Joey Gallo (OF-TEX) lit up Tigers pitching on Thursday, going 2-3 with a pair of solo homers and a walk. The 25 year-old masher is now hitting .279 with 19 longballs and 44 RBI across 227 plate appearances on the season, with a recent 3-week stint on the IL with an oblique strain apparently not slowing him down. Despite logging a 35.2% strikeout rate that is an ever so slight improvement on last year's career-low 35.9%, he's batting .279 thanks to a .383 BABIP that dwarfs his .273 career clip. That's driven by a career-high 57.1% hard-hit rate to go along with a career-best 30.6% liner rate. Gallo's even become more of a pull hitter, as his pull rate sits at 54.1%, notable higher than his 49.4% career clip (and last season's 45.1% rate). With all of that in mind, it's easy to predict a dip in the batting average, but that's not why his fantasy owners drafted him. He's hitting for power (.397 ISO) as expected and drawing more walks (20.3% walk rate) than ever, giving him even greater value in OBP (.427) leagues.
Daniel Vogelbach (1B-SEA) went 1-4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored against the Brewers on Thursday. On a quiet day for the Mariners offense, Vogelbach supplied half of the team's runs scored and is now batting .248 with 19 dingers and 47 RBI on the year. He has been especially valuable in OBP leagues, as he has drawn walks at a 18.1% clip and owns a .385 OBP as a result. The power output has been the real surprise, as he's never hit more than 24 big flies in a season and appears poised to easily surpass that figure. And for a guy who makes plenty of hard contact (42.4% hard-hit rate), Vogelbach doesn't strike out much (22.4%). Even though he's seized a full-time role with Edwin Encarnacion shipped to New York, it might still be best to bench him against lefty starters if you have a solid option to replace him with - he's batting just .138 with a pair of dingers through 66 plate appearances against lefties, making hard contact on only 28.6% of batted balls (as opposed to 46.7% against righties).
Max Kepler (OF-MIN) went 0-8 with 4 strikeouts in an 18-inning contest with the Rays on Thursday. The 26 year-old's average on the season now sits at .264, which isn't bad when you consider that he's never hit better than .243 in a big-league season. He's also easily on pace to surpass his career-high of 20 homers set last season, as he already has 19 this year, and in nearly 300 fewer plate appearances no less (nope, the balls aren't juiced). Despite the flurry of strikeouts on Thursday, his 16% strikeout rate on the season is superb while he's displayed his usual patience (10.2% walk rate). Like 95% of major-league hitters (don't check that), Kepler's posting a career-high hard-hit rate (43.1%) and has ticked his liner clip up to 19.4% (17% career) while posting a career-low 35.8% groundball rate. Thursday's performance was a bump in the road - expect the career year to continue.
Spencer Turnbull (SP-DET) made it through just 2 innings against the Rangers on Thursday, giving up 1 run on 1 hit and 1 walk while whiffing 3, before he left the game due to shoulder fatigue. An MRI came back clean after he was yanked following a significant velocity dip, but it's unclear when he'll make his next start. The 26 year-old rookie has impressed in 2019, as he owns a 3.31 ERA and 8.43 K/9 through 89.2 innings of work on the season. His 3.91 FIP suggests that his fantasy owners should expect some correction to the mean, as his 74.7% strand rate seems a little on the high side. But he doesn't exactly give up a ton of hard contact (35.5% hard-hit rate), doesn't walk a ton of batters (3.41 BB/9), and induces lots of grounders (49% groundball rate). Depending on the opponent, I wouldn't hesitate to start him in fantasy once he's cleared to resume action.
Ariel Jurado (SP-TEX) blanked the Tigers over 7 innings of work on Thursday, scattering 6 hits and walking 1 while fanning 4. The 23 year-old now owns a 3.90 ERA on the year, but his 4.33 FIP suggests that a little regression could be coming. The biggest problem with Jurado is that he doesn't strike out many batters, as he owns a K/9 of just 6.40. And for a guy that doesn't whiff many batters, he gives up a lot of hard contact - a 41.1% hard-hit rate is a bit concerning. The sinkerballer does induce grounders at a 48.4% clip, which helps minimize the damage. This may ultimately be a case where a guy is a better player in real baseball than fantasy baseball, as his limited strikeout ability limits his upside.
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