Steven Matz (SP) NYM - I have to admit, I was getting sort of close to throwing Matz into the Bill Pulsipher/Matt Harvey "Dustbin of Met History" a few weeks ago....there were some decent results from time to time, but much of it was smoke and mirrors and, more importantly, the stuff just didn't look the same. I'm very curious to see the velocity numbers from Sunday's start against a somewhat-depleted Cub lineup (missing Rizzo and Bryant), where he allowed five hits and two runs over seven innings with two walks and seven K's. I'm curious because his last two starts have shown better stuff, from velocity to action, than I've seen from him since 2016. From GB rates to swinging strike%, everything is much improved, so the fact that it passes the eye test AND the data matches is critical. It's early to get too excited.....it's 16 innings after all, and the next three starts are against the Yankees at home and in Arizona (who seem rejuvenated all of a sudden) and Colorado. Still, a speculative pickup in deeper leagues wouldn't be out of line if you have the room, and I'd be looking to grab him if he comes out of that stretch with his arm and psyche intact in most other formats, as the schedule is pretty favorable for the last 3-4 starts before the break.
Max Muncy (1B/3B) LAD - The Dodgers have been finding ways to get Muncy into the lineup almost every time against RHP, and he's rewarded them with a team-high (tied) 9 homers in just 107 ABs. Muncy may look like your average low contact, high power 1B on paper, but that's not really the case. He's an ultra-patient hitter, tied for 22nd in lowest swing% among players with over 100 PAs, and his contact rate and swinging strike rate are both above average. The low AVG is more because of his batted ball dispersion, lack of speed, and luck than it is an indictment of his skills. The matching 44.4% rates in hard contact and flyball rate give you the source of the homers, and while his raw power isn't off the charts it's certainly above average. I like Muncy's approach, and I think that he can maintain value in most formats going forward if the Dodgers continue to play him 2/3 of the time or more, which I expect that they will. He's worth a claim unless your squad is stacked in all but the most shallow of leagues.
Michael Wacha (SP) STL - It's hard to know what to say about Wacha, who made it into the 9th before allowing a hit to the Pirates on Sunday. He moved to 7-1 on the year with an 8 inning, 1 hit, 2 walk, 8 K masterpiece, recording 12 groundball outs vs. only 4 flyballs. Coming into the outing Wacha looked like a prime regression candidate, posting a LD rate over 30%, a hard contact rate over 40%, the worst walk rate of his career, and the worst GB rate of his career.....all while rattling off 8 straight starts allowing two ER or fewer (now 9). Sure, he's only faced two top-half offenses in his last 10 starts, and he's pitched in a hitter-friendly park the same number of times, but you don't get on this kind of a roll if you aren't at least good. There isn't a ton that's changed for him this year: his velocity is down a bit, he's throwing his fastball almost 10% less, and the big thing....his BABIP is probably 100 points lower than expected. The good news about the GB rate decrease is that he's still allowing a small number of flyballs...Wacha has always been good about keeping the ball in the park, but still, the massive amount of line drives should be resulting in far more hits than they are so far. His schedule gets significantly tougher moving forward, although he somehow pitches at home 2/3 to 3/4 of the time. Between the schedule, the BABIP, the increased walk rate, and the HC and LD numbers, I'd definitely be poking and prodding around to see what sort of value he has around your league right now. For me, Wacha is a #3 or #4 with a solid floor. If people are starting to value him like a #2 or even more, it's probably time to part with him, no matter how hot he's been.
Andrew McCutchen (OF) SF - McCutchen is 11th in the league in hard contact rate, tied for 48th in exit velo, tied for 10th in chase rate, yet is somehow still hitting only 248/351/403 after hitting a pop-up down the RF line Sunday that turned into his first HR in over a month. I really think he's going to be fine....the underlying stats look better than they have in a long time for him. He's 10-20 with 3 2B, a 3B, and that HR with more BB than K's over the past 8 games, so maybe this is the hot streak that gets his numbers back where they seem like they should be. I'd still be more of a buyer than a seller.
JR Murphy (C) ARI - We're still in small sample size territory with Murphy, who only has 83 ABs, but with a 62% FB rate and a hard contact rate over 50%, we need to pay attention. A couple things about Murphy: 1) he isn't a free-swinger, as his contact rates tend to hover around 80%, and 2) he has such a sporadic track record between injuries and the backup catcher shuttle that it's tough to tell what we actually have here as he reaches age 27. The catching position is so weak that a guy like Murphy sticks out as a player with some actual upside, and at last check he's owned in about 4% of ESPN leagues. For a guy that's hit 5 homers in the past 8 games at the weakest position in the game, that's impressive. If you're sitting there with Alfaro, Zunino, McCann, or any of a number of others starting for you, Murphy is absolutely a worthwhile shot to take.