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Fantasy Baseball Risers & Fallers: Dylan Cease, Starling Marte, Alex Wood

by Jon Mathisen | @eazymath | Featured Writer
Jun 14, 2021
Dylan Cease fantasy baseball

Dylan Cease has been sharp over his last two outings.

Welcome to the Fantasy Baseball Risers and Fallers article for Week 10 (6/7-6/13). I will be covering some of the hottest and coldest players in baseball over the last week. This weekly column aims to provide insight into the featured players’ success and/or struggles. We’ll discover if their recent performances have any staying power or if it was just a flash in the pan.

If you can believe it, we’re over a third of the way through the season! We’re past the point where you need to decide whether to hold, sell high, buy low, or simply cut bait on some of these names. As always, this upcoming week will prove significant for some of the fallers mentioned below. It should also shed light on the sustainability of some of the risers.

I try my best to focus on some lesser-known players or fringe roster-worthy guys that have been flying under the radar. To avoid redundancy, I won’t always be covering superstars like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who’s currently leading the league in home runs, RBI, OBP, slugging percentage, OPS, and total bases. Vladdy Jr. is amazing, and as much as I’d like to write about him on a weekly basis, he’s also rostered in 100% of leagues, and his awesomeness is well documented across the fantasy baseball landscape. Anyway, with all of that out of the way, let’s get into it.

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Risers

Dylan Cease (SP – CWS)
Cease only had one start last week but has been sharp over his last two outings, both of which came against the Tigers. He registered a 2-0 record to go along with a 1.50 ERA, 0.916 WHIP, and 17:2 K/BB ratio over 12 innings pitched in those outings. He’s now won his first eight starts against the Tigers, which set a White sox franchise record. He had seven strikeouts through five innings in his start against Detroit on Saturday and likely would have gone deeper into the game if it were not such a blowout in favor of the Sox. Overall, Cease has a 5-2 record, 3.38 ERA, 1.275 WHIP, and 85:29 K/BB ratio across 66 2/3 innings (13 starts). He’s allowed three runs or less in 11-of-13 starts and is posting a 3.26 FIP, 3.54 xERA, and 3.78 SIERA.

It’s all starting to come together for Cease, who’s sporting career-bests in Whiff rate (35.3%), Strikeout rate (29.7%), and Walk rate (10.1%). Opponents expected batting average (.213), expected wOBA (.299), and expected slugging percentage (.359) are also career highs for the 25-year-old. He could be in line for a major second half as it looks like he’s on the cusp of a full-on breakout. He’s rostered in 74% of Yahoo! leagues at the time of this writing, but it feels like that number should be higher.

Sandy Alcantara (SP – MIA)
Trevor Rogers and Pablo Lopez have received a ton of praise this season, and rightfully so, both pitchers have been excellent. But we can’t forget about the third stud in the Marlins’ rotation, Sandy Alcantara. In two starts last week against the Pirates and the Braves, he notched two wins to go along with a 1.93 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 12:4 K/BB ratio over 14 innings. He’s been a workhorse for Miami all year, logging 10 quality starts and pitching into the sixth inning in 12-of-14 starts. Overall, he’s sporting a solid 3.39 ERA, 1.082 WHIP, and 80:24 K/BB ratio across 85 innings pitched.

If it weren’t for an unlucky and incredibly rare eight-earned run performance against the Dodgers back on May 14, then his actual ERA would be closer to his expected mark (2.97 xERA). His fastball velocity ranks in the 98th percentile (97.8 mph), and he’s done an excellent job limiting hard contact with a 52.3% Groundball rate, .344 expected slugging percentage allowed, and 3.8% Barrel rate, which are all career bests. Batters simply can’t catch up to his fastball when he mixes it in with his devastating changeup. He should keep it rolling when he faces the Cardinals on the road in his next start.

