The MLB season is a long one. With 162 games on the schedule, it requires hard work, dedication, and a commitment to excellence in order to succeed. Over such an extended period, players may find an increased rate of success/failure by doing things incredibly well/poorly in small bunches, all leading to their cumulative season statistics.
It is crucial to spot a player on a hot/cold streak and whether they’re earning their outcome. In this piece, I’ll examine several players on streaks and what’s happening behind the scenes; to discover if they truly earned their fortune. Furthermore, correctly identifying which players to utilize will enhance a fantasy manager’s edge. With that in mind, here are some streaky players worth risking it over.
Bo Bichette (TOR)
8/28 – 9/10 (61 PA): .463 AVG, 15 R, 6 HR, 18 RBI, 1 SB
Coming into the season, Bo Bichette was being drafted near the top of many leagues, due to his power-speed potential coupled with his young age primed with potential. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, Bichette hasn’t come close to the 30 home run and 30 steal projections some would have had him finishing with, and his 2022 campaign has been considered a failure. All that being said, his last two weeks have been incredible as he has really turned it on. He has been able to showcase his power with six towering home runs, highlighted by hitting four in two games in Baltimore last weekend.
Bichette has seemingly taken on a new light while playing these days. He’s said that he’s been focusing less on what others think of him and concentrating more on the concepts that helped make him the ball player that he’s been for most of his career. His mindset is more so on things that he can control, such as attacking a pitcher’s pitches and being aggressive when called for, and worried less about previous at-bats and pitches that he had seen. Over the past two weeks, he’s been seeing the ball well and swinging less at bad pitches out of the zone. The results have been nothing short of amazing, as he’s also raised his batting average seventeen points.
Conclusion: Bo Bichette has been on a roll as of late, and he’s as locked in as any other player in baseball. If he can continue to be the player we all thought he could be, his final stats for the season will almost be where they were projected to be, with one exception: speed. While compiling a projected thirty steals was probably a lofty expectation, it’s not out of the question for Bichette to be a very good four-category contributor down the stretch, rewarding all of those fantasy owners who stuck with him all season long.
Daulton Varsho (ARI)
8/28 – 9/10 (44 PA): .293 AVG, 8 R, 6 HR, 10 RBI, 1 SB
With the catcher position being very volatile, having some semblance of stability can be quite the asset in the world of fantasy baseball. Over the past two weeks, Daulton Varsho has done just that, as he has flashed some power while getting everyday at-bats in the outfield. With his season total up to 24 now, he has inserted himself into the conversation as one of the league’s best players with catcher eligibility. He’s been known to have hot stretches like this in the past and can be trusted while he continues to hit and get on base.
Conclusion: Varsho hasn’t played a game at catcher since he did so on July 24 and has not started there since June. Still, with 31 appearances at that position, he remains a cheat code of sorts, since he’s a power hitter with catcher eligibility, while also contributing some speed with nine steals on the season. Fantasy owners should have confidence in starting him every time the Diamondbacks do.
Spencer Strider (ATL)
8/28 – 9/11 (14.0 IP): 1.29 ERA, 4 H, 3 BB, 25 SO, 2 W
Almost every prospect that the Atlanta Braves have called up to the big leagues this year has turned into gold, and Spencer Strider is no exception. While he has dominated for most of his time on the team, he saved his most impressive performances for these past two weeks, which included a franchise record sixteen strikeout performance on September 1 versus the Rockies. While that was a masterpiece in and of itself, over the past two weeks he leads all pitchers in strikeouts while doing so in just fourteen innings. In short, he’s been baseball’s most dominant force.
Conclusion: Strider should continue to be a reliable pitcher not just for the Braves but for fantasy owners everywhere. With Atlanta aiming to win the National League East, there should be plenty of opportunities for him to showcase his arm and rack up strikeouts. There were some rumblings about an inning restriction for him, but those rumors were quelled last month, meaning full systems a go here for their future (and current) stud.
