Fantasy Baseball Daily Dose: The Fresh Prince of Los Angeles

George Bissell
Rotoworld

The future is right now in Los Angeles. The Dodgers received contributions from nearly everyone on the active roster in a 15-1 blowout victory over the Marlins on Tuesday night. However, it was rookie catcher Will Smith who served as their main offensive catalyst, launching a pair of home runs to spearhead their offensive explosion. He walloped a solo homer to left field off Marlins starter Jordan Yamamoto in the fourth inning and also drilled a two-run dinger to off veteran southpaw Wei-Yin Chen in the sixth inning. It was the first multi-homer effort of his big-league career, and it certainly won’t be his last. The 24-year-old backstop wrestled the full-time catching duties away from entrenched starter Austin Barnes earlier this summer and has now gone deep a whopping nine times in just 23 games. He owns an eye-popping .324/.375/.817 triple-slash line over 80 major-league plate appearances. It’s an extremely small sample size, however, it’s become increasingly clear that Smith’s combination of solid plate skills and over-the-fence pop aren’t a mirage. He’s walloped 29 homers in just 84 games between Triple-A Oklahoma City and the major leagues this season. From a fantasy perspective, the catching landscape is a dystopian wasteland, which gives Smith a chance to be more than just a viable mixed-league starter at the position. If he’s a realistic .280-to-.300 hitter with 20-plus home run power, he’s a potential fantasy superstar moving forward. 

Meanwhile, rookie right-hander Dustin May struck out five batters over 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball to collect his first major-league win in the process. The hard-throwing 21-year-old possess a truly electric arsenal and appears to be firmly entrenched in the Dodgers’ starting rotation for years to come. It wasn’t just the rookies who got in on the action. Cody Bellinger clobbered his 39th round-tripper of the season to pull into a three-way tie with Mike Trout and Christian Yelich for the major league-lead. Veteran third baseman Justin Turner went deep for the 10th time in 29 games since the All-Star break and injury-plagued shortstop Corey Seager also left the yard in the lopsided win. Perhaps the most incredible aspect of the Dodgers’ success is that they’re doing it without any impact from their top prospect, shortstop Gavin Lux, who owns an extra-terrestrial .432/.514/.811 triple-slash line with 11 home runs in just 35 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City this season. Not only is this Dodgers’ team one of the deepest rosters in recent memory, but it’s headlined by a plethora of young, cost-controlled burgeoning stars who are poised to dominate the senior circuit for years to come. 

Cole Scratched, Bregman Sidelined

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There was a brief full-scale meltdown on Twitter -- someone hit the AZ-5 button -- when Astros’ ace Gerrit Cole was abruptly scratched just minutes before his scheduled start in the nightcap of a doubleheader against the White Sox on Tuesday. The 28-year-old righty was warming up in the bullpen at Guaranteed Rate Field roughly 15 minutes prior to first pitch, but ended up cutting that work short and was replaced on the bullpen mound by reliever Chris Devenski, who wound up starting the game. After a few minutes of unsettling uncertainty, reports surfaced that Cole tweaked his right hamstring while warming up. Clearly, the Astros didn’t want to take any chances, especially after picking up a win in the front-end of the twin-billing thanks to a leadoff homer by George Springer and six innings of two-run ball from recently acquired righty Zack Greinke.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch said after the game that Cole will undergo further tests on his right hamstring. “We’ll get him tested even further and see where this takes us,” Hinch told reporters. “He (Cole) doesn’t think it’s that serious. I’m glad he told us and we hope that it’s mild.” The 28-year-old righty owns a 14-5 record with a 2.87 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 226/39 K/BB ratio through 156 2/3 innings (25 starts) this season. There should be more updates on Wednesday morning. Cole isn’t the only injury concern for the Astros right now. Alex Bregman was held out of the Astros' lineup for both games of Tuesday's doubleheader against the White Sox due to soreness in his scapula. He took a Mychal Givens pitch up near his shoulder in Sunday's series finale against the Orioles, but it doesn't sound like anything too serious. Fantasy owners should monitor the situation closely in the coming days as well. 

Pham Targeting Wednesday Return

It remains to be seen whether Rays’ outfielder Tommy Pham, who has been experiencing renewed discomfort in his right hand, which he sprained back in late July, will be able to avoid a stint on the 10-day injured list. He was held out of the Rays’ starting lineup against the Padres on Tuesday. However, Rays’ manager Kevin Cash appeared optimistic when speaking with reporters Tuesday that Pham could be back for the finale of the three-game series on Wednesday afternoon. The 31-year-old veteran outfielder told reporters Monday that he doesn't want to go on the injured list, and even went so far as to acknowledge that there's a “small fracture.” Yet, he still thinks he can play through the issue moving forward. He suffered what was originally described as a right hand sprain after sliding into second base on July 28. Clearly, the issue is still bothering him. We’ll have a much better idea on his health status on Wednesday. 

