Big events are always a part of the MLB season. We just watched hundreds of high school and college-aged players take the next step towards reaching their goal of becoming a professional baseball player with the completion of the draft. The Minnesota Twins celebrated a legend, retiring Joe Mauer’s number in a ceremony this past week. With every new beginning comes an end, or at least, the recognition of one.
Another first is happening in a couple week: the first MLB game to be held in Europe. The Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees will play a two game set in London on June 29-30. It is always exciting to see new audiences have the opportunity to develop a love for the game we all enjoy. As we gear up for MLB to cross the pond, read on for a few recent performances to keep track of for your fantasy squad.
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.
- Ian Desmond
Desmond is batting .337/.398/.627 with five home runs over the last month. He’s blistered the ball even more over the last 14 games, posting a .350/.372/.650 line, albeit with a .426 BABIP. While that type of production will not last (career BABIP .323) Desmond has improved in several ways that should make him a useful fantasy options the rest of the way.
His 22.6% LD% this season would be the highest mark of his career if it continues and represents a 6.1% increase over what he posted last season. Ground balls, a constant issue for Desmond (two straight seasons with a 60%+ GB%) have not impacted his game in the same manner this season (45.2% GB%) and he has managed to put more balls into the air as well (+10.7%).
Desmond is making great contact (48.3% Hard Hit%, 14.3% Barrel%) and is underperforming as compared to his expected performance (.270 XBA/.352 XWOBA/.498 XSLG). His strikeout rate (27% K%) is worrisome and he no longer appears to be a threat on the bases (only two SB attempts in 2019) but he has the ability to be a solid bat for your squad.
- Colin Moran
Back in April, I mentioned Moran as an interesting third base option who could perform well if given consistent playing time. An injury to Jung Ho Kang gave Moran that opportunity and he has done his best to show why he should remain at third for the Pirates the rest of the way. Moran has seven home runs over the past month to go with a .297/.330/.554 slash line. His actual production (.269/.324/.472) lines up well with his expected production (.266 XBA/.330 XWOBA/.454 XSLG), limiting the probability that he will offer more than his current level of production.
The power he’s offering this season looks solid given certain changes to his batted ball profile (+3.9% FB%, + 5.9% Hard%, + 7.9% Pull%) and his increased Barrel% (+3.8%). He will never have a high batting average and offers no value on the bases given his below average speed. The power gives him value though and given the struggles Kang has had at the plate this season (.144/.212/.317) it looks like he’s at the corner for the foreseeable future.
- Nick Pivetta
Pivetta didn’t get off to a great start for after a solid showing in 2018. He posted an 8.35 ERA in the first month of the season and was quickly sent back to the minors to regain the form he previously showed. Things have been different since he returned to Philadelphia. Since coming back from the minors, Pivetta has struck out 26.5% of batters faced and posted a 2.70 ERA (3.51 SIERA) in four starts. The biggest improvement to his game has come in the control department. After walking 8.6% of batters faced to start the season, Pivetta is issuing free passes to 3.9% of hitters since his return.
His chase rates (26% O-Swing%, 8.5% SwStr% before demotion; 32% O-Swing%, 12.5% SwStr% after return) have rebounded since he reclaimed his spot in the Phillies rotation, and all the signs are there for him to continue building on the promise he showed in 2018. Don’t be surprised if he steps up in a big way for the rest of he season.
- Patrick Corbin
Since tossing a complete game shutout against the hapless Marlins on May 25, Corbin has been anything but dominant. The Reds tagged him for six runs and chased him after 2.2 IP in his first start after that gem and the last two weeks have seen him post a 9.00 ERA (5.38 SIERA). Walks have been a big part of Corbin’s struggles as 14.9% of hitters have reached base against him via the four pitch invitation over the past two weeks (9.2% over the past month). He’s also struggles with the long ball as well (20% HR/FB% over last month) and seen his strikeouts decrease (20.8% past month, 26.4% on the season).
Corbin still has solid numbers overall and this one rough patch is not enough to take away the ‘Ace’ label, especially given how lethal his slider is (48.4% Whiff%, 26.9% PutAway%). Expecting the ERA he posted last year will leave you disappointed, though Corbin should still post top tier numbers if he can correct the aforementioned issues that have plagued him this past month.
- Lorenzo Cain
Cain was a force to be reckoned with last year, swiping 30 bases, sending 10 balls over the fence and slashing .308/.395/.417. 2019 has not seen the same wrecking ball. Cain is slashing .249/.306/.361 for the season with four home runs and seven steals. He’s been especially limited over the last month, posting a .219/.269/.281 line with two steals. His batted ball profile has actually improved over in a couple areas over last season (+3.5% LD% -2.8% GB%) though he has seen a slight decline in his Hard% (-2.6% Hard Hit%).
At 33, it is hard to not immediately think age may be affecting a slumping player whose main source of value lies with his legs. Nothing stand out to suggest that age has anything to do with his recent dip, however. You may want to bench Cain for now until he starts producing again.
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