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Aaron Judge turned down a contract extension from the Yankees worth well north of $200 million just before Opening Day.
It’s looking like the move to bet on himself could pay off.
Although the Yanks wound up falling 6-4 to the Orioles on Monday, Judge continued his torrid start to the season. The slugger clubbed his league-leading 16th home run off of Jordan Lyles in the first inning before taking Lyles deep again in the fifth with a two-run shot for long ball No. 17.
The double-dong night already gives Judge four multi-homer games this season, with three of them coming this month. He’s now got an even 20 multi-homer efforts for his career, the eighth-most ever by a Yankee. Check out the names ahead of him on the list.
Judge’s batting line on the season is now up to an utterly ridiculous .325/.398/.715. He’s got five more home runs than the next guys on the list (Mike Trout and Yordan Alvarez). Only Trout is remotely close to him in the slugging percentage department at .699.
Judge is also doing his usual otherworldly things from a Statcast perspective, as well. Coming into action Monday, he easily led baseball in barrels per plate appearance with a rate of 17.4 percent, and only teammate Giancarlo Stanton (97.3 mph) had a higher exit velocity than Judge’s 97 mph mark. His first home run on Monday was the hardest-hit ball of the night at 112 mph.
Perhaps the most important thing of all is that Judge has been healthy. Last season was just the second time in his career that he’s reached 140+ games and 500+ plate appearances. He’s played in 40 of his team’s 42 contests so far in 2022.
History suggests that Judge will probably get hurt at some point and miss some time, but we know he’s likely to continue being ultra-productive when on the field. Coming into Monday, only Manny Machado has been more valuable in fantasy than the Yankees superstar.
Starting Pitchers with an EDGE
Tyler Anderson vs. WAS – 8 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 0 BB, 8 K
Anderson carried a perfect game into the sixth inning on Monday in the nation’s capital, losing the bid with one out in the frame when Cesar Hernandez doubled. It was one of five hits he wound up surrendering on the night and the only extra-base knock. The eight innings and eight strikeouts were both season highs for Anderson, who also didn’t issue any walks for the third start in a row. He’s the stingiest he’s ever been in terms of control and is also missing more bats than we’re used to seeing. That’s thanks in large part to a career-high usage with his changeup, a pitch which, coming into Monday had a robust 49.5 percent whiff rate. He got 21 whiffs Monday, with 10 coming on the changeup.
JT Brubaker vs. COL – 6 2/3 IP, 1 R (0 ER), 5 H, 2 BB, 4 K
Getting to face the Rockies for their first game of a road trip is generally a favorable spot to be in as a pitcher. Brubaker certainly proved that theory on Monday, holding the Rockies to just the unearned over a season-high 6 2/3 frames. The right-hander has been righting the ship in May after a sluggish April, holding a 3.22 ERA and 26/9 K/BB ratio over 22 1/3 innings covering three starts.
Triston McKenzie vs. HOU – 7 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 3 K
McKenzie hasn’t been putting up gaudy strikeout totals so far this season as he has in the past, but he’s been making up for it by showing much-improved control. On only one occasion has the right-hander walked more than two batters in a start, whereas last season he issued three-plus walks 12 times, including seven starts in a row at one point. McKenzie also continues to be incredibly difficult to hit, having allowed just 27 base knocks in 43 1/3 frames
Hitters with an EDGE
Jose Ramirez vs. HOU – 2-for-5, HR, 2B, SB, 4 RBI
It was Ramirez providing much of the offense in McKenzie’s dandy, as he was credited with all four of the Guardians’ RBI. He’s up to 10 home runs and four stolen bases on the season, and no one has more than his 41 RBI. The middling Guardians offense hasn’t seemed to hinder Ramirez’s output much at all. He’s well on his way to returning value as an early first-round fantasy selection.
Aristides Aquino vs. CHC – 2-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI
Aquino has been an utter disaster at the plate this season for the Reds and, frankly, it’s been that way since the one record-breaking month back in August of 2019. He even lost his 40-man roster spot last month. “The Punisher” found his way back on the roster recently, though, and showed on Monday that he still has some pop in his bat with his first multi-homer effort since the aforementioned August of 2019 (he had a game with three homers that month).
Julio Rodriguez vs. OAK – 2-for-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI
Rodriguez continued his impressive recent stretch of play with a big game on Monday as the Mariners edged the Athletics. After watching his OPS drop to .367 following a 0-for-5, four-strikeout day back on April 21, Rodriguez has since batted .327 with four dingers, 16 RBI and eight stolen bases across his last 30 contests. The young rookie’s 12 stolen bases lead the category.
