Mitch Keller (SP-PIT) went the distance on Monday, ending Pittsburgh's seven-game losing streak by tossing a complete-game shutout against the Rockies at PNC Park. Keller dazzled the home crowd with his first career complete game, yielding just four hits and one walk while striking out eight over nine stellar innings. Keller navigated Colorado's middling lineup by pounding the strike zone all night long, firing 77 of his 103 pitches for strikes. The victory improved his record to 4-1 and his ERA to 2.72, as he's off to a sensational start in his fifth MLB campaign. He boasts an impressive 56:14 K/BB ratio through 49 2/3 innings, which is also his highest strikeout rate since his first season in 2019. He's trimmed his walk rate to a career-best 2.5 BB/9 as well, improving that number for the third consecutive season. After showing promise but inconsistent results over his first four seasons, the 27-year-old is taking his game to new heights this season and appears to be emerging as a legitimate fantasy ace. The former second-round pick has given up two earned runs or less in six of eight starts this year and has a whopping 26 K's in 20 innings over his last three outings. He'll be a must-start in all formats against the Orioles this weekend.
Zac Gallen (SP-ARI) continued his sensational start to 2023 with another stellar outing on Monday, spinning seven innings of one-run ball against the Marlins while giving up five hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. Gallen was at the top of his game against Miami's middling lineup, throwing 62 of his 90 pitches for strikes and notching his fifth quality start in eight tries. The sharp outing improved his record to 5-1 while lowering his ERA to 1.36. The walk was only his sixth of the season in 49 2/3 innings and his fist since April 10, which shows how lights-out he's been. Gallen's 64:6 K/BB ratio is easily the best mark in baseball right now and is a big reason for his early success. He's only allowed two homers as well and both came in the same start, so his command has been pretty much impeccable. The early NL Cy Young favorite will look to keep building his case at home against the Giants this weekend, where he's a no-brainer fantasy play in all formats.
Kyle Freeland (SP-COL) suffered a tough-luck loss on Monday after twirling seven innings of two-run ball against the Pirates. Freeland and Mitch Keller locked horns in an epic (by current standards) pitcher's duel for seven frames before Freeland finally blinked first, serving up a two-run homer to Rodolfo Castro in the bottom of the seventh as the only scoring play of the game. It was Freeland's longest start of the season in both innings (seven) and pitches (100), but it wasn't enough to outdo Keller. Still, it was another positive outing for Freeland, who lowered his ERA to 3.57 and now has five quality starts in eight outings this year. He only has 11 walks in 45 1/3 innings but has been struggling with the long ball, yielding eight dingers over his last six starts. He'll need to get that rate under control if he wants to keep flourishing, especially given that he pitches half of his games at Coors Field. Speaking of Coors, a tough home matchup against the Phillies awaits this weekend, so fantasy GMs should probably fade the veteran southpaw.
Christian Walker (1B-ARI) continued his torrid hitting by going 2-for-4 with a double, a homer and two RBIs against the Marlins on Monday. Walker helped Arizona to a 5-2 win with a pair of extra-base hits, including his ninth homer of the year. Walker is one of the hottest hitters in baseball right now with five multi-hit games in his last six contests and multiple hits in seven of his last nine, boosting his average to .289. He's also showed off his massive power during that stretch with six homers, three doubles, 11 runs and 12 RBIs. After a slow April, the 32-year-old slugger is hitting his stride and looks more like the guy who crushed 36 bombs with 94 RBIs last year. Walker's plate discipline (7:24 BB/K ratio) still leaves something to be desired, but fantasy managers won't mind if his aggressive approach is leading to more loud contact.
Oswaldo Cabrera (OF-NYY) went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer against the A's on Monday. Cabrera broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth with a two-run blast off JP Sears, sparking New York to a 7-2 victory. The dinger was only Cabrera's second of the season so far, however, as he's gotten off to a painfully slow start in his first full season. The 24-year-old former top prospect hasn't shown much of what made him such an exciting rookie call-up for the Yankees last year, batting just .204 with only two homers, 10 RBIs, 10 runs, and more strikeouts (22) than hits (21) through 31 games this season. He does have five steals in five attempts, but that's not enough to offset his issues at the plate. If he doesn't turn things around soon, he's in danger of getting benched or sent back to the minors. Fantasy GMs should keep him on their bench as well until he starts showing more signs of life at the plate, as he's just 9-for-61 (.148) over his last 19 games.
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