Joey Votto, 1B (CIN)
Votto's contact rate is a career-low 73%. His swinging-strike rate is 11.4%, first season with a double-digit swinging-strike rate since 2010. For the last decade Votto has been one of the game's best contact-based, zone-conscious power hitters in the game. He is no longer that player. Instead Votto has tapped back into his power, leading to incredible Statcast metrics. His 92.4-mph average exit velocity ranks in the top-10 in all of MLB and his barrel rate is a career-high 13.2%. He has noticeably scrapped the patient, contact-first approach and focused more on an aggressive, power-laden swing. Obviously that has resulted in a lower batting average and walk-rate, but it is creating more run production. He is likely to finish with his best home run and RBI totals since 2017. An afterthought at first base during draft season, Votto is a solid corner infield/backup 1B option.
Tyler Mahle, SP (CIN)
Mahle was so-so on Friday, allowing five hits and four walks in five innings, but the only damage was two solo home runs by Paul Goldschmidt and Harrison Bader. Mahle is showing great improvement this season, and it is somewhat flying under the radar, which makes the young right-hander an intriguing trade target. A few bad starts disguise otherwise strong production. The strikeouts have been consistent through most of the season and a 43% ground ball rate has led to a decline in home runs. The walks are down, the strikeouts are up and it is all showcased by a career-best 3.71 xFIP. Mahle has toyed with other pitches throughout his career, but this year he is focused primarily on his fastball/slider combination with a touch of a nasty splitter. He will still likely need to find some consistency in a fourth pitch, either a curveball or even a cutter. He used a changeup early in his career and it was abysmal. If his arsenal diversifies, he could elevate into one of the top tiers of pitchers.
Tylor Megill, SP (NYM)
After completing six innings for the first time in his last start, the rookie Megill matched that outing with another scoreless six-inning start, this time leading to his first career win. Megill struck out five Blue Jays hitters as he continues his phenomenal rookie season. The 25 year old leans heavily on his mid-90's fastball (nearly 60% usage), but his secondary pitches have been fantastic. He uses a slider against righties and a changeup against lefties and both have been effective, although lefties display more power. Megill's lack of prospect pedigree should not distract from the quality production he put up in the minor leagues and the impressive arsenal of pitches. Look, Megill isn't going to continue at this level of play. There will be bumps in the road and hitters will adjust with more film and statistical tendencies, but he has developed into a reliable arm in a rotation that needs steadiness.
Zach Davies, SP (CHC)
Davies struck out a season-high seven batters in 5.1 innings, allowing two runs (both scored after he left the game) and picking up his sixth win. It was his sixth straight start allowing three runs or less. However, he has only completed six innings once during that stretch. Davies' biggest obstacle he creates for himself is walks. He surrendered two free passes on Friday, and as has been the case all season, his pitch count elevated to 107 pitches before he departed with one out in the 6th inning. It's sort of amazing his numbers aren't far worse considering his career-high 12.2% walk rate. For a pitcher who throws in the 80's, walking more than one out of every ten batters is a problem. Not only does it create more run opportunities for the opposing offense, but it is a big reason why he rarely goes deep in any games (also because he allows a 12.46 ERA the third time through a lineup). This very well may have been Davies' last start in a Cubs uniform as he is rumored to be in a number of trade discussions. His destination will impact his fantasy value, but regardless of where he ends up cutting down walks is crucial to retaining fantasy significance.
Freddy Peralta, SP (MIL)
Freddy Peralta, welcome to the Casey Mize treatment. Peralta is effectively on an innings limit, as demonstrated by his scoreless four-inning appearance on Friday. He walked two batters and only allowed one hit, but the Brewers pulled him after throwing only 51 pitches. This is a new development as Peralta had gone five straight starts with at least 90 pitches thrown. It is supported by history. As Peralta moved back and forth between the bullpen and the starting rotation throughout his young career, he has already surpassed his single-season innings record with 102. He is coming off the shortened 2020 season where he worked primarily out of the bullpen and threw 29.1 innings. This really puts a damper on his fantasy value over the rest of the season, especially for owners who have thrived off his 2.29 ERA and 35% strikeout rate.
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