he also mentioned Ryan Mountcastle , Dean Kremer (just added to the player pool) and Keegan Akin potentially scheduled to appear as the season progresses. (Hat tip to Andrew Simon of ESPN for the batted ball data).
Tampa Bay Rays
Part of the plan in Tampa Bay making pitchers throw outside to acclimate to the upcoming conditions. On Wednesday, the high leverage arms headed outdoors and delighted their manager, Kevin Cash: “A lot of heat coming out between Chaz (Roe), Diego (Castillo), (Peter) Fairbanks, (Jose) Alvarado and Nick Anderson . Within the report, it appears Anderson and Castillo remain the most likely options in the ninth but with a strong start, Alvarado could work into the mix as well as the season progresses.
Almost a fantasy afterthought, Mike Zunino struggled last year playing through injuries and adjusting to a new staff. Any production he provides would be welcomed and deep league players with two catchers active may want to track him the next week:
Not one, but two homers for Z— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 15, 2020
Not one, but two home runs in the Rays intrasquad game for Zunino on Wednesday.
Boston Red Sox
Slated to the second pitcher when the season ensues, Martín Pérez worked five innings on Wednesday allowing five runs but worked out some kinks in his delivery. He’s hoping for a fast start like last year when Perez went 6-3 with a 3.67 ERA his first 12 outings of 2019. Standing out in the scrimmage, José Peraza doubled in the first inning and hit a two run home run later off Perez en route to driving in four runs.
In an interview, Peraza noted he feels like a completely different person this year offensively. He’s one year removed from a .288/.326/.416 slash line with 49 extra-base hits (14 home runs, 31 doubles, four triples) in 157 games. Among all active hitters, Peraza ranks seventh in strikeout percentage (11 percent) and owns a career 94.4 zone contact rate. Add in multiple eligibility and stolen base upside as a forgotten player in redraft leagues.
New York Yankees
Perhaps assuaging any concerns about the season, Aaron Judge returned to action with authority:
Giancarlo Stanton also homered in the inning off of James Paxton . After the rough start, Paxton settled down working four innings allowing the two runs, two walks and striking out five. Another strong showing for Jonathan Loaisiga tossing three clean scoreless innings with four strikeouts. His role will that of a swingman in relief but he could be very valuable in daily leagues if he vultures wins early in the season.
Sorting out the starting pitching rotation and roles in the outfield remain for manager Terry Francona. Reports speculate Shane Bieber , Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco open the year at the first three with Aaron Civale slated to be the fourth starter. This leaves Adam Plutko battling Zach Plesac for the last spot.
In the outfield, Oscar Mercado and Franmil Reyes should man two spots in it. Domingo Santana can be used as the designated hitter or in a corner outfield spot with Tyler Naquin also projected to make the 30-man roster. An injury to Jordan Luplow clouds his status and Delino DeShields Jr. on the injured reserve means he’s out on Opening Day. If anyone else suffers an injury, keep tabs on Daniel Johnson.
Kansas City Royals
Getting a much needed boost at catcher when Salvador Pérez returned to camp on Tuesday, he also flashed how his arm feels entering the season during yesterday’s scrimmage:
Kansas City pinch ran speedy prospect Nick Heath and Perez threw him out.
Less than optimal news on Detroit’s slated Opening Day starter:
Matthew Boyd was scheduled to pitch live BP yesterday but was held out of ballpark after he learned he had come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. After contact tracing and a rapid test came back negative, he was cleared to pitch tonight.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) July 16, 2020
Luckily this does not qualify as an injury affecting future performance but COVID-19 will wreak havoc on rosters in this truncated season with updates like this going forward. On Wednesday, Boyd worked four scoreless innings bypassing just throwing live batting practice.
