Fantasy Baseball Risers & Fallers: Fernando Tatis Jr., Danny Duffy, Amir Garrett
Welcome to the Fantasy Baseball Risers and Fallers article for Week 4 (4/19-4/25). I will be covering some of the hottest and coldest players in baseball over the last week. This weekly column aims to provide some insight into the players’ success and/or struggles mentioned below. We’ll discover if their recent performances have any staying power or if it was just a flash in the pan. It’s still early in the season, but we’re getting to the point where you need to decide to sell high, buy low, or cut bait on some of these risers and fallers. This upcoming week, as always, is big for some of the fallers mentioned below, and it should also shed light on the sustainability of some of the risers. With that said, let’s get into it.
Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS – SD)
Tatis Jr. got off to a rough start this year, as we all know. He picked up just three hits in his first five games before hitting the injured list with a left shoulder subluxation. On April 22, Tatis Jr. had a .163/.265/.326 batting line to go along with two home runs and three RBI. Fast forward three days later, and the superstar is slashing .246/.338/.632 with seven home runs and nine RBI. Tatis Jr. put on an absolute show in the Padres four-game series against the Dodgers, leading San Diego to three wins, including an epic come from behind victory on Sunday night that went to extra-innings. He went 8-for-18 with five home runs and six RBI in the four-game-set, wow.
The 22-year-old phenom reminded us all why he’s the most exciting player in the game. No one in their right mind ever doubted him after the slow start this season, but there were still some concerns with the shoulder issue. There still are some questions about his durability moving forward, but we don’t want to rain on this parade. Can we please just have the Dodgers and Padres play each other every single night from now on?
We also got this awesome stat following one of his two home run performances over the weekend.
4/23/99: Fernando Tatis Sr. 2 grand slams at Dodger Stadium
4/23/21: Fernando Tatis Jr. 2 home runs at Dodger Stadium
– MLB (@MLB) April 24, 2021
Danny Duffy (SP – KC)
Duffy was looking great prior to last Monday, but he’s scorching hot now after a two-start week that saw him work 11 scoreless innings in two games vs. the Rays and Tigers, respectively. He now has a 3-1 record, 0.39 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 27:6 K/BB ratio over 23 innings (four starts). He’s faced some decent opponents outside of Detroit as well, with starts against the Angels, Rays, and Indians.
He’s done a good job with his pitch mix thus far, increasing his four-seamer and slider usage. His four-seam fastball is averaging 93.8 mph, his highest mark in four seasons. That pitch also has a career-high 31.5 CSW percentage (Called Strikes plus Whiffs). There is obvious regression coming for Duffy, who’s shown us nice stretches like this throughout his career, but an ERA lower than your WHIP is not sustainable over a full season. It could be time to consider selling high on the 32-year-old southpaw. He draws the Twins in his next turn, and it’s safe to say his stock has never been higher than it is right now.
Trevor Story (SS – COL)
Story got off to a slower start, similar to Tatis Jr., this season. He wasn’t hurt, nor was he mired in a slump, but he had yet to hit a home run as of April 22. That changed on April 23 when he jacked his first tater of the year off Vince Velasquez of the Phillies. In five games last week, the 28-year-old slugger went 7-for-18 (.380 BA) with two home runs and eight RBI, including a grand slam, on Sunday vs. the Phillies.
Story’s power surge helped give the lowly Rockies four wins in five games, including a series (two games) sweep of Houston. We were never worried about Story’s lack of power as nothing had really changed in his batted ball profile to suggest he was slumping, but it was still nice to see him put a few over the wall. He’s now slashing .299/.333/.481 with six doubles, one triple, two home runs, 13 RBI, and two stolen bases over 77 at-bats. He still remains one of the most dynamic shortstops in the game, and if Colorado finds itself out of contention this summer, which we most certainly will, then we should expect him to be playing elsewhere following the trade deadline.
Kenley Jansen (RP – LAD)
He only made two appearances last week, but both were memorable and showed some positive signs for the 33-year-old. Jansen showed some control issues earlier in the season, walking four batters over his first 3 2/3 innings. His shaky start was compounded when he blew a save back on April 7 against Oakland. His struggles coupled with Corey Knebel‘s hot start had some folks in the fantasy community wondering if Jansen had fallen out of favor as the Dodgers’ ninth-inning man. But that hasn’t turned out to be the case as Jansen is a perfect 4-for-4 on save opportunities since blowing that save against the A’s.
Earlier this week, he showed us all why it’s still his job to lose. First, he saved a 1-0 lead in Seattle on Tuesday, making reigning AL Rookie of The Year look silly with a check-swing strikeout on a 95 mph cutter. He also hit 97 mph in that appearance, the most zip he’s shown since 2017. He then picked up his fifth save of the season on Saturday (4/25) when he worked 1 1/3 scoreless inning to preserve the Dodgers’ only win in a four-game series with Padres. We still have a long ways to go, but so far, the Dodgers and fantasy managers alike can’t complain about five saves with a 1.93 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 12 strikeouts. He does also have seven walks, but hey, he’s only human.
