Fantasy Baseball Weekend Takeaways: Offenses heat up as spin rates decline
• The sticky stuff remains at the forefront of baseball, as this past week had the lowest spin rate of any this season, resulting in batting average being up and strikeouts down, as MLB’s planned crackdown on pitchers’ use of foreign substances is taking shape. Meanwhile, MLB’s spin leader Trevor Bauer was hit hard Saturday in a home start against a poor Rangers offense, and his stuff clearly hasn’t looked the same recently. Corbin Burnes, whose cutter is among the leaders in spin rate, was also roughed up over the weekend, allowing a season-high 11 baserunners over just four innings in a favorable home matchup versus Pittsburgh (only the Rockies have a lower wRC+). His spin rate was way down during the outing. It should be noted other factors like weather, stadium Hawkeye settings and mechanics can all lead to fluctuating spin rates from start to start, but this obviously remains the story to follow moving forward.
• Patrick Sandoval pitched well during his first win of the season Tuesday and has quickly become worth adding in deeper fantasy leagues thanks to a much-improved changeup. He recorded the most swings and misses by any pitcher in baseball this season during his last start. It came against a shaky Seattle offense, but 32 whiffs over just six innings is eye opening. If that wasn’t enough, Sandoval ranks top-25 in CSW this year, just ahead of Carlos Rodon and Trevor Rogers. Next up is a home start against a Tigers offense that’s one of the worst in baseball, and Sandoval is available in more than 85% of Yahoo leagues. Just make sure you’re not adding the other, legendary P. Sandoval.
• Yusei Kikuchi had a strong outing over the weekend and sits with a season-low 3.67 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. He had to deal with a brutal schedule over the first six weeks, but increased velocity has helped Kikuchi, who ranks top-20 in CSW — right behind Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff. The rest of the CSW leaderboard features aces, yet Kikuchi remains available in nearly half of Yahoo leagues. There’s top-20 fantasy SP upside if he were to get traded to the right situation (like the Mets) at the deadline.
• The Blue Jays swatted eight homers in Fenway Park on Sunday, with Teoscar Hernandez hitting two with six RBI. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. added another three hits and a home run, as the triple crown leader and heavy MVP favorite has a positively comical Statcast page. Vlad’s currently sporting a 204 wRC+, something only two players have accomplished since 2000 (of course Barry Bonds did it four times, because he was the best).
• Tommy Pham homered Sunday after recording three hits and a steal Saturday, as he’s finally starting to heat up (his .729 OPS is a season high). It shouldn’t come as a big surprise Pham got off to a slow start after getting stabbed during the offseason, and he must be feeling better now. He’s up to 11 steals on the year, and Pham’s Statcast numbers suggest a nice second half should be in store … I can’t get behind the “Slam Diego Padres,” but Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a big one Sunday and continues to look special.
• It’s wild the White Sox entered Sunday with the second-best wRC+ in baseball despite Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert missing most of the season (incidentally, both got good news recently). Meanwhile, the Rockies are hitting .201/.274/.296(!) on the road, 60 points lower than the next worst team OPS.
• Sammy Long was a popular pickup in FAB leagues over the weekend after an impressive MLB debut in which he fanned seven batters with a 0.50 WHIP over four innings. He was putting up massive strikeout numbers in the minors this year (over a small sample) and should get an opportunity in San Francisco’s rotation with Aaron Sanchez and Logan Webb on the IL with arm injuries (although the former just started a rehab assignment). Long’s first outing came against a shaky Texas offense, and Stuff+ is skeptical Long’s curveball can maintain the same success. But Long certainly looks intriguing enough to add in deeper fantasy leagues (just 2% rostered in Yahoo), and he’s scheduled for two home starts next week in a park that will soon be removing the archway scrim that may have contributed to it becoming more hitter friendly.
• The Giants scored just three runs over four games in Washington over the weekend (yet split the series), as their offense seems to have gone to sleep right on cue after I wrote about betting on them. Nationals Park, meanwhile, has oddly gone from perennially one of MLB’s best hitter’s parks to being decidedly pitcher-friendly since the start of last season. At least baseball is transparent, and I’m sure we’ll find out the reason soon enough.
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