PT TOMORROW: AL East — Absent glove, Bradley Jr. might get no love in BOS

Boston Red Sox

Jackie Bradley Jr. (OF, BOS) added another breathtaking catch to his catalog to rob Trey Mancini (OF, BAL) of a walk-off home run and extend an extra-inning game that the Red Sox would ultimately win May 8. 

Bradley’s Gold-Glove-winning defense explains why the team has endured Bradley’s streaky, uneven performance at the plate throughout his career, though Bradley may be testing the limits of that tolerance with his work at the plate this season, which has seen his contact rate hit its nadir (64%) and his ground ball rate spike.

So much for all of those positive stories in the spring about having worked with the “hitting guru” of teammate J.D. Martinez (OF, BOS), efforts that in the preseason seemed like they were bearing fruit (14-for-43, 3 HR), yet another example of the meaninglessness of Spring Training stats.

Nonetheless, Bradley’s glove work will in all likelihood keep him in the lineup, at least against right-handed pitching. Lefties may be another matter.

Michael Chavis (2B, BOS), whose roster spot looks increasingly secure with each mammoth home run, was recently spotted getting in some pregame work in the outfield, but the Red Sox would not even have to commit to playing him there to give Bradley a seat on the bench vs. LHP.

The same could be accomplished by sending Martinez out to left field, opening the DH spot so that Chavis and Eduardo Nunez (2B, BOS) could play without Rafael Devers (3B, BOS) sitting out. Dustin Pedroia (2B, BOS) and Brock Holt (2B, BOS) would provide additional options once they are able to come off the injured list.


Baltimore Orioles

The sample size is admittedly small, but given the team, opportunity could come quickly for Gabriel Ynoa (RHP, BAL).

Through his first 11.1 innings since getting called up in the third week of April, Ynoa’s only blemish is a solo home run yielded April 26. Otherwise, he has been extremely impressive, especially in May, in which he has had two scoreless three-inning appearances. He gave up only one hit in each while striking out eight.

As Ynoa has been pitching multiple innings, he may be more likely to get a look in the starting rotation at some point rather than in higher-leverage relief work.

If he were to get a chance to start, Ynoa would be most likely to bump either David Hess (RHP, BAL), who is currently filling in for the Alex Cobb (RHP, BAL), who is on the injured list and reportedly still feeling soreness in his back, or Dan Straily (RHP, BAL), whose minus-19 BPV and 7.19 xERA continue to reveal that he should perhaps be returned to the scrap heap from which Baltimore plucked him.

Also, Chance Sisco (C, BAL) recently earned International League Player of the Week honors with an absolutely scorching week at AAA-Norfolk (.565, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 9 R in six games), tantalizing numbers given the fantasy landscape at the catching position. The torrid stretch helped raise Sisco’s batting average from .188 on April 27 more than 100 points to .289 through games of May 8.

There is no evidence that the Orioles are planning to give Sisco the chance to unseat Pedro Severino (C, BAL) in the immediate future. Relatively speaking, Severino has been decent offensively, with a .279 xBA certainly rosterable in many leagues. 

Meanwhile, Austin Wynns (C, BAL) has brought little to the table offensively since joining the Orioles (1-for-13), but Baltimore would probably prefer for Sisco to continue to get regular at-bats rather than be on the short end of a timeshare with Severino, as Wynns currently is.


New York Yankees

With Aaron Hicks (OF, NYY) due back Monday, the recent moderate hot streak of Cameron Maybin (OF, NYY) should be rendered largely irrelevant, aside from the fact that it should enable Maybin to hang on to his roster spot ahead of Mike Tauchman (OF, NYY), who has a remaining minor league option.

Maybin has gone 10-for-31 with the help of a 40% hit rate, and the 32-year-old Maybin is enough of a known quantity by now that fantasy owners should realize that he is good for an occasional stolen base and little more, especially in a bench role.

Tauchman’s bat has begun to come around a bit after a cold start to the season, but he continues to show the contact ability of a Quad-A player. 
Moreover, presumably at some point Giancarlo Stanton (OF, NYY) will turn the corner on his shoulder injury and return, putting the playing time squeeze on players far better than either Maybin or Tauchman.

