Matt Carpenter (2B/3B-NYY) had a phenomenal day at the plate against the Cubs on Sunday as he went 3-4 with a walk, 2 homers, and 7 RBI. The 36 year-old has enjoyed something of a renaissance as a fill-in player for the Yankees, as he is now hitting .333 with 6 dingers and 13 RBI across 30 PA since joining the club. It's obviously a very small sample size, but he's making lots of hard contact (46%) and lofting lots of flyballs (an unsustainable 67%), which is a productive combination for a lefty bat at Yankee Stadium. Carpenter really hasn't been relevant for fantasy since 2018 and he was brought in a few weeks back specifically as an injury replacement, but he's hot right now and the team will likely try to get him into the lineup whenever possible, as they did on Sunday by benching the struggling Josh Donaldson in his favor. The Yankees are rolling with him while he's raking and so should fantasy owners.
Alek Thomas (OF-ARI) went 2-4 with a walk, 2 RBI, and a run scored against the Phillies on Sunday afternoon. The 22 year-old rookie cooled off a bit after a hot start to his big-league career but is warming back up as he now owns a .262 average to go with 5 homers, 13 RBI, 17 runs scored, and a steal across his first 120 big-league plate appearances. Thomas has very much held his own in his first taste of major-league action, as he's fanned at a 17% clip while drawing more walks as he settles in (walk rate is now over 8%). However, his hard-hit rate is low at 30% and he's hit lots of grounders (59%), many of which were going into the shift, which had the Diamondbacks staff working with him to go the opposite way more often. At any rate, consider making the add if you could use help in the OF as Thomas is figuring things out in the majors after a short adjustment period.
Carlos Rodon (SP-SF) returned to form against the Dodgers on Sunday, as he completed 6 scoreless innings in which he scattered 2 hits and 3 walks while recording 8 strikeouts. The lefty fired 64 of his 98 pitches for strikes in the contest. The 29 year-old had largely scuffled over the last few weeks, so his fantasy owners certainly welcomed a strong outing that put his season line at a 3.18 ERA, 11.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, and a 3.26 xFIP. Some regression from his breakout 2021 campaign was to be expected, as his 2.37 ERA compared to a 3.17 xFIP, but the most striking development has probably been the significant uptick in his BB/9, from 2.4 a year ago to 3.5 this season. He's actually allowed less hard contact (just 23%) this season while the .316 BABIP reflects some poor luck. Long story short, expect him to finish the season with roughly the ERA, K/9, and BB/9 that he has now and you shouldn't be disappointed. He lines up for a favorable turn in Pittsburgh against the Pirates this coming week.
Jon Gray (SP-TEX) was electric against the White Sox on Sunday afternoon, firing 6 innings of 1-run ball in which he allowed 3 hits, walked 3, and piled up 10 punchouts. The 30 year-old righty threw 69 of his 102 offerings for strikes in the outing. Gray has been up and down this season (probably more down), and his ERA now stands at 4.85 to go with a 9.9 K/9 and a 3.8 BB/9, although his xFIP comes in at 3.76. There was some optimism that his moving out of Coors Field might help to elevate his game a little, but prior to Sunday's start there was little indication that that might happen, at least on the surface. While most of his peripherals align with his past numbers, it's worth noting that opposing hitters have logged a 31% hard-hit rate against Gray, the lowest since 2017 in that department. He lines up for a turn in Detroit against the Tigers this week and should be started in that one.
Michael Kopech (SP-CHW) departed Sunday's start against the Rangers after recording just 2 outs because of knee discomfort. He's considered day-to-day while the club has him evaluated; an initial MRI revealed no structural damage. The 26 year-old righty is in the midst of a season in which he is transitioning back to a starting role, and the early returns are something of a mixed bag: 1.92 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 4.2 BB/9, and a 4.50 xFIP across 11 starts (51.2 IP). Although the control has been spotty and his swinging-strike rate is down (10%) while opposing hitters have mostly hit flyballs against him (53%), they have made very little hard contact (23%). To his credit, Kopech has worked on developing his curve as a third offering, although he's employing his heater 65% of the time, his slider 23% of the time, and that curve just 11% of the time (leaving less than 1% for his change). It remains to be seen if he will be able to make his next start, which would be a tough assignment against either Houston or Toronto this coming week.
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