Andrew McCutchen(OF-PIT): Andrew McCutchen went 3-for-3 with three solo homers, four runs and two walks against the Padres. After posting a .317 wOBA in April and a .290 wOBA in May, Cutch has responded with .495 and .384 marks in June and July respectively. From last season he has increased his contact rate from 76.8 percent to 81.1 percent and has dropped his swinging strike rate from 10.7 percent to 8.3 percent. While I like what I see with McCutchen and believe he is finally right mentally and physically, I am concerned about the peripherals behind his power spike. He's only averaging 101.5 MPH on his homers (down over 1 MPH from last year), hitting fly balls 38.3 percent of the time (down over three-percentage points), and pulling the ball 43.7 percent of the time (down one-percentage point). He's back, but be careful with overvaluing him heading into the season's final two months.
Vincent Velasquez(SP-PHI): Vincent Velasquez took a no-decision after allowing six hits and two walks with six strikeouts over seven scoreless innings vs. the Braves. VV has posted two quality starts out of his first three since being activated from the DL and he's worth an add in all formats for those chasing counting stats. I love the 65 percent first pitch strike rate, and while his swinging strike rate continues to hover below 10 percent, I see VV gaining more confidence with his secondary stuff later in counts, which should enable him to vault past that threshold. Hitters have tagged him for a.406 wOBA at home with nine homers in 30 innings, so those protecting ratios will want to tread carefully at Citizens Bank against potent offenses.
Jon Gray(SP-COL): Jon Gray lost after allowing three runs on four hits (two homers) and one walk with eight strikeouts over seven innings against the Nationals in game two of the doubleheader. Despite the hiccups in the fifth inning, Gray looked like his dominant old self, which is a great sign for owners that have remained patient with the Rockies ace. He threw 69 of 99 pitches for strikes and induced nine ground ball outs. While his 5.52 ERA doesn't inspire much confidence, I see Gray as a must start option moving forward. His .369 BABIP and 67.7 strand rate are due for regression, as the ace continues to limit hard contact. Look for him to miss more bats as he finds his stride over the season's final two months.
Zach Davies(SP-MIL): Zach Davies lost after allowing three runs on seven hits (one homer) and no walks with six strikeouts over seven innings vs. the Cubs. Davies has posted quality starts in four of his last five outings and has lowered his ERA to a respectable 4.42 on the season. Davies has salvaged his season by inducing plenty of grounders (49 percent) and limiting hard contact (29 percent). He's more valuable in points leagues due to his limited strikeout potential, but those needing wins in ROTO leagues can stream the right-hander for his away starts and in some weaker matchups at home.
Luis Castillo(SP-CIN): Luis Castillo won after allowing one run on three hits and one walk with six strikeouts over eight innings against the Marlins. The rookie now boasts a stellar 51:18 K:BB ratio and a 3.56 ERA through his first 48 innings and looks like a must-start option in all formats. He's inducing modest contact on the ground (58 percent ground ball rate, 29 percent hard hit rate) and is maintaining a 12 percent swinging strike rate. His 51 percent first pitch strike rate and 10 percent walk rate indicate that there's plenty of development left and hint at some bumps in the road, but he has the upside and pedigree to make the necessary adjustments. Buy.
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