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Notes: Sell Snell?

Matthew Pouliot

The three weeks are up.

In this space on June 5, I wrote that the Brewers should give Jesus Aguilar and Travis Shaw three weeks to show what they could do before potentially bringing back Keston Hiura. The results:

Aguilar: .250/.364/.393, 1 HR in 33 PA
Shaw: .143/.265/.286, 2 HR in 49 PA
Perez: .161/.206/.194, 0 HR in 35 PA
Hiura: .307/.395/.627, 7 HR in 86 PA for Triple-A San Antonio

I’m throwing Hernan Perez in there because he’s also been getting at-bats that could have gone to Hiura, which is unfortunate.

Obviously, it’s time for Hiura to come back. The Brewers can send down Shaw and revisit his status in a few weeks. If he shows signs of turning it around in Triple-A, then DFAing Aguilar becomes more of a possibility. But Hiura belongs in the majors right now, and he should be grabbed in leagues in which he’s available.

 

American League notes

- So much for the feel good Frankie Montas story. I wouldn’t simply credit his breakthrough to steroid usage and call it a day – I’ll look at him as a top-50 SP next spring – but his 2019 is essentially over after 90 innings with a 2.70 ERA and a 97/21 K/BB ratio. Daniel Mengden is slated to replace Montas in the rotation for now, but Jesus Luzardo could be an option early next month or right after the All-Star break. Luzardo makes for an intriguing stash in mixed leagues.

- Things got even worse for the A’s when Blake Treinen went on the injured list with a rotator cuff strain one day after Montas’s PED ban. He also complained of some elbow discomfort in May. Even though his velocity has been fine, Treinen, who had never been on the injured list as a major leaguer, has not been nearly the same pitcher that he was in his first year and a half with Oakland. It doesn’t sound like his current absence will be especially lengthy and he’ll probably regain the closer’s role when he returns, but he’s a shaky bet now. With Treinen out, Liam Hendriks looks like the favorite for saves over Lou Trivino. Joakim Soria probably won’t be in the mix initially, but he does have his typically strong peripherals and a 3.49 ERA since mid-April; if Treinen isn’t able to make it all of the way back, Soria could be a factor after the break. The A’s will also probably look for help in trade.

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- Bobby Bradley is up with the Indians, but it’s not in place of Jake Bauers, as speculated a couple of weeks ago, since Bauers had a big week that included a cycle. Instead, Bradley essentially replaced Leonys Martin, who was designated for assignment. It was certainly a justifiable move with the way Martin had been performing, but the Indians are quite a bit worse defensively with Oscar Mercado in center and Bauers seeing time in left. Bauers has already cooled off again, going hitless in his last five games, and is dealing with a minor ankle sprain, so it would still make some sense to boot him from the roster for a spell and bring back Greg Allen. As for Bradley, the power is definitely legit, but I’m not sure the OBP will be there to make him a real asset for the Indians. He’s a wait-and-see guy in mixed leagues.

- A day after notching his seventh win in relief, Brandon Workman earned his third save with a scoreless ninth inning for the Red Sox on Tuesday. He’s walked 26 in 37 innings this year, but he’s also struck out 52 and allowed just one homer. What I’m worried about is his workload catching up to him; he currently leads the AL with 40 appearances. Still, he’s been unhittable thus far, and he’ll probably get more save chances going forward, which makes him worth picking up where he’s available.

- Tim Anderson appeared to sprain his ankle badly Tuesday and is likely IL bound. The White Sox will have the uninspiring choice of calling up Ryan Goins or Alcides Escobar to replace him. Leury Garcia and Yolmer Sanchez are both capable of moving off their current positions and playing shortstop, but it’s not like the White Sox really have anyone else they’d like to use in center field or at second base.

