Derek Holland (SP) SF - Perhaps we should have seen this coming.....after all, the park differential from Texas and Chicago to San Francisco is significant, and Holland is a flyball pitcher. This level of performance was still beyond my wildest expectations, as Holland held the Rangers to 1 run over 6 1/3 innings for his first quality start in a month. He hasn't allowed more than 4 ER in an outing yet this year through 25 starts, and while only 8 of those have been "quality", staying away from the disastrous outings has kept his ERA at its best level since 2013. The core of this strong performance has been a swinging strike rate that is a career-best 10.5%, but it's not all roses here: Hefty LD (24%) and hard contact (39%!) rates aren't really showing up in the BABIP (.299), leading me to believe that he remains more of a 4.00 ERA pitcher than a 3.50 one. I hesitate to bring him further forward in value than a streamer, and I remain fairly cautious in choosing his opponents and venues despite the very solid road ERA of 3.45.
Philip Ervin (OF) CIN - Ervin has played every day for the past 11 games, and that's playing time that he's earned: he's hitting 341/385/571 in 91 ABs since the break. Ervin could provide 15/15 value (maybe a touch more on the speed side if he learns the pitchers quickly), and with his 31% LD rate and 36% hard contact rate the AVG may continue to surprise on the high side as well, as his K rates are as much a function of approach as they are of contact ability (and the rates aren't that bad to begin with). I think he's a sneaky add in most formats right now...I believe that he could give you top-60 OF value the rest of the way.
Steven Matz (SP) NYM - Matz's performance level has had a very direct relationship with his velocity this season, and after the flexor strain scare about a month ago I was concerned that we were looking at a season-ender. Instead, Matz has looked much better in his last two outings (including Sunday, a 7 IP, 1 ER, 7 K performance against WAS) both in terms of velocity and results. When he's fully healthy he's a useful arm, and he looks like that's the case once again right now....I'd feel comfortable picking him up for the stretch run.
Kevin Gausman (SP) ATL - Gausman was pulled early on Sunday in an attempt to get him some offense, but he was brilliant once again prior to that, holding the Marlins to a walk and a single over 5 innings, striking out 5. Gausman is exactly the kind of pitcher that goes from waiver bait in the AL to a viable starter in the NL....the difference in league strength is not to be underestimated. He isn't striking out a ton of hitters, but the control has been excellent, and the swinging strike rate has been at least average, so the lack of K's doesn't bother me a ton. I fully expect him to remain a top-60 SP in the NL, and I do believe he should be owned in all formats and started in the vast majority without hesitation.
Matt Carpenter (1B/2B/3B) STL - Look back to mid-May to fully understand the folly of acting too swiftly on player performance....Carpenter struggled mightily for the first 6 weeks en route to the best season of his career this year. He had 4 more doubles on Sunday to give him 72 XBH already for the season, pushing his ISO clearly over the .300 mark. Carpenter is an excellent example of a player with a very good understanding of the strike zone making a definite change in approach that has shown obvious dividends in terms of power. Before 2015, Carpenter was much more of a singles and doubles hitter with fantastic contact rates and an aversion to striking out. He's now in the midst of a 5 year increase in his hard contact rate, and it's easy to see that he is trying to generate more loft and swinging harder over the past 4 years. He's now 32 and showing little sign of slowing down, and the addition of eligibility at 1B/2B/3B makes him one of the most valuable players in baseball.