This weekend was one of happy returns. Royce Lewis, Michael Soroka, and Liam Hendriks were all coming back from different issues, but all had a long way back and all made their returns Monday to plenty of fanfare.
For Fantasy purposes, Lewis' return from his second torn ACL was the most interesting, and not just because he homered in his first game back. He's a former top prospect who has 12 homers in 55 games between Triple-A and the majors and might just be a Fantasy difference maker moving forward. He dominated his minor-league rehab assignment and might be on the verge of a significant breakout -- he's available in 45% of CBS Fantasy leagues, a number that should probably be close to zero soon.
Soroka and Hendriks are less interesting for Fantasy purposes, at least for now. But both are great stories, with Hendriks making his return to the mound for the White Sox after a non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis, while Soroka pitched in the majors for the first time in three seasons after two ruptured Achilles. Hendriks could eventually reclaim the White Sox closer role, but for now, they're going to just work him into some low-leverage situations until he looks right.
As for Soroka, he showed some interesting signs Monday -- his fastball velocity was back where it was in 2023 and his changeup and slider usage were both up, potentially good signs given the strong whiff rates he sported with both pitches. I'd put Soroka behind the likes of Bobby Miller and Michael Kopech among the most-added pitchers, but I'll be keeping a close eye on how he does in the next few starts.
I'm Chris Towers, tapping in for Dan Schneier on the FBT Newsletter this morning to help recap the long Memorial Day Weekend action from around MLB. Here's what you need to know:
Bryce Miller, Mariners -- Not all standouts are positive, and this was the first time we've had to be negative about Miller. His ERA jumped from 1.15 to 3.00 after the Yankees tagged him for eight runs over 4.2 innings. He didn't do much different this time than his previous few starts; his fastball just wasn't nearly as effective as it had been, with the Yankees putting 10 balls in play with a 93.8 mph average exit velocity. I've had questions about how sustainable Miller's success has been given how fastball dominant he'd been (70% usage entering Monday), and I think it's very much still an open question after this one.
Marcus Stroman, Cubs -- Stroman limited the Rays to just one hit in a complete-game shutout Monday, striking out eight with one walk. He had 20 swinging strikes, one start after recording just two. He has a 2.39 ERA and 0.99 WHIP thanks to a very good Cubs defense behind him. Stroman is a useful Fantasy option, with an ERA between 3.02 and 3.50 over the past three seasons, so the bottom isn't likely to fall out, but his 4.02 xERA suggests there's regression coming at some point.
Tyler Glasnow, Rays -- Glasnow made his return from the IL and was, understandably, a little rusty in his first start of the season. Of course, he still got 17 swinging strikes on 83 pitches against the Dodgers, so I can't say I'm particularly concerned about three runs in 4.1 innings. He'll be just fine (as long as he's healthy).
Michael Kopech, White Sox -- In some ways, Kopech stayed hot, striking out 10 to give him 29 over his past three starts. However, there was some regression here as well, as he gave up four runs in 4.1 innings before being chased, thanks to some loud contact on his fastball. He continues to throw his slider harder and with less break, and he got six whiffs with it on 15 swings (along with 10 on his fastball), so on the whole, there are still some real positives to take away, even if I remain skeptical of what he's doing right now.
Bobby Miller, Dodgers -- Miller put together another solid start to open his career, limiting the Nationals to just one run on six innings Monday. He has just nine strikeouts in 11 innings, with a five-pitch mix that doesn't yet look like it features a true put-away pitch. That the results have been as good as they've been so far is a promising sign as he figures things out, and he'll make another start Sunday against the Yankees, so keep him around.
Zack Wheeler, Phillies -- There's been some handwringing about Wheeler's play at times this season, but Saturday was a powerful reminder of just how good this guy is when he's right. He struck out 12 in eight shutout innings and has better peripherals across the board than his 3.60 ERA right now. The buy-low window probably just slammed shut.
Hunter Greene, Reds -- The frustrating thing about Greene is we're constantly going to be chasing performances like Friday's -- six no-hit innings with 11 strikeouts. Maybe this is the start of him figuring it out, but we thought he had done that with his remarkable run to close out last season. He's probably just going to keep having random outbursts like this while continuing to frustrate us until he develops a more varied arsenal -- his fastball, despite being one of the hardest we've ever seen from a starter, still tends to get hit very hard, and his changeup is barely a show-me pitch. I'd be trying to sell off this start.
Jon Gray, Rangers -- On May 8, Jon Gray started throwing his slider around 3 mph harder, and he's been on a heck of a run since. After seven one-run innings Friday, he has allowed just three runs with 27 strikeouts and five walks in 27 innings over four starts in that span. I'm not sure he'll keep it up, but Gray looks pretty great right now.
Freddy Peralta, Brewers -- Peralta got bombed Friday against the Giants, giving up 10 runs (four earned) in 2.1 innings, giving him an 8.56 ERA and 2.05 WHIP over his past three starts. I'm not close to dropping him yet, but his 4.13 xERA is his worst mark ever. This isn't just bad luck, he needs to pitch better.
