Fantasy Baseball Today: Gerrit Cole spin rate speculation, Christian Yelich trade thoughts, prospect updates

Oh boy. It finally looks the MLB is ready to crack down on pitchers using foreign substances. Perhaps that’s why Gerrit Cole’s spin rate was down on Thursday; you can read more about it below. Opposing Cole, however, was the real story of that game as Ryan Yarbrough tossed a complete game, the first by a Rays starting pitcher since 2016. Yarbrough remains fringy at best but this is a reminder that you can stream your pitchers against the Yankees right now while they’re struggling.

On the hitter side of things, Charlie Blackmon looks to be back as he went 3 for 4 with a home run and three RBI. He’s batting .319 over his last 15 games. I think you can still acquire him on the cheap, too. Blackmon isn’t flashy and he turns 35 years old in less than a month but he’s actually posting the best Statcast numbers of his career. Go get him before others realize just how good he’s been.

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Cole situation is tricky and potentially sticky
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Yankees SP Gerrit Cole wasn’t his sharpest on Thursday in what has otherwise been a Cy Young-worthy season — he allowed five runs in five innings — but that isn’t the narrative now. The narrative has shifted to focusing on Cole’s spin rate going down on the night. If you don’t yet know why Twitter was set ablaze by Cole’s spin rate dropping, there is curious speculation surrounding the fact that this happened on the same day multiple MLB insiders reported that starting pitchers are using sticky substances to improve their spin rate, and Cole was named in the reports.

Here’s an exact Tweet from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal: “Evidence was presented at the MLB owners meetings to suggest that the use of illegal foreign substances by pitchers trying to enhance spin rates and get an edge is very prevalent in the game. So the crackdown will now commence in earnest.”

Max Goldstein provided more data on Twitter: “Gerrit Cole’s four-seam fastball had an average spin rate of 2436 rpm today. The last outing during which his average fastball spin rate was lower than that was September 21, 2018.”

All the while, Cole still had 15 swinging strikes on 92 pitches and he only allowed five hard-hit balls. His average exit velocity against was 83 mph. I had people telling me after this start that Gerrit Cole is “done” because he can’t use sticky substances anymore. I wanted to put my head through my computer. Thankfully, Scott helped talk some sense back into me. He sees Cole as just being off in tonight’s outing and doesn’t buy into the narrative that this will derail his entire career. Having said that, the fact that the fastball was down over 100 rpm is at least a bit curious.

The only thing we know now is that baseball will be cracking down on the usage of these substances and the idea is to restore some balance in the game so that pitchers aren’t so advantaged and hitters don’t have to sell out so hard for the home run. It will be interesting to watch spin rates across the league now as the MLB cracks down on the usage of foreign sticky substances.

For more on Cole’s spin rate and a deep dive into the situation, Chris Towers has you covered in the intro to his waivers.

Is now the time to trade Yelich?

Brewers OF Christian Yelich went 1 for 3 with his second homer and he is batting .171 with a 35% K rate since returning from the IL. This begs the question: is Yelich the perfect buy-low, or is now the time to sell him before he completely bottoms out?

Scott would be looking to shop him now because it seems like there will be more believers out there. Scott doesn’t feel like he can count on him for the remainder of this season.

More news and notes

  • Diamondbacks SP Madison Bumgarner was placed on the IL with left shoulder inflammation.
  • White Sox 1B Andrew Vaughn went to the COVID IL. GM Rick Hahn had this to say: “Andrew is currently asymptomatic and our hope is that, similar to our other IL placements of this nature, he will return shortly to the active roster.” Jake Lamb is set for more playing time and hit his fourth homer on Thursday. Batting .265 with a .931 OPS, Lamb is 1% rostered and has six games next week, but four are against LHP. He’s someone to monitor in deep 15-team leagues.
  • Padres SS Fernando Tatis returned to the lineup for the Padres after dealing with oblique discomfort. He added two more hits with his 17th homer.
  • Dodgers SS Corey Seager will travel with the Dodgers on their upcoming six-game road trip. He’s still at least two weeks away with that broken hand.
  • Giants SP Kevin Gausman confirmed he’ll start Saturday against the Cubs. He was dealing with a minor hip injury.
  • Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto said that he fears OF Kyle Lewis could be in line for a long-term absence following his torn right meniscus. Dipoto added they’re hopeful he can return this season.
  • Giants OF Mike Yastrzemski was placed on the IL with a sprained right thumb. 
  • Giants SP Logan Webb was placed on the IL with a right shoulder strain.
  • Pirates 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes made his long-awaited return Thursday. He finished 2 for 4 with a triple and a run scored.
  • Marlins SP Elieser Hernandez made his return and pitched well (5 IP, 1 ER, 6 K) but left with a quad strain while running the bases. Manager Don Mattingly said he believes it’s a long-term injury. It’s a really tough break.
  • Brewers 2B Kolten Wong left Thursday’s game with left oblique discomfort. This is the same oblique that gave him trouble earlier in the season.
  • Mariners RP Kendall Graveman is out of quarantine and has rejoined the team in Seattle. He may require a few rehab or simulated games.
  • Padres OF Tommy Pham had a CT scan come back clean after his collision with Ha-seong Kim. Pham remained out of the lineup Thursday.
  • Royals DH Jorge Soler returned to the lineup. Edward Olivares was optioned back to Triple-A.
  • Yankees SP Corey Kluber is expected to begin a throwing program soon, though his overall return timeline hasn’t changed.

Prospect updates

Scott recently did a deep dive on the best prospects in baseball right now with five on the verge and five on the periphery. You can find that here.

  • Braves OF Drew Waters is coming around the last 15 games but might not be ready yet. Scott likes that he has brought the strikeout rate down, but his power and average numbers are worse than they were in 2019. So far he has been more of a projection prospect than a production prospect. He needs to continue cutting down on strikeouts and adding more power, but it seems too early now for him to be an MLB player now. In other words, he’s not a stash.
  • Five on the verge: Rays SS Wander Franco, Rays SS Vidal Brujan, Angels OF Jo Adell, Marlins OF Jesus Sanchez, Royals SP Jackson Kowar.
  • Five on the periphery: Royals SS Bobby Witt, Mariners C Cal Raleigh, Mariners SP Brandon Williamson,  Rays SS Greg Jones, Nationals SP Mitchell Parker.

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Sleeper hitters for Week 11

*Rostered in 75% of leagues or fewer 

Best hitter matchups in Week 11

  1. Dodgers
  2. Angels
  3. Brewers
  4. Marlins
  5. Royals

Worst hitter matchups in Week 11

  1. Rangers
  2. Pirates
  3. Braves
  4. Twins
  5. Orioles

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