I’m sure few expected there to be 30 runs scored in the first ever MLB game played in Europe. Neither starter finished their first inning, and both teams managed to score six runs a piece in what must have been an interesting introduction to America’s pasttime for the many European fans who purchase tickets to the event. Will the second game see similar fireworks? Either way, it is exciting to watch baseball expand to another potential audience.
As we prepare to watch Game 2 of Yankees/Red Sox rivalry play out across the pond, don’t forget to pay attention to the ups and downs being experienced by our currently state bound players. The All-Star break is coming soon, and with that event, fantasy playoffs come ever closer. Read on for a few highlighted performances you should be aware of as you head into another week.
As always, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @hedenson18 should you have any questions on these or any other players you would like highlighted.
- Jon Gray
Gray’s 2019 season (3.92 ERA, 4.16 SIERA, 25.4% K%) is going slightly better than what we saw last season (5.12 ERA, 3.68 SIERA, 24.6% K%), though he remains inconsistent enough to keep owners wary of regarding him as an upper tier arm. Over the last month, however, he has been just that. Gray has a 2.67 ERA (3.71 SIERA) over his last five starts and has struck out 27.1% of batters faced. He’s cut his walks (7.8% BB% last 30; 9.4% BB% in 2019), allowed more ground balls (+2.4% last 30), and limited Hard contact (-5.8%) as well.
Gray has flashed top tier ability before and will always be an arm to dream on given his ability to make batters miss (12.6% SwStr%) but unless he can better his control and overall consistency he will remain a wildcard capable of giving you solid outings or torching your ratios depending on the week.
- Todd Frazier
The ‘Toddfather’ has been one of the few bright spots for the epically inept Mets, notching seven home runs and a .269/.387/.516 line over the past month. He’s walked more than he’s struck out for the past two weeks (10.9% BB%, 9.1 K%) and does not owe his solid production to an overall ambitious BABIP (.247 BABIP last 30 days; .268 career BABIP).
Statcast is not as optimistic about his current production levels (.245 XBA/.317 XWOBA/.386 XSLG), so we may be seeing the best of Frazier unless he is able to improve his quality of contact moving ahead. Even with that caveat, however, Frazier is an interesting veteran bat to gamble on if you need some cheap offensive production (6% owned Yahoo; 4.5% ESPN).
- Eloy Jimenez
Eloy has taken a liking to major league pitching. Over the past month the South Side outfielder is slashing .310/.371/.609 with seven home runs and a .299 ISO. His strikeout rate has dropped slightly during this run (27.8%), though he still has work to do in that regard (29.4% K% in 2019) and in other aspects of his plate discipline (14.7% SwStr%).
While this recent run has been fun to watch, he is likely to go through a few more rough stretches as he reaches his considerable potential. His recent play comes along with a .370 BABIP, an untenable level of production given certain aspects of his batted ball profile (11.5% LD%, 55.7% GB%, 45.9% Pull%) and his general lack of speed.
Despite the flaws that exist in his game, his recent production should excite you when you realize he is just 22. Consistent production should come as he grows at the plate, though we may not see that type of play from him in 2019.
- Austin Meadows
Meadows has cooled off after a blistering start to the season that saw him slam 12 home runs and slash above .350/.420/.670 for the first two months of the season. His last month has been nowhere near as productive (.215/.288/.318 with zero home runs), bringing his overall line to .297/.373/.528 for the season. Obviously, that line is nothing to be ashamed of, though the question of which Meadows we are likely to see the rest of the way is one with large ramifications for many fantasy squads out there.
Meadows was never going to continue to produce at his early level of production. This recent slump brings him very close to what Statcast predicts based on quality of contact (.283 XBA/.369 XWOBA/.509 XSLG) and is probably closer to the production you should expect from Meadows in general. Slight increases to his Pull% (+5.5% last 30 days), GB% (+3.8% last 30 days), and K% (+3.9% last 30 days) are the main changes he has shown during this recent rough patch, none of which stand out as something he cannot overcome the rest of the way.
Even in this tough stretch, Meadows has generated strong contact (46.7% Hard %) and I fully expect him to get back to being a productive outfielder as the season continues. He offers a great power/speed mix and should be very valuable barring injury.
- JA Happ
The JA Happ that won 47 games over the past three years looks like a thing of the past given his performance so far in 2019. In 84.1 IP Happ has posted a 5.23 ERA (4.67 SIERA) and 1.28 WHIP. His strikeouts are down 7.7% from last season and have completely vanished over the past month (14.3% K%). He is allowing a lot of hard contact (+9.2% compared to 2018) and has already seen 20 balls leave the yard against him this season (27 HR allowed in 2018).
Happ is coming off his worst outing of the season, an abbreviated start that saw him allow eight earned runs (on three home runs) in four innings to Houston. He is not someone to trust right now and you may be better off sitting him to see if he can turn things around. He still retains impeccable control (5.4% BB%) and a solid SwStr% (10%), but even if he can right the ship a bit moving forward he is likely nothing more than a middle of the road starter at best.
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