The Rockies are off to a horrible start in 2019, but maybe an extended homestand will wake them up. And the same goes for Ryan McMahon.
McMahon was near the top of many sleeper lists this spring, off a monster Cactus League. But he pushed off to a mediocre 5-for-25 start, then hit the IL for two weeks (elbow). There wasn’t much fanfare when McMahon was activated prior to Thursday’s game with Philadelphia.
Ah, the thin air. McMahon homered twice Thursday, added a single, and fixed his slash line with one big night. Colorado faces right-handed pitching, at home, in five of the next six games, so McMahon’s spot in the lineup appears safe.
Time to make sure McMahon wasn’t dropped in your league. He qualifies at first, second, and third base, and is free in about two-thirds of Yahoo leagues.
Another fire-breathing reliever to add
You know the genesis of most relief aces: They’re probably recycled starters. The Nick Burdi story is familiar.
Burdi was a fringe prospect out of high school, attended college, built a name for himself. He was the 46th pick in the 2014 draft, after a nice run at Louisville. But mediocre results and Tommy John surgery pushed him off course. Eventually, he became a Rule 5 draft pick and later traded for international bonus money.
Fast forward to 2019, where Burdi is exploding in the Pittsburgh bullpen. He’s thrown 7.2 innings thus far, with these results: 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 15 K. When those final two columns line up as such, you can usually add the player instantly, no matter the rest of the story.
Burdi is only a two-pitch pitcher now, but in a relief role, that’s enough. His fastball averages 96.8 mph, and he also has a plus slider. Need some ratio smoothing for that beleaguered staff? Burdi is available in 99 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Can we trust Roenis Elias?
I don’t know what to do with Roenis Elias, who’s getting late-inning leverage work in the Seattle bullpen. He picked up his third save of the year in Thursday’s wild win over the Angels, in part because Anthony Swarzak pitched earlier in the game. Elias has a 2.84 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, tidy ratios, but maybe it’s not real. FIP suggests a 2.47 number — that’s validation — but xFIP spits out a 5.47 answer. Elias has yet to allow a home run over 12.2 innings; that’s living right.
He’s nudged his swinging-strike and chase rates upward, but a 7.1 K/9 rate probably isn’t good enough in today’s game. I’m thinking Elias is headed for a heavy crash, and though I have some teams desperate for saves, even if it’s just the occasional crumb, I’m going to pass on an Elias addition.
Marcus Semien puts it all together
The Athletics didn’t have a game Thursday, so there’s no new Marcus Semien story to tell. But I wanted to take a second and recognize that he’s becoming a star, right in front of us.
Semien used to be one of the worst defensive shortstops in the game, but thanks to hard work and the tutelage of coach Ron Washington, he’s now one of the best. That’s not necessarily a critical part of fantasy, but at least it keeps you in the lineup.
Semien used to be a free swinger at the plate, but he’s working on that, too. His career strikeout mark is around 21 percent — it was as high as 27.5 percent in 2014 — but he cut it to 18.6 percent last year, and it’s 12.1 percent thus far in 2019. Heck, his walk and strikeout rates are currently dead even — and that’s an excellent way to identify a plus hitter.
Power and speed come standard with Semien, we’ve always known that. He’s hit as many as 27 homers in a year. Last year’s 15-homer, 14-steal season was useful. His career .251 average shouldn’t be a kill shot in today’s game, and given how he’s improved his eye at the plate, maybe he’s ready for a career spike in the average department.
Whatever you paid for Semien a month ago, you’re probably looking at a profit now. We’re going to have some fun with his age-28 season.