Welcome back, Juan Soto. It's been a tough stretch for Soto – really, a tough calendar year – but he looks like he's starting to figure things out.
He had two doubles Thursday, finishing his three-game set against the Twins with seven hits, five of them for extra bases. He's now hitting .419 with 10 extra-base hits and only eight strikeouts over his past 12 games, and he's looking a lot more like the guy we were drafting with a first-round pick.
That's not to say Soto is definitely fixed – 12 games is an awfully small sample size. But … I'm pretty confident he's going to be just fine moving forward. Maybe he'll be something short of a first-round-caliber player, but I think we're likely past the "How worried should I be about Juan Soto???" part of the season, at least.
I'm Chris Towers, filling in for Dan Schneier on the FBT Newsletter again, and here's what else you need to know about from Thursday's action and heading into the weekend:
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Is Nathan Eovaldi the real deal?
Eovaldi twirled another gem Thursday, his third straight start without allowing a run, lowering his season ERA to 2.73 thanks to a 28.2-inning scoreless streak. In that stretch, he has 25 strikeouts to just two walks, and he's been one of the best pitchers in the game so far.
How is he doing it? There are a few things he's doing differently, most notably throwing his splitter and cutter a lot more often – he's at a 46% combined usage on those pitches so far, compared to just 31% last season. The cutter remains a pretty mediocre pitch, but the splitter has been an incredible weapon for him – he had 11 whiffs with it Thursday in addition to just a .192 wOBA allowed on the pitch coming into the season. He's generating a ton of ground balls with it in addition to pretty strong whiff rates, and that might be the biggest difference right now.
Can he keep this up? We've seen some pretty solid seasons from Eovaldi in the past, but never anything like the Cy Young-caliber level he's at right now. My gut tells me he won't keep it up, but that splitter looks pretty overwhelming right now, and I don't want to bet against a pitch like that.
Eovaldi is probably a sell-high candidate, but with how many pitching injuries and disappointments there have been so far, I'd need to be bowled over for him. I would probably move him for Alek Manoah, but I'm not super confident in that one. Eovaldi might just be a top-30 starter the rest of the way with his increased splitter usage.
The Fantasy Baseball Today Podcast crew breaks down Eovaldi and looks ahead to Week 8 here.
Royce Lewis, SS, Twins
The Twins sent Jose Miranda down Wednesday, and then they had Lewis playing third base in his rehab debut Thursday. Lewis is working his way back from a second torn ACL and is likely to get multiple weeks, so he's not a super high priority add, but he's also a high-upside player, so don't forget about him as he works his way back.
I'll be willing to say Alvarez has officially arrived as a must-start Fantasy option, but he might not be far off now. He's started seven of 11 games for the Mets since the start of May, and two of the ones he didn't start were during double-headers. The path to playing DH regularly would open up considerable upside, and Alvarez is already 8 for 25 in May with two homers and only five strikeouts. He's a must-roster player in all two-catcher leagues, and is probably good enough to be rostered in most one-catcher leagues at this point.
Bailey Ober, SP, Twins
Ober wasn't as good this time around as his first three starts, but when a complete game with six strikeouts and no walks against a team like the Padres is your bad start, you've been pretty good. I think Ober's probably played over his head a bit so far, but he's also got a 3.54 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 172.2 career MLB innings, so it's not like he's been a scrub before this. Ober isn't an ace, but he should be a pretty good pitcher moving forward, and those are in relatively short supply.
Alex Kirilloff, OF, Twins
After going 1 for 3 with a walk Thursday, Kirilloff has now reached base in 10 of his first 18 trips to the plate since returning to the majors. He doesn't have an extra-base hit yet, and given his long-running wrist issues, it's fair to wonder how much power he'll ultimately be able to tap into. On the other hand, he did hit four homers in 14 games in the minors this season, so there's still some pop there. He's an interesting speculative add.
Mike Soroka, SP, Braves
With Max Fried and Kyle Wright on the IL and expected to miss two months or more, the Braves are pretty desperate for pitching, and Fantasy players are itching to see Soroka get another shot. He had a 2.68 ERA in his only major-league season, so I understand the interest, but I'm just here to say that expectations should be kept in check. He has a 5.47 ERA in his six minor-league rehab starts, and he's coming back from two ruptured Achilles, something I can't remember another pitcher doing. Which is all to say, if the Braves get anything close to average production from Soroka, it's a pretty big win. I'm pulling for him, but I'm not getting my hopes up yet.
Week 8 sleeper pitchers
Scott White goes through every starting pitcher option to identify the topand top sleeper options for the upcoming week. Here are .
- Josiah Gray (62%) at MIA, vs. DET
- Jon Gray (79%) vs. COL
- Seth Lugo (70%) vs. KC, vs. BOS
- Dane Dunning (20%) vs. ATL, vs. COL
- Eury Perez (60%) vs. WAS
Week 8 hitter matchups
Scott also goes through every team's schedule to identify the best and worst matchups for hitters across the league based on ballpark, opposing projected starters, and more. Here are the top- and bottom-five schedules for Week 8
Best hitter matchups
Worst hitter matchups
News & notes
- Mason Miller was placed on the IL with right elbow inflammation, retroactive to May 8. The A's were probably always going to have to do something to limit his innings, but this probably isn't what they were hoping for. An MRI this week came back clean, but we don't have any idea what kind of timetable we're looking at here. Miller is worth stashing if you've got the IL spot to play with, certainly.
- Tyler Glasnow is expected to resume his minor-league rehab assignment Tuesday. He was pulled after just 11 pitches Wednesday with mild left side tightness, but it appears to have been out of an abundance of caution. Maybe this pushes his timetable back a week or so, but we should still see Glasnow back in the next few weeks.
- Wander Franco exited Thursday with neck spasms, but he told reporters after the game he hopes to play Friday.
- Tyler Mahle will undergo Tommy John surgery and is officially done for the 2023 season. That's a tough break for Mahle, but it does leave a path for one (or both!) of Ober or Louie Varland to remain in the rotation long term. I think Ober might be the better bet to hang around, while Varland is probably the higher-upside player. Both should be rostered at this point.
- Carlos Carrasco is expected to make another rehab start Sunday before likely returning from the IL next week. He's 38% rostered and honestly, I think that might be too high at this point in his career – Carrasco has a 4.76 ERA in 44 starts since 2021.
- Max Kepler was removed Thursday due to a leg cramp, but it sounds like it was mostly precautionary. He'll be reevaluated Friday, but he could be available off the bench for that one.
- Yasmani Grandal exited with right hamstring tightness. Hopefully it's a non-issue, but given Grandal's age, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him miss some time.
- TJ Friedl will undergo an MRI after leaving with soreness in his side.
- Yoan Moncada is expected to be activated Friday, and he should be more or less an everyday player when he returns.
- Seth Brown is slated to begin a rehab assignment Saturday at Triple-A. He's been on the IL since early April with an oblique strain, and has some deep-league appeal.
- Ramon Laureano has missed three straight after banging his head against the outfield wall on a catch he made Monday. Hopefully he's OK, but if he misses any more time, I wouldn't be surprised if he was placed on the IL.