Alex Bregman, 3B (HOU)
Who knows what Bregman could have been capable of if he wasn't taken out of the game in the 5th inning. As it is, he was perfect in three at bats with two doubles and a home run. He scored in all three plate appearances and drove in three runs. The entire Astros lineup was incredible on Saturday, but it was Bregman who extended his streak of extra-base hits to six games. Despite the lineup around him, Bregman trails only Mike Trout in walk rate and he leads the major leagues in batting EYE. He is having an excellent season and probably should be playing even better as his .259 BABIP is 30 points lower than last year. One minor disappointment is Bregman might fall short of his third straight season with double digit steals (he currently has four stolen bases). Nonetheless, if Bregman can continue to increase his line drive rate (he's made miniscule improvements each of the last three seasons), he could start moving into the MVP conversation.
Aaron Sanchez, SP (HOU)
Sanchez delivered another decent start, his second straight in an Astros uniform, as he allowed only one run in five innings while striking out six. The Astros went to the bullpen in the 6th as the game was well-over by that point, but Sanchez is now 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA in two starts with the 'Stros. In his two starts with Houston, Sanchez is using his curveball far more than normal. It's not cutting into his fastball usage. Rather, his changeup is not being used as much. It's an interesting strategy as Sanchez's curveball has been his least effective pitch in his career, but the Astros are pretty good at this pitching thing and so there's no surprise that on Saturday his curveball induced four swinging strikes and only one hit. It will be fascinating to see how his pitch usage develops over the final two months of the season.
Gio Urshela, 3B (NYY)
After an 0-4 performance on Friday, Urshela was back to his Hall of Fame ways, connecting for his 17th home run in the Yankees loss at Toronto. Urshela's .387 wOBA is supported in many ways: he's hitting a lot of line drives (12th in MLB in line drive rate), hits the ball hard and makes excellent contact. The 81.2% contact rate is right in line with his career average. The hard hit rate is not. However, another constant through the intermittent MLB career of Giovanny Urshela is his high chase rate, in which he currently ranks 12th in major league baseball. He goes out of the zone more than 41% of the time and manages to make contact on 74% of those pitches. Again, that's nothing different from his career norms, but what is different is a major boost to how hard he is hitting the ball and the high rate of line drives. As it's naturally more difficult to barrel pitches outside the zone, it's impressive and a bit curious that Urshela is still managing to make such hard contact and display such exhorbitant power on pitches that normally wouldn't be so easy to do that with. It's a unique set of skills (Eddie Rosario is the other player to do that) and it's not to say he can't continue it, but there's a reason most players don't thrive off the contact they make outside the zone.
Andrew Heaney, SP (LAA)
Heaney avoided major trouble, but he wasn't particularly great in the Angels' 12-4 win at Boston. In fairness, it was his first start in nearly four weeks as the young lefthander was on the injured list with shoulder inflammation. Heaney was good through the first two innings but really struggled with his control in the 3rd. He couldn't make it out of the 4th but left the game with only one run allowed. Heaney's two biggest hurdles in becoming a consistently effective pitcher are health and control. The former is going to be a concern until he can deliver a complete season. The latter is more troubling. It is difficult to maintain control with three moving pitches. Heaney doesn't really have a reliable pitch to get him back into a groove. All his pitches have movement so when he loses control, it can sometimes take time to get it back. Or in the case of Saturday's game, his coach won't let him take that time. That, along with health, are the reasons Heaney is averaging less than five innings per start. The velocity on his sinking fastball is up this year and that is creating more success on that pitch while his curveball continues to be above average. So there's enough to buy in on a potential fantasy contributor, but we're not there yet.
Mike Montgomery, SP (KC)
This Tigers/Royals series is weird, man. A day after Edwin Jackson actually pitched a decent game, Mike Montgomery went out and dominated the Tigers, striking out a career-high 12 batters in seven shutout innings. He allowed four hits and no walks. While his surface stats were relatively poor in his first four starts with the Royals, his xFIP over his last two starts was 2.56. Saturday's brilliant outing lowered his 2019 xFIP to 4.00. The high strikeout total appears to be a bit of an anomaly, partly related to the soft-hitting Tigers, but the last three starts could be a sign that Monty is finding a rhythm now that he's a fixture in the Royals rotation. Mostly ignored over the last several seasons, Montgomery is indeed a streaming option in deeper leagues as the fantasy playoffs approach.
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