Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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Notes: Almost Torres Time?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


The closers kind of took over last week’s column, so I’m staying away from save chatter today. Get ready for the June rankings next week!

 

American League notes

 

- Brad Peacock should be due for a longer look in the Astros’ rotation after striking out eight in 4 1/3 scoreless innings in his spot start against the Tigers on Monday. Peacock was filling in for the injured Dallas Keuchel (neck) in that one, and Keuchel is due back next week. Still, both Mike Fiers (5.14 ERA, 17 HR allowed in 42 IP) and Joe Musgrove (5.63 ERA) should be vulnerable at this point. Most likely, one already would have been replaced if the Astros hadn’t been playing so well that the lack of success from the back of their rotation scarcely mattered. I don’t think Peacock would be a great starter -- command has always been an issue, and his lack of a plus changeup is a problem -- but his slider has come far enough that he should be an upgrade. He could be a streaming option in mixed leagues once his opportunity comes.

 

- The Yankees just bumped Gleyber Torres up to Triple-A after he hit .273/.367/.496 with five homers and a 21/17 K/BB ratio in 121 at-bats for Double-A Trenton. Obviously, they weren’t willing to rush their top prospect to the majors when Didi Gregorius got hurt this spring, but if faced with a similar injury to one of their infielders now, one imagines they’d strongly consider it. The bigger question is whether they’d consider having him step in for Chase Headley at third base if Headley is still struggling come late June or July. I wouldn’t rule it out, but I’m guessing it won’t happen. Torres is a big talent, but I think he’ll have some issues with major league breaking balls given his leg kick at the plate; in the minors, he’s been very good at laying off sliders and curves out of the zone, but in the majors, he’ll have to contend with pitchers who can throw breaking balls for strikes while still being ready to attack 95-mph fastballs. He’ll get there, but I’m skeptical that he’s a better option than Headley right now.

 

- I really liked what I saw from Steven Souza last month, but he took a pitch off his left hand April 29 and missed a couple of days and then he injured his right thumb when he was jammed by a pitch on May 8. Now he’s hitting .107 with 26 strikeouts and just one homer this month. It’s fair to blame the injuries, but given the way hand injuries can linger, who knows when he’s going to be right again? Souza also had a pair of hand injuries from HBPs in 2015 and never showed much power afterwards. I don’t want to completely give up on him after what he showed in April -- I believed he was taking a step forward -- but he’d seem to be droppable in mixed leagues with the way he’s performing now.

 

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- Sam Travis, who had such an impressive spring for the Red Sox, was called up to make his major league debut Tuesday after hitting .286/.353/.452 in 33 games for Triple-A Pawtucket. Most of Travis’s success came against lefties (.414/.485/.724) and the Red Sox aren’t ready to replace Mitch Moreland anyway, so Travis will be on the wrong side of a platoon for now and might not stay up for long. He’s strictly an AL-only option.

 

- Doug Fister picked a great spot in which to launch his comeback, as he’ll be supported by the game’s best defensive middle infield and get to work in a pitcher’s park after signing with the Angels. Still, there won’t be any reason to get excited about him for fantasy purposes unless he rediscovers some lost velocity. He’s expected to join the Halos’ rotation after a few starts in the minors.

 

- The Nicholas Castellanos hype was overblown this spring, but I still think there’s going to be some mixed-league value here when all is said and done. He’s striking out too much, and his exit velocity, which was right at the top of the pack early on, has slipped this month. Still, he’s getting the ball in the air and he has plenty of power to start launching home runs frequently. I’d say he’s worth holding on to.

 

- Mike Zunino was brought back to the majors after hitting .293/.356/.707 with five homers and five strikeouts in 45 plate appearances for Triple-A Tacoma. It’s exactly what the Mariners were hoping for from him. Though he’s not going to suddenly start hitting for average, he should be a fine second catcher in mixed leagues the rest of the way.

 

- While no one was looking, the suddenly spry Jose Bautista has hit .303/.416/.605 with six homers and two steals this month. On Tuesday, he made his first start at third base since 2013. He’s already made three appearances there, and it looks like he could qualify at the position in five-game leagues in short order. He’s a rather valuable fantasy commodity again.

 

List No. 1: Position players most likely to be traded before the deadline

 

1. Todd Frazier (3B White Sox)

2. Zack Cozart (SS Reds)

3. Mike Moustakas (3B Royals)

4. Lorenzo Cain (OF Royals)

5. Jed Lowrie (2B-3B Athletics)

6. Rajai Davis (OF Athletics)

7. Michael Saunders (OF Phillies)

8. Jay Bruce (OF Mets)

9. Josh Harrison (2B-3B Pirates)

10. Trevor Plouffe (3B Athletics)

 

With the exception of Harrison, everyone here is a free agent this winter, though there is an affordable $6 million option attached to Lowrie’s contract. The A’s could also make free-agent-to-be Yonder Alonso available, though one imagines they’ll see if they can get him to sign an extension first. Catcher Stephen Vogt should also be up for grabs, though he’s under control for 2018.

 

The Royals are the lynchpin here, as they have the best center fielder, best third baseman and perhaps the best first baseman (Eric Hosmer) available in trade. I think they have the best chance to re-sign Cain of that group, but he could also bring the biggest return in July.

 

Toronto (Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki) and Detroit (J.D. Martinez and Ian Kinsler) could also become very interesting sellers if things don’t go as hoped these next two months.

 

 


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Matthew Pouliot is the Executive Editor of RotoWorld.com and has been doing the site's baseball projections for the last 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @matthewpouliot.
Email :Matthew Pouliot


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Notes: Almost Torres Time?
May 24

Matthew Pouliot lists some trade candidates and offers up thoughts on Gleyber Torres, Dinelson Lamet and Joe Ross in the Strike Zone.

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