- Blake Snell struggled with walks in his previous two outings, but Tuesday’s debacle against the Twins was more about his curveball. The pitch just hasn’t had as much movement since he returned from his brief DL stint in April, and he pretty much abandoned it in his last outing. I wouldn’t be stunned to find out that he’s hurt. However, his velocity is fine, and while his ERA is all of the way up to 5.01, he still has a strong 105/29 K/BB ratio in 79 2/3 innings for the year. If he’s not hurt, I think the Rays will manage to fix whatever has gone wrong with the curve, and that’s really all it should take to produce an immediate turnaround. After all, he’s still throwing 96 miles per hour and his changeup is still looking pretty good. At this point, I’d rather hold than sell low.

- Diego Castillo landed on the IL with a shoulder impingement, leaving Emilio Pagan as the favorite for saves in Tampa Bay. It sounds like Jose Alvarado will return from his absence within the next week to 10 days, but Pagan should remain valuable for a while.

- Andrelton Simmons’ ankle sprain looked like a two-month injury when it happened, but he’s going to make it back in right around five weeks when he’s activated in the next couple of days. Luis Rengifo will head to the bench or perhaps the minors, if the Angels would prefer he play regularly.

 

National League notes

- Austin Riley has fanned 11 times in his last five games and 54 times in 162 plate appearances for the season. That’s precisely one-third of the time, and it gives him the seventh highest strikeout rate of the 282 players with 150 plate appearances this season. I imagine Riley’s prodigious power stroke will continue to give him some mixed-league value, but I believe that he’ll hit a lot closer to .240 than .280 the rest of the way. This might be the last good chance to sell high.

- I thought the Braves should have given Mike Foltynewicz one more turn before considering a demotion; while he had a disastrous outing Saturday against the Nationals, he had turned in quality starts in four of his previous six outings. The Braves had actually prevailed in each of his three most recent starts. Still, I’m not too broken up about the switch, particularly if it means Bryse Wilson will get a real look. Wilson has struggled to a 7.15 ERA in very limited major league opportunities (two starts and three relief appearances), but he’s posted a 107/19 K/BB ratio over 100 1/3 innings during his time in Triple-A the last two years and his stuff is perfectly legitimate. I’m not recommending an immediate pickup because I don’t know that he’ll get a chance to stick – at this point, it’s not even assured that he’s getting called up – but I am a big fan.

- With Luke Jackson giving up runs in eight of his last 16 appearances and A.J. Minter still walking too many batters since returning to the majors, it’s well worth noting that Anthony Swarzak has allowed just one run and struck out 20 batters in 16 2/3 innings since being acquired by the Braves. It doesn’t mean he should be picked up right now, but things could change if Jackson happens to blow another save or two.

- Jordan Hicks will undergo Tommy John surgery after being diagnosed with a UCL tear, knocking him out through the middle of next season. Carlos Martinez is going to be the Cardinals’ primary closer for now, but since he might continue to work two innings at a time on occasion, John Gant, Giovanny Gallegos and others could sneak in the occasional save. Gallegos is one to keep an eye on; he was acquired along with Chasen Shreve in the Luke Voit trade and he’s made the deal look less abysmal with his 2.60 ERA and 49/6 K/BB ratio in 34 2/3 innings this year.

- The struggling Alex Reyes left his last Triple-A start with a pectoral injury and is going to miss at least a couple of weeks. At this point, it seems pretty safe to write him off as a rotation option for the Cardinals in the second half. Maybe he’ll contribute as a reliever at some point. That Reyes is out of the rotation mix increases the chances that Daniel Ponce de Leon will have mixed-league value in the second half. Ponce de Leon is without a rotation spot, but he’s almost certainly one of the team’s five best starters at the moment.

- The Jimmy Nelson situation quickly turned ugly in Milwaukee. With his velocity down two miles per hour since returning from major shoulder surgery and his control also well off, he had a 9.75 ERA in three starts. He was gifted with an awfully easy schedule, too (Miami, San Francisco and Cincinnati). The Brewers wanted to send him down, but he had the ability to refuse the option and did so, resulting in Corbin Burnes’ demotion instead. Now Nelson is a mop-up man and Adrian Houser is in the rotation, though possibly only for a couple of weeks until Gio Gonzalez is back. Houser has impressed with his ability to get grounders and strikeouts this year, and he’d be interesting if the Brewers truly stretched him out. Still, it seems more likely that this is a short-term thing and the plan still involves him getting key outs in relief.

