It’s the MLB Game Day Recap Day 18, that means it’s time to talk about rivalries. Every fan knows about rivalries, and every fan knows who is their team’s rival. Yankees and Red Sox was the rivalry when it comes to recent baseball, but it’s a new decade with a new set of top tier rivals. A century ago there was the 1920s Yankees against cross city Giants. A decade before saw the 1910s Philadelphia Athletics battle those same Giants. The 2020s are going to be Dodgers vs Padres. These rivalries make the sport truly matter. Competition exists at the highest levels of all athletics. Sports like track and field have top tier athletes, but the majority do not care because there are no rivalries. Subset group A does not battle with subset group B. Team sports have that intensity, and baseball is the original team sport.
Maikel Franco was a last minute signing for the Orioles when he signed just two weeks before the start of the season. Coming off a mediocre season in Kansas City and being in the back half of his 20s, Franco did not draw much free agency buzz. He is not an on base machine. He also doesn’t hit for ungodly power. These two typically combine for a short, uninspiring career. However, these two can also lead to fantasy relevancy without bring the same amount of real world relevancy. Franco is going to play every day in a top offensive environment in Baltimore, and face some mid-level pitching staffs in the AL East. When he faces an easier stretch, like home series with Boston and Seattle, then a road series with Texas, he produces. Playing the schedule on a guy like Franco can give your team a winning edge.
Kyle Hendricks got roughed up against Atlanta. He gave up 4 homers before the first inning ended, and ultimately ended with a 4.0 innings pitched, 7 hits, 7 earned, 3 walks and 2 K’s line. This is bad a start, but it’s also a start savvy fantasy managers should have avoided. Depending on your matchup, the vast majority of Hendricks managers should have held off on deploying him in Head-to-Head leagues as the matchups is one of the worst ones he will face all season. If you were ahead in your matchup, you didn’t need to risk the ratio nightmare and a starter like Hendricks will never pile up K’s. Mix in the unlikely result of a Cubs W and it’s the full recipe for benching a SP. Hopefully Kyle didn’t let down too many managers today.
Despite missing yesterday’s game with a back ache, Bryce Harper picked up right where he left off with a 3 for 3 day including a solo dong. Over his past 7 games he is hitting .308 with 3 HRs 5 RBIs and 5 runs scored. At this point in his career, Harper is largely seen as a very good, but not upper echelon tier, fantasy player. This reputation is unearned and frankly wrong. Harper has steadily produced over ever including a few breakout, elite tier performances. Sure, he’s not Mike Trout, but his floor as close to Trout’s as possible. If your league has a manager who doesn’t realize Harper’s value, make an offer that perks their ears up. Harper should be treated like an A+ asset and plenty of managers do not realize this.
Kyle Tucker’s past week has been difficult. He was hitting .222 coming into today and went 0 for 3. His lone solo homer 7 games ago is the only at bat that accumulated any counting stats. Tucker produced a great fantasy season last year, but his on base numbers struggled from a real life perspective. His sluggish start this season is a clear cause for concern. If you own him, shopping him before his value entirely craters is strongly advise. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a cut candidate yet, but he can be sold low. The Astros are going to be a rollercoaster ride. Tucker will have his ups, but he also possesses very low downs. Over the course of a full season? Passing on this. Short term DFS an BestBall can make him hold value, but in full season fantasy try and shop him for less variance today.
The Emilio Bonifacio Award
Josh Rojas pulled off a classic Bonifacio today. He went 2 for 4 with 3 runs scored including a solo blast with the only thing missing was a stolen base. Entering today, Rojas had been as cold as ice hitting a putrid .065 with 1 run scored and no RBIs or steals. He had more hits today than he had achieved all season up to this point. By no means is Rojas a player to buy, he just had himself a Bonifacio tonight. Good for Josh.
The James Shields Award
Aaron Nola, Marcus Storman, Kyle Gibson, Shane Bieber, Matthew Boyd, John Means, Gerrit Cole all went 6+ today. If wanted to bring back the mid 2000s versions of this award and call it the Mussina, everyone but Cole went 7+. We even had Nola and Stroman pull off the CGSOs [our first two of the season]. Today was the Shields-est of Shields day so far on this young season. The most surprising part? Kyle Gibson, Matthew Boyd and John Means. Those are three class ‘stream only’ names that may no longer be in that category. All have had multiple quality starts, and all are in divisions that are not as offensively powerful as they once were. Three names to get on your roster today before someone else beats you to the punch.
The Brad Lidge Award
Brusdar Graterol had a rough return to the Dodgers today. He blew the save in the 7th allowing 1 run on 2 hits and 1 walk over 0.2 innings. This isn’t a horrific outing by any means, but it’s not the type of outing anyone wants when debuting. Graterol has the stuff to be the internal heir to Kenley Jansen, but he has a mass off relievers to usurp and an initial outing like this suggests he’s unlikely to do any closing anytime soon. If you were holding Graterol in hopes for an ideal return, it’s time to move on in redraft leagues. You can hold him in dynasty, but be advised mentally that he is not going to see the back end of many games the rest of the way.
The MLB Game Day Recap is all about baseball. Rivalries are what make baseball amazing. Look at this, this is what happens when two teams need to win. This wouldn’t happen two years ago when the Padres didn’t need to win. These two good teams are rivals because the good teams know they need to beat each other. Rivalries are rivalries because rivals know they need to beat each other. This is how rivals act. This is entertainment. This is baseball.