Chris Sale dominates in return; Time to sell the Shark?
Chris Sale (foot) returned to the mound Sunday and, surprise, did Chris Sale things. In six innings against the mighty Twins, the left-hander allowed one run and five hits while striking out eight and walking one. He threw 98 pitches (72 strikes), and hit 98 mph on the gun to end his day. Anyone worried that Sale would need extra time to get in to "game shape" can forget about it. Sale is an ace and a top-five fantasy pitcher. If I'm ranking the top starters today, Sale is fourth after Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Felix Hernandez*.
*Hernandez was removed from Sunday's start after five innings with tightness in his right quad, but the move was precautionary.
The same can't be said about teammate Jeff Samardzija, who is 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 7/3 K/BB ratio in 13 innings. We need to be careful with small samples, but the early returns aren't encouraging, especially for a pitcher that was drafted No. 17 at his position. In the early going, Samardzija's velocity is down and his O-Swing% (percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone) is also down from 34 percent to 23.5 percent.
Again, it's very early, but it's worth asking: Did the fantasy community overrate Samardzija in the preseason? Why couldn't he dominate a weak Twins lineup? Things won't get any easier Friday in Detroit.
Fake Teams' Timothy Finnegan (@TimFinn521) tweeted this out:
Small sample, but Jeff Samardzija's swinging strike% is down. 8.9% yesterday, 4.4% opening day. Was at 10.9% last year and 10.5% in '13— Timothy Finnegan (@TimFinn521) April 12, 2015
What are your expectations for Samardzija going forward? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.
News broke on Sunday that Indians catcher Yan Gomes will miss 6-8 weeks after an MRI revealed a moderate right MCL sprain. This is a huge blow to fantasy owners, as the 27-year-old broke out in 2014, hitting .278/.313/.472 with 21 home runs, 61 runs and 74 RBIs in 135 games. Gomes was injured on an ugly collision at the plate with Rajai Davis. Gomes was the No. 4 catcher in the Fake Teams consensus ranks, so replacing his production at a weak position will be hard. Roberto Perez was called up from Triple-A and drove in a run Sunday in an 8-6 loss to the Tigers. He'll serve as the regular catcher while Gomes is sidelined, so the likelihood of Carlos Santana re-gaining catcher eligibility is very small.
I would look to the waiver wire in standard mixed formats to replace Gomes. Catchers that are available (with Yahoo ownership as of Sunday night) include: Derek Norris (37 percent owned), Miguel Montero (25), Alex Avila (24), and Yasmani Grandal (24). I would rank them Grandal, Norris, Avila and Montero. Perez is a fine addition in AL-only leagues, but I would look for a more proven option in 12- and 14-team mixers.
Andrew McCutchen (knee) scared owners by taking himself of Saturday night's game against the Brewers, but returned to his normal spot in the lineup Sunday and promptly hit his second homer of the season to lead the Pirates to victory. He later added an RBI single in a six-run ninth for the Pirates. The fact that McCutchen came back the day after leaving with an injury and had a big day at the plate is the biggest takeaway today, but maybe we see McCutchen takes off a day here and there in the short term until he feels closer to 100 percent. McCutchen hasn't attempted a steal yet, and any lingering knee injury could affect his stolen base numbers.
Scherzer has allowed one earned run in 13 2/3 innings, but has zero wins to show for it. On Sunday, Scherzer's potential win was taken away by relief pitcher Xavier Cedeno, who entered in the seventh inning and gave up a home run to the first batter he faced (Darin Ruf). Mad Max has been brilliant for the Nationals, striking out 16 and walking four in two starts. This is your reminder to ditch wins and switch to quality starts.
Miguel Cabrera hit his first two home runs of the season on Sunday, finishing 4 for 4 with three runs scored and four RBIs. He's now hitting .520/.586/.840 to start the year with eight RBIs in six games, and the Tigers have won all six. Ray touched on it Saturday, but any preseason doubts about Miggy are looking foolish. I was guilty of it, too. If you're looking to stream starting pitching in Week 2, don't look to the Pirates or White Sox, Detroit's next two opponents. Through six games, the Tigers have scored 47 runs, or an average of seven runs a game. J.D. Martinez, the 32nd outfielder selected on average, already has three home runs and seven RBIs.
One slugger who was struggling entering Sunday, Toronto's Jose Bautista, hit his first home run of the season in the eighth inning of a 10-7 win. Joey Bats has just four hits in 25 plate appearances to start the year, so here's hoping Sunday's home run gets the 34-year-old outfielder rolling. Proven commodities with long track records that just happen to have a slow start are the type of player you should be looking to acquire early in the season.
Bautista's teammate, relief pitcher Miguel Castro, picked up his first career save Sunday, working around a hit and a walk. Castro got Steve Pearce to foul out and Chris Davis to fly out to end the game. This is now Castro's job to lose, so make sure the 20-year-old is not owned in your league. As of 6 p.m. EST Sunday, he's still available in 57 percent of Yahoo leagues.
LaTroy Hawkins blew his second save of the season already, allowing three runs, including a two-run home run to Dexter Fowler with two outs in the ninth inning. Hawkins was hitting 95 mph according to the Cubs broadcast, and the pitch that Fowler hit was a slider. The 42-year-old won't have a long leash with the Rockies looking to contend with their bats, so make sure you're ready to pounce on Adam Ottavino, who is the favorite to take over for Hawkins.
In even more closer news, Koji Uehara (hamstring) is expected to be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Monday, and will immediately resume closer duties. That was a fun week, Edward Mujica.
Finally, congrats to Albert Pujols for hitting his 522nd career home run Sunday, passing Ted Williams, Willie McCovey and Frank Thomas for 18th on the all-time list. I'm tickled to say I've seen both Pujols and the Big Hurt do damage live against my Cubs. On Sunday, Pujols made history against Yordano Ventura in the first inning of a 9-2 loss.
Next on the all-time home run list list is Jimmie Foxx with 534 home runs. Can you imagine owning Pujols for all 522 home runs (and counting) in a dynasty league?
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