Cortes and his Cutter – June 16th, 2022 – Fantasy Baseball 2022

Cortes and his Cutter – June 16th, 2022

Nestor Cortes, SP, NYY

Coming off his worst outing of the season (4.1 IP, 7H, 4ER), Cortes bounced back with a solid effort against the Rays. Across 5.1 innings, he gave up just one run on three hits and three walks en route to his 6th win. The 27-year-old has been nothing short of fantastic this season, and it has gone a long way to proving his 2.90 ERA in 93.0 innings last season was not a fluke. Cortes implemented a cutter last season, and it’s drastically improved his game. He used the pitch 23.6% of the time in 2021, and with a 4.2 wFC, it was a very effective pitch. Cortes has taken it a step further here in 2022 as he boasts a 39.1% FC% with an even more effective 8.0 wFC. He is also throwing his fastball harder (91.1 VFA) and using his change-up less than ever, which has made it a much more effective pitch. These improvements have led to a career-best 35.5% O-Swing% and 71.8% F-Strike%.

Luis Castillo, SP, CIN

Castillo gave up three runs on four hits across 7.0 innings of work on Wednesday night. After starting the season on the IL due to a shoulder injury, the 29-year-old has been a consistent contributor for fantasy owners. Castillo hasn’t surrendered more than three earned runs or pitched less than 4.2 innings once through his first eight starts. He has put together a solid 3.33/3.61 ERA/xFIP despite posting a career-low 10.9% SwStr% and a career-high Contact% (86.1%) and Z-Contact% (77.4%). Unsurprisingly, this has also led to a career-low 8.41 K/9 ratio. Castillo’s success has come from increased control –lowest BB/9 since 2018 (2.93 BB/9)– and a career-best 68.3% LOB%. Having lost his strikeout prowess, it’s doubtful that Castillo will be able to keep his LOB% that low, so some regression should be expected. He hasn’t been trending in the right direction for a few seasons, but he is still a viable fantasy starter, just not anywhere near a top-notch one.

Jose Abreu, 1B, CHW

Abreu collected four hits to extend his modest hitting streak to six games on Wednesday afternoon. He finished the contest with two doubles, two RBI, three runs, and a walk across six plate appearances. The perennial fantasy stud seems to have left his early-season struggles behind him. He is hitting .375 (15-40) with two homers and ten walks over the past ten games. Abreu’s patience at the plate seems to be a catalyst in his resurgence; he currently owns a career-high 12.6% BB% and career-low 16.1% K%. It would be nice to see his power numbers comeback (.183 ISO, 2nd lowest of career), but this is an encouraging spell of play nonetheless.

Bryan Reynolds, OF, PIT

On Wednesday night in St. Louis, Reynolds went 2 for 3 with a home run and a triple. The talented Pirates outfielder had a rough start to the 2022 campaign but has been swinging a hot bat as of late. He has collected at least two hits in six of his last eight games and is batting a ridiculous .536 with three homers and seven RBI during that span. He now has 11 homers with a .257/.333/.345 triple-slash line. Reynolds has proven himself a productive hitter, but the ineptitude of the Pirates’ offense hurts his fantasy stock. He has been in the rumor mill a lot this season, so it is possible he gets dealt to a contender, and we see his fantasy stock rise sometime in the not-so-distant future.

Kyle Gibson, SP, PHI

Gibson surrendered one run across 8.0 innings on Wednesday afternoon but did not factor in the decision. He gave up seven hits, struck out six, and recorded 13 groundball outs in the outing. Gibson has been the pitcher he wants to be this season: limiting free passes (career-best 2.56 BB/9) and keeping the ball on the ground (49.8% GB%) and in the ballpark (.88 HR/9). Additionally, the 34-year-old has been more difficult to square up this season with a 27.7% Hard% (32.4% career) and 13.7% IFFB% (9.6% career). Citizens Bank Park isn’t the best home field for a contact pitcher like Gibson, but he has faired admirably so far this season. Across 13 starts, the veteran right-hander is 4-2 with 4.04 ERA and 3.51 xFIP.

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