Jon Lester(SP-CHC): Jon Lester won after allowing one run on five hits (one homer) and two walks with four strikeouts over six innings Monday against the Cardinals. Perhaps he can salvage what has been a down year by his standards. Lester has posted a 4.46 ERA with a 173:60 K:BB ratio over 175 2/3 innings, numbers that have fallen well short of what drafters paid for in the spring. We are in the ninth round of #2EarlyMock, and believe it or not, Lester has not been taken yet. I think this is a mistake. He has been hurt by a 68 percent strand rate and a 16 percent HR/FB rate, and has actually increased his swinging strike and chase rates from last season. As long as he reigns in the control, I see no reason why he shouldn't deliver solid value as a mid-tier number two starter.
Ozzie Albies(2B-ATL): Ozzie Albies went 1-for-4 with a solo homer, two runs and one walk against the Mets in game 1 of the doubleheader. It's hard to believe Mr. Albies is just 20 years old, as he continues to impress in his first stint with the Braves, hitting .268/.347/.442 with five homers and four steals in 50 games. I envision Albies delivering many top-20 fantasy seasons, but I think his potential range of outcomes for 2018 is quite wide. That he's making contact 80 percent of the time and only chasing 33 percent of the time gives me confidence that he's worth the risk in the early part of the middle rounds, but just know that adjustment periods are likely and it could take him a few seasons to tap into his power and speed in game at the MLB level.
Travis d'Arnaud(C-NYM): Travis d'Arnaud went 2-for-3 with a homer, a double, two RBIs and one walk vs. the Braves in game 2 of the doubleheader. The oft-injured catcher has been on a tear and is fifth at the position on the ESPN Player Rater over the last month. He has hit a career-high 16 homers on the season in just 108 games, taking a more aggressive approach at the plate that has lead to an uptick in his hard hit rate. The Mets brass have already said d'Arnaud isn't likely to catch more than 110 games next season, which does limit his value to two-catcher leagues, but I do think he could be had at a bargain.
Michael Taylor(OF-WAS): Michael Taylor went 1-for-3 with a two-run homer, one walk and one stolen base against the Phillies. On the surface, the 26-year-old has enjoyed a breakout season, hitting 17 homers, stealing 16 bases while posting a respectable .272 AVG. However, beneath the surface, caution signs lurk. Taylor is chasing a career-high 35 percent of the time while carrying a swinging strike rate (15%) that is up from last season. He is also benefiting from a .366 BABIP despite carrying a slightly above average hard hit rate. As long as he's starting, he is still a solid number four OF in ROTO leagues, but I wouldn't draft him in most points formats.
Anthony Rendon(3B-WAS): At $3700, Anthony Rendon looks like a bargain on FanDuel for his matchup against Jake Thompson. Thompson has been touched up for a .371 wOBA at home and a .412 wOBA vs. RHH. Rendon has hit 16 of 24 homers against right-handers and should see plenty of run-producing opportunities today. In fact, if you want to pay up for SP, I think the Nationals bats make for a great Coors alternative, as Citizens Bank Park ranks number one in Park Factors for homers this season, ahead of Yankee Stadium, Chase Field and Coors.
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