IN THE FIELD
Ozzie Albies returned to the lineup Thursday after missing almost a week with a tweaked hamstring. He went right back into the #2 spot in the lineup for Atlanta.... Jonathan Villar is currently on the DL with a thumb injury that he suffered before the All-Star Break. His playing time is definitely in question as the Brewers acquired Mike Moustakas from the Brewers which likely sets up Travis Shaw for playing time at second base. We may see a platoon at second though as Shaw has a sub 40 wRC+ against lefties while Villar has a 136 wRC+ against them..... Mike Moustakas was traded to the Brewers Friday night and will likely play the majority of the time at third base for Milwaukee. This should be a nice boost going to Miller Park hitting in that lineup and a park that is the 8th best stadium for homers (ESPN Park Factors) compared to Kauffman Stadium that ranks 22nd..... Kolten Wong was placed on the DL July 23rd with knee inflammation. He's expected to be activated from the DL after the minimum 10 days. Greg Garcia and Yairo Munoz have played second in his absence with Munoz getting four out of the last five starts at second..... Javy Baez hurt his knee in a collision with Steven Souza on Tuesday and was limited to pinch-hit duties throughout the week, but returned to the lineup Friday and hit his 20th homer of the season.... Kris Bryant has had some bad injury fortune this season as he was placed on the DL with a shoulder issue for the second time this season. The Cubs haven't given us a big reason to believe that there's a major injury here, but there's also no timetable set as of now for his return. In a down year for Bryant he's still slashing .276/.380/.474.... Jake Lamb was placed on the DL Friday with a shoulder contusion. There's no timetable as of now for his return.... Eduardo Escobar will likely draw the majority of the starts for Arizona at third base while Lamb is sidelined after being traded from the Twins on Friday. Escobar has posted an excellent 125 wRC+ this season and is moving to one of the more hitter-friendly parks in all of baseball in Chase Field where the home runs have regressed due to the humidor, but it still ranks 10th in ESPN Park Factors in terms of overall runs..... Yasiel Puig is slated to be activated from the DL on Saturday for the Dodgers and OF Alex Verdugo will be optioned as the corresponding move..... Justin Turner was placed on the DL on Monday with a groin strain and we have no immediate timetable for his return to the lineup. Manny Machado has been playing 3B for the Dodgers in his absence while Chris Taylor has been getting most of the starts at SS..... Brandon Belt is hoping for an early August return after hyper-extending his knee, leading him to be placed on the DL on Thursday. Austin Slater started Thursday at first base against lefty Wade Miley while Pablo Sandoval started Friday against a right-handed pitcher in Chase Anderson..... Joe Panik is out on a rehab assignment with AAA Sacramento and reached base twice while playing seven innings in the field. Henry Schulman for the San Francisco Chronicle said on Thursday that Panik was beginning the assignment several days ahead of schedule.... Not long after returning from his first wrist injury, Garrett Cooper was placed on the DL with a wrist sprain on the 24th. Cooper offers some exciting power potential but this season is basically a complete loss.... Jay Bruce is still working his way back from his hip injury that has sidelined him since June 17th..... Yoenis Cespedes will miss the rest of the season after determining he needed to undergo surgery to help alleviate issues that he's having with both of his heels. Cespedes was out for nearly two months before coming back for one game, only to decide to have the surgery..... Cespedes could already be two months into his 8+ month recovery, but now his recovery timetable will but the start of 2019 in jeopardy.... Todd Frazier is slated to begin his rehab assignment this weekend, but there's no guess at a return date quite yet. Frazier has been out since July 8th with a strained rib cage.... According to John Clark of NBC Philly, JP Crawford was headed to Florida to continue baseball activities as of the 24th. Crawford has been out since mid-June with a broken hand. Scott Kingery has placed SS in his place, but is only hitting .236 this season..... Asdrubal Cabrera was acquired by the Phillies from the Mets on Friday in return for a AA pitcher. The Phillies are saying that the plan to use Cabrera all over this infield, getting time at second, short, and third base..... Starling Marte was hit by a pitch on the hand on the 25th and has been out of the lineup since. He avoided a fracture in the hand though so he's likely going to be able to skip a DL stint and was set to do some baseball activities, though I couldn't find a source that officially confirms it..... Jesse Winker is going to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery following a subluxation in his right shoulder. Winker later revealed that the shoulder issues were something he's been managing for two-to-three years in the minor leagues. Winker was having a breakout season for the Reds hitting .299 for the season but was on fire in July hitting .442 for the month with a 203 wRC+. It's possible that the shoulder injury is what has made his power drop over the last few seasons..... David Dahl has been activated off the DL but was optioned to AAA. It makes sense to play him there to keep getting at-bats rather than have him be a pinch hitter in Colorado..... Orlando Arcia was recalled from AAA on Thursday and started both Thursday and Friday at SS for the Brewers. The Moustakas trade shouldn't affect his playing time at SS as he's excellent defensively there..... Francisco Cervelli was activated off of the DL earlier this week after remaining on the DL passed his initial activation date with lingering concussion symptoms..... Evan Longoria is back with the team after missing time with a broken hand.... Corey Dickerson was placed on the 10 day DL with a strained hamstring, Austin Meadows was recalled from AAA.... Lorenzo Cain was held out of the lineup Saturday with a sore wrist..... Josh Bell was placed on the DL Saturday with an oblique strain. Jose Osuna started at first base Saturday.
