Michael Pineda, SP (MIN)
Pineda improved to 6-4 and lowered his xFIP to 4.47 with an excellent performance against Texas on Saturday. The Rangers' only damage off Pineda was a solo home run by Elvis Andrus in the 6th inning. Other than that, Pineda scattered five hits, walked one and struck out a season-high nine batters. It was the fourth time in his last five starts Pineda only allowed one run. In fact, he has allowed more than three runs only one time since April. Andrus' homer was only the second homer Pineda's allowed in his last seven starts. That is some good fortune (his HR/FB rate over that stretch is 5.4%). It also explains some of his recent success because flyballs are rampant for the oft-injured starter in 2019. His flyball rate is over 43%, more than 10% higher than any season since 2014. The increased use of his changeup is leading to a significant uptick in flyballs, which should be leading to more home runs but it really hasn't. That will likely change in the 2nd half of the season. However, the corresponding result is a lower BABIP and thereby less hits allowed, which of course is good. In other words Pineda is a different pitcher in Minnesota than he was in New York. Not necessarily better but different. As far as what to expect over the rest of the season, anticipate more home runs but continued consistency.
Jonathan Villar, 2B (BAL)
Villar picked up his 21st double of the season and scored three runs in Baltimore's 8-1 rout of Toronto. He already has more runs scored than last year and during his current nine-game hitting streak, Villar has five extra base hits. Villar's 2019 is looking very similar to his 2018 season but with more power. A dramatic change to his launch angle has Villar's groundball rate below 50% for the first time in his career. Thus his BABIP is slightly lower but it isn't causing major regression in his batting average due to an improved strikeout rate (his swinging strike rate is nearly two percentage points lower than last year). So while managing to steady his average, Villar's raised launch angle is successfully producing more power. His ISO is .164, which would be the second highest of his career, and he's on pace to set a career high in home runs. Meanwhile he is still providing the category everyone drafted him for: stolen bases. His 17 steals are right on pace with last year's total of 35. Flying under the radar on a bad team, Villar is poised to put up his first 20/30 season due to the adjustments in his approach.
Jesse Chavez, SP (TEX)
Saturday's outing was the first subpar performance for Chavez since entering the Rangers starting rotation. He allowed five runs (four earned) in five innings of work. It wasn't terrible, and at this point anything you're getting out of Chavez in deep mixed leagues or AL-only is gravy based on where you drafted him or picked him up. For awhile the Rangers were using Chavez as an Opener and now, instead of using an Opener for him, they're starting him in a traditional role. Teams are still figuring out how to best utilize the Opener, but it never made sense to use Chavez, a pitcher with less than overpowering stuff, to attack the top of an opponents' lineup. However, it does make sense to use an Opener for him as he typically struggles the third time through the lineup. Either way, he seems entrenched in the rotation so unless he gets dealt at the deadline, feel free to employ him in the appropriate streaming situations.
Marco Gonzales, SP (SEA)
Gonzales recorded his 10th win on Saturday, cruising through eight innings of 2-run baseball. Aside from four atrocious outings in May and early June, Gonzales has pretty much been on cruise control throughout the season. While he gives you very little in the strikeout category, he is solid in ratios and efficient enough to tally wins. He has benefited from HR/FB luck as his rate is under eight percent, but he has been saddled with a 64% strand rate, well under career lows. His lack of an elite arsenal creates the danger of blowups like he showed earlier in the season, but Gonzales is one of those pitchers best suited for season-long roto leagues as he does just enough to provide you some help in a number of categories.
Justin Bour, 1B (LAA)
Bour's two home run outburst on June 26 stands as an outlier in an otherwise horrendous season. The first-year Angel struck out three times in four hitless at bats on Saturday, dropping his batting average to .182. However, he could be an interesting buy-low candidate. His BABIP is .198. That's not a typo. He has the third lowest BABIP in the major leagues. In his brief minor league demotion, his BABIP was a more normal .286. Likewise, his batting average was .292. It almost seems that easy to analyze his struggles. He's still making decent contact and registering an impressive hard hit rate so go ahead and shoot for the stars. Put in a bid on Bour. A second-half turnaround is coming.
This is just a small sample our daily analysis, join our member area for over 80 daily player updates sent to your inbox every morning and track your team online. Click here for details: http://www.insiderbaseball.