John Means went 9 IP and gave up 0 ER on 0 H, 0 BB, and 12 K's against the Mariners. Means has been phenomenal to begin the year. He has a 1.37 ERA and 0.67 WHIP through seven starts. The skills behind the breakout season are legit as well (27% K, 7% BB, and 14% SwStr). He is getting ahead of hitters (69% F-strike) and this allows him to use his fastball less and his offspeed pitches more. Means is also throwing his best pitch (CH) more often (+4%) which is a good sign for long-term success. Pitching in the American League East is not easy for a pitcher but Means is showing that he has the stuff to succeed. Regression is going to set in but even his 3.65 SIERA would be a very nice value for fantasy purposes. His next start will be at home against the Red Sox which is not a great matchup but Means is on a roll.
Yusei Kikuchi went 7 IP and gave up 3 ER on 5 H, 1 BB, and 7 K's against the Orioles. Kikuchi has a 4.30 ERA and 1.09 WHIP through his first six starts. His strikeout rate has dropped (22% K) but that has come with a slight drop in his walk rate (9% BB). Kikuchi has done a better job of getting ahead of hitters (64% F-strike) which is a good sign because he has plus stuff but lacks control. He also does a nice job of inducing ground balls (49% GB) which works well with his lower strikeout rate. He is likely not going to turn into an ace but he can be a serviceable back end of the rotation starter with some upside. His next start will come at home in a pitcher-friendly environment against the Indians.
Jordan Montgomery went 6 IP and gave up 3 ER on 8 H, 0 BB, and 4 K's against the Astros. Montgomery has pitched well to start the year. He has a 4.41 ERA and 1.13 WHIP through six starts. His 4.11 SIERA shows that he has better skills than his traditional numbers (4.41 ERA) suggests. He has an average strikeout rate (22% K) with room for growth given his 12% SwStr and 30% CSW. Montgomery is also showing the best velocity of his career along with a true pitch mix change. He is throwing his fastball less in favor of more cutters. This gives him four pitches that he throws more than 25% of the time. He has the stuff and skills to be an above-average fantasy starter. The ceiling isn't there to be an ace but a quality #4 or #5 starter is not out of the question. He gets a two-start week with matchups on the road against the Rays and Orioles.
Kyle Seager was 0-3 with a strikeout against the Orioles. Seager is slashing .242/.295/.458 with 5 HR, 10 R, 22 RBI, and 1 SB. He has an above-average strikeout rate (20% K) and his quality of contact (45% Hard and 15% Barrels). His xBA (.294) gives an indication of how well he has hit the ball to start the year. This is not predictive but descriptive because he hasn't hit over .250 since 2017. The good news is that the league average BA continues to plummet making his sub .250 BA palatable. Seager is also going to play every day so he should post good counting stats with 20-25 HR. This is tremendous value with where he went on draft day.
Austin Hays was 1-4 with a run scored against the Mariners. Through 75 PA Hays is hitting .232 with 4 HR, 14 R, 10 RBI, and 0 SB. The underlying skills are concerning because he is striking out 28% of the time compared to sub 20% in 2019 and 2020. Hays is making hard contact (35% Hard) and at the right angles (11% Barrels) but he needs to make more contact to be the player that we expected coming into the year. He has the speed to steal double-digit bases but a sub .300 OBP is going to prevent that from happening. The good news is that he is not chasing pitches out of the zone (30% O-swing) and makes above-average contact in the zone. He just needs to be more aggressive at the plate which is an odd thing to say about cutting down on strikeouts. A weekend series at home against the Red Sox could be the jump start he needs.
DraftKings Value Plays: OF Joey Gallo ($3,100) and 1B Miguel Sano ($3,300)
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