NL Quick Pitch: Brian Wilson pitched a great Sunday bullpen session and is ready to come off the DL (eligibile this Wednesday the 6th). Make sure to get him back in your lineups (and down arrow for Sergio Romo). Matt Kemp is on a tear and looks like he may be a first-round value kind of guy in 2011. Is RA Dickey for real? Looks like the Knuckleball is alive and well in 2011. I finally took the plunge with Rickie Weeks this year and all I have to say is he better stay healthy. He has 2 HR already through the first series of the year. Jaime Garcia certainly looked like an ace, but will his xERA of 2010 eventually reveal itself? Hiroki Kuroda = WHIP - looked solid in his season debut on Sunday Night Baseball. Shane Victorino’s calf looks ok, so I feel good about starting him in the first full week of the year. Strikeouts are fun and all, but is it worth it with Bud Norris? 12K's from Matt Garza was solid, but I won't be surprised to see his HR/FB% increase in Wrigley. Bronson Arroyo is battling mononucleosis, but that didn’t stop him from posting a QS. How will he fare on Friday against the D-Backs? Ian Desmond is 0-for-2011, but I’m not too concerned yet. Two triples from Starlin Castro on Sunday, but I still think we see a correction from his inflated 2010 BABIP. Vicente Padilla is almost back.... as a middle reliever. Pedro Alvarez’s 30 HR potential is still just potential as we wait for his first XBH of the year.
1. Hiroku Kuroda (SP - Dodgers) - Kuroda earned his first W of the season last night with a solid quality start of 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 K’s, and no walks. He allowed just 6 hits (2 HR) and in typical-Kuroda style, posted a low WHIP of 0.86. Drew commented on Twitter last night about Kuroda’s great ability to limit walks and hits, keeping his WHIP low season to season. In 2009, Kuroda posted a WHIP of 1.14 in 117.1 IP. In 2010, he matched it at 1.16 with 196.1 IP. His secret his an extremely low BB/9 for his career of just 2.1 and a K/BB of 3.18. His K rates aren’t anything special (about 6.6 K/9 for his career), but his K/I has been increasing each season since joining the league, going from .63 to .81.
2. Jaime Garcia (SP - Cardinals) - Jaime Garcia looked great, once again, on Sunday hurling an impressive CG shutout to begin 2011. His final line was 9.0 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 9 K’s and a GO/AO rate of 2.20. No doubt Garcia’s dominant performance against the Padres was a great sign. However, there are a few indicators from 2010 that may prove a slight correction in 2011. He posted a 2.70 ERA last year, but an xERA of 3.40 and a xFIP of 3.62. His LOB% of 75% was high for a non-K pitcher (a K/9 of 7.27 in ‘10). Of course, this all is meaningless if he can continue to do what he did on Sunday, but we can revisit all of it in a couple of months and see where we’re at then.
3. Rickie Weeks (2B - Brewers) - Weeks has picked up where he left off in 2010. Weeks already has 2 HR, 2 doubles, and 4 RBI through the first 3 games of the year. After increasing his BB% from 7.4% to 10.1% frmo 2009 to 2010, Weeks has yet to draw a walk this year and has recorded 4 K’s. Not a huge surprise after average a K% of 24.1% and 24.4% over the last two season. He can stay steady at that rate if he keeps mashing with that kind of XBH%. Not to put any jinxes on it, but health will continue to be the biggest variable in Weeks’ ability to post big numbers. So far, so good.
4. RA Dickey (SP - Mets) - Maybe R.A. Dickey still has a little of that 2010 magic left in the tank. After going 11-9 with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP in 2010, Dickey dominated the Marlins on Sunday with a quality start 6.0 IP of shutout ball, 5 H, 7 K’s, and 3 BBs. The knuckler was working as he induced a GO/AO of 2.67 and kept opposing hitters off-balanced all day. Dickey’s K/9 of 5.4 is easy to overlook, but his game is inducing grounders (seems like a waste in Citi Field, doesn’t it?) In 2010, his GB/FB was 1.21 with a GO/AO of 1.65 and HR/FB of just 5.9%. Getting over the fact that he won’t give you K’s should yield plenty of QS and W’s in 2011.
5. Matt Garza (SP - Cubs) - Garza posted some crooked numbers in his first start as a Cubbie. He hurled an official QS of 7.0 IP with 3 ER allowed, but he also allowed 12 hits while striking out 12 with no walks. He didn’t factor into the final decision. That doesn’t do anything for the WHIP, but it certainly helped fantasy owners with the K. His GO/AO was 1.0 yesterday, but as I’ve written in the past, his career rate of 0.81 concerns me heading to Wrigley Field. His HR/9 has been steadily increasing over the last few years from 0.93 to 1.23.
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