Weekly Rundown – The Salsa Man and Wheeler and Dealin’

Well, Trout has hit the DL and that makes me sad. I think he still has a shot at the MVP if he misses only the minimum 10 days. Although, it is a wrist injury and that can have it’s negative impacts on power upon his return. The race is likely going to be between Mookie Betts and Jose Ramirez with J.D. Martinez and Francisco Lindor along with the aforementioned Mike Trout as the long-shots. My money is on Mookie but there’s no telling what Jo-Ram has in store for the next month and a half. Should be a great race to watch!

Hot Hitters
Shohei Ohtani is hitting .423 with three home runs, three steals and 7 RBI in the past 8 days. I was skeptical of Ohtani’s offensive skills coming into the season due to the high strikeout rate in Japan.  However, he’s been nothing short of incredible in his first taste of the big leagues at age 23 (just turned 24) and having to focus on both pitching and hitting. While his K rate is elevated, it’s below 30% and he’s hitting the ball with authority at a 42% hard hit rate. He’s pitched just 9 games and hit in 71 games, altogether, he’s been worth 2.6 WAR. Not too shabby for the rookie.

Matt Carpenter aka “The Salsa Man” aka Tha Hammer” (come on, his last name is Carpenter) continues his onslaught hitting five more long balls in the last 7 games. Unfortunately, four of them have been solo shots. I don’t think owners are complaining about a guy who was largely drafted outside the top 100 and now has a career high 32 homers in 110 games. If you trusted what the batted ball data and xStats were telling you in May, congratulations on winning your league! Just kidding, one player doesn’t make team, right guys? I’m confident he can hit 40 this year, nothing in his profile is showing signs of decline. I like my salsa HOT!

Franmil Reyes is hitting .500 with 3 home runs in limited playing time this past week. Franmil has some Joey Gallo in him in that he’s 6 foot 5 240 pounds, can hit the ball a mile but strikes out at an alarming rate. Reyes makes a little more contact than Gallo but he also hits the ball on ground too much. I’d ride this hot streak out, then drop him as soon as he turns cold because many 0-fers are going to follow in bunches. 

Speaking of my large hulking friend Joey Gallo, he’s blasted four dingers to go along with 10 RBI this past week. It’s come at only a .292 average which is OK, but that’s great for Joey. Everything looks about the same this year as it did last year except that his BABIP has somehow gone DOWN to .233 from .250 in 2017. Ugh, his batting average is sitting right near .200 for the season, BUUUUUT in the second half last year, he really picked it up! He hit .246 (yes, that’s picking it up for Gallo) and hit 11 home runs in August! He’s on pace for better numbers than that this month, and I’m all over it.

Mallex Smith continues to remain mixed league viable thanks to a solid batting average and those steals baby! He’s got five swipes this past week along with a .444 batting average and six runs. MMMMM-Alex Smith (no not the quarterback) has cut his K rate by about 4% which has allowed him to use those legs a bit more. His .375 BABIP is a bit high, but 25 stolen bases in this era cannot be ignored. He should have no problem reaching 30 while keeping a good average.

Miguel Andujar has hit 3 homers with 5 RBI and a steal this past week. What, you thought I was going to talk about Stanton? They basically have had the same production except Andjuar has a steal in that time frame. I discussed this on Reddit, the Yankees have been feasting off some bad pitching (the White Sox and the Rangers). Overall, I don’t love Andujar’s approach, but he has power, doesn’t strike out a ton, and is making contact in the zone more than 91% of the time. The ceiling isn’t crazy high, but he does look like a .280 hitter with 25-30 homer power given 600+ plate appearances.

