Shane Bieber (SP-CLE) dominated Baltimore on Sunday, tossing a complete-game shutout in which he gave up 5 hits and walked none while striking out 15 batters. The 23 year-old righty now owns a 3.22 ERA through 58.2 innings pitched on the year, which is backed by a 3.43 xFIP. His 10.59 K/9 is a nice improvement on last year's 9.26 (114.2 IP) while he's maintained a similar level of control with a 1.99 BB/9 so far in 2019 (1.81 last season). As impressive as he's been, there is one big thing to keep an eye on: the longball. While a 16.7% HR/FB might appear unlucky on the surface, opposing hitters have mustered a 45.2% hard-hit rate against him while he's surrendered a 42.9% flyball rate. It helps that he minimizes the walks, but a .255 BABIP is on the low side and his numbers would suffer if the BABIP moves toward last year's .356.
Reynaldo Lopez (SP-CHW) earned a quality start against the Blue Jays on Sunday by tossing 6 innings of 1-run ball in which he surrendered 4 hits and walked 2 while striking out just 1 batter. The 25 year-old fireballer now owns a 5.14 ERA, 8.68 K/9, and 4.02 BB/9 on the year, with a 5.69 xFIP confirming that he's struggled overall. He's had some excellent outings - such as 6 innings in which he gave up no earned runs and struck out 14 Tigers on April 28th - but he's also had some real clunkers, including 3 starts (out of 10) in which he's allowed 6 or more earned runs. In addition to the walks, the longball has been a big problem for him, as his HR/9 sits at 1.77 on the year. His HR/FB clocks in at just 12%, but that's because he is an extreme flyball pitcher (54.8% flyball rate). The potential is intriguing, but he's just too inconsistent to count on right now.
Dan Vogelbach (DH-SEA) continued his breakout season against the Twins on Sunday with a 2-3 effort at the plate that included a walk and a solo homer. The 26 year-old is now batting .258 with 13 big flies and 38 RBI on the year. While he strikes out some (22.9% strikeout rate), Vogelbach is exceptionally patient at the dish (17.6% walk rate) and his resulting .392 OBP makes him especially useful in leagues that count that stat. His BABIP sits at just .247, so there is room for his average to rise should that BABIP climb into the low-.300s, which was the norm throughout his minor-league career. Even if the average doesn't increase much, his power is legit - he pairs a 39.1% hard-hit rate with a 51.7% flyball rate. His 26.7% HR/FB is certainly on the high side, but keep in mind that he posted a HR/FB of 19% in 102 plate appearances with Seattle and a 19.4% HR/FB in 378 Triple-A plate appearances last year.
Shin-Soo Choo (OF-TEX) kept his strong start to the 2019 campaign going against the Cardinals on Sunday with a 2-4 effort at the plate that included a double and a big fly. At age 36, Choo is putting together what could be one of his best seasons, as he's now batting .293 with 7 longballs, 18 RBI, and a pair of stolen bases through 184 plate appearances. Of course, he doesn't have the same speed that allowed him to steal 20 bags 4 times between 2009 and 2013, but his batting eye and patience remain strong (12.5% walk rate) and his strikeout rate is still reasonable (23.9%). And a 20-PA stint with the Indians in 2007 aside, his 49.1% hard-hit rate is easily a career high. Choo clearly has something left in the tank, so pick him up if he's on your league's waiver wire (he's still out there in over 45% of ESPN leagues).
Willy Adames (SS-TB) went 2-4 with a solo homer against the Yankees on Sunday. The 23 year-old now owns a .237 batting average on the year to go along with 3 longballs, 8 RBI, and a stolen base. After a promising debut in 2018 (.278/10/34/6 in 323 PAs), Adames has scuffled in the early going in 2019. Yet, his 26.7% strikeout rate is down from last year's 29.4% and he's making hard contact at a 41.4% rate this year as compared to last season's 34.7% clip. His line-drive rate is up to 20.2% (17.5%) last year, but he's not exactly fleet of foot and has hit 51.7% worm-burners (52.1% last season). His .315 BABIP is well down from last season's .378 clip, which was actually not much beyond the rates that he typically recorded in the minors. So, while the peripherals indicate that Adames is making some progress in key areas the results just aren't there yet. I'd keep an eye on him to see if things correct toward the mean.
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