Spin rate and the attempted crackdown against foreign substances is the biggest story in baseball right now. After Gerrit Cole’s spin rate was noticeably down during his (poor) last start, Trevor Bauer’s was way down during Sunday’s loss. He still managed to strike out Ronald Acuna with just one eye open, but this could have a real effect moving forward.
There’s not much fantasy managers can actionably do at this point other than possibly include Dodgers pitchers in trade offers (I’m not saying they are doing anything wrong, just that they have four starting pitchers among the top-12 highest fastball spin rates) or just hope Buster Olney is wrong about MLB’s enhanced plans to enforce the rules. Corbin Burnes is No. 2 in spin rate, and his also dropped a bit Sunday when he still dominated with a 13:0 K:BB line over seven scoreless innings, so let’s also not overreact. But as someone who went starting pitcher heavy in fantasy drafts, I don’t particularly love this possible sudden change in the middle of the season. There’s nothing to see here.
Cedric (Mullins) keeps entertaining
He went 8-for-9 with two walks and three homers over Saturday and Sunday. After a strong April (.932 OPS), Mullins fell back to earth in May (.732 OPS), although he continued to help fantasy managers plenty with six steals. He’s bumped his OPS back up another 100 points with a hot start to June and appears here to stay while batting leadoff in a hitter’s park. Mullins had an ADP of 343 in NFBC’s Main Event, and he’s been a top-40 fantasy player so far.
Patrick Wisdom is the league’s hottest pickup
He slugged three homers Saturday/Sunday and is up to seven over 36 plate appearances with the Cubs this year. It’s been like pulling teeth trying to get Wisdom out (h/t Jeff Erickson), but he also sports an ugly 36.1 K% that would be the third-highest in MLB. Wisdom is a 29-year-old rookie likely looking at big time regression, but it’s easy to see why he’s been a popular waiver wire add (41% rostered) swinging such a hot bat right now.
Other possible pickups
Jackson Kowar, Kansas City Royals (9% rostered)
The 2018 first-round pick is expected to get called up to start Monday’s game, and the prospect is worth grabbing in fantasy leagues. Kowar was sporting a 0.85 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP in Triple-A with a K-BB% that would currently rank 10th among MLB starters this season. The tall right-hander features a potentially dominant changeup but will have to deal with the AL and a Kansas City home park that’s been far more hitter-friendly this season after some changes. Still, those minor league numbers are hard to ignore, and Kowar gets two starts this week.
Fantasy managers desperate for saves should look to teammate Scott Barlow, who’s available in more than 80% of Yahoo leagues and has a far better CSW than Josh Staumont and Greg Holland.
Austin Gomber, Colorado Rockies (19% rostered)
Gomber is hardly in an ideal situation, calling Coors Field home with the worst offense in baseball providing run support and with three of the better offenses (LAD, SF & SD) in his division. But he’s pitching too well to be ignored in deeper fantasy leagues, and his 4.12 ERA and 1.14 WHIP would look much better if not for one ugly outing in which he allowed nine earned runs over 1.2 innings. Gomber ranks top-30 in CSW — just ahead of Lucas Giolito, Aaron Nola and Yu Darvish, so he’s interesting. His next start is a favorable one in Miami.
Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants (18% rostered)
He’s set to be activated for SF’s road trip starting Tuesday and should return to being a helpful fantasy hitter until his next IL stint. Finally not playing in a home park that destroys lefty power for the first time in his career, Belt posted a 172 wRC+ (higher than the AL MVP winner) last season and has hit eight homers in fewer than 100 ABs versus RHP this year. His bat will be a welcome return to a Giants lineup that will be missing Evan Longoria, who’s in the top 1% of the league in average exit velocity and Hard Hit% but will now be out 4-6 weeks thanks to this wildly unnecessary collision (Longoria also has thoughts on the spin rate topic).
Harrison Bader, St. Louis Cardinals (2% rostered)
He should return to action soon and remains widely available in fantasy leagues with seemingly pedestrian stats. But Bader has quietly cut his strikeout rate in half this season while producing seven steals/homers over just 73 at bats. Bader’s strong defense will keep him a regular in St. Louis’ lineup, and THE BAT X actually projects him to be a top-45 fantasy outfielder over the rest of the season (and teammate Tyler O’Neill top-15!).