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NL Daily Notes - April 17th, 2012

Schuyler Dombroske

Chase Headley - Headley banged three doubles yesterday in Colorado to extend his hitting streak to eight games, and he also has 7 XBH for the year already. I think that some of the small improvements that he's been making in contact rate and BB rate the past few years have been obscured by the dwindling ISO and our frustration with it. There is some power here, but some players get a little too caught up in the Petco effect and basically stop trying to hit the ball in the air. It seemed like that's where Headley was last season, but early on this year it hasn't been an issue. Headley turns 28 in a few weeks, so he's getting close to the "what you see is what you get" point, but a touch more power wouldn't be all that surprising to me.

Dillon Gee - Gee was excellent yesterday, throttling the Braves over seven innings to pick up his first win of the year. He only allowed four singles and a walk, striking out five. Through two outings Gee is using his slider much more liberally than he did last year and is showing significant increases in swinging strike%, GB rate, and BB rate. It's two starts, so I'm not going to get carried away, but it looks like a step forward thus far. The Giants and Rockies are next up for Gee, and I'd currently treat him as a back-end starter in deeper mixed leagues and NL-only leagues with the possibility of greater value coming.

Travis Buck - With Brian Bogusevic struggling mightily, Travis Buck picked up a start in RF for the Astros yesterday, going 2-4 with a double. Buck is now 6-16 with 3 doubles and a triple so far this year, and stands a decent chance of earning more playing time if he stays hot. Buck looked like a solid prospect back in 2006-07 when he was moving quickly through the A's chain, but fizzled over the next few years in the majors as his playing time was sporadic for the most part. He's shown doubles power and the ability to hit for average in the past, and since he hasn't had more than a couple hundred ABs strung together in any one place since his first year in Oakland (five years ago) it's possible that there's more production here than we expect. He's interesting to me in NL-only leagues at present as a possible bench player, and would be a bit more valuable if there is indeed more PT coming.

Chris Young - Young continued his torrid start yesterday, picking up two singles and his fifth homer of the young season in a 5-1 win over the Pirates. Young is hitting the ball in the air as much as ever, so every once in a while he gets on these tears where a few more balls leave the yard. The improved K rate and continuing BB rate increases are a better indicator of actual value increase I think, as any sort of move upward in AVG helps eliminate the one weakness in Young's game. He's been around quite a while but is still just 28....he should remain a very valuable player for some time yet.

Joe Saunders - I know what Joe Saunders is, and these two starts aren't that guy. Saunders has faced the pathetic Padre and Pirate offenses thus far, which helps a bit, but a 93% strand rate and a .250 BABIP with a 28% LD rate just screams luck, which of course isn't all that unusual for Saunders. Saunders has outpaced his FIP ERA in each of the past four seasons, which either means he has some skill that mere mortals do not, he needs to buy my next lottery ticket, or there's going to be some painful outings coming. With the lack of K's and the unpredictable nature of his good fortune, I'm typically inclined to allow others the opportunity to deal with Saunders.

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