Week 8 is here for the MLB season, and we have had some major injuries of late. The Cleveland rotation is banged up with Corey Kluber out indefinitely, and Mike Clevinger dealing with back issues. Jose Altuve is likely due back at the end of the month, but hamstring issues can be tricky. A.J. Pollock and Kenta Maeda were both late Dodgers injuries, and the Pollock elbow injury seems to be of more concern. Nelson Cruz hit the IL with a wrist injury.
Mitch Moreland – 1B – 35% Owned
C.J. Cron was talked about last week, and his ownership went up a small amount. Cron is now hitting .270 after the last article he was at .220. Power was there, but the average wasn’t just yet. We can look at a similar candidate now. Mitch Moreland is in the 90th percentile or better in exit velocity, hard-contact, xwOBA, and xSLG. He is hitting .228 this season and his xBA is .263. He is barreling 17% of balls h, and his walk rate is up from last season. Moreland is also generating a better launch angle. Moreland will still platoon against left-handed pitching with a struggling Steve Pearce, but Moreland is in the lineup more often or not. If you need a first baseman, Moreland is your guy.
Kyle Seager – 3B – 18% Owned
There are a few names on my watch list that are coming back from injuries, and big ones I might add. Kyle Seager is one of them. Seager has hit 20+ HR in each season since 2012. He has also topped 30 doubles in four straight seasons. His average fell off a cliff last season, which was a bit odd. Seager is 31 years old, and will jump back into a full-time role at third base for the Mariners. He fits well if third base is a position of poor production for your offense, or use him as a corner infielder. Either way, Seager is just a few rehab games away from returning to the bigs. When healthy he is generally a fantasy starting third base option.
Adam Frazier – 2B – 7% Owned
Adam Frazier isn’t a guy with a ton of power, but leads off for this Pittsburgh lineup. His xwOBA is around league average, but he should be hitting way over his .250 average. He has an xBA of .285, and is a strong contact bat. His hard-contact is up in the month of May, and his line drive rate continues to be around 28% for the season. Frazier is a quick fill-in if you need it at second base.
Alex Verdugo – OF – 31% Owned
With A.J. Pollock out, Alex Verdugo is going to see more time, and already has begun to do so. He is a quick lefty bat, and has a .878 OPS since being called up. He has ten XBH and 4 HR. He has also chipped in with two SB as well. Verdugo is a talented young prospect, who has been in a crowded outfield organization. Last year he had a .329/.391/.472 over 91 games in the Triple-A. He has held his own in the Minors, and now his time has come. Hitting 6th or 7th in this lineup is as good as hitting 3rd or 4th in some others.
Willie Calhoun – OF – 23% Owned
We saw Willie Calhoun briefly last season, where he struggled for 35 games. Going back down to the Minors to start the season, he hit 8 HR in 32 games, and had a .416 OBP. He has never been a big strikeout guy either, but in the majors last season it was at 22%. Not a bad number, but it was a jump from what we saw. This transition looks to be much different early on, and he is a small bat with big power. Wouldn’t mind getting on board here and hope this breakout is finally here.
Chad Pinder – OF – 9% Owned
Oakland has been playing Chad Pinder a bit more, and this is for more deeper leagues. Pinder has generally been just a right-handed platoon bat, so when lefties are on the hill, put him in your lineup. His strikeout rate is down this season, and his average is up ten points. He has had a 113 wRC+ last season, hitting 13 HR in 333 PA. He is already at 128 PA this season, and has 5 HR. As mentioned, he is better against lefties. He has a .392 wOBA off them this season, where it is just a .286 wOBA against righties. However, at home against right-handers his numbers take a big dip.
Griffin Canning – SP – 23% Owned
We have seen a few starts now from Griffin Canning, and there is a lot to like. He isn’t going to go deep into games, even if he just went seven strong against Kansas City. While things will even out with more tape on him, hitters have a .240 xwOBA and a .173 xBA against Canning. He has a 27% strikeout rate, and hitters have below a 30% hard-contact rate against him. He has allowed two barrels in 56 batted ball attempts. Canning throws a fastball, slider, curve, and changeup. The key is he is throwing his four seamer just 41% of the time, and his slider has been tremendous away from hitters.
Jimmy Nelson – SP – 16% Owned
For Jimmy Nelson, we have to go back to 2017 to find stats. He hasn’t pitched in over a year, but when healthy he flashed a lot of potential. His rehab starts this season look pretty good, as he reached 85 pitches last time out. Nelson’s ERA in those three starts is a shade over three. It was disappointing to see Nelson go down, because 2017 he put up 199 strikeouts in 175 innings with a 3.49 ERA. Milwaukee is in desperate need for another arm, and if your fantasy lineup is desperate for pitching, Nelson has SP3-SP4 potential. Nelson has five pitches that he uses, and spreads them out.
Ty Buttrey – RP – 24% Owned
Ty Buttery has been fantastic for Los Angeles, but hasn’t been thrown into a closing role yet. He has 31 strikeouts in 23.2 innings pitched, and has notched two saves. Hitters have a .208 xBA and .255 xwOBA off Buttrey this season. Cody Allen has struggled, and they have gone by committee of late. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Buttrey get some more chances as a ninth inning guy moving forward.
Players I’m Watching
– Chris Bassitt, OAK, 48%
– Taylor Rogers, MIN, 37%
– Jeff Samardzija, SFG, 15%
– Cole Irvin, PHI, 10%
– Jurickson Profar, OAK, 40%
– C.J. Cron, MIN, 39%
– Jason Heyward, CHC, 34%
– Freddy Galvis, TOR, 24%
– Howie Kendrick, WSH, 17%