Jason Heyward (CHC) – Jason Heyward continued his hot-hitting by knocking a single in Saturday’s game. Heyward has hit safely in all but 3 games this season and has a respectable .278/.345/.418 slash line in what’s lining up to be a bounce back season in 2017. Heyward has maintained his strong batting approach with a 7% walk rate and 17% strikeout rate. On almost identical hard hit rate and batted ball profiles, Heyward has a BABIP that’s over 50 points higher than in 2016. His current rate of .311 is much more in line with his career .302 mark than his .266 posting last season. Knowing that his other indicator stats remain largely unchanged, that says that this season’s “breakout” is more about regression back the mean than a meaningful adjustment at the plate.
Kenta Maeda (SP-LAD) – Maeda most likely saved his rotation spot on Friday against the Phillies, tossing seven innings of two-run ball with eight strikeouts. Maeda lowered his ERA from 8.05 to 6.58 in this one. Overall, his 27:6 K:BB in 26 innings is actually pretty encouraging, with the ERA being inflated thanks to a whopping seven home runs allowed. Maeda looks to have the ceiling of countryman Hiroki Kuroda, a solid #3 starter in his day. Maeda got an extra day off for this start, and the time off appeared to invigorate the Dodger starter. He was also called out somewhat in the media by manager Dave Roberts, and there’s little doubt that we’ll see him starting a game in the next five or so days.
Yuli Gurriel(1B/3B-HOU): Gurriel went 3-for-4 with a homer, a double, two RBI, and two runs scored vs. the A’s. After getting off to a sluggish start, Gurriel has picked up the pace at the plate, moving his line to .347/.365/.514 with two homers, seven RBI, and nine runs through 20 games. The BABIP is high, but Gurriel’s batted ball profile suggests we shouldn’t see his AVG dip below .300. While his 1 percent walk rate is concerning, the Cuban sensation is chasing fewer pitches than he did during his 2016 debut, and I see him tapping into the elite plate discipline he displayed in his home country. Buy.
Matt Harvey: Before Thursday’s start, Harvey looked good on the surface, but there were signs of trouble just below the surface. With a 2.84 ERA and 4.91 FIP heading into the game, maybe it’s not too surprising to see that the Braves roughed him up for six runs in four and a third innings. Harvey walked five while striking out just one – as the lack of ability to punch out hitters has dogged him all season. After Thursday’s loss, Harvey now has a K/9 rate of 5.46, one of the worst figures in the league. Harvey has still been a bit lucky, if anything, on balls in play, with a .209 BABIP against, and he’s giving up a lot of long balls. If you can stay sell relatively high based on his name cachet, it would be better to abandon ship sooner than later. His velocity has trended down (slightly) each game in 2017, and there’s not a lot like to here.
Hisashi Iwakuma pitched 5.2 innings of hitless ball, to everyone but Tyler Collins – who unfortunately had 3 hits. Iwakuma allowed 1 run (unearned) with 3 strikeouts and a walk. Iwakuma turned 36 this year and hasn’t been fantasy relevant since 2015; I don’t expect that to change this year either. Before yesterday, his velocity was down to just 85.9 MPH on his fastball vs. a career average of 89.2. He’s living dangerously and there will be a number of poor starts going forward. His xFIP is just under 6 for a reason.
Jason Heyward continued to rebound from a miserable 2016 campaign, launching a three-run homer and finishing the day 1-4 with four RBI. He’s already amassed 16 RBI along with a .294/.342/.456 slash line, and his swing overhaul appears to be reaping rewards already. His underlying numbers don’t actually indicate any type of change however, and even his hard contact rate is still below average just as it’s been since 2012. The only discernible change to this point from the new swing is a career-high pull percentage, which sits at 47%, and that’s more appraoch-based. That could lead to more power, but there’s no other evidence to this point that Heyward has really turned a corner to regain his old form. In fact, his reach rate is actually up and his walk rate is down to just 5.5%. Being in such a strong lineup will continue to act as a buffer if/when the batting average comes down, but don’t get overly excited about what he’s done so far. His swing will remain a work in progress as the season wears on.
Eric Hosmer, 1B, KC: Among other struggling Royals, Hosmer has managed just a .194 BA with 1 HR and 1 2B through the season’s first 19 games. His .217 BABIP is bound to rise and so is his BA, but it’s fair to wonder if the 25 HR’s in 2016 are really an outlier. His high GB% will make it difficult to hit for a lot of power, and it’s not like his Hard% has been through the roof either. It’s also fair to wonder how valuable a 1B with moderate power can be in fantasy.
Keon Broxton, OF, MIL went 2-4 with a 2B on Sunday, a nice showing for someone who had been mired in a 4-32 slump across the previous 9 games. But he also struck out two more times, giving him 24 K’s in 57 AB’s this season (42.1%) to go along with a miserable .173/.246/.308 slash line. His 23 SB’s in 75 games last season got people very excited, but right now there’s not much to be excited about.