No one does a double-take when a Coors Field game produces 20 runs. When the Dodgers finished up their 12-8 victory at Colorado on Thursday, it was business as usual. Enjoy that offensive boxscore. Take the Walker Buehler hit, if you dared to start him (some will throw a superstar in Coors, some won’t). Take a second to consider guys like Garrett Hampson, and then move along with your day.
Oh, but hang on a second. The Colorado bullpen, we have to touch on that. Maybe the Rockies will be forced into a change there.
Wade Davis was in the midst of a nice season before an oblique injury hit in May. He returned earlier this month, and it’s been a mess: 9.1 IP, 16 H, 12 R, 3 HR, 6 BB, 6 K. Davis took the loss Thursday, allowing four runs (including a homer) in another nightmare inning.
Most of the blow-ups have come at Coors; maybe that’s reassuring, maybe that isn’t. It’s not like the Rockies can ship half of their home dates to Montreal. There’s an occupational hazard here. And we’re open to wonder if Davis is still hurt or is compensating for another physical problem.
In the meantime, understudy Scott Oberg is cruising along. Oberg struck out all three batters he faced Thursday, pushing his ratios down to 2.04/0.98. His walk rate is a problem — 16 passes in 39.2 innings — but he also has 43 strikeouts. And in June, he’s fixed that BB/K ratio with just three walks against 21 strikeouts over 13.2 innings.
If Davis needs any kind of a timeout, Oberg is ready as the stand-in. Oberg already has three saves as it is. Late June is a key period for closer speculation, with the MLB trade deadline looming, but we also have to do our regular diligence with respect to the ninth-inning dance. Oberg is rostered in about a quarter of Yahoo leagues; perhaps that number should be higher.
Andrelton Simmons returns
Hopefully, the Simmons return will be much smoother than that Colorado mess. Simmons (ankle) rejoined the Angels on Thursday, went 1-for-4 with a run and two strikeouts.
We think of Simmons for his amazing defense, but he’s been a reasonable offensive piece since the beginning of 2017 (.287/.332/.418, 28 homers, 34 bags). The average will certainly help you in today’s fantasy context, and there’s some category juice. The Angels offense is suddenly fun now that Shohei Ohtani, Justin Upton, and Simmons are all back, rejoining the Mike Trout circus.
If you want another Simmons endorsement, Fred Zinkie has your back. Zinkie is already under Yahoo contract, but you can add Simmons in two-thirds of Yahoo leagues.
Kevin Newman rolling along
We’ve already had the Newman talk, but traction has been slow. Maybe there hasn’t been quite enough category juice to satisfy some owners. Newman’s .333 average plays in any format, and he has homered in his last two games. Over the past month, he’s the No. 13 shortstop in 5x5 scoring (.333-13-3-16-4, 7 BB, 11 K).
Perhaps the Cole Tucker flop made some fantasy owners leery of Newman, the next man up. But this Pittsburgh story has been going on for a while. And consider the real estate Newman holds; he’s batted leadoff in 25 of the last 27 games. He’s carved out a niche and is a legitimate reason why the Pirates have a Top-5 offense over the last month.
To be fair, the Statcast page doesn’t completely buy into Newman. He’s not hitting the ball especially hard, his barrel rate is low, and his average isn’t fully supported. But he does have an elite contact rate and a first-round pedigree, to go along with that critical leadoff position.
If you want to kick some tires, Newman is widely available, unattached in 82 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Revisiting Jason Heyward
I’m not entirely sure what to make of Heyward’s first half. His early improvement with his fly-ball rate didn’t stick, and although he’s improved his hard-hit rate, it’s a minor bump. He’s also shut down the running game after some early activity there. Nonetheless, a .270-38-11-31-5 line has some utility, if your league is deep enough. And he’s especially useful if you can steer Heyward to the right-handed opponents; that’s where a .291/.387/.488 slash awaits.
There’s an ironic twist to this story. While Heyward’s offensive game has come around somewhat, he’s no longer an elite defender. In fact, his defensive WAR (for whatever that might mean to you) is actually negative in 2019.
His most impactful play in the field this year was a negative one, running into Kris Bryant a couple of months ago. (Hey, maybe that was Bryant’s fault — center fielder should have dibs). But from a human side, I’m just glad we don’t have to watch Heyward 4-3 his way out of baseball anymore. He’s just another good-not-great player, and sometimes, that’s enough.
Justice prevails in Milwaukee
I’m not sure how much hand-holding anyone needs on Keston Hiura. He obviously didn’t deserve his demotion to Triple-A, it was merely a numbers game and an attempt for the Brewers to get some veterans working. Thursday, Milwaukee finally gave up that cause. Hernan Perez, DFA. Travis Shaw, ticket to the minors. Hiura is back with the Crew, with his .281 average and five homers (in just 64 at-bats) exciting fantasy owners.
In any league with a proactive pulse, Hiura is long gone. In some other formats, you have to wait out a bidding process. He’s rostered in about a third of Yahoo leagues at the moment, but that should chase over 50 percent quickly.
I figure Hiura will be a Top-20 second baseman at minimum, with a reasonable chance to push into the Top 12-15. A very rosterable commodity in a standard mixer. And heck, if you’re not sold on him, you still want him for the trade juice. There are a few prospect-hoarding hounds in most rooms. Push some buttons.