Eric Sogard (2B/SS-TOR)
Sogard picked up another start at DH and continued his recent hot hitting going 3 for 3 with a double, his 7th home run and 2 walks. The veteran has been a very streaky hitter in 2019 as he hit .395 in April, .189 in May and is currently hitting .345 in June. Interestingly Sogard has not registered exactly 1 hit in a game this month - he has 10 multi-hit games and went hitless in every other game. He has provided good value out of the leadoff hole with a 13% strikeout rate and just a 3.7% swinging strike rate. In what seems to be a big trend in 2019, Sogard has increased his hard-hit rate (37%) and flyball rate (44%) which has resulted in career power numbers - a .180 ISO and an already career high 7 home runs - he had just 11 career home runs in 584 career games entering 2019. His .303/.371/.503 line should keep him in the lineup most days, even with the younger contingent of Blue Jays knocking on the door.
Shane Bieber (SP-CLE)
Bieber tossed 6 innings allowing just 2 ER, while striking out 8. He only made 2 mistakes in this one giving up an RBI triple and allowing the ensuing runner to score on a wild pitch. Bieber has established himself as a very strong option at starting pitcher, especially considering he opened the season at the 5-man in the Indians rotation. His 11.44 K/9 ranks 4th in the American League and has showcased his pitching arsenal with 3 10+ strikeouts games already in 2019. Despite having a 38% flyball rate that isn't all that high he has been prone to the longball as he has surrendered 16 in 85 innings (1.66 HR/9) a number that has given him a slightly inflated 3.92 ERA compared to his 3.32 xfip. He has increased his slider usage 7% in 2019 which is great considering it has been one of his best pitches, as he has registered 38 strikeouts while holding opposing batters to a .188 average against. His 14.7% Swinging Strike rate ranks in the top 10 in the league and he has held opposing batters to a 67.9% contact rate - 3rd best in baseball among qualified starters. Bieber has a ton of upside despite falling a bit under the radar thanks to the other big names in the Cleveland rotation.
Frambler Valdez (SP-HOU)
Valdez got torched by the Yankees Thursday, allowing 5 ER in 3+ innings; he struck out 3, walked 3 and allowed 2 home runs. This comes on the heels of back-to-back strong performances where Valdez allowed 3 ER over 13 innings while striking out 15 and generating a whopping 26 groundball outs (he did generate 5 of 10 out via groundballs in this one). Prior to June he spent the season working multiple innings out of the Astros bullpen, pitching to a 3.68 ERA in those appearances. While the walks are bit a of a concern his 3.45 BB/9 is on the decline from last year as his minor league numbers he has a devastating curveball that he has baffled hitters with in 2019, limiting them to 4 hits in 52 at bats (.083) with 29 strikeouts. His 61.7% groundball rate, if he can hold it as a start would be considered elite and his average strikeout numbers (8.31 K/9) can be overlooked if he can keep inducing groundballs via his great soft-contact rate (21%).
Gleyber Torres (2B/SS-NYY)
Torres went 2 for 4 with 3 RBIs and launched his 17th home run of the season. Torres is on pace for a 30+ home run season after slugging 24 and driving in 77 in 123 games last year. Torres 2019 numbers line up very similarly to 2018 with an almost identical BB rate (8.7 vs 8.8%) although he has seen a small drop in his K rate to 23.2% as he has made slightly better contact (70% to 74%) which has helped increase his average to .288. Torres has increased his slugging % almost 50 points thanks to an increased hard-hit rate to 43%. With the big Yankee sluggers getting healthy Torres will most likely sit in the bottom third of the batting order - but should have plenty of RBI opportunities going forward.
Cavan Biggio (2B-TOR)
Biggio went 0 for 3 with a sac fly and a walk. Biggio's .203/.349/.449 line may not look speculator - but he has not altered his game since being recalled. He has a reputation for being an extremely patient hitter in the minors and that is evidenced by his low 32% swing rate which as expected has yielded high walk numbers (18%) and high strikeout numbers (27%). The thing is Biggio absolutely crushes the ball when he does swing and makes contact and has a ridiculously low 4.5% soft hit hard and a very nice 52.3% hard-hit rate. These numbers combined with a low .231 babip suggest that his overall line could be on the rise - there is a lot of potential here as he slugged 32 home runs and stole 25 bases in the minor leagues last year across AA and AAA.
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