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After a weekend like this past one, when there were so many performances of note, I think it's worth reminding you of this article's intent so that your cries of "Why not?" and "How come?" don't drown out the analysis.

Not every good performance raises a player's stock, and not every bad performance lowers a player's stock. I think most people, on a fundamental level, understand this and, thus, understand that identifying the best and worst performances from the weekend wouldn't fit the intent of a Stockwatch article. Identifying the most meaningful performances, whether for good or bad, would be.

Even if you understand this, though, your Fantasy rooting interests might take over. If you're hurting (boo!) or reveling (yay!) over something one of your players did, you may turn to an article like this one to "feel seen." But that's not the intent.

Some notable omissions ...

  • Pablo Lopez struck out 14 over eight shutout innings at Oakland Sunday. It was great and much needed after the way his recent outings had gone, but had I lost faith in him? Not really, so this performance doesn't really move the needle for me.
  • Dylan Cease wasn't able to make it through five innings against the Brewers Friday, capping an eight-start stretch in which he has put together a 6.43 ERA. But the walks are still under control, and the strikeouts are still amazing. Whatever is off isn't so far off as to think he'll never get it back, and I think downgrading him would be foolish.
  • Luis Severino had 10 strikeouts and 14 swinging strikes in his six shutout innings at the Cubs Sunday, both representing season highs. But the pitch selection and pitch characteristics weren't remarkably different. He's reinvented himself as a ground-ball pitcher this year and should maintain a respectable ERA, but there's no reason to think the strikeouts will become a trend.

Maybe after a less eventful weekend, those three performances (as well as several others) would have made the cut for this article, but they just didn't move the needle as much as the ones I've identified here.

And hey, I've mentioned them anyway, so you can come away feeling like you've been seen. Everybody wins!

