Walker Buehler, SP (LAD)
Buehler was superb on Monday, finishing with a 3-hit complete game shutout at Arizona. He struck out 10 and did not walk a batter. His velocity was up nearly a full mile per hour, but he kept his curveball around 16-mph slower than his fastball. It worked to perfection as he generated a 36% CSW rate on the knuckle curve. In total, Buehler generated 14 swings and misses. Yes, the Diamondbacks have an egregiously bad offense, but it was still encouraging to see the 27 year old surpass six innings for the first time this season. It was also the first start this season without a walk, and he doubled his previous season high in strikeouts. He had some tough matchups the first three outings so this was refreshing to see how Buehler can dominate weaker opponents.
Connor Joe, OF (COL)
Joe continued his excellent start to the season, hitting a leadoff home run against Kyle Gibson. It was his fourth long ball of the season and turned out to be his only hit. It was his 12th straight start in the leadoff spot and seventh time at designated hitter this season. Joe has subpar speed for a leadoff hitter, but he has displayed phenomenal plate discipline. His contact rate is up to 83.6% and his batting EYE is an impressive 0.67. He doesn't hit the ball particularly hard, but he has a really good swing with a good launch angle so when he connects, it often lands for hits. In spite of a below-average hard-hit rate, his barrel rate is quite good. His elite swing path explains his elevated .349 BABIP, and so I don't see it as pure luck. A .300 batting average is attainable, as is 20 home runs and a boatload of runs scored at the top of the Rockies lineup.
Brandon Nimmo, OF (NYM)
Nimmo put an exclamation point on New York's comeback win at St. Louis with a two-run home run off T.J. McFarland in the 9th. It was his third home run of the season but only his third off a left-handed pitcher since 2019. It's a positive sign as Nimmo has a .136 career ISO vs. lefties and .196 ISO vs. righties. On the season he is slashing a robust .292/.393/.563. He continues to display a very strong batting EYE but his power is really on display in the early going. His average exit velocity is over 90 miles per hour for the first time in his career, his hard-hit rate is more than five percentage points higher than his career high and his barrel rate is twice as high as his career average. Health and quality of contact have always been Nimmo's Achilles heel but both are there right now. We could be in the midst of a breakout season for the 29 year old.
Max Scherzer, SP (NYM)
Max Scherzer was very Max Scherer-like on Monday, shutting down the Cardinals for seven innings with 10 strikeouts. He only allowed two hits and one walk, his first game with less than three walks allowed since his season debut. Unfortunately he had to settle for a no-decision as the game was scoreless when he departed with 101 pitches prior to the 8th inning. He continues to utilize his secondary pitches in an equitable manner. All five of his pitches have been effective, four of them generating above-average CSW rates while the changeup is used to force weak contact. The fact Scherzer has all these options at his disposal is crucial as he navigates the inevitable decline that comes with age. He will be able to pivot and adjust while his quality of pitches changes. For now, he's still among the best pitchers in the game and a much-needed ace for the Mets.
Adolis Garcia, OF (TEX)
Garcia was moved up to second in the Rangers lineup and he delivered with two hits and three RBIs in Texas' 6-2 win over Houston. All four of Garcia's batted balls were at least 98 miles per hour. His 8th-inning double capped out at 103.1-mph. The reality is he has been crushing the ball, with an average exit velocity over 94-mph and a hard-hit rate over 50 percent. Furthermore, his plate discipline is improving as his contact rate is finally over 70% and his chase rate is down to 34 percent. Garcia's over-aggressive approach last season was mostly successful, but it is not a long-term solution. Modest improvement at the dish will lead to greater results because Garcia can flat-out mash. It is not yet evident in his batting average because of a suppressed .244 BABIP. Wait for that number to rebound and if Garcia can continue to maintain this acceptable level of plate discipline while exhibiting a similar quality of contact, we could witness an even better season than last year's breakout campaign.
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