Ross Detwiler (SP - WAS): Detwiler made it 5-5 in starts he's held the opposing team to 3 ER's or less with 6 1/3 strong innings against the Diamondbacks. Detwiler limited ARZ to just 1 ER on 3 hits and 3 BB's, while striking out 2. The results were strong but the components showed some signs of weakness. All season long Detwiler has relied on an elite GB Rate (66%) with strong K (7.77 K/9) and BB Rates (2.45 BB/9), but on Thursday night Detwiler only posted a 31.6% GB Rate and generated just 5 swinging strikes on his 92 pitches. Detwiler got away with it by inducing a ton of pop-ups (18.2% IFFB Rate) and limiting LD's (10.5%). All season long hitters have had a hard time squaring up Detwiler (just 8% LD Rate coming in) and as a result the .233 BABIP isn't as extreme as it would look on the surface. While this start wasn't as dominating as some of Detwiler's other outings, the overall picture here remains extremely strong. Detwiler's elite GB Rates paired with good command and acceptable K Rates have made him a legitimate breakout candidate. Regression will eventually find its way towards Detwiler's unusually low LD Rate and the subsequent .233 BABIP, but his skill-set suggests a mid 3's ERA is sustainable. He should be owned in all formats at this point and treated as a back-end rotation starter with upside in favorable matchups.
Gaby Sanchez (1B - MIA): Last time I had NL responsibilities a flurry of Gaby Sanchez requests came in after the bell, so I'll make sure to touch on him this week. I noted on twitter that Sanchez was a player whose peripherals were all out of whack and I was legitimately concerned about. Let's examine those peripherals. The place I always start with examining hitters is plate discipline and Sanchez's is clearly taking steps backwards. Sanchez's BB Rate is at a career low 4.8% and its supported by a career worst 38% chase rate and 8.6% swinging strike rate. Sanchez's overall swing rate hasn't moved, which suggests this is solely an issue with pitch selection and recognition and not an over-anxious approach. While the BB Rate has been cut in half, his K Rate has also progressed to a career high 20%. Once you get past the poor plate discipline that reveals issues with pitch recognition, the batted ball data furthers the case. Sanchez entered play with just a 7% LD Rate and a whopping 18% IFFB (infield fly ball) Rate. Clearly Sanchez isn't seeing the ball well. At 28, it's hard to imagine a player like Gaby who has put up two consistent years (.346 wOBA, .342 wOBA in '10 and '11 respectively) falling off a cliff like this, but that's what the peripherals are suggesting. It's certainly possible an extended and horrible slump is wildly skewing the data and eventually Gaby will regress closer to his career averages (in fact our hitters' rankings anticipate it to some extent), but I'm concerned. At the very least owners should get Sanchez reserved while he works through the struggles and those in 10 and 12 team leagues can strongly consider moving on.
Rafael Dolis (RP - CHC): Dolis is the most likely candidate to get save opportunities in Marmol's place, but his skills aren't much better. Coming into yesterday's game Dolis had just 3 K's and 8 BB's in 14 innings. The Cubs love his power sinker which has generated a strong 47.9% GB Rate, but Dolis hasn't even had much success at the minor league level. In AA last year he posted an underwhelming 5.94 K/9, 4.33 BB/9 combination that led to a 3.81 FIP working out of the pen. Dolis has a nice young arm, but the only reason he's in the major leagues is because the Cubs moved Sean Marshall and Andrew Cashner in the offseason. If you are utterly desperate for saves or in an NL Only league I could see placing a claim in on Dolis, but the indicators suggest he has little chance of holding the job. Kerry Wood is the only relief pitcher in the Cubs pen that has the skills to hold the role and the Cubs are concerned enough about his shoulder to try to protect him from the role. The pen will likely be in flux all season long.
Erik Bedard (SP - PIT): Whenever he's healthy... he's good. It's the thing I love most about Erik Bedard in that he rarely pitches through injuries that affect his performance. Bedard entered Thursday as a hard-luck loser having gone 1-4 despite allowing 2 ER's or fewer in each of his first five starts. On Thursday he finally got bailed out by his offense as the Pirates tacked on two runs in the top of the 6th inning in order to provide Bedard with his first lead of the day, after having been pinch hit for. Bedard was only able to get through 5 innings but he was fantastic in those 5 innings allowing just 2 ER's on 5 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 11. Bedard used his curveball heavily on Thursday, throwing it 32 times and recording 20 strikes (4 swinging). The pitch set up hitters and allowed Bedard to sneak plenty of 89 mph fastballs by hitters as he generated 12 swinging strikes in total on his 104 pitches. For the season Bedard now holds a tremendous 9.79 K/9 and 3.36 xFIP. The move to the NL has predictably raised Bedard's K Rate through an increased swinging strike rate, but early on he hasn't been able to entice more chases outside the zone. Also of mild concern is the fact that Bedard entered Thursday's start having allowed a 26% LD Rate, but escaped much of the damage thanks to a 80% LOB%. With a true performance level more consistent with a low 3's ERA as opposed to a mid 2's ERA coupled with Bedard's usual injury risk, he's a viable sell high candidate. Going forward Bedard will run into his occasional rough patch with command and high FB tendencies but the pitcher friendly home park in PIT coupled with the increased K Rate in the NL should keep much of the damage down. He's a solid #3 or #4 fantasy starter when healthy and should be treated as such, even if he's pitching slightly above his head early on.
Jose Reyes (SS - MIA): For the third straight game Jose Reyes stole a base, giving him almost the same amount he had in April (4) in just 3 days of May (3). Along with the improved SB production the last few days there are some indicators suggesting Reyes is on the verge of breaking out. In his last 11 games (50 AB's) Reyes has walked 7 times and struck out just once. He's gone just 10-40 in that span but a .256 BABIP is driving those results more than any skill deterioration. On the season Reyes has shown strong improvements on his BB Rate (11.8%), while maintaining strong contact skills (88.5%) to generate a career best 1.33 EYE. The power Reyes displayed last year (.156 ISO) has yet to come with him, but the new Marlins park with big gaps would seem to suit Reyes gap-power well. Reyes' 20.5% LD Rate shows he's still hitting the ball with authority, but a .238 BABIP reflects some really poor luck. The only concern in Reyes' profile is the fact that his SBA and speed scores have been more consistent with his post-hamstring injury totals last year than his insane pre-injury totals. The result would be something closer to a 40 SB pace than a 50+ pace we had seen in past years. The slight downgrade coupled with Starlin Castro's increased willingness to run has allowed Castro to leapfrog him in our rankings, but it's no indictment of Reyes. He remains a strong buy-low candidate with very little deterioration in his indicators.
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