Miles Mikolas went 6.1 IP and gave up 3 ER on 8 H, 1 BB, and 6 K's against the Cubs. Through 22 GS, Mikolas has a 2.92 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. This is awesome production for someone that went very late or not at all in drafts in the spring. The reason for this was that he had not pitched much since 2019 and even then he was just average (4.16 ERA and 1.22 WHIP). Mikolas is having success this year due to a combination of factors. The first is that he has very good command/control (5% BB). He also limits home runs (0.97 HR/9) but the biggest factor has been luck (77% LOB and .247 BABIP). Mikolas is a very good real-life pitcher with his ability to manipulate the ball around the zone but the fact that he misses so few bats (19% K) makes him extremely dependent on his plus ratios for fantasy value. Regression is going to come but you ride out this season for as long as he continues to have success but this spike season will likely have him over-drafted in 2023.
Oneil Cruz was 1-4 with 1 BB and a 118.4 mph single against the Brewers. He is hitting .219 with 8 HR, 20 R, 27 RBI, and 5 SB in 37 GP. The batting average is not where you want it to be and most of that is due to his strikeout rate (35% K) but also his BABIP (.278). Cruz is running a low BABIP for someone that hits the ball as hard as he does (13% Barrels and 44% Hardhit) without an extreme flyball approach (35% FB). The results for the second half are a small sample but he has been much better since the All-Star break (.257 AVG with 4 HR and 147 wRC+). He is currently on a 30 HR/20 SB pace for a full season so the upside is fully evident and there is still time for him to improve his strikeout rate.
Dylan Carlson was 0-4 with 3 LOB against the Cubs. Carlson has led off for the Cardinals in each of the last six games. The Cardinals don't have a good candidate for the leadoff spot in terms of the ability to get on base because the two candidates in Tommy Edman (.322 OBP) and Carlson (.314 OBP) are not elite at getting on base. Carlson is hitting .247 with 7 HR, 37 R, 33 RBI, and 4 SB. He has been a disappointment in terms of fantasy because the expected upside was a 20 HR/20 SB player with a good average. He hasn't hit for average or power and has 7 SB in 268 career games at the major league level. The quality of contact has been dismal (5% Barrels and 26% Hardhit). It is time to move from Carlson. If we looked at his statistical profile without a name we would have no interest whatsoever.
Nolan Gorman was 1-4 with an HR (12) in the Cardinals win. Gorman is hitting .239 with 12 HR, 32 R, 26 RBI, and 1 SB. He has continued to swing and miss too much (32% K). Part of the issue is that chases out of the zone (35% O-swing) on top of 16% swinging strikes. The power is legit because it is backed up by his batted ball profile (47% FB, 14% Barrels, and 41% Hardhit). This makes him valuable in real life but limits his fantasy upside because he also doesn't steal bases making him a three-category contributor. He made adjustments in the minors to cut his strikeout rate going from Double-A to Triple-A in 2021. While this is unlikely to occur this year limiting his overall value there is hope that he can do this in 2023. Right now, he is a league-average player that has a profile (power) that is easy to find on the wire.
Brandon Woodruff went 6.1 IP and gave up 2 ER on 8 H, 3 BB, and 3 K's against the Pirates. Through 16 GS Woodruff has a 3.49 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. His 3.06 SIERA gives an indication that he has pitched better than his ERA shows. He has once again displayed excellent K:BB (24%) which is one of the strongest predictors of success especially this deep into the season. The strikeouts are real as he has a career-high 14.4% swinging strike rate. The difference in his SIERA and ERA comes down a little regression in his 71% LOB (Career 76%) and .315 BABIP (Career .288). Woodruff is still an elite starter and nothing in his profile says otherwise. He gets a home matchup against the Rays next week.
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