Santana continued his excellent 2017 campaign, going 4-for-5 with three runs, two RBI, and a walk in the Brewers 11-2 victory over the Cubs. Santana ended the month of April hitting just .197, but he has been beasting ever since, with his average up to .288 and his wRC+ up to 124. Santana had a wRC+ of 131 in May, 111 in June, and now has four multi-hit games already in July. The 24-year-old Brewer was on a lot of breakout lists haeding into the season, and he has proven those pundits right, as he has improved his already strong walk rate (up to 12.3 percent this season) and cut down on the strikeouts a bit (down to 26.8 percent this season). Santana's line drive (25.1 percent) and hard hit ball rate (35.9 percent) have dropped a little bit from his absurd 2016 levels, but he has sustained this success over a longer period than he did in his brief 2016 stint. Both of those figures rank above average, with the line drive rate particularly strong. The final step for Santana will be putting a bit more lift in his swing (27.7 percent fly ball rate), so that when his HR/FB rate starts to drop a bit (crazy-high 26.6 percent for his career), he doesn't start missing out on consistent long balls.
Ray tallied a season-high strikeout total Thursday, which is saying something for the strikeout-heavy lefty in Arizona. Ray fanned 13 Dodgers over six innings, allowing just one run on five hits and four walks, in an all-around steallar performance. Basically everything was perfect besides the walks, which is a pretty fair way of summing up Robbie Ray in 2017, actually. His ERA (2.97) is a career low, his strikeout rate is a career high (11.97 K/9), but so is his walk rate (4.43 BB/9). He actually hasn't pitched any better in 2017 than 2016 by FIP and xFIP, and he's still allowing tons (and I mean tons) of hard contact. His 42.3 percent hard contact rate allowed (before Thursday night) ranks second-highest in all of baseball to human pinata Rick Porcello this season. Ray is a tricky one to figure out. On the one hand, he would be a perfect sell-high candidate, but on the other hand, it's hard to turn down those strikeouts and he may be due for a lucky season after a few unlucky ones. If you have the stones to sell high, go for it, but I'd probably hold on for the time being unless it was a Godfather offer.
After a day out of the lineup, Story returned to go 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. It was his first multi-hit effort since June 20, as the Rockies shortstop has struggled to get going in 2017. His slash line currently sits at .223/.304/.397 with all three figures lower than owners would hope for. Story hasn't even been abel to make the most of his friendly home confines, hitting just .224 with five of his 11 homers in Coors Field this season. One of the biggest reasons he ahs struggled is his abslutely insane dedication to getting under the ball. Among qualified hitters, only Joey Gallo, Matt Carpenter, and Yonder Alonso have lower groundball rate, and of those three, only Gallo has a higher fly ball rate. This is leading to far too many pop ups, and the not-so-good news is that his fly ball and infield fly ball rates are higher than ever in our brief July sample. There's still a lot of potential here, especially in keeper leagues, and it's not as if shortstop has been a dynamo of a position this season, but owners have to be losing their patience at this point.
Polanco has been a disappointment for most of the 2017 campaign, but he had a great Thursday night for owners who have stuck around this long. Polanco went 4-for-4 with a McDouble, stealing his base in the second and hitting his homer in the fourth. Polanco now has a BA (.258) and OBP (.316) quite similar to last season, but his SLG (.397) is over 60 points lower than last season. And this was supposed to be a season where the 24-year-old took a step forward if anything. Instead, his is striking out far less, but he is also making hard contact 12 percentage points less than in 2016, and the results can be seen in his HR/FB rate being cut nearly in half, despite the rest of the league going homer crazy. It's almost enough to make you wonder if he is playing hurt, or there is something the general public doesn't know. The homer is a great sign, so let's see if it can jump start Polanco, or if the struggles for power will continue. Polanco has raised his fly ball rate in each and every month so far this season, but he still isn't hitting it nearly as hard as last year.
Cameron Rupp ($7)
Rupp has fallen out of favor a bit in Philadelphia, but if he gets the start on Friday you should slot him into your lineup for a nice, cheap price. Rupp is hitting just .205 on the season, but he has had some nice success against lefties. He has the second-best wRC+ of any Phillie against lefties, and he has hit three of his five long balls against southpaws. In fact, his wRC+ is nearly five times higher against lefties (141) than against righties (31). He faces a lefty who has been struggling of late on Friday, as Clayton Richard has given up 12 runs combined in his last two starts, deespite both starts coming in the friendly confines of Petco Park. Citizens Bank Park is far less forgiving, and it's not hard to see Rupp running into one and leaving the yard, a solid risk for such a cheap player.
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