As we march unendingly toward the halfway point of the season, we are getting closer and closer to the crazy zone. Tyler Mahle and Miles Mikolas were the best pitchers of the last week. Three Braves (no, not Acuna, Olson, and Riley) are in the top-10 hitters (Michael Harris, Adam Duvall, and Dansby Swanson). What do we do with this information? Fantasy baseball is a game that forces us to act now. Who is rising and falling after four weeks of games? Who has earned our waiver love and do we dump?

This piece will look at batters and pitchers who have overperformed or underperformed in the month of May and deserve our attention in fantasy baseball.

Risers

Brandon Drury

Aaron Judge, Paul Goldschmidt, Marcus Semien, and Brandon Drury. Those are your top rotisserie batters from the last two weeks, just like we all thought would happen back in early April. Those first three at least come with an early-round pedigree. But Drury wasn’t just an afterthought, he was missing completely in drafts. His ADP in NFC leagues this offseason was 750.98, which is to say no one expected the journeyman to do anything this season. In the past two weeks, all Drury has done is hit .360 with 17 runs, five homers, eight RBI, and steal one base.

The question that everyone wanted to be answered was, what would happen when Jonathan India returned from the IL? Who would he displace? So far, that answer seems to be Matt Reynolds. Reynolds and Kyle Farmer will platoon the shortstop position which solidifies India at second and allows Drury to man third every day. This is welcome news for fantasy managers who picked him up off waivers. Drury’s batting average (.270, .269 xBA), slugging percentage (.520, .508 xSLG), and wOBA (.370, .358 xwOBA) are all trending into elite territory.

Lane Thomas

There was a collective groan across fantasy land when the Washington Nationals installed Cesar freakin’ Hernandez as their leadoff man to start the 2022 season. That’s just what Juan Soto needed right in front of him, a 32-year-old slow player who had a .308 on-base percentage last season. Well, it may have taken two months, but the Nationals are finally slotting Lane Thomas into the top of the order every day now, and he is been killing it ever since. They are still batting Hernandez second, but that’s a complaint for another column.

In the past two weeks, Thomas is hitting .347 with 15 runs, four homers, and eight RBI. He isn’t running as much as some predicted (just one stolen base), but when you are hitting in front of Soto, you just stay at your station, I guess. Thomas is a player who was drafted 279th overall in NFC leagues and remains only 20% rostered in Yahoo fantasy leagues. There is a very real chance he is available in your leagues after a slow start. He is a target for leagues of all sizes.

Tyler Mahle

There was a time in May, particularly after his May 24th start, that Mahle was legitimately the worst pitcher in the major leagues. But all he has done since that time is strike out 36 batters in 27.2 innings while only allowing four runs in that span. He is a top-five pitcher over the last 10 days, which is a stark turnaround from earlier in the season. But the truth is, Mahle is only two blow-up starts removed from being a very good pitcher this year. His 10.37 K/9 is as strong as it was the past two seasons, and if you remove the games where he allowed seven and eight earned runs, you’re looking at a guy who has given up only 22 runs in 67 innings.

The walks are still a major concern, but that’s what made the 12-strikeout, no walk performance on June 14th that much more important. It was the first time this season he did not allow a free pass. Add it all up and you have a pitcher who has a 1.71 ERA, 12 K/9, and just 1.71 BB/9 over the last two weeks. Those who have been patient with the trendy sleeper from this offseason are finally being handsomely rewarded. The wins (zero since May 13) will be a problem with the dumpster fire Reds, but he is finally turning the ratio corner.

Fallers

C.J. Cron

Some people just don’t like the month of June, and while those people are braindead, they can have their own opinion, I guess. But what I am concerned about is that C.J. Cron is one of those people. The month of June has been disastrous for him after two unbelievable months of mashing at Coors Field. Consider, in April and May, Cron his .307/.356/.577 with 13 home runs, 37 RBI, and 30 runs. In June, that has plummeted to .228/.286/.386 with just one home run. His only home run came on June 2, and he only has three hits in five home games since then. The batting average has fallen 22 points and the on-base percentage is down 25 ticks.

However! I’m buying this dip wherever I can. The flyball rate in June is higher than in April and May (wonderful news for Coors games ahead). His HardHit% is slightly higher in June than it was in May, and his walk rate is the highest it has been in any month this season. There are some BABIP issues going on here (70 points lower than in May), so I’m just going to trust the masher in Coors anytime I can.

Cody Bellinger

Here we are again, with fantasy’s favorite fall guy, Cody Bellinger. This guy can’t decide just who he is anymore. The OPS has fallen every month from .713 in April to just .546 so far in June. He has just two extra-base hits in his last eight games and if not for the seven steals this season, he would be an abject disaster. Again. His strikeout rate is above 30% for the first time in his career and he also has the lowest walk rate of his career this season (8.3%). I don’t have too many shares of Bellinger this year, but I think I’m finally willing to admit it’s time to call it.

Fantasy time of death: June 15th, 2022, his third straight day of striking out in more than 50% of his plate appearances. I know there are projection systems out there that still like Bellinger for the rest of the season, particularly as part of this 2022 Murderer’s Row. But the Razzball Player Rater pegs him for just .231/.312/.445 for the last 60% of the season. Those stats can be found any day of the week for outfielders on a 12-team waiver wire.

Robbie Ray

What’s that old Duke Ellington song? “You Ain’t Got a Thing If You Ain’t Got That Swing,” I think. Well, Robbie Ray ain’t got that swing (and miss) stuff this year, and his strikeouts per nine innings are down to just 9.39 this year, his lowest since his first year as a starter in 2015. The walks are back up to 3.24 BB/9 and it all adds up to a 4.52 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP that are about as far removed from his 2021 Cy Young numbers as you can get.

Ray has struck out more than eight batters just three times this season, and the seven strikeouts in his last 12 innings are curiously low. All of the groundball and flyball numbers are in line with years past. The barrel rate off of Ray this year (8.5%) is even lower than last season, but the lack of strikeouts is allowing too many baserunners to reach. His 74.6% left-on-base percentage is in line with the league average as well, and it should have been a huge red flag when his 90% in that category last year was the best in the league by more than six percent. Ray is back to being a decent pitcher, but nowhere near a Cy Young candidate again.

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Luvdarooks
1 month ago

For this year ROS, and next year who better in a 6×6 QS net wins
GILBERT
or
BAZ
?