Gleyber Torres is making his push for rookie of the year (Ohtani is glaring in his direction) hitting .481 with 3 homers, 7 RBI, and 2 steals in the last 7 days. For a 21-year-old rookie, his numbers on the season are fantastic with a .282 average, 21 homers and 5 steals. The power is surprising, but it’s backed up by a near 40% hard contact rate, a 42% fly ball rate, and a 40% pull rate. Triple 40s for the dinger! The strikeout rate is high and his contact rate sits below 70%, so that’s not great, but again he’s only 21! I like Gleyber, but his plate discipline and tendency to swing and miss make him a candidate for a Sophomore slump.
Christian Yelich is going HAM with 5 homers and 12 RBI and a steal this past week including hitting for the cycle and going 6 for 6. After the move to Milwaukee, I moved Yelich inside my top 50 overall. I knew 25 homers was in reach, combine that with a .300 average and 15-18 steals, and BOOM, top 50. This kid is near the top five in hard-hit rate and he’s looking more like a 30-20 player and is still just 26. Next year, there’s no reason to doubt him as a 2nd round talent. This might be his ceiling year, but his floor is still very high. Even if he hits .280 with 22 homers and 15 steals next year, he won’t hurt you as a 2nd round pcik.
Tyler “Post-Post-Post Hype Sleeper” White has been on fire blasting 3 home runs and driving in 10 this week. Is White this year’s Hoskins who was last year’s Gary Sanchez? A 19.6% strikeout rate and an 11.9% walk rate sure looks like Hoskins. However, a near-25% soft contact rate and 15% infield fly rate, don’t bode well for White moving forward. Hs hard-hit rate is league average, but he’s making a lot of contact. So no, I don’t think he’s this year’s Hoskins but could hit 5-6 more homers given the playing time. If he slumps, the Astros have depth to bench him which loses all his value. Ride him, but don’t be afraid to drop him after a couple O-fers.
Jonathan Villar is still under-owned in fantasy leagues and he’s hitting over .300 with a homer and 4 steals this week. Since being traded to the Orioles, he’s been a top 50 player. The Orioles normally don’t run much as a team but they certainly are letting Villar run wild as he’s 7 for 8 since coming over last month. His power is moderate, but moving from Miller Park to Camden Yards isn’t a downgrade, so look for another few homers to go along with 5 to 6 steals the rest of the way from Villar. Yes, that makes him a top 50-75 option going forward.
Can we talk about Luke Voit for a minute? He’s the new Yankee’s first baseman (bye-bye Greg Bird, fly away) and he has 4 home runs and 9 RBI while hitting .458 this week. Is Voit someone you should grab? Eh, I’m not loving it. He’s got a sub-70% contact rate and an unsustainable 30% line drive rate. He does have above average power but will probably hit around .240-.250. If he gets regular playing time, he could have some value down the stretch, otherwise, he can be left on waivers.
Freezing Cold Hitters
What a 180 for Khris Davis. After looking like Babe Ruth the last two weeks, Davis is hitting .074 with no home runs and 1 RBI this week. Should we be concerned? Absolutely not. Davis has been about as hot as anyone since the All-Star break, with a 25% K rate, it was only a matter of time before he hit a slump (not literally). Davis will be just fine as he competes with JDM, Jo-Ram, and Joey Gallo for the home run title. He’s not .275 hitter, so don’t be disappointed if he finishes at .247 again, still with 45 homers and 120 RBI, yes please!
My favorite punching bag Eric Hosmer is hitting .222 with no homers or steals this past week. Wait, you still own him? Why tho? He has 13 home runs and 6 steals with a .253 average. Players ranked ahead of Hosmer this year include Todd Frazier, Scott Schebler, and Jesse Winker who has been on the DL for a month and only has 281 at-bats. It’s simple, Hosmer has a career-worst strikeout rate, a career-high ground ball rate (which is bad), and his second highest soft contact rate. Owners, please do yourselves a favor and drop his ass.
Nolan Arenado is 3 for his last with no homers, 1 run and 2 RBI this week. Let me just check the schedule and yup, the Rockies have been on the road. No surprise there. Arenado is a very good player on the road but he’s a top 5 talent (if not higher) at home. The good news for Arenado owners is that 17 of the Rockies last 28 games are at home. This is a mere speed bump for Nolan, but just wait, his next three series are all in the hitter’s haven of Coors Field. Relax friends.
A.J Pollock is hitting just .077 with no him runs, no steals and only one run in the last 7 days. Unfortunately, Pollock is not the same player he was in the first month and a half where he looked like a potential MVP candidate. His strikeout rate is up 5% and his walk rate has dwindled to a below average 6.7%. He’s still stinging the ball with av47% hard contact rate but the results just aren’t there. Humidor anyone? I don’t know, it’s possible but because of his stellar batted ball profile, I’m holding out hope down the stretch.
