Tyler Mahle, SP, CIN
Mahle hurled 6.0 innings of shutout ball on Thursday afternoon in Pittsburgh. He surrendered five hits, walked one, and struck out four on the day. At 12-5 with a 3.59 ERA and 10.45 K/9, the 26-year-old has been a steady fantasy pitcher throughout the 2021 season. Mahle has shown that the modest success he produced last season was no fluke. Though Mahle's O-Swing% and SwStr% have gone down from a season ago, he has maintained his effectiveness with improvements in other areas. Mainly, he has kept batters from making their desired contact; his GB% is up 11.7% from a season ago, while his HardHit% is down 6.3%. Additionally, Mahle has displayed better control this season (3.10 BB/9 in '21), which was a hindrance to his game at 3.97 BB/9 a season ago.
Mark Melancon, RP, SDP
Melancon surrendered a run on two hits while striking out two on Thursday night in San Fransisco. The aging reliever has now given up a run in his last three appearances and has seen his ERA spike to 2.26 as a result (from 1.88). Despite only collecting two saves this month, Melancon still leads the MLB in saves with 37. The 36-year-old certainly isn't as dominant as he once was but has gotten the job done this season for the Padres. Unfortunately, his lackluster K-rate (8.15 K/9) and BB-rate (3.68 BB/9) have made his advanced metrics less impressive than his tidy ERA. He currently owns a 3.48 xFIP and 3.78 SIERA. Additionally, his 9.0% SwStr% and 30.1% O-Swing% (his worst since 2011) leave much to be desired from a closer. Melancon will turn 37 at the beginning of next season, so owners should probably be wary of him come draft day despite his big Save numbers this season.
Evan Longoria, 3B, SFG
Longoria went 2 for 4 with a homer and a double on Thursday night. Over the past eight contests, the 35-year-old vet is 10 for 25 (.400) with three homers and 15 RBI. With 13 homers and a .296/.390/.558 triple-slash line, Longoria is having his best season since his Tampa Bay days. In fact, his current .397 wOBA is the best mark of his 14-year career, though he has just 241 plate appearances this season. Longoria has shown great patience at the plate in his 14th season, posting a stunning career-best in O-Swing% (22.4%) to go along with a 13.3% BB% that is 4.4% better than his career average. Longoria hasn't impressed much during his tenure in San Fransisco, but he is hitting as well as ever and will have a chance to make his mark come October.
Kevin Gausman, SP, SFG
Gausman surrendered four runs on Thursday night and suffered his 6th defeat of the season. He gave up eight hits, walked one, and struck out seven in the outing. Seemingly out of nowhere, Gausman pitched magnificently over the first half of the season and generated some Cy Young buzz. Unfortunately, the 30-year-old seems to be running out of steam here down the stretch. In 114.2 innings before the All-Star break, Gausman owned a 1.73 ERA, .82 WHIP, and .213 wOBA. In 60.1 innings in the second half, he owns a 4.77 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, and a .329 wOBA. His strikeout/walk numbers haven't changed much when comparing the two halves, but the contact against him has been much better. Gausman's LD% is up 13.1%, and his Hard% is up 14.0% during the second half of the season.
Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, SDP
Tatis went 2 for 3 with a solo shot and a pair of walks on Thursday night. The young superstar now has 39 homers and 91 RBI to go along with a stellar .287/.373/.632 triple-slash line this season. Add 25 stolen bases and 95 runs into the mix, and you see that Tatis can do it all. However, his power has to be the most impressive attribute he has displayed this season. Despite missing a good chunk of action, the 22-year-old has 39 dingers and currently leads the league with a hefty .344 ISO. He figures to be a top 3 fantasy player, regardless of format, for many years to come.
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