Happy Monday, unless of course you have Gerrit Cole on your Fantasy team. You can read more about his recent struggles below. Let's focus now on pitchers who had positive weekends, like Luis Castillo and Aaron Nola. Don't look now, but Castillo has a 1.71 ERA with a 0.98 WHIP over his last five starts. I'm not ready to say he's fully back to the pitcher we were expecting, but he's close. The other was Nola, who finished with 12 strikeouts over 5.1 innings against the Mets on Friday. He still needs to string together a few more strong starts before we say he's back, but this was an amazing outing.

Somebody else who's had a strong season is Casey Mize. Through 15 starts, he has a 3.46 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP, yet I think he makes for one of the better sell-high candidates right now. Not only do we have the looming innings concerns that the team has already confirmed, but Mize's underlying numbers are subpar. Despite his 3.46 ERA, Mize has a 4.23 xFIP and a 5.09 xERA. He's pitched over his head, and if you can turn him around for a buy-low hitter like Michael Conforto or Gleyber Torres, I would.

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What is going on with Cole?


Yankees SP Gerrit Cole just hasn't looked like his dominant self over his last eight starts, and that continued on Sunday. Cole got obliterated by the Red Sox in Sunday's rivalry game. Boston tacked on five earned runs as Cole made it through just five innings after allowing eight hits and three homers. On the positive side of things, Cole induced 15 swinging strikes on 89 pitches. On the negative side, he allowed seven hard-hit balls. His spin rates weren't down that much, but they've been down since MLB's crackdown on foreign substances.

Over his last eight starts, Cole has a 4.04 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 49 innings. That's not the ace pitcher Fantasy managers were expecting when they invested in early draft pick in him. Can he get back to the ace he was?

Other spin rate news and notes

It's 2021 and we're nearing July, so that means we're talking spin rates for pitchers just about everyday as they continue to at least somewhat shape the Fantasy landscape. Here are a few other pitchers who recently saw their spin rates dip:

  • Brewers SP Corbin Burnes went six innings against the Rockies and allowed one run on three hits and two walks. He racked up seven strikeouts with 12 swinging strikes on 94 pitchers, but his cutter was down 258 rpm. That's a big spin rate drop. Here's the potentially troublesome under the hood stat to take away: Through his first 11 starts, Burnes had an 18.4% swinging strike rate; over his last two starts, as the spin rates have dropped, so has his swinging strike rate (10%).
  • Reds SP Tyler Mahle vs. ATL: 6 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 15 swinging strikes on 105 pitches. However, the spin rates were down again -- down 214 rpm on the fastball and down 156 rpm on the slider.
  • Nationals SP Max Scherzer at MIA: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 21 swinging strikes on 102 pitches. His spin rates down big: 166 rpm on the fastball, 239 rpm on the slider, 241 rpm on the curveball.
  • Marlins SP Sandy Alcantara vs. WAS: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R (4 ER), 4 BB, 3 K, five swinging strikes on 90 pitches. His spin rates down 123 rpm on the slider, 134 rpm on the four-seamer and 220 rpm on the curveball.

