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Trending Up, Trending Down: It’s Soto’s World And We Are Just Living In It

The dominating Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals is carrying fantasy teams as we speak.

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Each week, the NERDS 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.

Trending Up:

Juan Soto, OF, Washington Nationals

There may not be a hotter hitter in MLB than Juan Soto. You know how they say participating in the Home Run Derby can mess with a batter’s swing? Well, it appears that the 2021 edition just made Soto’s even nastier.

In his last seven games, he is 12-for-27 with five home runs and a .444/.545/1.074 slash. No, that 1.074 isn’t his OPS: it’s his slugging percentage. La Fiera has scored 10 runs and driven in 11 over that timeframe and is getting hot at the right time for the Nationals and fantasy owners.

For the season, Soto is already up to 16 home runs after getting to the Derby with just 11. He is hitting .301/.420/.512 and has the ability to be the best-ranked fantasy player in the remainder of the season.

Advice: Hope you didn’t sell after his slow(ish) start

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals

Since June 30, Cardinals slugger Paul Goldschmidt has an ongoing 14-game hitting streak. Over his last seven games, ‘Goldy’ is slashing .462/.548/.962 with four dingers, eight runs batted in and seven runs.

He’s been hot for a while, too: in his last 15 contests, he is rocking a .397/.478/.707 line with five homers, and in the last 30 games, he is at .330/.405/.571 with eight round-trippers. That’s elite production.

His .274/.344/.459 line for the season looks modest, but as you can see, he is on fire right now.

Advice: Automatic start

Corbin Burnes, SP, Milwaukee Brewers

After MLB’s crackdown of foreign substances on the ball, Brewers’ starter Corbin Burnes looked human after an incredible start of the season. But he is back to his stellar performance: he has allowed just two earned runs in his last three starts, covering 21.1 innings and striking out 25 hitters.

His ERA for the season is a jaw-dropping 2.16 and he’s a big reason why the Brewers are in first place of the NL Central. He is, additionally, probably the main driving factor behind the success of his fantasy owners in 2021.

Advice: Start automatically

Trending Down:

Framber Valdez, SP, Houston Astros

Astros’ left-hander Framber Valdez has been a blessing for the rotation since he returned from a fractured finger. In 10 starts, he has a 3.26 ERA, a 5-2 record, and a 1.32 WHIP, with 56 strikeouts in 60.2 frames.

However, he has been having troubles throwing strikes recently. His WHIP, as a result, is a poor 1.51 in his last seven starts, and while his ERA is passable at 4.04, his BB/K ratio is also bad: 20/34.

Valdez will have to make adjustments soon, because the Astros do have depth in their pitching staff. He seems to be another affected pitcher after MLB’s decision to ban foreign substances on the ball. Remember, they used it to get more grip, too, not just to increase spin rate.

Yusei Kikuchi, SP, Seattle Mariners

While Kikuchi has virtually carried the Mariners’ pitching staff with a 3.92 ERA in 103.1 innings this season, he seems to have hit a wall in his last two starts. In ten frames, he has allowed 12 earned runs and a whopping 17 hits, taking the loss in both turns.

It’s almost impossible for pitchers not to have duds every once in a while, and I’m sure Kikuchi will get back on track as long as he recovers a couple of miles per hour he is missing from the first half of the season.

Advice: Hold, but monitor velocity

Vidal Brujan, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays

If you didn’t know it, here is a heads up for you: playing in the big leagues is hard. Lots of high-profile rookies have struggled this year after coming up from Triple-A, most notably Wander Franco and Jarred Kelenic. You can add another name to the list: Vidal Brujan.

The dynamic second baseman is hitting .059/.059/.059 in eight games since his call-up, with only one hit, a single, in 17 at-bats. He has no walks and has struck out six times already.

Brujan will probably be fine in the long run, as will Kelenic and Franco, but it seems the talent gap between Triple-A and MLB is bigger than ever before. If you need Brujan for his stolen base potential (he already has one), you need to be patient. He is a better dynasty asset than redraft, though.

Advice: Hold in dynasty formats, cut in shallow redraft leagues

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