***For clarification, from what I’ve gathered, “Bour” is pronounced the same as “bore” or “boar.” Not pronounced the same as “Bauer.”
So maybe Marlins first baseman Justin Bour is portly shaped like a boar at 6’4″/250 lbs., but he is proving to be far from a bore as he began to see some regular playing time even before Mike Morse landed on the DL. But now that Morse is on the DL, the first base job would appear to be Bour’s to runaway with, and so far so good for the 27-year old left-handed slugger.
Consider this: Bour now has 4 HR on the season and the pitchers he has taken deep are Jordan Zimmermann, Brad Brach, Gerrit Cole, and now Matt Harvey after Friday’s bomb that proved to be the game winner for the Marlins. That’s 3 of the top starting pitchers in the National League and also pitchers that do not allow a whole lot of home runs. He is now hitting .361 with 4 HR, and 9 RBI in 61 AB.
I’ve been talking about Bour and his power potential for a few days now, and he really needs to be owned in more leagues. Yes, he’s not going to hit in the high .300’s, and chances are that he won’t even hit anywhere above .300, but Bour is a hitter who has never shown any significant propensity to striking out. His Minor League career strikeout rate is a respectable 17.5% and he never once struck out at a 20% clip at any stop in the Minors. In limited action last year with the Marlins, he did strikeout 22.9% of the time, but this season in 14 games at AAA he struck out just 9.7% of the time. And in his time in the Majors so far this season, he is at a very nice 15.2% mark. So he does appear to have a greater feel for the strike zone than most hitters that carry his type of power potential, which is a big plus when mining for up and coming power hitters.
About that power potential, Bour’s yearly best total in his professional career was 23 HR at high-A ball in 2011. But in 2013 and 2014 at AA and AAA, Bour’s HR per AB rate was 1 HR every 19.5 AB. And now at 27 years old, Bour should be entering his prime where his power potential could achieve new levels. Bour may not see regular playing time against left-handed pitching in his first extended go-round in the Majors, but he is looking like a very nice play against righties at the very least, as he is being inserted into the cleanup role right behind Giancarlo Stanton.
So if you are in the need of some power then it wouldn’t hurt to give Bour a go, as he likely won’t kill your team in AVG either. I would think of him along the same lines of Adam Lind.
Now let’s see what else happened on Friday’s slate!
Jorge Soler – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 2 K. Soler hit is 4th HR of the season on Friday, but it’s been a struggle for him in his first full year in the bigs. He has been having a really hard time putting the ball in play this year as he has the 5th highest strikeout rate in the Majors. His weakness is pretty much anything offspeed, but sliders in particular eat him up. He is by far the worst in the Majors at hitting the slider at -6.2 runs below average on the pitch. Until he starts proving that he can hit the offspeed stuff, there really is no other reason for pitchers to throw him anything else, which really clouds my outlook on the 23-year old. Due to a .400 BABIP his AVG doesn’t look bad at .276, but if he keeps striking out at this pace then he’ll find himself hitting .250 or lower soon as his BABIP comes down a bit.
Addison Russell – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. Russell is another one of the young Cubbies that is an exciting player with what should be a good future, but he also is striking out at an off the chart rate. He has struck out 35.9% of the time, which would be the 3rd highest if he qualified with enough plate appearances. However, in the Minors he showed much greater contact skills. So he can improve a lot in that area, he is just going to need some more seasoning. Like Soler, he also got a hold of one on Friday for his 4th HR of the year. Russell’s fantasy value though is severely limited by batting 9th for the Cubs everyday.
Greg Holland – 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K. It was going to be a save situation for Holland until the Royals tacked on an extra run in the top of the 9th inning, so that is a bummer for Holland owners. Holland pitched a perfect inning with 2 strikeouts, but once again his fastball didn’t have the same zip on it as he averaged 93.5 MPH with it, which is right in line with his season average. I’ve been saying that he is “sell” material and nothing from this outing has changed my opinion. If anything though, this outing should be able to help Holland owners trade him as you can use this clean inning to suggest that he’s back to form. Check out my post “Mr. Holland’s Opus Is Not Music to My Ears” from a couple weeks ago for more information.
