Josh Bell (1B-PIT)
Bell went 3 for 4 with 2 home runs (13,14), 2 runs scored and 4 RBIs; this is Bell's 3rd multi-home run game of the month of May. Bell was promptly dismissed by some following his 12-home run, .768 OPS season last year that fell off drastically from the year before - but that has all changed this year as Bell must be one of the Top-5 NL MVP favorites a quarter of the way through the season. Especially on a Pirates team that has struggled to score runs, Bell is among the league leaders in most offensive categories and he boosts a robust .333/.402/.704 line with 14 home runs, 43 RBIs and 30 runs scored. Despite an elevated .361 babip he is absolutely mashing the ball - sporting a 50% hard hit rate that has tripled his HR/FB rate to 27%. The only negative here is his swinging strike rate is up 2% which has led to a bit of a bump in strikeout rate (22.8%) - but owners will surely take this as long as he continues to swing a hot bat.
Aaron Nola (SP-PHI)
Nola had his best outing of the season Saturday allowing 1 run over 6 strong innings while striking out 12. This was the first double digit strikeout game of the season for Nola who has struggled to a 4.47 ERA despite having a 4-0 record. He has mostly been fortunate in his rough starts the offense has bailed him out of a loss and a few main issues seem to be causing his rough start to the season. He currently walking batters at a 3.88 BB/9 clip - by far the highest rate of his career. He has had 4 games where he has walked 3+ batters - so the 1 walk is nice to see. Second, he has been allowing a lot more home runs then last season (1.75 HR/9 compared to 0.72 last season). His flyball rate has nearly been identical the past 3 seasons - but he is allowing more hard hits - 33.3% this year, up from 25% last year. Finally, he has not taken care of opposing left handed batters. Nola was lights out vs lefties last year limiting them to a .187 batting average against and only allowed 9 home runs over 416 batters faced. This year this has been a stark contrast - as lefties are hitting .333 vs him and he has already allowed 5 homers after facing just 87 batters. The best is still ahead for Nola this year - and luckily for fantasy owners is still piling up strikeouts and picking up wins.
Pablo Lopez (SP-MIA)
Lopez was on Saturday Pitching 7 innings of 1-hit ball, striking out 7 as 2 other Marlins relievers combined for a 1-hitter. Lopez has been very hard to trust this season for fantasy purposes as his dazzling effort follows up a disastrous outing last time out that saw him allow 10 ER including 3 home runs in just 3 innings. Overall for 2019, Lopez has 3 outings of 6 or more innings where he has not allowed a run, and 4 outings of allowing 4+ runs. He does generate a nice number of groundballs (51%) and that was on display again Saturday as he generated 9. He has also picked up 56 strikeouts in 55 innings. He will carry a slightly bloated 5.06 ERA into his next start Friday vs the Nationals.
Walker Buehler (SP-LAD)
Buehler tossed 6 innings allowing 4 runs (1 ER) while striking out 7. A throwing error by Corey Seager open the flood gates, but he was good otherwise throwing 18 first pitch strikes and generated 16 swinging strikes. Buehler is coming off a season best 7-shutout inning, 7-K performance vs the Nationals last week and continued to build on it this week. Buehler's strikeout rate is down a bit to 8.10 K/9 despite a slight increase on his average fastball to 96.6mph. Batters may be adjusting to the hard throwers style as the hard hit % vs him is up 5% to 41% while he is giving up more line drives (24%) and flyballs (37%) and significantly less groundballs(50% to 37% this year). His 3.28 fip suggests that his +4 Era entering playing Friday should come down and a key will be if he can keep the increased flyball % from translating into home runs.
Bryce Harper (OF-PHI)
Harper went 2-3 with a double and his 8th home run of the season. It was his first home run since May 7th and extends his hitting streak to a modest 4 games (5-15). It been somewhat of a nightmarish season for Harper who has looked terrible at times striking out in bunches (14 times over his past 8 games, a career high 31.1% overall). The 8 home runs, 28 RBIs, 27 runs scored, and 17% walk rate help soften the blow a bit but at some point, the strikeouts may result in a drop in the batting order. He is currently sporting a career worst 15.4% swinging strike rate and just hasn't been able to make enough contact overall with a 66.7% contact rate - in the bottom 5 among qualified hitters. Maybe the recent 4 game streak is the start of something - but he can't really be relied upon in daily formats - but will be hard to bench in season-long leagues.
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