Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch: Carlos Gonzalez and other fallers

STOCK DOWN

Carlos Gonzalez: He’s currently dealing with a shoulder injury that’s sidelined him, but Gonzalez’s performance when on the field has been far more alarming this season. He’s struck out six times over his past three games and hasn’t taken a walk in more than a week. He’s batting .172 in June and owns a .494 OPS with runners on base this season. Coors Field remains the greatest hitter’s park, yet Gonzalez still has been one of the biggest disappointments in fantasy baseball. The majority of his at bats have come hitting cleanup, yet Gonzalez has a meager 20 RBI despite the Rockies scoring the fifth most runs in MLB. One silver lining is that Colorado is locked into a wild card spot, so it’s unlikely Gonzalez gets traded, so he’ll continue to have the benefit of Coors Field down the stretch.

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Jason Kipnis: One of the best hitting second basemen over the past two years, Kipnis currently sports a .691 OPS (the second lowest mark of his career). He’s also running less (4-for-6 on the base paths), and his average exit velocity (86.5 mph) has been horrendous, ranking toward the bottom of the league (behind the immortal Paulo Orlando), so it’s not like he’s been unlucky. The safest bet would be Kipnis performing much better from here on out, but he’s been one of the bigger busts so far.

Rich Hill: The near certainty with Hill was he’d either be hurt or highly effective, so naturally he’s been (mostly) healthy yet owns a 4.73 ERA with a 1.55 WHIP. His 43 strikeouts over 40.0 innings are nice, but that’s been accompanied by an unsightly 26 walks. He’s also allowed six homers, which is the same amount he served up total previously since 2013 (144.2 innings). After producing swinging strike rates of 11.9, 11.3 and 10.6 over the past three seasons, he’s down to 8.9 this season. Remarkably, Hill hasn’t lasted longer than five innings in any of his nine starts in 2017. Hill’s curveball used to be his best weapon, but it’s suddenly become the opposite.

Matt Bush: After taking back-to-back losses while allowing 10 base runners (and four runs) over 2.2 innings, Bush recorded a clean save Sunday, but his hold as Texas’ closer remains precarious. He was dominant last year, when he sported a 0.94 WHIP, but that number sits at 1.45 this season, and he already has more blown saves (four) than he did all of 2016 (three). Bush averages a strong 97.8 mph with his fastball, so there remains a bunch of upside, but fantasy owners need to be ready to grab Jose Leclerc and/or Keone Kela.

Justin Verlander: He entered the season as a top-50 pick, but Verlander currently is the No. 512 ranked player in the Yahoo game. The strikeouts have been there (86 in 87.2 innings), but the control hasn’t (his BB% was 6.3 last year and is now 11.2). Verlander nearly won the Cy Young last season, reinventing himself as a pitcher with decreased velocity, but he’s been anything but an ace in 2017 despite his fastball averaging the highest mph (95.0) since 2011. Verlander is throwing hard and has a long track record of success, so he’s a buy-low candidate, but realize his xFIP is an ugly 5.01, so his poor start hasn’t had anything to do with bad luck.

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