Willson Contreras (C-CHW) went 1-4 with a 3-run dinger and a walk against the Brewers on Friday. It might seem odd that he batted leadoff in the contest, but Contreras does possess a robust .384 OBP on the young season. The 28 year-old backstop has enjoyed a productive campaign so far, as he is now hitting .267 with 6 homers, 13 RBI, and 13 runs scored through his first 73 plate appearances; he's even chipped in a stolen base. His strikeout rate is high at 32% (24% career), but Contreras has drawn walks at a healthy 10% clip while logging a 36% hard-hit rate per Statcast that is in line with his career average (37%). With a BABIP of .313, the average seems about right (.318 career BABIP) and while he hasn't shown quite this much power output (.319 ISO) before, Contreras did log an ISO of .261 when he hit 24 longballs in 406 plate appearances back in 2019. Especially given that he's a rare catcher who truly plays everyday, Contreras could be the #1 C for fantasy at season's end.
Jacob deGrom (SP-NYM) tossed a complete-game shutout against the Nationals on Friday evening, as he allowed just 2 hits and walked none while piling up 15 punchouts. The 32 year-old flamethrower needed to make just 109 pitches, 84 of which he tossed for strikes. He now owns a miniscule 0.31 ERA, a ridiculous 15.5 K/9, and a tiny 0.9 BB/9 through his first 4 starts (29 innings). deGrom's 1.26 xFIP confirms that, yeah, he's been pretty good. If anything, a 91% strand rate and .239 BABIP are a bit lucky, as his career average strand rate is 79% and opposing hitters own a .290 BABIP against him in his career. Truth be told, there's not much reason to dig deeply into the peripherals when it comes to Jacob deGrom. He's currently the game's most dominant pitcher who is playing his best ball - his 23% swinging strike rate is, for example, a career high. What are we going to pick apart, a 35% hard-hit rate per Statcast, which would be a career worst? He lines up for a road start in Philadelphia next week and I would assume that his fantasy owners will be starting him there.
Kyle Hendricks (SP-CHC) gave up 2 runs on 6 hits and a walk while fanning 6 Brewers on Friday. He was efficient, as he threw 70 of his 92 pitches for strikes but did cough up a pair of solo homers. The outing was an encouraging one for his fantasy owners, as the 31 year-old righty had been scuffling to begin the campaign. Through his first 3 starts, he had a 6.92 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, 8.3 K/9, and 4.9 BB/9 across 13 innings of work. His 5.08 xFIP indicates that a 33% HR/FB was inflating his ERA a bit, although that xFIP still isn't good and, alarmingly, the homer issues continued on Friday. On the other hand, Hendricks did issue only one free pass against Milwaukee, which is far more characteristic for him than the 4.9 BB/9 he had entering the start (2 BB/9 career). Statcast shows that opposing batters had logged a 31% hard-hit rate against him entering Friday's outing, which lines up well with the figures that he has posted the last few years. Overall, it appears that the outing against the Brewers represented some correction to the mean for Hendricks, who has been a reliable if unexciting fantasy SP for a while now. He is slated for a nice road test against the Braves next week.
Luke Weaver (SP-ARI) labored against the Braves on Friday evening, as he allowed 4 runs on 6 hits and 4 walks while striking out 5 over 5 innings of work. He surrendered a big fly while throwing 58 of his 94 pitches for strikes. The 27 year-old righty hasn't quite impressed this season, as he now owns a 4.57 ERA, 7.9 K/9, and 2.1 BB/9 through his first 4 starts (21.2 IP). His 4.16 xFIP, however, does point to a 20% HR/FB inflating his ERA a bit, although it's worth noting that he's benefited from a low .230 BABIP. As has been the case the last few seasons, opposing batters have had little trouble making hard contact against Weaver (48% in 2021, 42% in 2020, 41% in 2019). Encouragingly, his swinging-strike rate is up to a career-high 11.5% even though he's basically been a two-pitch pitcher who deploys his 94-mph heater 52% of the time and his 85-mph change-up 36% of the time. It's hard to fall in love with Weaver's peripherals, but there's also not much in there to cause alarm. He seems like a back-end SP for fantasy rotations and not much more. He lines up for a start at home against the Rockies next week.
Kolten Wong (2B-MIL) was activated from the 10-day IL (oblique) in time start against the Cubs on Friday. The 30 year-old missed almost two weeks while recovering from the injury, but hit his stride quickly in his return, going 3-4 with a solo homer and a stolen base in the contest. Wong struggled through his first 26 plate appearances of the campaign before landing on the IL, as he was batting just .105 with no homers, 2 RBI, and 1 stolen base. The good news is that while his strikeout rate is a touch high in the small sample size to date (21% in 2021, 15% career), he's drawing walks at an 18% clip. Wong, however, has never been one to make lots of hard contact, as evidenced by his 29% rate in that department since 2015 per Statcast. Friday's performance shows that Wong can be useful in stretches, and he is batting leadoff for Milwaukee in what should be a full-time role so long as he is healthy. That makes him worth considering if you need an injury replacement.
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.com/baseballsample.htm Click here to register: http://www.fantistics.com/salesbaseball.php3