Deep League Risers and Fallers Week 7

We feature a Bull, but no BS in week 7 of DLR&F.

Hello and welcome back to DLR&F! We are half way through May, which means that April stats have all the cache and gravitas of Spring Training stats.  That is to say almost none.  I won’t toss out the baby with the bath water for every player, but we are far enough along that the league has made in season adjustments to off-season changes.  Slow or hot starts way back in April can cloud our judgement more than they help us now.  So enjoy the warming May weather but look out for…




Jackson Chourio, Outfielder, Milwaukee Brewers – 71% Rostered


I know that roster percentage is pretty high for a DLRF article, but with the Fallers section I’m occasionally addressing players who may be over-rostered. Chourio slashed just .206/.257/.351 through the end of April, but has managed to disappoint fantasy managers even harder in May. The 20-year-old owns just a .208/.240/.208 since the calendar flipped. At least he provided five homers and four stolen bases in April. He’s logged zero dingers and one steal in May.

Chourio sits in the bottom fifth of MLB hitters in chase rate, walk rate, strikeout rate, and exit velocity. He had maintained a pretty consistent walk-to-strikeout rate of 2/5 over his past two MiLB seasons, but has drawn just eight free passes while striking out 36 times over 131 plate appearances thus far. Chourio has mostly batted 9th and was out of the starting lineup for four consecutive games last week. It was definitely looking like Chourio may be headed for another stint in AAA before Rhys Hoskins suffered a hamstring injury on Monday, and a temporary demotion could still be in the cards.

In redraft leagues I’d probably look to replace Chourio unless I could stash him in a minor league or NA slot. No one is going drop him in dynasty or keeper formats, but I would certainly use this as a buying opportunity in those formats.


Tyler Freeman, Second, Short, Third and Outfield, Cleveland Guardians – 11% Rostered


Faithful readers might remember I included Freeman as a Riser just two weeks ago, even though Freeman was slashing just .215/.308/.380 at the time. I focused on his above average exit velocity, hard hit rate, barrel rate, strikeout rate and whiff rates.  He had a BABIP of just .219 back then!

I wrote: “Freeman looks like a very good hitter whose slow start during the first couple of weeks is masking a legitimate breakout.”

Then he slashed just .147/.256/.265 with a lone homer and single stolen base over the first two weeks of May. The thing is, Freeman still has whiff and strikeout rates in the league’s top quartile, and is still producing above average exit velocities. He has an average line drive rate. His barrel and hard hit rates have dropped to league average marks, but his BABIP has dropped even further to .194, while the league average still sits at .289.

I still think Freeman has been unlucky. His profile looks a league average hitter with a little more than average pop and solidly above average speed. His playing time seems secure with Steven Kwan on the IL. Even more encouraging is that Cleveland has batted him leadoff over the past two contests, so they seem to be looking beyond his surface production as well. Freeman deserves his spot in this article, but I’m still buying.


Colton Cowser, Outfielder, Baltimore Orioles59% Rostered


Cowser is a great example of a player whose early season success has faded faster than his roster percentage. He’s still got a totally fine .250/.331/.500 line, but is slashing a truly brutal .125/.237/.188 since the start of May. His May OPS of .424 is less than half of his 1.004 OPS in April. But with Cowser, the underlying rates still look great. His barrel rate is in the 94th percentile, his hard hit rate in the 87th, and his exit velocity is in the 78th. Those are great numbers.

He doesn’t tend to chase bad pitches, with a chase rate in the top quartile, and he draws walks well. The only real bugaboos on Cowser’s resume are his whiff and strikeout rates, which both rank in the league’s bottom tenth. But he’s actually striking out less often (11 strikeouts in 38 appearances) in May than in April (28 strikeouts 0ver 86 appearances). It would appear to be a case of terrible luck, as Cowser’s May BABIP is .182 compared to his April BABIP of .395.

At the risk of sounding redundant, this looks like another opportunity to buy low on a hitter whose underlying rates are outpacing his production. Cowser still looks like the guy we fell in love with last month.




