Jameson Taillon, SP (PIT)
Taillon picked up his second win of the season, going 6.1 innings, allowing three earned runs and striking out five. He has yet to strike out more than five batters in an outing, despite doing that 16 times last year. In fact, Taillon's swinging strike rate and chase rate are up, but his strikeout rate is down. Wise analytics people will tell you that the swinging strike rate is more indicative of how pitchers are fooling hitters. For the first time in his career, Taillon is throwing his fastball less than half the time and so his low strikeout rate (it's actually the lowest of his career right now) seems to be a product of him finding the appropriate out-pitch. That might not develop right away as he continues to perfect this new distribution of pitches, but if Taillon continues to induce a 12% swinging strike rate while keeping his walks below 5%, he's in for a special season. Remember, right now his strand rate is 52%. That is unsustainably low.
Anthony DeSclafani, SP (CIN)
DeSclafani allowed less than two runs for the third consecutive game. Unfortunately, he fell just short of reaching six innings, as he was pulled with two outs in the 6th after throwing 85 pitches. He only allowed three hits and a walk while striking out eight, which tied for his season high in Ks. After years of injury troubles, DeSclafani finally appears healthy and on his way to a productive season. In fact, his swinging strike rate is over 10% for the first time. Furthermore, he is allowing more fly balls than ever and as long as his HR/FB rate stays below 15%, the GB/FB rate could actually be a benefit to DeSclafani as the line drive rate is low. If he can cut his walk rate down, he can eventually pull that xFIP below 4.00 (it's 4.38 right now). Some people may be ignoring this recent surge, but it's real and certainly worth a look.
Joey Votto, 1B (CIN)
After a couple games of Jose Peraza taking over the leadoff spot, the veteran Votto was back at the top of the Reds lineup against Mets ace Jacob deGrom. Votto was hitless in four plate appearances, lowering his wRC+ under 100 (he's never had a wRC+ below 124). He also struck out for the seventh consecutive game. Plate discipline was always Votto's calling card, but now his swinging strike rate is over 8% for the first time since 2011. His walk rate is below 14% for the first time since 2009, and his contact rate is below 80% for only the second time since 2011. Hitting primarily in the leadoff position is resulting in more first-pitch strikes, but Votto just isn't taking advantage (his swing percentage is below 40%). This is all combined with a batted ball profile that does not suit Votto's best characteristics. His 0.71 GB/FB rate is the lowest of his career, and his pull rate is the highest of his career. In other words, he's hitting more fly balls to right field, but Votto doesn't exhibit the same power he used to so his HR/FB rate is below 10% for the second straight season. Overall, Votto's struggles are very concerning and fantasy owners should be skeptical of a major rebound.
Wil Myers, OF (SD)
Myers hit leadoff for the second time this season on Wednesday. It didn't do anything to break his recent slump as he finished hitless with two strikeouts in four plate appearances. Myers has 17 strikeouts in his last eight starts. That is concerning. His contact rate, which earlier in his career was very good, is now very bad at 69%. His walk rate, which used to always be in double digits, is now below 6%. Myers' excellent hard hit rate is one of the few metrics that is keeping this season from being a total disaster. It's resulting in a barrel rate over 11%, which explains the 30-homer pace but even so, because of the poor plate discipline, Myers' xwOBA is a measly .301, which is 34 points below his average since Statcast was introduced in 2015. That means Myers' improved hard hit rate is not enough to forgive a complete lack of contact. Furthermore with that profile, how did the Padres think moving him into the leadoff spot is the right move?
Marcell Ozuna, OF (STL); DraftKings: $4,900
Ozuna has hit Stephen Strasburg very well in his career (13-38 with 2 HRs). Meanwhile, Strasburg has allowed a .309 wOBA at home versus a .229 wOBA on the road (the Nationals are home on Thursday). Ozuna was excellent against Scherzer and the Nats on Wednesday (3-4 with two doubles), but he's equipped to eclipse that against a familiar foe on Thursday. Go back to the well.
This is just a small sample our daily analysis, join our member area for over 80 daily player updates sent to your inbox every morning and track your team online. Click here for details: http://www.insiderbaseball.