Jair Jurrjens (SP--Braves) Jair Jurrjens notched his sixth win of the season on Tuesday pitching 7.2 scoreless innings, He gave up six hits, walked one and struck out four. Jurrjens was able to lower his ERA to 1.56. It was Jurrjens eigth consecutive quality start out of eight. Opponents are batting just .234 against him and he is a very good WHIP of 1.04. Batters have been swinging at pitches out of the strike zone against Jurrjens 4% more than last year despite a decrease in velocity of his fastball. Strange enough batters are making more contact off him than last year by more than 6%. So with a very low BHIP of .268 we should expect a bump in Jurrjens stats. However, he is pitching very effectively and should continue to be a solid start week to week.
Kyle Lohse (SP--Cardinals) Kyle Lohse continues to put up solid numbers for the Cardinals. His 2.06 ERA and 6-2 record is about as unlikely as anyone would have expected from him. But I'd beware going forward as Lohse may be coming back down to earth. Lohse is a career 4.66 ERA pitcher and his current season BHIP of .222 is 80 points lower than his career norm. In fact with hitter making batter contact on him this year and a fastball that averages 88.9 mph, a decrease from last year and the year before, can we really expect, at 32, that Lohse is going to keep up this pace? From my perspective Lohse is a prime sell high candidate right now while his value is probably at his peak.
Justin Upton (OF--Diamondbacks) After going 0-for-15 his last four games, Justin Upton was able to snap the mini-slump and go 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a walk in the first game of a doubleheader. He bumped his batting average up to .247 and didn't start the second game. Despite struggling with his batting average, Upton is on pace for 31 home runs this season which would represent a career high. More good news is that Upton has been striking out 9.5% less of the time this year despite a slight worse contract rate than last season. He's also been swinging at pitches out of the strike zone 7% more often this year so despite the fact that he has been striking out less so far, indicators would suggest that he still may reach 150+ on the season. But we still should see a bump on his average since balls that he is hitting into play are only going for a .256 BHIP as opposed to a .334 career norm. This is largely due to a lower than average line drive rate (15.8%). Expect Upton to boost his batting average and keep the power going.
Josh Collmenter (SP--Diamondbacks) Josh Collmenter took a 21 inning scoreless streak into his game on Tuesday against the Rockies. It was the Rockies second time the Rockies had seen Collmenter and they were a little more familiar with his unorthodox over-the-top delivery that looks like the ball "comes out of his shirt". The second time, the Rockies hit Collmenter but not as bad it seems at first glance. He lasted just 4.1 innings, allowing five runs on five hits, however only two of those runs were earned. He still possesses a very impressive 1.19 ERA on the season and a K/BB of 15.00 in this early part of the year. Although I'm intrigued by Collmenter, I'm somewhat skeptical that this run will continue. His 5.77 ERA in Triple-A in 57.2 innings is in stark contrast to his current major-league stats. My concern here is that as teams get second and third looks at Collmenter, his delivery will become more familiar and similar results may happen as what happened with the Rockies on Tuesday. I'd sit this dance out for now until Collmenter proves he can make it around the league successfully more than once.
Jon Niese (SP--Mets) Jon Niese took his fifth loss of the season on Tuesday against the Cubs, but his performance was largely sabotaged by his battery mate, Ronny Paulino, who contributed two errors that lead to four unearned runs charged against Niese. On the day, Niese lasted just five innings, two earned runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out five. Niese's ERA of 4.33 actually went down .06 in the start. Niese has largely pitched better than it seems. He has only allowed more than three earned runs, three times out of ten starts. He pitches effectively but he struggles to get through the innings as nothing seems to come easy. He's allowed more hits than innings pitched (65 hits to 60.1 innings) and he has a WHIP of 1.41 that is indicative of his struggles. At 24, Niese still has a ceiling above him that he can grow into. He is more than competent but for now, owners will have to take two good starts and one clunker thrown in. Long term Niese has the potential to be a #2 starter but this is probably a ways off.
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