Diaz went 1-3 with his fourth home run of the season against the Royals on Monday. Diaz has always paired strong plate discipline and contact skills with impressive raw power, but the 27-year-old's ground ball heavy batted ball profile held him back. Unfortunately -- and despite what his .944 OPS might suggest -- Diaz hasn't increased his average launch angle and is unlikely to maintain his hot start to the season (though he is encouragingly pulling the ball more frequently). So far this season, Diaz has posted a 3.2 degree average launch angle and 1.29 GB/FB ratio, but a quarter of his fly balls have left the yard and 10.7% of his plate appearances have ended with extra bases (even with an 18% line drive rate and 17% IF/FB ratio). As a result, Diaz has posted a pedestrian .247 xBA and .417 xSLG -- numbers that better describe his likely performance going forward than his actual batting average and slugging percentage. Diaz's plate discipline skills and raw power are legitimately impressive traits that make him a breakout candidate, but until he can stop drilling balls into the ground, he won't be a long term upper tier fantasy asset. Sell high if you can.
Bañuelos pitched four solid innings and allowed five hits and no runs while striking out four and walking one against the Orioles on Monday. Mariano Rivera called Bañuelos the best pitching prospect he'd ever seen way back in 2011, and the former top prospect and "Killer B" has finally found his way back into the major leagues after injuries derailed his once promising career. Bañuelos is far from the same pitcher he was as a prospect though -- his once dominant fastball now sits at about 92 MPH and barely touches 95 MPH (Bañuelos used to average 95 MPH and touch 98 MPH) -- and his pitch mix is extremely different from his previous major league experience in 2015. Bañuelos emerged as a top prospect on the back of his strong fastball and impressive changeup with a solid curveball mixed in. Now, Bañuelos is relying heavily on (relatively) newly developed pitches -- namely a slider and sinker -- while his changeup is sparsely used and his fastball is his third most used pitch (in 2015, Bañuelos used his fastball more than twice as frequently as any other pitch). Bañuelos' slider doesn't have a ton of movement, but the pitch generates whiffs at a solid rate while his sinker gets hitters to whiff at a high rate and tends to induce soft contact. As a result, Bañuelos has posted a strong 70.8% contact rate. Like he did as a prospect though, Bañuelos is struggling with command as he's posted a 17.1% walk rate so far this season. Bañuelos is basically a new prospect at 28-years-old, so it will be difficult to judge him with such a small sample. If he can get his command down, then Bañuelos has the potential to be a difference maker for fantasy owners. Keep an eye on him as the season progresses.
Garcia went 1-3 with a double and a walk against the Royals on Tuesday. Injuries limited Garcia last season, but the 27-year-old was an All-Star in 2017 and has been playing well so far this season. Garcia offers plenty to like in the power department with his 94 MPH average exit velocity, 18.8% barrel rate, 27% line drive rate, and rising launch angle (Garcia's GB/FB ratio has decreased in each of the last three seasons and has continued to decrease this season as his average launch angle has risen above 10 degrees for the first time since at least 2015), but his contact skills leave a lot to be desired. Garcia's lone All-Star caliber campaign was driven partially by a 72.4% contact rate, but it also came with a 39.8% o-swing rate and 16.2% swinging strike rate (and a .392 BABIP). The big difference for Garcia that year was that he was being more aggressive with pitches inside of the strike zone, an approach that has not continued into this season. Even more concerning is that Garcia's contact is down across the board, and he's making contact at a paltry 61.8% rate so far this year. Garcia's power makes him worth keeping an eye on, but unless he starts increasing his z-swing and contact rates (without increasing his o-swing rate), don't expect him to keep up his hot start to the year (even then, it would be unlikely for Garcia to repeat his 2017 numbers).
Harvey allowed two runs over six innings against the Yankees on Monday. Harvey appeared to be trending towards a rebound year after posting an almost respectable 4.50 ERA with the Reds last season (his best mark since 2015, not including his starts with the Mets last year) but took a disappointing 9.64 ERA into Monday's game. Although Harvey's velocity has not bounced back this season, there's evidence that he's finally put together a solid array of secondary options that make him an intriguing option to improve as the season progresses. Harvey has dropped his fastball usage by a significant amount for the first time since 2012, and he's replaced it with a combination of his slider, curveball, and sinker (a pitch he used just 73 times prior to this season -- he'd used it 32 times already this season entering Monday's start). Encouragingly, Harvey has added movement to his slider and curveball, and his slider has become an effective pitch. Harvey's curveball has been hit hard, but his slider has done an impressive job of limiting hard contact and generating whiffs. Harvey's sinker has also been a solid pitch, so if he either improves or begins eliminating his curveball (in favor of his sinker and slider), then the 30-year-old could once again be a fantasy contributor. Harvey won't be the fastball heavy ace that he was in his early 20s, but keep an eye on his pitch mix because he could finally be productive again this season.
Abreu went 3-6 with a home run and 5 RBI against the Orioles on Monday. Abreu posted a relative down year last season, and the 32-year-old has struggled so far this year with a .189/.274/.365 slash line. Abreu's main problem has been his inconsistent launch angle, and he's posted a 23% line drive rate and 20% IF/FB ratio so far this season, leading to a .220 BABIP. Fortunately for fantasy owners, Abreu is still hitting the ball hard with a 91.5 MPH average exit velocity, 20.8% barrel rate, and 52.8% (Statcast) hard hit rate, so his BABIP is low even considering his decreased line drives and increased pop-ups (Abreu has a -0.60 difference between his wOBA and xwOBA). Additionally, Abreu's line drive rate has been consistently rising over the season while his IF/FB ratio has consistently fallen, suggesting that his batted ball profile should continue trending towards his career averages. One thing to watch with Abreu is his plate discipline -- Abreu has been significantly more patient at the plate this season, leading to more strikeouts and walks. That isn't necessarily a bad adjustment, but fantasy owners should be prepared for more strikeouts and walks than usual this year. Overall, Abreu is a good buy low candidate who should return to form over the rest of the season.
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