Kenley Jansen, Ridiculous 95mph Cutter. 😳 pic.twitter.com/7a60qSKpnr
– Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 20, 2021
David Peralta (OF – AZ)
If you produce a week’s worth of production in one game, which is exactly what Peralta did, then you deserve to be on this list. He went 5-for-6 with a triple, a home run, and seven RBI in Thursday’s 14-11 win over the Reds. He finished the week with a .375 batting average (9-for-24) to go along with two home runs and 11 RBI, powering the D-Backs to win five of six games. Even after last week’s eruption, Peralta is slashing just .253/.322/.468 (79 at-bats), which doesn’t sound like anything special, but he was batting as low as .176/.236/.333 back on April 17.
The 33-year-old has long been underrated, particularly from a fantasy perspective, as he does a lot of things “well” but nothing “great.” He’s a career .290 hitter with a .819 OPS, though, and is worthy of a roster spot in standard 12-team leagues. He can serve as a batting average balancer and is capable of going off on any given night, as evidenced by his explosion last week vs. Cincinnati.
Amir Garrett (RP – CIN)
You could really put the entire Cincinnati Reds’ bullpen on this list, minus Tejay Antone, maybe, after their awful showing against the Diamondbacks last week. Cionel Perez, Lucas Sims, and Sean Doolittle all struggled in that series, but Garrett, who was already off to a bad start this season, looked especially awful. He surrendered four runs on two hits with three walks and just one strikeout over one inning (two appearances) vs. Arizona. He blew a save in one game and took the loss in the other.
The 28-year-old lefty now owns a 13.50 ERA, 2.67 WHIP, and 4:7 K/BB ratio over six innings. We still have faith that Garrett will right the ship, and he has the potential to be a dominant closer, but he just hasn’t looked right, and batters are crushing his slider with a .357 batting average and .643 slugging percentage off that pitch. Contrast those numbers with last year when opponents had a .141 xBA and .265 xSLG off that same offering.
Victor Robles (OF – WSH)
Robles has fallen flat on his face after a stellar Spring Training. He’s coming off a week in which he went 3-for-16 with one RBI (his first of the year!) while hitting eighth in the batting order in 5-of-6 games (Andrew Stevenson started in his place in one contest). Entering Monday, he’s slashing miserable .214/.343/.268 with two extra-base hits and the lone RBI. He has drawn eight walks, so he’s getting on base at a decent clip, but he’s only attempted two stolen bases and was caught once. Unfortunately, his expected stats don’t look much better with a .226 xBA, .314 xwOBA, and.323 xSLG.
Once upon a time, Robles was a higher rated prospect than superstar teammate Juan Soto, if you can believe that. I am not saying that he is a better player by any means, just simply pointing out that Robles has the pedigree and still has the potential to be a meaningful contributor in the pros. He’s about to turn 24-years-old, and while he may be stuck in a rut at the plate right now, he could turn things around quickly. But you can’t blame fantasy managers that are understandably frustrated with him.
Cavan Biggio (2B – TOR)
This season has not gone well for Biggio, and last week didn’t feel like a step in the right direction. He was 3-for-18 over five games, but all three hits came on the same day. He currently holds a .169/.300/.322 batting line with two home runs and three RBI over 59 at-bats on the season. He hasn’t attempted a stolen base this year and is whiffing as much as expected with a 23:10 K/BB ratio. His .145 xBA and .237 xSLG don’t give us confidence that he’ll turn things around in a hurry, either.
On the plus side, he’s been batting leadoff over the last four games and has an 11.9% Walk rate. There’s no denying that the 26-year-old has been a thorn in the side of fantasy managers that likely spent a fifth-round pick on him, but there should be brighter days ahead. His power/speed potential is still enticing, even though he hasn’t started running yet.
Keston Hiura (1B, 2B – MIL)
The whole season has been a struggle for Hiura, so he really could have made this list at any point over the last month. He went 4-for-18 with one extra-base hit, zero RBI, seven strikeouts, and one walk last week, though. On the year, he’s slashing a paltry .145/.264/.242 with one home run, five RBI, one stolen base, and a 25:6 K/BB ratio across 62 at-bats.
Even the biggest Hiura fans were well aware of his potential red flags, but they probably didn’t expect him to perform this poorly. He is swinging and missing a ton with a 33.8% Strikeout rate (9th percentile in MLB) and a 43.7% Whiff rate (2nd percentile). Fantasy managers can stomach a lot of strikeouts and a poor batting average if that can be somewhat balanced out with power or stolen bases, but you’re getting neither with Hiura right now. There’s still too much potential here to just drop him outright, but you’re unlikely to get much for return in a trade either.
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