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Don't look now but some of those Mets hitters are coming around! The overall numbers still look bad, but Francisco Lindor does have eight hits over his last four games. Dominic Smith and James McCann also combined for six hits in Wednesday's win against the Diamondbacks

Speaking of Wednesday, it was dominated by interesting pitching performances, most notably from Framber Valdez and Alek Manoah (for very different reasons). I'll let you read more about those below, but let's quickly talk about Dinelson Lamet. He only lasted four innings against the Cubs while allowing one run with six strikeouts. The biggest takeaway from me is that he built up to 72 pitches. I'm not going to overreact and say we're working our way back to 2020 Lamet, but this was a very positive step for him. He's likely not available on your waiver wire at 84% rostered, but if you can acquire him on the cheap to see where this goes, I wouldn't stop you.

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Valdez pays off patient managers

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It seems like every day now we're writing about -- and touting -- an Astros SP. Yesterday, it was Luis Garcia. Today we're praising Framber Valdez, and he was nothing short of brilliant on Wednesday against a Red Sox lineup that has been by most metrics one of the MLB's very best through the first two months. Valdez went seven innings deep and allowed just one run on five hits with two walks. 

Going under the hood, his numbers were equally as impressive. He racked up 10 strikeouts with 18 swinging strikes on 102 pitches. Nine of the swinging strikes he induced came on the curveball. Valdez now has a 78% groundball rate through his first two starts since returning from the IL. His fastball velocity isn't anything to go crazy about, but he continues to find ways to consistently get outs. 

Valdez now has 14 strikeouts through his first 11 innings, and that's a bit uncommon for him as he hasn't been a big strikeout pitcher entering this season. If he adds that to his arsenal, he becomes an incredibly exciting starting pitcher. as someone who dominates groundball rate while still averaging a strikeout per inning. He reminds Chris a lot of Max Fried, and I think that is a really good comp. Valdez may be even more efficient though because manager Dusty Baker lets his SPs go deeper into games. He's settling right into the SP31-35 range for us here.

Manoah runs into trouble in second MLB start

There was a rush to every waiver wire and a large chunk of FAB spent bidding to win the rights to Blue Jays SP Alek Manoah when news broke that he would be promoted, and everyone who rostered him took a victory lap after his debut start. He looked so good that I nicknamed him The Mountain for his towering presence and somewhat resemblance to the "Game of Thrones" character. Manoah blanked the Yankees and allowed just two hits in his debut last Thursday, but on Wednesday against the Marlins, he was off his game. 

Manoah labored through 3 1/3 innings against a Marlins lineup not known for its prowess. He allowed four runs, including three homers on the day. Manoah came into this one on five days rest, so maybe that excuse is worth something, but he didn't show the same nasty stuff that made his debut look so special. His fastball velocity was down 1.6 mph.

One thing you'll want to monitor with Manoah (if you roster him) is whether or not the shorter rest is playing a factor here. We'll have an opportunity to add to our sample size next week when he pitches against the White Sox on what should be only five days rest again.

More news and notes

  • Astros DH Yordan Alvarez has been asking to play left field and earned his first start there on Wednesday. In some leagues, he'll only need another four starts to gain OF eligibility. In others, that number could be up to 14 more. Either way, this is an excellent sign for Alvarez managers. "Early in the year, I didn't want to take a chance because they told me whenever he would play the outfield before, he would be sore prior to his operation," Dusty Baker said to reporters after the game. "He's been working hard, getting his legs strong. He's in outstanding shape and he's running good. A lot of it is mental. Once you get past that part of it, it makes it a lot easier to feel comfortable with changing of direction and stuff."
  • Nationals SP Stephen Strasburg was placed on the IL with a neck strain. 
  • Diamondbacks SP Madison Bumgarner was removed from Wednesday's start after two innings due to left shoulder discomfort and will undergo an MRI.
  • Twins C Mitch Garver was placed on the 10-day IL after undergoing groin surgery Tuesday night. Ryan Jeffers rejoined the Twins and has some prospect pedigree. He homered Wednesday against the Orioles and is just 4% rostered for those in two-catcher leagues.
  • Padres SS Fernando Tatis could return to the lineup Thursday. He left earlier in the week with oblique discomfort.
  • Mariners SP Justin Dunn was placed on the IL with right shoulder inflammation.
  • Nationals OF Kyle Schwarber left Wednesday's game with an apparent knee injury.
  • Twins 1B/OF Rob Refsnyder was placed on the 7-day concussion IL.
  • Dodgers OF A.J. Pollock is slated to return Friday.
  • Pirates SP JT Brubaker is not starting this week for personal reasons.
  • Padres 3B/SS Ha-seong Kim and OF Tommy Pham were both pulled after colliding with each other.
  • Mets 2B/3B/SS Jonathan Villar left Wednesday's game with hamstring tightness.
  • Twins SP Kenta Maeda completed a long-toss session Tuesday and could throw a bullpen session this weekend.
  • Twins SP Michael Pineda experienced some discomfort in his right forearm during his start Tuesday.

Prospect updates

  • Rays SS Wander Franco had a four-hit game on Tuesday.
  • Rangers 3B Josh Jung is recovering from a foot injury and has been running the bases. He's about 10-14 days from joining an affiliate.
  • Pirates SP Roansy Contreras threw six shutout innings with eight strikeouts at Double-A. He has a 1.63 ERA through three starts.

Would you rather?

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USATSI

Shortstop: Francisco Lindor or Marcus Semien?

Lindor, who is batting .209 with just four homers and four steals, is currently the No. 364 player overall in Roto formats. Semien didn't carry the excitement in the preseason but is now batting .301 with 13 homers, eight steals, 38 runs and 32 RBI. He is currently the 10th-best SS in Roto and second-best SS in H2H points leagues. The pick: Lindor.

Starting pitcher: Adbert Alzolay or Yusei Kikuchi?

Alzolay has allowed three earned runs or fewer in nine straight starts. He now sports a 3.62 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. Kikuchi has been on a heater over his last six starts with a 2.77 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. The pick: Kikuchi.

Outfield: Adolis Garcia or Starling Marte?

Garcia's power has been obvious but he also just swiped his seventh bag on Wednesday. Marte hit his third home run of the season on Wednesday and it's also his first since returning from the IL. The pick: Marte.

Starting pitcher part 2: Walker Buehler or Zack Wheeler?

Buehler now has a 2.82 ERA but also a career-low 8.96 K/9. Wheeler has been lights out and is currently a top-12 SP overall. The pick: Wheeler.

Shortstop part 2: Dansby Swanson vs. Gleyber Torres?

Swanson is heating up with his ninth home run on Wednesday. Over his last 15 games, Swanson is batting .310 with four homers and a steal. The pick: Torres.

Starting pitcher part 3: Tyler Mahle or Sean Manaea?

Overall, the numbers look fine for Mahle, who has a 3.42 ERA, 1.16 WHIP,  and a 10.4 K/9. Recently, he has struggled to find his way with just two quality starts over his last 11 outings. The pick: Mahle.

Catcher: James McCann or Mike Zunino?

McCann is batting near the top of the Mets order and delivered on Wednesday, going 3 for 4 with his fourth home run and four RBI. He is just 57% rostered. The pick: McCann.

National Egg Day: Omelet or egg sandwich? 

June 3 is National Egg Day, apparently. Chris is going with an egg sandwich easy -- on a potato roll, with American cheese, scrambled egg and sausage. I go with bacon as the only substitute, but also believe in going sandwich over omelet. The pick: Egg sandwich.

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