Jeff Samardzija - I'm getting more and more impressed with Samardzija, who picked up another quality start yesterday in shutting down the Braves over 7 innings for win number 4. The control improvements we noted this spring seem to have stuck, his velocity has amazingly remained fairly constant from the transition to the rotation, and his swinging strike% of 12.7 is currently 4th in MLB. It isn't like he's had an easy go of it with the schedule either, as he's faced the Cardinals twice, the Reds, the Marlins, the Braves, and the Nationals thus far. He definitely should be rostered in all formats right now, and he shows every sign of maintaining these sizable performance gains.
Lance Lynn - Lynn took 91 pitches to get through five innings last night against the D-Backs, but scattered three hits (including a triple to start the game) and four walks to move to 6-0 on the year. His K rate and GB rate have been impressive to be sure, but between the 93% strand rate, the BABIP 90 points underneath expectations, and the fact that he's faced the Cubs and Pirates twice apiece thus far, I'm inclined to want to sell high here. The control improvements that he's made are valuable to be sure, but I can't convince myself that a two-pitch guy with a lackluster minor league track record (3.69 ERA, 12 BR/9 in 72 starts) is better than a back-end starter, and his value has got to be higher than that currently.
Christian Friedrich - Christian Friedrich is going to be called up from AAA to start against the Padres Wednesday in San Diego, which is enough of a reason to look at him by itself. Friedrich was a 2008 1st-rounder that pitched very well in A-ball for a season and a half, followed by a 2010-2011 stretch at AA that was hideous on every level. His five starts at AAA this year were very solid, and his stuff was at one time considered to be mid-rotation caliber at worst, so it's clear there is some potential here. Elbow problems that began late in 2009 could possibly explain away some of the performance issues, but clearly looking at him this week would be a roll of the dice. With all of the rotational injury issues, Friedrich is likely worth a reserve slot in deeper formats right now, and I'll certainly be monitoring his starts closely to see if that assessment is too conservative.
Dale Thayer - Dale Thayer is a career minor league reliever with a middling track record, but the 31 year old was first in line for the save with Huston Street on the DL. Thayer pitched an uneventful ninth for his 2nd career save, and has allowed only a hit in five innings since coming up from AAA. Andrew Cashner and Luke Gregerson have also been mentioned as save candidates, but Gregerson pitched the eighth in front of Thayer, while Cashner is a bit too wild for my liking. With Street likely out for most of May, those of you desperate for saves might want to look at Thayer or Cashner for the next few weeks.
Carlos Zambrano - Big Z made it five straight quality starts, shutting out the Astros on just three singles and a walk last night, extended his scoreless innings streak to 16. His stat line is a veritable pu-pu platter right now, as the swinging strike%, career-best BB rate, and GB% are major positives while the BABIP and substantially decreased velocity jump out as reasons to expect regression. His schedule has been rather favorable thus far, leading me to be more in favor of selling him at a high value if possible than holding on, but I do expect him to perform at an adequate back-end starter level this season.