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Closing Time: Aaron Altherr emerging and more

Philadelphia PhilliesAaron Altherr had a big homer Wednesday and a look around the rest of the league (AP Photo).

• Aaron Altherr hit an impressive three-run homer, and while his numbers remain downright ugly (.172/.294/.397), he’s shown plenty of promise at the plate in the past (120 wRC+ last year), and his competition Nick Williams (.608 OPS) has been even worse. Altherr has five RBI over the last two games and has been batting fifth behind Rhys Hoskins and his .484 OBP. Moreover, Citizens Bank Park has boosted home runs for right-handed batters an MLB-high 24 percent over the past three seasons. He sports a 14.7 BB% and a 36.1 Hard%, yet Altherr is available in more than 85 percent of Yahoo leagues right now. Shrewd owners should fix that.

• Ronald Acuna made his much-anticipated debut, going 1-for-5 with a run scored while batting sixth. He’s the youngest player in the league, and there are projection systems reminding us to keep expectations in check, so the time to trade the rookie might be now. Either way, Preston Tucker looks droppable, and I’m excited to see what the rookie can do (Steamer also projects 12 homers and 19 steals in fewer than 100 games, which is plenty fantasy valuable).

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• Mookie Betts clubbed another two homers, giving him eight on the year. He entered Wednesday already leading MLB in xwOBA, so he’s truly been a monster so far. Justin Smoak went 1-for-4 and is hitting just .229 on the year, but his xwOBA is a healthy .388, ranking top-60, so his owners should remain patient.

• Jon Gray stopped a string of three-straight poor performances, although he may have been on fantasy benches given Coors Field. He’s up to 35 strikeouts over 32.2 innings on the year and gets the Cubs in Wrigley next time out.

• Jeimer Candelario scored six runs during Detroit’s doubleheader and entered hitting .394/.444/.758 over his past eight games. The switch-hitter is 24 years old, bats second in the lineup and suddenly owns a 146 wRC+ on the season. Candelario is owned in just 19 percent of leagues.

• Marcus Semien entered having seen the most pitches this season and had another two knocks, while Joey Gallo reached base safely all four times but with no extra-base hits, as he continues to make major transformations as a hitter.

• Jake Faria was hit hard again, and his season ERA now sits at 6.33 with a 1.59 WHIP. Pitching on a lousy team in the AL East, the young righty entered with an average spin rate with his four-seam fastball that barely ranked top-300, which isn’t exactly encouraging for a turnaround.

• Didi Gregorius homered for the fourth straight game, reaching safely in all five plate appearances. He’s up to an MLB-leading 29 RBI, and he’s also on pace to score 141 runs despite Giancarlo Stanton not yet hitting.

• Eric Thames was placed on the DL with a torn UCL in his thumb, which is a shame since he was off to such a great start and now looks gone for two months. Jesus Aguilar benefits as a result and is worth adding in deeper leagues.

• Andrew Miller left with hamstring tightness and will undergo an MRI, so expect a DL stint.

• Addison Russell went hitless, is 1-for-14 over his last three games and is down to .205/.301/.274 on the year. His BB% (11.4) and K% (13.9) are both actually career-bests by a wide margin, however, so maybe he’s something of a buy-low candidate, although it’d be easier to call his .259 BABIP poor luck if not for a lowly average exit velocity (86.8 mph). There are 270 batters who’ve recorded at least one “Barrel” this season, and Russell isn’t one of them.

• Sonny Gray has a 4:9 K:BB ratio over his last two starts, and his first full year in New York is off to a miserable start. He somehow has a 7.71 ERA with a modest 8.3 HR/FB%, and Yankee Stadium is only going to be less forgiving with big flies during the summer months.

• Michael Wacha turned in his second straight strong performance, as he’s posted an 11:2 K:BB ratio over his last 12.2 innings, and he gets a favorable home matchup against the White Sox next. John Brebbia earned a save during St. Louis’ 9-1 win.

• Steven Matz was roughed up for seven runs (three earned) and hasn’t thrown six innings in any of his starts this year. His next turn in the rotation is in jeopardy.

• J.T. Realmuto homered twice, giving him three over the last two games and a .385/.448/.846 line since returning from the DL. Given that he fell later in drafts thanks to a back injury that ended up costing him just a couple of weeks and the current sad state of the catching position, Realmuto looks like one of the best draft picks early on.

• Clayton Kershaw wasn’t sharp, walking six batters in a game for the first time since 2010 during a home start against the hapless Marlins (he entered having not walked a batter over his last 26.0 innings). Kershaw’s season ERA is 2.84, but he’s now 1-4 through six starts.

Follow the Yahoo fantasy baseball crew on Twitter: Andy BehrensDalton Del Don, and Scott Pianowski

 

 

 

 

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