IN THE LINEUP
Nelson Cruz was placed 10 day IL on Friday, retroactive to May 14th. He's been dealing with an ailing wrist and it appears that this was mostly a precautionary move as he said Friday evening that he's expecting to be back with the team on May 24th when he's first eligible to return. Infielder Luis Arraez was called up from AAA to provide depth while Cruz is out. Arraez was hitting .344 at the time of his call-up, but he's hitting for absolutely no power with a .050 ISO.... Niko Goodrum was scratched from the lineup on Friday with flu-like symptoms. He's day-to-day.... Jose Altuve is hopefully going to return to baseball activities within the next few days. AJ Hinch said Friday that he's pain-free and now they just need to get him back into baseball drills. He's eligible to return to the team on Tuesday, but that feels unlikely with him having yet started doing anything baseball related.... Jordy Mercer is still feeling soreness in his quad while running but isn't having any sort of issues with hitting or fielding drills. Ronny Rodriguez will continue to fill in at SS in the meantime.... Nomar Mazara was left out of the Rangers lineup Friday in favor of Willie Calhoun who has been on fire since being called up from AAA. There's going to be a lot of rotating in the outfield with Calhoun back in the mix as Hunter Pence and Sin-Shoo Choo sat the last two games.... Yandy Diaz returned to the Rays lineup on Friday after leaving Wednesday's game early and sitting out on Thursday. He hit leadoff and played first base.... Oscar Mercado started on Wednesday when he was promoted against a lefty, but he's now sat Thursday and Friday against right-handed starters.... Yordan Alvarez continues to absolutely destroy AAA pitching with another two homers on Thursday, bringing his total for the year to 17 in 36 games..... Sandy Leon was placed on the paternity list but it sounds like he'll be back on Sunday when Chris Sale takes the mound again.... JP Crawford hit his first homer of the season on Thursday. Crawford was called up from AAA on May 10th and has played SS in every game since hitting second in the lineup three days and then also hitting seventh, eighth, and ninth.... Miguel Sano returned to the Twins lineup on Thursday and hit a pair of doubles with an RBI and one run scored. He's an extremely high upside guy at this point and is worth a look in most leagues....Dustin Pedroia resumed his minor league rehab assignment on Friday. Michael Chavis has been outstanding for the Red Sox since he was called up so there's no real rush or need to get Pedroia back in the lineup.... Kris Davis was scratched from Saturday's lineup after originally being listed in it. Davis is dealing with a sore hip and the team wanted to give him an extra day of rest.... Bo Bichette has been cleared to begin light hitting activities. Bichette has been out since April 23rd with a fractured hand but by all reports from the Blue Jays, it sounds like everything is healing well and he is making great progress. Assuming no setbacks once he does return to action we should still see Bichette at some point this summer.... Didi Gregorius is going to play shortstop in extended spring training starting on Monday. Gregorius is recovering from Tommy John surgery and there was an expectation that he'd be getting close to game action around this point, but the fact he's playing shortstop already shows he's ahead of schedule.... Aledmys Diaz left Friday's game against the Red Sox with hamstring discomfort. Tony Kemp entered the game for him and we'll have to see whether he gets placed on the IL.... Kole Calhoun was activated from the paternity leave list on Friday. He was immediately slotted back into the 6th spot on the lineup... Justin Upton has been doing some hitting and throwing drills as he's working his way back from his toe injury. Upton told the media on Saturday that he's able to run with about 0% of his weight on an Alter G treadmill, but does still have a ways to go before he's ready to return to the field.... Aaron Hicks went 2-for-5 on Saturday, giving him his first two hits since being activated off of the IL this week....
