Sanchez was dominant Tuesday night, but will likely be disappointed with the final outcome of his start, as he had allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out 12 through eight innings. However, the Jays sent Sanchez out for the ninth (rather understandably given his performance), and things went awry. Sanchez ended up with the no decision, as he gave up a leadoff single and then a double before being pulled. Roberto Osuna gave up the inherited runner and the game went into extra innings. The strong start brings Sanchez's ERA down to 2.91, with a strongly-supported 2.89 FIP and 3.03 xFIP. Sanchez has 76 strikeouts in 80.1 innings, and has had a bit of a breakout year in his age-23 season. In 2015, Sanchez had a 3.22 ERA but scared off some more observant owners who saw his 4.61 FIP and 5.95 K/9 rate. Somehow, Sanchez is giving up a higher line drive rate (23.2 up from 17.8 percent) as well as hard hit ball rate (29.2 up from 21.0 percent) in 2016, which makes the rise even more confusing. I know the FIP and xFIP are pretty, but count me out on Sanchez until he does this a bit longer, or has some serious improvements in the batted ball profile (Tuesday should help, as those 2016 batted ball numbers don't include Tuesday's strong start).
Nunez continued his beast of a 2016 season on Tuesday, hitting a pair of home runs to bring his season total to nine home runs. Those nine long balls are the most Nunez has ever hit in a season, in fact, nearly twice as high as his five in 2011. Nunez has done so in just 200 plate appearances. Nunez is hitting .337 to go along with those home runs and has 12 steals to boot. All said, Nunez has easily been a top five short stop this season and if anything he's getting hotter than ever at the plate. He has three home runs in his last five games, to go along with three steals. Nunez has indeed turned a good amount of his ground balls from 2015 and 2014 as he currently sporting a fly ball rate of 35.1 percent compared to 27.1 and 27.5 the last two seasons. That explains a chunk of his increased HR/FB rate, and so does the highest hard hit ball rate of his career (27.1 percent). That being said, both those rates are not enough to explain the power explosion and it's fair to assume Nunez's home runs are going to slow down quite a bit. Somewhere in the range of 15-18 home runs for the season isn't out of the question, however, and if he can keep stealing bases at a solid rate, something he HAS shown a capability of doing in his career, Nunez should have plenty of value. The .362 BABIP should also come down a bit, but again, even if the average settles into the .280-.290 range, that's plenty valuable for a shortstop who is stealing 25 bases with 15-18 home runs. Unless someone is sending over a Godfather offer, hold on to Nunez. Other owners in your league will probably be more skeptical of Nunez than they should be.
King Felix threw while sitting down on Tuesday and hopes to play catch standing up in the upcoming days in his current rehab from his calf injury. While this is a positive, albeit small, sign, the real question is whether the King can return to King-like levels after his return. Felix has a 2.86 ERA so far in 2016, but he's striking out far fewer batters (7.57 compared to 8.50 career K/9) and there are some worrying signs. Most predominantly is his 4.11 matching FIP and xFIP. While some of that is due to the lower strikeout rate, which we have seen pitchers like Sale able to succeed in the face of this year, so is the .254 opponent BABIP that is helping keep his runs allowed at an acceptable rate. Also troubling is the fact that Hernandez's walk rate is the highest of his career, at 3.71 per nine. It's interesting to try to figure out why hitters are having more success against Felix outside of that walk rate, however. The batted ball profile is quite similar to his career rates, with only a slightly (read: one percent) higher line drive rate. The walk rate is a bit easier to explain, as hitters are simply swinging at fewer of his pitches. Hernandez has the exact same contact rate this season (43.7 percent) as he did in 2015, but his swinging strike rate (8.5 percent) is nearly two points lower than his career rate (10.2). Hitters are swinging at pitches outside the zone a lot less in general, as Felix getting hitters to offers at just 27.6 percent of pitches outside the zone compared to 33.4 percent in 2015 and 30.2 percent in his career. We saw a similar phenomenon with Jose Fernandez earlier this season, and obviously the results have proven that was just a blip in the radar. That's good news for Felix owners, but Fernandez is more than six years younger and has nearly 2,000 (2,000!!) less innings on his arm. I'd still roll with Felix, if only because his trade value might not be high on the DL right now. But if you're getting offers that are about 90 cents on the dollar, I would not hesitate to move him.
Lincecum will not make his Angels debut on Sunday, but instead will make one more start at the Triple-A level before likely making his debut in what will be a strange sight seeing Lincecum not in the orange and black of San Francisco in the middle of next week. Lincecum offers a bit of intrigue, partially because of the peak we have seen from him in the past, and part because of the friendly stadium in which he will pitch his home games. Lincecum has made two starts at Triple-A, going five innings in each of his starts. In his first start, he went five innings giving up three runs on three hits and three walks, while striking out five. In his second start, Lincecum went five again, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks, while striking out six and retiring the last eight in a row. Lincecum's first start will likely be in Oakland against the last place A's, so there's some definite intrigue there. He's worth a spec pick up in hopes that he can be this year's feel-good story.
Daily Fantasy Leagues
Justin Upton/Ian Kinsler
Upton and Kinsler both make excellent daily plays on Wednesday, as the Tigers face the Blue Jays and their knuckleballer, R.A. Dickey. Dickey has been hit-or-miss in 2016, but both of these hitters should make good options for daily leagues. Kinsler has been hot all season, slashing an impressive .320/.371/.524, making him a good play most days. You'll pay a bit of a steep price for Kinsler, but it's worth it. Kinsler is 8-for-19 with three home runs in his career off Dickey, so he clearly sees the ball well off the veteran knuckleballer. I usually don't pay too heavy attention to batter vs. pitcher splits, but off something weird like a knuckleballer, I tend to weigh those statistics a bit more.
For Upton, he started the season cold as ice for the first couple months, but is showing signs of life lately. Upton is 9-for-27 in his last seven games. In those games, Upton has six runs, two home runs, seven RBI and a steal in quite a productive stretch. Maybe more importantly, Upton has "just" seven strikeouts, and has drawn four walks. There's plenty of positive regression due for Upton, especially in the power department. Upton has a home run in 11 career at bats against Dickey, so he can clearly see the ball out of his hand all right. Ride these two Tigers to victory Wednesday.
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