Defying all all laws about aging may underscore the 2020 season for Nelson Cruz :
Nelson Cruz is 2-for-2 with a walk, homer and single and the passage of time still has no meaning in the Boomstick corner of the universe it seems— Do-Hyoung Park (@dohyoungpark) July 16, 2020
Cruz and his teammates made up the “Bomba Squad” hitting home runs all season long and with Miguel Sanó back in camp along with the signing of Josh Donaldson , even more could fly out of the yard in 2020 courtesy of this graphic by Matt Kelly of MLB.com:
Unofficial final line on Devin Smeltzer :— Do-Hyoung Park (@dohyoungpark) July 16, 2020
4.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K
65 pitches, 46 strikes
It’s easy to see how the Twins project to win their division.
Chicago White Sox
Working in a less pressured environment may allow a rebound season for Dallas Keuchel :
Keuchel worked exclusively from the stretch and needed only 34 pitches to navigate through 3.2 scoreless innings allowing no baserunners. He hopes to stretch out to 4.2 or five innings versus the Cubs in an exhibition match-up on Monday.
Los Angeles Angels
During an interview in the Orange County Register with Jeff Fletcher, some interesting thoughts about the evolution of the Angels roster emerged. First, bad news for Jo Adell in a quote from Joe Maddon:
“This guy is absolutely a huge part of our future. No question. But, again, there’s really no rush.”
Perhaps the team plans on using the first seven days with Adell in the satellite camp or wait until needs force them to promote him. Keep in mind the outfield right now lines up to be Justin Upton in left field, Mike Trout in center with Brian Goodwin and David Fletcher platooning in right. There’s a path to playing time in short order.
Following up on yesterday, Justin Verlander will start on Opening Day against Seattle. Last year, Verlander went 3-0 against them with Houston winning all five of his starts against them. He recorded a 2.97 ERA with a 40:10 K:BB in 30.1 innings against the Mariners in 2019. As for player notes, Kyle Tucker could be the beneficiary of Yordan Alvarez landing on the injured list garnering at-bats as the designated hitter.
With the bullpen in flux, Bryan Abreu could emerge as a high leverage reliever by need so do not forget his name in leagues which count holds. Last, Framber Valdez owns the inside track to the fifth spot in the rotation as of this writing.
An interesting wrinkle to one of Oakland’s best pitching prospects:
Emerson says Luzardo’s usage when he comes back might be based on pitch count and matchups.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) July 15, 2020
As for the team in camp, Khris Davis reports being healthy and ready to produce like his old self, not the injured version from last year. Another late power upside guy if this happens, Davis could hit 15 or more in 60 games as the designated hitter only this season. Frankie Montas appears to be for real as well returning from suspension cutting his breakout short last year.
Moving to a six-man rotation for the sprint, Kendall Graveman may not possess upside but added a four-seam fastball and worked two scoreless innings on Wednesday. Seattle will carry 17 pitchers at the onset of the season to absorb innings.
In the bullpen, with Yoshihisa Hirano landing on the injured list yet to arrive to camp, Mariners manager Scott Servais a shared role will be used in save situations listing Matt Magill , Austin Adams and Dan Altavilla as options along with rookie southpaw Anthony Misiewicz.
News surfaced on Wednesday regarding Willie Calhoun suffering a hip flexor strain, and this tweet just about confirms he will not be ready for the season unlocking playing time for a popular fantasy target:
Although this column continues to push drafting Isiah Kiner-Falefa (eligible at catcher in fantasy), if you do not believe me, listen to the Rangers manager:
Also from camp on Wednesday:
Key point here, seeing Corey Kluber build up his pitch count for the season.
