For analysis of changing bullpen situations and notes from both leagues, check out Matthew Pouliot’s latest Strike Zone column. In this Monday edition of the Daily Dose, we’ll identify some players who have been trending in opposite directions over the past couple of weeks.
Reds outfielder Jay Bruce struggled mightily in April, batting .252/.312/.339 with 40 strikeouts in 28 games. But something clicked for him around the time the calendar flipped to May. Bruce has six home runs, 21 RBI and a .948 OPS in 21 games this month and his strikeout rate is way down. The 26-year-old leads the National League with 16 doubles and has the talent to remain hot throughout the season’s final four months. It’s probably too late to buy low in most leagues.
On the other end of the spectrum, Matt Kemp couldn’t be any less locked in. The Dodgers outfielder was benched for the start of Sunday’s series finale against the Cardinals and later grounded into a rally-killing double play as a pinch-hitter. He’s batting .259/.304/.341 with one home run and 29 strikeouts in 22 games this month and he wasn’t much better in April. Kemp’s surgically-repaired shoulder is structurally sound, but he’s having to rebuild some of the strength that he lost in the recovery process and that has taken longer than expected. Fantasy owners will have to remain patient or plug in a new outfielder until Kemp can get it going.
Cardinals third baseman David Freese was a fairly high-round selection in most fantasy drafts this spring after he hit .293/.372/.467 with 20 home runs and 79 RBI in 144 games last season. He’s been an overall disappointment so far in 2013, but the skies are beginning to clear. Freese, who missed a large chunk of spring training with a back injury, is working on a six-game hitting streak and boasts a .302/.362/.460 batting line in 69 plate appearances since the beginning of May. With good power and budding confidence, he’s a good guy to grab on the cheap in standard fantasy leagues. Matt Carpenter is locked in at second base and Freese has the hot corner all to himself.
And then there’s Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. He got off to a roaring start after his late-April promotion to the major leagues, slugging three home runs and tallying eight RBI over his first seven games. But the 22-year-old rookie is batting just .197/.232/.303 over his last 19 games and he has one home run since May 5. Arenado is a serious talent and is capable of getting himself back on track over the long haul, but we can now establish that he is not going to be a world-beater out of the gate and it may be possible to still get a decent return for him in the event that he further tanks. Heck, go get Freese for him.
National League Quick Hits: Braves closer Craig Kimbrel has not allowed a run since May 7 … Bryce Harper is expected to be out for a couple of days with discomfort in his left knee … Ike Davis went 2-for-3 with a walk in the Mets’ victory over the Braves on Sunday Night Baseball … Stephen Strasburg tossed eight innings of one-run ball Sunday in the Nationals’ easy victory over the Phillies … Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis will have his left wrist examined Monday after being hit by a pitch in Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals … Mike Kickham will take Ryan Vogelsong’s place in the San Francisco starting rotation on Tuesday against the A’s … Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma went 4-for-4 with three doubles in Sunday’s defeat of the Dodgers … Clayton Kershaw allowed four runs over seven innings Sunday in a loss to the Cardinals … Cubs setup man Kyuji Fujikawa is likely headed back to the disabled list with a right forearm strain … The Nationals placed left-hander Ross Detwiler on the 15-day disabled list with an oblique injury … Carlos Beltran is day-to-day with left shoulder soreness … Giants reliever Santiago Casilla will undergo surgery this week to remove a cyst from his right knee … Ian Kennedy was scratched from his scheduled Monday start against the Rangers due to a gash on his right index finger … Reds outfielder Ryan Ludwick (shoulder) expects to be sidelined until at least the middle of August.
American League Quick Hits: The Red Sox scratched Clay Buchholz from his scheduled Monday start against the Phillies due to irritation in his right collarbone … Indians closer Chris Perez left Sunday’s game against the Red Sox with shoulder discomfort and will be examined by team doctors on Monday … Jim Johnson blew yet another save on Sunday, coughing up a three-run lead in the Orioles’ late loss to the Blue Jays … Jurickson Profar hit his second career major league home run Sunday in the Rangers’ loss to the Mariners … Astros slugger Chris Carter has 74 strikeouts in 49 games this season … Eduardo Nunez experienced renewed discomfort in his rib cage while taking batting practice Saturday and is nowhere close to returning from the disabled list… Angels reliever Sean Burnett left Sunday’s game against the Royals with forearm tightness … Bartolo Colon tossed seven scoreless innings Sunday in the A’s defeat of the Astros … White Sox closer Addison Reed tallied his 17th save of the year Sunday afternoon against the Marlins … Josh Johnson (triceps) tossed four scoreless innings Saturday in a rehab start at Triple-A Buffalo … Jacoby Ellsbury belted a walkoff two-run double Sunday to lift the Red Sox past the Indians … Yankees third baseman Kevin Youkilis (back) could begin a minor league rehab assignment this Wednesday … Tsuyoshi Wada (elbow) made his third rehab start Sunday at Triple-A Norfolk … Indians setup man Vinnie Pestano is having velocity issues … Hector Santiago was demoted back to the bullpen by the White Sox.