Scott Kazmir – You might notice that Scott Kazmir, who takes the hill against the Dodgers tonight, has won 5 of his last 6 starts and lowered his ERA from 6.09 on May 22nd to “just” 5.08 as of today. However, while the lefty has certainly pitched better (how could he have pitched worse?), he’s still plagued by the same problems that have caused his fall from a once-promising top tier starter to a No. 4 guy at best. Kazmir’s K/BB during the past 6 games is an unsettling 21/17 and he’s pitched deeper than the 6th inning just once (6 1/3 against Oakland on June 7th). Kazmir has also allowed 4 HRs during these 6 games and for the season has a 1.24 HR/9 (compared to a career 0.94 HR/9). Overall, Kazmir’s K/9 is down from 7.15 in ’09 to just 6.07 in ’10 while his BB/9 is up from 3.67 in ’09 to an ugly 4.58 in ’10. He also owns a 5.27 FIP and 1.51 WHIP. While Kazmir may be tempting to pick up in leagues that use “Wins” as a category, his performance of late is not sustainable and is in line with his unpalatable season numbers.
Daisuke Matsuzaka – Boston’s right hander returns from the DL today to face the Rockies looking for his 6th Win of the season. Matsuzaka has been out since June 8th with a right forearm strain. Prior to the injury, Dice-K had compiled back-to-back Quality Starts (albeit against two weak-hitting clubs in Oakland and Cleveland) while posting just 2 Walks against 12 Ks. In fact, take out Matsuzaka’s horrible outing versus Kansas City where he walked 8 Royals and struck out just 1 and the right hander has a solid 36/15 K/BB this season. He’s also allowed just 0.55 HR/9 and has posted a 3.95 FIP (compared to a 4.59 ERA). Additionally, Matsuzaka has induced 8% more ground balls this season (up to 36%). On the flip side, his K/9 has plummeted from 8.19 in ’09 to just 6.80 in 49 innings this season. Overall, Matsuzaka has pitched well enough to be considered for a roster spot in deep AL-only and mixed leagues. He’s always going to be a risky starter, but there are signs he can be “startable” in certain matchups.
Adam Jones – It seems Jones might be finally heating up in 2010 as he homered for the third time in the past 7 games and now has 10 blasts for the season. Hopefully the Orioles’ outfielder can turn up his game as we head into July because it’s been a disappointing season thus far for his fantasy owners and Baltimore baseball fans. Jones has struggled with his patience, walking in a meager 2.7% of his ABs (compared to 7% in ’09) and is hitting more fly balls (up 8%) and infield fly balls (up 6%) than a season ago. One of Jones’ biggest issues is falling behind early in the count. Pitchers are working ahead of him with a first-pitch strike in an incredible 66% of his ABs. The MLB average is just 58%. The outfielder’s power has also taken a hit this season as his ISO has dropped from .180 in ’09 to .144 and his SLG% is down from .457 to just .406. Remember that it’s only Jones’ third full season so there’s plenty of time for him to improve his plate approach and regain that lost power. Continue to be patience with Jones, especially in keeper leagues, and you will be rewarded – eventually.
Ricky Romero – What a season Ricky Romero continues to enjoy. The Blue Jays’ lefty completely stymied the Cardinals Wednesday night, holding St. Louis to 0 ER on 8 Hits while striking out 5 and walking 1 in 8 innings. So, can Romero keep this up? Entering Wednesday, Romero had improved his K/9 to 8.97 (from 7.13 in ’09) while lowering his BB/9 to 3.46 (from 3.99 in ’09) and HR/9 to 0.56 (from 0.91 in ’09). Romero is also inducing more swings at pitches outside the strike zone (30% compared to 23% in ’09) and has an impressive FIP of 3.17. While his BABIP is slightly lower than a season ago (.299 in ’10 compared to .325 in ’09), it’s not anything to be too concerned about. Overall, Romero’s indicators suggest he can post an ERA in the low 3.00s and enjoy very high strikeout numbers for the remainder of the season.
Nelson Cruz – In his second game since returning from the DL, Cruz picked up 3 Hits and 3 RBIs for the Rangers on Wednesday. In case you forgot while he was on the DL, Cruz is having an outstanding season with 10 HR, 7 Steals and a BA over .300. Cruz has enjoyed a BABIP 55 points higher than a season ago but he’s also improved his BB% by 2% and is crushing the ball with a .391 ISO to go along with a .709 SLG%. Obviously, Cruz won’t finish the season with an ISO and SLG% this high but his power is real. He tallied an ISO of .264 in ’09 and has a .235 mark for his career. As long as he continues to be more selective at the plate (he’s swinging at 4% fewer pitches outside the strike zone), Cruz remains one of the better power options in any league format.
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