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The Brewers and fantasy owners were optimistic but couldn’t be certain what they were going to get out of Eric Thames. Twelve games in, it’s safe to say both parties are pleased.
Thames tied a team record on Monday against the Cubs by homering in his fifth straight game. In addition to the solo shot off of John Lackey, Thames also added a double and a single and scored three runs in the Brew Crew’s 6-3 victory.
Thames leads all of baseball with his seven longballs, he’s third in the National League with 12 RBI and second in the NL with his .405 batting average. He’s slugging an even 1.000, which is 133 points higher than anyone else in the game.
The first baseman has been on the bench more often than not against lefties this season, but after singling off of Mike Montgomery on Monday Thames is now 3-for-6 with two homers off of southpaws in 2017. It’s going to be hard for manager Craig Counsell to sit Thames against anyone at this point. About the only thing Thames hasn’t done to this point is attempt a stolen base. Given that he stole 40 bags one year in Korea, we can’t rule out him adding that to his bag of tricks eventually.
It goes without saying that Thames will hit a rough stretch at some point. Even he admitted as much after Monday’s contest.
“It’s a wave,” Thames said of his hot streak. “You’ve just got to ride the wave and enjoy it because there’s always dark times around the corner. You’ve just got to take it in stride, play in the present and go from there."
While some regression with Thames is a given, it looks pretty clear to this point that the Brewers’ three-year, $16 million investment in him was a wise one. Fantasy owners’ investment in the 30-year-old wasn’t a bad call, either.
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Wrist Surgery Knocks Out Semien
The A’s had already placed Marcus Semien on the disabled list Sunday. On Monday, they found out that he’s going to be sidelined for a long time.
Semien will undergo surgery on Tuesday after a CT scan found a fracture of the scaphoid bone in his right wrist. The shortstop will have a screw inserted to stabilize the wrist and will be re-evaluated in six weeks. That means it’s going to be late May before we even hear about a possible timetable for Semien’s return.
Semien had a power breakthrough for the A’s last season, slugging 27 home runs and driving in 75 runs while also adding 10 stolen bases. That kind of production was certainly helpful for fantasy owners even as the 26-year-old’s average lagged behind at .238.
For the time being, Oakland will turn to Adam Rosales as their primary shortstop. Rosales managed to sock 13 homers in a part-time role with the Padres last season, but he’s a career utility player with a .228/.299/.367 batting line over parts of 10 big league campaigns. Needless to say, he’s not someone fantasy owners should be excited about. Chad Pinder will also see some starts at shortstop and has a more interesting offensive profile than Rosales, but he’d become worthy of an AL-only roster spot only if he wrestles the job away from Rosales.
One guy who isn’t in the mix for starts at shortstop – at least not yet – is Franklin Barreto. General manager David Forst said Monday that the top prospect is not under consideration for a promotion at this time, as they want him to continue to develop at Triple-A Nashville. Not starting Barreto’s arbitration clock is also undoubtedly a factor here, as the A’s seem likely to wait until at least late May/early June to call Barreto up. Semien will still be on the shelf at that time and could conceivably be out well after that, of course, so Barreto is still a name to keep in mind here. The 21-year-old entered play Monday batting .310/.375/.524 with two homers in his first 11 games for Nashville.
Something else of note with Semien’s situation is that his injury should cement Rajai Davis back in the leadoff spot in Oakland. Semien had batted leadoff in each of his last six starts with Davis scuffling in the early going, but Davis has been back there for the last two contests.
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Brantley Looking Good
One of the biggest wild cards both in real life and fantasy baseball going into the season was Michael Brantley. What could the former All-Star realistically provide after having his 2016 season wrecked by a right shoulder issue?
Brantley smacked his second home run of the season in Monday’s win over the Twins, and he also added an RBI groundout and a walk to his ledger. The veteran outfielder has two bombs over his last four games and has reached base eight times over his last 19 plate appearances. He’s got his season batting line up to .268/.348/.463.
The Indians have given Brantley three days off already, as they understandably don’t want to overload him coming off a lost season. However, perhaps the most encouraging thing about the outfielder’s recent stretch is that he’s started in left field six times in the last seven days. Brantley’s shoulder is holding up well so far, and his production is coming on strong of late.
It’s very early, of course. We don’t know yet how Brantley’s shoulder will handle the everyday grind over a full season. However, the returns so far are quite promising.
American League Quick Hits: Rangers manager Jeff Banister said Monday that Matt Bush will get the first chance to close with Sam Dyson (hand) going on the disabled list. Jeremy Jeffress could also see some save opportunities with the club not wanting to overwork Bush following his recent shoulder issues … Indians manager Terry Francona said Monday that Jason Kipnis (shoulder) could be activated from the disabled list as soon as Friday in a "best case scenario." Kipnis is 3-for-13 on his rehab assignment so far … Kendall Graveman was placed on the DL Monday with a strained right shoulder. He expects to miss only one start … Huston Street is dealing with a right shoulder impingement in addition to a strained lat and has been moved to the 60-day DL … Ariel Miranda whiffed five while blanking the Marlins for seven innings Monday ... Aaron Judge launched a two-run homer and added an RBI single in Monday’s win over the White Sox … A.J. Griffin stuck out eight while yielding just one hit and one walk over six shutout frames versus the A’s on Monday … Robinson Cano ripped a two-run homer and added an RBI double in Monday’s victory over the Marlins … Danny Salazar whiffed seven over six frames of one-run ball on Monday versus the Twins … Tyson Ross (thoracic outlet) has yet to resume throwing off a mound after being scratched from his first rehab start last week due to back spasms. He had been hoping to join the Rangers’ rotation in early May, but the back issue will push back his timetable 1-2 weeks … Yolmer Sanchez finished 3-for-4 with a three-run homer against the Yankees on Monday … Erasmo Ramirez will replace Jake Odorizzi (hamstring) in the Rays' rotation on Thursday against the Tigers … Eduardo Rodriguez won’t make his scheduled start Tuesday after being placed on the paternity leave list …
National League Quick Hits: Freddie Freeman swatted a pair of home runs and also had two doubles in Monday’s victory over the Padres … Rich Hill was placed back on the disabled list Monday with a recurrence of the blister issue on his left middle finger. The Dodgers are weighing their options with the southpaw, with a shutdown period and/or a move to the bullpen among the possibilities. Alex Wood will take Hill’s spot in the rotation … Ryan Braun went 3-for-4 with a home run, three RBI, a stolen base, and two runs scored in the Brewers' win over the Cubs on Monday … Robbie Ray struck out 10 batters and yielded just one earned run over six innings against the Dodgers on Monday but settled for a no-decision … Matt Kemp (hamstring) is likely to return from the disabled when first eligible on Wednesday … Lance Lynn whiffed seven batters across seven shutout innings on Monday in a win over the Pirates … Austin Hedges doubled and ripped a two-run homer in Monday’s loss to the Braves … Gregory Polanco (groin) had a pinch-hit RBI double Monday and is expected to return to the lineup Tuesday … Martin Prado (hamstring) returned from the DL on Monday … Matt Carpenter was scratched Monday and might sit out again Tuesday with a swollen finger on his right hand … Ivan Nova held the Cardinals to two runs while throwing just 78 pitches over eight innings Monday but took a loss … Logan Forsythe (hamstring) returned to the Dodgers’ lineup Monday … Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak indicated Monday that Matt Adams is unlikely to play left field anymore … Tyler Flowers (hamstring) reported improvement Monday and the hope is he can return to the lineup in a few days …