Jose Abreu, 1B, CWS
Abreu went 0 for 5 on Thursday against the Tigers and his season average now sits well below the Mendoza line at .174. Those who drafted the First Baseman hoping last year was an anomaly are now stuck hoping this is just an early season slump. Calling him cold might be an understatement; Abreu has just 3 hits over the past 10 contests and has struck out 11 times compared to just 5 walks. Over that span he is hitting .097 with 1 RBI, 2 R, and just one extra base hit (a double). After posting four consecutive .290+, 25+ HR, 100+ RBI seasons to start his career Abreu's production has fallen off. Including last season Abreu is slashing .256/.321/.462 over his last 145 games, those numbers are significantly down from his slash line of .301/.359/.524 that he posted over the four previous seasons. Like most struggling stars, Abreu's early season woes come with a heightened K% (29.7%, which is 10% higher than his career average), but what's interesting is that those strikeout's aren't coming from being too aggressive at the plate. He is actually swinging at less bad pitches; his O-Swing% is 30.7% in 2019 and his career mark is 37.4%, so plate discipline doesn't appear to be the issue. It seems the starkest difference between Abreu's stats over the past year compared to his first four seasons is where he is hitting the ball. Over the past 145 games Abreu has become more of a pull hitter than he was previously. From 2014 through 2017 Abreu's season Oppo% ranged between 26.1% and 29.9%. That percentage dropped to 21.0% last season and is currently at 18.6% so far in 2019. Pull hitters are easier to pitch to, especially in today's game where massive shifts have become the norm, so Abreu somehow needs to recapture his ability to spray the ball all over the place if he wants to find the kind of success he was having his first four seasons in the league.
Willians Astudillo, C/3B, MIN
Astudillo broke a 15 at bat hitless streak with a single in the 2nd inning of Thursday's tilt against the Blue Jays. He then singled again in his very next at bat and ended the day 2 for 4 with a run scored. Being a catcher (with bonus 3B eligibility) makes Atudillo a rather tantalizing player. His ability to put the bat on the ball (career 3.1 K%) makes him a viable option at the infamously weakest position in fantasy baseball. In 97 plate appearances last season the Twins catcher posted a very impressive .379 wOBA and hit 3 dingers while striking out just 3 times! The problem is that he is sharing time behind the plate with veteran Jason Castro, and promising young talent Mitch Garver (3 HR, .409 AVG in '19), while also stuck behind Minnesota's big FA addition Marwin Gonzalez at third base. If he can find a way to get into the line-up on a regular basis it's certainly conceivable that he would be a top 10 catcher, but he may not get the opportunity to show that this season.
Domingo German, SP, NYY
In his return to the rotation German posted a quality start, but received his first loss, against the Royals on Thursday. He finished with a respectable line of: 6.0 IP, 3R, 9 K, 0BB. Most of the Royals' damage was done via the long ball as they hit two solo shots off the young right-hander. German has now been very impressive in 19 innings to start the 2019 campaign and the two homers he gave up on Thursday are actually the first he has surrendered all season. Despite getting touched for three runs yesterday German still owns a very impressive 2.37 ERA to go with an equally impressive .84 WHIP. He also upped his K/9 to a solid 10.89 and has only walked 7 batters on the year (5 of which were in his first start). German is only rostered in 52.5% of ESPN leagues and you should probably scoop him up before it's too late. He may be unproven, and his success this year is in a very small sample size, but he's probably worth the risk.
Shane Green, RP, DET
Shane Greene recorded his AL-leading 9th save of the season on Thursday against the White Sox. Greene came in and protected the Tigers 2-run 9th inning lead while surrendering just one base runner (a walk). Greene is now 9 for 9 in save opportunities and is sporting a stellar 1.64 ERA, and .64 WHIP, in 11 appearances this season. Greene has notched a save in all of the Tigers' wins so far, so his production is bound to decline, especially with 2019 being a "rebuilding year" for the Tigers as a whole. But bad teams win games too, so as long as he is pitching like this, Greene should be owned in most formats (currently owned in 87.0% of ESPN leagues).
Austin Meadows, OF, TAM
Meadows continued his torrid start to 2019 (and basically career) with a 2 for 3 night against the Orioles. He doubled and scored to lead off the first, then later added a single to up his average to a hefty .364 on the season. Since starting the season just 1 for 10, Meadows has been tearing the cover off of the ball, posting a triple slash line of .398, .467, .736. He has 5 Homers and 16 RBI in that span and has recorded at least one hit in all but three of his starts this season. To put a little cherry on top Meadows has also swiped three bags in three attempts so far as well. The 23-year-old has only 265 career plate appearances to his credit but his early success cannot be ignored. Production will certainly decline some as his 2019 Hard%/Soft% split of 46.9%/12.2% is probably not sustainable. However he has proven to have a good eye at the plate (26.2 O-swing% and 11.3 BB%) and should be started in most leagues until further notice.
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