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Cup of Coffee: Fantasy Baseball Takeaways from the Last Week

May 13, 2023

Welcome to Cup O’ Coffee, your one-stop Monday morning recap to catch up on the fantasy baseball week that was! Here we’ll be discussing injuries, promotions, demotions, and trades as well as trying to find some players and teams to target moving forward.

There were many players that returned to game action this week, but none in more impressive fashion than our favorite Australian madman, Liam Hendriks. One of the most fun and entertaining players in MLB today, Hendricks overcame a preseason diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma to take the mound versus the Angels on Monday night. The ChiSox are being cautious with Hendriks as he went five days between appearances. It’ll take him a bit of time to get back into vintage form. But how awesome was it to see the big guy make his entrance again?

Genius idea: let's make a movie about the 1980's World Wrestling Federation and cast him as one of the Bushwhackers. Still thinking about who should play my favorite, The Ultimate Warrior. Bryce Harper is undoubtedly Ted DiBiase, the Million Dollar Man.

Michael Soroka completed his longgggggg way back to an MLB mound on Memorial Day. Soroka owners were surely licking their chops when they saw his first week back was a two-start, at Oakland (SWEET!) and at Arizona (not as sweet).

Monday went as well as can be expected. Soroka went 6 innings while throwing 83 pitches (31% CSW). He struck out three and walked three. Sunday, however, proved to be a bit of a stinker. The Braves right-hander only lasted 3.2 innings, giving up 5 earned runs, striking out two, and walking four D-Backs.

On Thursday, the Twins reinstated their former #1 pick Royce Lewis from the IL and were instantly rewarded as he promptly hit a HR (106.2 EV) in a 7-6 win over the Guardians. What a story. The kind of perseverance, faith, and mental fortitude it must take to work through one ACL tear, let alone a second, and on the same knee, is mind-blowing. Throughout the week (as of Saturday night), Lewis has hit 2 HR with an .810 OPS. Scary moment on Sunday though, as Lewis flipped over the Guardian's Gabriel Arias in an insane collision at first base. Apparently, Lewis is okay but the Twins should win an award for somehow finding the second version of Byron Buxton.

DON’T Call It a Comeback: Gary Sanchez has had a whirlwind month of May. Released by the Giants on the 2nd, signed as a free agent by the Mets on the 9th then waived and claimed by the Padres on the 29th. He has since gone 5-for-18 at the plate with two homers and four RBI. It's not a return from injury but more of a super-small-sample-size career resurgence. The future remains to be seen but the Pads desperately need a catcher and Gary desperately needs a place to play. Somewhere in between "Sanchise" and San Diego there is a clever nickname to be found, I am sure of it.

Other returns of interest: Max Kepler, Paul Blackburn, Jesus Sanchez, Hayden Wesneski, Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco, Giancarlo Stanton, Elvis Andrus, Jon Singleton (!!!), Jackson Kowar, Triston McKenzie

No one really needs to hear this in a fantasy baseball recap but damn, the injuries are not so few and far between this season.

Cedric Mullins landing on the IL with right groin/adductor strain is a tough blow to the O's as well as us fantasy managers. Baltimore has yet to give a firm timeline for how long Mullins will be out but most signs point to a four-to-six week absence.

An absolute fixture atop that now-very-exciting lineup (he's only missed one of their games so far), Ced has been having a great first third of the season, slashing .263/.356/.479 with 8 HR and 13 SB. The Orioles decided that claiming Aaron Hicks off of waivers as a replacement was a good idea, which is a fate that none of us in the fantasy world deserve.

The Detroit Tigers, somehow sitting in second place in the *atrocious* AL Central, got hit with an injury double-doozy. Their ace Eduardo Rodriguez ruptured a tendon in a finger on his throwing hand. Then top prospect Riley Greene suffered a "stress reaction" on his left fibula. E-Rod has been awesome this season but having the words "throwing hand"+"finger"+"ruptured tendon" in the injury description sounds ominous. All reports say that both players are looking at four-to-six-week recoveries.

WBC and Cup Of Coffee darling Lars Nootbaar was DTD for quite a while before the Cards made it official by placing him on the IL. Hope someone else on the team keeps the Pepper Mill celebration alive.

The rest of this list feels like a whole lot of "well, we all knew that was bound to happen": Harrison Bader, Jesse Winker, Kris Bryant, Alec Bohm, Chris Sale, Nelson Cruz, Joey Gallo, Marco Gonzales, Carlos Rodon (moved to the 60-day)

Let's get it out of the way: no fantasy baseball column or recap would be complete this year without mentioning Elly de la Cruz. He's coming, we’re not sure when but it's happening. We’re excited, you’re excited; the dude seems special. The esteemed Jeff Zimmerman of Fangraphs really stirred the pot in his weekly Lineup Analyses.

The Braves continue to be the team that prospectheads love the most by promoting AJ Smith-Shawver on Tuesday. Smith-Shawver started the year in HIGH A, meaning MLB will be his fourth level of competition in this very young season. AJSS (what an acronym) had to wait five days before getting his first taste of competition. He was one of four Braves pitchers who came on to relieve the aforementioned Michael Soroka. Smith-Shawver went 2.1 IP, throwing 39 pitches, striking out three, and hitting 97.1 on the gun.

Speaking of radar guns, the Angels, who admittedly might push their prospects even harder than the Braves, brought up Ben Joyce, Ace Fireballer. If you are unaware, Joyce, the Angels’ third-round pick from last year's draft, throws gas, and lots of it. Making his debut on Thursday against the Astros, Joyce threw 10 pitches in his one inning of work, AVERAGING 101.8 mph. Ten four-seam fastballs. No fuss, no muss, just straight heat. Fun stuff!

While not exactly "new", as he opened the season on the major league roster, Jordan Walker is once again a St. Louis Cardinal. Walker should have ample opportunity to cement himself in the starting nine. Nootbaar is on the shelf and no one else in the St. Louis OF rotation is making strides to make themselves irreplaceable. The super-prospect was on a bit of a heater in AAA as of late but went 2-for-8 over the weekend. The ceiling is still sky-high, let's all hope the Cards give him some run.

Other promotions of note: Brayan Rocchio (SS/3B, Guardians), Bryan Woo (P, Mariners)

There were some trades throughout the week, mostly minor but one seems interesting.

Jake Marisnick went from the White Sox to the Tigers for cash considerations. The tigers are just adding depth here after the loss of Riley Greene.

The one that I want to keep my eye on is the Rays going out and getting relief pitcher Robert Stephenson from the Pirates for INF Alika Williams. Stephenson is a former first-round draft pick by the Reds wayyy back in 2011 but still has 92nd-percentile Fastball Velocity as well as a high spin rate (83rd percentile). If there is one thing that we have all learned over the years, it's that when the Rays acquire a pitcher, look out. Not saying that Stephenson will become the next Tyler Glasnow, but take a gander at his Statcast page in a week or two.

Cup O’ Coffee thinks that C. Trent Rosencrans is a tireless reporter, an excellent fan of the sport, and 100% NOT a troll. Thank you for reading, see you next week!

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