Dozier went 1-4 against the Twins on Friday. A popular sleeper pick entering the season, Dozier has paid off for fantasy owners and took an .884 OPS into Friday's game. Dozier pairs solid contact skills (90.6% z-contact rate, 11% swinging strike rate) with strong power (91.3 MPH average exit velocity, 43.5% Statcast hard hit rate), giving him a high ceiling and a floor that is largely dependent on his plate discipline profile (Dozier's relatively high swinging strike rate is the result of his poor 51% o-contact rate, giving him one of the widest splits between his z- and o- contact rates in the league). With that in mind, Dozier has been in a slump lately and should not be counted on down the stretch for fantasy owners as his z-swing rate has tanked while his o-swing rate has spiked without showing signs of slowing down. Still, Dozier should be expected to maintain much of his impressive performance this year with some moderate negative regression, and an OPS around .800 next year is a reasonable expectation (though if his chase rate declines then it could be much higher).
Morton held the Red Sox to two runs over 6.1 innings with eight strikeouts on Friday. After posting a 3.13 ERA last year and a 3.16 ERA so far this season, Morton still feels underrated and should be valued as an upper or high middle tier starting pitcher going into next season. Morton picked his strikeout rate up even more this year (to 30%, while decreasing his walk rate to 7.1%) after focusing more on his slider and curveball at the expense of his sinker, a change that marginally (if at all) affected his already strong contact quality profile. Morton's velocity is down this year and may be worth watching going forward, but at 95 MPH (on average), the pitch is still solid, and his evolving arsenal should help keep his floor relatively high.
Perez went 0-4 with a strikeout against the Phillies on Friday. Perez has enjoyed a career year at the plate this season, and the 30-year-old took a .776 OPS into Friday's game. Increased power has fueled some of Perez's relative success as his average exit velocity and barrel rate are up significantly from past years, but luck has played a substantial role as well. With a 19.5% HR/FB ratio (and resulting 5.4% home run rate despite his 0.96 GB/FB ratio), Perez's elevated home run rate is unlikely to continue into next season even if his improved power (88.4 MPH average exit velocity, 10.9% barrel rate) sticks. Expect some significant negative regression from Perez next year, and leave him on waivers for the rest of the year (though he has been hot recently thanks to an upward-trending hard hit rate).
Waguespack allowed three runs over five innings with six strikeouts against the Yankees on Friday. Waguespack has had an unspectacular rookie year and took a 4.70 ERA into Friday's game. Waguespack had a quietly strong August with a 2.88 ERA across four starts after changing his pitch mix to emphasize his sinker at the expense of his four-seamer, but his pitch mix has reverted to its earlier season distribution in September, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Waguespack's four-seamer is better than his sinker by xwOBA and whiffs/swing (and swinging strike rate and chase rate), so his strong August appears to be more of a fluke than anything else. Still, despite its below average velocity and low spin rate, Waguespack's fastball is actually a pretty good pitch as it gets hitters to chase at a 30% rate, boasts a well above average 30% whiffs/swing rate, and owns a slightly worse than average .361 xwOBA. In addition, Waguespack's changeup has been very effective this year (likely bolstered by the 10 MPH difference between its average velocity and his four-seamer's average velocity), generating 36.67% whiffs/swing and posting a .263 xwOBA. If Waguespack focuses more on his changeup and four-seamer and develops one more solid pitch, then he has a chance to be an above average fantasy asset in the future. Waguespack likely won't hold much value over the rest of this year, but keep an eye on his pitches and pitch mix going forward.
Cruz went 1-3 with a double against the Royals on Friday. Age (and a PED suspension) have done little to slow Cruz down as the 38-year-old is still an elite hitter with a fantastic 1.010 OPS. Impressively, Cruz does actually look like he got better this season, as his batted ball profile is more fly-ball heavy than usual (which, combined with the juiced ball, has helped elevate his home run rate), his barrel rate is way up to a ridiculous 20.1%, and his plate discipline and power numbers are largely in line (and sometimes better) than they have been in past years. Although Cruz's .337 BABIP is uncharacteristically high and probably unsustainable, he hasn't been particularly lucky due to his incredible batted ball profile that yields a .542 xwOBA on contact (Cruz's .417 wOBA lines up nicely with his .418 xwOBA). It would be optimistic to expect a similarly impressive year out of Cruz next year, but don't let age scare you off -- Cruz should be an elite hitter again next season.
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