IN THE ROTATION
Ryan Feierabend started for the Blue Jays on Saturday but he was shelled for seven hits and four runs over four innings. The lefty-knuckleballer may have pitched longer but the game was rained out. His next start would come against the Red Sox. Don't do it.... David Price is slated to start Monday for the Red Sox in Toronto. He's been out for the last two weeks with elbow tendonitis but has pitched well this year with a 3.75 ERA and a career-high 29.6% strikeout rate.... Manny Banuelos was placed on the 10-day IL with a left shoulder strain retroactive to May 15th. The team hasn't announced who will be taking his spot in the rotation.... Tyson Ross has been shut down for another 7-10 days while dealing with his ulnar neuritis in his right elbow.... Nathan Eovaldi is going to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday. This will be the first time he's thrown off a mound since his surgery in April.... Clayton Richard was originally going to start for Toronto on Saturday but that has been pushed back as he's going to make a minor league start instead.... Jordan Zimmerman is still at least a month away from returning to the rotation according to Ron Gardenhire.... Eric Swanson was optioned to AAA on Friday. The righty posted an 8.04 ERA over six starts for the Mariners.... Adam Plutko made a spot start for the Indians against the Orioles on Saturday.... James Paxton is still feeling a little discomfort in his knee, but he's hoping that a bullpen session on Sunday will have no pain and that he'll be able to be activated off the IL next week. Paxton is having a great start to 2019 with a career-high 33.6% K% and a 3.11 ERA (2.51 FIP) over his first 37.2 innings as a Yankee.... The Blue Jays are hoping that Aaron Sanchez won't need an IL trip after leaving Friday's start early with a blister. Sanchez has been plagued by blister issue throughout his career so this is a little more nerve-wracking than a typical blister issue... Andrew Heaney is going to make a AAA rehab start on Monday. He threw 58 pitches in his first rehab assignment in extended spring training and is expected to move up to 75 pitches in this start. There's a chance that this will be his last tune-up start before being activated.
IN THE BULLPEN
Jose Leclerc was being used as an opener on Friday for the Rangers and he tossed a scoreless inning while racking up a pair of strikeouts. The Rangers have very little reliable starting pitching so this may be something we see more often..... Chad Green is going to be used as the opener for the Yankees on Sunday against the Rays. Green is expected to pitch an inning or two.... Jose Alvarado notched his fifth save of the season on Saturday, a nice rebound from Friday where he blew a save. He's been excellent this season with a 2.37 ERA and 28 strikeouts to go along with those five saves.
PLAYERS TO ADD
Willie Calhoun, Texas Rangers - Willie Calhoun is back with the Rangers and is off to an extremely fast start going 9-for-20 with a pair of homers in his first week in the majors. He was crushing AAA like he always does to the tune of a .304/.416/.557 with eight homers. Calhoun can absolutely mash, but the fact that he's such a defensive nightmare is what has kept him from sticking in the majors so far. That's the risk tied again to Calhoun now that he's back in the major is that the defensive issues could get him sent back down if he doesn't hit, but he's too good a pure hitter for it to just never click in the majors.
Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox - Lucas Giolito picked up his fifth win of the season allowing just one run over five innings Saturday. He allowed three hits and walked to along with four strikeouts. Giolito has seen a jump to his fastball velocity this year and his swinging strike rate has jumped up to 12% from 8.3% and it's helped fuel a career-high 29.5% K%. He's generating more whiffs than he ever has and that's also helping him post a career lower FIP of 3.06. He has three pitches with positive pitch values on Fangraphs, and his fastball has exploded from -13.5 runs below average to 0.3 runs above average.
Hunter Pence, Texas Rangers - Hunter Pence has been playing out of his mind for the Rangers this year with a .301/.362/.624 triple slash over 105 plate appearances with eight homers and 27 RBI. Pence's Baseball Savant 2019 snapshot is just beautiful as the lowest percentile in any of the categories he's in is hard hit rate, and even then he's in the 87th percentile. Here's a quick rundown of how good Pence has been this year:
Exit Velocity - 97th percentile
Hard Hit% - 87th percentile
Sprint Speed - 88th percentile
xwOBA - 92nd percentile
xBA - 97th percentile
xSLG - 93rd percentile
He's been absolutely incredible for the Rangers and on top of the fact all these numbers are great, we are seeing the production actually happen and it's not extrapolating what we think he should be at.
Tommy LaStella, Los Angeles Angels - Look I don't know what's happening here, I mean it's probably the baseball but I still have no clue how Tommy LaStella already has 11 homers this year. His exit velocity and hard-hit rate are both below average but all of his expected stats on Baseball Savant (xwOBA, xBA,xSLG) are all in the 79th percentile or above, giving some validity to what he is doing even if the ball isn't flying off of his bat. This isn't La Stella just selling out for power either as he's hitting .299 this year with a .383 OBP. His launch angle as almost doubled this year going from 8.1 degrees to 14.8 degrees, and that with an 8.3% barrel rate pretty much explains everything from what he's doing power wise. Plus the balls are juiced again.
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