Dallas Braden – Where did THIS come from? In his first start of the season, Braden struck out 10 Mariners in 7 innings while yielding just 1 ER on 4 Hits. With a career K/9 of 5.68 and a fastball that averages 87.6 mph, Braden was one of the least likely pitchers to reach double digits in strikeouts his first time on the mound in 2010. The left hander pitched very well in the first half last season, posting a 3.26 ERA and 1.29 WHIP before struggling in the second half to the tune of a 5.54 ERA. Tonight’s performance aside, there’s absolutely no reason to believe Braden will suddenly become a decent strikeout play for your fantasy team. Instead, he’s a back end of the rotation starter that can log you some innings without destroying your staff’s ERA and WHIP.
A.J. Burnett – Burnett’s final stat line from Tuesday’s start – 5 IP, 3 ER, 5 Ks, 1 BB, 7 Hits – doesn’t look too bad especially when you consider he faced the Red Sox in Fenway. However, anyone who watched the game knows Burnett enjoyed some fortuitous defense and a little luck as a few hard hit balls found defenders’ gloves instead of the outfield grass. While the lone walk is good news, it still took Burnett 94 pitches to labor through 5 innings. After his K/I dropped for the second straight season in ’09 (down to 0.94) and his BB/9 increased to 4.22, Burnett is still an inconsistent high-risk, high-reward SP option.
Mike Gonzalez – Gonzalez blew his first save opportunity of the season Tuesday, by allowing 2 ER, on 3 Hits, and walking a batter while recording just one out in the Orioles 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay. Last season, Gonzalez posted a 2.42 ERA but his FIP was much higher (3.51) and he issued far too many free passes (4.00 BB/9). Our 2010 projections for Gonzalez recognize the luck he enjoyed last season and believe the lefty will regress to a 3.60 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. After signing to be Baltimore’s primary closer, Gonzalez’s job is safe for awhile even if he has a few rough outings, so don’t pick up Jim Johnson quite yet.
Robinson Cano – Hitting in the five-hole, the Yankees’ second baseman had a big night Tuesday with a HR, 2 RBI, 2 Hits, and 2 Runs Scored. After a disappointing 2008 campaign, Cano bounced back last season to post a .320 BA with 25 HR and 103 Runs Scored. He enjoyed a BABIP improvement of 49 points, witnessed his ISO increase from .139 in ’08 to 1.99 and upped his OBP from .305 to .352. It’s hard to overlook a 4.2% career BB%, but Cano did improve his EYE by 0.08 in 2009 and has the potential to hit another 25 HR and drive in close to 100 in New York’s potent lineup.
Matt Wieters – The Legend of Matt Wieters continues to grow. In his third AB of 2010, Wieters went deep off James Shields and finished Baltimore’s opener 2-for-4. Heading into 2010, Wieters needs to improve his plate discipline after walking in just 7.3% of his ABs in 2009 (compared to K% of 24.3%). His ISO was also just .124 but based off his minor league track record we expect that indicator to improve this season. There will still be growing pains, but barring injury he’ll tally 450-500 ABs and has an excellent chance of posting a .300/20 HR/80 RBI season.
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