James Paxton, Starting Pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers – 35% Rostered


Paxton isn’t the most exciting pitcher these days, but the Dodgers veteran lefty is 2-0 in two May starts with wins against the Braves and Padres, not exactly cupcake offenses. Paxton was efficient, recording quality starts in both games, while throwing fewer than 100 pitches. On the season, the 35 year-old carries a sparkling 5-0 record and 2.58 ERA, but a worrisome 1.41 WHIP.  He has struck out just 22 batters while walking 24 over 38 innings. I told you he wasn’t exciting.

Paxton relies almost entirely on two pitches. His chief offering, which he uses over 60% of the time, is a 94 MPH four seamer with strong horizontal movement that has outperformed its expected batting average by over 60 points and its expected slugging percentage by more than 150 points. Paxton uses a slow (80 MPH) curve as his go-to secondary pitch, and it too has outperformed its expected slugging percentage by over 100 points.

Paxton ranks among the bottom 10% of MLB pitchers in both strikeout and walk rates. His 24.3% CSW is well off the 28-30% mark he’s carried over the past five seasons. He’s allowing better than league average exit velocity. His barrel rate is just above the bottom fifth of the league and his expected ERA of 5.92 is more than double his real ERA. Paxton looks like a dam about to burst.  This is a sell high situation if I’ve ever seen one.


Chris Paddack, Starting Pitcher, Minnesota Twins – 22% Rostered


Paddack holds a special place in my heart because he was the first player I ever wrote about for Pitcher List. And now I get to include him here amongst our May Risers thanks to his 2-0 record, 0.79 ERA and 1.05 WHIP across two starts this month. Paddack posted a 33.7% CSW% vs the Red Sox in a six-inning shutout win on 5/3, and followed that up with a sterling 10 strikeout performance against Seattle on 5/8 where he posted a 34.3% CSW%. He’s racked up 16 strikeouts while issuing just two free passes this month.

Overall, Paddack’s 2024 line of 4-1 with a 4.34 ERA and 1.50 WHIP doesn’t seem too impressive, but a mid-April start in Baltimore where he allowed nine earned runs on 12 hits and a walk over 5.1 innings is still tainting his season numbers.

The 28-year-old righty is carrying roughly league average exit velocity, whiff, and strikeout rates, but has been excellent at limiting walks and gets great extension, increasing the apparent velocity on his heater. His barrel and hard hit rates are below average but he’s kept that hard contact rate under 30% in each of his four starts since that rough outing in Baltimore. He’s also been a bit unlucky with a .365 BABIP against him on the season.

Most importantly, Paddack has employed a more balanced, less fastball heavy approach this year than he has in the past.  He relied on his four seamer about 60% of the time over his first four years in the Majors, with his changeup being his only real secondary offering. This season, Paddack has used his heater just 42% of the time, his changeup 28% and has thrown his slider and curve 17% and 13% respectively. That means hitters have to deal with more movement and velocity variations, making Paddack less predictable. It’s exactly what we’ve wanted to see.


Abraham Toro, Second Base and Third Base, Oakland Athletics – 46% Rostered


Abraham Toro has been the 15th best player in standard mixed leagues since the start of May. He’s batting .359/.414/.528 with 12 runs, 8 RBI, two dingers and a steal over the last couple weeks. The two homers and stolen base match his totals for all of April.  He’s also settled mostly into the lead-off spot over that time, giving him plenty of opportunity to score.

Toro’s underlying rates don’t really jump off the page though. His bottom quartile bat speed has produced below average exit velocities and barrel rates, and his hard hit rate ranks in the bottom tenth of MLB batters. He has an above average strikeout rate, but his poor 5.2% walk rate doesn’t fit the mold of a lead-off hitter. His .343 BABIP also outpaces the MLB average by over 50 points.

Overall, I think Toro is outperforming his underlying stats, but not to a degree that I’d expect any major regression. I don’t expect him to be a .290ish hitter all season, but for a player with his positional versatility, .265-270 batting average with a bit of pop and speed thrown in absolutely plays in deeper leagues. I’m not even worried he might lose playing time with Zack Gelof back in the lineup. So grab this bull by horns and ride him at least while his bat stays hot.


That’s all for this week.  Good luck out there deep leaguers!


Featured image by Justin Paradis 



Sam Lutz

A Pittsburgh native and long suffering Pirate fan, Sam turned to fantasy baseball to give him a reason to follow the sport after July.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login