SP Collin McHugh, HOU
McHugh was one of the best values in drafts. He had a back scare in the spring that caused his price to drop lower. McHugh was my American League Sleeper Pitcher for my Preseason Pro picks so hopefully many of you have him. In four starts, McHugh is 3-1 with a 1.96 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 31.4 percent strikeout rate and 8.1 percent walk rate. With hard contact way up, McHugh has held opponents to a 30.8 percent hard-hit rate. McHugh has a nasty slider, and he’s using it 42 percent of the time. Investing in Astros pitchers has been a wise decision and McHugh, who pitched out of the bullpen last season, had success as a starter previously. From 2014-16 as a starter, he had a 3.71 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and an 8.4 K/9. McHugh is for real.
RP Hector Neris, PHI
Good luck trying to figure out what Phillies manager Gabe Kapler is going to do. Four different players have a save for the Phillies this season, and none are David Robertson or Seranthony Dominguez, whom most believe were the favorites to close. Robertson is on the injured list with a flexor strain in his right elbow. Neris got the save opportunity on Wednesday against the Mets and converted. He came into the game with two runners on and allowed a slow infield single and hit a batter, but got two strikeouts to get his second save. He appears to be the favorite for saves, and he has pitched well. In seven innings, he has allowed four hits, two runs, walked two and struck out ten. He’s utilizing his splitter way more than his fastball. Neris has been a closer before and finished strong to end last season after being sent down to the minors. He should be owned in all formats.
OF Austin Meadows, TB
Meadows is off to one of the best starts in baseball. He has a slash line of .349/.423/.683 with nine runs, six home runs, 17 RBIs and three stolen bases. Meadows has seen his walk rate jump to 11.3 percent and has been hitting near the top of the order. Meadows is driving the ball with a 43.5 percent fly ball rate and a 47.8 percent hard-hit rate. He was a top prospect for the Pirates and didn’t light it up in the minors with injuries playing a part in 2017 and 2018. He’s 23 and for real.
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SP Pablo Lopez, MIA
People are going to shy away from Marlins pitchers since the wins will be difficult to come by. Many are going to dump Lopez due to a 5.85 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. He’s a buy low. He’s pitched better than the surface stats indicate. He has a 26.4 percent strikeout rate and a 3.5 percent walk rate. He has an unlucky .386 BABIP and 61.1 percent strand rate. With so many pitchers getting hit hard, Lopez has a decent hard-hit rate of 32.2 percent. Lopez had an 11.4 percent swinging strike rate. While the wins will likely be few, Lopez can help Fantasy teams. If he gets dropped, add him.
2B/SS Jose Peraza, CIN
Like most of his teammates, Peraza is off to a putrid start. He has a slash line of .154/.170/.231 with five runs, one home run, one RBI and one stolen base. Peraza has been hitting sixth or seventh, and the hope in February was he could hit at the top of the order. Peraza’s strikeout rate is 26.4 percent, and his career average is 12.6 percent. He has yet to draw a walk, which is not surprising since he has a career walk rate of 3.8 percent. He will get better, and once he gets on base, he should run. As it gets warmer, the Reds offense will improve. Stay patient with Peraza.
2B Brian Dozier, WAS
Dozier was coming off his worst season in a while with the Twins and was only able to sign a one-year deal. He said he played through a painful knee bone bruise last season and the stats indicated something was wrong. Through 14 games, Dozier has struggled with a slash line of .170/.235/.234 with five runs, one home run, one RBI and no stolen bases. Dozier is striking out more and walking less. He is hitting a lot of ground balls with a 57.6 percent rate, while barely hitting line drives with a 9.1 percent rate. He is making a ton of soft contact, and the Nationals have stayed patient and hit him second in the lineup, which should be a great spot in front of Anthony Rendon. Players that change teams and leagues tend to get off to slow starts.
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