David Ortiz has earned some swagger today after two beefy homeruns last night against the Tigers as part of a 4 RBI night. As we say here in the Commonwealth, not for nothing, but after being given his last rights around Patriots Day (another Massachusetts thing) David is hitting .333 in May with 5 HRs. He's been helped by a very favorable 23.1% HR/FB which you would think is due for a correction (He's been sub 15% for the last two seasons). Keep in mind that despite his good road night last night the Sox have had a home-heavy schedule to this point and David's road slash line over the last three years is .251/.359/.477 vs. .309/.410/.588 at Fenway.
Mark Buehrle's night last night was going pretty well. He didn't even allow a baserunner until a Jose Guillen flare single with one out in the 5th, but the wheels came off in the 6th when Yuniesky Betancourt led off with a first-pitch homer that tied the game at 1. Then came a 5-run 7th inning that was the result of a lot of dinking and dunking by the Royals. When the smoke cleared Mark had given up 6 runs, 5 earned, in 6 IP on just 4 hits and 2 walks while fanning 4. His ERA balloons to 5.26 but his 1.38 WHIP suggests his ERA belongs closer to 4.10 or so, as his 59.1% LOB% sits in the "snake-bitten" range of the scale. He's never been a punch out guy but his 3.5/9 K rate to this point is part of what fuels his LOB% issues. Sometimes you just need a K and Mark just can't summons one when he needs it. Still when his LOB% corrects he'll be his usual self, a slightly-less-than-AL-average starter.
Joe Saunders handcuffed the A's with a 4-hit CG shutout on Friday allowing 2 walks and striking out a season-high 6. His 4.1/9 BB rate has been the problem so it was good to see him go right at the A's offense. His 4.96 ERA lines up nicely with his 1.57 WHIP but the problem is that with his 9 shutout innings last night he has posted 17 innings over two starts this season without allowing an earned run, which alternately means he's allowed all of his 25 earned runs in his other 6 starts over 28.1 IP ... an 8.00 ERA. That is like playing Russian Roulette with only one chamber empty. Be selective with him until he strings a few more of these together and your odds get better. That having been said, he gets the White Sox next who he pitched well against last season going 1-1, 2.63 in two starts.
Joe Mauer hit his first home run since April 6th against the Yankees last night. All of Joe's other indicators seem green but the lack of HRs has been a concern. Right now he's just not lifting the ball. His 20.9% fly ball rate is almost 9 points lower than last year, and 7 points lower than his 27.3% career rate. His HR/FB has returned this year to a more normalized 10.5% (11.4% career) after his outlying 20.4% last year. The bottom line is that his 28 HRs last year looks like an outlying total as well. And we haven't even figured out the park and weather factors for the Twins new ballpark yet. He's still the best catcher in the game, both in fantasy and MLB, but he doesn't appear to be poised to repeat his power performance of 2009.
Hey don't look now but Jeremy Guthrie is pitching well again. The Orioles right-hander limited the Indians to 2 hits last night over 8 IP, walking 1 and striking out 5 en route to his second win of the season. He's had 8 starts this year with 5 coming against the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays, and he's allowed 3 runs or less 6 of them (the two exceptions coming against the Yankees). Jeremy has walked just 1.7/9 this year, a full walk lower than his career rate while striking out 5+, but he's had some luck along the way as well. His 1.07 WHIP and his unfavorable 65.9% LOB%, actually indicates his ERA should be a little lower than 4.13, but his favorable HR/FB (8.3%) and especially his BHIP% (.254) tell a slightly different story. Mixed messages to be sure, but I think we can work on the assumption that Guthrie is back, to a large extent, after a brutal 10-17, 5.04, 1.42 in 2009. Even while pitching in the AL East he looks like a solid AL-only option and should be considered in mixed leagues of reasonable depth, especially if you can cherry pick his starts.
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