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Kirby – the fluffy pink fictional protagonist that debuted in Nintendo games in the early 1990’s – was best known for his ability to inhale objects and creatures that stood in his path. That’s not that different from what George Kirby did to the Rays in his big league debut on Sunday afternoon.
The highly-touted 24-year-old right-hander came with plenty of fanfare, having posted a stellar 1.82 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 32/5 K/BB ratio over 24 2/3 innings through five starts at Double-A Arkansas. He didn’t show any fear in his first battle against big league hitters.
Kirby scattered four hits – all singles – over six dazzling innings of shutout baseball against the Rays. He piled up seven strikeouts on the day and didn’t walk a batter. Kirby generated 15 swings and misses on his 81 total pitches in the contest – 13 of those on his fastball which averaged 95.8 mph and hit as high as 97.9 mph. He posted a terrific 36 percent CSW in total – with a 46 percent CSW on just his fastball which he threw 59 percent of the time.
He came out guns blazing in this one – hitting that 97.9 mph mark on his very first pitch to Brandon Lowe – ultimately striking out the first batter that he faced swinging on a slider. He then allowed a one-out single to Wander Franco before striking out Randy Arozarena and Ji-Man Choi to end the inning.
Only one batter reached second base against him in the ballgame, and that’s only because Manuel Margot stole second base with two outs in the fifth inning – and was then stranded there. Kirby was in complete control, firing 55 of his 81 total pitches for strikes.
His next assignment will come on Saturday against the red-hot Mets in New York. If he delivers anything close to this level of production in that start, the FAAB prices for the right-hander are going to be astronomical next Sunday night.
Starting Pitchers with an EDGE
Zac Gallen - 7 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 7 K, W (2), 23% CSW, 5 swinging strikes
Once again it wasn’t fancy or necessarily over-powering by the advanced metrics, but make no mistakes this was another dominant effort for the Diamondbacks right-hander. Only one of the five hits allowed went for extra-bases – a one-out double by Charlie Blackmon in the opening inning that put runners at second and third before Gallen wiggled his way out of the inning. He boasts a tremendous 0.95 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and 26/4 K/BB ratio over 28 1/3 innings.
Gerrit Cole - 6 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 10 K, 38% CSW, 26 swinging strikes
No, that’s not a misprint, Cole generated a whopping 26 swinging strikes in this dominant performance – 14 of those came on his fastball which averaged 98.2 mph and touched as high as 100.6 mph. The only blemish on his day came on a solo blast off of Kole Calhoun in the seventh inning. That’s three straight stellar outings for the star right-hander who now carries a 2.67 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 37/11 K/BB ratio over 30 1/3 innings.
Walker Buehler - 7 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 6 K, W (4), 33% CSW, 15 swinging strikes
Yet another strong outing for the Dodgers right-hander in a victory over the Cubs. He allowed a run in the first inning on a leadoff double by Rafael Ortega and a two-out single by Willson Contreras, then took over and dominated the next six frames. He'll carry a mighty impressive 1.96 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 32/9 K/BB ratio (36 2/3 innings) into Saturday's matchup against the Phillies.
Hitters with an EDGE
Colin Moran - 2-for-4, 2 HR (2), 6 RBI, 2 R
Colin Moran – starting at first base while Joey Votto is on the COVID-19 IL – had his best game as a member of the Reds on Sunday, crushing a pair of homers and driving in six runs in a victory over the Pirates – the team that non-tendered him over the winter. He clobbered a grand slam in the sixth inning then added on a two-run blast in the eighth. He still doesn’t hold much – if any – fantasy utility, but this revenge game had to feel terrific for the 29-year-old.
Pete Alonso - 3-for-5, 2 HR (7), 5 RBI, 2 R
Alonso walloped a two-run homer to left field in the opening frame off Phillies' lefty starter Cristopher Sánchez. He also drilled a mammoth 426-foot three-run shot to left field against righty reliever Nick Nelson in the fifth inning to record his 12th career multi-homer performance. The 27-year-old slugger has gotten off to a fast start, hitting .276/.333/.500 with 18 runs scored, seven round-trippers and 26 RBI across 129 plate appearances.
