Todd's Takes: Closing in Boston, Running on Ruiz & Much More

Todd's Takes: Closing in Boston, Running on Ruiz & Much More

This article is part of our Todd's Takes series.

Welcome to the first installment of Todd's Takes, a new series piggybacking off Jeff Erickson's Observations columns. Every Monday and Thursday afternoon, I'll share my notes, observations and takes from the previous few days. Much will be derived from watching games, but some will be triggered by my Twitter feed and old-fashioned box score scouting. I can't promise everything will have a fantasy spin, but that is the focus.

A Tale of Two Teams

I'm hesitant to start with the Red Sox for fear everyone will assume they'll be discussed incessantly since they're my hometown team, but let's face it, one of the biggest current stories is the resurgent Red Sox and struggling  Angels. On Wednesday, Boston won the second 1-0 game of the series, which hasn't happened for the Red Sox since Alex Cora played for the team.

Matt Strahm collected a save for the second straight game. Michael Wacha saved his own game in the 1-0 series opener. The emergence of John Schreiber along with Tanner Houck settling into a high-leverage role has stabilized a shaky bullpen. That said, it's unlikely Cora will settle on a single closer with Strahm and Houck the primary candidates to garner most of the saves.

Hmm, I have a case of writer's block. I think I'll switch my background music to Nickelback.

Nope, didn't help me either.

The Halos are a mess. Nothing seems to go right when you're amid a long losing streak, but they're not helping themselves. The tale of

Welcome to the first installment of Todd's Takes, a new series piggybacking off Jeff Erickson's Observations columns. Every Monday and Thursday afternoon, I'll share my notes, observations and takes from the previous few days. Much will be derived from watching games, but some will be triggered by my Twitter feed and old-fashioned box score scouting. I can't promise everything will have a fantasy spin, but that is the focus.

A Tale of Two Teams

I'm hesitant to start with the Red Sox for fear everyone will assume they'll be discussed incessantly since they're my hometown team, but let's face it, one of the biggest current stories is the resurgent Red Sox and struggling  Angels. On Wednesday, Boston won the second 1-0 game of the series, which hasn't happened for the Red Sox since Alex Cora played for the team.

Matt Strahm collected a save for the second straight game. Michael Wacha saved his own game in the 1-0 series opener. The emergence of John Schreiber along with Tanner Houck settling into a high-leverage role has stabilized a shaky bullpen. That said, it's unlikely Cora will settle on a single closer with Strahm and Houck the primary candidates to garner most of the saves.

Hmm, I have a case of writer's block. I think I'll switch my background music to Nickelback.

Nope, didn't help me either.

The Halos are a mess. Nothing seems to go right when you're amid a long losing streak, but they're not helping themselves. The tale of teams can best be summed up by two plays. In the fourth inning with Xander Bogaerts on first, Alex Verdugo hit a bouncing ball up the middle. Second baseman Jack Mayfield fielded it but shortstop Tyler Wade was unable to handle the flip at the bag. Wade was charged with the error, but it was on Mayfield for not directing it to the glove side as Wade was on the move, thus couldn't reach across his body to snare it, while also stepping on the keystone. The play itself didn't cost the Angels any runs, but it did add to an already building pitch count for Reid Detmers, who only worked 4.1 innings in a then scoreless game.

In contrast, the Red Sox turned a nifty double play in the bottom of the seventh with Christian Vazquez saving Trevor Story an error (yeah, you can't assume a double play, but Max Stassi likely would have reached second).

For those wondering, Rafael Devers was given his first day off this season, so Bobby Dalbec covered the hot corner with Vazquez exchanging his catcher's mitt for a first baseman's mitt.

Mike Trout remained out with a sore groin, though the club remains hopeful it's a short term issue.

The Call Has Been Overturned

The ghost runner is bad enough, but when Casper scores the first run in an extra-inning affair, it's even more maddening.

Yesterday in South Beach, the Nationals pushed across the first run of the game in the top of the 10th. In the bottom of the frame, the Marlins appeared to tie it up when Jazz Chisholm seemingly evaded Keibert Ruiz's tag on a throw from Juan Soto. However, after noticing the home plate umpire had not yet signaled out or safe, Ruiz tagged Chisholm, who was then called out. Jesus Aguilar, the on deck hitter immediately escorted Chisholm to the dugout, clearly calming him down, as if he knew something. Indeed he did, as the call was overturned for catcher interference. Aguilar then completed the comeback with a bouncer up the middle, which deflected off second base, allowing Willians Astudillo to motor around and score the game-winner.

Ruiz and Chisholm crossed paths earlier in the game when Ruiz nailed Chisholm trying to steal second base. Ruiz began the season by catching eight of 17 would be pilferers. However, 10 of the next 12 attempts were successful before Ruiz nabbed Chisholm. This is Ruiz's first full season behind the plate, so it will be worth tracking his success rate with streaming for stolen bases becoming a more popular strategy.

Sandy Alcantara started for the Fish, tossing nine scoreless stanzas, throwing 105 pitches, 84 for strikes (80 percent). That's just goofy. League average is 64 percent. Alcantara's 24 percent strikeout rate is fine, especially in lieu of strikeouts being at their lowest since 2018. However, Alcantara isn't ideally suited for leagues with an innings pitched limit. In formats of this nature, the K category is really K/9. Sure, he is a plus for ratios, but Alcantara caps punch outs. Trading him isn't a no-brainer, since he still contributes to more categories, but if your ratios are in good shape, the haul one can poach for Alcantara merits consideration.