Edinson Volquez – 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 9 K. Volquez was once able to rack up a good amount of strikeouts, but his strikeout rate has declined in each of the last four seasons from 9.62 K/9 to 6.54 K/9. And now that he is back in the American League after spending the past 7 seasons in the National League, it’s hard to expect any type of rebound in the strikeout department. But he pitched in a National League park at Wrigley Field against the Cubs on Friday, so he was able to rack up his highest strikeout total of the season with 9. That’s what pitching against a young Cubs team will do — they can put up a lot of runs but will also strike out a lot. With a 2.95 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, Volquez has been a nice signing for the Royals, but he should definitely start to see some regression in the WHIP area at the very least.
Cole Hamels – 8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K with the L. Hamels looked sharp again even though he took the loss. He continues to build his trade value for the Phillies and should be pitching for a contender come summertime, which will boost his win-loss record potential.
Troy Tulowitzki – 4 for 4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R. Tulo homered twice on Friday and it was the first time he homered since April 25. That’s a 92 AB homerless streak. He’s still got a lot of ground to make up for.
Chad Bettis – 8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K with the W. Bettis now has back back to back games where he completed 8 innings having allowed just 2 hits and no runs. That is pretty impressive and maybe I was wrong about him, perhaps he deserves at least some attention in deeper fantasy leagues. It would appear that he’s altered his pitch arsenal a bit, which could be a reason for his success. He has been using his fastball less and is opting to change speeds more often with a changeup and a slow curveball in lieu of a slider that he used to use. With the change in arsenal, Bettis has been able to induce a little more ground balls than years past, which is a great thing for a Rockies pitcher since Coors Field has the thin air to aid fly balls out of the park. I would still exercise caution with him though because of his home park, but he was once a control artist in his early seasons in the Minors, and he can miss some bats with that curveball that he’s becoming comfortable with.
A.J. Ramos – 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K with the SV. Ramos didn’t pitch a clean inning, but it was hardly his fault. He allowed a single and then that base runner advanced to 2nd on a pitch in the dirt, but the runner appeared to be out. Manager Dan Jennings inexplicably opted not to challenge the play despite it being a crucial play in a game that was in the 9th inning. There really was no harm in challenging the play I didn’t think. So the game went on and the next play was a bloop single that fell in as two of the Marlins fielders collided, which allowed the runner to score from 2nd. So Ramos was not hit hard at all and was a victim of some poor luck for a run to cross home plate. He is still the man to close for the Marlins and he has looked great in the role.
Lucas Duda – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 2 K. The Dude homers again and is finally making his power numbers look more in line with what he did last season, plus he’s got the higher AVG to boot thanks to a vast improvement against left-handed pitching that I have chronicled in “Duda Do Thaaaaat?” Check it out!
Matt Harvey – 8 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 11 K with the L. Harvey was victimized by the Justin Bour 3-run HR, otherwise he would have had a sparkling outing. Nonetheless, it was still a strong effort from Harvey, as the 11 K show that he is on point and just as good as he was before his Tommy John surgery.
Chris Davis – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K. That’s now 4 HR in the last 4 games for Davis to give him a line of .228 AVG, 12 HR, 30 RBI, 26 R, and 0 SB. You know the drill with him — lots of HR but lots of K’s to keep his AVG down.
Miguel Gonzalez – 8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K. I’ve said it before that this guy just seems to pull some really good outings of his hat and is always finishing the season with better numbers than I expect. He reminds me of Kyle Lohse in that regard, except with a little more strikeout upside. Gonzalez is now 5-3 with a 3.48 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 50 K/22 BB in 62 IP and he makes for a decent fantasy option.
