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Depth Chart Review: Jackson Kowar, Ke’Bryan Hayes, & Marlins Pitchers

by Corbin Young | @corbin_young21 | Featured Writer
Jun 8, 2021
Ke'Bryan Hayes fantasy baseball

Ke’Bryan Hayes is back, baby!

We’re changing it up in this week’s depth chart review and organizing it by each team. Hopefully, this helps organize information a bit better with the team and player analysis in alphabetical order. Every week, it seems we receive more and more injury news to key players in deeper leagues like Evan Longoria, Logan Webb, and Kyle Lewis. Even when players return, others suffer injuries. We observed the brief debut of Jackson Kowar that didn’t quite go as we hoped. On a positive note – Ke’Bryan Hayes is back!

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Angels

Brandon Marsh (OF – LAA) & Jo Adell (OF – LAA)
Angels outfield prospect Brandon Marsh is dealing with right shoulder inflammation. Both Marsh and Jo Adell seem atop the list of Angels outfielders with upside, but outside of Marsh’s 18.9% walk rate and .338 OBP, he struggled with one home run, 16 runs, two RBI, and one steal in 74 plate appearances at Triple-A. Given the struggles and injury for Marsh, it likely delays his callup even more although we heard mostly pessimistic reports.

Meanwhile, Jo Adell is crushing homers with 15 in 125 plate appearances with a 4.8% walk rate and 30.4% strikeout rate. It seems like there’s a need with Mike Trout’s injury, but they’re good with rolling Juan Lagares and Taylor Ward in the two other outfield spots.

Astros

Luis Garcia (SP – HOU)
In Sunday’s start against the Blue Jays, Luis Garcia pitched well. Then news broke that he left that starts with an illness, and was seen coughing on the mound.

Garcia has three straight quality starts with one earned run in each of them. On the season, he has a 2.75 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 28.8% strikeout rate, and 8.1% walk rate. Garcia’s cutter that he uses 20.9% of the time looks like one of the reasons for his success with a 25.7% swinging-strike rate and .145 wOBA allowed. Hopefully, Garcia is feeling better as many fantasy managers have relied on him. 

Brewers

Kolten Wong (2B – MIL)
Brewers’ second baseman Kolten Wong hits the injured list with an oblique strain once again. Not a great sign, and he’s worth hanging onto in 15-team leagues. However, in 12-team leagues, fantasy managers could consider cutting Wong if their bench and injured spots are all full though I’d like to hold onto him where I can. This transaction could open up playing time for Keston Hiura and/or possibly Luis Urías that plays a utility role of the Brewers. Oops, this was written before Monday with the Hiura news. 

Keston Hiura (1B/2B – MIL)
The Brewers optioned Keston Hiura to Triple-A on Monday. It seems like Daniel Vogelbach will earn more consistent playing time at first base while Luis Urías sees his playing time locked in. Urías is a bit interesting because he typically hit 8th or 9th in the lineup, but with Wong out, Urías moves up to the leadoff role. In four straight games, Urías batted leadoff, which could lead to better run-scoring opportunities and maybe a slight increase in stolen base opportunities.

Cardinals

Jack Flaherty (SP – STL) & Kwang Hyun Kim (SP – STL)
The Cardinals couldn’t afford to lose Jack Flaherty given their lack of starting pitcher depth. Unfortunately, Flaherty suffered an oblique injury while swinging (killing me smalls). Initial reports sound like Flaherty will miss quite a bit of time and potentially returning in mid-July.

On Friday, Kwang Hyun Kim left the game with a back issue. Kim left after 47 pitches with two hits, three earned runs, zero walks, and three strikeouts in three innings. He doesn’t rack up strikeouts with a 20% strikeout rate and 7.3% walk rate though he’s more known for stabilizing ratios. Maybe Daniel Ponce de Leon benefits from these injuries, but he hasn’t pitched well in 2021 with a 7.71 ERA in 18.2 innings primarily in relief. It’s also difficult to find any pitching prospects coming up that would make a significant impact, meaning stay away for now. 

Update: Kim landed on the 10-day injured list with a back injury. This isn’t great news because Kim battled back injuries earlier in the season.