IN THE ROTATION
Jason Vargas returned from the DL to start Friday night and allowed three runs over 4.1 innings while striking out three batters..... Cole Hamels was traded to the Cubs in return for prospects. Hamels overall line looks extremely ugly but he has been FAR better on the road compared to home this season with a 2.93 ERA (6.41 at Home) and a .308 wOBA against him (.387 at home). This should definitely be a positive move for the lefty and he should be in line for far more wins on the Cubs compared to the Rangers.... Max Fried is set to start Saturday for the Braves after completing his rehab assignment. He's been dealing with a blister issue which makes me a little nervous because we've seen blister issues continue in the past..... Mike Soroka is still weeks away from throwing according to the Braves and I'd be surprised if we saw him pitch again this season. Mark Bowman of MLB.com wrote on Tuesday that him missing the rest of the season is a real possibility.... Jimmy Nelson has progressed to light throwing off a mound but that's the extent of his rehab progress after shoulder surgery last fall.... Brent Suter will undergo Tommy John Surgery with to a torn UCL in his elbow. Having TJ at this point in the season means we may not see him until 2020.... Carlos Martinez threw a bullpen on Friday and the hope is he'll be able to return to the Cardinals July 30th from his oblique strain..... Finally, some news on the Michael Wacha front as the pitcher revealed that he's going to resume throwing on Saturday the 28th. Wacha has been out since June 20th and had a solid season until that point with a 3.20 ERA and an 8-2 record..... Yu Darvish spoke with the media after a bullpen session on Friday and said that he felt great throwing, and even played catch afterward. Darvish said that he's working on a mechanical change as well and he feels confident in that as well. Still day-to-day at this time..... Shelby Miller likely will be re-evaluated this weekend after being shut down for a week with elbow tightness on the 22nd. The Diamondbacks have talked about potentially using Miller out of the bullpen once he is healthy again..... Hyun-Jin Ryu is scheduled to throw a simulated game next week. The timetable right now is looking at him for potentially a late August return.... Jeff Samardzija threw a bullpen session on July 22nd.... Noah Syndergaard was placed on the DL early this week after being diagnosed with hand foot mouth disease. Tim Britton of the Athletic reported that he's on track to return to the Mets on either July 31st or August 1st..... Stephen Strasburg was placed on the DL this week with a pinched nerve in his neck. He received a shot in the neck on Friday for it and there's no timetable for his return as of right now.
IN THE BULLPEN
Arodys Vizcaino is weeks away from throwing according to the Braves. AJ Minter likely continues to get the majority of the saves for the Braves until he's able to get back.... The Braves traded for Johnny Venters this week to help improve their bullpen. Venters likely is going to be a LOGGY for the Braves. Evan Phillips was sent to AAA as a corresponding move..... Brandon Morrow has still not resumed throwing while on the DL with biceps inflammation. The Cubs have already said that he's not going come off the DL when he's first eligible so there's no real timetable set for him yet. The Cubs are going to use a closer-by-committee in the meantime.... Julio Urias is being built up as a reliever for down the stretch for the Dodgers as he's "nearly recovered" from his shoulder surgery according to Dave Roberts. The team said that they'd rather get him back in a bullpen role this year as building him up to be a starter would extend how long he's out for.... Sean Doolittle is going to have another MRI on Monday to make sure that there's no stress fracture in his foot, and if he gets good news on that front he's expected to get rid of his walking boot.... Joakim Soria was traded to the Brewers and that likely wipes his fantasy value as he won't be closing over either Corey Knebel or Josh Hader.... Greg Holland was released by the Cardinals on Friday and has already received interest from some contenders in search of bullpen help.
Players to Add
Vincent Velasquez has been on a terrific stretch lately since allowing 10 runs in a start in early June. Since 6/14, Velasquez is 3-and-1 with a 2.31 ERA (3.56 FIP) and a 26.7% K%. He continued that hot stretch into Saturday allowing two runs over five innings, but his command was a big issue as he walked five batters in the game to go along with his five hits allowed. Vinny V is a very volatile arm at times, but when he's on he can be as electric as anyone in baseball.
ESPN OWNERSHIP: 49.2%
Robert Gsellman is likely going to be the closer for the Mets down the stretch for after the trade of Jeurys Familia was dealt to the A's. Gsellman turned in two scoreless outings earlier this week but the Pirates tagged him for two runs on Saturday night. This pickup is more of a "closers need to be owned" as plenty of teams will be chasing saves down the stretch run, but Gsellman still owns a 4.35 FIP and almost 10% BB% for the season.
ESPN OWNERSHIP: 22.7%
Kirby Yates is now getting the saves for the Padres after the trade of Brad Hand to the Indians. Yates has been absolutely dominant this season with a 1.40 ERA and 33% K% compared to just a 7.2% BB%. He's also done an exceptionally good job at keeping the ball in the yard with a .29 HR/9, and while that is extremely low at a 4% HR/FB rate his xFIP (HR/FB at league average 10%) is still an excellent 2.72. He would take priority for me over Gsellman if I'm ranking closers that I'm picking up.
ESPN OWNERSHIP: 40.1%
With Arodys Vizcaino still weeks away from beginning to throw, AJ Minter becomes an intriguing add for teams looking for saves. Minter got off to a slow start to the season but has been absolutely dominant in July striking out almost 40% of the batters he's faced while walking just 3.5% of his batters. Minter is definitely looked at as the closer of the future and there's a chance that even once Vizcaino returns to the pen, Minter will hold onto the closing gig.
ESPN OWNERSHIP: 21.4%
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