Lance McCullers Jr., SP (HOU)
McCullers left the game with the Indians scoreless with one out in the 6th inning, but Brooks "Let-Inherited-Runners-Score" Raley allowed McCullers' two baserunners to score. McCullers finished with the following line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 8 K. Four walks? Yikes, but he still managed to move to 6-1 as the rest of the Astros bullpen held serve. His ERA remains below 3.00 and his WHIP is 1.22. His 26.2% strikeout rate is nice. His 12.5% walk rate is not. He is overcoming poor command because he has four plus-pitches that are resulting in a sub-.200 opponents batting average. Friday's outing was McCullers' fourth time this season allowing four walks. He managed to surrender three or less runs in all four of those starts. Eventually the free passes will come back to bite him, and the problem with walks is that can happen against good or bad teams. It makes McCullers more inconsistent than he should be. He is capable of throwing in the zone more and will still likely induce a low batting average. While he is pretty much a must-start in all formats, until he gets his walks under control there is some danger.
George Springer, OF (TOR)
Springer played DH and batted 4th in the lineup after starting the previous eight games in the 5-position. He promptly connected for a straightaway home run on the first pitch he saw: a low, 97-mph fastball from Luis Patino. It was his fourth homer of the season and his fifth extra-base hit. Springer was a victim of low BABIP in 2020 in that it pulled down an expected batting average of .291 to an actual batting average of .265. He is having a similar drag this season, albeit in limited playing time. His BABIP is only .233 I've said it before, I'll say it again: Springer is a .290's hitter. As his sample size grows, expect his batting average to grow as well. Springer is actually walking more than ever. His near-17% walk rate would be a career high. Hitting in the cleanup spot could affect that as he sees more pitches inside the strike zone. As long as he's healthy, he's going to be one of the more productive batters in the American League.
Franmil Reyes, OF (CLE)
The plan was to activate Reyes on Saturday, but he was strong enough to join the team on Friday after spending the last six weeks on the injured list due to a strained oblique. The soon-to-be 26 year old had three hits and two strikeouts in five at bats. Strikeouts continue to be the obstacle holding Reyes back from stardom. When he makes contact, it is elite contact. In limited time this season, his barrel rate is a stupendous 20.6%. He crushes the ball when he hits it. But he doesn't hit it enough. If he could lift his contact rate to 75% or better, he could become one of the best hitters in the game. As mentioned, he is still incredibly young and his powerful hit tool is enough to make fantasy owners' mouths water. His return to Cleveland's lineup is a benefit to the other players around him. Expect the home runs to follow.
Jake Burger, 3B (CHW)
Burger got the callup to the White Sox after obliterating pitching at AAA-Charlotte. In his major league debut, the hard-hitting corner infielder had a pair of hits, including a double, in four plate appearances. He also reached base on an error, which was actually his hardest hit ball at 106.7 miles per hour. Three of his batted balls were over 90 miles per hour. He is big, strong, has a lot of swing-and-miss in his profile and features absolutely no speed. Sounds like another early-season phenomenon in Chicago, Yermin Mercedes. Mercedes is now at AAA-Charlotte and Burger is going to get a chance with the White Sox. He was hot in the minors and could carry that to the majors. He's certainly an interesting DFS play while pitchers develop a game plan against him. However, be wary of Burger long term until he gains more control over the strike zone.
Frankie Montas, SP (OAK)
Montas was inefficient but still managed to only allow two runs in 5.2 innings on Friday. After striking out at least five batters in his previous four outings, Montas only punched out three Red Sox. Boston isn't a team that strikes out a lot and so it appears Montas was looking to elicit weak contact, using his splitter much more than previous appearances. However, he has less command of his splitter, which explains the 14 balls on that pitch and ultimately the three walks allowed in the game, tying a season high. Increasing the usage of his splitter makes sense as it almost works as a change of pace since it's the secondary pitch with the greatest delta in velocity from his fastball. However, if he can't command it better, it really isn't the best option as his second-most used pitch. Montas would do well to develop a changeup or curveball or at least deploy his splitter with more consistency. Until then he's a league-average pitcher.
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