June is here and with it, All-Star voting. I was lucky enough to attend the 2003 All-Star Game in Chicago, and have always had a soft spot for the game despite the many issues people have with it. As you make your selections for those players you think should represent your team in DC this July, check out the most recent edition of the stock watch to see who has put up all-star performances (or not) over the past few weeks.
As always, if you have a player you would like profiled or have a question about, feel free to post in the comment section or reach out to me on Twitter @hedenson18 with that or any other questions.
Dylan Covey SP CHW
Covey has pitched well over his past 3 outings, posting a 1.65 ERA while whiffing 18 batters over 16.3 IP, including 7 over 5IP in his last start. He has done a great job keeping the ball on the ground (68.1% GB%) and advanced metrics love his performance over the past two weeks as well (2.19 FIP, 3.09 xFIP, 3.32 SIERA). While he has only started 4 games for the White Sox this season, Covey is someone I am keeping an eye on and adding in deeper leagues.
One main reason for this is his elevated strikeout production thus far. Covey has struck out 21 batters in 22.1 IP so far in 2018, and has seen his SwStr% jump almost 2% compared to 2017. Big deal right? Generally, I would agree, but one thing has me thinking this change might continue as the season progresses: his velocity.
Covey has been throwing harder so far in 2018, seeing close to a 1.7 MPH jump on his sinker (thrown 66.4% of the time) and smaller hikes for his other pitches as well. This boost in velocity, SwStr% and slight rise in his chase rate (28.1 O-Swing% in 2018, 24.8% O-Swing in 2017) all point to the possibility that these changes may stick for the rest of the way.
While his current 8.46 K/9 isn’t out of this world, it does represent a big jump from what he posted last season (5.27 K/9) in 70+ IP at the big league level and makes Covey a much better fantasy option if he can keep this up. Fantrax lists Covey as owned in only 8% of leagues, so he may be worth a flier if you need an arm over the next few weeks.
Harrison Bader OF STL
Bader has played well the past 2 weeks, posting a .303/.324/.510 line with 2 home runs and 2 swipes over his past 12 games and making his case for more playing time in what has been a disappointing season for Cardinals outfielders. Take a look at this chart showcasing their hitting this season:
Tommy Pham is obviously having a much better season than his counterparts, but all the others are pretty close statistically. As you can see above, Bader has come pretty close to equaling (and bettering) the production of Ozuna and Fowler in almost 100 fewer PA’s. His walk rate (8%) and strikeout rate (24.85) are in line with what we saw in the minor leagues, and he has rated very well on the base-paths as his 7.2 Spd score indicates.
While Bader will always be more of a multi-category hitter for you in fantasy than a guy who blasts 30 HR, he is someone to keep an eye on as the season progresses despite recent better play by Fowler and Ozuna. Bader is currently owned in 40% of Fantrax leagues, so he still a bit under-owned if you are looking for a potential value bat.
Junior Guerra SP MIL
Guerra has tossed 2 quality starts over the past week, reaching 6 IP in both outings and posting a glittering 2.25 ERA (2.45 FIP, 2.58 xFIP) and 1.00 WHIP. He has struck out 12 batters over this period, making batters swing and miss at an 11.5% SwStr% as well.
After seeing his BB% skyrocket during an injury-plagued 2017, Guerra has returned to his 2016 form, posting a 3.13 BB/9 in 2018. His velocity is also back up after dropping a bit in 2017, and he is now between 1-2 MPH faster on all of his pitches so far on the season.
Guerra is giving up more quality contact so far in 2018 (41.6% Hard% in 2018, 33.5% Hard% in 2017) and has been a bit lucky on the base paths as shown by his 81.8% LOB%. But even if he regresses to more match his other pitching indicator metrics on the season (2.83 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 4.23 xFIP) he should still be valuable moving forward. Guerra is available in 42% of leagues, and should definitely be someone you target if that is the case in yours.
Rafael Devers 3B BOS
The young Beantown 3B has been a struggle to watch lately, and looks completely lost at the plate right now. Over the two weeks Devers has been striking out more (34.1% K%), putting the ball on the ground a lot (56% GB%) and generally failing to hit the ball with any authority as his 40% Soft% suggests. These factors have contributed to his .150/.227/.225 line in that time period, and things have only gone worse over the past week, with Devers notching only 1 hit in his last 20 PA.
Devers just hit the exact amount of playing time he achieved last year, but his second set of 58 games has not been as productive:
As you can see, his 2018 power numbers aren’t too far off from last season, but his slash line has taken a real hit. Both his K% (27.1% in 2018, 23.8% in 2017) and SwStr% (14.6% in 2018, 12.4% in 2017) are elevated so far in 2018, though he has been able to keep his BB% steady (7.5%). His BABIP is down about 70 points in 2018 (.270 in 2018, .342 in 2017), and while he did generally post higher BABIP levels in the minors, his 14.7% LD% make me leery of saying this drop is due to all bad luck. One bright spot for Devers is that he has been generating hard contact this season even when compared to last year:
|Batted Balls||Barrel %||Exit Velocity||Launch Angle||XBA||XSLG||XWOBA|
That 91.9 MPH average exit velocity in 2018 is a top 25 mark league-wide, and he is also up slightly in his overall Hard% (36.9% in 2018, 34.5% in 2017). While that is nice to see, Devers will need to make some adjustments to his current approach to get closer to last season’s levels. At 21 he is much younger than most of his competition, so growing pains like these aren’t as worrisome for me as they would be for other players, though it may take him awhile to work out the kinks.
Michael Fulmer SP DET
Fulmer’s last two starts have been pretty brutal, seeing him give up 9 ER in 9.1 IP while walking 7 batters. He has given up 3 long balls in these two starts and hasn’t done a great job of making batters miss, striking out only 4 during that time. His overall numbers aren’t that spectacular either, as the Tiger currently has a 4.73 ERA (4.61 FIP, 4.34 xFIP) and 1.35 WHIP over his 12 starts so far.
Walks have been killing Fulmer in 2018. His BB% has jumped from 5.9% to 9.5% on the season, and he has issued free passes to 13.3% of batters faced over the past 30 days. As in previous years, Fulmer is not doing much on the strikeout side to alleviate these rising walk rates. While his K/9 is actually up compared to last season (7.43 K/9 in 2018, 6.23 K/9 in 2017) it still sits at a pretty low-level overall.
His Hard% allowed is up almost 10% on the season, and while he has been a bit unlucky on the LOB side of things (68.8% LOB%) in general his overall profile is pretty middle of the road. Without his usual control Fulmer’s value takes a pretty big dive, so unless he can get that back on track 2018 could be pretty up and down for his owners.
Carlos Carrasco SP CLE
Carrasco has been rocked his last two starts, most recently against Minnesota in an outing that saw him chased after allowing 6 ER (1 HR) in 3.2 IP. Despite a mostly solid 2018, he has seen a drop in his strikeout rate (8.64 K/9 in 2018, 10.17 K/9 in 2017) and SwStr% (12.8% in 2018, 13.4% in 2017) even though his O-Swing% has actually jumped about 5% on the year.
His overall 4.50 ERA seems a bit inflated (3.90 FIP, 3.69 xFIP, 3.74 SIERA) and should get closer to those other numbers provided his LOB% (69.2%) normalizes. All in all, there’s nothing too concerning in Carrasco’s profile that suggests this is anything more than a blip in performance.