Madison Bumgarner (SP-SF) - Bumgarner was outstanding against the Cubs, allowing just two runs (both bequeathed) on eight hits in eight innings, punching out 11 without walking a batter. After fanning just 30 in his first 52 1/3 innings, he has now struck out 28 in his last 21 2/3 frames over three starts. In addition, his walk, line drive and groundball rates are all excellent. He's returning to form that made him an excellent option last year, and should be started with confidence Wednesday in San Diego.
David Wright (3B - NYM) - It was just another day at the office for Wright, as he went 1-2 with a double and two walks to raise his line to an astounding .366/.469/.570. After three seasons marred by unlucky injuries, a rising strikeout rate and an adjustment to Citi Field, he has completely reversed course this year, walking more than he's struck out as both rates are career-bests. While a .419 BABIP is obviously very high, he's hit a line drive on an outstanding 27.7% of his balls in play coming into the night. He's also not swinging at many pitches outside the zone (20.2%) and making contact when he does (75.3%). This level of production is likely unsustainable going forward, but Wright will still provide excellent value.
Jay Bruce (OF - CIN) - Bruce hit his 12th bomb of the season in Houston, connecting off lefty Wesley Wright as part of a 2-4 night. He is now hitting .265/.318/.552. After three seasons of rising walk rates, it has dropped to 7.6% entering the night, the lowest since his rookie year in 2008. He's also striking out in a quarter of his plate appearances, a career high. While those are the negatives, his .287 ISO is a career-high and he is hitting more flyballs and line drives than ever before. In addition, his .289 BABIP should likely see an up tick as he came into the night hitting line drives on 21.1% of his balls in play. Owners should be cautious of his splits, as his OPS difference between righties and lefties was almost 200 points entering the night while it was over 300 points more at Great American Ball Park compared to outside. Still, the combination of his age (25), power and likely improving average makes him an excellent option at home or against a right-hander.
Jonathan Papelbon (RP - PHI) - Papelbon picked up his 15th save of the year, coming on for five outs against the Marlins to lower his ERA to 2.01. His strikeout rate is slightly down from last year's insane level, but that along with his walk rate are still tremendous. He's also only giving up a line drive on less than an eighth of his balls in play. His velocity is down a little bit, but it's still early in the year and the hot weather hasn't come yet. The only drawback to Papelbon is that he's a flyball pitcher in Citizens Bank Park as he's given up all three of his home runs there, but the rest of the package is more than worth it. He's a top option.
Neil Walker (2B - PIT) - After being expected as mid-tier option at the keystone, Walker has greatly disappointed so far. He did pick up two hits and a walk in Milwaukee, and is now hitting .260/.320/.339. However, there's no diagnosis for his slow start. Walker's strikeout and walk rates have remained stable, and he's actually hitting line drives at a career-high rate. He's definitely worth plucking from the waiver wire and is a strong buy-low candidate in leagues where he is still owned.
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