So is it Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Byron Buxton's world that we're living in? If the season ended today, those might be your top two candidates for American League MVP! But it's not even May and we have a long ways to go. While Guerrero and Buxton are very different players in terms of their skillset, they're both reminders of why we need to be patient with top prospects. Not everybody clicks right away like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Ronald Acuña Jr. Even Mike Trout had a bad first season! It gives me hope that somebody like Jo Adell could still get back on his feet.
Outside of Buxton on Wednesday, Kyle Hendricks was dreadful, the Braves were the opposite and don't look now but those big boppers on the Yankees are turning things around. As I've stated here many times over, we need to exercise patience. Gleyber Torres has put together back-to-back multi-hit games plus a few others like Josh Bell and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. showed signs of life last night.
Byron Buxton continues his dominance
No one is happier to see Byron Buxton's extended breakout than Chris Towers, who was touting him all offseason as one of the best value picks on the entire draft board and a player who he backed it up by drafting most often. Entering Wednesday, Buxton was the eighth-best OF in Roto formats and then he went on to go nuclear: 5-of-5 with a home run and two doubles. Still just 27 years old, Buxton is now batting .438 with a .938 slugging percentage this season, with eight home runs and eight doubles in 64 at bats.
Chris has been excited about Buxton for a while and already moved him higher in his rankings than consensus both before and after the start of the season, but I needed to find out if he was buying him now as a top-15 OF for the remainder of the 2021 season.
Towers is ready to move him ahead of Nick Castellanos in his OF rankings. He would also at this point not advise selling high on Buxton.
Hendricks struggles in a new way
It has been an April to forget for Cubs SP Kyle Hendricks and his woes continued on Wednesday. Prior to this start, Hendricks had been struggling with his control. He was walking batters more frequently than at any point in his career. On Wednesday, Hendricks found a new struggle: allowing hard contact. The Braves got to him and he allowed 11 hard-hit balls in what was a disastrous start. Hendricks labored through 3 2/3 innings allowing 11 hits, seven earned runs and a 97 mph average exit velocity.
Chris still has Hendricks ranked as a top-30 SP and his advice right now would be to buy low and trade for him. And if you have Hendricks, the answer is not to trade him or drop him. That doesn't mean you can't bench him for now. He can and should be benched, but once you see him get back to his normal self, he can be a contributor again. We're talking about a SP who has a career 3.17 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over a 1,070-inning sample size.
You can likely acquire Hendricks now for a pitcher who is likely to be worse than him moving forward. His pitch selection, velocity and movement haven't changed that much, which leads us to believe this is just a cold streak. Start sending out feeler offers for Hendricks now and you don't even have to include a top player. A few ideas to sell on for Hendricks are Indians SP Aaron Civale and Orioles SP John Means. You may not even have to start that high with your offer.
More news and notes
- Nationals OF Bryce Harper took a 97 mph fastball off his cheek. He left the game immediately under his own power. Harper posted on social media that he's alright.
- Padres SP Ryan Weathers left his start against the Diamondbacks for unspecified reasons.
- Padres C Austin Nola was activated off the IL but was not in the Padres lineup Wednesday.
- Marlins 2B Jazz Chisholm was placed on the IL with a left hamstring strain. He'll be back "fairly quickly," according to manager Don Mattingly.
- Astros UTIL Yordan Alvarez was placed on the IL for an unspecified reason, though he was scratched earlier on Wednesday due to health and safety protocols. The Astros had a bit of a COVID situation over the past few weeks.
- One day after we were told Blue Jays SP Hyun-Jin Ryu would not miss his start this week, he was placed on the IL with that glute strain. He might only miss one start.
- Giants OF Mike Yastrzemski was placed on the IL with an oblique injury. Former Yankees OF Mike Tauchman started in center field and batted seventh in the lineup.
- Blue Jays OF George Springer made his Blue Jays debut Wednesday, batting leadoff and playing DH. He finished 0-for-4. Rowdy Tellez was optioned to the alternate training site.
- Padres SP Dinelson Lamet could start Sunday for the Padres as he recovers from forearm tightness. We'll believe it when we see it.
