MLB Stock Watch: Trevor Cahill rising, Trevor Story falling

Trevor Cahill highlights this week’s look at recent risers and fallers in fantasy baseball (Getty Images)

STOCK UP

Trevor Cahill: It’s been just five starts, and Cahill’s control remains something of an issue, but he has 37 strikeouts over 30.0 innings. He also sports a 1.17 WHIP and batters are hitting .214 against him this season. Cahill is throwing his curveball at a far greater frequency than ever before with terrific results, and his 13.2 SwStr% would rank top-10 among starters (and among those ahead of him, only the injured Noah Syndergaard has a higher GB% than Cahill’s 57.3). Maybe Cahill will turn back into a pumpkin, but these numbers are beyond impressive, and he’s pitching in Petco Park and in the NL West. There’s nothing lucky about a 29.8 K% that’s top-10 among all starters in MLB. Cahill is owned in just 19 percent of Yahoo leagues right now. It should be closer to 100 percent.

Mark Reynolds: Since joining the Rockies, Reynolds is now at 498 at bats with a .289 batting average. And the power remains, as he’s currently on pace to finish this season with 49 homers and 130 RBI. Reynolds is batting fifth behind good hitters, and he’s currently available in a quarter of leagues despite being the No. 20 ranked fantasy player over the first month of the season.

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Yonder Alonso: A former top-10 draft pick, Alonso had become an afterthought, going undrafted in the vast majority of leagues. He’s batting .305/.387/.585, as his .972 OPS ranks in the top-20 in all of baseball. Alonso hit seven homers in 482 at bats last season (he’s never reached double-digit home runs in a season during his career), but he’s hit six bombs so far this year in 82 at bats. He’s a poor defender, but Alonso has transformed into a huge flyball hitter (his 48.4 FB% ranks No. 12 among all hitters), so the newfound power might not be a fluke. He’s owned in less than 10 percent of leagues.

Dee Gordon: He had four steals over his first 98 at bats this season but has since recorded five stolen bases over his following 16 at bats. He’s been caught stealing just once all season, so expect the latter to represent his value more so than the former moving forward. Gordon’s stolen base potential as a middle infielder gives him the upside of a top-25 type hitter, which many wouldn’t treat him as given last year’s suspension and this year’s slow start.

A.J. Pollock: He wasn’t exactly overlooked at draft tables entering the year despite only reaching 450 at bats one time during his career, but Pollock once again looks like a truly elite fantasy asset, thanks in part to the crazy green lights Arizona players have been given on the base paths. Pollock is on pace to finish with 115 runs scored and 58 steals while batting .309, and more homers are sure to come. Chase Field is one of the three best hitter’s parks in baseball (not necessarily for dimensional reasons in which I explain during this podcast) so he’s in an extremely beneficial spot while hitting leadoff. Only health will prevent him from being a first round pick next year.

STOCK DOWN

Trevor Story: No one expected him to keep up last year’s home run pace, when he knocked out 27 homers in 372 at bats as a rookie. But Story has been one of the biggest disappointments this year, as he currently sports an anemic .155/.268/.381 line. He does have six homers, but that’s been accompanied by just four other extra-base hits in 97 ABs, and it’s probably worth noting he’s coming off thumb surgery that could still be an issue. Story will almost certainly bounce back (it’s crazy he has a .451 OPS against right-handed pitchers so far this year) and still benefits from Coors Field, but it’s been a highly discouraging start for the shortstop, who has the second-highest K% (38.4) in all of baseball right now.

Jackie Bradley Jr.: He was one of the bigger surprises last year, when Bradley Jr. ended May with nine homers and a .331/.409/.601 line. It’s been all downhill from there, including an ugly start to 2017, when he’s gone .175/.250/.263, and his 36 wRC+ ranks in the bottom 10 among all hitters in baseball. It’s not easy playing regularly in Boston’s lineup and in Fenway Park and not scoring a run since April 22 (but then again, the Pirates have somehow scored more runs than Boston this season). JBJ has hit .138/.219/.207 with the bases empty this year, and he sure looks like a bust so far.

Jose Bautista: I was all in on a Bautista bounce back this season, but more than a month into the season, he’s sitting at .187/.315/.280 and as the No. 543 ranked fantasy player. His average exit velocity ranks No. 63 among hitters, and I still say he’s a buy-low candidate, but Bautista is 36 years old, and he’s struck out six of his last nine at bats, so there’s some cause for concern here.

Rich Hill: I loved Hill as much as anyone entering the year, as while his career path was as rare as any you’ll ever see, it was hard to argue against the performance when he was on the mound. But once again he’s now dealing with a blister that dates back to last year, and he was blasted during his recent rehab start. I love Hill and his situation in LA, and it’s nice his recent injury woes haven’t involved his arm, but at this point he simply can’t be trusted, which is a shame.

Mike Napoli: He had a 92-34-101 season last year, but he’s currently sporting a .518 OPS with a bunch of strikeouts. Hitters who fan a lot and hit a bunch of flyballs are inherently streaky, and it’s going to especially standout to fantasy owners when it happens in April as opposed to the middle of the year. He should be fine moving forward, but it’s definitely been ugly for his owners so far, as his walk rate is down, his K rate is up and his BABIP has been ridiculously low at .191. That’s not exactly a great combination.

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