Brett Gardner (OF, NYY) - Gardner went 3-6 with a double and a grand slam, finishing with three runs and six RBI. He now has 15 homers, which is more than twice as many as he hit all of last year. He can chalk that up thanks to an 11% rise in fly ball rate and 8% rise in pull percentage. Even with the increase in pulled balls though, it's hard to imagine he keeps up this pace over the second half and/or stays healthy. He has always been a player to post a strong first half with a slower second half, with a .341 career first half wOBA compared to a .307 mark over the second half. It's hard to sell at all costs on a player that is on pace for a 30/20 season and is setting the table for a strong Yankees lineup, but given his propensity to get injured and fall off over the second half, it might not be a bad idea to dangle some sell-high offers to your leaguemates this July.
Jacob Faria (SP, TB) - Faria turned in his fifth quality start in as many tries, giving up three runs (two earned) on just four hits and no walks with six strikeouts over 6.2 innings against a solid Orioles lineup. Faria struggled with his control throughout the minor leagues, but that has absolutely not been the case so far in the majors as he has a stunningly minuscule 1.39 BB/9. He has always been a high-K starter, and that hasn't fallen off since his promotion to the Rays as he has a 9.74 K/9 that would place him 16th in MLB - ahead of Yu Darvish - if he had enough innings to be a qualified starter. With a 13% swinging strike rate, that K rate is legitimate. It's hard to imagine the walk rate remaining so low though, with a mediocre 57% first pitch strike rate. Batters have also been extremely aggressive against him, swinging at 50.6% of his pitches. That would place him towards the top of the pitching leaderboard. Batters will adjust and his walks will rise, but he has been so good (2.23 ERA over 32.1 IP) that it's impossible to leave him on your bench in any format right now.
Jason Vargas (SP, KC) - Vargas had no issues rolling through the Twins, with just one run allowed over seven two-hit innings. He walked four and struck out four, climbing to a very impressive 12-3 on the season with a 2.22 ERA. He's stranding a ton of runners, with an 85.7% LOB% far higher than his 73.5% career clip, and that has gone a long way towards keeping his ERA down. He also has a 6.2% HR/FB rate that you would just about need to double to get even to a league average rate, but under further inspection, limiting the long ball has always been a part of his game. He has a career 8.8% HR/FB rate, so you can throw his 4.72 xFIP out the window. He's proving that you can be effective with a fastball averaging just 86 MPH, and while he could easily pitch closer to his 3.47 FIP the rest of the season, that is a very good mark in this current pitching climate. He's got a legitimate shot at leading the AL in wins come years end, which would have got you laughed at if you predicted it in the preseason. Even with a sub-par strikeout rate, he's more of a hold than a sell-high.
Matt Bush (RP, TEX) - Bush took his fifth blown save of the year and fell to 2-4 after allowing three runs on four hits in the ninth inning against the White Sox, retiring just one batter. It's his third loss in his last five appearances, and this might be the last straw for Bush's run as closer. Hopefully you've been stashing Keone Kela as a handcuff, but if he is somehow available in your league and you need saves he needs to be picked up at once. Jose Leclerc has a very nice strikeout rate but he was used in the sixth inning in this game, indicating that he wouldn't be the next in line for saves. Kela has a closer-worthy 12.33 K/9 and 2.64 ERA over 30.2 innings this season, and would make for a fine midseason addition to your fantasy bullpen.
Ariel Miranda (SP, SEA) - Miranda blew through the Angels, tossing seven shutout innings with just two hits, two walks, and four strikeouts. If you spot started him or utilized the favorable matchup in DFS, well done. However, he still doesn't have the look of a good season long starting option. While his ERA is solid at 3.82, he has benefited from a .218 BABIP and 81.3% strand rate, which when normalized puts his FIP way up at 5.13. Despite a 65% first pitch strike rate, Miranda has issued a few too many walks at 3.18 BB/9 to make up for a below-average 6.73 K/9. It does look like he has the ability to maintain a high pop-up rate though, with a career 13.6% IFFB% that will help keep his BABIP suppressed. Even with that, he's a starter that shouldn't be used outside of deep mixed leagues as a streaming option.
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