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NL Player Notes - May 15, 2011

Joseph Hettler

Welcome to a special Florida Marlins addition of the NL Player Notes!

Anibal Sanchez - It's safe to say Anibal Sanchez is on fire right now. At least against the Nationals, that is. Less than a week after shutting out Washington for 7 innings, Sanchez dominated the Nationals again on Saturday, throwing 8 innings of shutout ball while recording 9 Ks and walking just 2. In the past week, Sanchez has now thrown 15 innings against Washington, allowed 5 hits, 2 walks and struck out 20 to lower his season ERA and WHIP to 2.90 and 1.23. Sanchez has picked up where he left in 2010, except he's been able to improve his strikeout rate by more than 2 per game while maintaining his walk and HR rates. Last season, Sanchez posted a solid 3.55 ERA and 3.32 FIP. Heading into Saturday's start, Sanchez owned a 3.44 FIP as well as a 2.53 K/BB. It seems that Sanchez is underrated for some reason, which doesn't make sense considering this is the third straight season he's recorded an ERA under 4.00. It appears Sanchez is taking the next step this season and should be a solid No. 3-4 SP moving forward.

Travis Wood - With his rotation spot in jeopardy, Travis Wood has tossed back-to-back solid outings, allowing just 2 ER in 12 2/3 innings. Sure, both starts came against the offensively-challenged Astros, but, hey, beggars can't be choosers, right? Wood's numbers are very intriguing so far this season. He sports an awful 5.28 ERA and 1.47 WHIP which seemingly justifies why his rotation spot isn't safe. However, Wood also owns an 8.12 strikeout rate, 2.84 walk rate and allows just 0.61 HRs per game. He's also been extremely unfortunate with a .356 BABIP and 64% strand rate. Add it all up and it's easy to understand how Wood owns a 2.97 FIP. Wood's ERA is going to start falling (remember, he posted a 3.51 ERA in '10) and he owns a solid strikeout rate. If you can acquire the 24-year old SP, via trade or waiver wire, do so as he's an excellent buy-low candidate right now. Wood takes the ball against the Cardinals today.

Javier Vazquez - Sometimes, you just have to admit you totally blew it. I'm doing that now as I harped on Javier Vazquez being a great value pick in the pre-season thanks to moving back to the NL and my assumption he'd regain the velocity on his fastball. I even went as far as to say he could get 180 strikeouts in a full season (cringe). Well, needless to say, I couldn't have been more off with my predictions as Vazquez has been downright terrible. His fastball averages just 88.2 mph which is half a mph lower than last season. He's sporting a 0.73 K/BB, 6.88 ERA and hasn't pitched more than 6 innings in any start this season. Vazquez is also allowing more line drives and fly balls and fewer grounders compared to last season. There just isn't any good news here as it appears Vazquez will never throw in the 90s again. He starts against the Nationals today but is safe to drop in all league formats. (Of course, now that I've said this, watch Vazquez toss a gem today.)

John Buck - After hitting .281 with 20 HRs in 2010 for the Blue Jays, John Buck is off to a slow start in 2011 as he entered Saturday's game against Washington with just a .230/.304/.426 slash line. There's good news and bad news within those numbers for Buck's fantasy owners. The good news is that he's increased his walk rate by 6%, still owns a strong .197 ISO and has been a bit unlucky with a .253 BABIP (after posting a .335 mark in '10). The bad news is that Buck's line drive rate has fallen from 16.1% in '10 to a mere 12.5% and his HR/FB is down to 11%. I'm pretty confident that Buck's numbers will bounce back, based on the fact he owns a career line drive rate of 16.6% and HR/FB rate of 12.6%. Obviously, not one of the top catchers out there, but Buck is a decent option in 12/14 team leagues.

Kevin Correia - If you're not going to strike out a lot of batters, you better limit the walks and HRs. That's exactly what Kevin Correia is doing so far this season. Correia will face the Brewers today in search of his 6th win of the season. He owns just a 3.93 strikeout rate which is well below his 7.14 mark in 2010. However, Correia has also lowered his walk rate from 3.97 in '10 to just 1.88 and his HR rate has dropped from 1.24 to 0.85. The result is a 3.25 ERA and 3.93 FIP. Additionally, the right hander has done a great job increasing his GB rate to 51% and owns an incredible 11% LD%. This helps explain why Correia's BABIP is just .257. It's going to be pretty difficult for Correia to keep posting such excellent GB and LD rates but as long as he does, his BABIP should remain low and he'll continue to be effective. He's definitely worth a look in deep mixed and NL-only leagues.

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