PT TOMORROW: NL West- Time to panic on Pham?

San Diego Padres

Tommy Pham (OF, SD) has had a disastrous start to the season from a surface level perspective (.185/.299/.198, 10 PX). On the other hand, his skills profile suggests his poor results haven’t been entirely deserved (122 xPX, 113 HctX, 74 ct%). While his power and batting average may bounce back, there is legitimate concern that his speed is declining (108, 100, 81 Spd last three seasons; 87th, 84th, 73rd percentile sprint speed last three seasons).

Rather than a loss of speed, the bigger problem for Pham may be a loss in playing time, in which case his skills wouldn’t have the time to rebound to the level it appears he may deserve. In the team’s past 12 games (through Saturday), Pham has been in the lineup only seven times. Jurickson Profar (2B/OF, SD) has been the beneficiary to this point, as he’s drawn the start in left on every occasion that Pham has been out of the lineup. While Profar's skills haven’t been overwhelming (79 ct%, 91 HctX, 38 xPX) he’s managed to return $19 in 5X5 values thanks to five stolen bases (133 Spd score, 14% SBO).

If both Pham and Profar stumble and the team turns away from each as a full-time option, something that doesn’t seem likely, it’s possible that C.J. Abrams (2B, SD) could get a call to the big leagues by the end of the season. Though he’s gotten good results at Double-A as a 20-year-old, he’s striking out at a 31.6% rate. In other words, don’t get too attached to the idea of him making an impact in 2021. Finally, even less likely is an everyday role for Jorge Mateo (OF, SD) who has drawn only five starts this season and has an uninspiring skills profile through 61 career at-bats (66 ct%, .223 xBA, 99 xPX, 92 HctX, -21 BPV).    

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San Francisco Giants

The Giants have been methodical in their usage of Buster Posey (C, SF) through the first month and week of the season. Even with an off day in between, Posey has yet to start more than two consecutive games. Manager Gabe Kapler has made clear this is purposeful, and with the purpose of keeping Posey healthy and productive throughout the season. However, due to his strong production to begin the campaign (82 ct%, 147 HctX, 135 xPX, 114 BPV) pressure has mounted to find Posey more regular time in the lineup.

That pressure could mount further if Posey continues to produce and the Giants continue to win. With a 20-13 record through Saturday’s contest and in first place in the National League West by 2.5 games, the team has been a surprising early season contender. That’s been largely without the help of Brandon Belt (1B, SF), who has struggled mightily to make contact to start the season (61 ct%). Though when he has made contact it’s been loud (143 xPX), the end results haven’t been inspiring (23 BPV). Belt would likely be the loser if Posey were to see an increased role, as the team would likely want to continue to limit Posey’s exposure behind the plate.

It's also fairly that Curt Casali (C, SF) has a considerable role with the team. Though his bat will never stand out, Casali has proven to be a sturdy veteran. That should block Joey Bart (C, SF) from spending much time in the majors this season, whom the team seems intent on developing in the minors for another season.  


Los Angeles Dodgers

Tommy John surgery was a very disappointing conclusion to what appeared to be a breakout season for Dustin May (RHP, LA). In a crunch covered by the PT Today crew, the injury leaves the Dodgers short-handed due to a number of other injuries to members of the pitching staff including David Price (LHP, LA) and Tony Gonsolin (RHP, LA). However, both are progressing, and as soon as one or both become healthy, they could fill the rotational need for the club.

However, other injuries are almost certain to pop up at points in the season, and the team has already dipped into its considerable depth. Originally recalled as an option to replace Price in the bullpen in late April, Mitch White (RHP, LA) has made both multi-inning relief appearances and traditional one inning appearances. Rated a 7C prospect each of the last two seasons, White’s prospect profile reflects some concern regarding his ability to stick in the rotation in a fantasy relevant way. For one, his history of injuries has limited him to 303 innings since being drafted in 2016, spanning between rookie ball and the majors. White also had horrific results at Triple-A in 2019 (6.50 ERA, 1.84 HR/9), though his skills indicated results could have been better (15.8 K-BB%). That creates some concern about his ability to get results at the big-league level, though it could also have been a result of the PCL environment.   

