Joey Votto (1B) CIN - On the surface it does look like Votto, who has homered in two straight days now, is just having some poor fortune this year. The hard contact is nudging up near 40% like always, the soft contact is at a career-low 8.5%, he's walking more than he's striking out again this year, and the LD rate is over 30%. I'd agree if you told me he would probably be hitting .300 with neutral luck, but the exit velocity is down quite a bit this season, and when combined with the abnormal struggles against LHP it makes me wonder if we aren't seeing the first stage of decline here for one of the better hitters of this generation. He's still obviously a capable hitter and will likely remain so for a handful of years yet, but after missing a career high in HRs by 1 in 2017, I have to think that we're looking more in the 25 range for his ceiling going forward.
Touki Toussaint (SP) ATL - Toussaint is three starts into his major league career, and I'd have to say it's been "as expected" thus far. His stuff is completely legit, as evidenced by the 3.31 ERA and 15 K's in 16 1/3 innings against two very good offenses out of the three opponents. Then, there are the 9 walks and the .231 BABIP despite a 30% LD rate, which serve to highlight the massive disparity between floor and ceiling here. Pitchers simply don't succeed walking more than 4 men per 9, and Toussaint is constantly flirting with that level. As far as upside goes, there's a ton here....Taijuan Walker comes to mind when I look at this kid. That should give you a good idea of the downside as well...he'd be a high-risk add for the stretch, but a nice speculative pick for the back of your rotation come spring.
Brandon Nimmo (OF) NYM - Nimmo doubled and walked twice, and he's now hitting 272/396/505 for the year and was at 313/436/530 in the second half coming into the contest. This kid is rapidly looking like he's going to be a star, combining a very patient approach at the plate with solid power and decent speed. The 39.5% hard contact rate is great, the 20% chase rate is great, and the decrease in GB rate since he's reached the major league level is encouraging. I'm a big fan, and he's knocking on the door of an OF3 right now.
Robbie Ray (SP) ARI - Ray allowed only an opposite-field single and opposite-field homer in 6 innings Sunday against the Braves, but the bullpen blew the game late so he remains 5-2 on the year. Once again he walked an excessive 4 while fanning 6, and as we've discussed when looking at his Sunday opponent Touki Toussaint, that mark of around 4.0 BB/9 is a pretty good line of demarcation for the potential for success or failure. Ray has drifted to the bad side of that in 2018, and the results speak for themselves: he can't stay in games long enough to get wins, and the few hits that he allows end up scoring runners that he put on. That being said, Ray hasn't allowed more than 3 ER in his past 7 starts, although he's only managed a QS in his past 2 due to the aforementioned inefficiency. The remaining schedule is extremely arduous, as he finishes @HOU, CUB, LAD. Ray is good enough to shut anyone down, but the standard deviation is high. I'm inclined to trust him while he's on this hot streak, but the addition of the 42.5% hard contact rate to the control issues isn't good for anyone's blood pressure.
German Marquez (SP) COL - I like gambling on Marquez in GPPs Monday, priced at $9000 and facing the D-Backs in Coors. He hasn't had much success against them this year, tossing 2 decent outings and 2 clunkers, but he's been on fire lately, putting up 8 straight QS against all levels of competition and fanning 10 or more batters in 3 of his last 6. His upside is just as much as the lead dogs on the slate, and while the floor is a bit lower, so is the price.