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Because of his declining velocity, I was lukewarm on Dylan Bundy entering 2021. It was only in early April that I got excited; he averaged over 92 mph with his fastballs in his first two starts, pushing him into the kind of range he hadn’t seen since 2017. He was throwing about two mph harder than last year, when he pitched to a 3.29 ERA and was one of the AL’s 10-best starters. At that point, I never would have guessed that he’d be 0-5 with a 6.02 ERA one quarter of the way through the season.
Unfortunately, Bundy’s fastball hasn’t stayed quite in the same range as it was in his first few starts. Even so, he’s still throwing harder than last year. He’s recently averaging right around 91 mph, which is where he was in 2019 before slipping to 90 mph last year. Some of the upside I thought he’d have when he was throwing harder is gone, but it doesn’t explain the 6.02 ERA.
Mostly, that ERA is explained by his big issues from the stretch. The league is hitting .221/.277/.404 against Bundy with the bases empty and .308/.356/.523 against him with runners on. He’s also getting worse the deeper he goes into games: he has a .611 OPS against the first time through the lineup, a .745 OPS the second time through and a 1.050 ERA in 43 plate appearances the third time through.
Bundy has never had such issues from the stretch before -- he’s actually done quite a bit better with runners on and RISP than with the bases empty over the course of his career -- so those don’t really concern me. I do think Joe Maddon needs to get a little more aggressive with the hooks, but that the Angels just don’t have any starters working more than five innings per game has made things difficult there. I’m still higher now on Bundy than I was this spring. He would make sense as a buy-low guy.
American League notes
- The Angels probably shouldn’t turn to Jo Adell to replace Mike Trout, who is out 6-8 weeks with a strained calf. Adell has struck out 21 times in his first 11 games for Triple-A Salt Lake. He does have four homers, but his .191/.269/.511 line wouldn’t seem to bode well for major league success. Brandon Marsh might soon be an option; he’s started out 4-for-17 with a homer and an 8/7 K/BB ratio in 24 plate appearances since joining Salt Lake last week. If he can produce over these next two weeks or so, it’d be worth giving him a shot. Until then, journeyman Scott Schebler could rejoin the team and get the majority of the starts in right, with Taylor Ward playing center. Schebler showed little in 27 major league at-bats earlier this season, but he is hitting .300 with four homers in nine games in Triple-A.
- Aaron Hicks could try to return next week and play through the torn tendon sheath in his wrist or undergo surgery that would cost him most or all of the season. Clearly, the Yankees are going to need another outfielder if the latter scenario plays out. They might need one regardless, since Hicks playing at 90% probably isn’t a very good player. It doesn’t help that Brett Gardner is finally beginning to show his age and that Clint Frazier has been a complete bust to date. I had rather high hopes for Frazier, but he just isn’t hitting the ball hard. I don’t think Estevan Florial will prove to be a solution this year, but he might get a look in a few weeks if Hicks isn’t back. The 23-year-old got a quick promotion to Triple-A after hitting four homers in his first nine games for Double-A Somerset. Overall, he’s at .208/.283/.604 in 53 plate appearances.
- The Blue Jays pushed back Alek Manoah’s third Triple-A start from Tuesday to Wednesday, which happens to be the same day that the struggling Ross Stripling is starting for the big club. It sure seems like they’re setting things up for the 23-year-old Manoah, a 2019 first-round pick, to jump to the majors after he pitched 12 scoreless innings with 17 strikeouts and three hits allowed in his first two starts for Buffalo. It’s far from a given that he’ll be a mixed-league asset right away, but after the positive impression he made this spring, he’ll certainly be worth grabbing.
- Sending down the team’s best defensive player isn’t likely to help the Indians, but they wanted Andres Gimenez to work on his swing some. Hopefully he figures things out quickly, because Amed Rosario just isn’t a very good shortstop and the Indians might boast the game’s worst defensive outfield right now.