It feels like most of the concerns about the Braves lineup lies in the return of Freddie Freeman masking the early struggles of Ronald Acuña Jr. But, fantasy owners should not worry about the talented outfielder and he showed signs of breaking out on Wednesday:
Before the game got rained out, Acuña was 2-for-2 with two doubles. He's looking much better as intrasquads progress than he did at spring training. Of course, I wouldn't care if he got no hits till Opening Day -- he's just too good not to rake when the games count.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) July 16, 2020
Pending an official announcement from the team signing Yasiel Puig , Mark Bowman of MLB.com projects the following outfield alignments for the team:
If this deal is completed, Snitker will then discuss how he might use his outfielders. These are possible options.
vs. right-handed pitchers: LF Puig; CF Inciarte; RF Acuña; DH Ozuna
vs. left-handed pitchers: LF Adam Duvall ; CF Acuña; RF Puig; DH Ozuna
One of the more intriguing roster builds will be in Miami leading up to the 30-man active roster. This bit of information may provide some more insight:
With Lewis Brinson and Matt Joyce sidelined, this opens up right field for Garrett Cooper . Eligible at first base or the outfield, Cooper slashed a respectable .281/.344/.446 last year in 107 games spanning 421 plate appearances. He scored 52 runs with 15 home runs and 50 RBI.
New York Mets
It feels like everyone talks about Pete Alonso , Jeff McNeil and the return of Yoenis Céspedes plus hoping Jacob deGrom ’s back improves. But, quiet and underscored production may be available from this outfielder as well:
Conforto’s second half surge during which his slash rose to .271/.366/.519 with 17 home runs and 48 RBI his last 262 at-bats. Plus, he appeared in 151 contests last year with 90 runs, 33 home runs, 92 RBI, seven stolen bases and a .257/.363/.494 slash line. Conforto recorded career highs in runs, home runs, RBI, hits (141) and doubles (29) in 2019 with little fanfare.
Also in game action on Wednesday, David Peterson fired 2.1 scoreless frames with two strikeouts against the Mets regulars. He will be stretched out in case the Mets need an emergency start or if news on deGrom turns.
Courtesy of notes from Todd Zolecki of NBC Sports in Philadelphia, notes from Wednesday’s summer camp include:
- Scott Kingery played as the designated hitter again hitting a couple of line drives. It appears the time off has not affected his swing.
- Aaron Nola will start at Washington on Saturday night in an exhibition match-up.
- Zach Eflin tossed a bullpen session on Wednesday with no problems. He’s going to throw a simulated game on Saturday.
- Jake Arrieta worked four innings on Wednesday in game action with Enyel De Los Santos the piggy back starter going three innings. Opposing them, Nick Pivetta also tossed four innings with Spencer Howard following him logging three innings. Reports suggest Vince Velasquez remains ahead of Pivetta for the last spot in the rotation.
Noting the Twitter outage on blue checks Wednesday, do not ignore this tidbit though things seem precautionary on Keston Hiura :
Burnes notched seven strikeouts, flashing his fastball and mixing in his second pitches with precision. How this rotation evolves could determine how the Brewers finish in this spring to the finish with pitchers like Burnes and Freddy Peralta being factors as tandem pitchers or in the rotation.
St. Louis Cardinals
Unsettled bullpens litter the landscape and St. Louis may not name a closer. As of now, it’s one of Carlos Martínez (still vying for a spot in the rotation), Andrew Miller , Ryan Helsley or Junior Fernandez. Much will depend on how the team decides to utilize Martinez who thrived in the role last year but prefers starting. Stay tuned.
Fear not Willson Contreras owners, Chicago naming Victor Caratini as the catcher with Yu Darvish does not diminish at-bats with the designated hitter on tap this year. Speaking of Contreras, look at this bomb:
In other news from camp, Anthony Rizzo hopes to avoid a stint on the injured list after his MRI reveals a rib injury. Last, it will be either Darvish or Kyle Hendricks for Opening Day but the race remains too close to call for new manager David Ross.
Just when it seemed like Gregory Polanco would be ready to start the season in the outfield and as a designated hitter option, this landed on the timeline:
Gregory Polanco hasn't been on the field for the Pirates' workouts the last two days, Derek Shelton confirmed. Wouldn't say why.— Adam Berry (@adamdberry) July 16, 2020
Yesterday was a light day, but Polanco was noticeably absent from tonight's scrimmage and 4th OF Guillermo Heredia was noticeably playing right field.