You know I’m kicking it off with the German’s are coming Marquez! But, but, but, he doesn’t have any wins in his last two starts. Here’s the reason wins suck. Marquez has given up 5 hits, 2 earned runs, and 2 walks with 22 strikeouts in his last 2 starts (15 IP). That’s a 1.20 ERA, 0.47 WHIP, and a 13.2 K/9. No wins though. It might seem like Marquez only has one plus pitch (his slider), but that’s wrong. His curveball has basically been graded out as average (0.5) per FanGraphs pitch value but that’s because he’s given up 5 homers and a .316 BABIP against it in only 546 thrown. Get this, batters are hitting .169 on the pitch with a 51.4% K rate. The luck has turned around and Marquez has two elite pitches, making him a potential fantasy stud.
Jason Vargas has 14 strikeouts in his last two starts with only 1 earned run and 9 baserunners. That’s great, remember Vargas’ great 1st half last year? Do I think he has some magic left for the month of September? NO! Vargas is throwing 87 mph on his fastball and his changeup is only 6 mph slower. That’s not enough to be effective. His SwStr% actually looks good but it’s a small sample and I don’t trust it. Vargas is going to have a 3-4 HR outing soon and you’re going to wish you never picked him up.
Lucas Giolito has really looked good in the month of August. In his last two starts, Giolito has given up just 2 earned runs, 9 baserunners, and struck out 14 in 13.1 IP. I actually do believe in what Giolito is doing. His fastball velocity has gone from 91 mph to start the season to around 94 mph. He’s also throwing the fastball up in the zone more since the beginning of July. Take a look – on the left is through July 3rd and on the right is since July 3rd.
In addition, his ground ball and soft contact rates are up, While I don’t think he’s all of a sudden a must own, I’d think about grabbing him in deeper leagues and am intrigued for next year.
Robbie Ray has had rough season following his 2017 breakout but had 16 strikeouts and a 1.74 ERA in his last two starts. Then there’s the issue with his 1.45 WHIP and lasting only 10.1 innings in those two starts. OK, so he doesn’t totally belong here because of the poor WHIP but at least he’s keeping the runs down and the strikeouts up. However, his walk rate is up 2% this year to an ugly 12.7% with an elevated home run rate. The elevated walk rate is supported by a sub-40% zone rate (4% lower than 2017), and his elevated HR rate is supported by a 3% increase in hard contact. I cannot recommend Robbie Ray, it’s like combining Tanaka’s HR rate with Newcomb’s walk rate. NOPE!
Jameson Taillon has a 2.08 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and 15 strikeouts with 2 wins in his last 2 games. There’s no doubt that Taillon has been better since the introduction of his curveball but his K rate remains just OK. The 15 strikeouts between 2 starts are nice but as a whole, we are looking at an 8-8.5 K/9 pitcher with really solid ratios. Remember what I said about Robbie Ray? How could you not, you read it 8 seconds ago. Taillon is the opposite, he doesn’t give out free passes and suppresses home runs. I like Taillon coming into the year because his .352 BABIP was sure to regress and sure as shit, it sits at .298 this year. Taillon is the perfect number 3 for your rotation, a mid-3s ERA with a 1.20 WHIP and good enough Ks to not hurt you.
Freezing Cold Pitchers
Jake Arrieta has had an interesting season, to say the least. In his last two starts, his ERA is 8.00 and he’s issued 6 walks along with 8 hits, 4 of which are home runs. It’s funny, his 3.54 ERA on the season just about matches his ERA last year with the Cubs and the ERA estimators say he’s more of a low-4s ERA guy. His K-rate is downright Devlish at 6.66/9 (not good) and his zone contact is over 90% with a swinging strike rate below 7.5%. I know he’s been fine as a number 4 starter on your fantasy team, but I just don’t trust him down the stretch.
Joe Musgrove can’t seem to get on track with the Pirates. His 8.10 ERA and 1.70 WHIP in his last 2 starts are starting to worry me. His strikeout rate is on the rise, but Musgrove can’t seem to get into a Mus-Groove. Looking at Musgrove’s peripherals, he’s doing a good job of inducing soft contact and getting batters to chase pitches outside the zone. Musgrove typically has a high floor because of his lack of walks and his first-pitch strike rate. With the swings and misses outside the zone, I wish he wouldn’t throw so many strikes. It sounds crazy but I think he can be more effective that way. I’d still own him 12-team leagues and deeper.
Michael Fulmer looked great in his first start off the DL but only went 4.2 IP. In his second start against the weak Royals, he’s really got punished giving up 7 ER in only 3.2 IP. UGH, I had high hopes for Fulmer coming into the year but I can’t recommend him at all going forward. A start like that against the Royals tells me that I can’t trust him against any opposition. On a positive note, his strikeouts are up a little bit but so are his walks. His velocity has been great, he just needs to develop a better secondary pitch. I’m still going to be interested in Fulmer next year because he’s only 25 and should be dirt cheap. I won’t reach for him, but he could make a jump forward next year.
It appears the trade for Nathan Eovaldi has not worked out well for the Red Sox. Eovaldi has given up 9 earned runs with a 1.83 WHIP and 5 Ks in his last 2 starts (6 IP). He’s been bad for an entire month now. So, Mr. 99 MPH fastball has still not learned how to get strikeouts. Eovaldi still sports a sub-20% K rate with an 81.3% contact rate which is a couple percent worse than league average. His 51% zone rate is one of the highest in the league and hitters are teeing off. He won’t get hurt by walks but clearly, the long ball has stung him. There’s just not enough upside with Eovaldi this year. Maybe next year E.
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