MLB Stock Watch: Buehler, Foltynewicz going in opposite directions

Walker Buehler delivered an absolute gem in his last start. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

STOCK UP

Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers

He’s coming off a 16:0 K:BB performance that reveals Cy Young upside, making his slow start to the year (he entered May with a 5.22 ERA) nothing more than a distant memory. Over his last eight starts, Buehler has a 1.64 ERA and a 0.73 WHIP with a 68:4 K:BB ratio over 55.0 innings. He now owns a 0.97 WHIP over the first 238.0 innings of his career, and his 24.7 K-BB% mark this season is tied for seventh among starters.

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Buehler has elite spin rates and possesses four legitimately effective pitches, not to mention that he gets to toil in the NL West on a loaded Dodgers squad that fields a strong defense, which makes him truly one of the more valuable fantasy commodities. He’s not going to reach an innings total as high as some of the other elite hurlers this year, but it’s safe to assume Buehler will be one of the very first pitchers off fantasy boards in 2020.

Bobby Bradley, Cleveland Indians

The latest call-up worth grabbing in fantasy leagues, Bradley hit 24 homers with 55 RBI (and a 144 wRC+) over 257 at-bats in Triple-A this season before joining Cleveland on Sunday. He also has a 32.0 K%, so batting average could be a problem, but there’s power potential here, and he’s going to get a shot at regular playing time with Cleveland designating Leonys Martin for assignment. Only Texas and Coors Field have increased run scoring more than Progressive Field over the last three seasons, and Bradley remains available in more than 75% of Yahoo leagues.

C.J. Cron, Minnesota Twins

He’s batting .321 with 12 homers and 34 RBI over the last 40 games, posting a 1.009 OPS over the arbitrary stretch. Despite getting off to a slow first month with his new team in Minnesota, Cron is now sporting career-highs in batting average (.285), OBP (.349), SLG (.547) and Hard Hit% (46.0). An afterthought during most drafts, Cron has been a top-100 fantasy player in 2019, and the Twins’ surprisingly strong lineup has helped his counting stats (he’s on pace for 105 RBI). He’s in the top 5% of the league in Barrel% (15.8) and expected slugging (.571), so Cron’s career-year doesn’t appear to be a fluke.

Liam Hendriks, Oakland A’s

He’s pitched extremely well this season, recording a 1.49 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP with 50 strikeouts over 42.1 innings and now may be in line to close for Oakland with Blake Treinen placed on the IL with a shoulder injury. The rotator cuff strain has bothered Treinen for weeks, and it sounds like it will sideline him indefinitely. Lou Trivino entered the season as the team’s setup man but owns a 5.00 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP, while Hendriks — who closed out Saturday’s win — sports a 15:1 K:BB ratio over his last seven appearances (all scoreless), possesses a strong fastball and has an xwOBA (.241) that’s in the top 3% of MLB. Hendriks is still available in more than 70% of leagues, and Oakland typically provides a bunch of save and win opportunities for its closer.

Alex Wood, Cincinnati Reds

He’s set to begin a rehab assignment and should join Cincinnati’s rotation soon enough. Wood is always an injury concern and saw his fantasy value take a hit after leaving the Dodgers’ superior offense and pitcher’s park and moving over to Great American Ballpark, but he’s coming off a two-year stretch when he posted a 3.20 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP, so he’s worth scooping up in deeper leagues in which he’s available (it’s worth noting he’s not returning from an arm injury, and Wood has incentive to show he’s healthy coming up on free agency). He’s rostered in less than 25% of leagues.

STOCK DOWN

Jose Quintana, Chicago Cubs

He was annihilated for nine runs (eight earned) during his last start at home against the Mets, leaving Quintana with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP on the disappointing season. He’s failed to eclipse six strikeouts in any of his past 11 starts while flashing his worst velocity (91.7 mph) since his rookie campaign back in 2012. When Quintana traded teams in Chicago and joined the National League in the middle of 2017, there was hope he’d possibly join the elite tier of fantasy starters. Instead, he’s taken a big step back and is arguably in the middle of the worst season of his career despite a favorable environment that’s included a terrific Cubs defense and Wrigley Field playing as an extreme pitcher’s park this year.

Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals

He does have eight RBI over his last five games, and fantasy owners are unquestionably happy with Gordon’s season, but after a terrific first six weeks to the year, it’s been downhill. The former No. 2 pick entered May 15 with eight homers and a .926 OPS. He’s hit .213/.289/.328 with two homers over 122 at-bats since. He entered Sunday’s game with a .536 OPS and a 20:2 K:BB ratio in June and over the last two weeks, owned an MLB-worst .133 OBP against starting pitchers (league average is .341).

While it’s nice Gordon continues to bat third in the Royals’ lineup, it’s an offense that has an AL-low 76 wRC+ over the last month (only the Cardinals have been worse over that span), really hurting his counting stats. His defense has also slipped this season, and Gordon’s hot April seems like ages ago.

Mike Foltynewicz, Atlanta Braves

After getting blown up for eight runs during his last start in Washington, Foltynewicz was shipped to Triple-A, freeing many fantasy owners who released him as a result. After coming down with elbow soreness during spring, Folty’s velocity returned some lately, and he actually sits with a career-best 10.8 SwStr% mark, but his 6.10 FIP would rank last among starters if he qualified. His 27.2 K% last year is down to 19.2 this season, one in which Folty will now try to turn around in the minors.

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