Jose Martinez (STL-1B)
Can we start officially referring to Jose Martinez as a starting major leaguer? After going 2-4 with a double, 2 runs scored and a walk in Wednesday's win over Minnesota, Martinez now has 490 career plate appearances. His career wOBA is .372 with a .187 ISO. His career EYE is 0.64 (0.89 in '18) with a hard hit rate of 37.4%. All in all, he's well above average, and we can start drawing certain evaluations with a little more confidence. For one, we can confirm he is the starting first baseman for the Cardinals. That was a concern heading into the season. However, he's played in all but three games this season. We can also confidently admire his plate discipline: this season his chase rate is under 27%, zone contact rate is over 90% and swinging strike rate is 5.6%. He's probably not a huge home run guy as his fly ball rate is only 24.4%, but with his hard contact he should pop over 20 long balls. It's actually pretty extraordinary how Martinez sprays the ball around the field. In fact, he literally hits 33% of his batted balls to left, 33% to center and 33% to right! The bottom line is he currently ranks 8th among qualified 1st baseman in wRC+. For a player that was being drafted 24th or 25th at his position, fantasy owners got a steal with the Cardinals regular 1st baseman.
Adam Duvall (OF-CIN)
For the third time in his last five games, Adam Duvall had a multi-hit game. For the second time in his last three games, Duvall had a home run. Perhaps it's a sign Duvall is in line for a breakout. Or rather, it's just the production he should be getting. His miserable .191/.277/.418 line is a lie. A LIE, I TELL YOU! His wOBA is .296, but his xwOBA is .371. The guy is crushing the ball and has very little to show for it. A 46.5% hard hit rate combined with a 15.2 Barrel % is mitigated by a .200 BABIP. What's even more encouraging is a sizable increase in walks, a decrease in swinging strikes and a reduced chase rate. It may be ugly on the surface, but he is well on his way to a third straight 30-home run season.
Brandon Woodruff (SP-MIL)
THIS was my validation for picking Woodruff as a preseason sleeper! Forget the 7 earned runs he gave up in his last start. Or his inability to get through four innings in the start before that. Yes, Wednesday was the Brandon Woodruff I was touting: 5 innings, 2 runs, 6 strikeouts, only 1 hit. Oh wait, also forget the fact this came against Arizona, one of baseball's most underperforming offenses. Look, I liked Woodruff preseason because of his stuff. I like his slider that has good horizontal movement and tends to induce soft contact. On Wednesday Woodruff showed that slider, forcing four swings and misses and nine SNIPS (strikes not in play). He wasn't very economical as he walked four and threw 94 pitches in his 5 innings, but he might have flashed enough to get another look in the rotation. Remember, the Brewers have Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, Jimmy Nelson and Wade Miley currently on the DL. You'd think that's enough to slot in my preseason sleeper!
Jameson Taillon (SP-PIT)
It certainly was encouraging to see Taillon throw 96 pee-itches, six days after leaving his start with a laceration on his finger. Less than a month ago, it looked as if Taillon was another Mike Leake, giving up 12 runs in two starts, but if you piss away those two clunkers, urine for a top-of-the-rotation hurler, not a streamer. The truth is Taillon has a 3.88 sssssSIERA, he's allowing mostly weak contact and his swinging strike rate is trending upward. Don't flush away his talent. Taillon still has plenty to offer.
Jose Osuna (1B/OF-PIT) - DraftKings: $3,200
I'm all about a Pirates stack against Eric Lauer, who has always struggled against righties going back to his time in the minors. Pittsburgh leads the majors in team wOBA vs. LHP and Osuna hit .435 in limited time against lefties at AAA (he's 3-10 with 2 HRs in the majors). Pair him with other Bucs (Cervelli at $3,900, if he's playing, and Sean Rodriguez at $2,800). By rostering Osuna and those other cheaper Pirates, you have plenty of money to go after some of the pricier options like Manny Machado (DK: $5,600) or Joey Gallo (DK: $4,300).
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