Hunter Brown, Astros -- Brown finished the month of May with a 3.95 ERA, but he was a lot better than that -- he had a couple of weird, low-inning outings to open the month, but bounced back with 19 strikeouts and three runs allowed of 13 innings in his past two. I have no worries here.
Michael Wacha, Padres -- Wacha kept rolling against the Yankees Saturday, limiting them to two runs over seven innings of work, bringing his May to a close with a 0.84 ERA and 0.72 WHIP. I think he's one of the more obvious sell-high candidates in the game if anyone is buying, because I don't see much reason to think he'll keep anything like this up moving forward.
Eloy Jimenez, White Sox -- Jimenez came back from the IL Sunday and went 3 for 7 with two walks, one homer, and four RBI in his first two games. I know it's been frustrating having him on the IL, especially given his history, but an appendectomy is the definition of bad luck. If there's any opportunity here to buy low, I'm taking it.
Matt McLain, Reds -- McLain continued his hot hitting, going 4 for 5 Sunday to close out a 9 for 15 series against the Cubs. The rookie is striking out 28.1% of the time with somewhat middling quality of contact metrics so far, so he's not going to sustain a 1.000-plus OPS. But he deserves to be rostered in more than 65% of CBS Fantasy leagues these days.
Jose Siri, Rays -- Siri homered Friday and stole a base Sunday and has seven homers and four steals in 25 games since coming off the IL. That's come with a .222 average in that span, though his overall expected average for the season of .257 would be perfectly fine given his power and speed. I think he should be rostered in all category leagues right now.
Leodys Taveras, Rangers -- Taveras went 7 for 15 with two doubles since Friday and is now hitting .395/.448/.535 in the month of May. His quality of contact metrics suggest Taveras is playing over his head, but they also suggest he's been legitimately better than ever before -- his .328 expected wOBA is by far the best of his career. Taveras has trimmed his strikeout rate to 20.4%, the lowest of his career, and he's hitting more line drives than ever, too. I prefer Siri, but Taveras has some appeal as a potential 10-homer, 20-steal guy.
Luis Garcia, Nationals -- Garcia followed up a six-hit performance Friday by going 0 for 12 over the next three games, which kind of sums up the Luis Garcia experience right now. He'll have moments of brilliance, but too rarely to ever truly buy in. He's still just 23 and has shown real growth this season, cutting his strikeout rate to 12.2% and sporting a career-high .290 expected average, but right now, it's a pretty empty average until he starts hitting for power more consistently.
Jake McCarthy, Diamondbacks -- McCarthy didn't really do much this weekend, going 3 for 11 with a couple of walks over four games. However, he did steal three bases, and that's what we need to see from him if he's going to matter. It's easier to find steals than ever before, sure, but they're still valuable if they come attached to non-zero hitting production. McCarthy still has some work to prove he can provide that, of course.
Zach McKinstry, Tigers -- McKinstry went 7 for 14 with two doubles, a homer, three steals, and three runs scored over the long weekend, and is now hitting .318/.478/.439 in the month of May. He has started nine games in a row, batting leadoff in each, with a .307 expected batting average and .502 expected slugging percentage. Little in McKinstry's track record suggests this is sustainable, but given the strong underlying metrics, I kind of think you have to add him in categories leagues just to see where it goes, especially if he starts to play more against lefties.
Jack Suwinski, Pirates -- Suwinski homered twice on both Friday and Monday, ending a 14-game homerless streak that saw him hit .174/.296/.217 with a 31.5% strikeout rate. I think we're at the point where we know what Suwinski is -- a streaky power hitter who doesn't do much when he isn't going deep -- and I think it's probably okay to ignore this little hot streak.
Injuries, news and notes
Cedric Mullins left Monday's game with a right groin adductor strain suffered while running to first base. He'll undergo further examination, but it wouldn't be a huge surprise if he ended up having to miss some time.
Owen Miller left Sunday's game after getting hit by a pitch on his forearm. X-rays were negative, so hopefully this is just a short-term issue. Miller has been hitting .330/.371/.513 through his first 124 PA.
Max Muncy was removed from Sunday's game with hamstring soreness, but it sounds like he'll be able to play Tuesday.
Lars Nootbaar exited Monday's game with lower-back spasms and is being viewed as day-to-day.
The Angels called up prospect Ben Joyce. Joyce is one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in professional baseball and has just three walks to 11 strikeouts over his past six appearances after struggling with walks earlier in the season. Carlos Estevez has been dominant as the Angels closer, so Joyce is aiming for a setup role for now, though he could become a closer candidate down the road.
Grayson Rodriguez was optioned back to Triple-A after posting a 7.35 ERA over 10 starts.
Brandon Pfaadt was sent back to the minors after posting an 8.37 ERA over five starts in the majors
Sent to the IL
Willy Adames was placed on the 7-day concussion IL. He was struck in the head by a foul ball in the dugout, and while it's only a seven-day minimum, concussions are tricky injuries, so this could very well linger. We should get updates when he's ready to return.
