There are dozens of fantasy stories from any given night in baseball. Here are a few of the things that caught my eye Monday:
Monday night's fantasy baseball lessons
• By the component stats, the main stoppers in the Giants bullpen aren’t wiping people out. Camilo Doval has a 4.26 FIP, while Jake McGee’s is over 5. But Doval has been the man at the end of the game more often than not, and we have to consider that.
Doval picked up his fourth save of the year Monday at Milwaukee, while McGee worked the eighth (and allowed a solo homer to Willy Adames). Doval was also San Francisco’s dedicated closer at the end of last year, though it coincided with a McGee injury. Perhaps the greatest thing in Doval’s corner is gravity — he’s 24 years old, while McGee is 35. Doval also has four extra tickets on his fastball — he’s getting it up there at 97.3 mph, while McGee’s No. 1 clocks at 93.6 this year (down slightly from last season).
We know Gabe Kapler can be a creative manager, and he’ll likely trip us up at some point this year, whether it follows convention or not. But at this point in time, I’m figuring Doval is likely headed for 20 or more saves.
• It was surprising to see the Astros do little against an ordinary Rangers pitching staff, but at least Kyle Tucker is trending in the right direction. He collected three singles and stole his second base of the year. He’s still slotted sixth in the Houston lineup — lefty Michael Brantley batted second, slugger Yordan Alvarez hit fourth — but those things have a way of sorting themselves out.
Tucker’s batting average is now .169, in direct conflict with the quality of his contact. Statcast data suggests he should be batting .294. This is bad luck, screaming at us. And remember Tucker overcame a slow start last year and was slashing .294/.359/.557 at season’s end.
I still think Tucker is a future MVP in this league, and if you were discussing him in a trade now, I would continue to put a top-15 value on him. He’s fine. Patience is all that’s required here.
• Brandon Nimmo’s two-run homer was the big blow as the Mets overcame the Cardinals in the ninth. Can we finally get a healthy full season from Nimmo? He’s a perfect fit at the top of the New York lineup, slashing .292/.393/.563. He runs well, gets on base easily, has a bit of pop. If Nimmo can find even 140 starts this year, he’ll sail over 100 runs.
On the other side of things, Tommy Edman might have saved his leadoff spot after all. Edman began the year in the bottom third of the St. Louis lineup — having me worried about his fantasy prospects; he was on my fade list — but he’s off to a .294/.390/.529 start, while others have slumped.
Edman’s quick start was particularly important given the Cardinals shifted to new manager Oliver Marmol this year; any goodwill Edman built up with Mike Shildt in the past was gone. Every slot you move down in the batting over, over the course of a season, costs you about 15 at-bats. So the difference between a leadoff gig and a lower-third gig is enormous.
• Jazz Chisholm is another player who might have avoided the slot of death. He opened the year slotted eighth or ninth just about every night, but a quick start has earned Chisholm the promotion back to the team’s No. 1 position. He’s still striking out a bunch — 14 times in all — but a .295/.340/.727 slash will play in any format, and he’s collected four homers and four steals. Some scouts insist Chisholm is still a bit raw as a major-league player, but I can’t quibble with anything Chisholm has shown thus far. Smooth Jazz, indeed.
• We’re still waiting for the true Kyle Gibson to stand up. He was a 2.87 ERA man with Texas last year, over 19 starts, then collapsed to a 5.09 ERA after joining the Phillies (11 starts). He pitched a little better than the Philly stats might suggest (his FIP was 4.40), but the hometown defense is a cross all Philadelphia pitchers have to bear.
Gibson’s been steady in three of his fourth turns this year, including a win over the Rockies on Monday. A 3.47 ERA will play in any format, his WHIP is under 1 and he’s striking out a batter per inning while keeping his walks under 3/9. His FIP is in line with his front-door ERA, so we can probably take Gibson at face value. He’s crept over the 50 percent that we use for suggested pickups, but that current 65-percent number still looks low to me. He’ll draw a decent challenge at the Mets on the weekend.