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Baseball Daily Dose

Daulton Varsho Powering Up for D-backs

by Ryan Boyer
Updated On: August 24, 2021, 10:48 am ET

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It took a little longer than expected, but Daulton Varsho is finally starting to show why fantasy managers have been excited about him.

Varsho crushed a solo home run to dead center field in his first plate appearance on Monday in Pittsburgh, giving the Diamondbacks an early lead in what was an eventual 6-5 loss to the Pirates. The dinger was the third in as many days for Varsho, who fell a single shy of the cycle Sunday.

In his last eight games, Varsho has batted .458 with four home runs, eight RBI, six runs scored and a stolen base. He also had a streak last month of three straight games with a homer, and since the beginning of the second half he’s clubbed eight bombs and stolen three bases while sporting a healthy .338 average.

It’s easy to see why Varsho’s skill set is so alluring. In 2019 at Double-A he hit 18 home runs and stole 21 bases. This year, in just 71 combined games between Triple-A and the majors, he’s smacked 18 homers and pilfered six bags. It’s a power/speed combo that fantasy managers are always looking for, and it comes from a guy who splits time between catcher and outfield.

Varsho is striking out at a much higher rate in the majors than he did at any point in the minors, but he’s combated that with a higher walk rate. It’s at an impressive 13.6 percent this season, helping the 25-year-old to a .342 on-base percentage.

Varsho entered Monday with an above league average hard-hit rate of 43.2 percent and a sprint speed which ranks in the 89th percentile. He hits the ball in the air a lot (maybe a little too much, given his inflated IFFB rate) and has been efficient in the stolen base department at every level.

Only time will tell which position Varsho winds up settling in at (or if he continues to bounce around). The D-backs do have Carson Kelly already at catcher, and the defensive metrics view Varsho’s work in the outfield much more favorably than they do his work behind the plate.

Even if outfield ultimately proves to be the better spot for him, Varsho has already locked up catcher eligibility in 2022 for fantasy purposes. And, on a rebuilding Arizona team, he should continue to get the reps he needs to see if he can reach his immense fantasy ceiling.

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Nathan Eovaldi vs. TEX – 7 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 7 K

Eovaldi was charged with an unearned run when the Rangers scored with the help of two Red Sox errors, but he was in control from the jump in this one. The hard-throwing right-hander permitted only four singles and, for the sixth time this season, recorded at least six strikeouts no walks in an outing. Since the beginning of last season, the only starters with a better K/BB ratio than Eovaldi’s 6.0 mark are Jacob deGrom, Clayton Kershaw and Gerrit Cole.

Alek Manoah vs. CWS – 6 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 5 K

Manoah bounced back from his worst start in the majors with a stellar effort against a dynamite White Sox offense Monday. The rookie right-hander was a tad wild with three walks and two hit batters, but the Pale Hose managed just five singles and a solitary run off Manoah, who now boasts a 3.18 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 78/25 K/BB ratio across 68 innings for the Blue Jays.

Lance Lynn vs. TOR – 7 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 4 K

Manoah’s counterpart Monday you could probably say was even better but unfortunately also had to settle for a no-decision. The only run Lynn gave up came in the sixth inning with two out when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. singled on a 3-0 pitch to tie the game. As it turns out, Lynn was trying to throw a ball. The right-hander came into this one in a mini-funk with just one quality start in his last four tries, but he snapped out of it in Toronto.

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Hitters with an EDGE

Giancarlo Stanton vs. ATL – 2-for-3, HR, 2B, 3 RBI

Stanton was the offensive hero as the Yankees won their 10th straight game in a battle of red-hot clubs against the Braves on Monday. After swatting a solo home run to the opposite field in the second inning, Stanton put the Yanks ahead for good in the sixth with a booming two-run double which was measured at 119.2 mph off the bat. He’s batting .324 with five home runs and 18 RBI this month.

Alex Verdugo vs. TEX – 3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R

Verdugo had a big day at the dish as the Red Sox eventually prevailed against the Rangers in extra innings on Monday on Travis Shaw’s walk-off grand slam. The long ball was the outfielder’s 12 on the season but just his second off a left-hander. Verdugo’s power has waned as the season has gone along, but on the whole August has been his best month so far at the plate.

