We are starting the third week of MLB games in 2021, and some trends are starting to appear. Differentiating the fluky stat lines from the legitimate ones is a fantasy manager’s biggest challenge, but fortunately, we are here to help you through the process by identifying players who are trending up and others who are falling down in the rankings.
Each week, Nerd Fantasy Sports will bring you three players who are trending up, and three who aren’t looking so good. A player’s presence in any of these lists will never be injury-related.
Tyler Glasnow, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
Isn’t it annoying when the rich kid gets new toys? Well, that’s what happened with Tyler Glasnow this season. In addition to an unfair fastball-curveball combination, he worked all offseason to perfect a new slider. The new pitch slotted seamlessly in his repertoire, and he now uses it around 35 percent of the time with a 33.3 whiff rate before his 14-strikeout performance on Monday against the Texas Rangers. For the season, Glasnow has 29 strikeouts in 19.2 frames, a 0.46 ERA, and a 0.51. That’ll do. He may challenge for the Cy Young Award in the American League.
Advice: Hold tight and enjoy the ride
Huascar Ynoa, SP, Atlanta Braves
He may not have had the best Minor Leagues career, with a 4.32 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP in 372.2 innings. He may have been battered last season, with a 5.82 ERA in 21.2 frames. Yet, Huascar Ynoa may have locked up the fifth spot in the Atlanta Braves’ rotation with his last two performances. On Monday, he dominated the Miami Marlins with six innings of one-run ball. He conceded three hits and a walk, but struck out 10 foes with an amazing slider-fastball combination. He had pitched five shutout innings with five whiffs in his previous appearance. His minor league profile does show some risks, but just on the possibility that Ynoa finally figured it out, he should be picked up in all leagues. His arrow is definitely pointing up.
Advice: Pick up in all standard mixed leagues
Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins
After years of promise, teasing, and injuries, the long-awaited Byron Buxton breakout season may be upon us. You may not believe me, but he is still 27 years old, a prime age in which his physical abilities are supposed to pair perfectly with his MLB experience. As of Monday night, Buxton was hitting a robust .481/.548/1.185 with five home runs, seven runs, nine RBI, and one steal. That is amazing production for his draft price. Given his injury history, you may sell high on Buxton IF you get an overwhelming package. Otherwise, I would hold on to him and hope he doesn’t crash into a wall making a leaping catch and breaks a bone.
Advice: Hold, only sell if package is overwhelming
Gleyber Torres, 2B, New York Yankees
Gleyber Torres has hit as many as 38 home runs in a season, so we know he has loads of power. Seeing him slumping to a .205/.295/.231 line with a 56 wRC+ has been rough, especially for his owners. He should, eventually, be able to get through his early-season slump, but he has been a zero so far. He only has one extra-base hit, a double, and is in danger of being placed lower in the Yankees’ lineup.
Nick Solak, 2B/OF, Texas Rangers
The Rangers got rid of Rougned Odor, who had been their starting second baseman for several years, and handed the position to Solak, an interesting infielder with some pop and wheels. He stole seven bases in the shortened 2020 season, and there was hope he could be a 20-20 type for Texas and fantasy owners. So far, those dreams haven’t become true. He went 0-for-3 on Monday and struck out twice as the Rangers’ No. 7 hitter. He started the 2021 campaign hitting fourth, but is already down to the seventh spot. The most troubling aspect of his stat line is that he, before Monday’s game, had a 2.7 BB% and a 40.5 K%.
Advice: Drop in shallow leagues, hold in deep formats
Nick Madrigal, 2B, Chicago White Sox
Owners who drafted Nick Madrigal did it with the hope that he would be an asset in three specific categories: runs scored, stolen bases, and batting average. So far, he has six runs, one steal, and a .241 batting average. Those are disappointing numbers, to be honest. However, don’t be so quick on pulling the trigger on Madrigal. During his career in the minor leagues, he had several seasons with an average over .300, and he hit .340 last season in the major leagues.
A lack of line drives (his LD% has dropped from 26.0 last season to 14.8 in 2021) has lowered his BABIP from .365 in 2020 to .250 this campaign, and that’s what has been affecting his batting average. Once those numbers correct themselves, Madrigal could start repaying the faith of patient owners.
Advice: Hold everywhere