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.
Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals
Salvador Perez has always been a fine hitting catcher, but he is putting career-highs across the board this year. He is already up to 38 home runs (previous personal best was 27) and 94 RBI (eclipsing his highest season total of 80).
Simply put, there may not be a hotter hitter than Perez right now. Over his last seven games, he has six dingers and 14 RBI, slashing .357/.455/1.000. His hot stretch extends over his last 15 (nine homers, 21 RBI, .273/.349/.764) and 30 games (15 dingers, 32 RBI, .282/.347/.709).
To get a 40-homer, 110 RBI hitter from the catcher position is outstanding, so if you were able to draft Perez this year, you are surely in the top three in your league.
Advice: Enjoy the best catcher in fantasy in 2021
Wander Franco, SS, Tampa Bay Rays
If you look at Franco’s .272 batting average, .333 OBP, and .775 OPS for the season, you would see useful numbers, but nothing stellar. However, that’s why we examine trends: to see if there has been a skill change or, in the case of Wander Franco, to determine if he successfully adjusted to major league pitching.
The answer, in his case, appears to be yes. He has made adjustments after a cold spell to start his big league career, and now looks more like the prospect he was supposed to be. In his last 15 games, he has a homer, 10 RBI, and is slashing .350/.409/.533.
Over his last 30 games, he has homered three times and is hitting .314/.382/.508, which is actually a lot closer to what we can expect from him for the rest of his career. If you had patience, enjoy. It was getting hard to hold on to him during his slump in redraft leagues, but if you did, you now have a batting average asset with the potential for more.
Advice: Congratulations if you were patient enough to hold in redraft. Start him
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B, Toronto Blue Jays
Guerrero Jr. Had been struggling somewhat in his last 30 games, hitting .269/.351/.412 (which is actually decent for an average major leaguer, but a bit lacking in the power department). However, he has taken it up a notch again and is back to mashing.
Vladdy is hitting .379/.419/.621 with two homers and five RBI in his last seven contests. That’s closer to his skill level and to his real version. Remember, he is making a push for the Triple Crown in the American League and is batting .313 with a .407 OBP and a 1.006 OPS in the season as a whole. He has 38 homers and 95 RBI. He is truly one of a kind and should never leave your starting lineup.
Advice: The most automatic of starts at first base
James Karinchak, RP, Cleveland Indians
Since MLB started checking pitchers for the use of foreign substances, Karinchak hasn’t been the same. Once seen as the co-closer in Cleveland, the right-hander has a 9.75 ERA in his last 15 games, covering 12 innings of a 9/9 BB/k ratio and a 2.00 WHIP.
He is usually a dominant pitcher (77 strikeouts in 54.1 innings in the season as a whole) with good ratios, so there is something wrong with him. The Indians demoted him to Triple-A so he can work on things and find another way to dominate.
Advice: Drop in redraft formats
Cody Bellinger, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts confirmed what we feared: Bellinger is now a platoon player who will only play against right-handed pitchers. A former MVP, Bellinger has really struggled this season, with a putrid .171 average, nine homers, and a horrid .566 OPS.
Belli is slashing .185/.205/.370 in his last 30, .122/.120/.163 in his last 15, and .136/.130/.136 in his last seven. Playing him in weekly leagues is a risk unless there is a vast majority of righties in the opposing teams pitching, and at this point, playing the matchups seems like your only choice.
How the mighty has fallen.
Advice: Play matchups: sit against lefties (he doesn’t play) and tough righties
Dallas Keuchel, SP, Chicago White Sox
The former Cy Young winner is far from the pitcher he used to be. For the season, he has a 5.00 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP, with only 83 strikeouts.
In his last two outings, the left-hander has allowed 16 runs (11 earned) in just six frames, severely damaging the ratios of his owners in roto leagues and losing matchups for those who have him in head-to-head settings.
He is not a very good play moving forward.
Advice: Carefully select his matchups