Hot Pitchers
Patrick “Top 20 SP” Corbin has 17 strikeouts with a 2.03 ERA and 0.83 WHIP to go along with a couple wins this past week. Don’t judge the rest of my bold predictions, but at least this one is looking good. He’s actually outpacing my projections I had for him, thanks to an elite strikeout rate. Now that his slider is one of the best in the game, his fastball is more or less location based and not velocity based. His fastball is now successful because players have to be ready for the devastating slider he throws 40% of time. When a 91 mph fastball is up and in right after an 80 mph slider was buried low and away, it appears much faster and more difficult to hit. #Success

Corey Kluber didn’t exactly have an ace-type outing the other night but 3 of 4 earned runs were thanks to a 3-run homer off the bat of Jorge Polanco in the 6th. Even still, his 2.25 ERA and 0.69 WHIP with 14 Ks in his last two starts earns him a spot here. It’s good to see Klub-bot getting out of his mid-season funk, but where are the strikeouts? He’s only got 21 Ks in 27.1 IP so I’m a little concerned. His 11.5% swinging strike rate in that time says his strikeouts should go up but he’s also giving up 90% zone contact. I’ll be in wait-and-see mode with Kluber, but at this point he’s a borderline top 10 starting pitcher.

Yonny Chirinos hasn’t started a game this past week but somehow has a Win and 10 strikeouts with a 0.90 ERA and a 0.70 WHIP. Now that’s getting it done! I like Chirinos, I think he he should in the rotation but the Rays rotation is set…. HAHA there’s Blake Snell and …. come on Rays, give Chirinos a shot to go 6+ IP. He’s got great control and probably 8.5-9.0 K/9 type stuff. Good ratios, decent Ks, he’d be a solid back-end of the rotation guy for fantasy if they just STARTED HIM!

German Marquez deserves a spot on his list. His 19 strikeouts over the last week ties him with Jacob deGrom for the league lead with 19. Yes, he has given up 5 earned runs in 13 innings but for a Rockies pitchers, that’s basically a shutout! His strikeouts have been great and I’d own him but bench him in tough starts at home. It’s too bad, because he looks like a top 20 starter right now. Unfortunately, I would never rank a Rockies starter in the top 20 unless your last name rhymed with Kale, Berzer, or LeProm. If Marquez is available in your league, I’d give him a shot but play the match-ups. 

Zack Wheeler is on a roll friends. Check out my thoughts on Wheeler in depth at TheSportsDegens from a couple weeks ago. You gotta skip through the Wil Myers section, cuz he always gets hurt. Z-Dub on the other hand has grabbed 2 wins (and that while pitching for the Mets), 17 strikeouts with a 1.29 ERA and a 0.64 WHIP in his last two starts. It’s not just a hot week for the Wheel-man, he’s got 5 wins, 34 Ks with a 2.08 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP in the last 30 days. Yup, I like Wheeler a lot, he throws extremely hard, limits hard contact and homers and his strikeouts have bumped up.

Freezing Cold Hitters
Yoan Moncada is on another extended slump hitting .091 this past week with no homers or steals. He’s also only hitting .169 in the last 30 days. Strikeouts, strikeouts, and more strikeouts. That’s the root of Moncada’s issues. His near 35% K rate isn’t going to cut it. As I look at his profile, he’s patient and doesn’t expand the zone with a 23% O-swing (great). He hits the ball hard and doesn’t hit a ton of popups. If he would cut his K rate to 25-28%, he could put up Trevor Story-type numbers with more steals. I’m not buying this year but I’m intrigued for next season.

Yasmani Grandal is hitting .118 with one homer this past week. It’s not surprising that Grandal is slowing down, most catchers do in August and September. His .252 average with 20 homers ranks second in value among qualified catchers. Ugh, what a rough position to roster. The Dodgers have a capable backup in Austin Barnes. I could see an even split in playing time decreasing Grandals value a bit down the stretch.

J.T. Realmuto, another catcher, I know. See what said above for Grandal. Realmuto is hitting .053 with no homers this past week and .159 in the last two weeks. I think he bounces back, he’s the same player he was last year without the stolen bases. He is hitting the ball harder and his HR/FB rate is up a bit as a result. I’m confident that Realmuto holds of Grandal as the #1 catcher at season’s end.

