Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Independence Day feels like the best American holiday on the slate year after and year and I hope you get to enjoy it today. It's also Chris Towers' birthday, so throw him a shoutout on Twitter. Before you get to your sun and amusement for the day, let's walk through some of the big takeaways from last night in the Fantasy Baseball world.

It was an especially happy Monday night for Yankees fans. Anthony Volpe has been on an absolute tear over his last 18 games and we're here for it. He is not only a budding star for the Yankees but for Fantasy Baseball managers everywhere. Including Monday's performance, Volpe is hitting .379 with two homers, five doubles, two stolen bases and a 24% strikeout rate. There has been some talk of a batting stance tweak he figured out and whether or not that can propel Volpe to being an elite-level Fantasy option rest of season remains to be seen.

Let's dive into some of the other action from Monday.

What's wrong with Javier?

Cristian Javier has encountered some difficulties in his recent starts, specifically finding it hard to get out of innings against the Rangers.

Over his last three outings, he has struggled, allowing nine hits and eight earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings pitched. Javier has also given up two home runs and had a challenging time on the mound. His pitch count reached 88 pitches, with a 24% called strikes plus whiffs (CSW) rate.

The opposition managed to make solid contact, with an average exit velocity against him of 91.6 mph. However, there seems to have been a change in his performance in June. Prior to June, Javier had a 12.9% swinging-strike rate and a 9.5 K/9. However, in June, those numbers dropped to 8.1% and 4.2 K/9, respectively. 

His overall season stats show a 4.34 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 82 strikeouts over 91 1/3 innings pitched, with an 8.1 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 4.26 FIP, and 4.92 xFIP. His Stuff+ rating has declined from 116 to 96, indicating a decrease in effectiveness. Both his pitches have been less effective, resulting in fewer swings and misses, more hits, and an increase in home runs. His fastball velocity has also dropped by 1.3 mph compared to last year. In his last three starts, Javier has struggled further, allowing 21 hits and 18 earned runs in just 10.2 innings pitched. Consequently, his ERA has increased from 2.90 to 4.34.

Now may feel like a buy-low period on Javier but it's hard to shake concerns about his pitches not delivering the swings and misses that made him special in 2022.

Velocity concerns

Mitch Keller faced some challenges in his recent outing against the Dodgers. He pitched five innings and gave up eight hits and five runs (four earned) with one walk and seven strikeouts. Keller had an 11% called strikes plus whiffs (CSW) rate, with 101 pitches thrown, five of them resulting in swings and misses. His fastball, sinker, cutter, and sweeper all experienced a decrease in velocity, with each pitch averaging a drop of 1.4 mph, 2.6 mph, 2.3 mph, and 1.7 mph, respectively, compared to his previous starts. 

Notably, Keller seemed to struggle with his cutter in this particular outing, generating only two whiffs and a 17% CSW rate. Despite these recent challenges, Keller has maintained a season ERA of 3.52, a 10.2 K/9, a 2.4 BB/9, a 3.29 FIP, a 3.36 xFIP, a 47% ground ball rate, and a 9% swinging-strike rate. 

However, his performance in his last eight starts has been less consistent, with a 4.94 ERA, a 1.36 WHIP, and 48 strikeouts over 47.1 innings pitched. Sell now!

Colas returns

Oscar Colas is back in the majors with the White Sox after performing so well in the minors since being sent down. In his last 10 games, he hit .357 with seven home runs and a 1.253 OPS. During his time at Triple-A, Colas had an average exit velocity of 89.3 mph and a maximum exit velocity of 114 mph. It remains uncertain if he will play regularly against left-handed pitching, although he demonstrated better hitting against lefties than righties in the minors this year. 

In his 25 games with the Chicago White Sox, Colas has a .211 batting average, one home run, two stolen bases, a .541 OPS, and a 60% ground ball rate. He is currently rostered in 22% of leagues.

Waiver wire battle: Taveras vs. Bader

Which of these two outfielders should you add to your rosters now? Leody Taveras had an impressive performance Monday, going 3 for 4 with his 10th home run, contributing three runs and three RBI. He has maintained a .306 batting average with 10 home runs, nine stolen bases, and an .847 OPS. Taveras is currently rostered in 68% of leagues.

 On the other hand, Harrison Bader went 2 for 4 with his seventh home run. He has a .261 batting average, seven home runs, seven stolen bases, and a .762 OPS in 38 games played. Bader is rostered in 64% of leagues.

News and notes

  • Clayton Kershaw was placed on the IL with left shoulder inflammation. Michael Grove was recalled to start Monday against the Pirates, allowing one run on five hits and two walks in four innings while striking out three. 
  • Jazz Chisholm was placed on the IL with a left oblique strain. We're waiting to find out the severity of the strain but it's frustrating regardless as Jazz already missed a ton of time with turf toe.
  • Bryce Miller was placed on the IL with a blister on his right middle finger. Darren McCaughan was recalled from Triple-A.
  • The Giants placed Anthony DeSclafani (shoulder fatigue) and Thairo Estrada (fractured hand) on the IL DeSclafani threw just 55 pitches on Sunday, while Estrada's bat had cooled following a strong start to the season. Mike Yastrzemski was activated from the IL in a corresponding move, and he went 1 for 3 with a walk and run in his return to the lineup.
  • Mike Trout exited Monday's action with a wrist injury that he's hoping is just a sprain. He's going to X-rays on Tuesday, at which point we'll know more about the severity of the injury.
  • Josh Naylor will also be evaluated on Tuesday for a wrist injury. He was able to finish Monday's game, but Tuesday's test will reveal how severe his injury is.
  • Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that he expects Aaron Judge to incorporate additional baseball activities other than throwing prior to the All-Star break. Judge remains without a timetable.
  • Max Fried will throw live batting practice Tuesday. He faced hitters for the first time last Friday and, if all goes well, could soon be cleared to begin a rehab assignment. 
  • Jordan Westburg was out of the lineup Monday due to a bruised hand he suffered on a hit-by-pitch Sunday. X-rays came back negative, thankfully.
  • Triston McKenzie will remain shut down for three more weeks. He's been out since mid-June with a partially torn right UCL.
  • Tyler O'Neill will begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Tuesday. He's been out since early May with a lingering back injury.
  • Royce Lewis has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 left oblique strain, which typically requires six weeks of recovery.
  • Riley Greene began a rehab assignment with Triple-A on Monday.
  • Salvador Perez was out of the lineup due to a sore foot he suffered on a hit by pitch.
  • Garrett Whitlock is expected to be placed on the IL in the coming days, but his right elbow injury isn't considered serious.
  • Jorge Polanco did some high-effort sprints Monday. He's missed a large chunk of the season due to a pair of hamstring strains.
  • Marlins pitching prospect Max Meyer will begin a bullpen progression this week. He's working his way back from Tommy John surgery he had last August. The hope is for him to be ready for the Arizona Fall League in October.
  • The Mets acquired Chris Flexen and Trevor Gott from the Mariners for LHP Zach Muckenhirn. Flexen was designated for assignment.