Jhoulys Chacin (SP) SD - I have a lot of good things to say about one of my former whipping boys, Jhoulys Chacin, which worries me. Most pertinent to today is that he's pitching tomorrow at home against the Mets, and home is where his heart is for sure this season: 1.94 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 0.572 opposing OPS. His price on Draftkings is just $7400, good for the 16th ranked SP on the slate. There are a handful of decent value plays at SP on Tuesday, but Chacin is as good as any of them. In addition, Chacin has been improving as the season has progressed, most notably in terms of inducing soft contact (18%, 24%, 31% in May, June, and July). Yes, he's been fortunate most of the season, as his FIP ERA is still solidly above 4.00 during his current string of 10 straight starts allowing three earned runs or fewer, but the fact remains that he's had somewhere between 3 and 5 poor starts this year out of 20 (depending on how harsh a grader you are), and that's a worthwhile SP across the board. There's been a little bit of a velo bump here this season, and slight improvement in control as well....enough so that you're starting to see a steady trend in K-BB% over the past five or six years. I doubt I'd trust him very much if he weren't in SD half of the time, but he is, and that counts. I like him tomorrow, and I like him as a streamer at worst in all formats.
Randal Grichuk (OF) STL - Grichuk is red-hot, homering for the 4th straight game (and 6th of 8) on Monday to help the Cards to an 8-2 win over Colorado. On the surface, Grichuk appears to be nothing more than yet another one-dimensional slugger, but there might be a bit more reason to be positive than you'd think. Grichuk only turns 26 in August, and he's made some solid strides in contact rate and reducing his GB rate this season. He hasn't been rewarded at all by increasing his LD rate to over 22%, as he's actually sporting a lower BABIP this season by 13 points despite increasing his LD rate by 6.5%. He also runs fairly well and has been doing so more successfully this year, swiping 5 bags in 6 tries in just 253 PAs. The biggest issue that I see for Grichuk is one of playing time, not talent, as I see a guy that could realistically hit .250-.265 with 30-35 HR over a full season. The problem is that the Cards have hitters galore, and only 8 of them can play at a time. With the glut of talent that they have, there are going to be 2-3 guys per night that aren't playing that likely deserve to be, and Grichuk is on the lower end of the totem pole as far as "earned playing time". I love the upside and think he's worth owning in most formats, but there is obviously significant risk.
Odubel Herrera (OF) PHI - Herrera continued his scorching pace Monday, going 2-3 with a double and a walk in a 13-4 loss to Houston. He's 16-37 (.432) with 7 2B, 3 HR, and 10 R since the ASB, reaching base in all 10 games with 7 BB and only 5 K. Every aspect of his game has improved dramatically over the last 6 weeks or so except stealing bases, and that's a teamwide thing as far as I can tell....the Phils are 28th in SB attempted this month, and 26th on the year. Everyone on the team is running less, which doesn't help you as a Herrera owner except to understand that it likely isn't a deterioration of skill. Despite his frigid start to the year he's knocking on the door of the top-50 OF already, meaning that he is clearly still a standard league starter despite the lack of steals.
Mike Leake (SP) STL - It's not that I don't think Leake is worthy of ownership in standard leagues. I just find him to be a borderline SP5 right now in those formats, and that's not where his presumptive value seems to be. Leake was excellent against the Rockies Monday, tossing 7 shutout innings and allowing just 4 hits with 6 K's and 0 walks. Setting aside the fact that the Rockies have had exactly one good offensive game to start a road series after leaving home this season, that's Leake's first QS in his last 4, and the first time he's struck out more than 5 since May. Perhaps this was Leake righting the ship, but I'm concerned about the degradation in control over the past two months, and I'm concerned about the loss of velocity over the past 8 starts. I'd be very cautious here.
Nick Williams (OF) PHI - Williams has hit in 9 straight after going 2-5 with a triple on Monday, and he's now hitting 315/350/616 through 73 ABs. Look, I like some of the progress, particularly in power, that I've seen from Williams this year at age 23, and he should be owned in all formats right now. Let's be honest, though: pitchers are not likely to continue to throw him a fastball almost 2/3 of the time. His contact issues are still very significant, and with that will come some major struggles once pitchers make their initial adjustment to him. You can ride the hot streak, as there's obvious talent here, but I wouldn't mind shopping him around a bit if I had other needs.....guys with contact rates under 70% need a lot of things to go right to continue to provide consistent value.
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