Shane Bieber, SP (CLE)
Bieber tossed a complete game, one-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts, and it may have been his second best performance of the season. The All-Star game MVP struggled in his last start against Kansas City, but he was dominant on Wednesday, holding the Jays hitless for the first six innings before Eric Sogard connected for a ground-rule double to lead off the 7th. He didn't give anything else up, outdueling Marcus Stroman for his second complete game shutout this season. Bieber is circumnavigating a high hard hit rate by piling up the strikeouts and limiting the walks. His 5.72 K/BB rate is 8th best in the majors. On Wednesday, he induced five swinging strikes out of his 17 curveballs thrown, although the one hit allowed was off that pitch. In general, when his curveball is working, his stuff is electric. Bieber and Mike Clevinger theoretically entered the season as the Indians' fourth and fifth starters, but they are clearly the top two in that rotation right now.
Matt Olson, 1B (OAK)
Olson was quiet on Wednesday, going 1-4 in Oakland's loss at Houston. Olson's gradual improvement making contact has led to a moderate improvement in batting average. That moderate improvement in plate discipline, combined with enhanced power, is solidifying the A's first baseman as one of the more underrated offensive players in baseball. He ranks third in MLB in hard hit rate and 11th in barrels per plate appearance. His ISO is .288, but he is not sacrificing contact (his contact rate is a career-high 75.3%). This year Olson is pulling the ball even more than in the past. Over 50% of his batted balls go to right field, but he does this mostly with pitches on the outside of the plate. It is difficult to pitch him in because he can turn on inside fastballs, but Olson is elite at crushing pitchers on the outer half so that creates some major problems for opposing pitchers, which creates some really good numbers for Olson.
Mike Minor, SP (TEX)
Minor was cruising right along until Seattle put up a four-spot in the 5th inning and then added a solo home run in the 6th. Minor's days are probably numbered in Texas, but whichever team acquires the left-hander is going to get a pitcher that is outperforming his advanced metrics while stumbling a bit lately. In fact, Wednesday's outing was his third straight start allowing four earned runs. The strikeouts remain consistent, but the ratios are regressing since the beginning of July. Minor's LOB luck is running out. His strand rate from March - June was an unsustainable 88.3%. It is about league average since. His ROS success is closely tied to the team he ends up with, but either way expect continued regression as Minor's output better reflects his advanced stats.
Daniel Vogelbach, 1B (SEA)
Vogelbach has four hits in his last seven games. All four were home runs and all four came within two games, including his two-homer performance against Mike Minor on Wednesday. Such is the profile of a Three True Outcomes player like Vogelbach. After spending the first half of the season limiting his strikeout rate, that tumbled off the rails in July. His strikeout rate is over 35% since June. He is more aggressive and reaching outside the zone significantly more. Obviously he is always capable of a double-dong day like Wednesday, but he is unlikely to match the .376 wOBA he produced in the first three months of the season.
Chris Bassitt, SP (OAK)
A pair of two-run home runs were enough to send Bassitt to his fifth loss of the season. Home runs and walks have been Bassitt's biggest drawbacks. On Wednesday he avoided the walks but gave up the long balls to George Springer and Jose Altuve. He finished with seven strikeouts in six innings, solidifying a decent line considering the opponent. Bassitt's fastball velocity is up a couple ticks this year, which is leading to great success with the heater. In fact, he's throwing it a career-high 63% of the time. On the flipside, his breaking pitches have been ineffective, which is what is really holding him back from becoming a good pitcher. He tries the changeup every now and then, but it's not a go-to secondary pitch. All in all, until Bassitt finds a better complement to his fastball, he will continue to struggle with home runs and subpar performance.
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