Franmil Reyes (OF-CLE) enjoyed a fine day at the plate on Sunday, going 2-5 with a pair of homers and 4 RBI against the Royals. The 24 year-old slugger has now bashed 3 longballs in his last 2 games and has hit 32 total bombs on the season. While he's largely disappointed since arriving in Cleveland following a deadline deal (.167 average, 3 homers, and 10 RBI in 72 plate appearances entering Sunday's contest), he's shown signs of heating up as of late by going 4-12 with 3 homers and 7 RBI in a 3-game weekend series with Kansas City. To be sure, the 6'5", 275-pounder has contact issues (28% strikeout rate), but he tends to make some noise when he connects with the ball (46% hard-hit rate). It's encouraging that he's traded some grounders (down about 7% from last season to 42%) for flyballs (up about 7% to 38%) given his power and lack of speed. His recent hot streak could be a sign that he's turned a corner, so Reyes could be an asset down the stretch for fantasy owners in 2019.
Jorge Soler (OF-KC) continued his breakout campaign on Sunday, going 1-5 with a 2-run homer against the Indians. We're finally seeing what Soler can do in a full season, as he's stayed healthy and hit .251 with 36 homers and 91 RBI in 544 plate appearances. If you want to put that in perspective, he's basically putting together the kind of year we've come to expect from Khris Davis. And as good as his overall line is, he's actually improved over the course of the campaign, as he was batting .281 with 12 homers and 30 RBI in 128 plate appearances since the All-Star break entering play on Sunday - he hit .240 with 23 longballs and 59 RBI during the first half. His strikeout rate is down 8% to 21% in the second half while his walks are up 11% to 19% and his hard-hit rate is up 9% to 52% while his liner clip is up 5% to 23%. So instead of wearing down as the season has progressed, Soler has actually gotten better. That's encouraging to say the least.
Jose Altuve (2B-HOU) continued his strong second half of the season by going 2-5 with a 2-run homer against the Angels on Sunday. The 29 year-old started the season slowly, batting .262 with 10 longballs and 25 RBI in 214 first-half plate appearances, but he's turned it on since the All-Star break, and was hitting .355 with 13 dingers and 32 RBI in 166 plate appearances entering Sunday's contest. Although still modest, his 3 stolen bases since the break are an upgrade on the pair that he swiped beforehand, which signifies that his injury woes are truly behind him. While his walk and strikeout rates have pretty much stayed stable from the first to the second half of the season, his hard-hit rate is up about 2% while his line-drive clip is up over 2%. Even these modest improvements have helped Altuve turn things around and reestablish himself as a force in fantasy (and reality, of course).
Matthew Boyd (SP-DET) struggled against the Twins on Sunday as he surrendered 7 runs on 4 hits and 5 walks while fanning 7 in 6 innings of work. The 28-year old southpaw continued to struggle with the longball, as he surrendered 2 more on Sunday and now owns a brutal 1.81 HR/9 on the year. The strikeouts were true to form, as he's logged a stellar 11.8 K/9 on the season, but the walks were uncharacteristic given his strong 2.4 BB/9 in 2019. The 18% HR/FB that opposing batters have logged against him is easily a career-high, as is the 41% hard-hit rate, but he's also kicked his swinging-strike rate to 14.3%, in large part by getting opposing hitters to swing at a career-high 35% of pitches outside of the zone and by having them make contact on a career-low 55% of them. So, the key to his success appears to be outsize of the zone - because batters are punishing what he puts over the dish.
Shane Bieber (SP-CLE) tossed 7 quality innings against the Royals on Sunday, giving up 3 runs (2 earned) on 6 hits and a pair of walks while fanning 8. The 24 year-old's emergence no doubt helped make Trevor Bauer expendable, as he now owns a stellar 3.23 ERA, 11.04 K/9, and 1.85 BB/9 through 175.1 innings pitched in 2019. He's always possessed plus control, but he's taken the strikeouts to a new level, as he never posted a K/9 north of 9.62 at any level in the minors (that figure was 9.26 in 114.2 big-league innings last season). A key to that success has been a 14.2% strikeout rate that sits nearly 3% higher than last season's clip. He's been especially successful outside of the zone, as he's gotten opposing hitters to swing at 35% of pitches outsize of the zone (up 4% of last season) and they've only made contact on those pitches 51% of the time (57% last season).
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