Gary Sanchez homered again with four RBI on Tuesday night, giving him 14 long balls on the year (eight have come against the Orioles in just 39 at-bats). Sanchez leads all catchers in home runs despite already spending a trip on the IL, and he’s locked in the middle of the Yankees’ lineup while also being able to DH more with the team’s injuries. Sanchez’s average exit velocity (95.1 mph) is the third-highest in MLB, and his Barrel% (26.6) and expected slugging (.739) are also both in the top 1% of the league.
Not bad for a backstop who’s also on pace to put up 103 RBI (again with an IL stint) during a year in which catchers have an aggregate line of .238/.312/.399 and remain a headache for fantasy owners. It's clear his production was limited by injuries last season, and his current .258 BABIP has room for improvement as well. Yankee Stadium has oddly played like a pitcher’s park in the early going too, but it’s typically a big help for righty power. Sanchez is simply one of the most valuable fantasy commodities out there.
Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
The Astros were about as big of favorites (-400) as you’ll see in an MLB game, and Verlander didn’t disappoint, taking a no-hitter into the seventh and allowing just two baserunners (with 12 Ks and a career-high 28 swings and misses) over eight innings, recording his seventh win in his last eight starts. He’s given up a homer in all but one outing this season but has his WHIP all the way down to 0.73 anyway, and Verlander’s chase rate and SwStr% (14.5) are both career-highs.
He hasn’t been quite as dominant as last season, but given the league context (many struggling aces) and having the Astros on his side (he has two more wins than Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Chris Sale combined), Verlander is in the conversation as the most valuable fantasy property to own over the rest of the year. While you could sell high and trade him for a king’s ransom, it would have to be an epic offer to get a deal done.
German Marquez, Colorado Rockies
He shutout the Pirates for eight innings Tuesday, making his season splits that much more dramatic. Over 28.2 innings at home this year, Marquez has posted a 5.34 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP. Over 43.1 innings on the road, he’s recorded a 2.08 ERA and a 0.74 WHIP (and that includes outings in Fenway and Miller Park). Ultimately, Marquez’s FIP (3.20) is a minor improvement upon last season’s (3.40), as his curveball remains devastating, and pitching in Coors Field remains really hard.
Rowdy Tellez, Toronto Blue Jays
He clubbed two homers with five RBI, with both shots coming off lefty Eduardo Rodriguez. Tellez is hitting cleanup and is now up to eight home runs with 24 RBI on the year, as he’s taken over as Toronto’s full-time DH with Kendrys Morales gone. Tellez has returned to earth after posting a 151 wRC+ after debuting in September last year, but those are plenty helpful counting stats, and his exit velocity (91.1 mph) and Hard Hit% (41.1) are both more than respectable, so he’s an intriguing player for someone who’s owned in just 2% of Yahoo leagues.
Juan Nicasio, Philadelphia Phillies
One day after he became yet another pitcher to record a save this season (a growing trend that’s making the top tier more and more valuable in fantasy leagues), Nicasio was given another chance to close Tuesday night but took the loss after he allowed two runs (including a walk-off single to pinch-hitter Javier Baez). Hector Neris remains the pitcher to own in Philadelphia’s pen.
Shawn Kelley, Texas Rangers
He gave up a homer Tuesday but protected a three-run lead, recording a save during his first appearance in more than two weeks. Back from the IL, Kelley should reemerge as the Rangers’ closer, especially with Chris Martin imploding recently. Kelley should be owned in more than 32% of leagues, but realize Jose Leclerc made his fourth straight perfect appearance Tuesday and now has an 11:0 K:BB ratio over that span (5.1 innings).
Kirby Yates, San Diego Padres
He struck out the side in a perfect ninth inning Tuesday, putting him on pace to finish with an MLB-record 63 saves this season. Yates currently sports a 0.65 FIP and ranks in the top 1% of the league in expected batting average (.143), expected slugging (.217) and K% (45.5). He’s recorded a save during 19 of the Padres’ 25 wins this year and is probably worth holding onto.
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