Manuel Margot - 2-for-3, HR (3), RBI, R, BB, SB (3)
Margot is a talented player who has always been lauded for his dazzling combination of power and speed. Could he finally be putting it all together here? He’s slashing a monstrous .325/.391/.494 with three homers, 20 RBI and three stolen bases in the early going and is worth using in all mixed leagues until he shows signs of cooling off or winds up on the injured list.
EDGE Priority Pickup
Juan Yepez, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals – Available in 86% of Yahoo fantasy leagues.
It’s about time that fantasy managers started to take notice of Juan Yepez. When he was called up by the Cardinals last week, some thought that it was just going to be for a game or two – or that he wasn’t going to work his way into full-time at-bats – but those worries should already be alleviated. The 24-year-old started his fifth consecutive game on Sunday and did so by crushing his first career home run – a 406-foot two-run blast off of Jake Junis in the second inning. He’s slashing a robust .474/.500/.789 with three doubles, three RBI and a 3/1 K/BB ratio through his first 20 plate appearances.
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Camilo Doval vs. Cardinals - 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 1 BB, 2 K (5th save)
It’s his first save since April 25th, but let’s keep in mind that no other Giants relievers secured a save during that gap. Doval has recorded each of the Giants last three saves and looks to be strengthening his hold on the ninth-inning gig.
Corey Knebel vs. Mets - 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K (5th save)
Now this is most certainly what fantasy managers wanted to see after Knebel gave up three runs and took a blown save as the Phillies blew a six-run lead in the ninth inning on Saturday. He got right back up on that horse and retired the side against those Mets to lock down his fifth save. He still looks incredibly secure in his ninth inning role.
Scott Barlow vs. Royals - 1 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 1 K (2nd save)
Barlow made things interesting in this one – allowing a pair of two-out singles – but was able to get the job done without allowing a run. It’s his first save since April 20, but it’s also the first save that the Royals have registered during a nine-inning game during that stretch. It’s hard to take too much away from that, but Barlow may be the leader of the committee in Kansas City.
Emmanuel Clase vs. Blue Jays - 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K (6th save)
Another nice easy perfect inning for Clase in this one – retiring Alejandro Kirk, Matt Chapman and Santiago Espinal to get the job done here. He has now converted six of his first seven save chances on the season while registering a 3.18 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 11/2 K/BB ratio across his 11 1/3 innings.
Emilio Pagan vs. Athletics - 1 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K (4th save)
Jhoan Duran was unavailable for this one after recording the final six outs in a dominant save on Saturday, so it was Pagan getting thrown back into the fire on Sunday. He walked the tightrope – allowing a one-out walk to Tony Kemp and then a single to Christian Bethancourt, but was able to battle back to retire Elvis Andrus and Christian Pache to secure the one-run victory. He’ll continue to see save chances here and there, but it looks like Duran is emerging as the go-to option here.
Monday’s Matchup of the Day
Brandon Woodruff (MIL) vs. Luis Castillo (CIN)
There are plenty of talented arms taking the hill on Monday, but the matchup that will draw the most attention is between the Brewers and Reds in Cincinnati.
Luis Castillo will make his long-awaited season debut. The 29-year-old hurler has looked good through three minor league rehab starts – compiling a 0.87 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and 16/8 K/BB ratio over 10 1/3 innings – though the WHIP (specifically the walks) have always been a problem for him.
On the other side, we’re still not sure what is troubling Brandon Woodruff this season. The right-hander sports a massively disappointing 5.18 ERA on the season, though his 1.19 WHIP and 31/8 K/BB ratio over 24 1/3 innings paint a much rosier picture.