- It took a little longer than hoped, but Ross Stripling is back in the Dodgers rotation as a result of Rich Hill’s flexor tendon strain. Stripling had a 2.65 ERA in six starts before being sent to the bullpen. Unfortunately, he hadn’t thrown more than two innings in an appearance in two months, so it’s going to be a little while before he’s a real asset as a starter. Still, he’s worth owning in all formats while in the rotation.

- The Dodgers are also giving Tony Gonsolin a start on Wednesday. Gonsolin, a very pleasant surprise between high-A and Double-A last year (2.60 ERA, 155/42 K/BB in 128 IP), missed time this year with an oblique strain and has thrown just 26 innings in eight Triple-A starts, though he should be capable of throwing 80-90 pitches in his debut. He has a great fastball, and I look forward to seeing what he can do against the Diamondbacks. Still, even if he impresses, it’s unclear if he’ll really have the opportunity to pitch enough innings to amass fantasy value.

- Dinelson Lamet, who is making his way back from Tommy John surgery, has a 6.16 ERA through five starts on his rehab assignment, but he’s been better in three starts since moving up to Triple-A and he has a 26/7 K/BB ratio in 19 innings. He should get the chance to join the Padres rotation at the beginning of July, and he’ll be someone to follow in the second half. Most likely, he’ll issue a few too many walks and struggle to work deep into games, limiting his fantasy potential. Still, he’s never lacked for stuff.

- Zac Gallen looked just as good as hoped in his major league debut Thursday. He threw his 91-94 miles per hour fastball even less than anticipated, instead going with cutters, changeups and curves 70 percent of the time. He can command all of his pitches, and he already knows how to play to his strengths. He should be a mixed-league guy as long as the Marlins keep him in the rotation.  

- Craig Kimbrel is expected to join the Cubs within the next few days and should soon be saving games. Those with Pedro Strop on their teams should give it another week or so just to see what happens, but he’ll probably be droppable in short order.

- Jake Lamb is back for the Diamondbacks, which should mean fewer at-bats for Christian Walker and Jarrod Dyson. Walker has rebounded of late, so he still figures to see quite a bit of action at first in the short term, which could mean a fair amount of Lamb at third, Eduardo Escobar at second and Ketel Marte in center field. Lamb probably won’t be a mixed-league option right off.

 

Personal note

- 20 years ago this week, I turned in my first column for Rotoworld, a Prospects Report with features on Rick Ankiel, Aramis Ramirez and Michael Coleman. It was followed four days later by the first Strike Zone. That was 1999, and no one who played in the majors that season is currently in the majors now, though there’s still some hope that Ankiel’s pitching comeback will bear fruition or Bartolo Colon will resurface one more time.

I’ve spent the last half of my life doing this. For the first several of those years, the website was my life. Fortunately, many talented people have joined the cause since, and I’d like to note a few of them. So, thank you to Rich Pike and Mike Oliveto, who started Rotoworld to supplement their AllStar Stats service; to Troy Beech, who was largely responsible for turning the site into a moneymaker initially; to Rick Cordella, who started off writing a few basketball blurbs and ended up running the entire show; to Gregg Rosenthal and Steve Alexander, who proved so capable at running football and basketball, respectively, that I could focus on my primary love; to Rick Wolf and Matthew Berry from the pre-NBC days; to Brett Vandermark, Ed Williams and Mike Miller for leading the way since; to Drew Silva, D.J. Short, Aaron Gleeman, Ryan Boyer, Chris Crawford and everyone else who has taken on baseball responsibilities through the years; to Evan Silva, Craig Calcaterra, Patrick Daugherty, Bill Baer, Thor Nystrom, Josh Norris, Aaron Solomon and Steve Howard for all of the great work they do; and to all of the readers, from the handful that have been here 20 years and the many more than have joined along the way.