Happy Friday and especially to those who have multiple Houston Astros on their Fantasy teams. Trash cans or not, it doesn't matter. This Astros lineup is on fire. Sure, it helps that they faced the Orioles and Tigers so far this week but they've been crushing everybody. The Astros are averaging 5.74 runs per game, most in the MLB by a wide margin. On Thursday, they had seven hitters with multiple hits. That included Yordan Alvarez who now has three homers over his past four games. He's heating up!
It's hard to talk about offense right now without mentioning Kyle Schwarber, who is the hottest hitter in baseball. He hit two more homers Thursday and is now up to 21 for the season. He has eight home runs over his last five games! Like many other hitters in baseball, Schwarber struggled in April but has turned it on ever since. From May 1, Schwarber has a 92 MPH average exit velocity to go along with a 19% barrel rate. He's 87% rostered, which means he's still available in a few leagues!
Baddoo jumping back on the radar
Tigers OF Akil Baddoo was one of the best stories of the first month of the Fantasy season, but he had slowed down since and entered Thursday rostered in just 29% of leagues. That might change soon as he has gone on a little heater. On Thursday, Baddoo went 3 for 5 with two doubles and he now has 12 hits over his past seven games. He's batting .282 with a 13% BB rate. Perhaps more important than all of that is that he has led off in consecutive games. If he continues to hold down the leadoff spot, his roster percentage should jump -- especially in leagues where you need to start five outfielders. Taking it a step further, he's worth having on your roster in 12-team leagues that start five outfielders.
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Buehler is the latest spin rate case
Dodgers SP Walker Buehler had one of the most dramatic drops in spin rate that we've seen this season. His four-seam fastball was down 277 rpm, his cutter was down 327 rpm, his knuckle curve was down 339 rpm and his slider was down 289 rpm. When we've talked about spin rate changes before this, they've been in the range of down 125-150 rpm. This is more than a 10% drop in spin rate for all of Buehler's pitches besides the slider. And he wasn't throwing any harder to make up for the drop in spin rate.
The bottom line was fine for Buehler, but the under the hood stats weren't and he only induced 10 swinging strikes the entire game. Still, Buehler finished six innings of work and allowed just three runs.
Buehler has the worst expected ERA of his career and the lowest strikeout rate of his career. On the flip side, he has produced a strong walk rate. On paper, he looks like an ace, but under the hood it's a bit off. With a dip in spin rate and potentially even fewer strikeouts, this is something to keep an eye on. Remember, Buehler was prior one of the biggest spin rate gainers in baseball this season and his velocity is down 1.5 mph from 2020. If the spin rates now stay in this plummeted zone, it could be tough for him to keep up his sparkling bottom line.
More news and notes
- Reds RP Lucas Sims was placed on the IL with a right elbow sprain and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. Is it Tejay Antone? Is it Amir Garrett? Wait, no, it's Brad Brach who picked up his first save since 2018. He has a 2.63 ERA with a 1.17 WHIP and is 0% rostered. Scoop him up on the cheap.
- Dodgers SS Corey Seager remains on track to return in early July.
- Orioles SP John Means will likely be sidelined until after the All-Star break with that shoulder injury.
- Reds SP Sonny Gray, on the IL with a groin injury, will now make his rehab start Saturday after he woke up with a stiff back. He's dealt with back injuries, too, the past few seasons.
- Cleveland SP Aaron Civale was officially placed on the IL. He'll miss the next 4-5 weeks with that sprained right middle finger. His teammate Zach Plesac threw a 40-pitch bullpen session Thursday and could start a rehab assignment soon.
- Braves SP Max Fried should return from the IL next Thursday. He's dealing with a blister on his index finger.
- There's a good chance Giants 1B Brandon Belt lands on the IL with his knee injury. I was going to say maybe we add Joey Bart in case he gets called up, but neither him nor Posey have played a game at first base this year.
- A's OF Mark Canha exited Thursday with a left hip strain. He'll undergo an MRI on Friday. Canha was replaced by our guy Tony Kemp. If anything happens, that might mean more playing time for him.
- Twins 3B Josh Donaldson returned to the lineup after missing five straight games.
- Nationals 1B Josh Bell was scratched from Thursday's lineup because of side soreness. Ryan Zimmerman has an .820 OPS this season for anybody in NL-only leagues.
- The Rays placed SS Taylor Walls on the IL with right wrist tendinitis.
- Blue Jays SP Steven Matz threw about 60 pitches in live batting practice Thursday and is expected to start next week.
Every Thursday Scott drops an in-depth breakdown of the most important prospects in baseball that Fantasy managers need to get updated on and why. It's one of my favorite reads of the week. Check out the full breakdown here -- and the highlights below:
- Royals SS Adalberto Mondesi's injury probably won't impact SS Bobby Witt Jr.'s timeline even though Witt looks ready to contribute now.
- Five prospects on the verge: Jarred Kelenic OF SEA; Jarren Duran OF BOS; Vidal Brujan SS TB; Jo Adell OF LAA; Cal Raleigh C SEA
- Five on the periphery: Edward Cabrera SP MIA; Reid Detmers SP LAA; Gabriel Moreno C TOR; Ethan Small SP MIL; Kevin Smith SS TOR
Five teams with the best hitter matchups next week
Five teams with the worst hitter matchups next week
- Rockies SP Jon Gray's return at MIL
- Angels SP Griffin Canning at TB
- Nationals SP Jon Lester at MIA
- Cardinals SP Kwang Hyun Kim vs. PIT
- Giants SP Johnny Cueto vs. OAK
- Royals SP Dane Dunning vs. KC
- Rays SP Shane McClanahan vs. LAA
- Brewers SP Adrian Houser at home vs. COL
- Angels SP Alex Cobb at TB
- Pirates SP JT Brubaker at STL
- Rockies SP Antonio Senzatela at MIL
- Cardinals SP Zach Thompson vs. WAS
- A's SP Cole Irvin at SF
- Giants SP Sam Long vs. OAK
- Royals SP Brady Singer at TEX
- Blue Jays Ross Stripling vs. BAL
- Angels SP Patrick Sandoval at TB
- Astros SP Jake Odorizzi at DET