Closing Time: Yasmani Grandal's surging value and more

Los Angeles DodgersYasmani Grandal is the rare catcher who’s hitting well in 2018 (AP Photo).

• Yasmani Grandal hit his second homer in three nights Wednesday and is batting .278/.383/.516 on the year. He entered as one of only three catchers who ranked as top-125 fantasy players in 2018 (Gary Sanchez and Francisco Cervelli the others) and the next best Buster Posey wasn’t top-175. Grandal came cheap at drafts thanks to the presence of Austin Barnes, but the veteran has held off the youngster and even hit cleanup Wednesday, directly in front of the newly returned Justin Turner (who had a .415 OBP last year), so Grandal’s in a good spot and looking like one of the more profitable draft day buys of 2018.

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• Michael Conforto went 0-for-4 and is down to .200/.331/.330 on the year. His offseason shoulder surgery was always considered serious and something of a mystery as to how he’d respond, and while it seemed encouraging he returned sooner than expected, it appears Conforto is still nowhere close to last season’s pre-injured version. Either that or he’s suddenly forgotten how to hit. Conforto’s 146 wRC+ last season would’ve ranked top-10 among hitters if he qualified, when he produced a 41.6 Hard%. This year that’s down to 29.7%. When Conforto bounces back depends entirely on an uncommon health issue, so he’s droppable in shallower formats.

• Conforto did have a tough matchup Wednesday against lefty J.A. Happ, who tossed seven shutout innings with a 10:0 K:BB ratio. He entered with an ERA (4.80) not representative of how he’s pitched this season (his 29.2 K% ranked top-10 among starters entering Wednesday’s start), so fantasy owners should expect more strong outings from Happ moving forward.

• Matt Olson had been getting dropped in some leagues after his OPS fell to .676 a few days ago, but he’s homered in two of three games since, including this opposite field shot Wednesday off Craig Kimbrel. Olson’s profile suggests he’ll be especially streaky prone, so pick him up if he’s somehow available. His 51.0 Hard% ranks No. 3 in all of baseball.

• The A’s are 7-for-14 on SB attempts this season. The Braves are 35-for-47.

• Matt Harvey had a 5:0 K:BB ratio but lasted just four innings for his second straight start with Cincinnati. He allowed three runs, including a homer to Brandon Belt, who’s now gone yard in three straight games. Belt is batting .301/.405/.562 on the year, giving him the second-highest OPS (behind only Freddie Freeman) among first basemen. Belt now has 27 homers over his last 528 at bats since last season despite playing in the league’s toughest park for lefty power.

• Yolmer Sanchez went deep and is hitting .294 on the year while batting second in Chicago’s lineup. He doesn’t have a ton of power or speed upside, but he’ll chip in a bit of both, is eligible at 2B/3B and is available in more than 80 percent of Yahoo leagues. He’s also good defensively, which should keep his bat regularly in the lineup, so he’s an option for deep leaguers.

• Trevor Bauer held the Tigers scoreless with just four hits and a 10:0 K:BB ratio in a dominant performance. He sits with a 2.59 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP with 67 strikeouts over 59.0 innings during what’s been easily the best season of his career. Bauer has never previously posted an ERA better than 4.19 or a WHIP better than 1.31, but I’m not actively selling, as he’s always had this type of potential.

• Nick Pivetta has a 3.72 season ERA with a 1.13 WHIP and has recorded an 18:1 K:BB ratio over his last two starts yet is owned in just 26 percent of leagues. He held the Orioles to just three baserunners over seven runs in Baltimore on Wednesday, tying a career high with 11 Ks. A poor two-start stretch a couple weeks back resulted in Pivetta being dropped in many leagues, but his ownership numbers should start skyrocketing back up soon.

• Jake Faria was pulled after just 4.1 innings and finished with a 2:4 K:BB ratio against a poor Royals offense. Faria has had to start four of his last five games on the road, but none have come in New York or Boston, and he’s taken a major step back during his sophomore campaign. Faria’s 4.93 FIP ranks in the bottom-20 among starters.

• C.J. Cron homered for the second straight game and has raised his OPS to .861 on the year, up nearly 100 points over the last week. He sports a strong 39.0 Hard% and is on pace to finish with a line of .289-95-40-103. Cron entered Wednesday as the No. 63 ranked player yet is available in more than half of leagues.

• Justin Verlander tossed a shutout against the Angels, and he now leads MLB with a 1.05 ERA and a 0.71 WHIP on the year. His 2.21 FIP and 28.7 K-BB% are both career bests, which is pretty remarkable given this is his 13th year in the league.

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