Matt Olson (ATL)
8/28 – 9/11 (45 PA): .077 AVG, 5 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 0 SB
Matt Olson was someone who took his game to the next level last season and came into 2022 with similar expectations. Unfortunately for owners everywhere, his high draft price, new environment, and big contract haven’t necessarily paid themselves off just yet. Olson’s last two weeks have seen him mired in a massive slump, as he’s been unable to do much of anything productive. In fact, with a career-low batting average of .243 (outside of a shortened 2020 season), Olson has hit a new low as he continues to struggle. The question then becomes why is he struggling and how he can get out of this mess.
No batter in recorded history has faced more 100+ MPH pitches in one season than Matt Olson has faced this year. 😮 pic.twitter.com/DzH1DjvvhQ
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) September 8, 2022
The plan of attack on Olson this year seems to be to bombard him with fastballs, which was the case over these past two weeks. In fact, 57.2% of the pitches that Olson saw were fastballs, which generated only three hits. On top of that, he once again can’t seem to hit breaking balls and offspeed pitches, which was a major criticism of him in years past preventing him from taking the next step in his progression. Over this two-week time period, he did not record a hit on either a breaking or offspeed pitch and struck out six and four times on each respectively. Finally, with only five walks, his patience at the plate might be waning, leaving him aggressive and frustrated while trying to make something positive happen. All in all, it’s been a bad two weeks for Olson.
Conclusion: If the Atlanta Braves are going to do anything in the postseason, they will need Matt Olson to recapture the magic he had last year which led to the blockbuster trade. While he may have changed his approach to be more patient for pitches in the zone, it seems that he’s been unable to catch up with the fastballs he’s seeing which is leading to inconsistent contact. All that being said, he’s talented enough to come out of this slump looking good and should continue to be started in fantasy leagues in the hopes that he can figure things out sooner rather than later.
Sandy Alcantara (MIA)
8/28 – 9/11 (11.0 IP): 7.36 ERA, 15 H, 1 BB, 10 SO, 0 W
Sandy Alcantara has not looked himself over the last little while, and the numbers reflect it. He’s looked quite mortal against two very good teams in Atlanta and Philadelphia, and has been unable to put batters away with the ease he displayed earlier in the season. It’s hard to pinpoint the reasoning for it other than the possibility of it being a tough portion of the schedule. Still, his velocity on all pitches is down a bit, and the results have shown. Over the past two weeks, his sinker has had a .452 batting average against it, while both his slider and fastball have surrendered two home runs each.
Conclusion: While the results have been troubling, to say the least, there is the question of fatigue due to a high amount of innings. Having already pitched 196.2 innings this season, Alcantara is on pace to surpass last season’s career-high of 205.2. It’s fair to assume that this, compounded with facing two of the league’s best offenses, may have led to a disastrous two weeks, though it’s hopeful that he can get back to his dominant ways before the season’s end.
Brendan Rodgers (COL)
8/28 – 9/11 (42 PA): .108 AVG, 7 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB
For the past two weeks, Brendan Rodgers has put on a show with his glove, which is something that he’s been able to do all year as well. In fact, the talented second baseman is third overall in Defensive Runs Saved, using his quick reflexes and his ability to track balls on his backhand side. And while all of that is great for Gold Glove consideration, it doesn’t bode for much in the fantasy baseball world.
Rodgers has been mired in a massive slump at the plate over the past two weeks, producing next to nothing. With nine strikeouts over this period, he’s struggling to put the bat to the ball. Some of this might have been due to the fact that he has been awful on the road, batting .212 for the season, and struggling as most Rockies hitters do.
Conclusion: Rodgers has had a rough two-week stretch, but the outlook doesn’t look any better from here on out. With Colorado having just seven more home games, as opposed to fourteen more on the road, more of the same problems could lie ahead for the promising second baseman. In fact, he, alongside other Rockies hitters, could be candidates to be dropped as we get closer to the end of the season and replaced in favor of other hot streaky hitters.
Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter)