IN THE FIELD
Tyler Flowers could head out on his rehab assignment any day now after his oblique injury on opening day. The team isn't ruling out a return to the majors on the Braves upcoming road trip... Jose Bautista signed a minor league deal with the Braves with the hopes of playing third base. The Braves are in desperate need of right-handed power so if he's able to show he can play third well enough, a position he hasn't played regularly since 2011, there's a potential role for him on the big league club.... Orlando Arcia left Friday's game after rolling his ankle but x-ray came back as negative on his ankle. Arcia said he was worried after rolling it having broken that same ankle before. He's out of the lineup Saturday.... Stephen Vogt is progressing in his return from injury and he's headed to extended spring training to get back into game action. The team is thinking he may be able to return to the team in the second week of May.... Ben Zobrist told reporters Friday that he was likely to go on the DL, and on Saturday the Cubs may that come true by placing him on the 10-day DL.... Jake Lamb threw, took BP, and fielded grounders on April 13th. Still no estimated return from his sprained AC Joint.... Steven Souza took BP with the Diamondbacks on April 19th but there are still no plans for him to head out on a rehab assignment. This is at least progress since he was shut down April 9th with soreness in his injured pec... Logan Forsyth was placed on the DL on April 15th with shoulder inflammation. No timetable on his return.... Justin Turner has progressed to hitting off a tee and played catch on Friday. Turner started dry swinging recently so moving to tee work is a great indication that everything is progressing nicely.... Hunter Pence was placed on the DL Friday with a sprain right thumb. Mac Williamson was called up from AAA and homered in his second at-bat with the club.... Martin Prado has begun his rehab assignment and is currently playing with High-A Jupiter. Brian Anderson has been solid for the Marlins at 3B, so Prado's versatility will help to get him in the lineup..... Travis d'Arnaud underwent Tommy John surgery this week.... Adam Eaton traveled with the team for their road trip and it's believed he'll return to action some point next week during the current road trip..... Anthony Rendon should return to the lineup any day now after fouling a ball off his toe a week ago. Rendon avoided the DL as he told the team that his toe was feeling better and better every day but it just hasn't gotten to the point where he can return to the lineup.... Daniel Murphy began playing games in extended spring training this week as he's getting closer and closer to returning to the Nationals lineup.... Manuel Margot returned to the Padres lineup Saturday and went 0-for-4.... Josh Harrison was hit in the hand by a pitch and is going to miss around six weeks. Adam Frazier has been hitting leadoff for the Pirates and playing second base over the last two games..... Devin Mesoraco is dealing with a wrist injury but is doing well enough to pinch-hit, as he did last night which means he likely is close to getting back into catching duties.... Carlos Gonzalez is dealing with a hamstring injury that kept him out of the lineup on Saturday.....
ON THE MOUND
Luiz Gohara underwent his first rehab start in AA on Tuesday and was shelled in his one inning allowing five runs on four hits and a walk. He's going to make a start with AAA Gwinnett on Sunday and then again on the 27th before the team evaluates where he is at in his recovery.... Anibal Sanchez is currently on the 10-day DL with a strained right hamstring after injuring it running before the game. He has carted off the field but it sounds like he may not miss more than the 10 days he's scheduled to miss.... No new news on the Corey Knebel front, Brewers still hopeful he can return towards the end of May.... Jimmy Nelson threw from 150 feet the week of April 9th but there have been no major developments in his return.... Alex Reyes is going to begin his rehab assignment in mid-May and GM John Mozeliak says he'll have a spot in the rotation when he is ready.... Taijuan Walker underwent Tommy John surgery this week and is likely out until late 2019.... Rich Hill is dealing with a broken nail but played catch Friday and felt great even saying that he could start today (Friday) if given the chance. It sounds like he won't miss more than the 10 days he has to miss.... Madison Bumgarner has had the pins removed from his broken finger and the team is hoping he can return to the rotation by the end of May.... Dan Straily was shelled in his first rehab start but turned in five solid innings in his second start on Wednesday. There's no word on whether this will be his last rehab start or not but it seems like he's getting closer to returning to the rotation for Miami.... Jason Vargas is potentially going to join the Mets rotation next weekend after one more rehab starts for Las Vegas on Monday.