Thairo Estrada has a wrist injury.
Pete Fairbanks with left hip inflammation. Jason Adam should once again take over as the Rays' primary closer.
Danny Jansen with a left groin strain, which should mean more playing time for Alejandro Kirk in the short term. Tyler Heineman will be the backup, so hopefully Kirk takes advantage of this opportunity to get hot and carve out a bigger role moving forward.
Ezequiel Duran with mild right oblique discomfort. Hopefully it's just a short-term absence, but oblique injuries have a tendency to linger.
Wil Myers with kidney stones.
Vince Velasuez with right elbow discomfort. Velasquez has shown some upside this season, but with his second stint on the IL with an elbow injury, I think it's safe to drop him -- Velasquez said he expects to pitch again this season, but we're likely looking at a lengthy absence either way.
Jacob deGrom (elbow) threw a 31-pitch bullpen session Friday and was able to use all of his pitches without issue for the first time. We still don't have any kind of timetable for deGrom's return, but he's making progress, which is what we want to see.
Adam Duvall (wrist) will begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Tuesday. He was hitting .455 with four homers in eight games before the injury, and is worth adding in the 33% of leagues where he is available.
Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring) could begin a rehab assignment this week, which puts him on track to return at some point next week if he avoids setbacks -- which is, of course, never a sure thing with Stanton.
Oneil Cruz (ankle) is expected to be out of a walking boot within the next few weeks and will begin his rehab in earnest, beginning and range-of-motion exercises. Cruz is expected to be out until August at the earliest, but a timetable should begin to come into more clear focus once he takes that next step.
Triston McKenzie (shoulder) is scheduled to make a third minor-league rehab start Tuesday at Triple-A. McKenzie threw 68 pitches in his most recent outing, so he's getting close to built up for a return, and should be back in the next few weeks.
Carlos Rodon (forearm/back) threw a bullpen session Friday and Monday as he continues to work his way back from his injury.
Kenta Maeda (triceps) will begin a rehab assignment Tuesday at Triple-A. I'm not expecting much from Maeda after he gave up 16 runs in 16 innings, but we'll keep an eye on his progress to see how he looks.
Jesus Sanchez (hamstring) is expected to return from the IL Tuesday. Remember, he had a .914 OPS before the injury and is just 8% rostered, so there's some upside here.
Trevor Rogers (biceps) will begin his rehab assignment with Class A this week and will likely need a few starts to get back, at least. He remains worth stashing in most leagues just in case he figures it out.
Lance McCullers (forearm) has seemingly suffered a setback, with the team confirming Monday he is no longer throwing off a mound. I would prioritize stashing him ahead of Maeda, but behind Rogers at this point.
Phillies: Craig Kimbrel picked up saves on Friday and Saturday, and he's up to seven for the season. I think there's a chance he hangs on to the closer role even when Jose Alvarado is healthy, though it's not a guarantee, obviously.
Mets: David Robertson entered in the eighth with a three-run lead to face the top of the Rockies lineup Friday, allowing a solo homer to Charlie Blackmon but getting a hold. Brooks Raley started the ninth, allowed two baserunners, and then Adam Ottavino recorded the final two outs for his 5th save, his first since May 5. I'd still bet on Robertson getting the next save opportunity.
Nationals: Hunter Harvey got the eighth with a two-run lead, facing the 4-5-6 spots in the lineup Saturday. Kyle Finnegan struck out two in the ninth for his 11th save. Harvey looked like he might be pushing for the ninth inning role, but a three-run meltdown to lose to the Padres last week might have tipped it back in Finnegan's favor conclusively.
Dodgers: Brusdar Graterol pitched the seventh with a one-run lead, facing 9-1-2 against the Rays, followed by Evan Phillips working the eighth with a two-run lead. Phillips got the first out in the ninth and then was relieved by Caleb Ferguson who gave up a run on two hits and a walk but did pick up his 2nd save. This is still a very fluid situation, and they haven't had a ton of opportunities of late, but I'd bet on Graterol and Phillips splitting most of the opportunities moving forward.
Cardinals: Ryan Helsley recorded four outs across the eighth and ninth with the game tied Saturday, and then Giovanny Gallegos converted his sixth save, which came in extras. Gallegos has three of the last four saves for the Cardinals, though Helsley has worked the ninth inning in three of his past four outings, so I don't think there's been a changing of the guard here just yet. It's not 50-50 split, but Helsley probably won't get 100% of the opportunities either.
Diamondbacks: Andrew Chafin entered in the 7th with runners on first and second and a four-run lead, allowing a run to score. Miguel Castro later pitched the 9th and picked up his 5th save. Then Monday, Chafin entered with two outs in the 9th, a runner on first and a two-run lead, striking out Elehuris Montero for his 8th save. I guess Chafin is the guy here, but it's not an obvious situation to chase.