A Consistent Manoah
Alek Manoah, SP (TOR)
Exhibiting a little extra velocity on his fastball, Manoah was nearly unhittable on Monday, generating a 39% CSW rate on his heater and allowing only one hit in six scoreless innings at Yankee Stadium. The only blemish were the four walks he allowed, something he has done only one other time in his career. He struck out seven batters and cruised to his first win. Manoah’s ERA outperformed his xFIP by nearly a full run last year, and on Monday his xFIP was 3.94. Part of the reason for the discrepancy is Manoah’s ostensible HR/FB luck. The flyball pitcher finished 2021 with a 10.7% HR/FB rate, in spite of the fact he plays in a stadium and division that features HR-friendly confines. However, he has advanced metrics that support a lower-than-expected HR rate. For instance, his average exit velocity allowed on fly balls or line drives is 90.3-mph. That’s elite, and also explains why Manoah is among the league leaders in generating infield pop ups. He gets weak contact on balls hit in the air so he should be able to maintain a noticeable delta between xFIP and ERA while still performing at a very high level.
Andrew Benintendi, OF (KC)
Benintendi had a big day at the plate on Monday, reaching base in all five plate appearances, including three hits, a home run and three RBIs as the Royals fell 10-7 to Cleveland. The slap-hitting outfielder now has six singles and one long ball in 16 plate appearances. He has improved his plate discipline in Kansas City and committed to being the low-power middle-of-the-order bat with a very good hit tool. That creates an acceptable floor for batting average combined with a modest ceiling for power. He stole some bases in Boston, but he isn’t likely to rack up a high number of steals in KC. There are fantasy formats where Benintendi offers great value. A standard roto league probably isn’t one of them, although Monday’s performance is an example of what he’s capable of producing on any given day.
Brandon Marsh, OF (LAA)
Marsh hit his first home run of the season and also added his first double in a four-RBI performance on Monday. The hirsute young outfielder has a modest three-game hitting streak and appears locked into an everyday role with the Angels. Marsh has a big frame and he hits the ball very hard, which should be able to develop moderate power, although a propensity to hit the ball on the ground throughout his professional career is notable. Nonetheless, he appears to be getting a little more lift in the early going this season and that is why he’s already halfway to last year’s home run total. Don’t expect 25 home runs, but double-digit dingers is certainly within reach if Marsh can hold his launch angle above 10 degrees while continuing to crush at the tune of a 92-mph average exit velocity.
Bruce Zimmermann, SP (BAL)
Completely ignored during draft season, and rightfully so, Zimmermann is a streaming-only pitcher who occasionally limits damage and can provide above-average strikeout totals. That was the case on Monday as Zimmermann held a scuffling Milwaukee offense scoreless with four strikeouts in four innings. He allowed three hits and walked two but was pulled after throwing 66 pitches. Owned only in the deepest leagues, there is an argument to be made in favor of rostering the Orioles left-hander. First of all, the Camden Yards expansion should benefit left-handed pitchers in particular. Furthermore, Zimmermann is a pitcher who has always generated double-digit swinging-strike rates and managed a not-horrible 4.44 xFIP in 2021. Of course he should be benched when lining up with the titans of the AL East, but Monday’s performance against the Brewers exemplifies his streamable value.
Sheldon Neuse, 3B (OAK)
Neuse got his first start on Monday, and delivered in a big way, finishing 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs. It was the continuation of a hot spring where the former Dodger hit .343 with four home runs. Neuse has played all around the field in his professional career, and it will be difficult for the depleted A’s to justify keeping his bat off the field when he’s shown this much production. Power doesn’t come out of nowhere for Neuse. He hit 27 home runs less than 500 at-bats with the A’s AAA squad in 2019 during his previous stint in Oakland. He has impressive power, but questionable plate discipline and nowhere to play in Los Angeles prevented Neuse from establishing regular playing time. It’s uncertain what his role will be with Oakland moving forward, but early results portend positive future potential. He is certainly worth keeping watch if his playing time increases.
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