Last year, Chad Pinder looked like another take and rake guy — some walks, a bunch of strikeouts, the occasional homer. This season, he’s doing what so many baseball fans are screaming for — putting the ball in play. And maybe it will lead to a bigger role on the 2019 Oakland ballclub.
Pinder’s off to a .318 start with three homers, for whatever a 15-game sample can mean to us. But the genesis of those stats is surprising. His walk rate is a minuscule two percent, and he’s only struck out 10.6 percent of the time. He’s also made significant gains with his chase rate, forcing pitchers to throw him better pitches.
For Pinder to hold mixed-league fantasy value, he has to prove he can handle right-handed pitching. His career profile is that of a left-handed crusher, but a mediocre bat against righties. That’s the wrong side of things for our purposes; it’s a right-handed world, after all. His career OPS is .726 against the northpaws; through this year’s limited sample, it’s a robust .849.
If Pinder’s offensive game is truly maturing at age 27, his defensive versatility will get him on the field. He’s capable at second, third, and the outfield, and the Athletics have started him at four different positions this year. Sometimes he bats fifth, sometimes he bats sixth. Any slot in this lineup is quality real estate — the Athletics were fourth in scoring last year, and they’re third so far (albeit with a few extra games) this season.
We’ll see some of Pinder over the next week, when two of Oakland’s five opponents are left-handed. Figure on him playing once or twice against the righties, too, given his recent form. Pinder is more appealing as a daily-moves play versus the weekly-transaction formats, but you might want to kick some tires. He currently trades at 28 percent in Yahoo.
The Case for Mitch Moreland
Mitch Moreland is another player who’s tied to platoon issues, but he’s also an easier fantasy pill to swallow. After all, as a lefty swinger, he’s in the lineup — and in an advantageous spot — more often than not. He’s also a perfect fit for Fenway Park, if you have the freedom to use him as a specialty guy. When Moreland faced a righty at Fenway last year, he slashed .290/.367/.510. And he’s in fine form right now, with four homers in his last four starts. Charge it, Mitch.
Again, this is a troublesome puzzle for weekly-lineup owners, who want someone in the lineup every day. But if you have the freedom to maneuver Moreland in and out as needed, he’s a useful bat. This is also the type of guy you should be dialing up for occasional DFS use. The Red Sox take dead aim at David Hess and Andrew Cashner — two ordinary right-handers — the next two days.
Ryan Pressly, another Houston success story
Whatever voodoo the Astros are sharing with their pitchers, it sure seems to be working. You can add Ryan Pressly to that list of the voodoo’d. Pressly was in the midst of a solid but unspectacular career with Minnesota before a late move to Houston last year. His 23.1 innings with the Astros were dominant: 11 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 32 K. That’s a 0.77 ERA and 0.66 WHIP.
You want to see him do it again? No problem. Pressly’s posted 5.2 scoreless innings this year, with no walks and seven strikeouts. The Astros having him throwing his fastball less and his off-speed pitches more — not that Pressly can’t get swings and misses with his 95.8 mph heat.
Given how spotty the starting pitching board looks in 2019, a few fire-breathing relievers are important to consider. Pressly’s ownership tag is on the light side, merely 25 percent.