Clay Holmes, RP, Yankees – Available in 44 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues
Holmes was thoroughly underwhelming during his time as a Pirate, the only team he’d ever known before the Yankees acquired him via trade at the deadline last season. However, since the Yanks got their hands on him Holmes has turned into one of the best relievers in baseball, posting a 1.09 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and 55/6 K/BB ratio over 49 2/3 innings. So far this season he’s allowed just one run over 21 2/3 frames, and that was back in his first appearance of the year. Holmes has picked up saves in each of his last two outings and might get some more if Aroldis Chapman (Achilles) needs an injured list stint. Even in a setup role, Holmes is nice to have in fantasy leagues.
David Robertson struck out a couple in a clean ninth inning on Monday in Cincinnati as the Cubs downed the Reds. The veteran reliever had blown his first save of the season in his previous appearance, so this was a nice bounce-back effort. Robertson is on a modest one-year contract and would seem to be a likely trade candidate.
Jorge Lopez recorded his fifth save of the season with a clean ninth inning Monday versus the Yankees. He’s taken well to a full-time relief role in 2022 after a few years spent mostly as an underwhelming starter. Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has declined to name a closer to this point, but clearly Lopez is the team’s preferred option in the 9th.
Paul Sewald pitched around a hit to close out the Mariners’ 7-6 victory over the Athletics on Monday. Diego Castillo had been used in the eighth inning and struck out the side before handing things over toe Sewald, who pick up his second save of the season. No one on Seattle has recorded more than two saves, with Sewald joining Castillo and Drew Steckenrider.
Tuesday’s Matchup of the Day
The battle for bragging rights in Florida has a pitching matchup featuring two guys in the early discussion for Cy Young consideration in their respective leagues. Lopez actually didn’t pitch well his last time out, allowing three runs over just three innings of work against the Nationals. That ballooned his ERA all the way up to… 1.57. He’s also put up a 0.91 WHIP and 48/11 K/BB ratio over 46 innings covering eight outings. McClanahan, meanwhile, was great in April and has been even better so far in May, particularly the last two times out as he’s yielded a combined one run with an 18/1 K/BB ratio over 14 innings.
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American League Quick Hits: The Mariners are hopeful that Kyle Lewis (knee) will be cleared to make his season debut Tuesday. … Frankie Montas (hand) threw a bullpen session Monday and is on track to make his next start. … Tests on Eduardo Rodriguez's ribs came back negative for a stress reaction, but he’ll still be shut down for a week. … Josh Donaldson is on the COVID-19 IL and also was suspended one game and given a fine by Major League Baseball for inappropriate comments made toward the White Sox' Tim Anderson during Saturday's game. … Nate Pearson (illness) will begin a rehab assignment later this week. … Ramón Laureano (hand) missed a second straight start Monday but is doing better and is considered day-to-day. … Ken Giles (finger) will begin a rehab assignment if he gets through a bullpen session Tuesday with no issues. … Gerrit Cole struck out 11 batters but also gave up five runs in a loss to the Orioles on Monday … Ramon Urias went 3-for-4 with a homer and a double Monday versus the Yankees.
National League Quick Hits: Freddy Peralta has been diagnosed with a right posterior shoulder strain and is expected to require a “lengthy absence,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said Monday. … Kris Bryant was scratched from Monday’s lineup with back soreness. … Josh Hader went on the family medical emergency list on Monday. … Pete Alonso homered and plated three runs Monday versus the Giants. … Fernando Tatis Jr. hopes to be cleared to grip a bat following a bone scan Monday. … Stephen Strasburg (neck, shoulder) will begin a rehab assignment Tuesday. … Dylan Carlson has been diagnosed with a Grade 1/2 left hamstring strain but hopes to be back in about two weeks. … Nelson Cruz (ankle) was hitless in his return to action Monday … Yadier Molina was placed on the bereavement list Monday. … Left wrist inflammation has sent Austin Slater to the injured list. … Alex Reyes will undergo surgery to repair a damaged labrum in his right shoulder. … Patrick Wisdom homered for the fourth straight game Monday. … Nick Senzel returned from the COVID-19 IL Monday. … Joey Wendle (hamstring) will start a rehab assignment Tuesday. … Connor Overton has been diagnosed with a stress fracture in his lower back and will be shut down for 6-8 weeks. … Matthew Liberatore has been recalled and will take Steven Matz’s (shoulder) spot in the Cardinals’ rotation. … Hunter Renfroe was removed from Monday’s game versus the Padres with a sore hamstring. … Ian Happ clubbed a three-run homer and an RBI double Monday.