Stock Up
MIN Minnesota • #17 • Age: 29
Saturday at Athletics
INN
9
H
4
ER
2
BB
0
K
10
HR
2
So after that whole speech about the performances having to mean something, I'm mostly just reacting to the stat line here with Bailey Ober, whose domination of the Athletics (in back-to-back starts, no less) doesn't square with his 7.61 ERA in the preceding five outings. Of his 23 swinging strikes Saturday, seven came on the fastball, which has been his most troublesome pitch by far, so perhaps he's gotten a handle on it and can avoid his past pitfalls. Then again, he still served up two home runs in this start, which is his most worrisome attribute. He has also lasted 100 pitches only once this season, meaning that apart from this complete-game effort, even his good starts have been on the shorter side. So I'd say that the jury's still out on Ober's long-term outlook, but his stock is up if only because it had fallen so far.
SD San Diego • #3 • Age: 21
2024 Stats
AVG
.289
HR
10
SB
9
OPS
.771
AB
263
K
45
The big performance for Jackson Merrill came Saturday, when he went 3 for 3 with a walk and a home run, his 10th of the season but, more notably, his seventh in an 11-game span. The rookie has profiled well for batting average all this time (95th percentile xBA, according to Statcast) with his low strikeout rate, line-drive swing, and all-fields approach, but those latter two attributes also served to undermine his power potential. Over this 11-game span, however, he has put the ball in the air 55 percent of the time, up from 31 percent in his first 67 games, and it's having the desired effect. Better yet, he hasn't pulled the ball any more than usual, which suggests he's not forcing the issue. Obviously, this recent power pace isn't one he'll sustain for the rest of the season, but it signals the sort of breakthrough that could make the 21-year-old a must-start player the rest of the way.
STL St. Louis • #41 • Age: 25
2024 Stats
AVG
.285
HR
12
SB
5
AB
239
BB
10
K
36
Even as a rookie last year, Alec Burleson looked like a natural-born hitter, combining a low strikeout rate (13 percent) with respectable exit velocity readings (89.9 mph average) for an expected batting average of .277. His actual batting average was only .244, but the underlying numbers, not to mention his .331 batting average in his final minor-league season, gave reason to wonder if he might excel with regular playing time. Well, he's gotten regular playing time, having started 33 of the Cardinals' past 34 games, and is indeed excelling. His three-game series against the Giants this weekend saw him go 7 for 11 with two homers, three steals, seven RBI and seven runs scored. His .285 batting average and .469 slugging percentage are now virtually identical to his expected marks (.287 and .470), and while his lack of walks limits his appeal for points leagues, we're at a point where he's worth considering in all formats.
ARI Arizona • #52 • Age: 31
Friday at Phillies
INN
6
H
5
ER
2
BB
1
K
5
Friday's outing for Jordan Montgomery, while solid enough, wouldn't seem to move the needle, really, until you consider what went into it. More specifically, his curveball was back to breaking like it's supposed to after lacking its usual effectiveness for much of the year. It actually had too much movement through his first 10 starts, and batters weren't biting, resulting in a 6.58 ERA. It first showed signs of coming around in his previous start against the White Sox, when he allowed no earned runs with seven strikeouts in five innings, and then was all the way back to its 2023 shape in this latest outing at the Phillies. It rated as his best pitch last year, when he delivered a 3.20 ERA, but he may have been slow to gain the feel for it this year after signing with the Diamondbacks at the end of spring training. Better days are ahead.
TOR Toronto • #48 • Age: 26
2024 Stats
AVG
.366
HR
2
OPS
1.041
AB
41
BB
9
K
5
To whatever degree Spencer Horwitz was still competing for the second base job in Toronto, he may have clinched it Sunday with a two-homer game. Power was the one thing missing through his first 12 games, during which he went 13 for 38 (.342) but with only two doubles. Between all the singles and the walks, he looked like the perfect table-setter and has indeed hit first or second every time he's been in the lineup. Power isn't going to be a big part of his game -- which is in fact why he had to move off his natural position, first base -- but he's such a good hitter otherwise that even just a hint of power should keep him in the lineup enough to factor in Fantasy. Perhaps he'll be something akin to what Jeff McNeil once was.
Stock Down
CHC Chi. Cubs • #18 • Age: 30
Friday vs. Mets
INN
3
H
11
ER
10
BB
1
K
3
HR
3
Shota Imanaga has been so dominant all season long that you may be inclined to give him a pass for this one, but notably, it was the first time he faced a lineup for the second time. And the Mets seemed to know what was coming. "We were ready for the fastball," Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said. "And when we got pitches in the zone, especially with the fastball, we were ready to go." As for Imanaga, he "definitely felt like they made an adjustment," which has to be unnerving given that he doesn't have any different looks to offer. For as good as the characteristics on his fastball and splitter are, they're basically all he throws -- and at relatively low velocities. Add the high fly-ball rate, and you could see him having a few more starts that go absolutely sideways on him this summer. He remains must-start for now, but his best stretch of the season is likely behind him.
TB Tampa Bay • #44 • Age: 26
Friday at Pirates
INN
3.1
H
3
ER
2
BB
4
K
3
HR
0
Turns out the high point of Ryan Pepiot's season was the end of April, when he had a 3.12 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 9.9 K/9 through six starts. In his next start, he took a liner off the leg, which landed him on the IL for about two weeks, and it's been all downhill since then. The natural presumption is that he may not be healthy, but I suspect this is one of those instances when correlation doesn't equal causation. More likely, Pepiot's struggles are a matter of his fly-ball tendencies and past control woes catching up to him. He's issued seven walks and served up five home runs in his past three starts, amounting to a 7.07 ERA. His limited arsenal doesn't help matters. While he throws his slider and changeup plenty, the metrics on them are pretty terrible, leaving his fastball as his only quality pitch.
MIA Miami • #44 • Age: 26
2024 Stats
W-L
3-6
ERA
5.00
WHIP
1.25
INN
66.2
BB
22
K
58
Normally, I don't address players who go on the IL in this space because the analysis is rather obvious and straightforward, but Jesus Luzardo's case was more of a one-two punch. First came the initial shock of his lumbar stress reaction that manager Skip Schumaker said would sideline him for 4-6 weeks. Then came the news that he was actually going on the 60-day IL rather than the 15-day IL, which means we might not see him again until September. It also all but eliminates the possibility of him being traded to a contender, which was the best hope for him salvaging his season. Given the state the Marlins will be in once he's ready to return, what's the incentive to bring him back at all? As injury stashes go, Luzardo now strikes me as being among the lowest in priority.
BAL Baltimore • #49 • Age: 34
Sunday at Astros
INN
5
H
10
ER
5
BB
3
K
3
HR
1
It was fun while it lasted for Albert Suarez, the 34-year-old who's in the majors for the first time in seven years after showing up to spring training with a few extra ticks on his fastball. He managed to put together a 1.61 ERA through 14 appearances, including four after he joined the rotation in late May, but he was exposed against a pair of tough lineups this past week, allowing a combined eight runs on 16 hits with eight walks and six strikeouts. Maybe you're inclined to give him a pass since he was facing the Yankees and Astros, but the truth is that his xFIP and xERA were pretty underwhelming even before those starts. He wasn't throwing strikes or missing bats at a particularly high rate, and he still has yet to go six innings in a start. That he pitches for the Orioles isn't reason enough to hold on.
CHW Chi. White Sox • #48 • Age: 23
Sunday at Tigers
INN
1
H
7
ER
5
BB
0
K
1
HR
2
It was hard to explain Jonathan Cannon's dominant outing June 12 at Seattle, when he struck out seven over seven one-run innings, but then when he followed it up with 8 2/3 shutout innings June 18 against Houston, it seemed like something to take seriously. He was good at putting the ball on the ground, at least. Maybe his modest numbers in the minors were largely a matter of poor fielding behind him? Fortunately, this latest outing at the Tigers gives an excuse to stop guessing. He's probably just not very good. I'll admit he's still among my sleeper pitchers for the upcoming scoring period because the matchup is especially favorable (vs. Rockies), but you'd rather not have to resort to him.