Kyle Hendricks, Snakebitten – May 21, 2022
Kyle Hendricks (SP-CHC) got rocked by the Diamondbacks on Friday afternoon as he allowed 7 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks while fanning 3 over 5 IP: the righty tossed 58 of his 93 offerings for strikes and coughed up 4 round trippers in the outing. The 32 year-old is now in the midst of a second straight rough season, as he now owns a 4.89 ERA, 6.3 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, and 4.67 xFIP. His control has continued to erode (2.2 BB/9 last season after keeping it under 2 since 2017) while he’s gotten hit hard (40% hard-hit rate per Statcast). Hendricks has especially had issues with the longball this season (1.81 HR/9, 16% HR/FB) and last (1.54 HR/9, 15% HR/FB) after keeping those under control throughout his career (1.00 HR/9, 11% HR/FB). He simply doesn’t strike out enough batters to allow his control to slip even as opposing hitters make more and more loud contact against him. He lines up for a turn in Cincinnati next week.
Josh Rojas (3B-ARI) had a huge game against the Cubs as he went 3-5 with 3 homers and 4 RBI. The 27 year-old started his season late because of an injury but has logged a .289 average to go with those 3 homers, 7 RBI, 10 runs scored, and 3 steals across 54 plate appearances. Working out of the three-hole, he’s showing strong command of the strike zone with a 15% walk rate and 17% strikeout rate, although his hard-hit rate was only 33% entering Friday’s contest. Rojas has always hit a healthy amount of liners (23% MLB career, 25% in 2022) and has demonstrated an ability to get on base, so he should be a solid if unspectacular fantasy producer near the top of the Arizona lineup as a guy who will hit for modest power while also stealing a few bags and scoring some runs.
Alek Thomas (OF-ARI) continued his hot start to his MLB career by going 2-4 with a 2B and a solo shot against the Cubs. The 22 year-old rookie is now batting .333 with 3 homers, 5 RBI, and 7 runs scored across his first 43 big-league plate appearances. He’s made hard contact at a solid 43% clip per Statcast, but his contact rate is meh (75%) while he’s swung and missed a good bit (13%) and hit lots of grounders (53%). While he drew walks at a healthy 11% clip over 116 Triple-A PA to start the season, he’s walked at just a 2% clip so far in the majors while striking out (21%) more than he was in Triple-A (14%). And although he possesses plus speed (he swiped 13 bags across 495 PA in Double-A and Triple-A last season), he’s yet to attempt a stolen base in the majors yet. Overall, the peripherals show that he’s adjusting to the big-league game but Thomas has nevertheless been producing. Add him where he’s available.
Tarik Skubal (SP-DET) lasted just 5 innings against Cleveland on Friday as he allowed no runs on 4 hits and no walks while fanning 5; he fired 49 of his 66 offerings for strikes in the outing. He left the start prematurely after taking a comebacker to his leg to end the 5th inning; it is unclear whether he will need to miss a start. It has been a breakout campaign for the 25 year-old, who now owns a robust 2.22 ERA, 10.1 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, and 2.57 xFIP across 8 starts (44.2 IP). In addition to considerably improving his control (2.8 BB/9 last season), Skubal has elevated his swinging-strike rate to 13% (11% last season) while elevating his groundball rate to 48% (39% last year). He’s leaning on his sinker (21% in 2022, 13% last year) and slider (29% in 2022, 23% last season) more while only throwing his heater 29% of the time (down from 43% last season). Overall, Skubal’s breakout is looking legit and so his fantasy owners will have to hope that he’s able to make his next start, which should come in Minnesota next week.
Robbie Ray (SP-SEA) took the L against Boston on Friday evening as he allowed 4 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks while piling up 8 punchouts over 6 innings of work. The 30 year-old lefty fired 59 of his 87 pitches for strikes while allowing a homer in the contest. Ray’s first season in Seattle – following a breakout in Toronto last season in which he recorded a 2.84 ERA, 11.5 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, and 3.36 xFIP over 193.1 innings of work – has not gone smoothly, as he now owns a 4.77 ERA, 9.6 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, and 3.75 xFIP across 54.2 IP. The xFIP does point to a 68% strand rate (77% career) inflating his ERA, but the fact is that his control has regressed a bit while his strikeouts are down significantly. He’s continuing to miss bats at an elite 15% rate, but his called strike rate is down a good bit (11% in 2022, 17% career) while his average fastball velocity (93mph) is down two full ticks from last season. Ray appears slated for a start at home against Oakland next week.
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