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Fantasy Baseball Observations: Maeda hits skids, Berrios hits minors

But what a boost to his value that will be. An all-or-nothing slugger is almost a liability in a DH spot, where you can play any hitter you want, but at catcher — particularly catcher this year — well, just imagine if you could find one on the waiver wire with the capacity for the 27 home runs and 88 RBI Gattis delivered last year and may still deliver this year given that he’ll continue DHing when he’s not catching.

What exactly Tony Kemp and Colin Moran bring to the table and where and how much they’ll play isn’t as clear, but each fits the definition of prospect, which makes them at least worth a mention here. And you can see how each could squeeze his way into the lineup.

General manager Jeff Luhnow has already said Kemp, who’s primarily a second baseman, will work in the outfield for the Astros, and that’s only a few days after he expressed his frustration with Carlos Gomez, who’s batting .182.

“It’s hard to continue to play a player that isn’t helping you win ball games,” he told the Houston Chronicle.

Moran gives the Astros another corner infield option with Marwin Gonzalez nursing a sore foot, and Gonzalez isn’t exactly a mainstay in the Astros lineup anyway.

In a best-case scenario, Kemp could be like a less-powerful version of Odubel Herrera (who isn’t exactly known for his power), and Moran … eh, maybe Trevor Plouffe? The former sixth overall pick showed some power for the first time in the minors last year, but he had just three home runs in 125 at-bats for Triple-A Fresno of the heavy-hitting Pacific Coast league prior to his call-up this year — and with poor plate discipline to boot.
4. Texas-sized meltdown

When Sam Dyson got his first save Wednesday, you may remember I downplayed it for Fantasy purposes. It was just a day off for Shawn Tolleson, who hadn’t given the Rangers any reason to replace him since his early meltdown April 6.

Well, now he has, serving up two home runs in a blown save against the Blue Jays on Saturday, and Dyson handled the save opportunity the very next day.

On the one hand, of course he did. Tolleson threw 28 pitches Saturday and wouldn’t have been available regardless of the result. But on the other hand, manager Jeff Banister expressed genuine concern over Tolleson’s performance, pointing out that his changeup just hasn’t been the same this year.

“That’s why we evaluate every single night,” he told MLB.com “When things become consistently ineffective you have to make a change, but I just don’t know that we’re completely at that point yet. We evaluate it every single day.”

It wasn’t the vote of confidence Banister gave Tolleson after that April 6 meltdown, and now that the right-hander is sitting on a 7.07 ERA, the Rangers have every reason to pull the plug on him. It doesn’t mean they will, but they haven’t ruled it out. And often with role changes, a lack of denial is itself a confirmation.

We’ll know the next time the Rangers have a save opportunity, and even if they turn to Tolleson in that moment, he won’t suddenly have his changeup again. Dyson is now the top closer-in-waiting for those in need of one.
5. Brave pickups

The Braves aren’t a good team this year, but with all the prospects they’ve accumulated over the past two years, it was only a matter of time before pockets of hope began to develop.

One clearly has in the starting rotation after Matt Wisler and Mike Foltynewicz both dominated the defending champion Royals this weekend — a lineup that can give any pitcher fits with its surplus of high-contact hitters — and it wasn’t an isolated event for either.

Well, Wisler did at least one thing that we haven’t seen him do much. He struck out a batter per inning — against the team that doesn’t strike out, remember — and I’ll add that he looked good doing it.

It’s that lack of strikeouts combined with the poor supporting cast that makes Wisler so easy to dismiss in Fantasy, and his .224 BABIP hints of impending regression.

But let’s not overlook what he does well. This start was the third straight in which he pitched beyond seven innings — an impressive trend for a 23-year-old in his first full season — and it’s not like he’s being overtaxed. He’s genuinely that efficient, exhibiting command beyond his years. And he’s such a fly-ball pitcher that, yeah, you can expect a low BABIP. Fly balls are usually caught at the big-league level. Some of them sail over the fence, of course, but, again, Wisler walks so few hitters that he can get away with a few homers.

His upside is probably on the level of a Jordan Zimmermann, another control artist who piles up innings and thrives in spite of a mediocre strikeout rate. Of course, there’s a reason that phenotype is so rare in today’s game. Wisler still has a ways to go to overcome our strikeout biases, but he’s getting harder and harder to pass up.

Foltynewicz has only two start of the caliber he showed this weekend, but two in a row with no walks is an achievement for a pitcher who hasn’t demonstrated he has any idea where the ball is going. The raw stuff speaks for itself:

You can see how late the Royals were on some of those swings, and Foltynewicz wasn’t even throwing 100 mph as we know he can. I’d like to see more strikeouts, but that will improve as he learns to sequence better. Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole weren’t strikeout artists when they first broke in either.

Nobody is rushing to add Foltynewicz yet, but these starts should at least put him on our radar. His upside is about on the level of a Garrett Richards.

The Atlanta Braves fired manager Fredi Gonzalez on Tuesday. It wasn’t all too surprising, but this story likely will be: Gonzalez essentially learned he was fired through an airline email.

The Braves are in Pittsburgh facing the Pirates through Thursday, but Gonzalez got an email notification that his commercial flight had been changed for a Tuesday departure. Given the team’s record and constant rumors swirling of his firing, Gonzalez likely only had to put two and two together to see the writing on the wall.

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