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MLB Today: Corbin Burnes Getting It Done for B-More

May 13, 2024 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Corbin Burnes is enjoying a fine debut with the Baltimore Orioles.
Corbin Burnes has bounced back this season. (Kim Klement Neitzel-USA Today Sports)

Austin Riley (side) is day-to-day; Evan Carter (back) is going to see a specialist; and Shohei Ohtani is also dealing with a back woe. Here are some of the other Fantasy baseball stories we’re following…

Corbin Burnes Bouncing Back

Three years ago, Corbin Burnes was the master of command, even setting records for his control. While he regressed in this regard in each of the past two seasons, he’s bounced back so far, performing well in his first year with the Orioles.

While he can still punch out plenty of batters (see video below), Burnes’s strikeout rate has dipped in each of the past four years. Combine this with a walk rate that rose in the middle two seasons of this stretch and that became a worrisome trend, so that’s why it’s been a relief to see the BB rate back down this season (although in two of his last three starts he’s walked three over six frames, so keep an eye on this).

In fact, he’s gotten a bit worse each month, and is still trying to earn his first win in May as he takes the mound vs. Toronto on Monday evening. Even so, Burnes’s record has been solid so far and his ERA (supported by an xERA of 2.99) is at its lowest level since that stellar 2021 campaign.

Even more promising is the fact that he’s recording the highest groundball rate of his career.

Adolis Garcia’s Power Drought

As long as he doesn’t lose his shit because he’s getting pitched inside, Adolis Garcia could be a decent bet to snap his 13-game homerless drought on Monday (he’s currently +340 to go yard as per FanDuel).

He got off to a blazing start this season, bashing a pair of dingers in 13 at-bats in March before cranking another half dozen (while batting .301) in April. Since the calendar has turned to May, however, it’s been a struggle for Garcia.

He’s managed just one extra-base hit this month while scuffling to a woeful 395 OPS. To say Garcia is due is an overstatement. He managed an RBI single on Sunday to produce the Rangers’ only run of the day, so perhaps that’s the start of something good.

Garcia’s run count is down, which is not surprising given that his OBP has dipped 24 points. But if you’re seeking a silver lining it’s got to be yet another improvement in his swing and miss tendencies. For the fourth year running, Garcia has reduced his strikeout rate. He’s probably never going to win a batting title, but if he can settle in as a .260-.270 hitter with the same level of power and productivity, it will really help round out his game (especially since his 25 steals in 2022 look like an outlier and his walk rate has regressed to the norm this year).

Corey Knebel’s Incessant Injuries

When we last checked in on reliever Corey Knebel, he was having a rough time, but he was at least slightly healthier that season, and has generally been a pretty solid hurler (even a capable closer) when he could stay on the field.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t been very often over the last five years, so no surprise that after missing all of last season a shoulder woe has delayed his start to 2024. Knebel signed a minor league deal with the White Sox in March, and the thinking was that he could emerge as an option for saves in a bullpen without a clear go-to closer.

But as per usual, injuries nixed that plan.

Not that there’s many save chances that emerge for the Pale Hose (although they do seem to be shaking off their early-season woes), but currently Michael Kopech has earned some rope as the team’s closer.

So when (if?) Knebel is ready to return, he’s certainly not guaranteed a high-leverage role. He’s only 32, so we’re not ready to completely write him off, but you can safely ignore him for Fantasy purposes until he gives you a reason otherwise.

RotoRob Tune of the Day

American musician Billy Squier has been at it since 1968. In 1981, he released his second album, Don’t Say No, and the lead single was “The Stroke,” with a B-Side of “Too Daze Gone.”

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