Dylan Bundy, SP (LAA)
Bundy delivered his first complete game in more than two years, stifling the Mariners for only four hits and one run while striking out 10. The outing continues Bundy's strong start to his Angels career as his xFIP sits at 2.70 in 21.2 innings. A velo drop on his fastball could be a cause for concern in other circumstances, but Bundy is just using his heater less. He has thrown his fastball less and less every year, but in 2020 his usage is all the way down to 31 percent. That comes with an increased use of his slider, and it has been extremely effective generating a wOBA of .043. Fourteen of his 25 strikeouts this season have come on his slider. He has confidence with the pitch and that is leading to his dominant performance. However, beware of Bundy's .184 BABIP allowed. He's been fortunate on balls hit in play.
Byron Buxton, OF (MIN)
He lives! The oft-injured, enigmatic, post-prospect-hype outfielder for the Twins hit his first home run of the season in Minnesota's 6-5 loss at Pittsburgh. It was only Buxton's fourth hit in 25 plate appearances. It was just his second extra-base hit, but he is officially on the board, although he has yet to steal a base this season. Contact has always been an issue for the speedster, but it's' pronounced this season as his swinging strike rate is a whopping 17.4 percent. The Twins need to get Buxton some at bats against left-handed pitching. He's only had four such plate appearances in 2020. In about half a season last year, Buxton held a .923 OPS against lefties. He flashes more power against right-handed pitching (his home run on Thursday was against a righty), but his contact is significantly better versus southpaws. Still only 26 years old, the skills are still buried inside his frame, but there is no guarantee they will ever come through.
Liam Hendriks, RP (OAK)
Since allowing a home run and blowing a save in his first appearance of the season, Hendriks has been lights out. He recorded his fourth save of the year on Thursday, and now has at least one strikeout in every outing. I admit I was one of those fantasy owners overcoming PTSD from investing highly in an A's closer prior to last season, only to see Blake Treinen finish 2019 with a 5.01 xFIP and a ticket out of Oakland, but Hendriks is cruising. With that being said, hitters are making much harder contact off Hendriks in the early going. He's allowing a frightening 54.5% hard hit rate with an average exit velocity of 94.5 miles per hour. It's a small sample size but something certainly worth watching in his upcoming appearances.
Luis Robert, OF (CHW)
Entering Thursday's game, Robert was putting together an incredible rookie season in spite of a 25% swinging strike rate. Well, that swing-and-miss tendency caught up with him against the Brewers as the White Sox leadoff hitter wore the Golden Sombrero, striking out in all four of his plate appearances. Rookies will always have to make adjustments as pitchers figure out their weaknesses, and it's now up to Robert to lay off the high heater. He is swinging at half the pitches out of the zone. On Thursday, all four of his third strikes were velocity pitches. He's having no trouble with offspeed pitches and therefore he probably won't see very many of them in the near future. Until he adjusts, it's just not reasonable Robert can continue to produce at this level with a 61% contact rate, 25.4% swinging strike rate. Needless to say, his .484 BABIP is greatly inflating his production. The talent is unquestioned. However, his ability to adjust will define the rest of his season.
Shohei Ohtani, DH (LAA)
If you're like me, there was a twinge of selfish satisfaction knowing Ohtani will just be a hitter for the rest of the season. It is a challenge setting lineups knowing he will miss games around his pitching starts. Now Ohtani the Hitter is unleashed once again, and he took advantage in his return to the lineup on Thursday, cranking his third home run of the year. Just like last year, Ohtani is making hard contact. In fact his home run wasn't even the hardest ball he hit. He crushed a ball over 105 miles per hour in the 7th inning that he just got under, leading to a flyout. He is currently second in all of baseball in Barrel rate and his ISO is .333. Now that he is settled back into the cleanup spot behind Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, Ohtani's RBI possibilities are very high. He should provide strong fantasy production the rest of the way, and that's good news if you're selfish like me (between us, I would love to see a high-functioning Ohtani the Pitcher as well).
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