Joe Ryan (SP-MIN) took the L against the Reds on Monday as he allowed 4 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks while fanning 5 over 5 IP. The 27 year-old righty threw 54 of his 84 offerings for strikes while surrendering a longball in the outing. Ryan now owns a 4.30 ERA, 10.8 K/9, 2 BB/9, and 3.87 xFIP across 27 starts (150.2 IP) on the year. The gap between his ERA and xFIP does suggest that a 14% HR/FB in particular is inflating the former, and that may be a bit unlucky given his 10% HR/FB across 147 IP a season ago. Opposing hitters have compiled a below-average 33% hard-hit rate against Ryan while his contact rate is down to under 75% this season after coming in at 78% a season ago. His biggest step forward has come in the form of his improved ability to miss bats, as his league-average 11% swinging-strike rate from a season ago has been eclipsed by this year's stellar 14% as Ryan has gotten hitters to chase more often (up to 38% from 32%) while getting batters to make less contact on pitches inside the zone (down to under 80% from 84% a year ago). Meanwhile, he's also trimmed his BB/9 from 2.8 last season to only 2 this year. After outperforming his xFIP last season (3.55 ERA vs. 4.35 xFIP), the script has flipped this year and his ERA is higher than the xFIP. Ryan's ERA might not tell us that he's taken some steps forward, but the peripherals do. He lines up for a start at home against the Angels this weekend, a matchup that is much more favorable with Shohei Ohtani out of action.
Royce Lewis (SS/3B-MIN) stayed hot as he went 1-4 with a solo homer against the Reds on Monday. With every swing of the bat, it seems, the 24 year-old climbs a little bit more up 2024 fantasy draft boards, as he's now hitting .308 with 15 dingers, 52 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 6 stolen bases with a wRC+ of 154 in 235 PA this season. Lewis's 77% contact rate on the year isn't anything to write home about, nor is his 31% hard-hit rate. But he's shown considerable improvement in key areas in 132 PA since the All-Star break, logging a 20% strikeout rate (was 28% before the break) and 12% walk rate (was just 3% before the break) while his hard-hit rate has ticked upward from 27% before the break to 35% since. The biggest question entering 2024 will be whether Lewis can stay on the field, as he has missed considerable time because of various injuries over the past few seasons.
Nelson Velazquez (OF-KC) went 1-3 with a solo homer and an additional run scored against Cleveland on Monday. The 24 year-old slugger is now batting .236 with 14 dingers, 27 RBI, and 28 runs scored with a wRC+ of 138 across 141 PA. Velazquez's strikeout tendency (27%) and propensity to pull the ball (52%) work against him putting together a nice batting average while his 32% hard-hit rate is nothing to write home about. He simply struggles to make contact (67%) and swings and misses a ton (17%) while, again, not recording a solid hard-hit rate. It's tough to advise fantasy owners to add Velazquez down the stretch based on his power output because that's all he offers and it rides on an unsustainable 34% HR/FB.
Tanner Bibee (SP-CLE) will miss the rest of the 2023 campaign after landing on the 15-day IL with right hip inflammation on Monday. The 24 year-old rookie initially exited his start against the Rangers on Saturday after limping off the mound following an errant pitch. Bibee thus wraps up a strong rookie campaign in which he recorded a 2.98 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, and 4.24 xFIP across 142 IP. His swinging-strike rate was a pretty average 11%, but he limited contact in general (76%) as well as kept hard contact to a modest 30% clip. The overall walk rate isn't great, but it's encouraging to see that he cut that to 2.3 in his 72 IP since the All-Star break. Bibee most likely won't blossom into a fantasy ace since he seems unlikely to pile up the punchouts, but his profile indicates mid-rotation value for fantasy.
Logan Allen (SP-CLE) is a solid option for DFS and standard fantasy leagues on Tuesday as he is slated to face the Royals at home. The 25 year-old southpaw is widely available in fantasy leagues (14% rostered in ESPN, for example) even though he's put together a productive rookie campaign (3.60 ERA, 8.7 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, and 4.22 xFIP across 122.1 IP). Allen has induced swinging strikes at an average 11% clip, posted a below-average 77% contact rate, and allowed hard contact at a below-average 34% clip. For whatever reason, he's shown better control at home (3 BB/9) than away (3.8) this season. Meanwhile, he's preparing to take on a Royals lineup that ranks 29th in all of baseball in team OPS (.657) on the road this season and 24th in MLB against southpaws (.701), and will now be without Salvador Perez as he's on the 7-day concussion IL.
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