Joey Votto's continued decline and other fantasy nuggets

Yahoo Sports
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/teams/cincinnati/" data-ylk="slk:Cincinnati Reds">Cincinnati Reds</a>' <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/7946/" data-ylk="slk:Joey Votto">Joey Votto</a> is in the midst of the worst season of his career. (Getty Images)
Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto is in the midst of the worst season of his career. (Getty Images)

Joey Votto didn’t homer Tuesday, but his two doubles somehow marked his first game this season with multiple extra-base hits, highlighting just how far he’s fallen. The 35 year old has increased his launch angle this year, and it’s resulted in more fly balls but career-worsts in HR/FB% (8.6), exit velocity (87.0 mph), expected batting average (.235), BB% (12.0) and K% (23.0). He’s yet to homer off a southpaw this year and in fact owns the second-worst Well-Hit average (.058) against lefties among all hitters this season.

Votto will improve, but it’s clear this is more than the past early season slumps in which he was able to recover from and return to his old form. It’s now just a question of how steep this declining phase gets. It’s certainly understandable some fantasy owners have lost their patience.

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Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies

He’s recorded five RBI over the last two games, is batting .474 over the last four, and most importantly, seemingly has Colorado’s second base job with Brendan Rodgers joining Garrett Hampson in the minors last week. McMahon has frustrated fantasy owners time and again, but he’s put up big seasons in the minors (batting .374 with a 161 wRC+ in Triple-A in 2017) and has some encouraging Statcast numbers (his exit velocity is in the 87th percentile, and he even owns the fourth-longest average distance on home runs among all hitters this season), so his 12% ownership feels low given the Coors Field factor (although the team just started a long road trip, so adding McMahon may require some more patience).

Jordan Yamamoto, Miami Marlins

With seven shutout innings in St. Louis on Tuesday night, he’s now turned in two near-identical starts against the Cardinals to open his major league career, leaving him with a 0.64 WHIP and a 2-0 record. It must be noted that over the last month, the Cardinals have recorded the third-worst wRC+ (77) in MLB, so the schedule’s been favorable, but Yamamoto (who came over in the Christian Yelich trade) has pitched well in Double-A this season and is certainly on the fantasy radar in deeper formats.

He’s likely fighting Elieser Hernandez to stay in the rotation once Caleb Smith returns, but the winner will have fantasy relevance thanks to Marlins Park being such an extreme pitcher’s venue. Yamamoto remains available in nearly 75% of Yahoo leagues, although his most likely next start will be a tougher task in Philadelphia.

Tyler Skaggs, Los Angeles Angels

He turned in a strong outing Tuesday, and while it came against a poor Blue Jays offense, Skaggs is up to 70 strikeouts over 70.1 innings on the season, and his WHIP is down to 1.29 after the outing. He entered the night with a 5.00 ERA, so he’s still available in more than 70% of leagues, but his 3.96 FIP is better than Trevor Bauer’s, so he should be added for his next start against a Cardinals lineup that’s been struggling mightily over the last month.

Josh Donaldson, Atlanta Braves

He homered again Tuesday (going back-to-back with Freddie Freeman to spoil Jacob deGrom’s shutout in the ninth), giving him four in five nights and multiple hits in four straight games. Donaldson has raised his OPS 70 points over the last week, and oddly, 12 of his 13 long balls this season have come against righties, as he’s posted just a .669 OPS against southpaws. Regardless, Donaldson must be feeling healthy, as his exit velocity (93.0 mph) and Hard Hit% (50.6) are career-highs (and both in the top 6% of the league). Meanwhile, Austin Riley fanned two more times Tuesday night, giving the rookie a 43:6 K:BB ratio over 127 at-bats.

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Oscar Mercado, Cleveland Indians

He added another two steals while scoring three runs Tuesday and is up to four stolen bases and a homer over his last four games. Mercado isn’t seeing the bench again anytime soon, appears to have the green light on the base paths, and needs to be added in fantasy leagues right now.

Ramon Laureano, Oakland A’s

He had a big four-hit night, scoring three runs with a three-run homer. Laureano is now quietly on pace to finish with 24 homers and 18 steals and is owned in just 31% of leagues. The A’s knocked out six more homers against the Orioles, putting Baltimore on pace to surrender 317 long balls this season. The MLB record-high is 258.

Logan Allen, San Diego Padres

Ranked as the No. 76 prospect according to MLB.com, Allen impressed during his debut Tuesday, holding a good Brewers lineup scoreless over seven innings. Still, he struck out a modest five batters and had an ugly 5.15 ERA with a 1.44 WHIP in Triple-A this season, so he doesn’t appear to be a must-add in shallower leagues right now despite having Petco Park on his side.

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