Madison Bumgarner: Bumgarner lasted only four innings on Saturday and allowed three runs along with six walks to five strikeouts. After missing most of the first half of the season with a broken hand, Bumgarner returned to his ace-like self and had posted a 2.90 ERA entering Saturday's start. While his overall numbers are strong, one stat that jumps out as a concern for Bumgarner is his 2.41 SO/BB ratio (it would be his worst SO/BB ratio of his career and the first time he'd dip below 4.5 in the category since 2013). Underlying that ratio is a pair of worrying numbers: Bumgarner has posted a career worst 40.2% zone rate (45.6% career average) and 80% contact rate so far this season (78.3% career average, hasn't been over 80% since 2012) leading to both depressed strikeout numbers and increased walks. Outside of his relatively shaky command though Bumgarner has been pitching like an ace so far in 2018, but his strikeout and walk rates are worth watching over the rest of the season.
Kris Bryant: Bryant went 0-4 with a walk and an RBI against the Cardinals on Saturday and sat in the second game of the double-header. Bryant has dealt with some injuries in 2018 but has still managed to produce and slashed .280/.384/.482 entering Saturday's game. Even while hampered by injuries, Bryant has posted a contact quality profile roughly in line with his career average, and his batted ball profile has been more fly ball heavy than it has been in the past. Encouragingly -- though Bryant's contact and o-swing rates haven't changed much from last season -- his swing rate is higher, so he's been more aggressive at swinging at good pitches while maintaining his ability to lay off of bad pitches. A fully healthy Bryant should turn that additional selective aggressiveness into even better numbers over the rest of the season, and fantasy owners should expect him to have a strong second half.
Nick Kingham: Kingham pitched well against on Saturday against the Reds and picked up the win while allowing two runs over 6.1 innings. Kingham had an up and down first half of the season and entered the All-Star break with a less than impressive 4.26 ERA, but the 26-year-old makes for an intriguing option over the second half of the year. Kingham already offers decent strikeout numbers and strong command (23.9% strikeout rate, 5.6% walk rate), and his solid ability to make hitters chase pitches (31.1% o-swing rate) and limit contact (75.1% contact rate) suggest that those numbers should be maintained over the rest of the season. Though Kingham hasn't posted a particularly poor batted ball profile (0.78 GB/FB ratio, 18% line drive rate), there's plenty of evidence to suggest that he's adjusting to induce more desirable contact over the rest of the season. Kingham's ground ball rate has risen steadily over the course of the season, and it coincided with an increased focus on the bottom half of the strike zone and a decreased use of his slider (the pitch that has generated the second highest fly ball rate in his arsenal this year). This isn't to say that Kingham is free of issues -- his .257 BABIP should rise over the rest of the season -- but if Kingham continues making necessary adjustments and maintains his command then he could be a valuable fantasy asset over the rest of the season. Notably, Kingham should be especially valuable to daily fantasy players as he has dominated against righties (which makes sense considering on his zone profile) and at home this season, so look to start him in home starts against righty heavy lineups. Full season owners should also consider buying low.
Manuel Margot: Margot had a fairly poor first half of the season, but there's a lot to like out of the 23-year-old, and fantasy owners should consider buying on him while they can. Margot boasts an above average batting eye per his 27.3% o-swing rate and makes contact at a solid 79.2% clip, so his strikeout and walk rates are likely to be strong over the second half of the season (his walk rate in particular should rise from its 7.8% rate). When Margot does make contact, it tends to be high quality as he's posted close to a 40% hard hit rate and 25% line drive rate so far this year. Margot's ability to hit the ball well suggests that his 2.8% HR/FB ratio and 1% home run rate are likely to rise substantially over the rest of the season, and his 0.88 GB/FB ratio is likely to become more fly ball heavy based on last season's mark and his recent fly ball heavy trend. Expect Margot to see a substantial increase in his power numbers and an improved walk rate while maintaining his impressive strikeout rate, and he represents an intriguing second half option for fantasy owners.
Tyler Chatwood: Chatwood allowed just one run and one hit over 5.1 innings against the Cardinals on Saturday but allowed six walks and struck out only two batters. Chatwood had posted an uninspiring 5.04 ERA entering Saturday's start, and the main culprit has been shaky command. Aside from his command, Chatwood induces one of the most ground ball heavy batted ball profiles in the league with a 1.20 GB/FB ratio and limits hard contact to a solid 30.2% rate while pitching in front of one of the best defenses in the league, so his .303 BABIP has upside over the second half of the season and can limit his downside in poor outings. Look at his command numbers though,and Chatwood goes from looking like 2016 Jake Arrieta to 2018 Sal Romano. Chatwood struggles to hit the strike zone with his pitches (38.2% zone rate that ranks among him the least accurate in the league), and hitters rarely chase at pitches when he misses the zone (his 24.4% o-swing rate is also among the worst in the league) -- an unsightly combination to say the least. Watch Chatwood's command over the rest of the season; if he can reign it in then he could be a very attractive buy low candidate and productive pitcher for the second half.
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