Closing Time: Is Jacob Faria for real?

Rays rookie <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/10602/" data-ylk="slk:Jacob Faria">Jacob Faria</a> has a strikeout profile that should intrigue fantasy owners. (Getty)
Rays rookie Jacob Faria has a strikeout profile that should intrigue fantasy owners. (Getty)

For Tampa rookie Jacob Faria, his second MLB start on Tuesday night went very similarly to his winning debut against the White Sox six days earlier. In each outing he recorded a victory by pitching 6.1 innings of one-run ball. He’s fanned 13 batters and allowed just shy of a baserunner per inning (0.95 WHIP) in his 12.2 total innings pitched.

In a year where good starting pitching is hard to come by, Faria (31% owned) certainly deserves to be brought in for a test drive by fantasy owners in anything beyond the shallowest of leagues. With a K/9 rate above 10.5 in nearly 300 IP in Double- and Triple-A combined since ’15, it’s fair to say his K success for Tampa, thus far, is legit. But his 2.1 BB/9 rate for the Rays is well below the rate of free passes issued in his stint in the upper levels of the minors (typically north of 3.5). And, while he’s always done a nice job of keeping the ball in the park, he’s also producing ground balls at a higher rate (48.5%) than what he did on the farm (typically in the upper 30 to low 40 percentile range).

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Pitching in the AL East can be a thankless chore, especially for a rookie, but if Faria can continue to pound the strike zone and keep the ball in the yard, he should be able to carve out a home in the mixed league world because of his K upside. With Matt Andriese expected to be out until August with a hip injury, Faria has a wide open window of opportunity. But he probably won’t be afforded too long of a leash as his former teammate in Triple-A Durham, Blake Snell, is keeping the pressure on Faria by producing a 2.53 ERA and 44 Ks in 32 IP for the Bulls since his demotion.

It was only last week that I was fielding, “Should I cut Rougned Odor?” questions. With a batting average barely treading above the Mendoza Line and an OPS that dipped below .600 on June 4th, it was a fair question in many leagues. That’s quite the comedown for a player drafted, on average, in the top 50 of spring drafts. Of course, I was pushing continued patience with Odor, certainly an easier message to peddle in April and May than it is in the middle of the third month of the season. But with two home runs on Tuesday night against Houston relievers Chris Devenski (who hadn’t previously allowed a HR since April 27) and Luke Gregerson, Odor looks like he’s starting to turn the corner.

Odor’s recorded a hit in eight of his past nine games, and seven of his past 11 hits have gone for extra bases (4 HRs). He’s not all the way out of the woods, yet, as he’s posted a 20:0 K-to-BB ratio over his past 15 games (not that he’s ever been much for taking pitches) and he owns just a .350 OPS against southpaws (64 ABs), who he has produced an OPS mark against (.772) the past couple years that was near-equal to that of what he did against righties (.800). Considering his history of slow starts – he played his way into a minor league demotion after an awful first two months in ’15, and April/May were the only months his OPS was under .800 last season – it’s reasonable to think his success against lefties, and pitchers of any handedness, will continue trending upwards.

Odor’s was one of a few interesting multi-homer efforts on Tuesday night …

Andrew McCutchen hit two home runs in a 5-2 Pirates win over visiting Colorado. He was hitting exactly .200 after an 0-for-5 effort at Atlanta on May 23rd. Since then, only George Springer and Aaron Judge have posted better roto tallies, as McCutchen has hit .400 with 5 HRs and a SB in that 18-game span. I’ll admit that I was in the camp that felt as he’d continue to slide after posting his worst full-season fantasy value in ’16. But McCutchen has his batting average back above .250, he’s on pace for 27 home runs and he already has as many stolen bases (6) as he had all of last year. I may have doubted McCutchen, but I never stopped rooting for him, so it’s good to see him back in vintage form.

Minnesota opened up the can on Seattle on Tuesday, pounding the M’s by a score of 20-7 (insert obligatory Vikings-Seahawks joke here). The Twins were led by the three home runs from Eddie Rosario, a player that I employed in the 14-team Yahoo Friends and Family League for a while (his tenure with my squad ended long before Tuesday’s explosion, unfortunately). He’s been on my radar ever since hitting 15 triples, 13 home runs and stealing 11 bases in a 122-game rookie campaign in ’15. But the speed side of the equation has only receded since then, and he has just one steal on the year. And a .260-.270 hitter with mid-teens power who typically bats in the bottom third of the Minnesota lineup is not all that interesting if he’s not bringing some of that speed to the table. So, while it was certainly a serve-notice kind of night for Rosario, I would have been a lot more excited if he had delivered a SB hat trick instead.

Dodgers rookie phenom Cody Bellinger also went yard twice on Tuesday night in Cleveland. It was his second straight multi-homer game and he now has five home runs in his past three games. He now owns a record for multi-homer games (4) through the first 45 games of a MLB career. Big League Stew’s Mike Oz has all the details on that one-of-kind feat.

San Diego rookie Franchy Cordero also hit two home runs on Tuesday. Just from an eye test, he looks interesting, with his long limbs and smooth swing. He’s shown mid-teens power in the minors to go with 20-plus steal upside and his batting average has improved (.290 level) the past couple seasons. He has the look of someone who should continue to grow in power, and as it stands he’s made things interesting as fellow rookie Manuel Margot (calf) gets set to head out on a rehab assignment.

What more can you say about Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman, who hit two home runs on Tuesday against Atlanta to keep pace with the very best in fantasy for ’17? If you own him, just keep praying for continued health.

Arizona outfielder David Peralta didn’t hit multiple home runs on Tuesday, but he did hit a game-winning shot off of Tigers closer Justin Wilson in the top half of the ninth inning. It was Peralta’s second straight game with a home run and, the most impressive thing about his HR on Tuesday was that it came against a lefty (his first this season vs. LHP, and the first HR allowed by Wilson vs. a lefty bat). I mentioned in last Friday’s Fantasy Baseball Roundtable that Peralta has a reasonable chance (if he stays healthy) to score 100 Runs hitting right in front of Paul Goldschmidt. With expectations for a plus batting average and double-digit home runs and steals to go with those runs, Peralta can certainly make a strong case for fantasy employment, though many leagues aren’t getting that message (44% owned).

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