Ian Snell (SP – Pirates)
Kudos to Paul for predicting the bomb of a start that Snell tossed up against the Indians last night. Snell needed 70 pitches to labor through just 2.2 innings while walking 3 and striking out just 1. The start moves Snell’s K/BB down to 1.18 on the season, which is a far cry from the 2.60 he posted in ’07 that had me so excited. Snell’s velocity is down roughly 1 MPH from his typical average, and he is finding the strike zone with much less frequency (46.4% vs. 51.3% career). Many, including myself, had Snell pegged as a potential bounce-back candidate. However, the deterioration in his peripherals makes the bounce-back highly unlikely this season. It is possible that he could get things sorted out in the second half, but I still wouldn’t hesitate to cut him loose at this point.
Mike Burns (SP – Brewers)
The Brewers recalled Mike Burns from Triple-A on Tuesday to take the rotation spot of Dave Bush for what will most likely be the duration of the first half of the season. Burns is 30 years old, has just 56 innings of major league experience to his name, and most importantly, he doesn’t have a single fantistics blurb ever written about him. That last fact should tell you all you need to know. On the other hand, Burns has been very effective in the minors this year (2.56 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 5.6 K/9, 1.5 BB/9). The K rate explains why he has been in the minors all these years, but the walk rate gives him the chance to toss a few decent starts upon his arrival. The long-term upside here is zero, but I do consider him to be a very sneaky play for SP-starved NL-only leaguers.
Scott Hairston (OF – Padres)
Scott Hairston returned from the DL on Tuesday night by starting in center field and batting 3rd. The San Diego outfield situation looked to be somewhat murky upon Hairston’s return, but the corresponding move with Hairston’s activation was placing Brian Giles on the 15-day DL. The move means that both Hairston and Tony Gwynn Jr. will start everyday up until the all-star break. Hairston’s hot start (.327 / .385 / .571) still looks to be sustainable. We know the power is legitimate (.212 career ISO), but the batting average remains in question (career .257 BA). However, his .377 BABIP is still mostly supported by his 24.1% LD rate, which makes a .300 average seem realistic. It would be a massive leap in his age 29 season, but recall that it is a leap that has been projected for years that had not yet come to fruition. Also, recall that Hairston is a career .320 hitter in the minors. Start Hairston with confidence for now, but continue to monitor playing time situations coming out of the all-star break if Gwynn remains hot.
Andrew Miller (SP – Marlins)
Andrew Miller tossed a 1-hitter on Tuesday night, while walking 2 and striking out 4. Miller’s control has plagued him throughout his brief major league career (5.10 BB/9), but he has shown some signs of correcting this problem. In his last 4 starts, Miller has a 23/7 K/BB ratio through 24 innings, which is good for a 2.63 BB/9. There is a reason that Miller was the 6th overall pick in the ’06 draft, and it looks as though he could be turning a corner. He’s worth a grab in most leagues due to his very high ceiling.
Tommy Hanson (SP – Braves)
Tommy Hanson threw is 3rd consecutive effective but wild start on Tuesday night. Hanson did not allow a run once again, but he walked 5 and needed 99 pitches to get through 5.1 innings. The start now brings Hanson’s K/BB ratio to 16/15 through 23 innings pitched. Despite the grizzly looking peripherals, Hanson’s ERA now sits at 3.13 due to an 80.7% strand rate. Hanson’s 2.3 BB/9 in Triple-A this season does not indicate that he should be having this type of control issue, which tells me that this is a problem that he will correct during the ’09 season. I’d stay the course with the kid.
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