Jameson Taillon went 6 IP and gave up 3 ER on 7 H, 1 BB, and 4 K's against the Nationals. Through four starts Taillon has a 3.43 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. Coming into the year Taillon had a lot of buzz thanks to the introduction of a slider and a very strong second half. The one part of Taillon's game that many thought was going to improve was the strikeouts. So far this year, he has 20% K which is below league average. The positive is that 13% SwStr suggests that number could increase well above its current number. The concern is that through 443.2 IP he has struck out just 22% of batters and the Pirates pitching philosophy does not increase strikeouts. He is a very good pitcher with near-elite ratios and league average strikeouts. To take the next jump he will need to get the strikeouts in the 25-28% range, which is possible with a small shift in approach.
German Marquez went 9 IP and gave up 0 ER on 1 H, 0 BB, and 9 K's against the Giants. Marquez had a 3.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP with 23% K through his first three starts, which after his gem sits at a 2.00 ERA and 0.70 WHIP. He had a monster second half last year which pushed his season-long numbers to a 3.77 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 28% K. The biggest concern for Marquez is the fact that half his games will be in Coors Field. He has a 4.74 ERA at home compared to 2.95 on the road. This year five of the six earned runs he has given up has been at home. Marquez has excellent skills (24% K, 13% SwStr, 69% F-strike%, and 52% GB) so he will need to continue to dominate on the road and hold his own at home to put up the type of numbers that fantasy owners drafted him for early in the year.
Miles Mikolas went 5 IP and gave up 3 ER on 7 H, 1 BB, and 3 K's against the Reds. Mikolas has struggled to start the year with a 6.00 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. He is coming off a dream 2018 season in which he posted a 2.83 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and went 18-4. This was mostly due to elite control/command (4% BB, 0.72 HR/9). The belief was that he would add strikeouts this year due to above-average velocity and a good slider which would off-set the regression in his ERA and batted ball luck. The strikeouts have dropped even further this year to 11% and a 6% SwStr is something to be concerned about. He still has time to turn it around but Mikolas owners should be worried if the swing and misses don't start happening over the next couple of starts.
Josh Bell was 2-3 with 1 BB, 2 R, and 2 RBI against the Nationals. Bell is off to a strong start hitting .314 with 3 HR, 9 R, 12 RBI, and 0 SB. He is coming off a disappointing 2018 season in which his HR total dropped from 26 in 2017 to just 12 last year. Despite the drop in power, there were encouraging signs for Bell. He dropped his strikeout rate, upped his walks, and had a career-high in hard contact. His plus plate skills (16% K, 9% BB) gives him a solid floor and if he can continue to hit for power which looks likely given his early Statcast data (94 mph EV and 10.4 LA). He is someone to buy if there are still people skeptical about his hot start.
Nolan Arenado was 1-2 with 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, and 2 BB against the Giants. Arenado has had a slow start to the year by hitting .254 with 1 HR, 7 R, 9 RBI, and 1 SB. When looking at his batted ball profile the only thing that sticks out is a big jump in his soft contact (+5). His strikeout rate is still above average so contact is not the issue but the type of contact is. His average exit velocity is down 5 mph and his launch angle is up 7 degrees. Arenado is hitting too many soft fly balls which is also driving down his average. The good news is that this simply could be a star player trying to justify the mammoth extension he just got. Players of Arenado's caliber tend to get out of these types of slumps fairly quickly. The Padres have a two-game road trip to start the week and then a seven-game home stretch. A date with Coors Field is just what Arenado and the Rockies offense as a whole needs.
DraftKings Value Plays: OF Franmil Reyes (SDP) $3,900 and 3B Travis Shaw (MIL) $3,900
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