Salvador Perez vs. HOU – 2-for-3, HR, 2 BB

The home run is great, sure, but it’s old hat at this point for Perez, who now has a career-high 33 of them on the season. How about those walks, though! Earlier this month, Perez had a two-walk game for the first time in four seasons, and now he has two in August. The 31-year-old swings and misses more now, but he’s also hitting for more power than he ever has so we’ll take that trade-off.

Priority Pickup

Jeimer Candelario, 1B/3B, Tigers – available in 69 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues

He had a wretched June, but Candelario has been very productive in the two months since, posting a .293/.376/.527 batting line with six home runs, 17 doubles and 26 RBI over 45 games. Since the beginning of the 2020 campaign, over basically a full season’s worth of data, he has a nice .281/.358/.450 line with 17 bombs and 76 RBI. The home run production isn’t ideal from your corner infielder, but Candelario has provided extra-base pop in tying for the league lead with 33 doubles in 2021. He bats in the middle of a Tigers lineup that has a couple good table setters at the top.

Closing Time

Jordan Romano needed just 12 pitches to complete a perfect ninth inning and secure a 2-1 win for the Blue Jays over the White Sox on Monday. He struck out two of the three batters he faced and has now fanned 62 over 45 1/3 innings this season. There seemed to be questions about whether Romano would retain the closer role after the Blue Jays acquired Brad Hand at the trade deadline, but Hand has struggled and Romano has been dominant of late to secure his grip on the job.

The Pirates scored four runs in the seventh and eighth innings to pull ahead of the Diamondbacks on Monday and David Bednar made it hold up, closing out the 6-5 win. He needed only 13 pitches, striking out one in a 1-2-3 frame. Bednar has notched saves in consecutive appearances and has the only two saves for the Pirates since they traded Richard Rodriguez.

Lou Trivino suffered his second straight blown save Monday, allowing three runs on four hits over two-thirds of an inning as the A’s fell to the Mariners. First it was Ty France leading off the top of the ninth with a solo homer to tie the game, and then Trivino gave up two more hits to put runners at second and third with no one out. He bounced back with two strikeouts but then surrendered a two-RBI single to Jake Bauers. Trivino has been great this season overall and his job probably isn’t in jeopardy at this point. After the Mariners took the lead, Paul Sewald then came on to close things out with a perfect frame. Manager Scott Servais hasn't committed to one closer, but Sewald is the clear top option, with Drew Steckenrider getting mixed in some while Diego Castillo (shoulder) is out.

Tuesday’s Matchup of the Day

Drew Rasmussen (TB) vs. Ranger Suarez (PHI)

This isn’t the obvious choice, but hear me out. Rasmussen and Suarez are in similar positions, having been relievers for most of the season before recently being stretched out in the rotation. The hard-throwing Rasmussen has allowed just two hits and one run over two starts covering eight innings his last time out. Suarez, meanwhile, was the Phillies’ closer a month ago but holds a 2.45 ERA in four starts this month. Neither of these guys are fully stretched out (particularly in Rasmussen’s case), but they should both be capable of going five-plus innings in a matchup with playoff implications.

 

American League Quick Hits: Nelson Cruz (COVID-19) is expected back Tuesday … Daniel Lynch gave up one run in five-plus innings Monday in a win over the Astros … Yuli Gurriel reached base in all four plate appearances and had an RBI Monday against the Royals … Whit Merrifield went 3-for-5 with three RBI on Monday in Houston … Carlos Santana was removed from Monday's game versus the Astros with a Grade 1 hip flexor strain … The Tigers activated Akil Baddoo from the injured list ahead of Tuesday’s game … Matt Chapman had to be scratched from Monday’s lineup with a bruised foot … The Mariners are hopeful that Kyle Lewis (knee) can begin a rehab assignment this weekend … Kenta Maeda (forearm) landed on the IL Monday … The hope is that Gleyber Torres (thumb) is ready for a rehab assignment next week … Maikel Franco was designated for assignment Monday.

National League Quick Hits: The Marlins will promote pitching prospect Edward Cabrera to make his major league debut on Wednesday versus the Nationals … Rafael Ortega clubbed a two-run, walk-off homer Monday in the Cubs’ comeback win over the Rockies … Antonio Senzatela tossed six innings of one-run ball but took a no-decision against the Cubs … Willson Contreras (knee) could be activated from the injured list as soon as Friday, serving as a designated hitter initially for the Cubs’ upcoming road interleague games … The Nationals claimed Mike Ford off waivers from the Rays on Monday … The Padres announced the firing of pitching coach Larry Rothschild on Monday.