Pablo Lopez, SP (MIA)
Lopez rebounded from a poor start against Texas last week to deliver one of his best performances of the season on Tuesday. The Marlins' righty struck out 11 batters without walking anyone in seven one-run innings. He only allowed two hits, one of which was a solo home run from Mike Moustakas. It was his first start without a walk since May 24. Lopez displayed a notable bump in velocity, In fact, his fastball was 1.6-mph higher than his season average. The increased velocity and pinpoint command contributed to a pristine 41% CSW rate. Every pitch was effective, including his curveball which has been hit-or-miss throughout the season. Health has often been a concern for the 26-year-old, but Tuesday's dominance exemplifies how good he can be when he's right.
Ramon Urias, 3B (BAL)
"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!" I admit I was ready to bail on my preseason projection of a breakout season for Urias. Injuries and mediocrity stifled the Orioles infielder in his first full season, but since returning from the injured list due to an oblique strain in early July, he has been fantastic. He is hitting .397 with five homers over that stretch, including a game-winning, 424-foot two-run home run in Baltimore's comeback win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday. He has a near-50% hard-hit rate and ranks among the league leaders in quality of contact. I can't quit him. There is a breakout coming and it may already be in process.
Seiya Suzuki, OF (CHC)
Suzuki had a double and a home run, his eighth of the year, in Chicago's 4-2 win over Pittsburgh. The Japanese rookie busted out of a three-game hitless streak to improve his ISO to .194 and thrust his name back into the NL Rookie of the Year conversation. Suzuki's patience at the plate has led to 25 walks in 234 plate appearances, en route to a .350 OBP. Meanwhile he is exhibiting above-average power and speed, hinting at future fantasy stardom. Suzuki is hitting the ball in the air quite a bit, but because he spreads it all over the field, there is reason to believe his BABIP can remain above average (right now it's .345). His rookie season was interrupted by a sprained finger, which inhibited his learning curve. The Cubs' roster will be depleted the rest of the season, which will negatively impact Suzuki's overall numbers. Long-term, however, Suzuki is a dynasty chip with a high ceiling.
Joey Wendle, SS (MIA)
Wendle continues to thrive in the leadoff spot for Miami. The veteran infielder was 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI's in the Marlins' 2-1 win at Cincinnati. He has multiple hits in each of his last four starts in the leadoff position. Meanwhile, appearing at the top of the Marlins lineup creates more stolen base opportunities, and Wendle is 7-for-7 in chances this year. Traditionally a platoon utility player, Wendle has received more playing time each of the last two seasons. Last year in Tampa Bay he displayed career-best power. This season his power is suppressed but his contact rate is a spectacular 89%, leading to a .300 batting average. Let's see where Wendle is next week, but if the Marlins continue to hit him at the top of the lineup (and remember, Jazz Chisholm is likely out for the season), he is worth a roster spot in most fantasy formats.
Dane Dunning, SP (TEX)
Dunning made his return from the injured list, exhibiting the same problems that hampered him over the previous month. He walked three batters while giving up two runs in five innings. He finished Tuesday's game with five strikeouts and was fortunate to escape without allowing more damage due to the free passes. He has walked 20 batters in his last seven starts. He doesn't give up a lot of home runs, although he has allowed one long ball in five of his last six starts, including a leadoff shot by Julio Rodriguez on Tuesday. A subpar 28.1% CSW-rate and underwhelming strikeout numbers will not bail him out of his issues with putting men on base. His calling card is a deep arsenal of pitches that feature movement to multiple directions, leading to weak contact. However, batters don't need to make contact if they can take a base on balls. What I'm trying to say is, if Dunning can cut down the walks, he can be a serviceable rotation piece.
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