Matt Moore (SP-TB)- Moore did not earn a decision in the Rays win over the Angels, but he did pitch well in his 5.2 innings of work. He allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits (one home run) and two walks while striking out six. He was able to lower his ERA to 4.68, and showed better command of his fastball throwing it for a strike 70 percent of the time. More importantly, with the better command he was able to record a 12 percent swinging strike rate (he came into the game with a 8.4 percent rate). Moore will continue to go through ups and downs this season, but he should begin registering more strikeouts as the season progresses. His fly ball rate is an area of concern, as he now has a 47.5 percent rate in his four starts. If he continues to have that rate in the AL East, he will more than likely give up 25 or more home runs.
Shelley Duncan (LF-CLE)- Duncan went hitless in three at-bats (all of them strikeouts) along with a walk in the Indians loss to the Royals on Thursday afternoon. Duncan, who has now struck out eight times in his last 11 at-bats has two home runs, seven RBI and a .235/.385/.373 slash line in 65 plate appearances this season. Despite his 29.2 percent strikeout rate, Duncan's swinging strike rate and chase rate are at career lows. He has been almost too selective at the plate with a 35.8 percent swing rate. Johnny Damon is set to join the Indians in early May, and Duncan's days of getting regular playing time are dwindling. His defense is a liability, but he will spare Travis Hafner and Casey Kotchman against some left-handed pitchers, but he will be nothing more than a platoon player for the rest of the season making him useful only in daily drafts and some AL-only leagues.
Rick Porcello (SP-DET)- Porcello was touched for five runs in 6.2 innings pitched in his second loss of the season. The Mariners had seven hits off of him (two home runs) and walked twice with three strikeouts. Porcello's ERA jumped to 6.45 for the season. Despite his struggles over his last two starts, there are some encouraging signs that show he might put up his best season yet. First off he has shown his best velocity in four seasons, averaging 91.6 mph with his fastball in 2012. Furthermore his 2012 numbers have been hurt by a .323 BABIP and a 60.3 percent strand rate. Those numbers along with his 18.2 percent HR/FB ratio will regress as Porcello throws more innings. His strikeout rate has not improved, but his walk rate of 1.65 BB/9 is impressive. Finally, Porcello has also been able to maintain keep his ground ball rate above 50 percent even with the improved velocity.
Chris Davis (1B-BAL)- Davis went 1-for-3 with a home run, two runs scored, two RBI, a strikeout and a walk in the Orioles win over the Blue Jays on Friday night. The home run was his third of the season, and he improved his line to .283/.317/.517 in 63 plate appearances this season. Davis has 30 home run type of power, but his issues have always stemmed from his inability to make consistent contact. He still has a 25 percent strikeout rate, and his 15.2 percent swinging strike rate (ninth highest in the baseball) while he has been chasing 38.4 percent of pitches out of the strike zone. Those numbers indicate that Davis hasn't really changed his approach, and I don't think his current batting average will hold up to the end of the season. I still expect him to finish with a .250/.300/.460 type of line with 25-28 home runs with a ton of strikeouts.
Jordan Walden (RP-LAA)- Walden blew his first save of the season on Wednesday afternoon against the Rays after allowing a walk-off home run to Brandon Allen. He did not record on out in the appearances while allowing two hits. He now as an 8.31 ERA in 4.1 innings pitched with six strikeouts and four walks. Walden's velocity is there (averaging 97 mph), but his command has been lacking. His fastball has been in poor locations, and he has stayed away from his slider so far. He came into yesterday's game using the pitch at a 9.6 percent rate. There is no obvious successor to the Walden if he continues to struggle, but he should be able to work things out and keep his hold on the job.. His walk rate will be higher than last season, which should lead to an ERA higher than 3 this season.
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