Blake Snell (SP-SD) lasted just 3.2 innings against the Brewers on Monday evening as he gave up 5 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks while fanning 7. The 28 year-old southpaw threw just 45 of his 81 pitches for strikes while coughing up a pair of longballs in the contest. It's been a rough start to the 2021 campaign for Snell, who now owns a 4.50 ERA, 13.7 K/9, and 5.5 BB/9 through his first 10 starts (4.4 innings). He has completed 6 innings just once and - big surprise - that was the only outing in which he did not walk multiple batters. Snell has never possessed great control, as his career-best BB/9 was 3.2 back in 2018 when he won the AL Cy Young Award; his career BB/9 is 3.9. Homers were never a major problem before last season, when he finished the year with a 1.8 HR/9 and a 29% HR/FB - this season, the HR/9 is 1.4 and the HR/FB is 21% (1 HR/9 and 12% HR/FB on his career). Fortunately, the strikeout stuff is still there, and that's about all Snell is offering his fantasy owners right now. They will just have to hope that his ERA dips toward his 3.39 xFIP as he gets the walks under control while giving up fewer big flies. He lines up for a start in Houston this coming weekend.
Zach Eflin (SP-PHI) earned a quality start against the Marlins on Monday as he gave up 4 runs (3 earned) on 6 hits and 2 walks while fanning 6 over 6 innings of work. The 27 year-old righty threw 67 of his 103 pitches for strikes in the contest. He now owns a solid 3.84 ERA, 9 K/9, and 1 BB/9 through his first 10 starts (63.1 innings) on the year. Eflin has always possessed solid control (2.3 career BB/9), but he's taken that next-level this year while upping his K/9 from his 7.5 career clip. Eflin is deploying his secondary offerings 47% of the time, which is up a bit from the last couple of seasons, and that may be contributing to the increased punchouts. His xFIP comes in at 3.25, which largely points to a .331 BABIP (.301 career) inflating his ERA a bit. There's nothing in the peripherals to indicate that his work to date in 2021 has been fluky, so Eflin appears to be entrenching himself as a mid-rotation type for fantasy. He is currently slated for a start in Tampa Bay this weekend.
Trevor Rogers (SP-MIA) gave up 2 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 5 Phillies over 5 innings of work on Monday. The 23 year-old lefty threw 53 of his 85 pitches for strikes in the outing. He now owns an impressive 1.75 ERA, 11.1 K/9, and 3.5 BB/9 across 10 starts (56.2 innings) on the year. Naturally, his 3.36 xFIP suggests that some regression lies ahead, as his 85% strand rate is high and his HR/FB just under 7% seems a bit low. Rogers has done an excellent job of missing bats (15% swinging-strike rate) and keeping contact low (70% contact rate), although a 41% hard-hit rate per Statcast indicates that they have often hit the ball hard when they have made contact. His average fastball velocity is up just over a tick from last season to 95mph and Rogers has effectively mixed in his changeup at a 24% clip and his slider 15% of the time to complement it. He's slated for a challenge in Boston this coming weekend.
Austin Gomber (SP-COL) went 8 strong against the Mets on Monday, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits and no walks while fanning 8 over 8 innings of work. He tossed 70 of his 103 pitches for strikes in the contest but did cough up a pair of solo homers. The 27 year-old lefty now owns a 4.56 ERA, 9.3 K/9, and 3.7 BB/9 through his first 10 starts (53.1 innings) on the year. His 4.02 xFIP points to a 58% strand rate and 14% HR/FB inflating his ERA a bit, so that could correct a bit going forward. In addition to striking out just over a batter an inning, Gomber has induced grounders at a 45% clip. The walks have been a bit of an issue, so it was encouraging to see him issue no free passes on Monday evening. With a 10% swinging-strike rate, Gomber isn't exactly an exciting pitcher for fantasy purposes who will headline a rotation. But he's showing some potential to be a guy who can round one out. I would consider adding him for his next start, a probable road outing in Pittsburgh this coming weekend
Jesus Sanchez (OF-MIA) remains red hot to open the 2021 campaign in Triple-A, as he was batting .469 with 7 homers, and 20 RBI through 68 plate appearances entering Monday's action. The 23 year-old has also laced 3 doubles and 3 triples, so he's not exactly slapping a bunch of singles to hit for that average. Sure, his .523 BABIP is unsustainable, but it's very encouraging to see Sanchez limiting the punchouts (19%) and putting together a fairly balanced batted ball profile (20% liners, 42% grounders, 38% flyballs). And yes, the 37% HR/FB is certainly due for some regression, but he does possess 70-grade raw power and so the pop is there in his 6'3", 230-pound frame. Naturally, folks are beginning to speculate on when Sanchez will get the call back up to Miami, where struggled in a very small sample size in his debut last season (1-25 at the plate with a 38% strikeout rate). Given his absolutely scorching start to the 2021 season, he should be on your watch list if he is not already.
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