The trade deadline is less than a week away, the rumor mill is swirling and lots of movement for solid fantasy options should be expected.
We know the biggest rental names on the market include Kris Bryant, Trevor Story and Javier Baez. We know the biggest controllable players available include Jose Berrios, Craig Kimbrel, Joey Gallo and Kyle Gibson. The Twins have already unloaded the ageless Nelson Cruz to the Rays.
There are lots of other players who could find themselves in new homes by the end of the week — and sometimes that change of scenery helps players soar to new heights.
The Rockies’ Jon Gray has always been an intriguing, yet ultimately maddening, fantasy option. He is a guy capable of striking out a batter per inning (9.1 per nine for his career), but he also is a guy who walks 7.8 percent of the batters he faces. He has been injury-prone, making more than 30 starts in a season just once and 25 or more in just three of his seven seasons. He also has had an ERA under 3.80 just twice, one of which happens to be this year.
Over his first 17 starts, Gray is 6-6 with a 3.68 ERA (his lowest mark since 2017) and 8.4 strikeouts per nine. He is walking batters a career-worst 9.5 percent of the time (3.6 per nine innings, 12th worst in the majors), but the rest of his numbers are quite promising.
Opponents are hitting .217 against him, which not only is a career-best mark, but also ranks 18th in the NL among pitchers who’ve thrown at least 90 innings. He is striking out 22.3 percent of his opponents, has the lowest WHIP (1.22) of his career, an 11.2 percent swinging strike rate and his 3.56 xERA justifies his 3.68 ERA.
If you look at Gray’s pitch breakdown, he is humiliating hitters with his secondary pitches. Opponents are hitting .141 with 55 strikeouts (a 38.7 percent whiff rate) and 17.5 swinging strike rate against his slider, a pitch he is using 36.6 percent of the time. He has used the slider as his putaway pitch 26.6 percent of the time.
Opponents are also hitting .182 with a 31.8 percent whiff rate against his curveball and .194 with a 22.7 whiff rate against his changeup, which he throws 10.7 percent of the time.
It is his fastball, which he throws 47.4 percent of the time and has a maximum velocity of 98 mph, that isn’t fooling anyone. Though Gray has a career-high 19.2 percent whiff rate with the pitch, opponents are hitting .298 against it with six homers and 9.7 percent walk rate. His 7.6 percent swinging strike rate with the pitch is a career-best mark, but he isn’t missing enough bats.
Many would normally shy away from a historically inconsistent pitcher throwing half his games at Coors Field, but that would be a mistake with Gray. In 10 starts in Denver this year, he is 5-2 with a 3.14 ERA, 8.3 strikeouts per nine innings and a 1.05 WHIP. He has fared much worse on the road, going 1-4 with a 4.54 ERA, 8.6 strikeouts per nine and a 1.49 WHIP in seven starts.
Gray’s two (potential) starts before the trade deadline will come on the road against the Dodgers and Padres. He will take the ball Sunday in Los Angeles, where he is 1-6 with a 6.82 ERA and 1.78 WHIP over seven career starts. He is 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers this year, including a no-decision last Sunday in which he limited the defending champs to two runs over seven innings. After that, he is in line to start in San Diego, where he is 6-4 with a 2.89 ERA in 11 career starts, including a win on July 11, when he limited the Padres to one run over six innings.
Now is a good time to snag Gray, even if he sits on your bench for his next two starts versus imposing offensive threats. He is owned in just 40 percent of ESPN leagues, but that number could rise quickly — especially if he lands in a pitcher-friendly ballpark.
David Fletcher SS/2B, Angels
Had at least one hit in 29 of his 30 games since June 13, going 53-for-125 (.424) with two homers, 21 RBIs, 21 runs, two stolen bases and a 1.026 OPS.
Eric Lauer SP, Brewers
Allowed two runs over his past three starts while going 2-1 with a 0.98 ERA, 13 strikeouts and .169 opponent average. Only downfall: 10 walks.
Matt Olson 1B, Athletics
In his first six games since the break, he is 8-for-21 (.381) with two homers, five RBIs and a 1.271 OPS. He has hit .314 with five homers since July 3.
Robbie Ray SP, Blue Jays
Is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, 19-3 strikeout-walk rate and a .109 opponent average over his past two starts. He is 6-2 with a 2.11 ERA, 78-14 strikeout-walk rate and a .196 opponent average in his past nine.
Trevor Story SS, Rockies
Entered Friday hitting .143 with no homers, two RBIs, 16 strikeouts and a .444 OPS in his past nine games. Hit .160 in his first 13 games this month.
Chris Paddack SP, Padres
Since his last win on June 18, he is 1-1 with a 10.31 ERA, a .361 opponent average and a blown save over his past five appearances.
Shohei Ohtani DH/SP, Angels
In his first six games of the second half, he was 4-for-24 (.167) with one homer, four RBIs, 14 strikeouts and a .593 OPS.
Ross Stripling SP, Blue Jays
Lost two straight starts, allowing 10 runs over four innings (22.50 ERA). He struck out five, walked four, allowed five homers and a .421 opponent average in those outings.
- Dodgers catcher Will Smith was 7-for-19 (.368) with three homers, 12 RBIs, four runs, a stolen base and a 1.373 OPS in his first six games since the Midsummer Classic. He has 16 RBIs in his past 13 games.
- Juan Soto of the Nationals raised his average from .263 on June 18 to .301 after going 38-for-102 (.373) with eight homers, 26 RBIs, 26 runs, 21 walks, four stolen bases and a 1.152 OPS over his past 28 games entering Friday.
- The Tigers’ Jonathan Schoop entered Friday with a 12-game hit streak, going .367 (18-for-49) with a homer, 10 RBIs, eight runs and a .842 OPS in that span.
- Mitch Haniger had an 11-game hit streak snapped on Thursday after going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against the Athletics. The Mariner was 15-for-41 (.366) with five home runs, 12 RBIs, 13 runs, five walks and a 1.205 OPS during that stretch.
- In other Mariners news, Chris Flexen, who was featured in this space last week, was the most added pitcher in ESPN leagues this week. The former Met took the loss on Thursday, but is still 4-1 with a 1.94 ERA, 33 strikeouts and .219 opponent average over his past seven starts.
Team Name of the Week
Teheran You Apart
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