Anthony Rizzo: Rizzo went 2-5 with a run and an RBI in Friday's game against the Twins. Rizzo has been mired in a slump since the start of the season and took an uncharacteristic .233/.334/.407 slash line into Fridays matchup. Fortunately, Rizzo owners should expect a complete turnaround over the rest of the season. Despite posting solid batted ball profile that sits in line with his career averages (32.7% hard hit rate, 15.7% soft contact rate, 25% line drive rate), Rizzo has posted a relatively low .227 BABIP and 9.9% HR/FB ratio (his career averages are .282 and 11.6% in those categories, respectively). Additionally, Rizzo doesn't appear to have significantly changed his approach at the plate this season as his swing rate is in line with his career averages, as are his strikeout and walk rates. Furthermore, Rizzo's contact rate is actually higher in 2018 than it was last season, and his z-swing rate is up while his o-swing rate is down so far this year. One interesting aspect of Rizzo's season that may be worth watching is his lefty/righty splits. Though he doesn't traditionally fare more than 10 points better against righties (in batting average) than lefties, Rizzo has hit just .200 with a 25% strikeout rate against lefties compared to .242 with a 9.7% strikeout rate against righties this season. Still, the bulk of Rizzo's poor 2018 performance appears to be founded on bad luck, so expect a complete bounce back from the first baseman. Buy low if you can.
Miles Mikolas: Mikolas took the loss against the Braves on Friday but pitched well, allowing just 1 run over 6.1 innings of six-hit ball. Mikolas doesn't dazzle with strikeouts like many top tier fantasy pitchers do, but the 29-year-old owns an impressive 2.69 ERA to go along with a stellar 5.90 SO/BB ratio and finds himself among the best pitchers in the league through June. Though Mikolas boasts exceptional command (he'd walked just 1.1 batters per nine innings prior to Friday's start), he is likely to see his performance decline over the rest of the season. Mikolas appears to have been the beneficiary of a decent amount of good luck so far in 2018 and has posted a .256 BABIP despide allowing a less than optimal 34% hard hit rate (19.9% soft contact rate). Still Mikolas' impeccable command and ability to keep the ball on the ground (1.07 GB/FB ratio) make him a safe bet to finish the season as a valuable fantasy asset; just don't expect him to put up quite as impressive numbers as he has so far this year.
David Peralta: Peralta went 1-4 with a single on Friday against the Giants. Peralta has been in the midst of a strong 2018 season during which he's slashed .281/.346/.509, and he should be able to maintain that level of production during the rest of the season. Peralta has posted an absurd 47.2% hard hit rate so far in 2018, and it's helped fuel his career best 4.8% home run rate and 16% HR/FB ratio. Peralta has said that he changed his swing prior to the 2018 season in an effort to hit more balls in the air, and the new approach has clearly paid dividends -- though maybe not in the way that Peralta had hoped. Peralta's 1.11 GB/FB ratio in 2018 is almost exactly in line with his 1.10 career average so the new swing hasn't led to more fly balls, but it may have led to a more powerful stroke based on his increased hard hit rate. New swing aside, Peralta has also said that his previously injured wrist feels stronger this season, and improved health in his wrists and hands may account for at least some of the added power. Whatever the reason may be, as long as Peralta can keep hitting this hard he should be a reliable fantasy contributor for the rest of 2018.
Rich Hill: Hill bounced back nicely against the Rockies on Friday and allowed 1 run over 6.2 innings while picking up 10 strikeouts. After posting back to back seasons with an ERA below 3.50, Hill had posted a disappointing 5.30 ERA entering Friday's matchup and appears poised to finish the season with an ERA north of 4.00. Hill has allowed a poor 43.9% hard hit rate and has struggled to miss bats so far in 2018 to the tune of a 22.1% strikeout rate (nearly 8 points lower than last season's 30.1% mark). To make matters worse, when hitters have put the bat on the ball, they've hit it well. In addition to his unsightly hard hit rate, Hill has posted a fly ball heavy (even more so than usual for him) 0.48 GB/FB ratio that props up his 4.9% home run rate. Given his poor batted ball profile (Hill also allows a suboptimal 28% line drive rate), Hill's .313 BABIP is reasonable if not a bit generous. Unless Hill can start getting hitters to whiff his pitches more frequently, a mid-season turnaround is unlikely (though Friday's 10 strikeouts are certainly encouraging). Still, Friday was only Hill's ninth start of the season so owners can hope that he's still finding his footing in 2018.
Brandon Crawford: Crawford went 1-3 with a run scored and a walk on Friday against the Diamondbacks. He was also caught stealing for the fifth time this year. Crawford has been having a breakout season for the Giants in 2018 and had posted a .319/.375/.507 slash line prior to Friday's game. There's always been a lot to like from Crawford: he's posted double digit home runs with a hard hit rate north of 30%, a soft contact rate below 20%, and a strikeout rate below 20% in each of the past three seasons. Crawford always lacked a consistently high batting average though, as he owns a career average of .257 and hit .253 last season. Unfortunately, the sudden spike in batting average is likely heavily reliant on luck and appears poised to regress towards his career average over the rest of the season. Despite posting a batted ball profile mostly in line with his career averages (though he has hit fly balls and line drives more frequently this season which should help prop up his batting average and BABIP), Crawford has posted an unsustainable .372 BABIP (.303 career average) so far this season that will likely fall substantially as the season progresses. Crawford will likely still finish the season as a solid fantasy player, but expect his batting average to fall significantly. Sell high, but don't give him away.
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