Yuli Gurriel: Gurriel kept his hot streak going on Sunday with a 2-5 day and his 13th home run of the season, and he's now slashed .400/.442/.625 over his past fourteen games and .476/.476/.905 over his last seven games. Gurriel faces a few trends that jeopardize his ability to finish the season strong though, and he appears likely to slow down significantly over the next week. Most notably is Gurriel's hard hit rate; since averaging nearly 43% in the category over a fifteen game stretch in early September, Gurriel has posted a poor 28.8% mark over his past fifteen games and has seen his hard hit rate trend downwards fairly steadily. Additionally, Gurriel's ground ball rate is rising after bottoming out in early September (though his line drive rate has increased slightly lately), and the 15% HR/FB ratio that he's posted over his last fifteen games appears poised to fall. Though Gurriel has been making an impressive amount of contact recently (89.5% contact rate over his past fifteen games), it hasn't been particularly good contact based on his low hard hit rate, rising ground ball rate, and high and rising o-swing rate (35.5% over his last fifteen games). In fact, Gurriel's z-contact rate has dropped during his hot streak, and he's been hitting pitches outside of the strike zone at a ridiculous 88.4% rate over his past fifteen games. Not only is that level of o-contact unsustainable (Ender Inciarte makes the most o-contact in the league at an 80.7% rate) and likely to drop, but it also makes Gurriel's contact less likely to be desirable and has fueled his declining contact quality and batted ball profiles. Expect Gurriel to cool off significantly, and stay away from him through the end of the season.
Trevor Cahill: The Twins tagged Cahill for five runs (three earned) on five hits over just 3.1 innings of work. Cahill is in the midst of a fairly strong season, but fantasy owners would do well to stay away from him through the end of the season. Cahill's ERA has climbed fairly steadily over the course of the season, and it's come while he's allowed consistently more contact throughout the year (Cahill's contact rate sits at a still solid 75.1% over his past fifteen games, but it's his highest mark all year and trending upwards) and induced fewer ground balls (again a solid 52.7% ground ball rate, but trending downwards). The good news for Cahill is that his hard hit rate has been trending downwards, but it still sits at a poor 39.9% for the season and 38.3% over his last fifteen games. Cahill's ability to limit contact at an impressive rate and the A's' high end defense has kept him afloat this season, but his poor peripheral trends make him difficult to trust over the remainder of the season.
Luke Voit: Voit went 0-3 with a walk and a run scored against the Orioles on Sunday. Voit has been on fire since joining the Yankees and is showing no signs of slowing down, so fantasy owners should trust him through the end of September. Voit doesn't hit the ball particularly often and that hasn't changed with the Yankees (69.3% contact rate this season, 69.2% over his last fifteen games), but he tends to hit it hard when he does make contact (43% hard hit rate for the season, 43.2% over his last 15 games), and the Yankees really unlocked his potential by getting him to put the ball in the air more frequently (Voit's GB/FB ratio has fallen from 1.15 to 1.00 since joining the Yankees). Voit's recent peripherals are similar to Giancarlo Stanton's overall 2018 numbers (43% hard hit rate, 67.4% contact rate) and while he may not produce at Stantonian levels forever, Voit should be able to maintain his current pace through the end of the season (especially considering his improving GB/FB ratio) and finish the season as a valuable fantasy contributor.
Robinson Cano: Cano went 2-4 with a pair of singles against the Rangers on Sunday. Cano hardly missed a beat since coming back from his suspension, and he's been especially hot over his last seven games (Cano has slashed .647/.684/1.118 over that timespan). Cano's hot streak has been driven by an improving and strong 86.4% contact rate and similarly solid 27.3% ground ball rate (both over his last seven games) that is trending downwards (most of those ground balls have turned into line drives; Cano's line drive rate has sat at an impressive 45.5% over his last seven games). Though most of Cano's peripherals back up his recent tear, the 35-year-old is likely to start slowing down soon. The biggest indicator that Cano's performance will start to take a step back is his hard hit rate; while he's posted a strong 45.5% hard hit rate over his last seven games, Cano has seen the number trend downwards significantly over his last three games and that trend should continue considering that his season average sits at (a still strong) 40.9%. Additionally, even Cano's recent desirable batted ball and contact quality profiles struggle to support his .524 BABIP (over his last seven games), so some regression in that category should be coming -- especially if his hard hit rate continues to fall. Expect Cano to cool off slightly over the last week or so of the season, but he should still produce at a high level.
J.A. Happ: Happ pitched well before the Yankees bullpen unraveled and left him without a win, going five innings with just one earned run and seven strikeouts. Happ has been strong since joining the Yankees at the trade deadline, and fantasy owners should trust him to stay hot through the end of the season. The primary driver of Happ's recent success has been his ability to strand baserunners; after his LOB% bottomed out at about 64% over a fifteen game stretch in late July, it has climbed back up to nearly 77% over his last fifteen games. This increase shouldn't be terribly surprising -- Happ's career average left on base rate sits at 74.7% (and most projection systems expected him to post a LOB% in the mid-to-low 70s this year) -- so fantasy owners should expect him to continue finding success stranding baserunners. Not everything has been great for Happ recently as his hard hit, contact, and line drive rates have all risen since early August, but they still sit at respectable (and in most cases better than average) levels for his last fifteen games. Additionally, Happ is slated to make his next start against the Red Sox in Boston. Ordinarily this would be a blow to a pitcher's stock, but Happ loves facing the Red Sox. Over the last three seasons, Happ owns a 2.03 ERA at Fenway park and has shut the Red Sox down this season to the tune of just one run over 17 innings. Expect Happ to continue pitching well through the end of the season and post a solid start in Boston later this week.
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