Since COVID-19 cases cannot be announced without a player’s approval, it leaves fantasy players to ponder the potential outcomes. If Polanco’s not ready for Opening Day, it further clouds the already thin outfield group in Pittsburgh. Also, still no Keone Kela or Ke’Bryan Hayes in camp to this point either.
A natural shift to the outfield would create playing time for Cole Tucker , currently stuck behind on the depth chart at second base and shortstop seems intriguing. However, when speaking to the general manager, he maintained Tucker’s not seen as anything as a middle infielder. Rats.
Newly added to the player pool, Derek Dietrich returned to Reds camp. Also, Trevor Bauer arrived back in summer camp on Tuesday after missing Monday due to testing concerns. In Wednesday’s scrimmage, a highlight to warm the hearts of Nick Castellanos truthers like myself:
Shogo Akiyama notes he’s still adjusting to life in America and playing in the MLB but his ability to play defense, spray doubles all over the yard and hustle should endear him to Reds fans and fantasy owners alike.
How well Madison Bumgarner pitches with Arizona could determine the team’s fate trying to make the playoffs:
Addressing roster issues, Mike Hazen suggested the team prefers an even 15 pitcher and player split on the 30-man roster but could see keeping 16 pitchers for the start of the season.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Shiny new toys receive hype each year but steady veterans coming off down years get ignored. While the Dodgers rotation takes shape, a healthy Alex Wood in a shortened season could be a very intriguing late round flier:
There’s no guarantee Wood will return to his old self in Los Angeles but as a Dodger he’s 31-20 with a 3.46 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 401:121 K:BB in 434.2 career innings with them. In Wednesday's scrimmage, Wood worked six innings giving up two runs with eight strikeouts. Julio Urías worked four innings allowing one run if tracking innings leading up to the start of the season.
San Francisco Giants
With the season drawing nearer, here’s two injury updates for San Francisco:
Sure sounds like it'll be tough for Trevor Cahill (fingernail issue) to ramp up quickly enough to be ready for the opening day roster. Brandon Belt (heel) is hitting and taking grounders again, but he won't run bases for at least a couple days. So he's in a tight window as well.— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) July 16, 2020
It’s going to be tough to project Brandon Belt ready for Opening Day at this point so this means more at-bats early on for Pablo Sandoval at first base. How the team handles catcher remains to be seen but the Joey Bart noise seems very quiet meaning he will not be there at the start of the season.
San Diego Padres
Sometimes better late than never applies. Check out his swing from Tommy Pham :
First-pitch home run? You love to see it, Pham. pic.twitter.com/XuRK3UofCG— San Diego Padres (@Padres) July 16, 2020
Pham has homered in consecutive intrasquad scrimmages for San Diego with the season fast approaching. Also from the scrimmage, Garrett Richards outpitched Zach Davies . Richards worked four innings allowing one run on six hits with five strikeouts. Davies served up both home runs to Pham over his four innings. Francisco Mejía went 2-for-2 with a double as well.
In other news, six players sit firmly on the bubble to make the team for Opening Day. Two surprises in Franchy Cordero and Josh Naylor with the performance of Edward Olivares . Telling you, please keep Olivares ready on the watch list in case he pushes his way into full time at-bats.
Healthy and ready to re-engage his past ways of elevating batted ball events, Daniel Murphy seems poised to bounce back in 2020. Aided by the universal designated hitter, if Murphy proves healthy, his power could return and hitting in Coors Field will allow him to return to an average near .300 if things break right.
Due to an improved performance in summer camp, the emergence of Daniel Bard and others puts others on the bubble. Wade Davis will not be cut, he enters the year as the closer but his leash could be short working on a contract about to expire. Same goes for Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw . Each could be cut if the team looks for more youth and pliability in the bullpen with both struggling last year and in camp.
This wraps up another Snapshots. Be sure to stay with Fantasy Alarm to remain ahead of the competition across all fantasy formats and be well.