Trevor Richards (SP - MIA) - Richards had such movement on his pitches Wednesday, he generated 21 swinging strikes over 108 pitches and walked five batters while fanning 7 in just 6 innings, allowing just one other baserunner on a single. Richards has improved the delta between his fastball and changeup so far this season, making what was already a devastating pitch even more impressive. He's also added a cutter in an attempt to get hitters off of his rather hittable 4-seamer, something that hasn't been all that effective thus far, but man, that changeup. It just makes people look silly. That pitch alone (well, plus the favorable home park) gives him a mid-rotation ceiling, but he does need to add a better secondary....maybe this cutter will be it with further repetition. I like every arm in that rotation outside of Urena to varying degrees, particularly in terms of ceiling, and I think he should at least be on a reserve list in standard formats right now...I'd be using him as a streaming candidate for one of my last 1-2 rotation slots.
Hunter Renfroe (OF - SD) - Renfroe tripled and scored in 4 ABs on Wednesday, and the 27 year old has 8 XBH already through 11 games this season. The most impressive thing so far has been his massive jump in contact rate despite a higher chase rate. It's still early to draw any concrete conclusions from offensive data, but contact rate improvement would be a continuation from 2018 for Renfroe, and with his immense power it really leverages any gains of that sort. I was skeptical of his ability to maximize his ceiling this year with the depth of the Padre OF, but injuries to Cordero and Jankowski have opened up consistent playing time for him again, and he's taking full advantage. He has what I consider to be top-10 raw power in MLB, so we need to pay attention here....he's definitely viable in all formats right now, and as I mentioned, if this contact rate improvement sticks he retains star potential. Fairly low floor, but excellent upside here.
Jordan Lyles (SP - PIT) - Lyles was phenomenal on Wednesday, allowing just 3 hits and a run to the Cubs over 6 innings, walking 1 while striking out 10. Even though he didn't pick up a lot of K's in his first start the swinging strike rate was up, and it was even higher (15%) in this outing. I can't wait to see the pitch data from the game, but I'd probably run and pick him up anyway, as his next start is in Detroit against the Tigers (30th in R, 30th in OPS). Lyles is a streamer for me at the very least right now in all formats...the increased curve and change usage over the past two seasons seem to be generating some real improvement.
Josh Bell (1B - PIT) - Bell was 2-4 with an RBI on Wednesday, giving him his 4th multi-hit game in the past 6. It's awfully early to call a breakout, but with Bell sitting at 8th currently in average exit velo and sporting a 3rd straight decrease in GB rate, a 2nd straight jump in hard contact, and an improvement in his already excellent contact rate, that's exactly what this could be. I'm a sucker for guys with the ability to control the strike zone while exhibiting above average bat speed....I think Bell is mixed-league worthy.
Paul DeJong (SS - STL) - DeJong has started off the year scorching (along with Wong, the only Cardinals to do so, really), and after a 3-4 day on Wednesday he's hitting 333/396/667 with 9 XBH already. DeJong has very good power for a middle infielder, and the LD and hard contact rates help offset the contact issues, enabling him to typically sustain a decent AVG. Last year was tough, as the 24% LD rate and 38% hard contact rate only generated a .288 BABIP. I fully expect an AVG rebound this year, and as long as the wrist issues are behind him he should return to the mid-20's in HRs as well. Add in his age (still just 25), and I do like the upside here for a player that was only drafted 18th at the position....he could easily finish top-12.
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