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When it comes to power, nobody has their stroke going better than Lucas Duda. Over his last eight games Duda has launched eight homers and driven in 12 runs. In those eight games he amassed 28 at-bats. Can you say impressive?
His recent outburst now has him on pace to actually best the career year he posted last season. For those of you who forgot, he posted a .253-74-30-92-3 line. If you project Duda out for the remainder of this season based on what we have seen to date, we get a .249-81-32-76-0 line. The difference in stolen bases is negligible considering he isn’t a relied upon source. With the Mets going out and improving their offense, it’s reasonable to actually project a higher RBI total from Duda than the 76 he is currently on pace for.
Things have been all or nothing for Duda, though. Dating back to July 1, he has 21 hits, eight of which have gone for homers. While the power has been a welcome sight, it has actually come at a time when many owners were not trusting him enough to use him. Dating back to June 1, he has only hit .202, which has dropped his season batting average 50 points from .298 to .248.
His near two month drought saw him dropped in many leagues. On ESPN, he is currently owned in 77.2 percent of leagues, up 15 percent from last week. This is your last call to check for him on your waiver wire, as that number is sure to climb towards full ownership. With an improved Mets lineup and a playoff push in front of him, Duda should be a solid option for owners looking for power and run production.
If there is one thing Alexei Ramirez has proven to be throughout his career, it’s a steady performer. So, needless to say, his slow start to the season really was quite a surprise. On June 30, he was batting .212 with just two homers and eight steals. This landed him on a good deal of waiver wires. Since July 1, though, he has turned a corner, posting a .309-12-5-12-5 line over his last 97 at-bats to raise his season totals to a more respectable .237-31-7-38-13 mark. He is currently on pace to hit 11 homers and steal 20 bases, numbers which aren’t far off from what we saw from him last year. For those of you worried about his batting average, you should take comfort in knowing he has never batted below .265 in a season. Expect his .237 mark to regress towards that number as the season winds down and his counting stats to jump with them. Middle infield hasn’t exactly been a great source of numbers this year. Ramirez is currently available in over 50-percent of leagues on ESPN. He is definitely worth the pickup.
Yankees prospect Luis Severino has dominated the minor leagues every step of the way. For his career, the team’s 21-year old top prospect has posted a 2.30 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 9.06 K/9 over 321 innings pitched. He will make his Major League debut in Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night against Boston, in what will undoubtedly be an electric atmosphere. Severino has the tools to succeed. He does a good job of limiting free passes. He also has swing and miss stuff. What he doesn’t have is experience. Prior to this season, he only pitched 25 innings above High-A ball. Severino attacks hitters with his mid-to-high 90s fastball. He locates it well and it has good movement. His best secondary offering is a changeup, which is already considered plus. He also throws a slider, which he is still developing and often it comes in flat. The obvious question is whether he can succeed. Based on the short sample size we have, he should. Severino has the element of surprise on his side and the stuff to be able to pitch out of jams when the time arises. If you can use strikeouts, Severino is definitely worth adding.
For more on Luis Severino…
Anyone who watched the Home Run Derby this year is fully aware that Joc Pederson packs some serious punch in his bat. The 6’1”, 185 pounder has 21 homers on the season. Unfortunately, all but one of those have come before July 1. While his skill set is off the charts, there are also some serious holes in his game that need to be cleaned up. He currently ranks among the league’s worst in swinging strike percentage (15.0) , contact percentage (65.4) and strikeout percentage (30.2). Those numbers have completely erased his hot start and now have him staring at a season-low .223 batting average. Pederson has become unusable in mixed leagues right now because of this. He has invested too much of his approach in hitting the long ball and it is hurting all other aspects of his game. Pederson was a career .302 hitter in the minors, so there is reason to hope he can turn things around. So all you dynasty and keeper owners hold tight. As for you yearly leaguers, if your trade deadline hasn’t hit yet, try and make a move.
In his five July starts, Jimmy Nelson is 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and 32 strikeouts over 33 innings pitched. This was exactly the type of run he needed with a possible demotion staring at him when his ERA stood at a season worst 4.64 on June 18. Heading into this year, Fantasy owners were grabbing him late with the hope that his strong minor league track record would carry into the majors. It’s taken some time, but we are starting to see it. The exciting part of his game is his slider, which according to Fangraphs is a Top-5 pitch league-wide. It hasn’t translated to the strikeouts we had hoped for as yet, but there are promising signs they are coming. His swinging strike percentage is up to 10.6 percent, while his contact rate has dropped to 77.2 percent. Playing for Milwaukee isn’t going to result in a bunch of wins, but if he keeps his peripheral numbers on their current path he’ll be a highly useful pitcher in mixed leagues. He is available in over 70-percent of leagues on ESPN and would definitely make a nice addition to any squad that’s light on pitching.
For those of you out there that like to grab speculative saves off the waiver wire, Tommy Hunter is a name you should definitely bump up towards the top of your list. The Cubs acquired him at the trade deadline in exchange for Junior Lake. In his first appearance, he nabbed a save after coming in for Jason Motte (filling in for Hector Rondon) after he promptly gave up a double to lead off the ninth inning on Sunday. Keep in mind that manager Joe Maddon and GM Theo Epstein are thoroughly familiar with Hunter from their time in the AL East. Rondon has been dominant since blowing his third save on May 22, but should he falter or fall prey to injury, Hunter stands a reasonable chance of grabbing the job ahead of Motte. Those of you in NL-Only leagues should strongly consider adding him now, just in case.
Predicting the future is obviously a big part of any Fantasy sport. Your ability to be correct, particularly in the mid-to-late rounds of your draft is what makes or breaks your season. One guy that is sure to be a mid-round pick is Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts. He is having a very nice season, batting .319 with 50 runs scored and 51 RBIs so far through 386 at-bats. Unfortunately, most owners will see his three homers and likely drop him down a few pegs. Let me implore you not to do so. While he won’t be a 30-plus homer guy, he does have 20-plus homer potential in his prime. His prime is four years away! He turns 23 on October 1, and at that point he will likely have over 1,200 plate appearances under his belt. People are not only quick to forget his top prospect status, they also discount his age. The power will come, and when it does it will probably be sudden. I will be all in on Bogaerts in anticipation that next season will be his arrival.