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MLB Stock Watch: Paul Goldschmidt rising, Dallas Keuchel falling

Arizona DiamondbacksPaul Goldschmidt highlights this week’s look at fantasy risers and fallers (AP Photo).

STOCK UP

Paul Goldschmidt: He collected four homers with nine RBI over the weekend in Colorado, and no doubt Coors Field was a big help. But Goldschmidt had racked up seven hits in the previous two games in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park, and he entered Sunday with a 1.556 OPS over his last 10 contests. The perennial early fantasy pick was bound to rebound from a horrendous start that saw his OPS as low as .699 as recently as May 26, and the bounce back is happening fast. Goldschmidt’s Statcast numbers are just fine (in fact his Barrel% (15.1) is a career high, and his average HR has traveled a healthy 410 feet), but his strikeouts are way up, as he’s struggled with high velocity while hitting just .160/.326/.274 at home, where the humidor has had a significant impact decreasing offense. He’s no longer a first round fantasy player considering his new environment, but Goldschmidt can still return round two/three type value from here on out. At minimum, he certainly has more trade value than he did a week ago.

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Seth Lugo: He turned in a strong outing during his second start of the year Sunday night, holding the Yankees to just two hits with an 8:0 K:BB ratio over six scoreless innings. Lugo is only 12 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, but Sunday in primetime marked the first time the Yankees had been shut out this season, so his ownership should shoot up fast. And rightfully so, as Lugo now sits with a 1.77 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP on the year and could get a longer look in the starting rotation now. He was able to maintain this season’s increased velocity during Sunday’s start and is throwing a curveball more than ever with great results. Lugo has always had crazy spin rates, hinting at nice upside, so he’s well worth adding in fantasy leagues. He has a 29:1 K:BB ratio over the last 26.1 innings.

Hector Rondon: I’ve written about Rondon a couple of times recently, but he’s worth mentioning yet again after recording his third save in five days while striking out the side in a perfect ninth Sunday. He’s still available in 75 percent of leagues.

Juan Soto: He’s 19 years old and hitting .328/.431/.541 through the first 61 at bats of his career, walking as often as he’s struck out while facing major league pitching for the first time. Soto’s 167 wRC+ would rank top-five in MLB if he qualified. His average launch angle has been just 3.9 degrees (league average is 10.8), which has led to a 1.77 GB/FB ratio, but that’s quibbling, as he’s rewarding owners who bid aggressively. Meanwhile with Adam Eaton back, Michael A. Taylor, who’s on pace to finish with 13 homers and 44 steals but is hitting just .219/.285/.381, might soon lose playing time.

Andrew McCutchen: He was hitting .364/.348/.705 over the past 10 games before receiving Sunday off, although that 44 AB sample also featured him posting a 10:0 K:BB ratio. Still, McCutchen’s bat heating up is hardly unexpected given his career-high 91.4 mph average exit velocity and a strong 44.2 Hard Hit% that’s well above league average (34.1%), and it’s possible his slow start could also be attributed to getting accustomed to a new team and city. Expect further improvement from McCutchen’s bat moving forward.

STOCK DOWN

Dallas Keuchel: He’s allowed four runs or more in four of his last five starts, a stretch in which he’s posted a 7.33 ERA over 27.0 innings. Keuchel’s season FIP sits at 4.19, and his SwStr% (8.8) is his worst since his rookie season back in 2012. His lowly 6.99 K/9 rate is especially alarming given the continued leaguewide increase in strikeouts, and he allowed 13 hits (in just 4.1 innings) Sunday against a Rangers offense that entered with the third-worst OPS in the American League, somehow escaping falling to 3-9 while pitching for a dominant 42-25 Astros team that easily leads MLB in run differential. Keuchel has been maddeningly inconsistent since winning the Cy Young in 2015, and note last year’s average exit velocity (84.5 mph) and launch angle (-1.6 degrees) are both glaringly different this season (88.7 and 3.5).

Rafael Devers: He’s been one of the bigger disappointments in baseball, recording a .688 OPS and ranking outside the top-300 fantasy players despite hitting in one of MLB’s best lineups and hitter’s parks. In fact, Devers’ 0.2 WAR ranks No. 260, sandwiched between Danny Valencia and Adeiny Hecharavarria. Devers is just 21 years old and has managed 19 homers over 457 career at bats while severely underwhelming, so I’d still be buying stock moving forward. His average exit velocity (92.2 mph) ranks top-20 in MLB.

Miguel Sano: He’s missed time with injuries and is hitting only .206/.271/.418 during a hugely disappointing fourth season in the league. Sano has a .510 OPS against lefties after recording a .992 mark versus them last season, and his already alarmingly high K% has shot up to a whopping 40.6, which is significantly higher than the next worse (Chris Davis at 36.8%), as only a DL stint might ultimately prevent Sano from breaking the MLB strikeout record this season.

Brad Brach: He was hit hard for three runs while recording just one out during his last appearance, and his WHIP now sits at 1.76 on the year. Brach has an impressive (and career best) 15.7 SwStr%, but his control is simply too shaky to be an elite reliever, and Zach Britton will soon return from the DL and immediately become a threat to reclaim Baltimore’s closer’s role.

Michael Conforto: He doesn’t have a hit in more than a week and owns a .694 OPS on the year. Conforto’s 146 wRC+ last season would’ve tied with Kris Bryant for 10th in baseball had he qualified, and yet now the Mets are considering demoting him to the minors. Conforto’s surgery to repair a torn posterior capsule in his left shoulder that he’s repeatedly dislocated always sounded serious, and with his exit velocity (86.5 mph) and Hard Hit% (32.3) so down compared to last year (89.1 mph and 43.5%), it’s hard to conclude he’s feeling totally healthy again. Either way, fantasy owners are fed up with Conforto, who’s been dropped to sixth in New York’s lineup after opening the season hitting leadoff.

Follow the Yahoo fantasy baseball crew on Twitter: Andy BehrensDalton Del Don, and Scott Pianowski