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Fantasy baseball: What owners really can expect from Luis Matos



Week after week, day after day, fantasy managers scour the waiver wires in search of their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow — that one player who turns out to be more than just a flavor of the week.

They want their breakout star, like Logan Webb was in 2021 or slugging veteran Brandon Drury was in 2022.

Can the Giants’ Luis Matos be that guy?

Matos was recalled from Triple-A on May 12 after Michael Conforto landed on the injured list with a hamsting injury. The same day Matos arrived in San Francisco was the last time Jung Hoo Lee would man center field as he injured his shoulder and has subsequently underwent season-ending surgery.

In his first 11 games, Matos hit .311 with two homers, 18 RBIs, six runs and a .837 OPS. In five games from May 13-18, Matos hit .455 with two homers, 16 RBIs, no strikeouts and a 1.318 OPS. He had three or more RBIs in three of those games, including one game with five and another with six (and that happened in back-to-back games).

In 46 plate appearances, Matos entered the weekend with more RBIs on the season than 2023 NL Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll (16 in 188 at-bats), 2022 AL Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez (14 in 202 at-bats) and reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuna Jr. (12 in 182 at-bats).

Now you know why Matos — who hit .250 with two homers, 14 RBIs (yes, he already has more this year) and a .661 OPS in 76 games in 2023 — was the most added player in ESPN leagues this week.

Among players with a minimum of 40 plate appearances this month, Matos entered the weekend ranked eighth in RBIs (17) — tied with the likes of William Conteras, Aaron Judge and Vinnie Pasquantino, all of whom had a minimum of 35 more plate appearances.

Obviously, this pace is not sustainable. If it were, he would be rostered in far more than just 20 percent of leagues. But is there anything that makes him a valuable roster addition?

Matos is primarily hitting at the top or in the middle of the Giants’ lineup (a positive, given the opportunity he is getting as an everyday player), and he is making a ton of contact. He entered the weekend with a 92.2 percent contact rate, sixth-highest in the majors this month, and a 100 percent Z-contact rate, which is the percentage of time a batter makes contact when swinging at pitches inside the strike zone.

Giants’ Thairo Estrada, Luis Matos, center, and Patrick Bailey, right. AP

Among players with a minimum of 40 plate appearances this season, Matos has the lowest strikeout rate (4.3 percent) after striking out twice in 46 plate appearances. This echoes what he did in the minors — he struck out just 11.9 percent of the time in 357 games.

Though Matos does have some power (he hit 49 homers in the minors, including 15 in 2021), his average exit velocity (87.1 mph) hardly will turn heads. But at the moment he is hitting the ball hard while pulling it and keeping the ball off the ground (all positives).

Matos has decent speed but has yet to steal a base this season. He stole 71 bases over five seasons in the minors and three bases in the majors last year. Unfortunately, the upside with his legs is limited, as the Giants have the fewest stolen bases this season and are attempting 0.50 per game, the second-lowest mark in the majors.

No matter how hot Matos has been since claiming a spot in the Giants’ lineup, he is not going to be the league-winner you dream of discovering. He does, however, have enough good qualities that he can remain on your roster and fill in for struggling or injured players without hurting your team. 

Big Hits

Ryan McMahon 2B/3B, Rockies

Had a 10-game hit streak snapped Thursday but was hitting .333 with four homers, 10 RBIs, 11 runs and a .985 OPS in his past 11 games. 

Rockies third baseman Ryan McMahon USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Luis Gil SP, Yankees

Won six of his past seven decisions (including five straight) while going 6-0 with a 1.52 ERA, 50 strikeouts and a .146 opponents’ average. 

Maikel Garcia 3B, Royals

Entered Friday with a 10-game hit streak — hitting .364 with one homer, eight RBIs, 11 runs, four stolen bases and a .969 OPS.

Chris Sale SP, Braves

Won six straight decisions with a 1.15 ERA, 50-3 strikeout-walk rate and .181 opponents’ average in that span. He has not allowed an earned run in his past three starts while striking out 28.

Bif Whiffs

Justin Steele SP, Cubs

Not only has he lost two straight decisions, but he has allowed 15 earned runs, 18 hits (six of which were home runs) and a .273 opponents’ average over his past three starts.

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Justin Turner 3B, Blue Jays

Though he struck out just six times in his first 13 games this month, he was 4-for-48 (.083) with one RBI and a .258 OPS.

Bryce Miller SP, Mariners

Has allowed 11 home runs this season, the second-most in the majors. Six have come this month, when he is 0-3 with a 5.79 ERA.

Bryce Miller of the Seattle Mariners Getty Images

Tyler O’Neill OF, Red Sox

Average went from .320 on April 30 to .248 entering the weekend after hitting .167 with 30 strikeouts in his first 18 games this month.

Check Swings

— Nestor Cortes is rostered in 52.2 percent of ESPN leagues, and that could be because he seemingly is useful just 50 percent of the time. In six starts at Yankee Stadium, the lefty is 3-1 with a 1.12 ERA, 40-5 strikeout-walk rate, 0.719 WHIP and a .170 opponents’ average. In five starts away from The Bronx, he is 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA, 1.618 WHIP and .293 opponents’ average.

— Evan Carters miserable season only has gotten worse this month. In his first 15 games in May, he was 7-for-46 (.152) with no homers, four RBIs, five runs, 15 strikeouts and a .437 OPS. He entered Friday with two hits in his previous 31 at-bats. 

Rangers outfielder Evan Carter Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

— Matt Chapman raised his average from .204 on May 7 to .249 before Friday after going 19-for-51 (.373) with four homers, 13 RBIs, 15 runs, two stolen bases and a 1.183 OPS over his past 13 games.

— Miami’s Jesus Luzardo was 2-1 with a 0.92 ERA, 19-1 strikeout-walk rate and .174 opponents’ average in his first three starts since coming off the injured list. 

— Yu Darvish entered his start Friday against the Yankees having not allowed an earned run over his previous four starts. He was 4-0 with a .124 opponents’ average, 24-3 strikeout-walk rate and .315 OPS in that span.

— Over his past 12 games this month, Texas’ Nathaniel Lowe had just six hits (all were singles, outside of one homer) in 43 at-bats. He struck out 17 times and owned a .464 OPS in that stetch. 

— Cincinnati’s Elly De La Cruz has played in 50 games this season, about half the games he played in 2023, and already has stolen 31 bases. He finished last year with 35.

Team Name of the Week

A Littell Off the Top

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