American League Quick Hits: Michael Wacha was scratched from his scheduled start against the White Sox then landed on the 10-day injured list with left intercostal irritation… White Sox manager Tony La Russa told reporters that Yoan Moncada (oblique) will make his season debut on Monday… The Athletics activated Ramon Laureano from the restricted list… Jed Lowrie was scratched from the A’s lineup with lower back tightness… The Twins placed Trevor Larnach (groin) on the 10-day IL… Byron Buxton is dealing with a low-level hip strain and expected to return to the Twins lineup early in the week… The Rays activated Ji-Man Choi from the 10-day IL and optioned Isaac Paredes back to Triple-A Durham… The Angels placed David Fletcher back on the 10-day IL with a left hip strain… Edward Olivares left Sunday’s game against the Orioles with a right quad strain and then sat out the nightcap of the doubleheader… Chris Paddack was pulled from Sunday’s start against the A’s due to inflammation in his pitching elbow… Carlos Correa (finger) is unlikely to return to the Twins lineup on Tuesday… Lance McCullers has ramped up the distance, velocity and frequency of his throwing sessions.
Dallas Keuchel struck out five over six innings of two-run baseball in a victory over the Red Sox… Dane Dunning hurled six innings of one-run baseball in a tough-luck no-decision against the Yankees… Gleyber Torres belted a walk-off solo homer off of John King as the Yankees took the first game of their doubleheader from the Rangers… Austin Hays and Ryan Mountcastle each tallied four hits as the O’s lost the first game of their doubleheader to the Royals… Jake Odorizzi fired five shutout innings in a victory over the Tigers… Aaron Hicks walked three times and swiped two bases as the Yankees dropped the nightcap of their twin bill against the Rangers… Brad Miller smacked a pinch-hit go-ahead homer to lead the Rangers to victory in the nightcap of their doubleheader against the Yankees… Bruce Zimmerman struck out five over six innings of two-run baseball in a victory over the Royals… Ryan Yarbrough hurled five shutout innings in a no-decision against the Mariners… Aledmys Diaz belted a grand slam in a victory over the Tigers.
National League Quick Hits: The Phillies placed Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin on the COVID-19 IL… The Mets officially released Robinson Cano… The Diamondbacks purchased the contract of top prospect Alek Thomas from Triple-A Reno… Kris Bryant (back) is set to receive a cortisone injection on Monday… Carson Kelly landed on the 10-day IL with a left oblique strain… Brandon Belt was held out of the Giants lineup on Sunday due to neck stiffness… The Cubs optioned struggling first baseman Frank Schwindel to Triple-A Iowa… They also placed Marcus Stroman on the COVID-19 IL… Gerardo Parra is retiring from professional baseball and joining the Nationals front office as a special assistant… Reds manager David Bell noted that it would still be a couple of days before Nick Senzel and/or Joey Votto return from the COVID-19 IL… Andrew Heaney (shoulder) told reporters that he’ll resume his throwing program on Monday… Pirates top prospect Henry Davis was promoted to Double-A Altoona… Stephen Strasburg (shoulder) is scheduled to throw two innings in a simulated game this week.. Kirby Yates (elbow) threw a successful 25-pitch bullpen session.
Bryce Harper took Max Scherzer deep as the Phillies topped the Mets in the first game of their doubleheader… William Contreras homered and drove home four runs as the Braves routed the Brewers… Charlie Morton fanned five over five shutout innings in that victory… Zach Thompson struck out six over five scoreless frames against the Reds… Cody Bellinger had three hits and drove in a run in a victory over the Cubs… Jorge Alfaro blasted a pinch-hit, walk-off three-run homer off of Cole Sulser to beat the Marlins… Jazz Chisholm belted his fifth homer in the loss there… Trevor Rogers hurled five shutout innings in a no-decision… Joe Musgrove fanned eight over seven innings of two-run ball in a no-decision… Ketel Marte had three hits and scored a run in a victory over the Rockies.