Josh Whitesell 1B- ARZ
Josh Whitesell was promoted on Wednesday and immediately inserted into the middle of the struggling DBacks lineup. Whitesell is sort of the Diamondbacks version of Micah Hoffpauir, a career minor leaguer who has been mashing AAA pitching for some time and is now getting an opportunity with a struggling/injured 1B out of the lineup. Whitesell posted an impressive .993 OPS last year at AAA and was posting a monstrous .356/.477/.552 at AAA along with a solid .95 EYE. He’s shown good plate patience in his first two games drawing 3 BB’s in his first 9 PA’s while striking out just once. Whitesell’s opportunity may not be an extended one but if he hits immediately he’ll continue to get PA’s. With the big-time production at AAA and playing in a strong hitters’ park, Whitesell’s got some intriguing possibilities for those in NL only leagues and is worth an immediate pickup. I think the Hoffpauir comparison is an apt one as he has a bit less experience at the major league level but a bit more opportunity, given he’s not blocked by a $13 million Derrek Lee contract. In mixed leagues he’s not worth paying attention to right now, but in NL-only leagues he’s worth a speculative pickup.
Chris Coghlan 2B- FLA
Dynasty owners and NL Only players will want to take notice as it appears one of the more underrated prospects in all of baseball will be called up to take Anibal Sanchez’s roster spot on Friday. Marlins 2B prospect, Chris Coghlan will get the call after posting a .348/.425/.565 line through his first 92 AAA AB’s this season. The line includes a splendid 89% contact rate and 1.20 EYE at the level, not too mention 9 SB’s. This is nothing new for Coghlan who has put together a career minor league line of .298/.389/.452 with a 1.05 EYE in his 3+ minor league seasons. He’s got good gap power, efficient base-running skills (72 SB’s in 3 seasons at an 80% clip), and strong plate discipline. With both Dan Uggla and Emilio Bonifacio struggling there may be an opportunity for Coghlan to see immediate playing time and if so he’s worth an immediate add in NL only formats. He’s a future stud and if playing time was more guaranteed he’d be worth a look in all formats given his advanced command of the strike zone and 5 tool skills at a premium position.
Mike Pelfrey SP-NYM
Pelfrey improved to 4-0 on Thursday while limiting the Phillies to just 3 ER’s over 7 innings. Pelfrey used his usual combination of strong ground ball rates and solid command to limit the Phillies offense and was once again provided with a healthy amount of run support. Pelfrey had made significant strides last season in his command and his GB Rate and looked to be on the verge of breaking out after a 2nd half in which he knocked his WHIP down to 1.23 and posted a 3.82 ERA, but he’s struggled mightily here in 2009 and mostly because he’s simply not missing bats. Pelfrey has struck out just 6 batters in his 28 innings and his BB Rate has jumped back up with 14 BB’s in that span (.50 Rate). This combines for an ugly .43 K/BB Rate that is ultimately going to render Pelfrey useless for fantasy purposes. Currently he’s got a 4-0 record in spite of a 5.46 ERA and 1.71 WHIP. While he’s improved his GB Rate this year to an impressive 56%, none of it will matter if he can’t miss some bats or cut down the BB’s significantly.
Jair Jurrjens SP-ATL
After a 40+ innings jump in 2008, the effects of the increased workload were something to monitor coming into the 2009 season. While we wouldn’t expect the results to be seen so early in the season (fatigue would likely come later on), Jurrjens hasn’t been the same pitcher early on in 2009. Although his WHIP and ERA wouldn’t necessarily show it, Jurrjens peripherals show a pitcher struggling. His K rate has dropped by .25 (.74 vs. .49), his BB Rate has risen slightly (.37 vs. .40) and his GB Rate has plummeted, down about 17% from last year’s strong 51% rate. While Thursday’s start was a strong one in which Jurrjens limited the Marlins to two solo HR’s from Hanley Ramirez, while striking out 4 and walking 2; he still got more outs through the air than on the ground and struck out just 4 Marlins (a typically strikeout prone offense). Though the ERA and WHIP look like another strong start from Jurrjens, the peripherals suggest another story and given the big innings increase last season, I’d consider floating Jurrjens name out in trade talks as a potential sell high. I think the risk here outweighs the potential reward from here on out.
Matt Cain SP-SF
Cain had an auspicious start to his outing on Thursday walking three of the first four batters to start the game. He managed to get out of the inning and battled his control (5 BB’s) all day, but the results were strong. He allowed just 1 hit in 6 scoreless innings while striking out 7 and lowered his ERA to 2.61 on the young season. I highlighted Cain’s improved command after his first start of the season, but it’s been all downhill since then. While his ERA has been held down it’s mostly been due to terrific luck with a Strand Rate in the high .80’s. His current .50 BB Rate is going to land Cain in plenty of trouble if he can’t fix the issue and with 4 or more BB’s in 4 of his last 5 outings, Cain is tempting fate. He gets WAS at home in what should be a nice matchup to start next week, but with this level of command issues Cain has the chance to turn any favorable matchup into an ugly one rather quickly. I’ll be starting Cain with fingers crossed next week, but as an owner the BB Rate is a significant concern right now and I feel fortunate to have gotten what I have so far. Cain’s peripherals will have to improve mightily for him to avoid a significant decline.