I've already Cole Ragans. I wouldn't have guessed there's much more to say, really, but then he went and did this Wednesday:on
Your eyes don't deceive you. That's a left-hander hitting 100 mph, like he's Shane McClanahan or something. His pitches were up 2 mph, on average, across the board, which makes for a 6 mph increase from a year ago. There's simply no precedent for that, and the reviews speak for themselves.
"That was probably one of the best performances we've seen all season on the mound," Athletics manager Mark Kotsay said. "We've seen Ragans before, and the velo has definitely spiked. He was 98-100 today. The changeup was electric. I don't think we got a good swing off it. And the angle of the slider ...
"You see why that trade was made. They picked up a really good arm."
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Cole Ragans SP
KC Kansas City • #55 • Age: 25
It must be said that Ragans' latest start came against an Athletics lineup that's statistically the worst in baseball. But that doesn't explain him adding another 2 mph to a fastball that was already up 4 mph from last year, peaking at 101. It's simply unfair that he would choose this start to find this next gear, but since being recalled by the Royals Aug. 2, it hasn't much mattered who he's facing. He has a 2.12 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 13.3 K/9 across those five starts, striking out at least eight in four of them and 11 in two of them. The velocity jump -- one of the biggest ever recorded -- came from an offseason working out with Tread Athletics, but it's the introduction of a slider since joining the Royals that seems to have brought it all together. Time to buy in everywhere if you haven't already.
DET Detroit • #30 • Age: 26
The Tigers' decision to play him against lefties as well as righties about a month ago was your first warning. Now, Carpenter's power is beginning to show up even at spacious Comerica Park, where he just homered twice during a three-game series against the Cubs. If you're still doubting him -- a guy who homered 36 times between the majors and minors last year -- it's time to get with the program. By now, the full-season numbers pretty much speak for themselves, but nine of his home runs have come in his past 17 games. Truth be told, you've already missed the boat in five-outfielder leagues, but he remains out there in plenty of three-outfielder leagues, which is the more common format on our platform.
CIN Cincinnati • #51 • Age: 25
Ashcraft's latest outing Tuesday at the Angels actually raised his ERA over his past 10 starts to 2.35. But it was the most impressive start during this recent stretch of success for the simple reason that he struck out 10. His K/9 rate for the 10 starts is only 6.6, which is why he has just a 4.74 FIP during that stretch. But the 10-strikeout effort marked the second time in three starts that Ashcraft had at least seven strikeouts, and in both of those instances, he made a point to mix in more sinkers -- not a crazy amount (21 percent in the first start and 16 percent in the second), but enough to make his high-90s cutter play up. If the strikeouts become a more permanent part of his game, then the recent success may not be smoke and mirrors after all.
Seth Lugo SP
SD San Diego • #67 • Age: 34
Lugo's six shutout innings against the Marlins Wednesday marked his sixth start in seven with no more than two earned runs. Granted, he allowed eight earned runs in the other, giving him a 3.57 ERA during that stretch, but in a way, that's comforting, right? It's easier for trouble to snowball in an offensive environment that's no longer so dependent on the home run, and if Lugo has let it happen only once over his past seven turns, then he must be pretty reliable. His wicked curveball, which comes in at an incomparable 3,200 rpm, is largely to credit, generating ground balls at a nice rate, and the fact he's able to command it as well as he does (only 2.1 BB/9) serves to limit the damage further.
Seiya Suzuki RF
CHC Chi. Cubs • #27 • Age: 29
Suzuki has shown the makings of a stud the past two years, his Statcast page all lit up in red, and he may finally be living up to his 81st percentile average exit velocity and 94th percentile max exit velocity, batting .353 (18 for 51) with five homers and a 1.107 OPS so far in August. Part of what's made his so-so production so perplexing is that there are no obvious red flags in his profile. Neither his strikeout rate nor ground-ball rate is alarmingly high. He may be too opposite field-minded to get the most out of his power stroke, but you'd think that would work to the benefit of his batting average. Clearly, there's much to be sorted out still, but with the Cubs boasting some of the best hitter matchups over the final five weeks, you'll want to lean into this hot streak.
HOU Houston • #21 • Age: 25
With a 3-for-5 performance Wednesday, Diaz is now batting .327 (34 for 104) with eight homers since the start of the second half. The big concern is playing time. Most of it has come as a fill-in for Yordan Alvarez at DH and Jose Abreu at first base, both of whom are ostensibly healthy right now. Meanwhile, manager Dusty Baker seems committed to Martin Maldonado as his primary catcher, for whatever reason. This is beginning to feel like one of those "life finds a way" situations, though. Alvarez is of course capable of playing left field, and Abreu really doesn't deserve to be a fixture in the lineup. Could Diaz cobble together enough at-bats between catcher, first base and DH to measure up to other catchers in Fantasy? I believe he could, and between his expected stats and minor-league track record, there's absolutely no reason to doubt his production.