Blake Snell (SP-TB)
Snell continues to shut down opposing hitters, albeit in short outings. On Thursday he pitched five scoreless innings with six strikeouts for the second consecutive game. Coming into the game, Snell had three lackluster starts all season and two of those came at Yankee Stadium, but he kept the New York bats quiet, allowing only two hits and a walk en route to his 14th win of the season. Since returning from the DL, Snell has allowed only one run in 14 innings. During that stretch, he is using his curveball nearly 25% of the time. Prior to his DL stint, Snell's curve composed 17% of his arsenal. It's a wise move as the pitch is supremely effective and it continues to fool hitters even with the increased usage. In fact, Snell's curve has produced nearly 40% whiffs in the month of August. The downside is Tampa Bay's caution and unwillingness to extend him deep into games (he hasn't thrown more than 100 pitches in over a month). Nonetheless, he is 14-5 with a 2.10 ERA and continues to serve as an elite fantasy option.
Tommy Pham (OF-TB)
Pham picked up his first two hits as a Tampa Bay Ray on Thursday, reaching base three times in four plate appearances and driving in his 42nd run of the season. It was his first start since coming off the DL for a foot injury. It's easy to play the hoping game with Pham. We hope the change of scenery from St. Louis to Tampa Bay will turn things around. We hope the time on the DL will help him regain his form, but right now he's not showing the power/speed combo that made him a fantasy stud in 2017. With that being said, despite a .186 average and 58 wRC+ since June 20, Pham's hard hit rate is over 50 percent. His plate discipline is slightly worse during that stretch, but it's not enough to explain the diminished results. However, a .241 BABIP might explain his struggles. So will a HR/FB rate under 10 percent. He should see positive regression in those numbers and so it's likely, with Pham hitting in the middle of the Rays lineup, he will re-emerge as a fantasy contributor.
Sam Gaviglio (SP-TOR)
Gaviglio continues to get a shot in the Blue Jays rotation and he continues to struggle. After a lengthy rain delay, Gaviglio got the start and failed to get out of the 5th inning, his ninth straight start with less than six innings pitched. He has only one quality start and zero wins since May 25. On the surface, Gaviglio doesn't look like he belongs in a major league rotation; however, Toronto is trying to dig deeper for some advanced numbers. For instance, his xFIP is nearly a run lower than his ERA. Also, his swinging strike rate has improved dramatically since last season. He was an elite strikeout pitcher early in his professional career, but his pitching arsenal doesn't suggest swing-and-miss stuff. Hitters own a .464 ISO against his high-80's fastball. He only throws his offspeed pitches about 16% of the time, but that has really been his only method to limit hard contact. The problem is if he increases his offspeed usage, that's a pretty easy adjustment for hitters. In other words, there aren't a whole lot of encouraging notes on Gaviglio. Except this one: he's one of only two players in MLB history to start a last name with the letters G-A-V. The other is Gavern (conspicuously without a first name), a player credited with one game played in 1874.
Francisco Liriano (SP-DET)
In a battle of two mid-30's has-beens, it's difficult to figure out who was worse: Francisco Liriano or Ervin Santana. Santana allowed seven runs in four innings while Liriano allowed eight (four unearned) runs in less than two innings. Both pitchers are bad and play for bad teams, but Liriano has at least demonstrated spurts of effectiveness and as we approach the fantasy stretch run where owners are starting to look closer at streaming options, it's understandable some may have looked to the veteran southpaw for a matchup with Minnesota. The problem with Liriano, and it has been the case throughout his career, matchups don't really matter. He can pitch well against good competition and struggle against light-hitting opponents. Thursday was his fourth time this season allowing more than three runs. Only one of those outings came against an offense ranked in the top half of baseball. He doesn't strike batters out like he used to and his xFIP is hovering around 5.00 so it's not worth taking a shot on Liriano as a streaming option. Let your opponent make that mistake.
Kyle Gibson (SP-MIN); DraftKings: $8,500
Gibson faces off against the Tigers for the second straight outing. He went seven one-run innings in his previous start at Detroit, but this time he gets his division rival at Target Field. Gibson hasn't allowed more than three runs at home since May 18, and Detroit's .286 wOBA and 76 wRC+ vs. RHPs both rank last in all of baseball. He only has seven strikeouts in two previous starts against the Tigers, but we've seen Gibson punch out eight or more batters on five different occasions this season. Carlos Carrasco is the chalk play on Friday, but Gibson provides great value.
This is just a small sample our daily analysis, join our member area for over 80 daily player updates sent to your inbox every morning and track your team online. Click here for details: http://www.insiderbaseball.com/baseballsample.htm Click here to register: http://www.fantistics.com/salesbaseball.php3