Christian Yelich, OF (MIL)
A brutal blow to those of us who love the sport of baseball, Christian Yelich fractured his kneecap and will miss the rest of the season. The Brewers said more testing is needed to determine an appropriate timetable for his recovery, but this is an injury that could cost him time next season. First of all, we hope Yelich makes a healthy recovery and comes back just as strong. He was on his way to his second straight NL MVP award after actually improving on last year's monster breakout, but now he is faced with a tough session of rehab and he becomes a real question mark for fantasy owners. Obviously we need to find out what his outlook is and what the estimated recovery time is, but will Yelich ever be able to reach the production of the last two seasons? Will he ever steal 30 bases again? Sure, this is speculation, but speculation is crucial to fantasy analysis. A fractured kneecap is an awful injury and Yelich may never return to the fantasy status he held over the last calendar year.
Walker Buehler, SP (LAD)
Buehler took advantage of a weak matchup, dominating the Orioles for seven scoreless innings, striking out 11 and walking none. Expect Buehler to fly up the draft boards next season as his numbers are very encouraging despite a little bit of bad luck. His strand rate should improve from its current rate of 71%; meanwhile, Buehler improved his walk rate and strikeout rate (swinging strike rate is up to 12% as well). All of these factors are reasons to invest in Buehler, but take into account his age (25 years old) and success of the organization, and Buehler could return first round value next season. In fact, he kind of has returned that value this year, even though most people picked him up later in drafts. Next season the value won't be as rewarding, but that doesn't mean he isn't worth the investment.
Jason Vargas, SP (PHI)
Vargas the fielder caused major problems for Vargas the pitcher. Holding a 2-run lead in the 3rd inning, the Braves had the bases loaded but Vargas induced a slow roller right back to him. Instead of fielding with his pitching hand, he grabbed the ball with his glove and tried to shovel it to JT Realmuto. It was not a clean throw, and the error cost him two runs and eventually a decision. In the end, Vargas' outing only lasted three innings. He gave up two earned runs on six hits and three walks. He struck out three. If you picked the right spots, you might have found Vargas to be a useful fantasy streamer, but his successful outings are so unpredictable and unreliable that it can be maddening to own him. His xFIP - ERA delta is over a point, and that is more indicative of the pitcher he is. It also supports the notion that Vargas doesn't just struggle against good teams. Some of his more brutal outings came against less-than-average offenses. He's just so hard to own. Keep that in mind when you're looking at streaming pitchers next season. Go with someone who offers a higher reward, even if that means a higher risk.
Dansby Swanson, SS (ATL)
As Swanson continues to recreate his swing for more lift and power, his contact rate continues to regress. Swanson's 2019 launch angle is a career high and therefore his barrel rate more than doubled. That explains a 30-point increase in ISO and career-high 17 home runs and counting. He still hasn't reached 500 at bats in a season and his average is only .255, but with a dramatic bump in hard hit rate, it is entirely feasible Swanson elevates that home run total into the mid-20's (and dare I say it, maybe hit 30?). Furthermore, since 2017 his BABIP is chronologically .292, .290, .295 and with an excellent 26% line drive rate and the increased hard hit rate, his BABIP should be better. The fact Swanson is still making contact at a decent 75% clip while working on creating more power is an encouraging sign. He is still only 25 years old and could be a sneaky breakout candidate heading into 2020.
Zac Gallen, SP (ARI)
Gallen tossed his second straight quality start albeit in a losing effort, as he went six innings giving up three runs and striking out nine batters at Citi Field on Tuesday. The Diamondbacks' deadline acquisition has not allowed more than three runs in any start this season. Furthermore his nine strikeouts tied a season high. Walks are a bit of a concern, but that wasn't a problem for Gallen coming up through the minor leagues. As the walks have improved, however, so too has the swinging strike rate. Gallen's changeup has devastated hitters and instead of inducing weak contact, as he did in the minors, Gallen is getting strikeouts. He has about an 8-mph delta between fastball and changeup, which doesn't appear to be dramatic, but there's no question those are his two most effective pitches. He throws his curveball and slider as well, but they aren't nearly as successful. That can change in an offseason, and if Gallen improves one of his breaking pitches, he will climb a few tiers in SP rankings.
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