Jacoby Ellsbury - Our Fantistics software pinned Jacoby Ellsbury as one of the top overall players in 2012 so it's understandable if his fantasy owners said a few extra prayers last evening after the Boston outfielder injured his shoulder sliding to break up a double play against the Rays on Friday afternoon. There's no good way to spin this - Ellsbury was rolling on the ground in pain and clutching his right shoulder. Dr. Christopher Geary, the head of sports medicine at Tufts Medical School, told the WEEI.com blog that the injury looked like a torn rotator cuff or shoulder subluxation and he predicted Ellsbury to miss at least six-to-eight weeks at a minimum. We should hear more official news today but a DL stint seems inevitable. Before the injury, Ellsbury was 2-for-3 with a run scored and RBI and was hitting .192 for the season.
Jake Peavy - In a great pitchers' duel on Friday, Jake Peavy outlasted Max Scherzer by tossing 6 2/3 innings of two-hit ball. The former Padre finished with eight strikeouts, one walk and allowed just two earned runs. It's easy to look at Peavy's bloated ERA and declining strikeout rates the past two seasons and write him off as a has-been. However, Peavy's actually posted solid xFIPs of 3.91 and 3.52 the past two seasons despite ERAs of 4.63 and 4.92. Additionally, Peavy's FIP was a mere 3.21 in 2011 thanks to a 63% strand rate and .317 BABIP. Through two starts this season Peavy has struck out 13 in 12 2/3 innings and has really looked outstanding. If his luck can even out, we're looking at a very solid bounce back candidate. I strongly recommend grabbing Peavy if he's still available in your league.
Matt Harrison - The Rangers' Matt Harrison pitched wonderfully against the Twins on Friday, going eight innings and giving up just one earned run while striking out four. Harrison's now allowed only one run in his first 14 innings and is 2-0 on the season. Last season, the southpaw put together a 3.39 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. Those solid numbers should be sustainable as Harrison owned a 3.52 FIP as well as a 2.21 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 0.63 HR rate. What's most encouraging about Harrison is that his major league peripheral stats look similar to his minor league marks. He's learned how to be successful by limiting walks and HRs and getting the occasional punchout, which makes Harrison a solid back end of the rotation starter in 12-team mixed and AL-only leagues.
Max Scherzer - The 27-year old Tigers' starter struck out 11 White Sox batters on Friday but took the loss in a duel with Chicago's Jake Peavy. Scherzer's final line showed six innings of work, five hits, one walk and three earned runs. Last season, Scherzer owned a 4.43 ERA and really struggled with the long ball, experiencing a huge jump in his HR rate from 0.92 in 2010 to 1.34. He did lower his walk rate by nearly three-quarters of a run and maintained a strikeout rate over 8.00. Interestingly, Scherzer's xFIP was 3.68 during his outstanding 2010 season (when he posted a 3.50 ERA) and last year his xFIP was 3.70. Take away the uncharacteristic spike in HRs and it's likely the righty would have owned an ERA much closer to his 2010 mark. I was bearish on Scherzer last season but, in revisiting his numbers, there's good reason to think he has a nice bounce back in 2012.
Derek Lowe - Wins and losses are obviously terrible stats but when you go 9-17 something's usually not right. That was Derek Lowe's record last season with the Braves and a big reason why Atlanta was willing to eat $10 million to trade him to the Indians in the offseason. The Tribe indicated they saw something in Lowe's delivery that was tipping his pitches and, so far, it seems the adjustment is working as Lowe is 2-0 with two quality starts. On Friday, Lowe pitched 6 2/3 innings versus the Royals, allowing three earned on 11 hits. He definitely wasn't as sharp as he was in his Cleveland debut when he tossed seven innings and recorded 16 ground ball outs. Lowe only got eight grounders against Kansas City but he was able to duck out of jams throughout the day. Last season, Lowe's ERA was 5.05 but he maintained his trademark high GB rate and his FIP was just 3.70 which makes me think the right hander has a chance to provide some spot start value in deep AL-only leagues in 2012.
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