- Marlins OF Starling Marte may not be back in the lineup until early June due to a fractured rib.
- Marlins 3B Brian Anderson is expected back when first eligible this weekend.
- Rays pitching prospect Shane McClanahan will be promoted to start against the A's on Thursday. He's a top prospect in their organization and a former first-round pick from 2018. Back in 2019, he had a 3.36 ERA, 1.21 WHIP with 154 strikeouts in 120.2 innings
- The Royals plan to have SS Bobby Witt start in Double-A, which means if he performs well early on, we could see him sooner than we think.
- White Sox OF Luis Robert is expected back from the COVID IL Thursday.
- Cubs SS Javier Baez underwent an MRI on Tuesday that revealed a Grade 1 left hamstring strain. He's missed three straight games.
- Cubs 3B Kris Bryant was back in action after sitting on Tuesday with a mild biceps injury.
- Red Sox OF Alex Verdugo was back in the Red Sox lineup, batting second. He was dealing with a hamstring himself.
- Orioles OF Anthony Santander is likely out until late May with a left ankle sprain.
- Yankees C Gary Sanchez was out of the lineup for the second straight day since Kyle Higashioka is swinging a hot bat. Sanchez has sat four of the past seven games.
- Tigers SP Tarik Skubal will work as the starter Friday against the Yankees. Michael Fulmer will be available out of the bullpen both Thursday and Friday.
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Buy or sell
Marlins SP Sandy Alcantara as a top-20 SP?
After starting out the 2021 season looking like the MLB's next ace, Alcantara cooled off a bit recently. That wasn't the case on Wednesday, however, when he shut down the Brewers offense. Alcantara delivered seven innings allowing two earned runs and walking zero batters (3.34 BB/9 entering Wednesday) with four strikeouts. He has now pitched at least six innings in all but one start and as a 3.19 ERA with a 0.98 WHIP. Alcantara has a nice profile, averaging nearly a strikeout per inning but also maintaining a 50% ground ball rate.
Chris is SELLING Alcantara as a top-20 SP rest of season, but still thinks you should be thrilled if you have him on your team. He's ranked just outside both of our top 20 ROS.
Reds SP Sonny Gray as a top-30 SP?
Gray looked phenomenal on Wednesday against a tough Dodgers lineup, going 5 2/3 innings while allowing two earned runs but also striking out 11 batters. Gray induces 16 swinging strikes, including 12 with his curveball. His two-seam fastball average 93.5 mph (even faster than in his breakout 2019 season) with a horizontal movement on it that caught everyone's attention.
I loved what I saw and thought Gray looked electric. BUY.
Yankees SP Domingo German should be 90%+ rostered?
German is only 71% rostered. On Wednesday, he looked like his old self. German pitched seven shutout innings, allowing three hits with one walk and six strikeouts while inducing 11 swinging strikes on 92 pitches and throwing four different pitches. He has a two-start week coming up (HOU, WAS).
Chris is BUYING that German should be 90%+ rostered in a standard 12-team league.
Blue Jays SP Steven Matz worth having on your roster?
Matz got roughed up for six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings on Wednesday, but everything else under the hood looks great: 3.59 xFIP, 3.24 xERA, 46% GB rate.
Chris is BUYING Matz and has him ranked just slightly higher than German. I'm with Chris on this one.
Blue Jays SS Bo Bichette as a sell-high candidate?
Bo Bichette went 2-for-4 with his sixth HR of the season on Wednesday. He's batting .253 but his under-the-hood stats aren't pretty: .222 xBA, 28% K, 5% BB, 51% groundball rate.
Chris is BUYING that he is a sell-high candidate. Sell the name. In other words, Chris is suggesting he's a good player to trade away.
Rockies SP German Marquez as most annoying SP in Fantasy?
German Marquez had the following stat line against the Giants: 4 IP, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K. It was classic Marquez -- we get a little excited, then he lets us down in a decent road matchup.
Chris is buying that he's the most annoying SP to roster in Fantasy and I couldn't agree more.