MLB Stock Watch: Blake Snell rising, Luis Castillo falling


Blake Snell: He was dominant Sunday, recording 12 strikeouts with no walks over six scoreless innings, tying an AL record by fanning the first seven batters of the game. Snell induced 17 swinging strikes and now sits with a 2.36 ERA and 0.94 WHIP on the season despite six of his last eight outings coming on the road and pitching in the AL East. His average fastball velocity (95.3 mph) is up a full tick from last season, as is his slider (87.4). Snell’s SwStr% (13.1), average exit velocity (85.7 mph) and Hard Hit% (24.1) all rank top-12 among starters in MLB, and the biggest news is his BB% is down to 7.7, as Snell’s improved control during last year’s second half has carried into 2018. Snell’s terrific start appears real, so treat him as a truly elite fantasy starter moving forward.

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Mike Foltynewicz: After tossing a complete game shutout Friday while allowing just three baserunners with 11 strikeouts, his ERA is suddenly down to 2.22 on the year. Foltynewicz’s strong velocity is up even more this season (96.6 mph), as is his K% (28.2). His already shaky control has actually been even worse (10.6 BB%), so the expected regression coming with any ERA that low might hit even harder. Still, Foltynewicz was practically free at drafts, and he’s been the No. 16 fantasy SP so far who’s clearly making major improvements. His slider has become one of the very best pitches in baseball.

Matt Olson: He entered the last day of May with a disappointing .236/.321/.417 line but has four homers and nine RBI over four games since. Olson’s average exit velocity (94.7 mph) and Hard Hit% (58.8) both rank top-five in MLB, so the recent outburst is hardly a surprise, and plenty more should be expected to come. After hitting two doubles with 24 homers as a rookie last season, Olson has 12 of each in 2018.

Eddie Rosario: He hit three homers Sunday, giving him four long balls over the last two games and 13 on the year. Rosario is hitting .317/.352/.573 with five steals, 36 runs scored and 40 RBI, as he’s been one of the bigger fantasy difference makers so far. He increased his launch angle during the second half of last year and has continued to do so with great success in 2018.

Michael Wacha: He lost a no-hitter in the ninth again Sunday, but Wacha’s ERA and WHIP are down to 2.41 and 1.10 after an ugly start to the season that saw him dropped in many fantasy leagues. He’s allowed two runs or fewer in nine straight starts and has quietly been a top-50 fantasy player this season.

Nathan Eovaldi: Making his first start since 2016, Eovaldi tossed six scoreless (and hitless) innings last week, and while he owns a pedestrian 4.18 ERA for his career, Eovaldi is once again getting fantasy owners’ attention, thanks in no small part to his fastball, which reached 100 mph during his first start back. Eovaldi looked healthy, and you never know when the lightbulb will turn on, and he could find himself in a better situation after the trade deadline. Eovaldi is still available in more than 85 percent of Yahoo leagues.


Luis Castillo: It looked like he had turned the corner after a poor start to the season but has since allowed four runs in back-to-back starts (coming in Petco Park and the humidor-installed Chase Field), raising his ERA and WHIP to 5.64 and 1.45 on the year. Castillo has yet to throw seven innings in a single start this season, and his Hard Hit% is way up (41.3 compared to 30.1 last year. League average is 34.0), while his velocity is way down (a glaring 2.2 mph, albeit still a strong 95.3). Castillo is 25 years old and was too impressive as a rookie not to expect a bounce back (his 14.5 SwStr% ranks No. 6 among starters, one spot ahead of Gerrit Cole), but he’s been a massive disappointment so far.

Hunter Strickland: It’s by no fault of his own, as Strickland has pitched well in the closer’s role this season, owning a 2.42 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP while converting 12-of-14 save opportunities. But Mark Melancon is back from the DL, somewhat surprisingly looking fully recovered from a forearm injury that he’d been struggling with to overcome. Melancon wasn’t very good last year (although that could be due to pitching through the injury), and his velocity wasn’t great during his debut, but he struck out the side and is signed to a $62 million contract through 2020. From 2013-2016, Melancon had a 1.80 ERA over 290.0 innings, so expect him to regain San Francisco’s closer’s role if he looks healthy over his next few outings.

Cody Bellinger: Scott Pianowski downgraded Bellinger in his latest Shuffle Up, and it’s hard to argue against it. Bellinger is certainly better than this, but he’s not hitting the ball with nearly the same authority as last year while striking out at a similarly high rate. He was an early fantasy pick, and there’s talk of sending him to the minors. Interestingly, Yu Darvish and Ken Giles have also carried over their World Series struggles into 2018.

Hector Neris: He’s allowed an earned run in four straight appearances and has recorded one save since May 10. Neris pitched the eighth inning of a 6-1 game Sunday after he uncorked three wild pitches during his previous outing. Meanwhile, teammate Seranthony Dominguez has emerged as a potentially dominant shutdown reliever. Neris is still owned in 70 percent of leagues but looks droppable at this point, unfortunately.

Felipe Vazquez: He was blown up for five runs (four earned) without recording an out during his last appearance, which is especially concerning given he’s been dealing with forearm discomfort. Vazquez owners can’t do much now other than remain patient and hope he’s healthy, and there isn’t a clear alternative to close in Pittsburgh (Kyle Crick has pitched the highest leverage situations lately, while Richard Rodriguez sports a 32:3 K:BB ratio and is a deep sleeper for saves down the road).

Giancarlo Stanton: I had no problem if someone wanted to take Stanton as high as No. 2 in drafts entering the year, yet he’s currently ranked outside the top-80. Stanton ended an 11-game homerless drought by hitting a long ball over the weekend, and he could go on a monster HR tear at any moment, but his 30.7 K% is bottom-five in MLB (and his worst mark since his rookie campaign), and most alarming, Stanton has continued his trend of hitting more and more ground balls.

Follow the Yahoo fantasy baseball crew on Twitter: Andy BehrensDalton Del Don, and Scott Pianowski

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