Nate Karns – 6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. A strong performance for Karns, but he can’t live off the low BABIP (.228) forever. He’s got a strikeout per inning potential, but should be more of a high 3’s/low 4’s ERA guy with a WHIP around 1.30 due to his high walk rate and low BABIP that should be normalizing soon.
Stephen Strasburg – 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K. Strasburg departed the game early with what is being called “neck tightness.” The guy just isn’t right as I suggested in “Hitters Feasting on Some Strasburgers.” Whether it’s his neck, shoulder, arm, ankle… he’s just not right. He’s going to land on the DL, but I wouldn’t necessarily abandon ship because he’s likely a guy that you spent a lot of $ or a high draft pick on. Perhaps a stint on the DL to give him some rest to recover from all that may be bothering him is what he needs to correct himself.
Josh Hamilton – 2 for 3, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB. I hate this guy for his detrimental performance for the Angels, but apparently he likes to hit knuckleballs as he took Steve Wright deep twice on Friday.
Hanley Ramirez – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. Back to back games with a HR for Hanley. It appears he’s out of his May funk and ready to hit the ground running as June approaches.
Brad Ziegler – 1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K with the SV. Ziegler gave up a run in a save opportunity and isn’t looking so sharp. Meanwhile Addison Reed pitched 1.2 scoreless innings with a couple of K’s to earn the win. As I have alluded to before, this blow-pen situation is not worth the headache as it can go back and forth all season long. But if I were to bet on it, I would say Reed regains the closer role eventually and goes on to collect more saves than Ziegler the rest of the way.
Adam Lind – 3 for 3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R. Right on cue, Lind might be busting out of his slump. Start him versus those righties.
Preston Tucker – 2 for 5, 1 R. The left-handed hitting Tucker found himself in that 3-spot in the Astros lineup yet again despite the opposing team having a tough lefty on the mound, and he is quickly gaining some steam in the fantasy world, though I have been mentioning him for the past couple weeks now as someone to keep an eye on and worth a grab. He’s got power potential that won’t kill your AVG since he doesn’t strike out a ton.
Lance McCullers – 4.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. The 21-year old McCullers certainly has a good arm with some nice stuff, but like many young pitchers trying to break into the league, he’s got some control issues. It’s something that I have been mentioning a lot lately with these pitching prospects, and it’s hard to trust them from game to game. McCullers was looking pretty good for a while in this start, but he just ran into a lot of trouble in the 5th inning and he isn’t very efficient with his pitch count. With that said, he still has looked pretty good this season and is certainly worth an add in deeper leagues just for his strikeout potential alone. He is 1-0 with a 2.40 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and 18 K/5 BB in 15 IP over 3 starts.
Carlos Rodon – 6.1 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K. Speaking of young pitchers with control issues, here’s another one who actually didn’t walk a single batter in his start on Friday. Outings where that happens for Rodon should be few and far between and I expect him to struggle with his control all season long, not making him a great bet for 2015. But he’s got great prospect pedigree and is a keeper for future years.
Josh Donaldson – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R. DONG-aldson. He continues to terrorize AL pitching.
Mark Buehrle – 9 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K with the W. This was rather impressive for Buehrle, considering that he gave up 4 runs in the 1st inning. He went on to be near perfect the rest of the way. However, he’s well past his heyday and is never really a recommended fantasy play due to his severe lack of strikeouts. But as a Major League pitcher, eating up inning and giving his team a chance to win, he has long been one of the most consistent and reliable lefties in the game.
John Lackey – 7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K with the W. Impressive showing for the man with the Kermit the Frog voice. He’s not flashy, but he gets the job done a good portion of the time. He’s now 3-3 with a 2.83 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 47 K/17 BB in 63.2 IP. And to think that his base salary is a mere $500,000 this season. What a steal for the Cardinals, and they even voluntarily added incentives to his contract this year to give him a chance to earn more. Have to love that Cardinals organization.
Mike Bolsinger – 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K with the L. A quality start from Bolsinger, but overall not very pretty from a fantasy perspective. Check out “Is Bolsinger a Bullsh**ter?” for more analysis on the Dodgers pitcher.
