One start after failing to get out of the first inning, Blake Snell was hit hard Tuesday night, surrendering seven runs over 3.1 innings in Minnesota. His last two starts have come on the road against two of the best offenses in baseball in the Yankees and Twins, but last year’s Cy Young award winner just hasn’t been the same since suffering a broken toe earlier in the season. Maybe it’s unrelated, but Snell sported a 2.16 ERA and a 0.76 WHIP over his first four starts this season before the freak injury, and he now holds a 6.33 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP over a dozen starts since.
Snell’s fastball velocity has been just fine, and he entered Tuesday’s start with a higher K% (32.6) to go along with a lower Hard Hit% (29.4) and expected slugging (.316) than he had during last year’s Cy Young campaign. Moreover, Snell’s 18.3 SwStr% was not only a career-high but a full 2.0% better than the next highest mark (Max Scherzer), so this may present a nice buying opportunity in fantasy leagues.
The AL East isn’t an ideal place to pitch, but the Rays field a strong defense, and only a few parks in baseball have decreased run scoring more than Tropicana Field over the last three seasons. Snell’s next two starts are scheduled at home, and those rostering him have to be losing patience with their early round pick, who’s walked more batters (eight) than he’s fanned (seven) over his last three starts (just seven innings).
Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees
The Yankees became the first team ever Tuesday night to homer in 28 straight games, but Stanton didn’t join in, as he’s instead headed for an MRI after suffering a knee injury. This after he’s dealt with biceps, shoulder and calf problems already this season, so those rostering him are certainly frustrated. Stanton was a disappointment during his first season hitting in Yankee Stadium last year, but he played in 158 games for the second straight campaign, so injury-prone may be too harsh of a tag right now. That said, Stanton did miss an average of 44.8 games per season from 2012-2016.
Durability is only going to become a growing concern with Stanton being asked to play the outfield more and DH less after the Edwin Encarnacion acquisition as well. Before going down with the injury, Stanton continued his trend of lowering his launch angle (and increasing his GB%) for the fourth straight season. What a letdown after Stanton hit 59 home runs playing half his games in the league’s best pitcher’s park one season before coming to Yankee Stadium.
Ross Stripling, Los Angeles Dodgers
He tossed three effective innings during his return to the rotation Tuesday, holding the Diamondbacks to one earned run with four strikeouts and a walk. Stripling was pulled after 60 pitches as expected while still building up arm strength, but he’s going to be plenty valuable for fantasy gamers now that he’s back in LA’s starting rotation (and it sounds like Rich Hill won’t return anytime soon). Stripling has top-25 SP fantasy upside over the second half of the season.
Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals
With Jordan Hicks set to undergo Tommy John surgery (Hicks averaged an MLB-high 101.2 mph with his fastball this season; the next fastest is 98.9 mph), Martinez is expected to take over most of the Cardinals’ closer duties, and the former starter owns a 3.00 ERA and 1.07 WHIP over 15.0 innings of relief this season. He’s finally back to health and throwing harder (95.9 mph) than he has since his rookie season, and it also helps that Andrew Miller’s been mediocre (1.35 WHIP), Alex Reyes continues to battle injuries in the minors, and John Gant was blown up for four runs while recording just one out and taking the loss during his last appearance. Martinez should have ample save opportunities for the playoff-contending Cardinals and should obviously be rostered in all fantasy leagues.
Garrett Hampson, Colorado Rockies
He went hitless Tuesday but is back on the fantasy radar with Brendan Rodgers joining Trevor Story on the IL, freeing up playing time in the Rockies middle infield. Hampson has been a disaster this season (13 wRC+), but he’s one of the fastest players in baseball and swiped 50+ bags in fewer than 130 games in the minors a couple of years back. A career .311 hitter in the minor leagues (with a .383 OBP), Hampson is 2B-SS-OF eligible and worth a shot for fantasy gamers searching for speed. He’s available in more than 90% of Yahoo leagues, and the Rockies have an upcoming homestand in Coors Field.
Logan Allen, San Diego Padres
He’s recorded a win during each of his first two starts in the majors, holding the Orioles to two runs over six innings in Baltimore on Tuesday night. Allen didn’t have good cosmetic stats in Triple-A this season (5.15 ERA), but he’s one of the team’s better pitching prospects and holds a 1.38 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP after two starts, and he’s lined up to face a Giants offense that ranks last in wRC+ (74) this season his next time out. With Petco Park on his side, Allen is an intriguing add in deeper fantasy leagues, and he’s still available in two-thirds of them.
Manny Machado, San Diego Padres
He’s hitting .480 over his last 50 at-bats after another big game Tuesday night when he homered for the third time over the last four contests. Machado has seen his OPS increase nearly 140 points over the last two weeks, and after a disastrous start to the season, he’s back to being a top-70 fantasy player on the year.
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