Seth Lugo, New York Mets
Lugo has been excellent, mainly out of the bullpen. Lugo is getting an opportunity to start with Noah Syndergaard out with injury. There’s no timetable for Syndergaard’s return, and after Lugo threw six scoreless innings with eight strikeouts against the Yankees, manager Mickey Callaway said that the Mets might have to consider Lugo as a starter. Lugo deserves the spot more than Vargas. Lugo has appeared in 23 games, including two starts. He has a 1.77 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 27 percent strikeout rate and 5.2 percent walk rate. He has a 23.3 percent hard-hit rate and a curveball with an excellent spin rate. There’s still a chance he returns to the bullpen, but he’s worth adding in case he sticks as a starter.
Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers
Pederson struggled to open the season. At the end of May, he had one home run. For May, he batted .211 in 71 at-bats. In an outfield with options, that’s a recipe for failure. In June, Pederson has been crushing. In 30 at-bats over nine games, Pederson is batting .433 (13-for-30) with 11 runs, seven home runs, and 10 RBIs. The problematic part with Pederson is utilizing him in weekly leagues. He won’t play much against left-handers, so looking at matchups is critical. He is batting .136 in 22 at-bats against left-handers. Pederson has cut his strikeout rate from 21.1 percent to 14.4 percent. He has increased his fly ball rate 8.1 percent to 42.6 percent, and the hard-hit rate has jumped six percent to 39 percent.
Randal Grichuk, Toronto Blue Jays
It’s that time again. Grichuk tends to do this every year. He goes through a period of ineptitude with a low batting average and a lot of strikeouts. Then he goes on a hot streak with a power surge. Since coming off the DL, he is 12-for-39 (.308) with eight runs, three home runs, nine RBIs and a .615 slugging percentage. Grichuk is capable of hitting 15-20 home runs the rest of the way. He has a lot of power and hits the ball hard, but he’s prone to strikeouts and a low batting average. In deeper formats, he’s someone to stream when going well.
Luke Weaver, St. Louis Cardinals
There was a lot of hype on Weaver in draft season. In some leagues, he was drafted in rounds 7-8, and he has fallen short of those expectations. He is 3-6 with a 4.52 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 20.3 percent strikeout rate and an 8.2 percent walk rate. The strikeout rate is down 8.3 percent, the walk rate is up 1.4 percent, and the hard-hit rate is up 5.2 percent. In his last four starts, he hasn’t pitched more than 5.1 innings. Weaver is still developing and needs to get more strikeouts. He can still be useful in deeper formats, but he will not deliver to the level many hoped.
Jon Gray, Colorado Rockies
Gray is one of the most frustrating pitchers in baseball. All the underlying numbers suggest Gray should be much better, but it doesn’t happen. Patrick Saunders, who covers the Rockies for the Denver Post, told Craig Mish and me on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursday that Gray tends to become unraveled when something goes wrong. Gray is 6-7 with a 5.68 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 26.8 percent strikeout rate and 7.7 percent walk rate. He has a 28.2 percent fly ball rate and 34.8 percent hard-hit rate. He averages 95.4 miles per hour with his fastball, 89 with the slider and 80.5 with the curve. He has a career-best 12.8 percent swinging strike rate. He has the arsenal to succeed. There’s some bad luck with a .371 BABIP, but the career average is .337. It’s not as simple as a Coors Field problem. While he has a 6.45 ERA at home, he has a 4.93 on the road. Last season, he had a 3.13 ERA at home and 4.06 on the road. It’s difficult to endorse Gray right now, but he should better. In deeper formats, I have him and will play the matchups and sit him at home for now.
Jay Bruce, New York Mets
It has been a miserable season for Bruce and most of the Mets offensively. Bruce has been a consistent power hitter, coming off a career-high 36 home runs. He is batting .216 with 17 runs, three home runs and 17 RBIs with a .624 OPS. He is still hitting fly balls, but his hard-hit rate is down 7.6 percent to 32.7 percent. Bruce sat out Thursday with a sore back and based on his track record it has to be a contributing factor in his struggles. He’s not this bad. He has hit several balls to the warning track recently. He is 4-for-30 (.133) in June. He should have been benched a while ago and can be cut in shallow formats especially if there are better options.
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