Anderson finally created a little space between his batting average and his slugging percentage, as he got his first extra base hit of 2017 on Thursday, a solo bomb that came as part of a 1-for-5 day. Anderson is still waiting on his first walk of the season, and his slash line (.194/.194/.278) still leaves a lot to be desired. Anderson was a guy I was a lot lower on than most coming into the season, and he has made me look good so far. Anderson has 11 strikeouts to zero walks and right now is living proof that you can't steal first base. As much as I would like to gloat, there's no way Anderson stays in this much of a slump for the whole season, though. He's actually making decent contact with the ball (25.0 percent line drive rate; 30.0 percent hard hit ball rate), and a hitter with his speed won't have a .250 BABIP over a full season. I wouldn't be lining up to acquire Anderson, but if you're in a deeper league and you have a few shares of Anderson, I wouldn't sell just yet.
Severino had one of the best outings of his career on Thursday, getting the win in seven innings, allowing just two runs of five hits and a walk, all while striking out 11. The Rays simply couldn't figure the 23-year-old out, as he got five whiffs on his fastball, three on his changeup and three on his slider. Severino was extremely confident in his changeup against the Rays, and when he can incorporate a third pitch, Severino becomes a lot harder to hit. In his 2017 debut, Severino barely used his changeup and the result was four runs over five innings against the Orioles. Now Severino struck out six and walked just one in that outing, but hitters begin to sit on pitches when he only mixes two, which is what makes the changeup so important. Severino has made only two starts in 2017, but his strikeout to walk ratio is an impressive 17:2 right now. He's worth a definitive pick up in deeper leagues, and his next start (likely against the White Sox) should be streaming-worthy even in ten-team mixed leagues.
Upton hit his first home run of 2017 on Thursday, a two-run shot in the sixth off Phil Hughes. Upton is now slashing .182/.357/.364 with the middle number being the one I'm most interested in. Strikeout and walk rates are the first two stabilize, so it's nice to see Upton sporting a 17.9 percent walk rate in 2017. Upton strikes out too much to post a salvageable batting average these days (his 28.6 percent strikeout rate in 2017 is right around his 2016 K rate), but if he can continue to draw walks at a high rate, that will help his runs total, as well as, clearly, helping his value quite a bit in OBP leagues. The early season batted ball profile for Upton isn't quite as flowery. Heading into Thursday's game, Upton had a sky-high 66.7 percent ground ball rate, to go along with a paltry 8.3 percent line drive rate and 16.7 percent hard hit ball rate. Thursday will have helped those figures a bit, and it is still quite early, but the ground ball rate is worth keeping an eye on. If Upton struggles to elevate this season, that will cut into his power totals significantly.
Kendall Graveman $32
Graveman makes his third start of 2017 on Friday, giving him another chance to prove he is indeed a new man. Graveman is 2-0 with 2.08 ERA and 8.31 K/9 in 2017, all vastly improved from his mediocre 2016 campaign. Graveman has had plenty written about him already this season, as he is employing a Zach Britton-like approach to pitching. He is throwing his (sinking) fastball nearly 90 percent of the time through his first two starts, and he has lots of success doing so, as his 2.91 xFIP can attest to. Now hitters may eventually figure out this approach, as Graveman has to make his way through the lineup three times, while Britton just sees a batter once. Until they do, Graveman is a nice, cheap daily play, as he gets the added benefit of pitching in his spacious home stadium against the Astros on Friday.
Byron Buxton $9
Recommending a player who is currently 3-for-33 on the season?! That seems insane. Hear me out. We all remember last September when Buxton lit the world on fire, hitting nine home runs in the month (plus two days in October) and slashing .287/.357/.653 over his final 29 games. With the slow start to 2017, it's easy to call that a fluke, but more so than a fluke, Buxton benefitted from expanded rosters. Buxton has always had success at the lower levels, so is it any surprise that he had his best month in the majors while the majors was flooded with Quad-A players? Buxton gets a shot at Dylan Covey on Friday, the White Sox 25-year-old who will be making his MLB debut. Buxton is plenty cheap right now, and Covey seems just the type to break Buxton out of his slump. In case you didn't notice, Buxton had a hit and a steal in Thursday's game, and he is too talented to post a negative wRC+ for too long.