Ring the Bell-inger
Cody Bellinger was the darling of the National League en route to winning the Rookie of the Year Award in his debut with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .267/.352/.581 with 39 homers, 97 RBI and 10 stolen bases in only 132 games, garnering serious consideration for the National League MVP as well.
Fantasy owners were all-in on the 22-year-old slugger, grabbing him off the draft board as a top-25 selection on average this spring. To say that Bellinger has failed to live up to expectations this season, would be a massive understatement.
Bellinger was recently benched for two of the club’s three games at Coors Field to clear his head and get back to basics. Through his first 59 games, Bellinger hit just .225/.298/.413 with eight homers, 25 RBI and a 59/22 K/BB ratio across 238 plate appearances. There were even rumblings that the club could option him to Triple-A Las Vegas for a while to take the pressure off of him and allow him to figure things out.
Perhaps the couple of days off did the trick.
Bellinger returned to the Dodgers’ lineup on Tuesday, belting a solo home run in a victory over the Pirates. He left the yard again the next night, while also drawing a pair of walks and scoring two runs. Young Cody made it three in a row on Thursday, as he went 3-for-4 with a homer in a victory against the Bucs.
He's focusing now on spraying the ball to all fields, rather than selling out and attempting to pull everything. That approach sure looked to work well on Thursday, as he launched an opposite-field homer off of Tyler Glasnow. Bellinger explained to reporters after the game, ''If you can do that, then you're a tough out... they can't shift you as much and that just creates more hits. So, I've been working hard just to try to be an all-around hitter and it's been paying off. Hopefully I can keep it going.''
If you can find an owner who hasn’t been paying close attention the last couple of days, now could be the time to buy Bellinger at a still discounted price. If it’s going to be anything like last season, this current hot streak could continue for the duration of the Summer.
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He’s Heating Up
Matt Olson lit the baseball world on fire during the second half of the 2018 season, smashing 24 home runs and driving in 45 over 216 plate appearances spanning 59 games. At one point, Olson crushed an unimaginable 16 home runs in a 23-game stretch.
Fantasy owners bought into that impressive power surge, knowing that it would come with a (likely) untenable batting average.
Olson raised expectations when he homered on Opening Day, but fell off of a cliff shortly afterwards. Through his first 40 games, the 24-year-old was hitting a mere .227/.314/.362 with just four long balls and 14 RBI in 159 plate appearances.
Some fantasy owners in shallow leagues may have cut bait at that point. Those that have stuck with him, have been handsomely rewarded.
Olson left the yard again in Thursday’s victory over the Royals, his ninth long ball in his last 23 contests. During that 23-game stretch he’s hitting .306 (26-for-85) with nine homers and 18 RBI.
He’s now up to a respectable .257/.339/.482 line on the season with 13 big flies and 32 RBI. Olson is completely locked in at the moment with no signs of slowing down, so fantasy owners should sit back and ride the power surge.
Bye Bye Brad
The Rays decided to cut their losses on Thursday designating struggling slugger Brad Miller for assignment.
Miller, a second round pick of the Mariners from the 2011 draft, developed into a useful fantasy commodity with the M’s during the 2015 season where he slashed .258/.329/.402 with 11 homers and 13 stolen bases in 497 plate appearances.
The Rays installed the then 26-year-old as their everyday shortstop and his offensive game took off. He slugged a jaw-dropping 30 home runs, hitting .243/.304/.482 with 81 RBI and six stolen bases along the way. He also had plenty of swing and miss in his game though, whiffing 149 times in 601 plate appearances.
He wasn’t able to carryover his fine breakout performance into the 2017 campaign. There, while battling a wide array of injuries, Miller stumbled to a pitiful .201/.327/.337 line, hitting just nine homers in 407 plate appearances.
The club remained hopeful that entering the 2018 season fully healthy, that he’d revert to his 2016 form. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Through his first 48 games, Miller was hitting just .256/.322/.429 with five homers and 21 RBI. While that’s not completely awful production, had Miller stayed in the infield, it’s unacceptable for a starting first baseman.
The Rays will attempt to deal the 28-year-old over the next couple of days, otherwise they will be on the hook for the entirety of the $4.5 million remaining on his salary.
