George Springer (OF, Hou): Springer set the table for the Astros against Wade Miley and the Orioles, and found great success as he went 4-5 with three runs scored and two RBI. He doubled and homered, his 23rd and 24th of the season, respectively. Springer has been more quiet and consistent than most expected from him this season, neither hitting for outlandish power nor stealing a ton of bases. Rather, he's maintained a solid .262/.361/.470 slash line with 24 homers and seven steals, also sitting at 89 runs scored. It really is a great sign for his long-term outlook that he has maintained his walk rate while cutting 2% off of his strikeout rate, which is now down to 22.1% after his frightening 33% from his rookie year. He's also managed to improve his contact rate by 5% this season, up now to 74.5%. While that's still not great, it'll play in the bigs when you're hitting for power. The biggest downside moving forward with Springer, however, is that he's only 7-18 in stolen base attempts this season. It's looking less and less likely that he'll be an asset in that department, but the rest of his numbers are legitimate.
Kevin Kiermaier (OF, TB): Kiermaier was replaced by Nick Franklin after recording only one plate appearance. He was removed with hip tightness, although it was later stated to be precautionary. Kiermaier was actually batting second in this one, despite being mostly devoid of offense this season, batting only .219/.315/.388 with seven home runs and 12-14 in stolen bases. He's been limited to 68 games this year due to injury, and that actually makes those power and speed numbers impressive. He's also managed to dramatically increase his walk rate this year, up to 11.7% from his career rate of 6.7%. This has been due to an extreme spike in plate patience, as his swing rate has dropped over 8% down to 42% this season. He's swinging at less outside the zone especially, which bodes well for his K:BB ratios moving forward. His average has been dragged down by a .247 BABIP, which is low in part because of his 40% fly ball rate and hideous pop-up rate of 24%. Your batting average is always going to be burnt toast when you're getting under that many balls, so he's going to need to address that if he's going to be an asset in batting average. If he can do that, he's got the makings of a 2017 sleeper whose Gold Glove caliber center field defense will keep him on the field even when his bat slumps.
Collin McHugh (SP, Hou): McHugh gave up four home runs in the first inning before recording his first out, and then struck out the side in the second inning...with the lead. The Orioles' powerful bats were on full display in this one, and McHugh didn't put up much of a fight. He allowed seven runs (six earned) on nine hits in three innings, walking one and striking out four. Hopefully those who have been playing the matchups with McHugh didn't roll him out for this one, as his ERA shot up .29 points to 4.99. His FIP is kinder at 4.16 due to his elevated .366 BABIP, but he doesn't do himself any favors by limiting hard contact or inducing many ground balls. He's essentially a fly ball pitcher who gives up too many home runs in a hitters park, and should be avoided in standard mixed leagues. His strikeouts (an even 9.00 K/9) make him interesting in deeper leagues as a matchup streamer, but that's about the extent of his value moving forward. He will have a much friendlier matchup next time though, as he faces the Pirates in spacious PNC Park.
Adrian Beltre (3B, Tex): Beltre enjoyed a big night, homering twice as part of a 4-5 effort. The pair of taters brought his season total to 21, along with 79 RBI and a .291/.346/.483 slash. He's been even better than advertised this year, surpassing the 20-HR plateau for the first time since he hit 30 back in 2013. His ISO is the highest it's been since then as well, sitting at .192 as compared to the .193 from '13. He's clearly aging very gracefully, and he's keeping the ball in the air as well, a problem many veterans run into late in their career. Beltre has actually upped his fly ball percentage by 4% from his previous two seasons, back up to his career mark around 39%. There's no reason to expect a drop off here, so continue to roll him out as an integral part of the Rangers solid offense.
Kendall Graveman (SP, Oak): Graveman dazzled against the White Sox, tossing a two-hit shutout with no walks and five strikeouts. He needed only 98 pitches to go the distance, and faced the minimum of 21 through seven innings, utilizing two double plays in the process. The shutout was the first of his career, and it was the A's first "Maddux" start (a complete game shutout with under 100 pitches) since Rich Harden back in 2005. His ERA stands at 4.09 after the terrific outing, but his FIP still doesn't like him, sitting at 4.48 even after this gem. He's certainly not going to earn you many points in the strikeout category with a rate of 5.35 K/9, but his solid control (2.33 BB/9) has kept him viable as a back-end starter in most leagues. That's how he should continue to be viewed moving forward. He'll get the Indians at home in his next start.
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