Ji-Man Choi, 1B (TB)
Facing a lefty, Choi hit out of the 9-hole for the first time this season. He has almost exclusively hit 3rd for the Rays. The good news for Choi owners is the Rays actually had him in the lineup against a LHP, and he rewarded the team with two hits in the game. He had one hit in 12 plate appearances against southpaws coming into the game. On Saturday he was 0-2 against CC Sabathia, but he did pick up a pair of hits against the Yankees bullpen, including a single against lefty Nestor Cortes Jr. Despite Saturday's start, fantasy owners can still expect Tampa Bay to sit Choi against lefties. The Rays have so many options on the infield and Choi has a career 37 wRC+ against same-handed pitchers.
Brad Keller, SP (KC)
Keller's velocity continues to drop, and in correlation his effectiveness continues to deteriorate. For the third time in the last four games, Keller allowed five earned runs. Since starting the season with four quality starts, Keller has only completed six innings once. He has struck out more than three batters only once since April 12, and his xFIP is nearly 6.00 over his last five starts. The walks are up, the strikeouts are down; the hard hit rate is up and the velocity is way down. Some very concerning trends with the Royals young hurler.
Adalberto Mondesi, SS (KC)
Mondesi moved into sole possession of the MLB stolen base lead with his 13th theft of the season on Saturday. Fantasy owners who invested a high pick in Mondesi have been rewarded despite frighteningly poor plate discipline that is actually getting worse. Mondesi has a 22.2% swinging strike rate in the month of May. His contact rate is down to 62% in the month and his chase rate is 42%. On the other hand, his ISO during that stretch is .300 as he has seven extra base hits. He is overcoming the poor plate discipline with good power and elite speed. Mondesi has the second-highest swing rate in baseball but his aggressiveness has been rewarded so there's little reason to believe he will cut that down. Time will tell if Mondesi can maintain a decent average while displaying such a non-contact approach.
Drew Smyly, SP (TEX)
For the first time this year, Smyly followed an Opener as the Rangers utilized Jesse Chavez for an inning before deploying Smyly from the 2nd inning through two outs in the 6th. So it was a different scenario for the 29 year old lefty, but it was pretty similar results. In fact, Smyly only allowed a Michael Brantley home run through his first three innings, but then he ran into trouble in the 5th and loaded the bases in the 6th before being removed for a relief pitcher who promptly gave up a grand slam to Aledmys Diaz, tacking three more runs on Smyly's ledger. Smyly has allowed a home run in all but one start. For a flyball pitcher in a home run park, that's somewhat expected. What isn't okay is the 6 BB/9 IP he's allowing (he gave up four free passes on Saturday). Additionally, he's allowing the highest hard hit rate among starting pitchers. So let's get this straight: high hard hit rate, lots of walks, hitter's park. That does not indicate positive regression.
Rafael Devers, 3B (BOS)
Devers picked up his fifth steal of the season, already matching his career high in stolen bases. It was part of a 3-4 performance with two RBIs and a walk. Devers has made so many promising improvements this season. He has lowered his swinging strike rate, raised his walk rate, increased his contact rate and lowered his chase rate. It is also very encouraging to see Devers improve his line drive rate to 26.5%, which helps to explain an 80 point addition to his BABIP. What is probably frustrating fantasy owners is the lack of home runs. He only has two right now, but some of that is bad luck: his HR/FB rate is 6.7% despite a career-high hard hit rate. If Devers continues to hit this way, the home runs will come. The stolen bases are just a bonus.
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