More news and notes

  • We had a bunch of bullpen happenings this weekend. Joe Girardi came out Friday and said Jose Alvarado would get the next chance to be their closer. Alvarado had a save chance on Friday and allowed a run to tie to the game (runner originally reached because of an error on Alvarado). Hector Neris then pitched a clean inning for his 11th save. On Saturday, Alvarado had pitched three of four days so they went to Neris again in a one-run game -- he gave up two runs to draw his sixth blown save. On Sunday, Alvarado was used in the eighth inning in a 4-0 game and he gave up a run. Then Archie Bradley got his first save of the season while also giving up a run.
  • Tigers SP Michael Fulmer was placed on the IL with a cervical spine strain in his neck. Jose Cisnero picked up his third save Saturday; on Sunday, Gregory Soto pitched the ninth and 10th and wound up with the win.
  • Reds RP/SP Tejay Antone went back on the IL with the same right forearm strain that previously sidelined him. Brad Brach got the save Thursday and then Amir Garrett got the save on Saturday. 
  • Reds OF Jesse Winker exited Saturday's game with a hip contusion but manager David Bell confirmed Winker will be good to go for the Reds on Monday. Keep him in your lineups.
  • A's OF Mark Canha was placed on the IL Friday with left hip tendinitis. 2B/OF Tony Kemp started each game this weekend and is 17% rostered.
  • On an appearance on The Chris Rose Rotation podcast, Rays SP Tyler Glasnow expressed that he was "pretty optimistic about being able to come back sooner than later" based on how his arm is currently feeling.
  • Dodgers SS Corey Seager no longer has a timetable for a return after lingering soreness has emerged in his right hand.
  • Braves SP Mike Soroka suffered a complete re-tear of his Achilles tendon Thursday and will require season-ending surgery. Do we know of anybody who successfully made it back from two of these?
  • Cleveland SP Zach Plesac will make a rehab start at Double-A Tuesday. He'll likely need a few. 
  • Padres SP Dinelson Lamet was placed on the IL with right forearm inflammation. If you don't have an IL spot, he can be dropped, right?
  • Hector Santiago, who is now on the Mariners, was the first pitcher to be ejected because of a foreign substance on his glove.
  • Nationals SP Stephen Strasburg completed a 25-pitch bullpen session Sunday but remains without a timetable for return.
  • Red Sox SP Chris Sale will throw a two-inning live batting practice session on Wednesday. Alex Cora said that Sale is "feeling great" following his 15-pitch live BP session Saturday.
  • Nationals SP Erick Fedde was placed on the IL with an oblique strain.
  • Rangers OF Willie Calhoun was placed on the IL with a fracture in his forearm. Eli White, Jason Martin, and Joey Gallo were in the outfield for the Rangers on Sunday.
  • Orioles 2B/SS Freddy Galvis was placed on the IL with a right quad strain. Maybe we'll see Jahmai Jones, a former top-100 prospect who is batting .307 with four homers and four steals in the minors, at some point.
  • Reds 1B/2B/3B Mike Moustakas is still dealing with pain from his injured heel. 
  • Yankees SP Corey Kluber is not expected back until July or August.
  • Blue Jays SP Steven Matz will return from the COVID IL to start Wednesday against the Mariners.
  • Cubs 2B/SS/OF Nico Hoerner began a rehab assignment Sunday at Triple-A. He's 38% rostered for those who have a middle infield spot in their leagues.
  • Blue Jays C Alejandro Kirk started a rehab assignment Saturday for those in two-catcher leagues.
  • Nationals OF Victor Robles left Sunday's game after being hit by a pitch on his knee. X-rays were negative.
  • Mets 2B/3B/SS Jonathan Villar was placed on the IL with a strained right calf Friday but will start a rehab assignment this week. 3B J.D. Davis will start his rehab this Wednesday.
  • The biggest news of the weekend: Cardinals SP John Gant has been moved to the Cardinals bullpen. Wade LeBlanc will start Monday.

Skubal induces a dazzling 21 swinging strikes


Tigers SP Tarik Skubal might not be on your shortlist for sleeper SPs heading into the second half, but maybe he should be. On Sunday, he induced an absolutely massive number of swinging strikes (21 to be exact) while holding a loaded Astros lineup to just one hit. The 24-year-old pitching prospect still delivered a 36 percent called strikes plus whiff rate despite the matchup. He hasn't always kept runs off the board, but his upside is based on his massive strikeout potential, and outings like Sunday are an excellent indicator of what his ceiling can be in the strikeout category. After recording another nine strikeouts through seven innings on Sunday, he has a 4.06 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and 94/36 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 77 2/3 innings in 2021.