- The Orioles are getting Anthony Santander back from a sprained ankle this weekend, so it seems like the right time to send Ryan Mountcastle down for a spell. It was a given that plate discipline would be a weakness for Mountcastle, but the power hasn’t been there when he has made contact and he’s batting just .212/.239/.329 with three homers in 155 plate appearances. D.J. Stewart isn’t looking great, either, but he seems more worthy than Mountcastle of playing time at the moment.
- Boston activated Kiké Hernandez from the IL on Tuesday. Christian Arroyo should follow this weekend, and it sounds like the team will also bring up Danny Santana, who is hitting .364/.423/.682 in six minor league games. Franchy Cordero and Michael Chavis are both in line for demotions. It will be interesting to see if Santana gets a real look; he probably wouldn’t be very good, but he offers a fair amount of fantasy potential with his power and speed. It’s a situation to keep an eye on, but it will probably take an injury to a regular make Santana worthy of a stash.
- Santana’s arrival makes it unlikely that Jarren Duran will join the Red Sox within the next couple of weeks. Still, if he keeps hitting like he has been in Triple-A, he needs to get a look in center field. He’s batting .283/.389/.609 with four homers in 54 plate appearances. He’s also 3-for-5 stealing bases. Less appealing are the 15 strikeouts.
- When the Rays sent down Kevin Padlo after Tuesday’s game, I was momentarily excited about the possibility of a Vidal Brujan callup. Alas, the team was just making room for the returning Kevin Kiermaier (wrist). The Rays have started scoring runs lately, and Brujan’s second week with Triple-A Durham wasn’t nearly as good as his first (he went 7-for-33, leaving him at .309/.406/.600 overall). So, it’s not time yet. There’s still a good chance that he’s up by mid-June, though.
- The A’s promoted Luis Barrera to make his major league debut when Mitch Moreland (ribs) was placed on the IL on Tuesday. Barrera, part of the A’s system since 2013, busted out with a strong year in Double-A in 2019 (.321/.357/.513 in 240 PA), but he never got a look last season. This year, he was at .349/.429/.558 through 11 games for Triple-A Las Vegas. With Seth Brown struggling of late, Barrera should get some time in right field. He’s probably more of a fourth outfielder than a starter for the long haul.
- If you didn’t grab Spencer Turnbull in mixed leagues ahead of his start against the Mariners, I wouldn’t suggest doing so now. Turnbull is a perfectly solid pitcher, but his schedule is going to get more difficult that it’s been thus far and pitching for MLB’s worst defensive team holds him back just as much as the poor run support.
- I don’t see how turning Michael Fulmer into a one-inning reliever would help the Tigers if they plan on keeping him, but it might give him more trade value in July, should they go that route. Expect him to get more save chances at Gregory Soto’s expense.
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National League notes
- That’s quite a lineup the Mets currently have on the IL. They have already called on Patrick Mazeika, Jake Hager, Johneshwy Fargas, Khalil Lee and Wilfredo Tovar as reinforcements while continuing to look for outside help. Bringing in Cameron Maybin in a trade with the Cubs was a good idea, even if he was off to a .103/.186/.205 start in 10 games at Triple-A Iowa. Mallex Smith probably would have gotten a shot, but he’s yet to play this season because of a broken foot. Of the current group, only Lee offers much fantasy upside, and I’m quite skeptical that he’ll hit enough to showcase his speed. Maybin is probably the better outfield option right now. If J.D. Davis (finger) returns this weekend as anticipated, Jonathan Villar or Jose Peraza could start logging some outfield time.
- Tucker Davidson’s major league debut for the Braves last season was a disaster, as he gave up seven runs -- two earned -- and walked four in 1 2/3 innings in a start against the Red Sox. He got his second chance Tuesday against the Mets and was pretty solid, allowing three runs in six innings and getting 15 swings and misses among his 72 pitches. Of course, that was against a patchwork lineup. There’s no word yet whether he’ll get another start, but he deserves an opportunity in Huascar Ynoa’s slot. If he does stick, he’ll face the Pirates next, making him worth a look-see in mixed leagues.