In other Yankee news, Chad Green (RHP, NYY) may be nearing a return to the Yankees roster after posting a 14/2 K/BB in 7.1 IP at AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In leagues deep enough to make top middle relievers rosterable, it may be worth a check to see if he has been dropped, given his history of strong skills.

Also, while Jonathan Loaisiga (RHP, NYY) got knocked around in his first opportunity to fill in for James Paxton (LHP, NYY) (4 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 3 K), there would seem to be a shortage of players nipping at his heels to take over the role.

The most consistent performer at AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is a non-prospect, 31-year-old David Hale (RHP, NYY). There is no reason to believe that Hale is suddenly ready to sustain success at the major league level.

The more interesting possibility down the road may be 24-year-old Nestor Cortes Jr. (LHP, NYY). Cortes rebounded from a rough patch that saw him give up 16 ER in 13.2 IP over three starts to throw 7.1 IP of one-hit shutout ball May 4 (3 BB, 9 K).

That leaves his numbers slightly better on the season than fellow 24-year-old Chance Adams (RHP, NYY), though Adams does have a current streak of three straight quality starts (18.2 IP, 3 ER, 10 H, 5 BB, 22 K), so he may be rounding into form as well.


Tampa Bay Rays

It has been a frustrating season for fantasy owners who harbored a glimmer of a hope that Ryan Yarbrough (LHP, TAM) could even approach his 16-win output of a year ago. Yarbrough has run into some bad luck — not just in the form of a 37% strand rate but with the weather scuttling an expected “bulk innings” appearance May 5.

But perhaps Yarbrough’s biggest problem is that “understudy” Jalen Beeks (LHP, TAM) has seemingly usurped his role and pitched well enough not to yield his regular “bulk innings” turn anytime soon. 

Beeks is benefiting from a low HR/F rate and his control has been a bit shaky — perhaps a function of trying to be a bit too fine with his location — but there is some skill support for his performance as well, including a 13% SwK, which has helped boost Beeks’ strikeout rate in the early season.

Moreover, Beeks’ role was cemented a little bit further with news that Brent Honeywell (RHP, TAM) would need to push pause on his rehabilitation efforts due to a possible nerve issue in his upper arm. He was scheduled to undergo testing this week.

Honeywell, who missed all of 2018 due to Tommy John surgery, might have been a candidate for a bulk-inning-type role had he been able to make it to Tampa, but any such thoughts will have to be put on hold for the foreseeable future.


Toronto Blue Jays

With news that Lourdes Gurriel (2B, TOR) would start playing outfield at AAA-Buffalo, the clock started ticking on someone — anyone — to start producing in the Blue Jays corner outfield.

While Gurriel would reportedly return to Toronto in a “super-utility” role, it is clear that Gurriel’s greatest “utility” to the Blue Jays at the moment would be in left or right field.

Since being demoted in mid-April, Gurriel has gotten in a hit in all but three of his 20 games while posting a .922 OPS.

Given that the bat of Billy McKinney (OF, TOR) has begun to show faint signs of life (5-for-12, HR from May 4-8), the player perhaps more on the hot seat may be Teoscar Hernandez (OF, TOR).

Hernandez has shown faint signs of growth with his contact rate, but they have been offset by a waning of his power skills and line drive rate. Since April 23, Hernandez has struck out 16 times and walked only once while going 5-for-43, numbers that suggest a demotion and pushing of the reset button may be in order.

Meanwhile, Brandon Drury (3B, TOR) has failed to take advantage of the additional time he has seen in the outfield since the call-up of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B, TOR).

Thus, Drury’s near-term playing time picture may hinge largely on how patient the Blue Jays intend to be waiting for Guerrero to get on track.

While Guerrero has yet to make the splash many expected, it’s hard to see what benefit — aside from a mental break — a demotion back down to AAA-Buffalo would have for Guerrero, given that he long ago demonstrated mastery over Triple-A pitching.

Instead, Drury may be locked in a battle with Hernandez to avoid shuffling off to Buffalo if and when Gurriel returns. The Blue Jays could certainly try to slip Socrates Brito (OF, TOR) through waivers, as they did with Alen Hanson (OF, TOR). But it may better serve their interests to have either Hernandez or Drury playing every day in Triple-A in yet another effort to help them find their groove.

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