Albert Pujols – 3 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R. Pujols is on a bit of a flurry in the past few days to bring his AVG all the way up to .250. Pujols used to be able to hit .300 with great consistency, but with his slowed down speed and his propensity to either hit the ball weakly on the ground or pop it up, he likely won’t be sniffing .300 ever again.
Hector Santiago – 7.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K with the W. Santiago continued his impressive season with a strong showing against the Tigers, but he is out-pitching his SIERA by over 2 full runs, so he’s going to start seeing a rise in his ERA as his strand rate begins to normalize. He could finish with an ERA around 3.50 by season’s end, and anything better than that would be a surprise bonus.
Sonny Gray – 8 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K with the W. Gray was back in action after leaving his last start early after being struck on the ankle by a comebacker. It looks like there were no ill effects and he carried on with his great year.
Brian McCann – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. That’s 4 straight games with a HR for McCann to bring him up to a .253 AVG, 8 HR, 32 RBI, 23 R, and 0 SB. What’s impressive with this HR streak is that 2 of them have come on the road where he has struggled mightily since becoming a Yankee. At Yankee Stadium, as a left-handed hitter, he is able to take advantage of that short porch in RF. So to see him hit some bombs on the road in a more pitcher friendly park in Oakland is a pleasant surprise.
Trevor Bauer – 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 10 K with the L. A strong strikeout effort from Bauer and he lowered his ERA under 3.00 in the process. I very much like Bauer this year and if he can get that walk rate to come down some more then he is going to be a dominant force.
Taijuan Walker – 8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K with the W. What? Where did this outing come from? Taijuan entered the game with a 7.33 ERA so this was completely out of left field. Walker has been on the unlucky side of things this year, but he also just hasn’t been very good at all. With a extremely nice performance in Spring Training, it was expected that he would be able to carry over that success to the regular season. But alas, it just goes to show how Spring Training numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt. I would still continue to bench Walker unless he has a plus plus matchup.
Fernando Rodney – 1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K with the SV. Okay, this is just getting outrageous now. Rodney has converted 7 of his 8 save opportunities in May, but he has allowed runs in 7 of his 10 appearances in May. His days as the Mariners closer are numbered, and Carson Smith is a must add in all leagues as I have been saying for a while now. Check out “BLOW-PEN Report: Fernando Rodney and His Broken Arrow” for more information.
Derek Norris – 1 for 5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R, 4 K. Norris was wearing the golden sombrero (0 for 4 with 4 K) before slugging a walkoff grand slam. Well, that’s one way to atone for not doing anything previously in the game. Norris has been a solid run producer for the Padres with 32 RBI, and should continue to be a solid fantasy performer as he continues to get full-time starts for the first time in his career. The 4 HR total isn’t great, but he has the potential to hit 15 or more, especially with the way that Petco Park is playing as more of a hitters park than years past.
Matt Kemp – 0 for 4, 2 K. Kemp is now hitting .171 in May with 31 K/3 BB, and he has not homered since April 18. Yikes. Good riddance says the Dodgers.
Francisco Liriano – 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 K. Another double digit strikeout performance for Liriano. I said it after his last start that when he is on top of his game, he is as unhittable as any pitcher in baseball. He was left with a no-decision after his defense and bullpen ruined it, so his record still holds at a poor 2-4, but the 3.47 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 75 K/24 BB in 59.2 IP suggest that he has been near ace-like.
Mike Foltynewicz – 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K with the L. Walks were Folty’s big issue in the Minors, but he has now walked just 1 batter in each of his last 3 starts after walking at least 3 in his first 3 starts. Folty’s got some big strikeout upside with the type of heat that he throws with a couple quality breaking pitches, so if he can continue to limit the walks then he’s going to be a must grab in fantasy leagues. However, just due to his track record, my confidence in him in doing so is not great. He is now 3-2 with a 3.96 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and 38 K/13 BB in 36.1 IP.