Nolan Arenado (COL-3B) - Nolan Arenado extended his hit streak to 25 games on Monday night by smashing a 2-run homerun in the second inning. Despite a brutal 0.19 batting EYE, Arenado's contact rate is actually above average at 83%. His strikeout rate is also better than average, despite a chase rate of 40% (major league average is around 30%). Arenado now has 6 homeruns on the year and his 11% HR/FB ratio support this amount of power. Due to the low walk rate, Arenado is not as valuable in leagues that count on-base percentage, but he has the talent to finish as a top-5 third baseman by the end of the year. Playing his home games in Coors Field makes him even more appealing. I'm buying the break-out.
Jeff Samardzija (CHC-SP) - The Cubs best trade chip had himself a fantastic game on Monday both at the plate and on the mound. In the 6th inning, Samardzija smacked a double off Jose Quintana to break up his no-hitter and later scored to end his shut-out. On the mound, Samardzjia twirled 9 innings of 3-hit ball before getting pulled in the 10th inning after throwing a career high 126 pitches in a 1-1 ballgame. Despite sparkling ratios, the Cubs have only scored 2.3 runs in games that Samardzija has started, which has contributed to his lackluster 0-3 record. Samardzija appears to have changed his approach this year, putting more emphasis on pitching to contact and less on striking out batters. His SIERA and defensive independent pitching metrics suggest his 1.62 ERA is about 2 runs too low. Even with some regression, Samardzija is pitching is way out of Chicago right now and if he can land with a contender, his fantasy value will get a boost mid-season.
Nathan Eovaldi (MIA-SP) - Eovaldi continued his breakout season on Monday night, throwing his 6th quality start of the year (tied for second most in baseball). Eovaldi's 68% strand rate is rather low which leads one to believe that great start hasn't necessarily been luck-driven. Yet, his 10% line drive rate and .303 BABIP paint a different story. Looking closer at his SIERA, it doesn't point to drastic regression from his 2.78 ERA. His average fastball velocity is one of the highest among all starting pitchers and his swinging strike rate is approaching double digits, which are both good indicators that his strikeout rate between 8-9 per nine innings is here to stay. If you can find an owner in your league who thinks they are selling high, I'm willing to buy Eovaldi at his current market value. I believe he will continue trending upward as the season plays out.
Troy Tulowitzki (COL-SS) - Troy Tulowitzki mashed his 8th and 9th homeruns of the season on Monday and is now hitting .500 with 4 HRs and 21 RBIs with runners in scoring position in 2014. What's particularly encouraging for Tulowitzki is his 1.5 batting EYE and 27% line drive rate (which almost supports his .400 BABIP through 125 ABs). His HR/FB ratio is inflated and that will eventually come back down, but he's a pretty good bet to maintain an ISO at or around. 200 for the remainder of the season. In an effort to reduce his lower body injury risk, Tulwitzki has almost completely stopped stealing bases. Regardless, fantasy owners have little reason to complain about a potential 30 + HR and .300+ batting average from a shallow shortstop position.
Marlon Byrd (PHI-OF) - Marlon Byrd has provided a nice return for fantasy owners who drafted him late in drafts this season. On the year, he is hitting .296/.331/.478 with 4 HRs and 22 RBIs. Be aware, age will likely become an issue at some point and his plate discipline suggests some regression has been occurring the last few years. His contact rate is at a career low 72% while his chase rate is a career high 43%. He's also striking out at a significantly higher rate than any other year in his career. While it's unlikely you'll be able to find a huge market for the 36-year old outfielder, it might not be a bad idea to sell high if you can get an offer.
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