Matt Harvey: Harvey had an encouraging first start with the Reds as he pitched four innings without allowing a run and allowed just one hit while striking out two. Harvey fans have hoped that he can turn his once promising career around in Cincinnati, but significant improvement from Harvey -- especially in the short term -- is extremely unlikely. Harvey's four-seam fastball velocity is now down nearly 4 MPH on average from 2013 this season, but he's refused to use it less often despite allowing a .310 batting average against so far this season and a .333 BAA over the last two seasons. That being said, Harvey touched 96 MPH with his fastball on Friday, so his velocity is worth watching. Still, if Harvey wants to be a successful major league pitcher again, he will have to either regain his fastball velocity long term (unlikely considering his numerous injuries) or develop his secondary pitches, only one of which has delivered a BAA of below .300 consistently (his slider, which is encouragingly his second most used pitch behind his fastball). Considering Harvey's reported attitude problems and his new ballpark's propensity to allow home runs in addition to his weak arsenal, don't expect him to be a fantasy asset this season. That being said, his start on Friday (most notably his velocity) makes him worth a flier in deeper leagues if your fantasy team has an open roster spot.
Odubel Herrera: Herrera stayed hot on Friday as he went 2-3 with his sixth home run of the season against the Mets. Herrera has been red-hot so far this season as the outfielder was slashing .353/.420/.541 entering Friday's game, though he should regress as the season progresses. Herrera's hard hit rate -- though solid at 27% so far this year -- is down from last season (as is his average exit velocity), but his .396 BABIP sits well above his .345 mark from last season and his .362 career average. In addition, Herrera has benefited from a career best 9.3% HR/FB ratio despite his apparent slight decrease in power, so expect his home run rate to fall throughout the season. Though Herrera will likely see a decline in his batting average and home run rate, he should still represent a solid outfield option for the rest of the season -- just don't expect his early season hot streak to continue all year. Selling high wouldn't be a bad idea considering his likely regression, but Herrera should still be a valuable player this season, so keeping him shouldn't hurt a fantasy team either.
Jake Arrieta: Arrieta pitched well on Friday and allowed no runs on seven baserunners with five strikeouts over 7.1 innings against the Mets. After struggling last season, Arrieta is in the midst of a bounceback year as he had posted a 3.15 ERA entering Friday's game, and his early season success appears to be sustainable. Though Arrieta's velocity on his four-seamer has continued to decrease this season and now sits 3 MPH lower on average than it did in 2015, he has worked around it by decreasing its usage in favor of his effective sinker ball (Arrieta never really relied on blowing hitters away with his fastball, but he's almost phased it out all together in favor of the sinker at this point). Arrieta has limited hard contact to the tune of an exceptional 17.6% hard hit rate so far this year (which may regress towards his 26.2% career average as the season progresses), and his .230 BABIP is low but shouldn't rise over his .269 career average -- especially if he keeps his hard hit rate down. Arrieta's heavy ground ball profile (1.46 GB/FB ratio in 2018) also helps depress his BABIP and keeps his home run rate (1.5%) down in a sustainable place. Expect Arrieta to continue pitching well this year, though he will likely regress a little bit throughout the season.
Kyle Schwarber: Schwarber went 1-3 with a walk and a pair of strikeouts against the White Sox on Friday. Schwarber has rebounded well after struggling in 2017 and had been slashing .268/.372/.546 entering Friday's game. Schwarber has gotten his strikeout rate down to a manageable 23% so far this year, and he appears to have sustainably improved his plate discipline as his O-swing percentage is down to a career best 24.6% in 2018. Schwarber has put the ball on the ground more often than he has in the past so far this year, but the 25-year-old has always been known for his power, and his 38% hard hit rate supports his .297 BABIP and 23.3% HR/FB ratio. Expect Schwarber to continue to have a productive year at the plate as long as he stays healthy, and his improved plate discipline and impressive power should continue to make him a fantasy asset for the rest of the season.
Tyler Chatwood: Chatwood got the win on Friday as he allowed two runs on eight baserunners (five walks) with six strikeouts against the White Sox. Chatwood had widely been expected to improve significantly this season after moving away from Coors Field, and the 28-year-old has done exactly that so far in 2018 by posting a 3.31 ERA entering Friday's start. For his career (which has come nearly exclusively with the Rockies), Chatwood owns a 3.29 road ERA but an unsightly 5.18 ERA at home. Last season (when all of his home games were at Coors Field), those splits were 3.49 and 6.01, respectively. Chatwood's batted ball profile sits in line with his career averages so far this year, though his 0.7% home run rate and 3% HR/FB ratio are unsustainable and should rise as the season progresses. Interestingly, Chatwood's strikeout rate is up this season at 22.1% (15.9% career average), though he's throwing fewer pitches in the strike zone than he ever has and opposing batters are swinging at his pitches less than they ever have, so his strikeout rate will likely fall throughout the season. Chatwood should still finish the season as a productive starter, but expect his strikeouts to fall and his home run total to rise significantly throughout the season.
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