Giants

Logan Webb (SP – SF)
After a recent solid outing against the Dodgers with one earned run and seven strikeouts, Logan Webb oddly landed back on the injured list. Earlier in the season, Webb dealt with a shoulder strain, which could indicate that he’s not fully recovered yet. In Webb’s last start against the Dodgers, he didn’t have any dip in velocity outside a 0.2 mph drop on his slider while the rest increased 0.6-0.8 mph more. It looks like Scott Kazmir takes his spot, but he’s not someone I’m actively targeting even in 15-team leagues. 

Mike Yastrzemski (OF – SF)

The Giants placed Mike Yastrzemski on the injured list with a right thumb sprain. Yastrzemski suffered this injury after a catch attempt where he collided with the wall. He’s hitting .222 with a .787 OPS, six home runs, 25 tuns, 15 RBI, and one steal. Typically, Yastrzemski is better in OBP formats given his double-digit walk rate. Interestingly, his 8.8% barrel rate dropped from 11.2% in 2019 and 10.9% in 2020. Regardless, when healthy, Yastrzemski is a solid contributor.

Austin Slater and Steven Duggar should earn playing time, but Duggar is more of a deep league waiver wire target than Slater. Keep in mind, Slater as a lefty and Duggar as a righty may not receive everyday playing time. When Duggar plays, he produces with four home runs, 15 runs, 14 RBI, and one steal with a .309 batting average. However, he only received 88 plate appearances in 33 games played. Slater on the other hand boasts seven home runs and seven steals yet a .223 batting average. With Slater’s profile, it’s no surprise that he’s rostered in a high percentage of 15-team leagues. 

Evan Longoria (3B – SF)
Late Saturday night, Evan Longoria and Brandon Crawford collided on a ground ball. Longoria left the game since he hurt his shoulder/collar bone area. He boasted career-best hard-hit stats with a 15.1% barrel rate, 113.2 mph maximum exit velocity, and 61.3% hard-hit rate. Longoria landed on the 10-day injured list with a left shoulder sprain. He’ll miss at least 4-6 weeks, which means he’s droppable in 15-team leagues if your bench is filling up with injured players and no IL spots. Wilmer Flores and Mauricio Dubón will earn additional playing time. 

Mariners

Kyle Lewis (OF – SEA)
Unfortunately, the injury bug keeps biting Kyle Lewis as he’s dealing with a similar injury he suffered in Spring Training this year. The Mariners placed Lewis on the IL with a right meniscus tear, and early indications note Lewis will miss significant time. 

In 147 plate appearances, Lewis had five home runs, 15 runs, 11 RBI, and two steals with a .246 batting average and .726 OPS. Lewis kept improving his chase rate with a 25.4% O-Swing% this season though the zone and overall contact rates remained the same and rated below the league average. 

The notable transactions relevant to Lewis’ injury involve Jarred Kelenic moving to center field and Taylor Trammell recalled. Trammell made a statement in his first game back with a solo home run against the Athletics. We need to see a bit more consistency from Trammell before he becomes a must-add in 15-team leagues. Jake Fraley is also a deep league consideration for power/speed.

Yusei Kikuchi (SP – SEA)
After six straight quality starts with a 2.77 ERA, Yusei Kikuchi left Saturday’s game after taking a batted ball off his leg. Kikuchi was diagnosed with a right knee contusion. He exited after throwing 64 pitches with five hits, four runs (two earned), zero walks, and eight strikeouts with the potential for a seventh straight quality start. Hopefully, Kikuchi doesn’t miss much time since he displayed reliability and upside as a late-round pick in 15-team leagues. 

Part of his success involved lowering the walks to 7.5%, a large increase in F-Strike% (66.2%), and an increased swinging-strike rate (13.5%) that led to a career-best 31.3% CSW%. Even Kikuchi’s slider improved its vertical movement by 3.3 inches versus 2.1 inches when compared to the average slider. That said, hold onto Kikuchi even if he lands on the injured list with his upside and reliability at this point.

Update: The injury update for Kikuchi involves a bone bruise and right knee inflammation. As of Monday, no IL stint yet.

Jarred Kelenic (OF – SEA)
Just like Keston Hiura, Jared Kelenic was optioned to Triple-A on Monday. In Kelenic’s first 50 plate appearances, he hit two home runs, four runs, five RBI, and one steal with a .174 batting average. This came with a 68 wRC+. From then on, Kelenic went hitless in 42 plate appearances with three runs, one RBI, and two steals with a -51 wRC+. Logically, it makes sense to see Kelenic sent back down. However, hang onto him where you can because prospect growth isn’t linear. Kelenic is known for his work ethic, and I expect him to turn it around in 2021. If not in 2021, then I want him everywhere in 2022.