Greg “the only” Bird “that can’t fly” is really struggling. Oh, I forgot about Penguins. Anyways, he has 1 hit in his last 22 at-bats. That’s good for a .045 average with no homers or RBI. Supporters will point to his .246 BABIP and this there’s positive regression coming. I’d argue against that. His 50% flyball rate and 11% IFFB rate combined with slow foot speed points to a low-BABIP profile. Just ask Joey Gallo. Gallo is more athletic and hits the ball harder than Bird but still has a lower BABIP with a similar fly ball rate. My money is on Bird’s BABIP staying around .250 which means he’s a .220 hitter with 25-30 homer power. Combine that with his poor health and I’d rather leave it on the wire.

Rhys Hoskins’ roller coaster season continues. He’s 0 for his last 20 with no RBI or steals but hey, he’s got 2 runs thanks to his ability to walk! He came out of the break smoking hot with 8 homers with less than 3 weeks. Since July 31st though, he’s hitting just .167 with one homer. Check this out, his K% is only 13.2% and his BB% is 21.1%! Yup, that’s a .167 BABIP, so that’s coming way up. Keep the faith, he’s hitting the ball as hard as ever and his 17.7% O-Swing combined with a 91.7% Z-contact tells me he’s about to bust out in a big way. Look for a hot couple of weeks from Hoskins going forward.

Freezing Cold Pitchers
Justin Verlander’s awful 6 ER, 2 IP outing Thursday night earns him a spot here. I understand that he has 16 strikeouts and a win in the last 8 days, but that was a ratio killer Justin! He’s striking out so many batters, I’m not all that concerned except for the fly balls. He’s at a 53% flyball rate which would be a career high and you know what? His 1.25 HR/9 would also be a career high. His teammate Gerrit Cole, ran into home run issues earlier this season and now it’s JV’s turn. Hopefully he can suppress them a little bit more because he’s having another CY Young-type season.

Marco Gonzales may have hit a wall as he’s given up a whopping 11 earned runs in his last 12 innings. He’s given 19 hits and 4 home runs as well but hey, at least he’s not walking anyone. Marco is known for his injuries and prior to this year, his career high in IP was 120.1, which was in 2017. This year, he’s just under 140. Let’s check his velocity in his last several ga….. And there it is. After averaging close to 91 mph in May, here are his last 4 starts: 90.1, 89.6, 89.9, 89.4. Yup, that’s the wall. Try to flip him in redrafts if you can otherwise, if this trend continues, you can cut bait.

Andrew Suarez has a 9.90 ERA with a near 2.00 WHIP in his last two starts. So, that run wasn’t going to last. His 7% swinging strike rate tells me that his sub-8 K/9 might drop even further. He’s giving up a lot more home runs which along with great control was a skill he possessed in the minors. Now, his HR/9 is 1.34, nearly double what his rate was in the minors. Outside of weak opponents at home, I wouldn’t even look to stream him.

Lance McCullers Jr. is injured, I know, duh. Guess what though? He made it 126 innings this year, a new career high! Yes, there’s a chance he comes back before the playoffs, but he’s likely relegated to the bullpen or a short 4-5 inning starter upon his return. His numbers on the year are 10 wins, a 3.96 ERA and 1.19 WHIP with 138 strikeouts. Which is fine, but definitely not top 30. This is the reason I ranked him outside the top 40 for SPs in my preseason rankings. Just don’t look at where I had Bauer. I won’t be trusting McCullers going forward and in 2019.

Dylan Bundy was back at it again getting bombed on following two solid starts. It was the Red Sox, so I guess he can get a pass and you likely didn’t start him there. Oh, you did? Well, why did you do that? Anyways, the Sawk put up 19 runs and 7 of them were charged to Bundy. Do I like Bundy long term? Yes, if he gets his ass out of Baltimore and goes to the NL. I can’t trust his this year. He needs to follow his buddy Gausman and get out.

Just when I start believing in Masahiro Tanaka, he serves up 3 bombs and 6 ER in 5 innings against the Rangers. To be fair, the Rangers have been white-hit recently. How hot you ask? Well, in the last 30 days, they rank #1 overall in wOBA at .361 and lead the league with 43 home runs in that time frame. Arlington heats up in the Summer fam. I’m using this as a buying opportunity. His K-BB% is over 20% in the second half. I still believe.