The big name fantasy managers are waiting for is Josiah Gray (RHP, LA), who shifted up the prospect ranks in 2021 due to reported increase in velocity and a more consistent slider. Also noted in his report was that his performance was enough to warrant a potential callup to close the 2020 season despite having not pitched above Double-A. It’s not clear when the Dodgers may be willing to bring him to the majors, but his impact could be substantial when he receives an opportunity.  


Colorado Rockies

Like all teams, the Rockies made their minor-league assignments within the last two weeks. While many are worth noting, two stand out in particular for potential major-league impact. The first is Ryan Rolison (LHP, COL), the team’s next touted prospect attempting to tame Coors Field. He’ll start the season at Double-A Hartford, but could skip Triple-A altogether as the team has hinted at his major-league debut several times in the past year. That began in 2020, when it was originally reported that he would join the team for a season-ending road trip with the potential to take the mound.

Neither his travel on the road trip nor major-league debut materialized, though the team has also gone out of the way to mention Rolison as a potential option to fill any holes in the rotation. Again, that has yet to materialize and it appears Rolison’s debut will continue to be on hold. Kyle Freeland (LHP, COL) is nearing his 2021 season debut and is currently working his way back from a shoulder injury. Similarly, Antonio Senzatela (RHP, COL) is also expected back sooner than later.

The other name to keep in mind is Ryan Vilade (3B/OF, COL), who was aggressively assigned to Triple-A to begin the season. Given that he last played official games at High-A in 2019, it’s unclear how he will adjust to a higher level of competition. Beyond an adjustment to level of condition, there’s currently no clear role for him on the team, which will become only more true once Brendan Rodgers (2B, COL) returns and presumably forces Garrett Hampson (2B/OF, COL) to the outfield more regularly.


Arizona Diamondbacks

Luke Weaver (RHP, ARI) was a major piece of the return for Paul Goldschmidt (1B, STL) from St. Louis after the 2018 season. However, he’s now pitched in roughly one full season’s worth of games (30 GS, 146 innings) and may be closer to out of the rotation than developing into the a reliable middle of the rotation starter the team hoped to be receiving. In some aspects, he’s put together a decent skills profile, highlighted by a 17.6 K-BB%, 60.1% FPK, and 10.5 SwStr%. However, he’s struggled in other areas, particularly surrendering home runs and stranding runners. 

At the age of 27 and with two years of arbitration still ahead of him, the team isn’t likely to give up on Weaver as a key member of the rotation just yet. However, questions for manager Torey Lovullo regarding a potential shift to the bullpen for Weaver have begun. For now, the team will remain patient with Weaver to try to figure out his struggles, but options lurk within the system if he fails to get things together. 

The first is Riley Smith (RHP, ARI), who has filled on the rotation for Taylor Widener, who is currently on the injured list with a groin strain. However, Smith has his own skill problems (career 9.6 K-BB%, 6.2 SwK, 4.68 xERA) making it questionable at best that he would offer a true upgrade of Weaver. It’s been a while since fantasy managers have heard from Jon Duplantier (RHP, ARI), but he’s not forgotten within the organization. After missing time in spring training due to a cut on his finger, Duplantier has been working to get stretched out to a starter’s workload at the team’s alternate site. Most recently, it was reported that Duplantier threw 5.1 innings on 68 pitches at the alternate site and he served as a member of the taxi squad for the team’s recent weekend series against the Mets. Finally, Corbin Martin (RHP, ARI) has also been throwing at the alternate site, though reports have indicated he’s been too inconsistent to receive a call to the big leagues this early in the season. Even so, the 25-year-old should make an impact in the rotation at some point this season. 

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