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It took two months, but we finally got to see Ke’Bryan Hayes back, and more than a few fantasy managers -- speculating here, of course -- had to be curious to see how he was going to do in his return to action on Thursday against the Marlins.
Unsurprisingly, it went well.
Hayes went 2-for-4 with a triple and a run scored while making a couple of outstanding defensive players in a 5-3 win over the Marlins on Thursday.
Anyone who watched Hayes play in 2020 can’t be too surprised by the result. In his first taste of MLB action last summer he was sensational; slashing .376/.442/.682 with five homers in 24 games. He also homered in his first game of 2021, but he suffered a wrist injury in the second game of the season, and he was transferred to the 60-day injured list while recovering from the injury as well.
Now, the question is obviously just what can fantasy managers expect from Hayes for the rest of the season. There are some reasons for concern, and unfortunately for him, they’re not things who are in his control. The Pittsburgh lineup is not good, and hitting in the second spot, there are not going to be a ton of chances to drive in runs with a weak bottom-half of the lineup -- along with the pitching spot -- not exactly among the best in baseball. That being said, he has a chance to hit for average, hit for power, and while he hasn’t shown it at the highest level just yet, he has enough speed to provide some steals as well; something you can’t say about many third baseman.
Third base is a bit of a loaded position, but Hayes has as much upside as all but a handful of players at the hot corner. If he’s still available in your league, it’d be a foolish thing to not add him to your roster if you can.
Tatis returns in big way for Padres
It was understandable if fantasy managers were skeptical, but the Padres kept saying that Fernando Tatis Jr. was day-to-day after dealing with oblique tightness. After not playing on Wednesday, the wunderkind was back in the lineup on Thursday, and he immediately made a difference with a solo homer (note, this update is being written as the game is going on due to time constraints) and he scored a run on a wild pitch.
Simply put, as long as Tatis Jr. is healthy, he’s as good as any player in fantasy baseball. The Padres might give him some time to “load manage” during the 2021 season, and while that’ll be a bit frustrating, if it keeps him healthy throughout the year? Worth it.
Starting Pitchers with an EDGE
Ryan Yarbrough -- 9 IP, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO against New York (AL).
A Rays complete game? In this economy? That’s the first time that a Tampa Bay hurler has thrown a complete game since 2016. The southpaw allowed just two solo homers -- one to Brett Gardner, one to Miguel Andujar -- and threw 74-of-113 pitches for strikes in an outstanding start for the southpaw. Yarbrough’s metrics are all over the place, but he’s probably pitched better than his 3.95 ERA suggests.
Martin Perez -- 7 2/3 IP, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO against Houston.
One of the better surprises of the 2021 season has been the resurgence -- resurgence might be too strong of a word considering how long it’s been since he was relevant in fantasy -- has been Perez. With the scoreless outing on Thursday, the southpaw lowers his ERA to 3.09 with a 4-2 record in 58 1/3 innings with a usable 52/18 K/BB ratio in the process. Perez hasn’t had an ERA below 3.69 in a season since 2013, so it’s understandable if fantasy managers are skeptical. Based on the eye test and (most of) the metrics, there’s reason to believe he can help rosters over the summer.
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Hitters with an EDGE
Josh Donaldson -- 3-for-5, 2 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI against Kansas City.
Donaldson has his first ever two-homer game while wearing a Minnesota uniform. The third baseman also scored a run after hitting a double, while the homers bring his total to seven on the season. The 35-year-old is not the same player he was before the injuries, but he’s still capable of fireworks, as seen Thursday.
Salvador Perez -- 2-for-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI against Minnesota.
On the other side -- literally in this case since they were facing each other -- Perez just seems to be getting better. The two-homer game puts him at 14 on the season, and he’s slashing .284/.312/.536 in an excellent first 1/3 of the season for the veteran backstop. It’s also worth pointing out that his previous contest was a two-homer game against the Pirates, so, yeah, the power has been on point in June for the 31-year-old. Perez has gone from being a solid fantasy option to one of the best at his position, and while he’s played an awful lot of baseball over the last decade, it’s hard to imagine that regression is coming anytime soon.
Miguel Andujar -- available in 94 percent of Yahoo fantasy baseball leagues.
Don’t think I’ve ever recommended a player that’s available in 47-of-50 leagues before. Here we are. Andujar has homered in three-of-four games after hitting the long ball against Yarbrough on Thursday. It’s been a friendly reminder of how good the 26-year-old was not all that long ago; even while still hitting just .243. Andujar is eligible in the outfield and at third base in Yahoo leagues, and the versatility along with the power makes him worthy of a look on fantasy benches. There’s no harm in giving him a look for a couple of weeks and seeing if he can keep this up.
Josh Hader keeps doing that thing where he strikes everyone out and doesn’t give up any runs. He picked up his 13th save on Thursday while striking out three, and he has a 40/8 K/BB ratio and a 0.79 ERA.
The Pirates are bad, but it’s hard to blame any of those struggles on Richard Rodriguez. He converted his seventh save of the season, and a scoreless ninth saw him lower his ERA to 1.54 in the process. With every contender needing relief help -- you don’t need to look this up, every team needs reliever help, always -- Rodriguez is likely to be dealt while his trade value is at its highest before the deadline, and a decent closing option could become a very good one. He also could be headed to be a setup pitcher, however, so, risk with the reward.
Friday’s Matchup of the Day
Easy one. Really, really, easy one. Both pitchers have been outstanding this year, and it’ll be particularly interesting to see how Wheeler follows his 14-strikeout contest against the Rays on Saturday. This also could be one of the final starts for Scherzer in a Washington uniform. Should be a good one.
American League Quick Hits: Rays minor leaguer Tyler Zombro was hit in the head by a line drive while pitching Thursday night, causing the Durham Bulls' game to be halted … Angels activated RHP Chris Rodríguez from the 10-day injured list … Kendall Graveman is out of quarantine and has returned to Seattle … Royals optioned OF Edward Olivares to Triple-A Omaha … Adalberto Mondesi was once again not in the lineup against the Twins while dealing with a left hamstring injury … Josh Fleming will start on Friday against the Rangers … White Sox placed Andrew Vaughn on the COVID-19 injured list … Twins placed LHP Caleb Thielbar on the 10-day injured list with a left groin strain … Red Sox designated RHP Colten Brewer for assignment … Kent Emanuel, who was placed on the IL last week with a sore elbow, said he's going to have UCL surgery.
National League Quick Hits: Jesse Winker went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer on Thursday, leading the Reds to a 4-2 win in the opener of a four-game series against the Cardinals … Kolten Wong is considered day-to-day after leaving Thursday's win over the Diamondbacks with oblique tightness … Don Mattingly told reporters that Elieser Hernandez will be re-evaluated on Friday for a quad strain … Diamondbacks placed LHP Madison Bumgarner on the 10-day injured list with left shoulder inflammation … Giants placed OF Mike Yastrzemski (thumb) and RHP Logan Webb (shoulder) on the 10-day injured list … Diamondbacks acquired RHP Tyler Jones from the Marlins to complete the Zach Pop trade … Adam Haseley (personal) joined Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Thursday night … Giants released RHP Shun Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi is expected to head back to Japan after struggling in his time in the majors and minors … Dodgers activated RHP Jimmy Nelson and A.J. Pollock from the 10-day injured list.