Zack Greinke (SP-ARI)
After allowing four or more runs in five of his first six road starts this season, Greinke tossed his fourth straight quality start away from Arizona on Saturday. In his most effective outing of 2018, the 34 year old shut out Atlanta for 7.2 innings, allowing only four hits and no walks. It was his third straight scoreless start on the road (20.2 IP). Greinke's performance over the last couple seasons is not getting as much publicity as it should. His velocity continues to drop, but he remains highly effective. His fastball sits around 89-90 and his changeup is only about three miles per hour less, and he's using that pitch more than ever (21%). For good reason, too. He is getting hitters out with the off-speed option. So how is he eliciting an 11.1% swinging strike rate and allowing a .300 wOBA? It's based on a concerted effort to get ahead of hitters and then keep them out of the zone. His ability to work around the zone and not give in is elite. In fact, he's pitching in the zone only 38% of the time, the lowest of his career. He's getting the lowest contact inside the zone and the highest contact outside the zone of his career. So that means he's getting batters to make contact with pitches that are harder to barrel. He's able to do this by throwing the second-most first-pitch strikes of his career. So when he's ahead, hitters have to protect the plate and that causes more chase and less effective contact. He's one of those great stories of a veteran pitcher learning how to adjust when his velo tails off, and we're not paying enough attention.
Brent Suter (SP-MIL)
Suter was solid in his return from the disabled list. He went 5 innings allowing one run on 2 hits while striking out 3. The run came on a solo homer by Max Moroff in the 3rd inning and long balls have been a problem for the lefty, but Suter was effective outside of that blemish. This was his seventh start allowing less than three runs and it was only his fifth striking out less than four batters. The truth is Suter's been a consistent option in the Brewers rotation and he could be even better in the 2nd half. He came into Saturday's outing with a 12% swinging strike rate since May 18. He continues to allow less contact and his line drive rate, which was very high around 30%, is down to 23% since that mid-May return to the rotation. Although the Brewers are likely to shop for rotation help, Junior Guerra was just placed on the 10-day DL and it's hard to believe the Crew would be willing to pull Suter out of the rotation for the second time. He's a fairly regular starter in most fantasy formats because he tends to pitch well against good competition. His worst outings this season came against: Minnesota, Kansas City, Colorado and Miami. Not exactly the most elite offenses. As long as he's healthy, he can boost your team.
Chris Taylor (SS-LAD)
Chris Taylor was a few inches from hitting two opposite field homers on Saturday. He was robbed at the top of the wall by Kole Calhoun in the 1st inning, but he was able to lift a game-tying solo shot out of reach in the 5th for his 11th long ball of the season. That was only his second dinger to right field all season after spraying the ball up the middle and to the opposite field more last year (he had five homers to right in 2017). His numbers show him pulling the ball about the same amount as last year and his hard hit rate is actually up overall this year, but the truth is his hard hit balls tend to go to left and that wasn't the case in his breakout season of '17. If Saturday is any indication that Taylor is starting to barrel the ball to right again, he could be an excellent buy-low candidate.
Ronald Acuña Jr. (OF-ATL)
Acuña continues to struggle, along with the entire Braves offense. He was 0-4 with two strikeouts on Saturday and Atlanta has seven homerless games out of its last eight. Since returning from the DL in late June, Acuña has an ugly 15.5% swinging strike rate. He was always aggressive in the minors, but 15.5% is extreme. Other than the lack of patience, things are better than they look. He has a 42.6% hard hit rate, .194 ISO and 104 wRC+. I realize most fantasy owners were hoping for much more than .194 ISO/104 wRC+, but he is a 20 year old rookie who has battled multiple injuries. What is encouraging is to see he is capable of hitting major league pitching as he is 32nd in all of baseball in Brls/BBE%, meaning when he gets his bat on the ball, he often barrels it up. Next week's All-Star break could be a good chance for Acuña to reset and come out strong for the rest of the season.
Matt Adams (1B/OF-WAS); DraftKings: $3,900
Adams hit his first home run since June 5 on Saturday, and he's a player that tends to hit them in bunches. He also hits fastballs really well and Sunday's opposing pitcher, Corey Oswalt, throws a lot of fastballs. Adams has a .406 wOBA against RHPs and his .391 overall wOBA ranks 5th among 1st basemen. Yet there are 22 1st basemen priced higher than him on DK's slate. Getting him for under $4,000 is a steal.
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