Corey Kluber (SP - NYY) - Pardon me for not jumping right on the Kluber bandwagon after Sunday's masterful 8 shutout innings against the Tigers, a performance in which he allowing only 3 baserunners and struck out 10. Kluber navigated his favorable schedule last week against the worst and 2nd worst offenses in baseball (by OPS) with 14.2 innings, 8 hits, 1 run, 3 walks, and 15 K's, and he definitely looked like he might have found something with a changeup that made people look silly on Sunday. The problem is that there are a lot of pitches that make the Tigers look silly from time to time: they're 2nd in MLB in strikeouts. This was a good week to use Kluber for sure, but what next? Well, he'll face the Nationals (likely with Soto back in the fold next weekend), Orioles, and Rangers for his net three starts in all likelihood, so the schedule remains favorable. With that in mind, I'm inclined to take the risk that he has actually figured out something that will work against lesser offenses and take the plunge in most formats where I'm in need of a back-end SP, but I'm not completely sold...I would be very hesitant to utilize him against any competent lineup just yet. His velocity is still down, and he's relying on a chase rate that just isn't there against quality bats to get his K's. He's back to being a streamer for me (if he ever left), but that's as far as I can go at present.
Daniel Lynch (SP - KC) - 2018 draftee Daniel Lynch will be called up to join the rotation on Monday, and instead of taking Brad Keller out behind the woodshed, the Royals have decided to move Jakob Junis into the bullpen. I'm confused, but whatever....not a ton of impact there, except for Lynch. Lynch was not a highly touted prospect until 2018, when his stuff began to tick up significantly. For a guy that was 89-92, he's a good 5 mph quicker than that now, and the slider and changeup have shown quite a bit of progress. There are still sizable control issues here, but you can dream on the stuff from the left side for sure. With his upside, he should be snapped up in leagues of any depth at all, and you best believe that I will have a share or two of him priced at just $4000 (!?!) against Cleveland on Monday...an Indian team that is a bottom quartile offense against LHP.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa (SS/3B - TEX) - Kiner-Falefa is going to be sad to see the Red Sox leave town, as he went 7-15 with a 3B, 3 HR, and a SB against them in the 4-game set. He has 5 HR and 5 SB already, both of which are surprising to me. Sure, he's 26 so a power spike could be reasonably expected, but he's going from something like 20th percentile exit velo to 60th....that's a huge jump. His speed is also best terms as "good, not great". This type of player typically isn't going to be a 25/25 guy in the best of circumstances, so I remain a bit skeptical. Still, he has enough speed to steal 20 bases, and his contact ability has remained very solid as his performance has steadily improved over the last 500-600 PAs (2019-21). I'm sure leagues exist out there in which he still retains C eligibility from 2019, and obviously he shouldn't be available there. Even with just SS and 3B though, he's shown enough where he has to be considered a starter, something I would have considered a longshot coming into the season. His launch angle is still so low (it's UP 2 degrees to just under 3 degrees) that even more gains could be made here.....if the improved exit velo is for real. Just because I'm skeptical doesn't mean I am down on him at all.....if he "just" ends up hitting 20 HR and stealing 20 bases with his contact ability providing a solid average, he's a tremendously valuable piece.
Austin Hays (OF - BAL) - Hays homered again on Sunday, and he's 5-16 with a 2B and 2 HR in the past 4 games. We're talking only 15 games, but Hays already has 4 homers...he's a very streaky hitter, with 11 of his 12 career MLB homers coming in small week-long stretches over the past 3 seasons. I have some interest in him Monday while he's on this heater, priced at just $3300 and likely facing spot starter Erik Swanson and the M's. I also like this kid in general a lot more than the numbers would have you believe. Since an excellent 2017 at two levels (.329, 32 HR), the last 3 seasons have seen him: injured and played only 75 G (2018), fly though 5 levels with 21 HR and 11 SB in just 108 G (2019), and COVID (2020). That's a lot for ages 22-24, and I think it's masked a bit of his upside perhaps. I see a player that could be above-average in all categories (well, maybe not R and RBI yet in that offense)....I love the ceiling here and would be looking to acquire him in 12-team formats and larger.
Andrew Vaughn (OF - CWS) - Vaughn may be finally heating up, as a pair of singles (2 of the 4 White Sox hits on the day) on Sunday give him 3 multi-hit games in his past 6. With Luis Robert hitting the IL with a strained hip flexor that hopefully looked a lot worse than it is, Vaughn's playing time seems very secure now, and his 50% hard hit rate sticks out as a hopeful harbinger of some power forthcoming. He's had issues with both contact and launch angle thus far, but I think he's doing fairly well for a kid that hadn't played above A-ball coming into the year...this will likely be a season full of "learning curve" type of stuff in terms of contact struggles, hot and cold streaks, etc. He still feels like a top-60 OF to me for this season and much better than that in future years, and I expect him to continue to improve as the year moves on. I think he's a nice acquisition target.
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