Jake Arrieta, SP, CHC
Arrieta had another strong start for the Cubs on Thursday, allowing 2 ER's in 6 IP against the Pirates to improve to 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA through his first two starts. So has Arrieta suddenly turned back the clock and regained the Cy Young form he displayed during his first tour with the Cubs? While his outward numbers may suggest as much, his underlying statistics don't paint nearly as pretty of a picture. Through 12 IP this season, Arrieta has a weak 6.75 K/9 and a discouraging 5.37 xFIP. Besides for the low strikeout rate, which is something Arrieta has struggled with for a few years already, it's perhaps more concerning that his GB% is at a mere 26.3% through two starts. Arrieta has a career 48.9% GB% and that number has remained around 50% since joining the Cubs in 2014. He has gotten a lucky so far with an 82.4% LOB% (career 71.8%), and has not allowed a HR despite all of the extra flyballs, but you can expect regression in those areas, which will be especially problematic if he doesn't get his GB% back up. I would sell high if you can, rather than being stuck with him when things start to collapse.
Javier Baez, SS, CHC
Baez hit his 2nd HR of the season against the Pirates on Monday and his 2-3 effort raised his season BA to an even .200. It's still very early, but from a power standpoint, Baez seems to be back on track, after hitting just 8 HR's in 59 games last season. His EV and HardHit% have rebounded after a slight dip last season, although it may still be too early to have any significance. From a contact perspective however, Baez is striking out as much as ever, currently striking out at a 40.7% clip. His SwStr% increased nominally each of the past two seasons, and so far this year, it's at a whopping 25.6% (entering Thursday). For several years, Baez managed to hit for a good average despite lofty strikeout rates, but it may not be wise to rely on that continuing if he can't get his K% back under 30%. For now, I would view Baez as a high power option, but I wouldn't assume anything above .250 for his BA.
Eduardo Escobar, 3B, ARI
Escobar finally got on the board with his first HR and first 2 RBI of the season, hitting a 2-run HR against the Rockies on Thursday. Escobar had entered the game hitting .048 (1-21) with 8 K's through his first 5 games. He is coming off a terribly disappointing 2020 in which he hit .212 with just 4 dingers, although his advanced stats weren't quite as bad. His K% remained at a steady 18.5% and his xBA was a decent .261. His HardHit% and EV remained in line with previous seasons and his FB% was north of 40%. The 35 HR outburst from 2019 seems to be a clear outlier, but a return to a .260, 20 HR type season is not an unreasonable expectation, assuming he gets back to his solid contact rate.
Garrett Hampson, 2B, OF, COL
Hampson went 1-4 with 2 runs and a SB against the Diamondbacks on Thursday and has gotten off to a nice start this season, hitting .294 with 8 runs and 4 SB's through 7 games. He has found his way to the top of the lineup in recent days batting leadoff in each of the past two games, and based on his performance, we should expect that trend to continue. After striking out at a 32.6% rate last season, Hampson has dramatically reduced his K% to 10.3% so far this season, and he has an excellent 3:4 K:BB rate across 29 PA's. It's important to note that all of the games until Thursday were played at Coors Field, although Hampson hasn't shown such large home/road splits in his career. With the leadoff spot seemingly his, Hampson should be a good source of BA, runs and steals.
Brandon Nimmo, OF, NYM
Nimmo went 3-5 with 2 doubles in a win against the Marlins on Thursday, and is now 6-14 (.429) with an impressive 3:5 K:BB through 4 games this season. Nimmo has batted leadoff in each of the past 3 games, and assuming he sticks in that spot, he should be in line to score plenty of runs considering his excellent on-base skills (15.3% career BB%). He also cut his K% to 19.1% last season after 4 seasons with rates of 25% or higher, and the early results this season give no reason to think that that improvement won't stick. That being the case, Nimmo should be expected to hit for a solid average along with moderate power and speed, and he holds extra value in leagues that count OBP. He is currently available in 40% of ESPN leagues and 75% of leagues in Yahoo.
This is just a small sample our daily analysis, join our member area for over 80 daily player updates sent to your inbox every morning and track your team online. Click here for details: http://www.insiderbaseball.