Max Fried went 6 IP and gave up 1 ER on 6 H, 0 BB, and 4 K's against the Dodgers. On the year, Fried has a 4.63 ERA and 1.48 WHIP through his first nine starts. He did get blown up in his last start (3.2 IP, 5 ER) but had pitched better since coming back from the IL (2.93 ERA, 24% K, 10% BB) and continued that trend today. Fried has two above-average breaking balls (SL and CV) that he throws nearly 50% of the time which is exactly what we want. The two concerning parts of his current game are a spike in his walk rate (9% BB) and an unexpected decline in his ground ball rate (53% GB->42% GB). This is a big deal because his average strikeout rate pairs very nicely with an above-average ground ball rate to cover up some struggles with walks. Without the weak contact, the extra base runners are more of a concern given his average strikeout rate (23% K). the good news is that he didn't walk anyone in today's start and got 55% GB. The key to his success in 2020 was the slider and when looking at his 2021 individual heatmaps he is struggling with the location of his slider. In 2020, he was burying it down and in to right-handed batters which is a highly effective pitch. However, this year his slider is still inside but middle of the zone which is easier to hit and doesn't tunnel as well with his fastball. This is something that he will be able to fix but the tough part is that it is hard to know when this will happen. The good news is that he gets a nice matchup on the road against the Marlins.
Sandy Alcantara went 8 IP and gave up 0 ER on 6 H, 2BB, and 6 K's against the Pirates. Alcantara has been able to back up a lot of the improvements he made in 2020. He now has a 3.30 ERA and 1.06 WHIP through 79 IP. His strikeout rate has increased to 24% K while improving his command (7% BB). The strikeout rate is right around league average but paired with 52% GB makes it even more manageable from a fantasy perspective. There could also be more strikeouts given the rise in his swinging strike rate (14% SwStr) and called strikes plus whiff (30% CSW). Alcantara also can work deep into games which means that we shouldn't have to worry about the average strikeout rate because the raw total should be there at the end of the year due to the total innings pitched. He gets a tough matchup against the Braves next week but he's a must-start and it is at home.
Dansby Swanson was 1-4 with a run scored against the Dodgers. Swanson hit cleanup in this game but that was because 3B Austin Riley was sitting. Swanson has primarily been hitting fifth which is a good spot to be with Acuna, Albies, Freeman, and Riley hitting in front of him. Swanson is hitting .238 AVG with 10 HR, 24 R, 27 RBI, and 2 SB. The average has been disappointing but that was mostly due to a .189 AVG in April but he followed that up with a .290 AVG with 6 HR in May. Since the first month, he has cut his strikeout rate from 30% to 28% to 15% month by month. His HardHit% (45%) and Barrels (12%) are at an all-time high. Don't lose faith, the arrow is pointing up for the Braves shortstop.
John Gant went 4 IP and gave up 7 ER on 7 H, 3 BB, and 2 K's against the Reds. Gant now has a 2.63 ERA and 1.59 WHIP through eleven starts. He had been one of the luckiest pitchers to start the year prior to today's game. Everything in his profile screamed serious regression which took place today. He has a below-average strikeout rate (17% K) and has struggled mightily with control (15% BB). Gant has been able to limit homers throughout his career but even with that a 7.1% HR/FB isn't going to hold up over the course of the year which is a recipe for disaster with the number of runners who will be on base via walks. At this point, if you have gotten positive value out of Gant it is probably time to consider moving on. Just take a look at his ERA estimators (5.67 SIERA, 5.12 xERA, and 5.04 xFIP).
Josh Bell was 1-4 with a walk against the Phillies. On the year, he is hitting .217 AVG with 8 HR, 28 R, 24 RBI, and 0 SB. His plate skills have not rebounded (25% K and 7% BB) but he has traded some of that for more power. His quality of contact metrics (53% Hard, 9% Barrels, and 115.8 maxEV) are all above-average and point to better times for Bell. This has started to happen with a .264 AVG in May and .308 AVG so far in June. Over the same time period, his strikeout rate has fallen from 28% in April to 24% in May to 14% through the first in June. The overall numbers are not pretty but the underlying skills and data point to a hitter that is turning it around.
DraftKings Value Play: OF Taylor Ward ($3,000)
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