Marlins

After we waited two months for Elieser Hernandez, he debuted on Thursday, then landed on the injured list with a quad injury. Shake my head – it’s a quad injury from running the bases. We need the universal designated hitter. Since he already landed on the injured list a day after his injury, Hernandez looks droppable even in 15-team leagues. 

Unfortunately, Cody Poteet also left with an injury on Friday, which eats at the Marlins starting pitching depth. Keep an eye on the Marlins trio of pitching prospects in Sixto Sánchez, Braxton Garrett, and Edward Cabrera. Fortunately, they’re all on the 40-man roster, so they could receive the call with the pitching injuries. We’re less optimistic on Sánchez since Craig Mish noted he’s dealing with shoulder discomfort.

That said, maybe Garrett and Cabrera have the leg up on the callup. In the majors, Garrett threw three innings in 2021 and 7.2 innings in 2020, but we can’t find many takeaways from such a small sample of innings. Meanwhile, Cabrera hasn’t pitched in the minor leagues after dealing with a right biceps injury in mid-February 2021. However, on Sunday, Cabrera made a rehab start, yay!

That tells us, Garrett could be the likeliest candidate amongst any healthy pitching prospects with a 4.12 ERA in 19.2 innings at Triple-A in 2021. However, per Prospects Live, maybe we shouldn’t actively target Garrett since he ranks No. 24 amongst Marlins prospects. 

The sneaky play – Max Meyer the No. 3 overall draft pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. At Double-A, Meyer has a 1.96 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 24.4% strikeout rate, and 8.9% walk rate in 23 innings. Prospects Live ranks Meyer as the Marlins No. 1 overall prospect. Although Meyer isn’t on the 40-man roster, the Prospects Live notes make us quite intrigued. Max Meyer grades as having an above-average fastball and changeup with a 70-grade slider. All that comes with above-average command and plus control, meaning there’s some sexy upside with all those tools. However, as a 2020 draftee, Meyer may not come up in 2021 but monitor his name. 

Garrett Cooper (1B/OF – MIA)
Over the weekend, Garrett Cooper didn’t start in either game due to back stiffness. Hopefully, Cooper doesn’t hit the injured list because he has hit well over the past two weeks with two home runs, four runs, and seven RBI while slashing .368/.455/.579. When healthy and hitting well, Cooper is someone to roster in 15-team leagues. 

Since Cooper plays a bit of a utility role where he bounces from first base and outfield, it doesn’t look like any clear beneficiary outside of Jon Berti or Lewis Brinson earning an extra day or two of playing time. Berti is more relevant in 15-team leagues and we’re not ready to rely on Brinson yet. 

Update: Cooper rejoined the Marlins lineup on Monday. He went hitless in four at-bats against the Red Sox.

Mets

Both J.D. Davis & Brandon Nimmo are slowly progressing with their injuries. Davis isn’t swinging yet and Nimmo is taking light swings. Both Davis and Nimmo performed well before hitting the injured list, so try to stash and hang onto them in 15-team leagues.

Orioles

Paul Fry (RP – BAL)
In 15-team leagues, one could consider reliever Paul Fry of the Orioles for potential saves with rumors he could receive more save opportunities. In 22.2 innings, Fry has a 1.99 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 36.7% strikeout rate, and 11.1% walk rate. Fry’s velocity on the four-seamer keeps on climbing with 90.7 mph in 2019, 92.8 mph in 2020, and 93.5 mph in 2021. Unsurprisingly, Fry’s swinging-strike rate jumped to a career-best at 10.2% on the four-seamer. Unfortunately, the Orioles won’t have many save chances, so tread lightly with Fry or consider churning as necessary. 

John Means (SP – BAL)
On Sunday, John Means underwent an MRI after leaving Saturday’s game with shoulder fatigue. Means left after only 29 pitches thrown in 0.2 innings with three hits, two earned runs, and one strikeout. The velocity on all of his pitches was up on Saturday of at least 1 mph or more. Keep stashing Means for now with the solid 2.28 ERA and 0.83 WHIP in 71 innings so far. 

Update: Means landed on the 10-day injured list with a left shoulder strain. Keep hanging on in all formats and I wouldn’t target any Orioles starting pitcher to fill in at this time. 

