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Roto Roundup: Matt Kemp, Jon Gray, James Paxton and others

Ray offer his thoughts on Padres outfielder Matt Kemp, Rockies emerging ace Jon Gray, James Paxton and others.

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Kemp having usual monster second half

Padres outfielder has been a notorious slow starter at the plate in his career, But once the All Star break is in the rearview mirror, he becomes a different hitter. A much better, and valuable, hitter. In the second half of the 2014 season, Kemp hit .309 with 17 home runs and 54 RBI in 263 plate appearances. In the second half of the 2015 season, Kemp hit .286 with 15 home runs and 53 RBI. He is back to his old hot second half ways this season as well, as he went 2-4 with 2 home runs and 4 RBI in the Padres 5-3 win vs the struggling Nationals last night.

In his 29 second half plate appearances, Kemp has hit 6 home runs and driven in 9 runs so far in 2016. For the season, he is hitting .258-.278-.484 with 22 home runs, 50 runs scored and 67 RBI. Yeah, he doesn’t walk much, but he is helping in the counting categories, and is on pace to hit 37 home runs and drive in 112 runs. Both ZiPS and Steamer have him hitting between 9 and 10 home runs with 33-35 RBI the rest of the way. That should help most fantasy teams, so if you have the chance to trade for him, I would.

Here is what I said via Twitter last night:

One Twitter follower asked if he should trade Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen for Kemp. With the way Kemp is hitting and McCutchen just doesn't seem right this season, I would make this trade.

Jon Gray is an emerging ace

I drafted Rockies young starter Jon Gray in the Tout Wars NL only league, and picked him up off waivers in my home NL only keeper league in May. After a few disaster starts in April, Gray has been a very good and dependable starting pitcher. Yes, he pitches in Coors Field, but he is striking out more and walking fewer batters at home than on the road.

Last night, Gray dominated the Braves lineup, giving up just one run on 6 hits, a walk and 8 strikeouts in 7 innings in the Rockies 4-3 win. The win moved his record to 6-4 with a 4.12 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 1.16 WHIP and a 111-33 strikeout to walk rate in 102.2 innings. Of his 17 starts this season, three have been disaster starts where he has given up 5.6 and 9 runs, but in the remaining 14 starts, he has given up three runs or less in 12 of those starts.

He is putting up ace-like stats thus far in 2016:

9.7 K/9

2.89 BB/9

48.3% ground ball rate

He has been hurt by a few disaster starts along with the home run ball, as he has given up 12 long balls in his 102.2 innings of work. Other than that, he is an emerging ace, and should be picked up in all leagues right now, because for some reason, Gray is available in more than 60% of leagues right now. Why is that the case?

Roto Roundup

Zach Eflin was one of the starters the Philles received in the trade that sent Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers. Elfin is starting to pay dividends, and last night he out-dueled Pirates ace Gerrit Cole. Eflin needed only 100 pitches to toss a complete game shutout, limiting the Pirates lineup to just 3 hits, walking none and striking out 6 in the Phillies 4-0 win. The win moved his record to 3-3 with a 3.40 ERA, 4.19 FIP, 1.05 WHIP and a 26-8 strikeout to walk rate in 50.1 innings. So he isn't a big strikeout pitcher, so he won't help in that category, but he does limit the walks. His complete game last night was his second in his last four starts, and after his disaster first start, where he gave up 8 runs, and 3 home runs, in 2.2 innings vs the Blue Jays lineup, he has pitched 5.2 innings or longer, and given up three runs or fewer in each of his last 7 starts. Over those seven starts, he has given up just 12 earned runs on 36 hits, with a 24-5 strikeout to walk rate in 47.2 innings. That works out to a 2.27 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP over his last seven starts. He is owned in less than 15% of leagues right now, so grab him if you can, just be aware of the risk of the disaster start from time to time.

Speaking of emerging aces, the Mariners may have yet another one in their rotation. He is a "post-hype" prospect and his name is James Paxton. Last night, Paxton limited the Blue Jays to just one run on 3 hits, one walk and 9 strikeouts in 7 innings in the Mariners 2-1 win in Toronto. Paxton has had some rough starts, but he is now 3-4 with a  4.18 ERA, 3.19 FIP, a 1.51 WHIP and a 55-16 strikeout to walk rate in 60.1 innings. He is striking out nearly a batter per innings, walking fewer than three batters per nine innings and inducing ground balls at a 51% clip. His problem is that he has been too hittable this season, as batters own a .374 batting average of balls in play when facing him, so as that number begins to regress, we should start seeing Paxton as a near-ace starter in the second half of the season. He is available in more than 85% of leagues right now, and I am willing to wager that ownership percentage will increase come September.

I am not one to rank Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton high in my overall and outfielder rankings due to his lack of power and low batting average. He steals lots of bases, or so we thought, so the one offensive skill he does possess has been his carrying card and probably always will be. Last night, Hamilton went 2-4 with a walk, 2 runs scored and 3 stolen bases in the Reds 6-2 win over the Diamondbacks. On the season, Hamilton is now hitting .251-.315-.352 with 3 home runs, 45 runs scored and 12 RBI in 267 at bats. He has stolen 30 bases in 35 attempts and is on pace for 51 steals this season. But 12 RBI!! That is a category killer when the 60th ranked outfielder in the RBI category has 30 RBI and that number will only increase as the season progresses.

Hamilton's teammate Joey Votto struggled to start the 2016 season, but is back to the Votto we all drafted back in March. Last night, Votto went 1-3 with 2 walks, 2 runs scored, a home run and 3 RBI in the Reds 6-2 win over the Diamondbacks. Votto failed to hit over .229 in each of the first two months of the season, but since June 1st, he has out up the following monthly slash lines:

June: .319-.466-.549, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 22-22 K-BB

July: .396-.545-.646, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 13-17 K-BB

He is now hitting ,271-.406-.483 with 17 home runs, 56 runs scored, 50 RBI and 6 stolen bases and is on pace to hit 29 home runs and drive in 84 runs.

Just as we expected.

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