Hernan Perez drew the start in left field and hit third in the lineup with Ryan Braun on the DL, and makes for a decent short-term pickup with full time at-bats coming his way in the near future. He went 3-4 with a walk and a home run off of Matt Harvey, a very encouraging sign for a player who has consistently been much better against lefties than righties. He's hitting .281/.333/.542 on just a .293 BABIP, and has an impressive five homers and two steals in 105 plate appearances. He's got a career-best 36% hard contact rate and has also made improvements in his swinging strike rate and contact rate. If he can sustain his .337 wOBA against righties while also mashing lefties, he can have a true breakout season.
Eddie Butler was recalled from Triple-A by the Cubs and performed admirably, shutting out the Cardinals over six innings. He gave up only two hits and walked three with five K's. He found himself some velocity, averaging 95 MPH on his four-seam fastball and topping out at 97. Last year he averaged 92.9 on his fastball, so that alone is reason to give Butler a second look. He relied very heavily on that fastball, throwing it 74% of the time. He had a 50% ground ball rate in the outing as well, so there are a number of positives to take away from this start. He only had a 4.99 K/9 at Triple-A this season and had an unimpressive 9.5% whiffs in the outing, so the strikeout rate doesn't profile to be very good moving forward, but he's got the potential to be a command/ground ball type back-end starter should the Cubs opt to keep him in the rotation.
Matt Harvey returned to the rotation following his team-induced suspension, but the Mets may have been better off without him. He gave up five runs on seven hits (three home runs) over five innings, walking five and striking out six Brewers. At this point there's just nothing statistically to make Harvey look like he's even ownable in mixed leagues, he's being held due to past performance alone. His 5.85 K/9 is astonishingly bad given his stuff, and his 4.05 BB/9 is completely out of line with prior years (2.14 career BB/9). His 6.47 FIP is even worse than his current 5.63 ERA, although it's hard to imagine him continuing to give up so many long balls (24% HR/FB), hence an xFIP of 4.93. It's hard to return from Thoric Outlet Syndrome, and we're seeing an ace who is now a mere shadow of his former self. Whether it's due entirely to the surgery or partially due to his very public PR distractions, Harvey is un-startable right now. I wouldn't hesitate to drop him in a standard mixed league, although there's a chance his velocity continues to rise and he improves his location and command and he's much better over the second half. I'm willing to take that chance and leave him for another team.
Willson Contreras enjoyed a two-homer night against the Cardinals, doubling his season total. He's been a slow starter this season, batting .228/.297/.406 with a 28% strikeout rate. The increase in strikeout rate from last year was expected following a 14% swinging strike rate, and so far this year it's been even worse at a whopping 16%. He's also making just 66% contact, numbers that can bounce you from the majors if you don't bring massive raw power along with it. He doesn't have that massive raw unfortunately, and in fact has a below average 27% hard contact rate this season with a 57% ground ball rate. It's hard to see him turning his season around quickly, so his owners could be in for a bumpy ride this year as he adjusts to MLB pitching over the course of a full season.
Jose Urena held the Braves to two runs on six hits over six innings of work, walking three with four strikeouts. His ERA now sits at a tempting 1.98, but there is trouble on the horizon for the hard throwing young righty. His BABIP is a depressed .259, and when combined with his ridiculous 94% strand rate gives you a FIP of 4.30. His xFIP likes him even less at an even 5.00, but Urena has been quite adept at limiting home runs throughout his career, so I'd look closer to his FIP for his true talent level. Despite throwing 21% sliders and 22% changeups, he gets just 8% swinging strikes. That further limits his value since a 4.61 K/9 isn't going to help you in any league. He should definitely be avoided for his next start at home against Houston.
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