Kenta Maeda (SP-MIN) completed 6 innings of scoreless ball against Cleveland on Saturday, allowing just 1 hit and a walk while recording 6 punchouts. He fed Cleveland batters a heavy diet of off-speed stuff, mainly tossing breaking balls and changeups, and they never really seemed to figure him out. The 32 year-old has settled in nicely with his new team, as he now owns a 1.64 ERA (2.93 xFIP), 9.82 K/9, and 1.64 BB/9 through his first two starts with Minnesota (11 IP). The xFIP suggests that some regression should be coming, as his 89% strand rate and .160 BABIP allowed are both well off his career norms (73% and .280, respectively). But one encouraging thing is that he's done a better job of inducing grounders so far in the young season than in the past, as his 54% clip so far this year dwarfs his 41% career groundball rate. Sure, it's a small sample size, but we have to work with what we have. Maeda is slated to take the mound against the Pirates on the road next week.
Carlos Carrasco (SP-CLE) earned a quality start against the Twins on Saturday, but it wasn't pretty. The 33 year-old surrendered 3 runs on 6 hits and a walk while fanning 5. Minnesota scored all 3 runs on solo jacks. Overall, Carrasco is off to a solid enough start in 2020 as it was only last season that he was sidelined as he recovered from leukemia. Through his first 2 outings (12 IP) of the campaign, he has a 3.75 ERA (2.99 xFIP), 11.25 K/9, and 1.5 BB/9. While his 92% strand rate so far on the young season should normalize toward his 73% career clip, his 27% HR/FB so far is double his career rate in that area. Carrasco's heater is still sitting at 93-94 and his slider appears as nasty as ever, so he still has the stuff to finish the season a top-25 SP. He lines up for a start at home against the Reds next week.
Griffin Canning (SP-LAA) tossed 6 innings against the Astros on Saturday, scattering 6 hits and a pair of walks while striking out 5 and allowing 1 run. The 24 year-old didn't have the smoothest season debut against the Athletics in his previous start, as he allowed 3 runs on 4 hits and a pair of walks while whiffing 7 in 4.2 IP. The strikeout ability seems to be there, but there was some luck at work during today's outing (4.23 xFIP), as he stranded all of the men he allowed to get on base but one despite opposing batters putting 1/3 of all batted balls into play. Canning had a solid if unspectacular rookie campaign in 2019, as he tossed 90.1 innings, finishing with a 4.58 ERA (4.75 xFIP), 1.22 WHIP 9.6 K/9, and 3 BB/9. He's rostered in only 21% of ESPN leagues, so he's likely available in yours if you want to shore up the back end of your rotation with a pitcher who has the potential to become a mid-rotation guy given his ability to miss bats (14% swinging-strike rate in 2019). He appears lined up to take on the Mariners on the road next week.
Miguel Sano (1B/3B-MIN) was locked in against Carlos Carrasco on Saturday, as he went 2-3 with a pair of solo homers in the Twins' victory. The 27 year-old was absolutely scuffling at the plate coming into the game, as he is now batting just .150 with that pair of homers on the season. He's whiffed in 40% of his PAs (granted, he's had just 20 of them so far) while not drawing a single walk. With a 36% career strikeout rate, the whiffs are to be expected, but the complete lack of patience at the plate is striking (12% career walk rate). With a double and that pair of longballs the only hits to his name so far in 2020, he's clearly making hard contact when the bat does hit the ball. And that's the story of his career, as Sano has a 45% hard-hit rate lifetime. If you own him in fantasy, now you have to keep him in your lineup to see if his bat is truly waking up. The good news is that he has series with the Pirates and Royals after the current set with Cleveland wraps up on Sunday.
Franmil Reyes (DH/OF-CLE) had another rough game on Saturday, going 0-4 with a pair of strikeouts against Kenta Maeda and the Twins. The 25 year-old has had a slow start to the 2020 campaign, as he was batting just .231 with no homers and a pair of RBI through 27 PAs entering Saturday's action. He had struck out a 22% clip that comes in 6% below his career mark, so the quality of contact was the main culprit; after logging a hard-hit rate north of 44% the past two seasons, that figure was down to 35% entering Saturday's game. And roughly 2/3 of his batted balls have ended up on the ground - not a good thing for a guy lacking speed. I get that the season is short and a slow start can kill your team's overall performance, but Reyes has prodigious power and you don't want to dump him only to see him start mashing soon thereafter. Give him another week before you bench or cut bait.
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