I apologize for not writing the Roundup the last two days, as I get up at 5:30am for work and haven't been getting home until 8:30-9:00pm. I eat, relax for an hour and go to bed and do it all over again. Luckily, since I am consulting, my employer pays by the hour, so it isn't so bad.
Onto what I saw over the last few days:
Gregory Polanco is breaking out
It is not secret that the Pirates have the best outfield in baseball, with Starling Marte in left field, Andrew McCutchen in center field and Gregory Polanco in right field. With McCutchen off to a slow start, for him, to the 2016 season, Polanco is having his best season as a big leaguer.
As I write this, he is 3-4 in the Pirates game vs the Diamondbacks. Two nights ago, Polanco had a big night at the plate, going 3-5 with a home run, 2 runs scored and 5 RBI in the Pirates big win over the Diamondbacks. Polanco is now hitting .317-.402-.557 with 6 home runs, 17 doubles, 34 runs scored, 29 RBI and 7 stolen bases in 10 attempts.
I think it was ESPN's Keith Law who predicted a breakout season for Polanco this season, and Polanco hasn't let him down to date. Polanco has raised his walk rate to almost 14%, is striking out less and is making more hard contact than ever. He is on pace for career highs in home runs (22), runs scored (119), RBI (101) and batting average if he can continue hitting like this for the rest of the season. ZiPS sees him regressing some for the rest of the season, projecting him to slash .263-.331-.416 with 10 home runs, 64 runs scored, 51 RBI and 18 stolen bases.
The Pirates already had two outfielders among the top 10-12 fantasy outfielders in the game, and now Polanco may the third.
While Matt Harvey is grabbing the headlines after yet another poor performance on the mound, Steven Matz is quietly having himself a Rookie of the Year type season. Yesterday, Matz blanked the Nationals on 4 hits, a walk, and 7 strikeouts over 8 shutout innings in the Mets 2-0 win. The win moved his record to 7-1 with a 2.36 ERA, 2.51 FIP, 0.99 WHIP, and a 50-9 strikeout to walk rate in 49.2 innings. His underlying skills reflect those of an ace starting pitcher: 9.06 K/9, 1.63 BB/9, 55.2% ground ball rate and a hard contact rate under 24%. Matz has to be the front runner of the National League Rookie of the Year award at this point in the season.
Remember back in April when it seemed like Bryce Harper was hitting a home run every day? Yeah, me too. Not so much in May, as he is hitting just .197-.458-.311 with an amazing 21-31 strikeout to walk rate in 93 plate appearances. No worries. He will get back to being Harper real soon. Either that or he will break the record for walks in a season.
ESPN's Keith Law published his updated Top 25 prospects on Tuesday and Nationals pitching prospect Lucas Giolito was ranked as his new #1 prospect in the game. Giolito has struggled this season, but was back on track last night:
#Nationals SP prospect Lucas Giolito finally looking like a top prospect: 7 IP, 4 H, ER, BB, 6 K vs Andrew Benintendi & the Portland Sea Dogs
Rangers rookie outfielder Nomar Mazara might be the favorite for the American League Rookie of the Year award right now, and yesterday, he went 2-5 with a home run and 3 RBI in the Rangers big 15-9 win over the Angels. He improved his slash line to .320-.365-.500 with 8 home runs, 21 runs scored and 21 RBI in just 150 at bats since his call up. He is more of a line drive than fly ball hitter, as his fly ball rate sits around 30%, and his hard contact rate is just 28%, so the average could come down some from the lofty .320 range. That said, he is the youngest hitter in the big leagues and he is out-performing everyone's expectations for him since his call up. His home run yesterday traveled 491 feet, the longest home run hit in the majors this season.
Is it time to ditch Rangers DH Prince Fielder? In a game where the Rangers scored 15 runs, Fielder went 0-4 with 2 walks, a run scored, an RBI and he struck out 3 times. He is hitting just .193-.269-.281 with just 2 home runs, 12 runs scored and 24 RBI in 189 plate appearances. His hard hit and fly ball rates are the lowest of his career excluding his 2014 season where he missed 120 games.
Speaking of players having disappointing seasons, what happened to Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt? He went 0-3 (as I write this) last night and is hitting just .242-.410-.435 with 8 home runs, 24 runs scored, 26 RBI and 5 stolen bases. Not bad for most hitters, but not very good for a top 3 pick in most fantasy drafts a few months ago. He still holds plenty of value in OBP leagues as his walk rate is up to a career high 21%, but he is making less hard contact and hitting more ground balls than at any time in his career. Over the last three seasons, his hard hit rate was regularly in the 41-44% range. This season it has fallen to just 33%. Last season he hit 38 doubles and 33 home runs. This season he has hit just 5 doubles and 8 home runs.
Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin may have FINALLY found his stroke at the plate. Last night, he went 2-5 with 2 home runs and 3 RBI in the Blue Jays win over the Yankees. Martin has struggled all season, and is now hitting just .181-.248-.236 with 2 home runs, 7 runs scored, 11 RBI and a 45-9 strikeout to walk rate in just 136 plate appearances. The strikeout rate of 32% is by far the highest of his career. When he isn't striking out, he is still making hard contact, so maybe the hits will start falling in from here on in.
Not much is going right for the Cardinals this season. A day after Michael Wacha gives up 8 earned runs in 5 innings, Carlos Martinez took the mound vs division rival Cubs yesterday afternoon, and proceeded to give up 6 runs on 6 hits, 3 walks and 7 strikeouts in 5 innings in the Cardinals 9-8 loss. Since leaving his start early back on May 6th due to "fatigue", CMart has given up 14 runs on 17 hits, 9 walks and 12 strikeouts in 15 innings in three starts. His strikeout rate has plummeted to just over 7 K/9, he still walks more than three batters per nine, and hitters are squaring the ball up on him more than last season. The drop in strikeout rate is surprising, especially since his fastball is still in the 95 mph range, and he can get it up to 100 mph from time to time.
If you are looking for more fantasy baseball coverage, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, where you can find links to all of the best fantasy coverage on the internet.