Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs - 2018 has not been kind to Anthony Rizzo in either success at the plate or in terms of health, but May has been a bright spot so far for the Cubs first baseman. He swatted his fifth homer of the season Wednesday and drove in five runs while going 3-for-5 at the plate. His triple slash for the year is still an extremely rough .210/.282/.371 but entering Wednesday for May he was slashing .308/.296/.654 and now has four homers and 10 RBI for the month. Typically a calling card for Rizzo is his ability to walk at the plate but that skill has evaporated for him this year. He's chasing fewer pitches at the plate than he ever has, but he's making more contact on those pitches out of the zone as well as making contact on pitches that are in the zone. If that continues his season is going to be very BABIP fueled and that currently is sitting at .202 for someone who's career BABP is .284. Things should pick up soon.
Jose Quintana, Chicago Cubs - Jose Quintana notched his fourth win of the season allowing just one run over six innings against the Marlins. Quintana's last start was derailed by poor defense behind him (4IP, 3 unearned runs) but this makes back-to-back solid starts for the lefty going back to April 28th where he allowed no runs in seven innings. Walks have been a big issue for Quintana this season but they have come in bunches with 12 of his 8 walks coming in 12.1 of his innings and he's spread the other six walks across 14.1 innings. Quintana is allowing a lot of hard contact this season at just under 40% and that continued Wednesday as he allowed an average exit velocity of 86 MPH. Batters are making more contact of him than ever before and also hitting the ball harder and more consistently than ever before so it's something to monitor over his next few starts.
Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates - Gregory Polanco launched his 7th homer of the season on Wednesday and is now slashing .225/.333/.457 for the season. Polanco is a ridiculously streaky hitter and he might be showing some signs of going on a run in May. Over the first two weeks of the season he hit five of his seven homers and his last two have come in the last two and a half weeks. Entering Wednesday, for the month of May, Polanco was slashing .292/.400/.417 with the same number of walks as strikeouts. His batted ball data though doesn't scream out anything that says that this isn't him getting lucky though as he has a 23.8% soft contact rate and his hitting 72% of his batted balls this month as fly balls. For the year though he is hitting a career high 53.7% of his balls in the air combined with a 45% pull rate, so there's a chance that he's going to continue to hit for power but with the inconsistent hard contact it makes it hard to project.
Sal Romano, Cincinnati Reds - Sal Romano struck out seven Mets hitters in six innings in a no decision Wednesday. This was by far his best outing of the season as he hadn't struck out more than five batters in a game and was coming into the game with three punchouts in his last ten innings. Romano didn't generate many more swinging strikes than he normally does, but he had a ridiculous 17 called strikes in the outing. An interesting thing in this outing is that he registered 23 pitches as a slider on Baseball Savant, but on Fangraphs he has no sliders registered for his pitch type table, but then on his "pitch info pitch type" table he has sliders again but no curveballs. He only has a 3 MPH difference on his slider and curve though so it sounds like it's just a perception of the pitch issue. Either way, I'm not buying in yet on Romano as a 4.4% swinging strike rate for the season doesn't inspire confidence when combined with a 37% fly ball rate.
Nick Markakis, Atlanta Braves - As a Braves fan I can honestly tell you, I have no idea what is happening here. Markakis has all of a sudden flashed back to late 2000's Markakis and there was no way anyone could have seen this coming. He's hit seven homers already this year and he hit eight in 160 games last year. The only real thing I can point at for Markakis is that he's swinging at far more pitches in the zone at almost 70%, almost as if it's smart to swing at hittable pitches. He's also averaging 90 MPH on his batted balls and he's upped his launch angle to 13 degrees. If Markakis continues this plate discipline trend there's a chance that while the power numbers may slow, he's still going to be fantasy relevant in the Braves lineup as maybe a OF 4 type.
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