Amed Rosario (SS – CLE)
Rosario had himself a nice week and is quietly having himself a nice season. He’s 14-for-31 (.452/.452/.613) over his last seven games with one home run, five RBI, and a stolen base. He’s riding a seven-game hitting streak and has recorded at least one base knock in 12-of-13 contests. He’s slashing .280/.335/.409 with four triples, four home runs, 19 RBI, and six stolen bases over 193 at-bats on the season. His 18.4% Strikeout rate and 7.3% Walk rate are the best marks of his career, and the same can be said for his Hard Hit rate (46.3%), expected batting average (.284), and expected wOBA (.322). He’s become a more patient hitter in Cleveland as well with a 1st Pitch Swing Percentage of 16.5%–he’s never been lower than 25% in his career–and a 46.5% Swing rate.

Rosario was a bit of an afterthought in the Francisco Lindor trade this offseason. Andrés Giménez was the prized player coming over from the Mets. Everyone assumed he would seize the starting shortstop gig, replace Lindor, and leave Rosario–a shortstop by trade–without a position. Many assumed Cleveland would repackage Rosario and ship him off to another team before the regular season began. Well, Giménez was sent down to Triple-A back on May 18, and Rosario, who started 18 games in center field before taking over as the team’s primary shortstop, has only committed four errors to date. It feels like he’s been around forever, but Rosario is still just 25-years-old and seems more comfortable playing in Cleveland than he ever did in New York.

Starling Marte (OF – MIA)
Have yourself a week, Mr. Marte! The five-category stud hit .500/.548/.750 (14-for-28) with two home runs, five RBI, and four stolen bases over seven games last week. He also flashed the leather in center field, making some outstanding grabs, and gunning down two Atlanta Braves at home plate in their weekend series. Overall, the 32-year-old is slashing .351/.443/.568 with five home runs, 15 RBI, and eight stolen bases over 111 at-bats. He’s outperformed his expected stats over the small sample size (.289 xBA/.389 xwOBA/.498 xSLG), but those numbers are closer to his career batting line of .289/.344/.454. We should expect some regression moving forward, but he deserves recognition for his recent play.

He’s reached safely in 14-of-15 games since coming off the injured list back in late May. Marte suffered a non-displaced fracture of his 12th rib during a swing back in mid-April, which kept him sidelined for six weeks, but he’s looked like a rejuvenated player since coming off the IL. He’s reminding everyone, in fantasy baseball and real life, just how good he can be.

Adam Duvall (OF – MIA)
Duvall did what he does best last week, hit the ball hard and over the fence. He swatted three homers, drove in eight runs, and swiped two bags in seven games. In true Adam Duvall fashion, though, he hit just .241/.233/.586 with a 12:2 K/BB ratio over his 29 at-bats. He did hit his three homers over a four-game span, and Miami went 3-1 during that stretch. For the season, the 32-year-old slugger is slashing .201/.243/.417 with 12 home runs, 41 RBI, four stolen bases, and a lopsided 72:11 K/BB ratio. His expected stats, which are nothing special, would be a significant improvement on his actual numbers. A .212 xBA, .304 xwOBA, and .470 xSLG sound about right with his 14.4% Barrel rate, 48.5% Hard hit rate, and 32.7% Strikeout rate.

His MLB Percentile ranks below sum up his profile perfectly, and that’s what we should expect from Duvall moving forward. He’s never hit for a high average, nor has he got on base consistently, but if you’re in need of some power, he’s someone you could target as he’s currently rostered in just 24% of Yahoo! leagues. As long as you have some batting average and OBP balancers around him, he can provide value with his pop.

Fallers

Alex Wood (SP – SF)
Wood only had one start last week, taking a no-decision while allowing four earned runs over 5 1/3 innings in the Giants’ win over the Rangers on June 8. But it’s part of an underwhelming trend for the southpaw who’s gone 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, and 12:7 K/BB over his last three appearances (15 innings). Opponents have put up a .966 OPS against him in those three starts. Contrast those numbers with his first seven starts of the year when he went 5-1 with a 1.93 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 42:11 K/BB ratio over 42 innings. He put up five quality starts in that span while opponents registered a .589 OPS against him.

