Aaron Judge was 1-4 with an HR (20), 1 R, and 2 RBI against the Rangers. Overall, this has been a disappointing season for Judge in terms of fantasy. He has missed a large part of the season due to injury and the results have underwhelming considering the change in the ball. However, over the past 14 days, Judge is hitting .327 with 6 HR, 9 R, 9 RBI, and 1 SB. This has moved his season-long line to a .275 AVG with 20 HR, 59 R, 45 RBI, and 3 SB in 83 games. The underlying skills are all in line with what he has done over his career so far and his hard-hit rate is even up to 54%. The only thing that immediately sticks out is a drop in his flyball rate from 35% to 29%. This is also backed up by a drop in his launch angle, which is actually on a four-year decline. The good news is that his recent run of success has correlated with an increase in his launch angle from 7 degrees in July to 12 degrees in August and now 23 degrees in a limited sample in September. This also could mean that he is now finally getting healthy making Judge someone to own for the rest of 2019 and someone to buy low on in 2020.
Shane Bieber went 7 IP and gave up 2 ER on 6 H, 2 BB, and 9 K's against the White Sox. Bieber has transformed himself into one of the best pitchers in baseball this season. He has a 3.24 ERA and 1.01 WHIP through 188.2 IP. The concern coming into the year was an average strikeout rate and the propensity to give up hard contact from being around the zone too much. Bieber has been able to miss more bats (24%-31%) without sacrificing his walk rate (5% BB). The increased strikeouts are backed up by an increase in his swinging strike rate from 11% to 14%. The biggest change for Bieber has been throwing his fastball less (-12%) and his off-speed pitches more. He is an elite K-BB pitcher on a good team in an organization that knows how to maximize pitching talent. Bieber is and will be one of the best fantasy starters heading into 2020.
Jose Berrios went 5 IP and gave up 6 ER on 8 H, 3 BB, and 6 K's against the Red Sox. Berrios continues to be a very good starting pitcher despite today's start but hasn't taken the step to elite that many have expected. He has a 3.78 ERA and 1.25 WHIP across 174 IP. The traditional numbers are strong but the underlying skills leave something to be desired despite when they're on three plus pitches. His strikeout rate is just 22% with 11% swinging strikes. He does have good control (6% BB) but from a fantasy perspective, it would be nice to see his strikeout rate get above the 25% mark. The inconsistency comes from his curveball. If it is on he is a near-elite starter but if it's not working he is a two-pitch pitcher that relies heavily on his fastball. With the curveball being more of a feel pitch it is unlikely that Berrios takes that next step to elite starter but regardless, he has shown the ability to be above average which is fine in today's environment. He will get the Nationals at home next time out.
Eduardo Rodriguez-Red Sox-SP
Eduardo Rodriguez went 7 IP and gave up 0 ER on 5 H, 4 BB, and 8 K's against the Twins. Rodriguez has been very solid for the Red Sox and fantasy owners this year. He is likely going to start 30+ games which means that he has stayed healthy. Rodriguez has a 3.81 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. His strikeout rate at 22% is right around the league average but he is able to have success because he combines it with 49% GB. The reason why his WHIP is high compared to his ERA is his walk rate (9% BB) and his lack of strikeouts. For Rodriguez to take the next step it is going to require him to improve his walk rate. He does a good job getting first-pitch strikes (63%) but his overall zone percentage at 37% is 5% worse than the league average. Rodriguez needs to trust his stuff more which is unlikely to occur in 2019 but something to watch for in 2020.
J.D. Martinez-Red Sox-OF
J.D. Martinez was 0-4 with a strikeout against the Twins. Believe it or not, there was a time when fantasy owners were calling Martinez a bust for 2019. Over the past 14 days, he is hitting .395 with 6 HR, 11 R, and 18 RBI. This has moved his season-long line to .312 with 34 HR, 89 R, 83 RBI, and 1 SB. The underlying skills are still elite with 20% K, 11% BB, 47% Hard, and .976 OPS. Provided he stays healthy Martinez is going to be boosting a lot of teams up the standings over the next couple of weeks. For 2020, Martinez becomes an interesting draft pick because he is clearly an elite four-category performer but he doesn't steal bases and that is likely going to push him out of the first round.
DraftKings Value Plays: OF Michael Brantley (HOU) $3,900 and OF Kevin Kiermaier (TBR) $3,700
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