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Freddy Galvis has hit as many home runs as Freddie Freeman, Carlos Correa, and Andrew Benintendi … combined. Zack Greinke has allowed as many homers as Brett Anderson has runs. Baseball gets weird in April.
Whether partaking in season-long or DFS, fantasy players must avoid overreactions while simultaneously staying alert. While surface stats can mislead, other metrics can fuel hopes of a veritable breakout or freefall. Playing time, of course, also sways everyone’s value, so let’s start this stock report with a hitter who has recently moved back into the starting lineup. For what it’s worth, Scott Kingery resided in the Stock Up section before leaving Friday night’s game with a hamstring injury. The MLB landscape never stays still.
Jose Martinez (OF, St. Louis Cardinals)
This has little to do with Jose Martinez‘s actual performance. He mounted his first home run on Friday night but is still slugging .419 and searching for his first walk. His strikeout (25.6%) and ground-ball (57.1%) rates have also risen to alarming levels.
Let’s cut him some slack, as the 30-year-old has logged 13 of his 43 plate appearances coming off the bench. He hadn’t started in consecutive games until Harrison Bader (hamstring) and Tyler O’Neill (arm) both landed on the IL this week. Martinez has batten fifth—incredible real estate in a top-heavy and streaking Cardinals lineup—from right field in their last three games. This is a career .307/.367/.471 hitter, so bet on him catching fire at the plate if St. Louis keeps tolerating the fielding liability. Originally scheduled to face Jacob deGrom, he costs a modest $3,500 on Saturday.
Kevin Gausman (SP, Atlanta Braves)
Gausman has recorded a strikeout rate of 21.9% or higher in each of the last three seasons before falling to 19.1% in 2018. Making the decline even stranger, his 11.3% swinging-strike rate (SwStr) represented a career high.
It appears he’s trying to regain all of those lost punchouts in 2019. After fanning the Diamondbacks 10 times on Wednesday, the 28-year-old righty sports a 31.0% strikeout rate. His swinging strike rate remains on the rise (14.9%) with help from a better pix mitch. Gausman’s slider has yielded a .365 wOBA over his career, so he has wisely thrown it just nine times. He has instead leaned on a splitter that has ceded a career .245 wOBA with a 21.8% SwStr rate. This change started once he was freed from Baltimore last summer.
Jonathan Schoop (2B, Minnesota Twins)
Although always a loose cannon at the plate, Johnathan Schoop‘s approach has gotten even worse this month. Among batters with at least 30 plate appearances, only five have chased more pitches outside the strike zone than the second baseman’s 46.3%. Exacerbating an already existing problem, he has the lowest contact rate (67.9%) of his career.
As a result, he has resumed last year’s doldrums with a .235/.305/.392 slash line and .303 wOBA. His .362 xSLG and .305 xwOBA offer no lifelines for optimism. While his hard-hit rate has increased significantly on FanGraphs, he’s hitting those balls into the dirt with a 52.6% ground-ball rate and 5.7-degree average launch angle.
The Twins continue to play Schoop regularly, but they buried him to eighth in the batting order in three of his last four starts. Although momentarily available for a discount, DraftKings quickly changed that once he popped his only two home runs on April 9. He has spent the past week in the $4,000-$4,200 range, and there’s no pitcher bad enough to play Schoop at that cost until he remedies these problems.
Kyle Schwarber (OF, Chicago Cubs)
If Kyle Schwarber isn’t drawing free passes or hitting for power, what’s left? By now, most onlookers will shrug off his .203 batting average as the cost of business for a streaky slugger. A 9.2% walk rate and .169 ISO, however, are far graver concerns.
Neither is poor in a vacuum, but they’re way down from his respective career marks of 13.4% and .238. Making matters worse, he has extended last year’s troubling trend of swapping fly balls for grounders.
The thing about Schwarber is, he’s not very fast. He’s a pure three-true-outcomes hitter who needs to optimize the two good ones to succeed. That won’t happen with a mild drop in exit velocity (noteworthy since the league as a whole has enjoyed gains) and a cavernous fall in launch angle from 11.5 to 4.1 degrees.
His early splits are also especially strange; Schwarber wields a .412 wOBA against lefties while batting .191 with three walks and 15 strikeouts against righties. Those data points are especially tiny, so don’t go playing him against a southpaw. The slugger’s struggles elevating, however, should cause DFS contestants to think twice about trusting him in the near future.
Michael Pineda (SP, Minnesota Twins)
There’s the Michael Pineda we all know and can’t stand. In his return from Tommy John surgery, the righty pieced together three solid starts in which he posted a 3.21 ERA and 15 strikeouts. These encouraging returns lulled everyone into a false sense of security before Thursday’s outing against the Blue Jays, who exited the contest brandishing a .282 wOBA and baseball’s highest strikeout rate (27.5%).
Those rates have nothing to do with Pineda, who turned back into a maddening piñata by relinquishing six runs in 3.2 innings. He served up two home runs, including a Justin Smoak moonshot that traveled at a 106.2-mph exit velocity and 27-degree launch angle. Leaving Yankee Stadium can only do so much for an erratic hurler who hasn’t recorded an ERA below 4.35 since 2014.
The worst part: Those bad days will occasionally come against a bottom-tier offense after he impresses in a brutal matchup at Philadelphia. He’s a clear fade for his next scheduled turn at Houston, and Friday’s rainout may have robbed him of a pallet-cleansing matchup against Baltimore next weekend.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is akgould4) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games on which I offer advice. Although I have expressed my personal views on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings, and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
(Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire)