This article is part of our The Wheelhouse series.
Fridays are already the best day of the work week.
Not even an hour in to the work day and already exchanged a dozen high-fives and 'Happy Fridays'. Boy, do people love them some Friday.— Vlad Sedler (@RotoGut) April 22, 2016
Maybe morale isn't quite that high in your particular cubicle section of corporate America.
Either way, this came as very welcome news from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bays Times and generated some buzz at the RotoWire office...
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) April 22, 2016
Blake Snell is coming up to start Saturday's game against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Of course, the move is to add him wherever he's available, but the key is figuring out who the corresponding drop should be in order to take the flier. The immediate concern is that he posted a 3.6 BB/9 across all levels in 2015, but Snell has flashed his immense upside over 12 starts at Triple-A Durham by fanning 78 batters in 58.2 innings in the International League while showing improved control after the jump to that level. With three very good pitches and command that is still improving, the strikeouts should be part of the profile against big league hitters immediately. The Rays' use of Erasmo Ramirez suggests that Snell is up for good, barring a complete meltdown. After reaching 134 innings in 2015, Snell is likely to be capped between 155-160 this season, which puts a slight damper on his value in head-to-head formats as he may be out of innings when the playoffs roll around in September depending on how the Rays choose to handle him. With the ceiling of a No. 2 starter, Snell's immediate value could exceed several universally owned arms, and his ability to miss bats could make him an asset in shallow mixers from Day 1. To begin, he'll fall just outside of my top-150 overall, putting roughly 35-40 other starters ahead of him.
As the third weekend of the 2016 season gets underway, let's take a quick look around the rest of the American League.
The Jays will be without Chris Colabello for the next 80 games after he tested positive for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (his suspension starts Friday night). While Justin Smoak's playing time will increase in the short term, don't forget that Toronto ended up with Jesus Montero when the Mariners gave up on the former top prospect this spring. In 15 games at Triple-A Buffalo, Montero is hitting .316/.344/.456 (.800 OPS) with a homer, 11 RBI and a 3:15 BB:K. AL-only owners in need of corner help may want to make a roster move to get Montero now before the Jays give him a look.
Henry Owens will make his 2016 debut with the Red Sox on Sunday against the Astros. With Joe Kelly on the disabled list, Owens is getting the first opportunity to fill the vacant rotation spot, but the Red Sox also have 2012 first-round Brian Johnson waiting in the wings if Owens falters. Johnson started Thursday at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he issued a season-high five walks. For the season, he's posted a 14:8 K:BB over 14.1 innings. Owens offers more strikeout potential, albeit with the risk for a higher walk rate as he's issued free passes at a 3.9 BB/9 clip over parts of three seasons at Triple-A (178.1 innings, 170:78 K:BB, 3.13 ERA, 1.13 WHIP).
The Orioles' plan for Dylan Bundy in 2016 was undoubtedly impacted by his lack of minor league options (he would have been exposed to waivers if the Orioles had tried to send him to Triple-A at the end of spring training). He's been used just five times in relief thus far, giving up one run on five hits over 5.2 innings while striking out one and walking two. Having gone more than three years between big league appearances due to a slew of injuries, it's not surprising that Bundy's velocity has dropped across the board. According to BrooksBaseball, Bundy is averaging 93.74 mph on his four-seam fastball (down from 94.89 mph in September of 2012), while he's also lost more than two mph on his changeup (84.14). Given their need for starting pitching, it will be interesting to see if the Orioles can follow the Braves' template with Kris Medlen from 2010 and stretch him out while using him as needed in a relief role during the first two months of the season.
Former Yankee Paul O'Neill had an interesting take on Luis Severino after the young right-hander's latest start Thursday against Oakland. John Harper of the New York Daily News has the write-up, including quotes from O'Neill. Of particular concern – perhaps not to an actionable point yet – is that Severino's swinging-strike rate is down from 9.6% in 2015 to 8.4% through his first three turns. He'll face a tough test in his next start Tuesday in Arlington against the Rangers.
Jarrod Dyson will work on the large side of a platoon with Paulo Orlando in right field for the Royals now that he's recovered from his spring oblique injury. At age 31, Dyson has an opportunity to reach a career-high in plate appearances (his previous high was 330 in 2012). For his career, Dyson has averaged a stolen-base attempt per every 7.1 trips to the plate. Assuming 400 plate appearances the rest of the way, Dyson should see at least 55 green lights. If his career success rate of 86.5% holds, he would reach 40 steals with relative ease thanks to the increased volume of playing time.