Pirates

Paging Brendan Tuma, Ke’Bryan Hayes is back baby! Do you remember using a pager? No? I’m just old then. After only playing two games to start the 2021 season, Hayes finally returned on June 3rd and he went 2-for-4 with one triple. Then on Friday, Hayes smashed his second home run of the season with a 100.5 mph exit velocity. Hopefully, fantasy managers hung onto Hayes although admittedly, I almost cut him in a 12-team league since my entire bench and injured list spots were full of players on the IL. Hayes has a hit in four straight games since returning, we love to see it.

Although I’m not a Pirates fan, I’m happy to see Colin Moran returning from the injured list on Sunday. In 122 plate appearances before the injury, Moran hit four home runs, ten runs, 19 RBI, and one steal with a .297 batting average and .821 OPS. He’s a must-add in 15-team leagues if he’s on waivers. Let’s see the Moran breakout season train keep going. 

Rockies

Rockies’ starting pitcher Jon Gray landed on the 10-day injured list with a right flexor strain. However, Rockies manager Bud Black noted that Gray’s elbow doesn’t have any structural damage based on the MRI.

Gray is borderline cuttable in 15-team leagues even though he rocks a decent 4.29 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. Except that comes with an 18.5% strikeout rate and 10% walk rate. 

Royals

Adalberto Mondesi (SS – KC) 
I love Adalberto Mondesi, and, unfortunately, he hits the IL again. This time, it’s due to the hamstring injury, which is worrisome given his speed and stolen base potential. Nicky Lopez should earn more playing time as he did earlier in the season. The Royals have the second-most stolen bases as a team, which means they like to run. Although Lopez doesn’t provide a ton of power, he has five steals with 25 runs scored in 173 plate appearances. He’s worth picking up in 15-team leagues for steals. 

Jackson Kowar (SP – KC)
On Sunday, the Royals announce that Jackson Kowar will receive the call and start on Monday. The Royals made room for Kowar by optioning Jakob Junis. At Triple-A, Kowar had a 0.85 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 33.9% strikeout rate, and 8.3% walk rate. In last week’s depth chart review, I highlighted Kowar as someone to put on your watch list. Turns out, Kowar is someone to add in all 15-team leagues with 12-team relevancy. Below is what I noted about Kowar last week.

According to Prospects Live, Kowar grades as having a plus fastball and changeup with an average curveball. However, Kowar has 50-grade control and 45-grade command, which isn’t terrible, but the Prospects Live evaluators note that Kowar will need to improve in these areas. The Royals may not have a spot if/when Danny Duffy returns, but Kowar could fill in for Ervin Santana if he receives the call. Not a must-add by any means, but someone to put on the watch list.

Update: Kowar didn’t fare well in his MLB debut with 39 pitches in 0.2 innings of work. He allowed three hits, four earned runs, and two walks with zero strikeouts. It’s difficult to find many takeaways other than Kowar relied on his four-seam (51%) and changeup (44%). In 15-team leagues, nothing to do other than stash and hold. The same goes for 12-team leagues, be patient.

Tigers

Spencer Turnbull (SP – DET)
Tigers starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull left Friday’s game with right forearm tightness. We didn’t notice any dip in velocity on Turnbull’s pitches, which can be a good sign. However, the term “forearm tightness” worries us for pitchers. On Saturday, the Tigers placed Turnbull on the 10-day injured list due to a forearm strain. 

José Ureña returned on Sunday after also dealing with a forearm strain, and he could take Turnbull’s spot in the rotation. Or maybe Michael Fulmer moves out of the closer committee in the short term. For Ureña, he had a four-game stretch of quality starts where he pitched seven innings. Then a few rocky starts before landing on the injured list. Ureña is an interesting deep-league streamer, but I’d prefer to wait and see before actively adding. 

Yankees

Looking for a hitter with 80-grade power, then look no further than Chris Gittens. Unfortunately, no one seemed to understand my joke “anyone giddy about Gittens” in the MLB News Desk Slack chat. Anyway, Gittens grades as having 80-grade power per FanGraphs with his frame of 6-foot-4 and 250-pounds. At Triple-A, Gittens hit four home runs with a .283 batting average and 1.071 OPS. With Luke Voit injured, maybe he sneaks in some time at first base or designated hitter from time to time. Just a name to put on the radar in deeper leagues. 

Update: Gittens started on Saturday and Sunday at first base while batting 6th. He went hitless in eight plate appearances.

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