Take a shot with Stott

Remember when shortstop was the strongest fantasy position? Well, so far, the position has recorded the third lowest wOBA among the eight positions, with several stars out or recently returning from injury. Depth at the spot has been thinned greatly. Those taking a chance on Jeremy Pena have been rewarded. Meanwhile, Bryson Stott's team managers have been disappointed ... until now. Perhaps due to more job security with Jean Segura sidelined, or maybe just from natural maturation, Stott looks more confident and the results are following. On Wednesday, Stott recorded his first four-hit game, bringing has line for the last week to .385/.429/.808 with three homers and a steal. However, even with the 4-for-4 effort, Stott enters Thursday's .188/.243/.313 for the season, so the cost of acquisition could still be reasonable.

While Alcantara is fast becoming one of my favorite pitchers to watch, Aaron Nola has been must-see for a few years. He's just a feast for the eyes. Well, at least mine. Granted, he's had a few rough patches over the years, but I enjoy seeing pitchers with a plan. I'm sure most have one, but it just feels like Nola does a better job setting up batters. It's fun trying to guess what he'll throw next. This season, he's even more impressive since part of his approach is trusting his defense, which is hard to do in Philadelphia. Yet, his BABIP against is .257, aided by a 74th percentile hard hit rate.

Rain on Bieber's Parade

While the games in the 6:30 p.m. EDT time block are a bummer for DFS since they're off the main slate, they're nice for focusing on just a few teams before the flipping begins. Last night, I was particularly looking forward to watching Shane Bieber. He's an enigma with declining velocity, but still solid peripherals. I mean, it's not like I could have all my questions answered by watching one game, but I wanted to see how he's adjusted losing a few ticks, along with my best guess if he'd get it back. I'm at a crossroads with my rest of season expectation for Bieber as an argument can be tendered for good and not so good.

Last night's rain really put a damper on my analysis, but even so, I'm encouraged. I don't worry about velocity in the rain, but continued control and command was impressive. Given, working at a fast pace was mostly due to wanting to get the requisite five innings in the books as the Guardians had the lead, but I'll take any reason for not dilly dallying between pitches.

As it turned out, the game was delayed after 4.1 innings, with Bieber's night cut short. However, this provides the opportunity to highlight Eli Morgan and his 35.1 percent strikeout rate, fueling an outstanding 30.9 K-BB% mark. We talk a lot about Cleveland's ability to get the most out of their starting pitchers. They were unable to do so with Morgan, but clearly saw something and have transitioned him to being one of the most dominant relievers in the league. Morgan started out in low-leverage scenarios, but in his last six outings, he's recorded five holds and Wednesday's vulture win after throwing 1.2 innings once play resumed.

Box Score Blitz

  • Michael Fulmer is the better pitcher, but Gregory Soto continues to pitch just well enough to maintain the Tigers closer gig. However, I do worry how his high heat will play once the weather really warms with summer humidity.
  • It appeared Yusei Kikuchi was back on track after ditching his cutter for a slider. In May, he posted a tidy 2.36 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, fanning 31 in 26.2 innings. June has not be nearly as kind with seven runs in 5.1 innings, including Wednesday's blowup, allowing three runs in just .2 innings, walking four. Maybe it's a trap, but I'm buying low.
  • After missing the first month, Josh Rojas is quietly having a solid season, clubbing his fourth homer on Wednesday, to go along with three steals. Add in multiple position eligibility and Rojas has sneaky value for the next four months.
  • Logan Gilbert continues to impress. After three innings, things appeared bleak with three runs allowed to the dangerous Astros lineup. Fast forward three frames and Gilbert recorded his fifth consecutive quality start. OK, perhaps a quality start is a flawed stat, especially when it comes with seven hits and three walks like yesterday, but Gilbert working at least six innings in the last five games is noteworthy, especially in today's landscape. Sure, Wednesday's QS is sketchy, but two games ago, he held the same Astros scoreless over seven frames, so the aggregate numbers for all quality starts is, indeed, quality.
  • Others have pointed this out, but now that Manuel Margot is getting regular playing time, he's fantasy worthy in all formats. He's not running (yet), but he's also not whiffing much and he's drawing walks.
  • Draymond Green is the guy everyone hates, unless he plays for your team in which case he's a king. Oh wait, wrong sport.
  • It's hard to imagine Will Smith (the catcher) being available, but he's been a bit unlucky this season. He was 2-for-4, including his seventh homer on Wednesday, with two hard outs (exit velocity exceeding 95 mph.)
  • Baseball is funny. The Yankees have owned the Twins, even in Minnesota. So of course, the Twins show Nestor Cortes Jr. is human after all. Byron Buxton's BABIP through June 2 was .200. It's been .556 for the last week.
  • Sean Manaea bested Chris Bassitt in the matchup of former Athletics. It's no secret I'm an unabashed fan of Padres TV voice Don Orsillo. On Wednesday, he called the game with Tony Gwynn Jr. sitting in for Mudcat Grant, but you'd think the pair would have been working together for 20 years. This is especially hard to do in a blowout. Orsillo is at his best in a lopsided game, managing to keep it entertaining, but Wednesday he kept it mostly straight, allowing Gwynn to shine.

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only MLB Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire MLB fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Todd Zola
Todd has been writing about fantasy baseball since 1997. He won NL Tout Wars and Mixed LABR in 2016 as well as a multi-time league winner in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Todd is now setting his sights even higher: The Rotowire Staff League. Lord Zola, as he's known in the industry, won the 2013 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Article of the Year award and was named the 2017 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year. Todd is a five-time FSWA awards finalist.
Boston Red Sox Win Total And Other Futures To Bet In 2023
Boston Red Sox Win Total And Other Futures To Bet In 2023
The Z Files: Adventures in Playing Time
The Z Files: Adventures in Playing Time
MLB Best Ball: Evaluating Hitters on Underdog
MLB Best Ball: Evaluating Hitters on Underdog
Closer Encounters: 2023 Closer Rankings
Closer Encounters: 2023 Closer Rankings