Eovaldi Role Reversal

On an evening in which Chris Sale became the fastest pitcher in major-league history to record 2,000 strikeouts and burgeoning fantasy superstar Rafael Devers collected a whopping six hits to propel the Red Sox to a critical 6-5 extra-inning victory over the Indians, the most intriguing development regarding the franchise centered around the future role of last year’s World Series hero Nathan Eovaldi. Manager Alex Cora told reporters prior to Tuesday’s contest that there was a “pretty good chance” the 29-year-old right-hander would return to the teams’ starting rotation for the final six-plus weeks of the regular season. 

Eovaldi was slated to serve as an opener against the Indians on Wednesday, but apparently that won’t happen after he was summoned to record a pair of key outs in the eighth inning on Tuesday night. It seems like the Red Sox’ temporary plan was for him to transition back into the starting rotation and take over Andrew Cashner’s vacated rotation spot. That appears to be on hold for now. It was widely reported back in early July that the Red Sox, who elected not to acquire additional bullpen help at last month’s major-league trade deadline, planned on using him as their primary closer for the remainder of the season. However, that out-of-the-box idea never came to fruition once he returned from elbow surgery in late July. Ironically, it was Cashner who came out of the bullpen to record his first career save in Tuesday night’s extra-inning affair. Baseball is weird sometimes. Eovaldi owns an uninspiring 6.25 ERA, 1.64 WHIP and 31/15 K/BB ratio across 31 2/3 innings of work this season. A return to the starting rotation would likely be enough to elevate him back onto the fantasy radar in standard mixed leagues, so fantasy owners should certainly be monitoring his usage over the next few weeks.   

 

AL Quick Hits: Corey Kluber (arm) threw four innings of one-run ball on Tuesday with Double-A Akron. … Brandon Lowe (shin) is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment Thursday in the Gulf Coast League. … Ramon Laureano (shin) has been taking some swings but has yet to be cleared for running. He’s been sidelined since July 31 due to a stress reaction in his right shin. … Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said Tuesday that Byron Buxton (shoulder) is getting close to facing live pitching. … Rafael Devers went 6-for-6 with three RBI to lead the Red Sox to an extra-inning victory over the Indians. … Chris Sale struck out 12 batters over 6 2/3 innings in that one. … Francisco Lindor went 3-for-5 with three RBI in the losing effort. … Kyle Seager homered three times and plated a season-high six runs in the Mariners’ lopsided win over the Tigers. It was the first three-homer performance of his career. … Gio Urshela went 3-for-5 with an RBI in the Yankees’ blowout win over the Orioles. … Domingo German struck out seven batters over seven innings to collect his 16th win of the year in that one. … Matthew Boyd allowed seven runs -- six earned -- over 5 1/3 innings in a loss to the Mariners. … Blue Jays recalled Rowdy Tellez from Triple-A Buffalo. … Indians manager Terry Francona told reporters on Tuesday that Carlos Carrasco (cancer) wants to begin facing live hitters on Friday. … Jesus Luzardo (shoulder) will make his next appearance Thursday with Triple-A Las Vegas. … Brad Peacock (shoulder) will make one or two more appearances at Triple-A Round Rock. …  Rays activated Jose Alvarado from the 10-day injured list. He missed just over a month with a right oblique strain … Rangers placed Jesse Chavez on the 10-day injured list with a right elbow impingement.

NL Quick Hits: Max Scherzer (back) threw two-plus innings in a simulated game on Tuesday. … Christian Yelich (back) returned to the Brewers' starting lineup against the Twins on Tuesday night after missing nearly a full week due to lingering back issues. … Jon Gray was scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday versus the Diamondbacks due to ankle soreness. He is expected to return to the Rockies’ rotation later this week. … Austin Riley (knee) was told that he can expect to be ready for live action in about two weeks. He was diagnosed with a partially torn LCL in his right knee last week, but is expected to avoid surgery and could be back in the Braves’ lineup by early September. … Craig Kimbrel (knee) said he felt fine after throwing in the bullpen Tuesday. … Jeff McNeil will undergo an MRI on his left hamstring on Wednesday morning. … Jose Quintana struck out a career-high 14 batters over six innings of two-run ball in a no-decision against the Phillies. … Juan Soto (ankle) launched his 25th home run in his return to the Nationals' starting lineup on Tuesday against the Reds. … Ronald Acuña blasted his 34th round-tripper in the Braves’ narrow win over the Mets. …  Jack Flaherty recorded seven strikeouts and spun seven scoreless innings in a win over the Royals. … Madison Bumgarner recorded nine strikeouts over seven innings in a win over the Athletics on Tuesday. … Rockies catching prospect Dom Nunez slugged a solo homer in his major-league debut against the Diamondbacks. … Josh Bell homered for the third consecutive game in the Pirates’ win over the Angels. … Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reported Tuesday that John Mallee has been let go as Phillies’ hitting coach and will be replaced by former manager Charlie Manuel. … Sean Doolittle acknowledged during an appearance on 106.7 The Fan on Tuesday that his workload has contributed to his recent struggles. He’s allowed six runs in his last three appearances. … Corey Dickerson was removed from Tuesday night's game against the Cubs due to an apparent left hand injury. … Rockies designated Chris Iannetta for assignment.

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