Matt Boyd: Boyd was again solid on Saturday as he allowed three runs over six innings and struck out six against the Mariners. Boyd has been off to a strong start to the 2018 season as he had posted a 3.00 ERA over his first six starts, and he may be able to keep his breakout season going as the season progresses. Boyd has done a solid job limiting hard contact (26.9% hard hit rate) and an excellent job inducing soft contact (25% soft contact rate) so far this season, but a significant portion of his success has come from luck. Firstly, Boyd's .250 BABIP is unsustainable even considering his impressive batted ball profile. In addition, Boyd's 4.9% HR/FB ratio will likely rise as the season progresses and his 2.1% home run rate should rise as well considering his 0.44 GB/FB ratio. Still, there's a lot to like out of Boyd's hot start. The 27-year-old appears to have worked on his slider over the offseason as he's made it his second most used pitch (least frequently used last year) and now uses it almost as often as his fastball. Fortunately, Boyd's slider has been incredibly successful as hitters post a .140 batting average against the pitch -- in part likely due to its increased horizontal movement (this has helped lead to a career best 61.3% O-contact percentage as well). Boyd's ability to effectively use his slider frequently has made him one of the better pitchers in the league as it has improved his ability to generate a pitcher friendly batted ball profile, and his promising start to the season makes him worth a roster spot for starting pitching needy teams.
Didi Gregorius: Gregorius had a 28 at-bat hitless streak snapped on Saturday when he went 1-6 with an RBI and a strikeout against the A's. Even with the hitless streak Gregorius had been slashing a solid .272/.360/.581 line entering Saturday's game due to his torrid stretch in April. Expect Gregorius to look more like his April performance than what he's looked like in early May over the rest of the season as he's been victimized by some bad luck so far this season. Despite posting a career best hard hit rate of 37.8% so far this season, Gregorius has posted a .248 BABIP that should trend towards (if not over) his .287 mark from last season and .286 career average. In addition, Gregorius has struggled to put the ball in play relative to past seasons as his 68% in play percentage sits well below his 75% career average. Expect him to put the ball in play more frequently over the course of the rest of the season and for those balls to turn into hits at a higher rate than they have so far this year. Gregorius' career best 12.4% walk rate should fall towards his 5.9% career average throughout the season as he hasn't significantly improved his O-swing and Z-swing percentages, but his likely increase in batting average should make him one of the better fantasy shortstops around.
Charlie Morton: Morton dazzled on Saturday as he struck out 14 batters over seven innings and allowed just one run on four hits and no walks to get the win against the Rangers. Morton's fastball velocity is up again this season, and it now sits at a career best 96.87 MPH on average. After a velocity increase powered him to a career year in 2017, Morton has been even better so far this season as he had posted an impressive 2.16 ERA entering Saturday's start. Morton's .223 BABIP suggests that he's been lucky on balls in play this year, but he has done a good job keeping the ball on the ground (1.39 GB/FB ratio) and limiting hard contact (26.3% hard hit rate, 20% infield/fly ball ratio) and his 15.2% HR/FB ratio should fall towards his 8.2% mark from last year as the season progresses. Morton's improved fastball accounts for his slight uptick in strikeouts, and his walk and extra base hit rates appear to be sustainable as well. Expect Morton to take a slight step back as his BABIP regresses, but his home run rate should fall and he should still finish as a higher tier starting pitching option.
Jonathan Schoop: Schoop had a huge day at the plate on Saturday as he hit a pair of home runs and accumulated three RBIs during the Orioles' double header against the Rays. Schoop finally broke out last season but had struggled to recreate his 2017 results early in 2018. Concerningly, Schoop has posted a 21.7% hard hit rate so far this season (36.1% last year, 30.6% career average), and his performance is unlikely to turn around significantly if he can't start hitting the ball harder again. Even with the depressed power numbers, Schoop's 3.8% HR/FB ratio should increase as the season progresses, so expect an increase in his home run rate (1.2%) as well. Schoop looks like he might be heating up (Saturday gave him a seven game hit streak) and his low power output appears to be an early season anomaly (Schoop was injured and on the DL earlier in the season, and his depressed power was likely a result of the injury), so expect him to rebound and finish the season as an upper tier fantasy second baseman.
Chris Archer: Archer pitched decently on Saturday as he lasted seven full innings but allowed six runs on 10 base-runners and accumulated just four strikeouts against the Orioles. Archer had struggled entering Saturday's start as he had posted a disappointing 5.32 ERA prior to Saturday. While Archer has suffered from some bad luck early on this year as his .354 BABIP is unsustainable, there are a number of red flags worth watching for as the season progresses. Firstly, Archer has allowed a terrible 41.1% hard hit so far this season which helps prop up his high BABIP and suggests that his 3.1% home run rate (8.3% HR/FB ratio, 0.72 GB/FB ratio) should actually be higher than where it sat entering Saturday. Additionally, Archer's fastball (his most used pitch) has been particularly ineffective so far this year as it has generated its fewest whiffs per swing since 2013 and has allowed a .310 batting average to opposing hitters -- making it a significant culprit for his depressed strikeout rate so far this year. Unless Archer can start limiting hard contact at a higher rate and get his fastball back to being an effective pitch, then he should continue to struggle in 2018.
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