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10 Burning Questions: Gerrit Cole, Pablo Lopez, Bryan Woo (Fantasy Baseball)

10 Burning Questions: Gerrit Cole, Pablo Lopez, Bryan Woo (Fantasy Baseball)

This was an interesting week for fantasy baseball teams. While there are injury scares to some of the best hitters in the game, there are also signs of other stars close to returning. This was also the week we saw multiple prospects asked to make their debuts to assist their major league teams. It gives fantasy baseball managers new questions while deciding on their waiver claims and setting their lineups. Ten of those fantasy baseball burning questions can be found below.

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10 Burning Fantasy Baseball Questions

What is Bryan Woo doing to be so dominant?

It was a late start to the season for Bryan Woo. He began the season on the injured list with right elbow inflammation. He is making up for lost time with his performance this season.

Woo has made six starts covering 33.2 innings. His ERA is a minuscule 1.07 and his WHIP is an absurdly low 0.54. The biggest change from last year to this year has been limiting walks. He has issued just two walks. While the newfound control is nice, much of his success has been driven by unsustainable luck, including a .165 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and an 85% strand rate. He’ll continue to be a usable fantasy pitcher when that inevitably corrects, but not this dominant.

How do the Astros deal with the loss of Cristian Javier?

The Houston Astros lost two starting pitchers with Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy needing Tommy John John surgery this week. It’s another in a long line of injuries for Urquidy, who has yet to pitch this season. Javier was expected to be an integral part of the rotation.

The emergence of Ronel Blanco has lessened the need for Javier. Blanco has been a bit worse in his past few starts but still holds a 2.78 ERA. The team has been using one of their pitching prospects, Spencer Arrighetti, in the fifth starter position. He will likely be the odd man out when Luis Garcia returns from his Tommy John surgery recovery. He threw his first bullpen session of the season this past week and is targeting a return around the All-Star break.

When can we realistically expect Gerrit Cole back in the major leagues?

Gerrit Cole continues to progress in his recovery from nerve inflammation that shut him down during spring training. Last week, we saw him make two rehab starts at Double-A Somerset. In total, he has pitched eight innings. He has yet to issue a walk and struck out nine batters. In the first game, he threw 45 pitches. In the second, he threw 57.

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone gave us an update on what Cole’s timeline could look like going forward. He mentioned that Cole will require a minimum of one more rehab assignment. After his first rehab appearance, he referenced three starts as a possibility but that was subject to change. Assuming everything goes as planned, we may see Cole this month.

What has happened to Pablo Lopez?

Pablo Lopez was supposed to be the ace of fantasy squads but has not performed like one so far. His current ERA is 5.45 with a 1.23 WHIP. Fantasy managers are asking themselves what has happened and whether it can be corrected.

The good news is that it can be corrected. The only real difference between last season and this season is a few more balls leaving the park. Because of that, his strand rate has dropped and his ERA has risen. What’s strange is that while he is giving up more home runs, the home run rate has fallen league-wide. When that is corrected, he should go back to providing top-notch production.

Which new pitching prospect should we roster for fantasy baseball?

We saw a trio of highly regarded pitching prospects make their debuts last week. San Diego Padres’ Adam Mazur delivered a quality start for the Padres in his first start but then struggled with eight earned runs in only three innings in his second try. Baltimore Orioles’ Cade Povich struggled during his start, leading to six earned runs in only 5.1 innings. Atlanta Braves’ Hurston Waldrep allowed seven earned runs in under four innings.

None of the three is a must-roster pitcher. When prioritizing adding a prospect pitch, consider who will most likely remain with their major league team. Due to injuries, each team has current needs in the rotation. Povich with Baltimore is the most likely to be demoted as the team already has five starters. Mazur’s struggles in his second start weren’t encouraging and Yu Darvish may return shortly. Waldrep’s results weren’t what we wanted, but he showed the most ability to generate whiffs, making him the most attractive.

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What is the latest update on Juan Soto‘s forearm?

The Yankees game on Thursday had a long rain delay. When the delay was over, Juan Soto was pulled from the lineup and fantasy managers held their breath. We haven’t seen Soto in a game since, but that could change soon.

Nothing is guaranteed when players return from injury, but the team expects Soto to be available tonight against the Royals. Fantasy owners who set weekly lineups have a tough decision to make if he is out. If he is not in the lineup today, I will still be starting him, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for playing it cautiously and sitting him, especially in leagues where you can change your lineups on Friday.

What has happened with Camilo Doval‘s ratios?

In the first three seasons of his career, Camilo Doval’s worst ERA was 3.00 and his worst WHIP was 1.24. Those ratios currently are 3.91 and 1.58, respectively. What’s been his issue this season?

The starting point for his struggles is that he is allowing substantially more walks than we’ve ever seen from him before. His previous career-worst was four walks per nine innings, but that number is now 6.4 walks per nine innings. He has also given up three home runs already this season. For perspective, he gave up three home runs last year in 67 innings. More baserunners and more home runs allowed are the causes of his currently elevated ratios.

Can we move on from Cedric Mullins?

It has been a miserable start to the season for Cedric Mullins. His OPS+ has dropped each of the past three seasons, but it has bottomed out at 52. He has 24 runs scored, six home runs, 22 RBI, 12 stolen bases and is batting an abysmal .170. Fantasy managers who spent a mid-round selection on him have a decision to make on whether to hold out for more or to move on.

While it’s the worst of his career, a 26% strikeout rate is still not unusable. He also has a career-worst BABIP that is adversely affecting his batting average. That is partially his fault as he seemingly adjusted his launch angle to optimize it for power, but he doesn’t have the exit velocities you want to see to take advantage of it. His best asset is his speed so he should focus on line drives. Until that happens, fantasy managers can move on.

Where has Corey Seager been?

Another star hitter who we haven’t seen in a few days is Corey Seager. He last played on Wednesday when he was removed early with left hamstring tightness. Unfortunately, hamstring and leg injuries have been a nuisance to him throughout his career.

Rangers manager Bruce Bochy addressed the situation over the weekend. He made it known they don’t plan to place Seager on the injured list (IL) because they believe he will be back in less than 10 days. That doesn’t necessarily mean he will be playing the next few days. The biggest difficulty to fantasy managers is that, unlike the Juan Soto situation, the Rangers don’t play today. If you’re setting a weekly lineup, you’re taking a risk if you play Seager. The Rangers begin a three-game series with Seager’s old team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, tomorrow.

Who benefits from the injury to Ty France?

Ty France was hit by a pitch on the back of his foot during Friday’s game. He stayed in the remainder of the game and reached base four times. However, we learned the injury was worse than initially feared and that he fractured his heel on the play. He was placed on the injured list, and the team recalled Tyler Locklear from the minor leagues to take his place.

Locklear was off to a hot start between Double-A and Triple-A. He already had 27 extra-base hits in only 198 at-bats. In his debut, he had an RBI double. Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais had the following to say about Locklear’s playing time: “He’s going to play a lot. It’s not just going to be a platoon situation.” Nothing beats playing time for fantasy production so that is a positive quote. In leagues where you start a corner infielder, he is a name to have on the watchlist.

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