Lucas Giolito (SP-CHW) dazzled against the Orioles on Sunday as he gave up 1 run on 3 hits and 3 walks while racking up a dozen punchouts over 7 innings of work. The righty threw 70 of his 108 offerings for strikes and allowed a solo homer in the outing. The 26 year-old now owns a 3.73 ERA, 11.2 K/9, and 3.5 BB/9 through his first 11 starts (62.2 innings) on the year. His 3.51 xFIP indicates that he's been just about that good, with a 16% HR/FB inflating his ERA a bit; it's worth noting that his career HR/FB is 15%, though. Statcast indicates that Giolito has gotten hit a bit harder than usual (40% hard-hit rate in 2021, 36% career) while opposing batters have roped more liners (24% in 2021, 21% career) this season. Overall, though, the xFIP indicates that this is about the same Giolito as we have seen the last few years, so continue to trot him out there if you own him in fantasy. He lines up for a nice start at home against the terrible Tigers this coming week.
Tarik Skubal (SP-DET) blanked the Yankees over 6 innings on Sunday as he scattered 3 hits and 3 walks while recording 8 punchouts. The 24 year-old lefty hurled 64 of his 95 pitches for strikes in the outing. He now owns a 4.59 ERA, 10.5 K/9, and 4.2 BB/9 through his first 9 starts (49 innings) of the campaign. His 4.85 xFIP indicates that his ERA is right about where it should be, although he is benefitting from an 85% strand rate. Overall, Skubal has missed some - but not a lot of - bats (11% swinging-strike rate), has given up a good bit of contact (75%), and opposing hitters have often hit the ball hard (44% hard-hit rate). So, while Sunday's start against a struggling Yankees club was encouraging, there isn't really anything in the peripherals to indicate that Skubal will show drastic improvement going forward. He lines up for a road start against the White Sox this coming week.
Aaron Civale (SP-CLE) took the loss against Toronto on Sunday as he surrendered 4 runs on 10 hits and a walk while fanning just 1 over 6 innings of work. He threw 61 of his 87 pitches for strikes and allowed a homer in the contest. The 25 year-old righty now owns a 3.28 ERA, 6.6 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 through his first 11 starts (74 innings) of the year. Civale's 4.17 xFIP points to a .245 BABIP and 79% strand rate suppressing his ERA, and from a fantasy standpoint the lack of strikeouts hurts his value. But Civale makes a living by keeping hitters off-balance with a diverse repertoire, as he deploys his 92-mph heater 37% of the time, his cutter 23% of the time, his curve 15% of the time, his slider 13% of the time, and the new addition to his repertoire - a splitter - 13% of the time. He induces a healthy amount of grounders (46%) and does a good job of minimizing the free passes. He lines up for a start in Baltimore this coming week.
Randy Arozarena (OF-TB) went 1-3 with a walk, 2 runs scored, and a stolen base against the Phillies on Sunday. The 26 year-old burst onto the scene during the 2020 playoffs and has quietly been putting together a solid season so far in 2021. Arozarena now owns a .266 average to go with 7 homers, 26 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 7 stolen bases through his first 221 plate appearances of the year. He might not be mashing quite like he did during the most recent playoffs, but he's still been useful for fantasy purposes. He's done a good job of setting the table atop the Rays lineup, as he's drawn walks at a 10% clip while trimming his strikeout rate to just under 27%. Arozarena's 43% hard-hit rate per Statcast is nearly identical to last season's clip while his average exit velocity is up to 92mph. He does tend to hit a lot of worm-burners (53%) and his liner rate is an anemic 14%. Overall, his peripherals indicate that fantasy owners are getting about what they should out of Arozarena, and it isn't bad.
Austin Meadows (OF-TB) went 1-1 with a double, 3 walks, and a run scored against the Phillies on Sunday. The 26 year-old is now hitting .233 with 11 longballs, 36 RBI, 29 runs scored, and 1 stolen base through his first 214 plate appearances of the 2021 season. The average is disappointing, and one would expect his .265 BABIP to climb toward his .315 career clip in that department. His 40% hard-hit rate per Statcast is right about his career rate (42%), as is his 90mph average exit velocity (90mph) but it's worth noting that Meadows is hitting more flyballs (58%) than even last season (53%), which will help the power output to the detriment of his average. It is good for the average, though, that he's trimmed his strikeout rate to 25% so far in 2021 after fanning at a 33% clip last season. Overall, it appears that Meadows is adjusting his swing to hit for more pop (launch angle at 22 and 24 in 2021 and 2020, respectively, after sitting at 17 in 2019 and 14 in 2018), and so this lower-average, more-homers Meadows may be the new norm going forward.
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