Adam Dunn - The Big Donkey continued his torrid pace on Friday by belting his 11th HR of the season (he hit 11 all of last season) and finished 2-for-2 with two walks. He also didn't strike out in a game for the first time this season. Dunn now owns a .257/.401/.628 slash line with 26 RBI. While people keep talking about how Dunn had struck out at least once in every game this season (until yesterday), the real story is that he's back to being the Adam Dunn who hit at least 38 HRs for seven straight seasons. Dunn's walk rate is 19%, his ISO is an incredible .372 and he owns a solid 22% line drive rate. Up until last season, Dunn was one of the most consistent hitters in baseball, so it's reasonable to think he's pushed that historically bad 2011 season behind him and is back to being one of the best power hitters in fantasy.
Jesus Montero - As if Michael Pineda getting injured wasn't enough to make Yankees' fans ticked about the Montero-Pineda deal, Jesus added salt to the wound by going yard against his former team on Friday. He has now blasted five HRs and driven in 17 RBI in 2012. However, I'm concerned about Montero's lack of patience and depressed line drive rate so far this season. He owns a minuscule 2.5% walk rate after posting a 10% mark in 2011. After recording a 27% line drive rate a year ago, he's hitting liners at just an 18% clip. His ISO has also fallen from .262 in 2011 to just .172 and his BA has dropped by about 60 points (although part of this drop is because Montero owned a .400 BABIP last year and just a .292 mark this year). We figured playing home games in Seattle rather than New York would affect Montero's numbers, but not this significantly. Montero is still young and very talented so, for now, I'm chalking up this season's slow start to growing pains and expect the catcher/designated hitter to turn things around in the coming weeks.
Jeremy Hellickson - For the second straight season, Jeremy Hellickson is outpitching his peripherals as he entered Friday's matchup versus the Orioles with a 2.75 ERA despite a 4.85 xFIP. Last season, he owned a 2.95 ERA while his xFIP was 4.72. Against Baltimore, Hellickson tossed 6 2/3 innings, struck out six and allowed three earned runs. While some pitchers are able to outpitch their peripherals throughout their careers (i.e. Matt Cain), I don't believe Hellickson will be as fortunate. His strikeout rate is below 6.00, his walk rate is near 4.00 and he's allowing about 1.5 HRs per game. He likely won't maintain an 88% strand rate and, despite maintaining a .223 BABIP in 2011, it's risky to believe he can repeat that luck. You've got to ride him while he gets you results in the ERA and Win departments, but I'd be cautious about believing the right hander can continue this type of success for the remainder of the season.
Ubaldo Jimenez - Welp, my excitement that Ubaldo Jimenez might have started to turn the corner by shutting out the Rangers in his last start lasted all of five batters. That was when Will Middlebrooks smoked a two-run double and started the Red Sox on a hit parade against Jimenez on Friday. It was a weird first inning for Jimenez, who threw 30 pitches, walked two batters, hit a batter, allowed two earned runs and struck out the side. After allowing another two earned runs in the second inning, the right hander "settled down" until allowing three more runs in the 5th inning. Jimenez finished the game with five walks, four strikeouts, nine hits allowed and seven earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings. He continues to struggle with his consistency and couldn't locate his pitches as the Red Sox batters make good contact all night. For the season, Jimenez now owns a 5.18 ERA and 1.78 WHIP. Most alarming, his strikeout and walk rates are 5.40 and 6.75, respectively, and his strikeout percentage is down from 21% in 2011 to just 12% this season. There have been several articles on various baseball websites stating that Jimenez is battling multiple mechanical issues, which helps explain why he can't find any consistency in his results. Right now he honestly looks like he should take a couple turns in the minors to find his mechanics (although the Indians would have DFA him to do that, so that won't happen). At least, if he went to the minors, I wouldn't feel like barfing on myself while watching him pitch. Ugh.
Clay Buchholz - Clay Buchholz managed to win his fourth game of the season on Friday against the Tribe, yielding three earned runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings. Prior to Friday's outing, Buchholz had been downright horrific in his first six starts, despite a 3-1 record. He owned a 9.09 ERA and 5.20 xFIP to go along with walk and strikeout rates in the mid-to-low 5.00s. He had also allowed 10 HRs in just 32 innings. There's just really no good way to spin those stats. One problem for Buchholz is that hitters are making contact on far too many of their swings. In Buchholz's career, batters make contact on 85% of pitches inside the strike zone against him compared to a 93% mark this season. Overall contact against Buchholz is also up 6% compared to last year. Even more alarming is that batters own a 19% LD rate off the right hander after mustering just a 10% mark in 2011. If I'm a Buchholz owner, I keep him firmly on my bench until his indicator stats gets better.
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