With Miller out of the picture, the door is now open for prospect Jake Bauers to prove his worth at the Major League level. The 22-year-old is ranked as MLB.com’s 55th best prospect, and the fifth best in the Rays’ organization. He has been productive at Triple-A Durham this year, hitting .279/.357/.426 with five homers, 24 RBI and 10 stolen bases.
The rebuilding Rays should give Bauers the chance to play everyday and see if he’ll sink or swim. If that’s the case, he becomes quite appealing in deeper mixed leagues from a fantasy perspective. With his combination of power and speed, especially with eligibility at first base and in the outfield, he’s worthy of a look.
American League Quick Hits: J.D. Martinez was lifted from Thursday’s game against the Tigers due to minor tightness in his back… Mookie Betts (abdominal strain) will take another round of on-field batting practice on Friday, though he still has a few hurdles to clear before returning from the disabled list… The Rangers signed general manager Jon Daniels to a multi-year contract extension… Zach Britton (Achilles) is expected to be activated from the disabled list on June 15… Jordan Montgomery underwent successful Tommy John surgery on Thursday… Carlos Correa sat out Thursday’s game against the Rangers due to discomfort in his right side. A precautionary MRI revealed no structural damage and he’s considered day-to-day...Josh Donaldson is “iffy” to be activated from the disabled list on Friday… Jordan Zimmermann (shoulder) is expected to make one more rehab start before rejoining the Tigers’ rotation... The Tigers signed former top prospect Jacob Turner to a minor league contract… Blue Jays’ top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was placed on the 7-day DL at Double-A New Hampshire with a left knee injury… Elvis Andrus (elbow) is set to begin a minor league rehab assignment next week...Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Phillies have reached out to the Orioles about Manny Machado... Eddie Rosario clubbed a three-run homer, his 14th of the season, in a victory over the White Sox… Jose Berrios fired his second career complete game, striking out 10 while allowing two runs in a victory over the White Sox… Mitch Haniger homered and drove in three runs as the Mariners held off the Rays… David Hess fired six innings of one-run ball in a no-decision against the Blue Jays… Randal Grichuk went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs as the Blue Jays rallied to beat the Orioles… Andrew Benintendi swatted his 11th homer as the Red Sox fell to the Tigers… Evan Gattis blasted his 10th home run and drove in three runs as the Astros topped the Rangers… Gerrit Cole picked up the victory there, improving to 7-1 with eight strikeouts over six innings of one-run baseball… Paul Blackburn earned a victory in his first start of the season, allowing just one run on three hits over six frames against the Royals… Leonys Martin homered, tripled and plated two as the Tigers beat the Red Sox.
National League Quick Hits: Mark Bowman of MLB.com reported that Ronal Acuna (knee) could come off the disabled list during the Braves’ series against the Padres that begins on June 14… Adam Eaton (ankle) is eligible to return from the disabled list on Friday, which could force the Nationals to send Juan Soto back to Triple-A in order to play on a nightly basis. The other option would be to bench Michael Taylor… The Dodgers placed left-hander Tony Cingrani back on the disabled list with a strained left shoulder… Clayton Kershaw (back) resumed playing catch on Thursday, but is still a minimum of several weeks away from a potential return… Addison Russell missed his third consecutive game on Thursday with a sprained middle finger… Dodgers’ skipper Dave Roberts said Thursday that they could use Rich Hill (blister) out of the bullpen for awhile in lieu of a minor league rehab assignment… Dennis Santana was scratched from his first major league start on Thursday due to right lat soreness. He’ll undergo an MRI to determine the severity of the injury… Fernando Abad was suspended 80 games after testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug Stanozolol… Brandon Belt (appendicitis) is aiming to return to the Giants’ lineup around June 15… Jose Martinez launched his first home run since May 18 as the Cardinals topped the Marlins… Miles Mikolas improved to 7-1 on the season, allowing just an unearned run and three hits over seven frames in a win over the Marlins. Mikolas sports an impressive 2.27 ERA over 79 ⅓ innings in his first 12 starts with the Cardinals… Elias Diaz homered and drove in four runs in a loss to the Dodgers… Joc Pederson doubled and blasted a pair of home runs as the Dodgers bested the Pirates… Jesse Winker went 3-for-3 and clobbered a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 13th to beat the Rockies… Anthony Rizzo homered and drove in two runs as the Cubs beat the Phillies.