Is there a more unlikely three-start line out there than Mat Latos' 0.49 ERA and 0.60 WHIP over 18.1 innings? His average fastball velocity is down more than two mph from his 2015 levels. Additionally, he's missing fewer bats and reaping the benefits of a 90.9% strand rate (72.9% career) .128 BABIP (.290 career). The White Sox will be among the teams in the market for a starting pitcher this summer if they remain in the mix for a playoff spot at the non-waiver trade deadline.
Francisco Lindor's start – .293/.345/.412, 1 HR, 2 SB, 8 R, 5 RBI in 13 games – may be
randomly and/or coincidentally foreshadowing his overall per-game production over the course of the season.
Do not forget about Daniel Norris. There are plenty of paths for him back into the Tigers' rotation once he recovers from the non-displaced fractures in the spinous process in his back. Mike Pelfrey is doing typical Mike Pelfrey things, and the health of Anibal Sanchez and Shane Greene could also open the door for Norris.
Considering that players called up now will not accrue a full year of service time, the Twins have no reason to wait any longer to promote Jose Berrios (in the unlikely event that I am ever empowered to make a decision on a pitcher's promotion to the big leagues, Super Two considerations will not be a factor). Tommy Milone and Ricky Nolasco are candidates to shift into the bullpen. Berrios has a 20:8 K:BB over 17 innings and has allowed just two earned runs on eight hits this season at Triple-A Rochester. Snell has a higher ceiling, but it's reasonable to think that Berrios may adjust to the big leagues faster.
Other than an Opening Day assignment to the No. 7 spot in the order (his one and only start against a southpaw), Adam Lind has hit fifth or sixth in his other nine starts in 2016. It's a strict platoon with Dae-ho Lee, and while the AL West has plenty of left-handed starters, Lind's oddly slow start (.220/.238/.268, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1:13 BB:K) has dragged down too many of my rosters where he appeared to be a cheap source of homers and RBI in the endgame. It will be interesting to see how patient new manager Scott Servais continues to be with Lind and Nori Aoki, who has led off in all but one game for Seattle this season to equally uninspiring results (.226/.250/.323, 1:8 BB:K).
Nomar Mazara's low strikeout rate to begin his major league career is very impressive. Through 10 games, he's whiffed just six times in 43 plate appearances, and that approach has been rewarded by Jeff Bannister thus far as Mazara has hit second in the order in all of his starts – including two games against lefties. Is anyone else feeling a .290-15-65-80 line for his rookie campaign?
Rich Hill called to say that he's vying for the silver medal in the strange line Olympics. Through 19 innings, Hill has a 29:9 K:BB, 3.32 ERA, and 1.53 WHIP. I have a few shares, but I also have no idea what to do with him, especially in leagues that don't allow trades.
With Andrew Heaney's ongoing arm trouble, my confidence in Nick Tropeano's chances of sticking in the Halos' rotation continues to increase. Since reaching Double-A in 2013, Tropeano has posted the following strikeout totals:
2013 – Double-A Corpus Christi – 130 in 133.2 IP
2014 – Triple-A Oklahoma City – 120 in 124.2 IP (13 in 21.2 IP with Houston)
2015 – Triple-A Salt Lake City – 96 in 88 IP (38 in 37.2 IP with the Angels)
Let's assume egregious buy-low opportunities don't exist in your league, and that there are at least 13 other owners involved. Tropeano is a reasonable early trade target that won't cost much, and one that is capable of being a $10-12 arm in deep mixers when the dust settles in October.
If you think something is physically wrong with Carlos Gomez, let me know in the comments below. Did anyone freak out in 2013 when he pushed through a 33-game stretch in the second half with a 13:33 BB:K, .191/.291/.264 line, two homers, and eight steals? He still managed to hit .284/.338/.506 with 24 homers and 40 steals that season. Ebbs and flows. Ebbs and flows...
#Rays Cash said plan is for Snell to make 1 start and go back to Durham— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) April 22, 2016
Will that "plan" hold up if he pitches well in his debut?