Happy Tuesday, everyone! Monday is always a lighter day in Fantasy Baseball with fewer games on the slate, but we had our fair share of bounce-back performances putting players back on our radar and the continued success of one of the best comeback stories in baseball -- James Paxton. Shohei Ohtani continues to go all scorched earth in the month of June so we'll check in on his big Monday night as well as look into a slew of rookies who probably haven't gotten the attention they deserve so far -- and maybe we can find out why. We'll dive into all of that and more below:

Is Paxton here to stay?

James Paxton was at one point one of the most exciting pitchers in Fantasy Baseball and he's currently making one of the best comeback stories of the 2023 season. Paxton, affectionately known as "Big Maple," showcased his prowess on the mound in a dominant performance against the Rockies on Monday. Paxton tossed six innings, allowing only one unearned run on four hits while striking out eight. He displayed exceptional control, throwing 16 swinging strikes on 98 pitches, with a diverse mix of pitches. Paxton's recent pitch-mix adjustment paid off, as he increased his curveball usage and generated impressive results, including seven whiffs and a 45% called strikes plus whiffs (CSW) rate. Through six starts this season, Paxton boasts an impressive 3.09 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP, and 44 strikeouts over 32 innings. 

We can't totally blame you if you have ideas about trying to trade him and sell high, but if healthy, he figures to be a big boost for your strikeouts category the rest of the way. I scooped him up in one big league and I have decided to keep him on the roster unless I'm blown away by an offer -- that hasn't come yet.

Two of the hottest hitters in June

It was a massive night on Monday for two of the hottest hitters this month -- Michael Harris and Shohei Ohtani.

Harris, a rising star in the league, had an outstanding game Monday, going 3 for 4 with a home run and a stolen base. This marked his fourth home run of the season and his sixth stolen base. Harris has been on fire in June, hitting .297 with two home runs, two doubles, and one stolen base in just 10 games. Harris has become a force to be reckoned with in Fantasy Baseball circles despite a somewhat slow start to the season.

Ohtani, the two-way sensation, showcased his talents once again with a solid 2-for-4 performance, including a crucial go-ahead home run in the 12th inning. Ohtani has been red-hot in June, hitting a scorching .391 with five home runs and two stolen bases in eleven games. With his remarkable contributions, Ohtani has propelled himself to a batting average of .291, 20 home runs, a .955 OPS, and nine stolen bases, making him worthy of that first-round pick you used to get him. Ohtani will once again be in the running and potentially a favorite for AL MVP.

Checking in on some rookies

Jordan Walker had a solid performance, going 2-for-4 on Monday. Since his return, Walker has been impressive, hitting .314 with two home runs, three walks, and four strikeouts in 11 games. With an average exit velocity of 97 mph and a 56% ground ball rate, Walker has shown promising potential and is hopefully here to stay this time up with the Cardinals.

Brett Baty has had a solid season, batting .228 with four home runs and a .663 OPS. He has displayed a 24.5% line drive rate and a 50% ground ball rate, with an average exit velocity of 91.4 mph. Baty has particularly excelled against left-handed pitchers, hitting .250 with one home run. It's not what Fantasy Baseball managers feel comfortable starting on a weekly basis, but Baty is providing a good baseline level of production to contribute at one of the shallowest positions in the Fantasy game.

Matt Mervis has faced some challenges, batting .165 with three home runs. Despite a lower batting average, Mervis has shown promise with a 50% hard-hit rate and a 15% barrel rate. He has been less successful against left-handed pitchers, hitting .158. In daily lineup leagues, there has been some value to starting Mervis against righties but for now he probably belongs on your benches.

Anthony Volpe has been a consistent contributor to Fantasy Baseball teams this season if you play in categories leagues. Despite a batting average of .186, Volpe has displayed his power and speed with nine home runs and 14 stolen bases. His OPS stands at .605. If he can bring the average up, Volpe will profile like Bobby Witt Jr. did at the end of last season -- heading into next year's drafts as a borderline top-20 pick overall.

News and notes

  • Ryan Helsley was placed on the IL with a right forearm strain. Tests came back negative but he'll be shut down for a few days. Expect Giovanny Gallegos to take over as the closer in the meantime. Gallegos is 49% rostered
  • Jon Gray was scratched from his start Tuesday due to a blister. The hope is that it's a minor issue and Gray should be able to avoid the IL.
  • Marcell Ozuna was removed Monday after getting hit by a pitch to the hand/wrist area. He initially remained in the game and then was later pinch-hit for.
  • Lars Nootbaar took batting practice and did some sprints Monday. He's on the IL with back discomfort.
  • Pete Fairbanks is scheduled to throw a second live BP at the Florida Complex League. If all goes well, he could be back soon.
  • Trevor Story offered August as a rough timeline for when he'll be able to play shortstop. It remains possible that he returns sooner as the DH.
  • John Means recently said he feels great and suggested he could be back in August. He's recovering from Tommy John surgery and an upper-back strain. He's 10% rostered.
  • Luke Voit signed a minor-league contract with the Mets and could get some run with Pete Alonso on the IL.
  • Brewers outfield prospect Sal Frelick began a rehab assignment at the Arizona Complex League Friday. He's been out since late April after undergoing surgery on his left thumb but is a name to watch.
  • The Angels signed … wait for it … Daniel Murphy to a minor league contract! He hasn't played since 2020 but was batting .331 with the Long Island Ducks in the Independent League.
  • The Royals selected the contract of Dairon Blanco, who started in left field Monday.