He now has a 3.79 ERA, 1.158 WHIP, 4.01 FIP, and 4.04 xERA. Those numbers fall in line with his career marks and should be what we expect from Wood for the rest of the season. He outperformed in the early part of the year, and he’s underperformed over his last three turns, so we should expect his production to fall somewhere in the middle the rest of the way. Durability has always been an issue for the 30-year-old as he’s never been able to stay healthy for an entire season. Fantasy managers that jumped on him earlier this year should be thankful they got those seven excellent starts when they did. It’s unlikely he’ll go on another run like that again, but he’s better than the three-game stretch he’s shown over the last two weeks. He’s got a prime bounce-back opportunity against the last place D-Backs on Monday.

Rhys Hoskins (1B – PHI)
It has not been pretty for Hoskins over his last six games. He’s hitless in his last 27 plate appearances, going 0-for-24 (.000/.111/.000) with two runs scored and a 6:3 K/BB ratio, yikes. The cold streak has lowered his season batting line to .242/.316/.453 to go along with 34 runs scored, 12 home runs, 35 RBI, and two stolen bases across 236 at-bats. The BA is in line with his career average of .240, but his .769 OPS is 80 points off his career .849 mark. Nothing in his batted ball profile suggests this slump will last, although his 26.3% Strikeout rate is a career-low. He’s also never had a Walk rate lower than 13.2% over his career until this season’s 8.9%.

He will always be a streaky hitter, and fantasy managers have come to expect that by now. He can have a hitless stretch over a six-game period but can also smash six homers and drove in nine runs as he did from April 20-26 earlier this season. You learn to take the good with the bad with a player like Hoskins. If he can start drawing more walks, as he has throughout his career, and get his OBP back above .350, then it’ll be much easier to tolerate the times he goes cold at the plate.

Anthony Santander (OF – BAL)
The Orioles were one of many teams to play just five games last week, so Santander only logged 21 plate appearances. He went 3-for-20 (.150/.190/.400) with two doubles, a solo home run, and one RBI. The 26-year-old slugger is rocking a .252/.282/.417 batting line with 11 doubles, four home runs, and 16 RBI over 139 at-bats. A sprained ankle sidelined him for a month earlier this season, hence the limited number of at-bats. There’s been more bad news than good with Santander but let’s start with the good. His expected stats, apart from slugging, are above his actual numbers with a .283 xBA, .319 xwOBA, and .410 xSLG.

On the downside, his 24% Strikeout rate is the worst it’s been since his rookie year in 2017, while his 3.4% Walk rate is the lowest of his career. He’s also seen significant drop-offs in his average launch angle (24.7 degrees in 2020 to 12.6 degrees in 2021) and Barrel rate (10.2% to 6.7%). His 42.3% Groundball rate is also a career-low, and his Zone-Contact rate of 74.6% is the lowest mark since his rookie season. Many fantasy managers have lost patience with him and decided to cut bait already. It’s possible that he’s still dealing with some lingering issues from his ankle sprain, but that’s just speculation. He could get hot and turn things around, but it’s been a frustrating season for those who thought he could build on his 2020 breakout when he swatted 11 dingers and drove in 32 runs with a .890 OPS over 165 plate appearances.

Rafael Devers (3B – BOS)
We shouldn’t expect Devers to be a “faller” for very long at all. He’s just been cold over his last seven games, going 5-for-29 (.207/.233/.310) with one RBI. He was also caught stealing in Saturday’s loss to the Blue Jays. He probably caused some consternation amongst his fantasy managers, but there isn’t much to see here. The 24-year-old is having a great year across the board with a .273/.337/.553 batting line to go along with 43 runs scored, 15 home runs, 49 RBI, and three stolen bases over 235 at-bats. He’s posting career-highs in Barrel rate, Hard Hit rate, xwOBAcon, xwOBA, and xSLG.

He’s on pace to set new career-highs in both home runs and RBI as well, so he should be just fine going forward. The Red Sox took note of his mini-slump as well and gave him the day off on Sunday. Boston was blown out by the Blue Jays by a score of 18-4, so his presence in the lineup would not have made much of a difference. Expect to see Devers back on the “Risers” list soon, maybe even in next week’s column.

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