Chris Capuano (SP-NYM) Capuano earned a no-decision after he allowed 4 earned runs on 9 hits, 1 walk and 3 strikeouts in 6 innings of work against the Padres last night. His record remains at 9-10 for the season. While he has an ERA of 4.51 for the season, his xFIP of 3.89 suggests that he has pitched better than his overall stat line would indicate. His .312 BABIP is slightly unlikely especially considering he has only allowed a 16.2 percent line drive (a career low). His strikeout rate of 7.47 K/9 is still valuable, and I think owners will enjoy some success with the left-hander later this month. He is definitely worth starting when he is at Citi Field. He came into the game with an xFIP of 3.69 at home, and has only allowed 5 home runs at the pitcher friendly park.
Dontrelle Willis (CIN-SP) I have been keeping an eye on Willis since he returned to the big leagues in July, and last night against the Rockies he had one of his best starts despite earning his second loss of the season. He went 8 innings and allowed 5 hits, 1 home run and one walk with 10 strikeouts in the loss. He earned while lowering his ERA to 3.41 for the season. His 3.35 xFIP is equally impressive, and his 6.45 K/9 is right around his career rate of 6.56 K/9. More importantly Willis has a walk rate of 2.87 BB/9, which is at its lowest since 2005. He did not show his best velocity, he averaged 88.9 mph on his fastball, but he recorded 7 swinging strikes with his slider and threw it for a strike almost 68 percent of the time. His 53.3 percent ground ball rate is fantastic, and I would consider using him on a matchup basis in deep leagues.
Starlin Castro (SS-CHC) Castro went 1-for-4 with a home run in last night's loss to the Nationals. The home run was his sixth of the season, and he now has a line of .313/.341/.442 with 12 stolen bases this season. Castro continues to be one of the more productive fantasy shortstops because of his ability to exceed in many different categories. His stolen base total, runs scored, RBI's and batting average are all exceedingly high for a shortstop and many owners did not have to waste a decent draft pick to take him. He has been very consistent this season as I don't remember his average ever going below .300 this season. The only disappointment has been the slight decrease in his walk rate from 5.7 percent in 2010 to 4.2 percent this season. However, his chase rate remains the same as last season.
Jason Marquis (SP-ARI) The Astros roughed up Marquis as he allowed 7 runs (4 earned) on 9 hits, two home runs while striking out two. He earned a no-decision so his record remains at 8-6, and he saw his ERA jump to 4.48 for the season. However, Marquis has an xFIP of 3.95, which indicates that he has pitched better than his ERA suggests. He has been victim to a 68.1 percent strand rate, and a BABIP of .318. What is troubling about his two recent poor outings is that they have come against the Giants and Astros, two of the poorest lineups in baseball. Marquis is historically a pitcher whose ERA usually finishes close to his xFIP, and I would gamble that Marquis strings a few quality starts together by the end of the month. The question is whether his upside is worth the gamble for some owners. He only strikes out 5 per 9 innings, and he has a career WHIP of 1.43.
Neil Walker (2B-PIT) Walker went hit-less in 4 at-bats with one strikeout in the Giants' 6-0 victory of the Pirates. He has struggled over the last week as he has hit .167 with one extra base hit. He now has a slash line of .275/.334/.397 with 9 home runs, 67 RBI's and 7 stolen bases in 113 games this season. Walker's numbers have declined from his rookie season because his .340 BABIP has dropped to a more sustainable .319 in 2011, even thoug he has actually increased his line drive rate from 22 to 23 percent this season. Walker's home run total is down because his fly ball rate has dropped from 41.1 to 32.9 percent in 2011, while his HR/FB ratio has only dropped from 8.5 to 7.8 percent. Owners should expect his final line to hover close to its current form, and he should finish with 13-15 home runs.