Here was the breakdown of his 21 swinging strikes: six on the four-seamer, six on the slider, four on the two-seamer, three on the changeup and two on the curveball. As Scott mentioned, the knock on Skubal coming into 2021 was that he didn't have a big enough pitch arsenal. Scott thinks it's clear he does now. He's been hyping him up for weeks now, and he thinks this is truly a breakout performance for the lefty. 

The Astros entered this game with the lowest swinging strike rate in the MLB and Skubal induced an average of three swinging strikes per inning!

Chris is a bit more skeptical Skubal has turned the corner due to the hard-hit balls he allows so consistently and the under-the-hood numbers (like his expected ERA). His fastball is still getting hit hard, but the hope here is that he is developing enough on his secondary pitches that he won't have to rely as much on the fastball, his worst pitch.

Skubal is still just 75% rostered and we would advise to scoop him up.

Waiver-wire hitters

  • Dodgers 2B/3B/OF Zach McKinstry (20% rostered) went 2 for 4 with a grand slam on Sunday, his fifth homer of the season. He's 20% rostered.
  • Rockies OF Yonathan Daza (15%) had two multi-hit games this weekend. He is now batting .328 and has seven home games this week
  • Brewers 1B/2B Keston Hiura (37%) collected four hits over the weekend, including two homers. On the flip side, he still had five strikeouts during that three-game stretch. Scott has graded the Brewers as having some of the easiest hitter matchups this week in their seven-game slate. He's worth scooping up if you're desperate for help in the middle infield.

Waiver-wire pitchers 

  • Mets SP David Peterson (29% rostered) in his last outing at PHI: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 10 swinging strikes on 95 pitches. He has a 1.08 ERA and 0.78 WHIP in his last three starts, but it comes with a 4.46 xFIP. He's at the Yankees next.
  • Rockies SP Jon Gray (44%) in his last outing at MIL: 5 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 K, 17 swinging strikes on 83 pitches. His fastball averaged 96 mph (up from 94.3 mph on the season). His next outing is at home vs. Pittsburgh this week.
  • Braves SP Drew Smyly (28%) in his last outing at CIN: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, eight swinging strikes on 84 pitches. He owns a 1.62 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in his last three starts but also a 4.20 xFIP. He faces the Mets this week.
  • Giants SP Johnny Cueto (53%) in his last outing vs. OAK: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 10 swinging strikes on 102 pitches. He's at Arizona this week.
  • Diamondbacks SP Merrill Kelly (26%) in his last start at SD: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 12 swinging strikes on 99 pitches. He's now had consecutive quality starts and has allowed just one earned run during that span. He faces the Giants this week (fifth in wOBA vs. RHP).

Deeper league pitching options

  • Marlins SP Zach Thompson (18% rostered) in his last outing vs. WAS: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 11 K, 16 swinging strikes on 91 pitches. He has made four starts in the majors, posting a 2.00 ERA with 25 K (14% SwStr rate) across 18 IP. He gets the Braves this week.
  • Braves SP Kyle Muller (8%) in his last outing at CIN: 5 IP, 1 H 2 BB, 9 K, 16 swinging strikes (at least four each on the four-seam, slider and curve) on 93 pitches. He averaged 94.1 mph on the fastball in the start and posted big-time strikeout upside in the minors. He draws Miami this week.
  • Brewers SP Eric Lauer (6%) in his latest outing vs. COL: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 12 swinging strikes (all came on his four-seam fastball) on 87 pitches. He always had great numbers in the minors, where he owns a 2.85 ERA and 1.17 WHIP with 207 K in 183 IP. He's at the Pirates this week (29th in wOBA vs. LHP).
  • Pirates SP Max Kranick (3%) in his outing at STL: Five perfect innings (first pitcher to do this since 1893 in his debut outing) with three strikeouts and five swinging strikes on 50 pitches. He owns a 3.47 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with 230 K in 280 minor-league innings.