Trevor Cahill (SP-ARI)- Cahill improved his record to 2-2 after limiting the Nationals to just one run over 7.1 innings of work. He allowed five hits and one walk with five strikeouts and lowered his ERA to 3.13. While benefiting from a BABIP of .258 (much like his 2010 campaign), his below average strand rate of 65.6 percent has canceled that out, as his .336 FIP and 3.55 xFIP point out. Despite not having his best velocity in the early part of the season (he came into the start with an average of 88 mph on his fastball), he had the best swinging strike rate of his career at 9.9 percent. Cahill showed better velocity last night averaging 90 mph with the fastball, and recorded 11 swinging strikes. Look for his strikeout rate to improve, and he should finish the season with a 3.80-3.90 ERA and a 6.50 K/9.
Johnathan Papelbon (RP-PHI)- Papelbon recorded his league leading ninth save of the season last night in the Phillies 4-2 victory over the Braves. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout while lowering his ERA to 0.82. He has produced his best ground ball rate since 2008 with a 44 percent rate, and opposing hitters have had a hard time squaring the ball off him, as his 13.2 percent line drive rate indicates. It's not all good news however considering he entered last night's game with his lowest average fastball velocity since becoming a reliever (93.2 mph). As a result his 9.7 percent swinging strike rate is the lowest of his career and down from his 16.8 percent rate from last season. Papelbon has been featuring his splitter more in 2012, which might be a direct result of him not having the same velocity on his fastball. It is worth keeping an eye on for the next month.
Jed Lowrie (SS-HOU)- Lowrie went 1-for-2 with three walks and a two-run home run in the Astros win over the Mets on Tuesday night. The home run was his third of the season while he improved his slash line to .303/.410/.470. Lowrie has shown renewed patience at the plate this season putting up a career best 15.4 percent walk rate in 78 plate appearances in 2012. He came into Tuesday's game with a 14.2 percent chase rate, which was the best among all qualified hitters. Furthermore, his .347 BABIP is no fluke considering he also came into Tuesday's game with a 26 percent line drive rate and a 24 percent ground ball rate. It remains to be seen if Lowrie can stay healthy for more than half of a season, but owners have to be pleased with the fantastic start he has gotten off to this season.
Jhoulys Chacin (SP-COL)- The Dodgers pummeled Chacin for seven runs on eleven hits, three home runs and four walks in 4.2 innings pitched. He struck out three, but saw his ERA increase to 7.30 and his record fall to 0-3. He has been hurt by his 5.47 BB/9 while seeing a decrease in his ground ball rate from 56.3 percent in 2011 to 40.5 percent. Like a lot of pitchers this season, his average fastball velocity is down to 89.1 mph almost two miles per hour from 2011. His strikeout rate is also somewhat inflated considering he came into last night's start with a 8 percent swinging strike rate, comparable his rate from last season (8.2 percent). His ERA will eventually come down when his HR/FB ratio of 24 percent does, but those other indicators show that he might have a hard time finishing this season with an ERA below 4.20.
Rickie Weeks (2B-MIL)- Weeks struggles at the top of the lineup continued, as he was hitless in four plate appearances with a walk against the Padres last night. He has three home runs and two stolen bases for the season with a slash line of .180/.318/.348. Let's start with the bad news. His batting average has been the product of 26.2 percent strikeout rate (his worst as a regular), and a .224 BABIP. The luck on balls in play has a lot to due with his poor 9.8 percent line drive rate and 22.5 percent infield fly ball rate. The good news is that his strikeout rate is likely to improve considering his 10.6 percent swinging strike rate is close to his 10.1 percent career rate. Additionally, he continues to have a 15.9 percent walk rate. He will finish with 20 plus home runs, but I'm a little more skeptical that he can get back to a .260 batting average. That will all depend on whether he can improve that line drive rate.
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