- Will Smith took his fourth loss Tuesday after giving up a homer to Mets backup catcher Tomas Nido in a tie game in the ninth. He’s still 7-for-7 in save opportunities, but his ERA is up to 4.76. That could open the door for Chris Martin to get some ninth-inning work if he can get on a roll here now that he’s returned from the IL. The Braves could also have the newly re-signed Shane Greene back in the mix in a few weeks. My guess is that Smith powers through this and winds up with 30 saves, but he’s not on particularly solid ground at the moment.
- I expected little from Patrick Corbin this year after his drop-off in 2020, and that seemed like a good call after he gave up 15 earned runs in 6 1/3 innings in his first two starts of the season. Corbin, though, has pitched to a 3.34 ERA in his last six starts. Working with an extra day of rest last Thursday, he showed his best velocity in years, averaging 92.8 mph with his fastballs. He hasn’t reached that same level while working on four days’ rest, but he’s throwing harder than he did last year and about as hard as when he went 14-7 with a 3.25 ERA in his first year with the Nationals in 2019. His slider still isn’t working as well as it did then, so I don’t think he’s getting back to that level. However, he’s worth picking up in leagues in which he was dropped; he’s currently available in about one-third of Yahoo leagues.
- It says a lot about the Nationals offense that at Trea Turner’s current pace, he would hit .325 with 43 homers and 30 steals in 708 plate appearances, but wouldn’t reach 100 runs or RBI. At least Juan Soto’s odd struggles seem like a fluke; he’s been one of the game’s unluckiest hitters, per Statcast. And it’s good that Kyle Schwarber is starting to hit. However, the Josh Bell-Ryan Zimmerman situation could be a mess all season long, and the Nationals just have to hope for average production from the other spots. There’s probably no help on the way, either. Carter Kieboom did homer Tuesday for his first extra-base hit for Triple-A Rochester, but he has a long way to go.
- I had Lucas Sims ever so slightly ahead of Tejay Antone in the May rankings because I didn’t think the Reds would want to treat Antone as a one-inning reliever. Antone, though, did get a one-inning save Sunday. More surprising is that Sims has completed two innings in each of his last two appearances, both of which resulted in wins. In fact, he’s recorded wins in three straight outings. Since it would be a waste to use Antone for an inning at a time, more mixing and matching is likely in Cincinnati. Even Heath Hembree got into the act last week. Don’t forget about Amir Garrett, who has pitched five scoreless innings with one hit allowed and eight strikeouts in his last five appearances. Still, Antone and Sims are the ones worth using in mixed leagues right now.
- Tommy Pham was sitting some in favor of Jurickson Profar back when the Padres had their full lineup, and though he’s playing regularly again lately, he’s hitting just .183/.316/.220 for the year. Still, he’s a guy I’d pick up in mixed leagues in which he’s available. I don’t know how it is that Pham has just one homer this year, but he’s actually connected on eight barrels in his 133 plate appearances. Statcast thinks he should be hitting .248 and slugging .414, making him the game’s second unluckiest hitter this year (Matt Carpenter is first). He still offers stolen base potential and he hits in a quality lineup, so he’s not someone who should be left unrostered.
- Arizona’s Corbin Martin held his own in his 2021 debut Tuesday, allowing three runs over five innings against the Dodgers. However, his command was shaky and he got just six missed swings on 96 pitches. I think Martin is quite intriguing for the long haul, but he’s not someone I’d expect to help in mixed leagues this year.
- Miles Mikolas (shoulder) will make his season debut for the Cardinals on Saturday after posting a 3.65 ERA and an 11/2 K/BB ratio over 12 1/3 innings in his three rehab starts for Triple-A Memphis. I don’t think he’ll offer steady mixed-league value, but he’ll probably be useable as a spot starter at times.
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