Players to Watch
Christian Villanueva, San Diego Padres - Christian Villenueva is off to a terrific start for the Padres slashing .333/.438/.741 in 64 plate appearances. He has 6 homers already and 14 RBI. Villaneuva has some impressive power as he hit 24 homers between AAA and the majors last season, just maybe not.407 ISO power. He crushed the ball in his brief time up in 2016 too though posting a .406 ISO on a 31.8% hard hit rate, but that can happen when you have 50% HR/FB rate. His rate this year is also extremely high at 35.3% but he still has the batted ball profile of someone who can provide some solid power numbers this year. ESPN Ownership - 52%, 47% growth in last 7 days
Preston Tucker, Atlanta Braves - Preston Tucker is having a great season for the surprise Braves hitting three homers and driving in 18 runs in the first 19 games for Atlanta. He's slashing .281/.323/. 509 while hitting sixth in the lineup. Tucker can make a nice play right now as the Braves are one of the best offenses in baseball but he does have a couples things working against him. First and foremost the Braves still have Ronald Acuna in AAA who apparently needs to start hitting in AAA to get the call after being the best player in Florida a month ago (IDK). Second, Brian Snitker found out what a double switch was this offseason and Preston Tucker is often his switchee (?) of choice late in games to get a better defensive option on the field. ESPN Ownership - 46.9%, 0.4% growth in last 7 days
Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers - Josh Hader makes the list again because twice in this past week we've seen him notch multi-inning saves for the Brewers. Hader is already one of the best relievers in baseball with an ungodly 61% K% through his first 11.2 innings. He's also upped his swinging strike rate by 4% from last season to this year. While he may never earn full time saves for Milwaukee as the team likes him in the Andrew Miller-role for the team. His ratios are going to be amongst the best at the position. ESPN Ownership - 59.2%, 28.1% growth in last 7 days
Kurt Suzuki, Atlanta Braves - Kurt Suzuki has been unreal for the Braves for the last year swatting 22 homers and driving in 59 runs while slashing .287/.358/.542 in that span. That's really surprising production for a position that typically isn't known for offense. He's getting the bulk of the playing time right now while Tyler Flowers is on the DL, but with him, due back soon his at-bats may take a dip upon his return. Last year he still hit 19 homers in limited time and at worst will have around a 50/50 split behind the dish for Atlanta. ESPN Ownership - 15.8%, 12.2% growth over the last seven days
Mac Williamson, San Francisco Giants - Hunter Pence's injury replacement Mac Williamson is interesting in deep leagues as a retooled swing with Justin Turner's hitting coach led to a terrific spring that carried over into AAA where he hit .487/.600/1.026 in 11 games with six homers and 16 RBI. He started for Pence in his first game up Friday and homered in that game too, his only hit in four at-bats. Williamson has only shown this elite level of pop in 2013 in High-A where he hit 25 homers. He's a guy to target in NL-Only for sure as he's getting at bats for at least a 10 day period, and deep mixed leagues could probably warrant a flier if you have a churn and burn spot on your bench. ESPN Ownership - 2.2%, 2.1% growth in the last seven days.
Tyler O'Neill, St. Louis Cardinals - Tyler O'Neill was called up by the Cardinals earlier this week but has been limited to two pinch-hit appearances so far. If O'Neill was able to get some consistent playing time he could make for a really interesting outfield option with his power potential. Before getting the call this year he posted a .449 ISO with six homers in 12 games and in 2017 he hit 31 homers between AAA with the Mariners and then the Cardinals. It feels odd that the Cardinals would call him up and then proceed to not play him considering how hot he was in AAA, but to each their own. Until we see some evidence he's going to get consistent at-bats he's an NL only reserve for now. ESPN Ownership - 6.3%, 5.8% growth in the last seven days.
Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers - Matt Kemp is currently on a tear for the Dodgers to start the year hitting .340 with three homers and ten runs driven in. His average is currently fueled by a .452 BABIP but his 44.1% hard-hit rate and 29.4% line drive rate show that while it's going to naturally regress, it's not necessarily complete luck. Now the real issue for Kemp is the same thing he ran into in Atlanta that while he's in terrific shape to start the season it tends to fade and then his overall skills diminish as well. It's worth riding the hot streak, but I'm not sure about Kemp having much season-long value. ESPN Ownership - 36.5%, 17.8% growth in the last seven days
Tyson Ross, San Diego Padres - Tyson Ross flirted with a no-hitter this week but ultimately allowed just one run in 7.2 innings and ended with a no-decision. Ross has been really solid this year for the Padres with a 2-and-1 record through four starts and a 2.81 ERA. His strikeouts are right in line with his career average and he's doing a much better job with walks at 2.45 per nine. He's using his slider, a very good offering, almost 50% of the time and it's the first time he's had his usage of the pitch over 40% since 2015 where he was only 10-12 but had a 3.26 ERA and a near 10 K/9. AKA the last time he was actually good. Injuries are a big concern with him but if he is indeed healthy he a good arm in fantasy lineups. ESPN Ownership - 10.3%, 7% growth over the last seven days
Matt Wisler, Atlanta Braves - Matt Wisler filled in the rotation spot for Anibal Sanchez in Atlanta and he was incredible allowing just two hits over seven innings, one run, and striking out eight batters. Wisler had a slight change to his delivery that made it a bit tougher to pick up the ball, and he used almost solely fastballs and sliders with only 4% of his pitches being different than those two. He's going to get one more start for the Braves while Sanchez is on the DL, and against the Reds there's a case he could be a solid streaming option in that matchup. ESPN Ownership - 0.7%, 0.7% growth in the last seven days
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