Junior Guerra (SP-MIL)
Guerra's peripherally stellar season rolled off the tracks on Friday in Pittsburgh. In his shortest and worst outing of the season, the 33 year old lasted only 4 innings while allowing 6 runs on 9 hits and 2 walks. He struck out four. What's interesting is Friday's poor outing caused no change to his xFIP, which remains steadily underwhelming at 4.31. His swinging strike and chase rates are down while his hard hit rate is way up. In accordance, he has surrendered seven or more hits in three of his last four outings. All in all, Guerra's ERA should probably be closer to the 4.31 xFIP than the 2.79 ERA with which he entered Friday's game. He's 33 so he's probably not going to change much, but he throws his 2-seam fastball a whole lot and it is very average. On Friday the Pirates pounded the 2-seamer for eight hits, including a home run and four doubles. Since we shouldn't expect a dramatic alteration to his arsenal, don't expect a dramatic change to his xFIP. The major change we should expect is negative regression to his ERA.
Gregory Polanco (OF-PIT)
Polanco hit a towering home run off Junior Guerra in the 4th inning, his 14th big fly of the season. He's on pace to set a career high in homers, but most fantasy owners are disappointed by his 2018 season and for good reason. His batting average is the lowest of his career and so is his contact rate, while his swinging strike rate is the highest. But there's one overriding problem for the 26 year old: his 49.3% fly ball rate is the second highest in the majors. It's more than 10% higher than his previous career high. That fly ball rate explains his depressed .267 BABIP which thereby supports his .234 batting average. It also explains Friday's majestic home run. A player that hits the ball in the air that much is going to be streaky. There will be periods when a lot of those balls are getting out of the park and there will be cold stretches. He's hot right now, but that's in large part due to his 22.2% HR/FB rate since June 25th. So don't get your hopes up that Polanco's .320 AVG/.445 wOBA over the last 15 games are a sign that he's solved his problems. The unsolved problem is that fly ball rate, and it's even worse lately. Barring injury, he's going to hit a chunk of homers, but that average could wallow below .240 all year. If anyone's biting at his recent splurge, go ahead and deal him.
Tyler Saladino (SS-MIL)
Saladino had two singles in four plate appearances and scored one of Milwaukee's three runs while picking up his second steal of the season on Friday. The former White Sox utility man overcame multiple injuries and beat out several players to earn a regular role with the Brewers. Orlando Arcia was sent down to AAA, Hernan Perez is relegated mostly to the bench and Jonathan Villar only plays second base now. The big question is whether Saladino can do enough to prevent the Crew from acquiring middle infield help (Machado, anyone?). If he continues to get regular starts at shortstop, he provides some fantasy appeal. In a small sample size, Saladino does have four home runs in 80 plate appearances and a .368 wOBA. His career high in homers is only eight, which he did in 298 at bats in 2016 (he also had 11 steals that year), but he's had as many as 16 home runs in the minors and tallied 39 steals in 2012. He's shown decent discipline throughout his professional career so there's a good chance his current 0.33 EYE improves. Furthermore his .208 ISO, while undoubtedly boosted by a 22.2% HR/FB rate, is not entirely a mirage. Saladino has a 47.1% hard hit rate and his 32% line drive rate is stellar. It adds up to an expected wOBA of .395. Now again, he has less than 100 plate appearances so these numbers can fluctuate dramatically, but there is enough to consider whether the former highly-ranked prospect is starting to put it all together. The other thing to consider is whether the contending Brewers are committed to the 28 year old as their starting shortstop.
Steven Souza (OF-ARI)
Souza had two of the Diamondbacks seven hits in Friday's 2-1 win at Atlanta. The 29-year-old outfielder has at least one knock in five of his seven starts since returning from the DL, and Friday's 2nd-inning double gives him four extra base hits in his last three games. He's only hitting .241 since that DL stretch, but a near-.300 ISO and 55% hard hit rate indicate he is putting some good wood on the ball. Souza's modest success last year came despite striking out 29% of the time. Well, that number is actually slightly down in 2018. Meanwhile, his chase rate is an impressive 21% and his contact rate is approaching 80%. Furthermore he's having bad luck, courtesy of a .234 BABIP. Arizona slid Souza into the cleanup spot for the first time on Friday, but as long as he is in the middle of that lineup, Souza makes for an excellent buy-low candidate.
Kyle Hendricks (SP-CHC); DraftKings: $8,900
A lot of people will fade Hendricks with a doubt he can successfully follow Monday's gem. He threw 8.1 innings with only one unearned run allowed and eight strikeouts against the Giants, but throughout his career, whenever he has thrown 8 or more innings, he's followed it up with a quality start, typically an elite performance. He's facing San Diego and the Padres' offense is putrid, especially against righties. Expect the Cubs' offense to provide some support against Luis Perdomo and don't shy away from Hendricks' ability to throw back-to-back gems on the road.
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