Gleyber Torres (SS-NYY) mashed Indians pitching on Saturday, going 2-4 with a pair of solo homers. The 22 year-old has been even better in his sophomore campaign than he was last year (.271-24-77 in 484 plate appearances), as he's now hitting .284 with 29 dingers and 73 RBI through 472 PAs in 2019. The statistical improvements don't appear to be fluky, either, as his peripherals indicate real growth. His strikeout rate, for example, is down 5% (to 20%) and his hard-hit rate is up 2% to 40%. While he's still swinging at about 34% of pitches outside of the zone, his in-zone swing rate is up 8% from last season to 76% while his overall contact rate is up 5% to 76% (up 6% outside the zone to 62% and up 3% inside the zone to 85%). Especially since he plays half his games in the bandbox that is Yankee Stadium, it's scary to think about what this guy could do as he continues to develop over the coming years.
Domingo Santana (OF-SEA) remained out of the Mariners lineup on Saturday as he reportedly received a mental break. Santana hasn't started since Wednesday and had been confined to a DH role since straining his right (throwing) elbow in late July. The 27 year-old slugger homered in back-to-back games as he returned to action after missing a couple of games, he's gone just 2-28 (.071) with a 50% strikeout rate in August. Santana had reestablished himself as a fantasy asset during the first half of the season, as he batted .286 with 18 longballs and 63 RBI while chipping in 6 stolen bases in 399 plate appearances - good for a 127 wRC+. His 29% strikeout rate during that stretch was an improvement on his 32% career clip while he posted a solid 43% hard-hit rate. But since the All-Star break - a stretch dominated by the injury sustained a few weeks ago - Santana's hard-hit rate has been just 33% while his groundball rate has jumped to 59% after sitting at just 40% during the first half while his line-drive rate plummeted from 28% before the break to just 15% since. Given his recent struggles at the plate and concerns that his elbow injury might be lingering, it seems unreasonable to expect much more out of him for fantasy purposes down the stretch in 2019.
Franmil Reyes (OF-CLE) continued to struggle in an Indians uniform, going 0-4 with a strikeout against the Yankees on Saturday. The 24 year-old masher is batting just .160 (9-60) with 2 homers and 7 RBI since joining the Tribe following a deadline deal. Consequently, his overall season line - .239 with 29 bombs and 53 RBI - has suffered, as reflected by his below-average 98 wRC+. While he's continued to make quality contact when it's happened (42%) in August, his strikeout rate has spiked to 37% (it was 27% during the first half of the season). The Indians acquired him as a long-term contributor, but he's been a liability to date.
James Paxton (SP-NYY) turned in a pretty meh outing against the Indians on Saturday, giving up 4 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks while recording 4 punchouts in 5 innings of work. The start was in many ways a microcosm of his 2019 campaign, as the southpaw now owns a 4.53 ERA and 1.43 WHIP through 113.1 innings pitched. When the Yankees traded Justus Sheffield and other prospects to the Mariners for Paxton in the offseason, they supposed they were getting an ace but his 4.33 FIP confirms that he hasn't quite been that in pinstripes. While his 11.2 K/9 is right around last season's clip, his BB/9 of 3.5 is well above the sub-2.5 rates that he logged the last few seasons. In addition issuing more free passes, Paxton is also giving up a lot of longballs, as he's recorded a career-high HR/9 (1.67) and HR/FB (16.7%) in 2019. Some of the homers can be attributed to the tight confines of the field at Yankee stadium, he has allowed a career-worst 39% hard-hit rate on the season; the good news is that he surrendered none against the Indians at home on Saturday. The good news? Paxton's velocity is fine - I guess that's something.
Zach Plesac (SP-CLE) did not fare especially well against the Yankees on Saturday, surrendering 4 runs on 6 hits and a walk while whiffing 5 in just 4.2 innings. The outing raises the 24 year-old rookie's ERA on the season to 3.53 and his WHIP to 1.21. Plesac's 5.33 FIP on the year indicates that his surface numbers are smoke and mirrors, as he's logged an 83% strand rate while opposing hitters have recorded a BABIP of just .240 against him. Combine that kind of luck with a 6.72 K/9 and a 3.31 BB/9 and it's easy to see how an outing like Saturday's could happen. He's outperformed his peripherals so far in 2019 and he's owned in 48% of ESPN leagues as a result - that number will tumble as correction to the mean occurs.
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