The Astros are baseball’s carnival in 2017, the team having the most fun. Houston leads the majors in just about every important offensive stat — runs, homers, average, OBP, slugging. Along with the Dodgers, the Astros are destroying everything in their path.
And with that Houston offense in mind, any pitcher starting for the Astros becomes interesting. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of talent — Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers — but we’ve also seen Mike Fiers carry value. And Brad Peacock has been a nifty surprise.
Are you willing to take a stab at Collin McHugh? He’s on the way back.
McHugh’s fantasy career has been all over the map in recent seasons — he was terrific in 2014 (2.73 ERA, 1.02 WHIP), so-so in 2015 (3.89/1.28), and mediocre last year (4.34/1.41). He’s usually pretty good with the strikeouts, close to one per inning. His curveball was a plus pitch in 2014 and 2015, but he couldn’t command it last year.
This year, it’s been all about the medical file. McHugh dealt with a dead arm in the spring (it’s never as bad as it sounds), and since then it’s been elbow problems (worry justified). The Astros took their sweet time with McHugh’s rehab — ah, life with a 16-game divisional lead — and now he’s ready for his close up. McHugh is set to start Saturday in Baltimore.
McHugh made four rehab appearances with Double-A Corpus Christi, for whatever they mean to you (15 IP, 18 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 11 K). That type of work is normally more about process than outcome. You’d still like to see some dominant numbers, but the Astros feel McHugh is ready to try a real start.
There’s a wide range of outcomes going forward, but we present McHugh because there’s plausible upside. He’s available in about three-quarters of Yahoo leagues. Feel like riding shotgun with the league’s best offense? There’s a seat waiting for you.
• I tried to limit my viewing of the Padres and Giants; watching those offenses is staring directly into the sun. But San Diego outfielder Jabari Blash definitely makes an impression, filling out the uniform at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds. Blash (autocorrect wants to call him Slash) had a double and a run in the Thursday win, and while his .264 average over three weeks might not grab you, note the .403 OBP and .491 slugging percentage.
Blash is a late bloomer — while he tore up Triple-A this year (.291/.407/.631, 18 homers), it came in his age-27 season. That’s obviously old for the level. But the Padres are giving him a shot now, enjoying his 11-for-24 binge (with five extra-base hits) since the All-Star break.
This column aims to be a mix of available players, speaking to different depths of formats. If you want to kick the tires on Blash, he’s out there, owned in just two percent of Yahoo leagues.
• When you think of the Yankees bullpen, you think of power arms like Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances. You might think of the two new additions from the White Sox. Heck, you might pine for days of yore, the Mariano Riveras and Goose Gossages.
Meanwhile, Chad Green is screaming for your attention.
Green can pump up the volume, working with a 95 mph heater. He’s in the middle of a wiffle ball season — 37 IP, 16 H, 11 BB, 51 K. That’s a 1.70 ERA, a 0.73 WHIP. He doesn’t have any wins or saves, but ratio-smoothing innings are valuable in many formats. And perhaps higher-leverage work is on the way.
Many relievers come and go, get hot and fizzle away. Green had a 4.73 ERA last year. We can’t be sure if this year’s run is real or not, but I’m happy to give him a probationary shot on a few of my rosters. Anyone who strikes out 37.5 percent of the opponents is doing something right.
Owning Green is pretty easy — he’s free to scoop in 94 percent of Yahoo leagues.