Justin Steele (SP-CHC) turned in another gem on Friday, earning the win after tossing seven innings of one-run ball against the Marlins with just six hits and no walks allowed. Steele, who struck out four, improved to 5-0 with an NL-best 1.45 ERA after shutting down Miami's lineup, throwing 64 of his 86 pitches for strikes. His command was especially sharp, as he didn't walk anybody for the first time all season. Steele has now allowed two earned runs or less in seven straight outings to begin the year, hence the strong Triple Crown stats. He's also been giving the Cubs plenty of length, logging at least six frames in six of those turns. A major key for him has been keeping the ball in the yard, as he's yielded just two homers in 43 1/3 innings so far. He also boasts a strong 36:11 K/BB ratio, showing strong control as well. The 27-year-old southpaw will cool off eventually as his ERA was nearly two full runs lower than his FIP coming into Friday's start, but it's also possible he's taking another step forward in his third season after logging a 3.18 ERA last year. He's posting the best walk rate of his career (2.3 BB/9), which has helped offset his decrease in strikeouts so far (7.5 K/9). Enjoy the hot streak while it lasts, especially with his next start coming against the dreadful Cardinals at home next week.
Jonathan India (2B-CIN) went 1-for-4 with a solo homer against the White Sox on Friday. India's fifth-inning bomb off Lance Lynn briefly gave Cincy the lead back after surrendering three runs in the top half of the frame, only for the Reds to ultimately lose by one. The long ball was India's second of the year but first since his second game of the season back on April 1, snapping a 29-game homerless drought. While fantasy managers are obviously disappointed by the lack of power, they can't complain about his .280 batting average, 23 runs scored and 5 steals through 32 games so far. The former Rookie of the Year could see his power numbers improve as the weather warms up, especially since he already has eight doubles under his belt. While a repeat of his 21 homers from 2021 will be difficult to achieve given his slow start, he should still be able to reach double-digit taters for the third straight year if he stays healthy.
Luis Robert (OF-CHW) propelled the slumping White Sox to a 5-4 win over the Reds on Friday, going 3-for-4 with a two-run homer. Robert belted the game-winning blast in the top of the sixth, turning a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 lead with one swing of the bat and completing Chicago's much-needed comeback. He singled twice as well, finishing with his third three-hit game of the season but just his first since April 7. Robert cooled off during the second half of April after a blistering start to the month but is starting to heat back up again in May with a four-game hitting streak to begin the new month, including three extra-base hits and two home runs. With seven long balls, he's already over halfway to his previous high of 13. The .236 average should come up closer to his career .281 mark as the season progresses, although his 7:37 BB/K ratio certainly isn't helping matters in that department. The big key for him is that he's stayed healthy so far, so time will tell if the 25-year-old can surpass 100 games played in a season for the first time in his career.
Kodai Senga (SP-NYM) was in top form on Friday, twirling six scoreless innings against the Rockies and picking up the win. He yielded just two hits, but did walk four and struck out four as well. Senga struggled with his command, throwing only 53 of his 101 pitches for strikes and issuing four free passes for the fourth consecutive start. His 36:22 K/BB ratio through 32 innings so far is pretty ugly, but it hasn't stopped him from going 4-1 with a 3.38 ERA to begin his first season in the United States. He's only completed six innings in two of his six starts, however, so he'll need to cut down on the walks if he wants to start pitching deeper into games. If he doesn't, expect some regression as he's been getting pretty lucky so far with an ERA that's well below his FIP. He has a fairly easy road matchup against the Reds in his next start.
Sean Murphy (C-ATL) shined in a rough loss for the Braves on Friday, going 2-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs. Murphy swatted a three-run shot in the bottom of the eighth for his ninth homer of the year, but it was far too late by then as the Braves were already trailing the Orioles 9-1. The star catcher is off to a sizzling start in May with four multi-hit games and three homers already this month, picking up where he left off after a strong April. Murphy is thriving with his new team with nine homers, 28 RBIs, 21 runs and 21 walks in 29 games so far, not to mention the best OPS in the National League. The 28-year-old backstop keeps getting better and appears to be taking his game to new heights after drawing MVP consideration last year. With so much offensive talent around him in Atlanta, he appears headed for a career year if he stays healthy, especially since he's already halfway to last season's home run total.
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