Scott Diamond (SP - MIN): Scott Diamond extended his streak to 7 straight starts with 3 ER's or less allowed while picking up his 5th win of the season on Saturday against the Cubs. Diamond allowed just 7 hits and didn't walk a batter while striking out 5 in 6 shutout innings. Diamond continued to roll GB's at an elite rate (entered the game with a 63% GB Rate) as he posted a 50% GB rate on Saturday and with another zero walk performance he lowered his BB Rate to a miniscule 0.81 BB/9. Diamond has posted strong command rates in the minor leagues (career 2.8 BB/9, 1.8 BB/9 at AAA this year), but certainly nothing like this before. Diamond's 51% zone % (percentage of pitches in the strike zone) is just 1 percentage point above league average and his 26% chase rate is actually 3 percentage points below league average. It's hard to understand how this level of command continues. Add in the fact that Diamond's schedule has been extremely favorable (6 of his starts have come against offenses that are bottom 11 in baseball in OPS vs. LHP) and you start to get the impression this level of production is unsustainable. If Diamond can keep up a 60+% GB Rate, the elite command will allow him to hold back-end of the rotation value, but I'm a bigger believer that the strong GB Rate is being helped by the favorable schedule. As that subsides, I expect Diamond's strong start to fade. In deep leagues he's worth an add as a potential spot starter, but traditional leaguers should consider him a stream option.
Alejandro De Aza (OF - CHA): Alejandro De Aza entered Saturday as the 17th ranked player on ESPN's player rater; 17th OVERALL. That was before the 4-5 effort that included 2 more Runs and RBI and raised his average on the season to .310. I wrote a few weeks back that I was buying into De Aza's strong start to the season and I'm here to reinforce that opinion. De Aza posted a .329/.400/.520 line in 171 PA's last year and he's followed that up with a .310/.389/.434 line in 258 PA's this year. We're now looking at over 400 PA's of high-end production and the skills in both samples are fairly similar. De Aza's BB Rates and K Rates are nearly identical. His ISO has taken steps back (expectedly) but his chase rate and contact rates have improved and the performance is in-line with De Aza's minor league #'s the last 3 years. It looks as if De Aza is simply a late bloomer and while his .360+ BABIP won't last a .290-100-10-65-30 pace is within reason. He's one of the few guys I think we're light on in the June rankings and I happen to think we're extremely light. While De Aza's pace will slow slightly, I think he's still a quite capable top 30 OF and likely Top 75 player overall. If I owned De Aza I would be holding and in spots where I need Runs, SB, and Avg, I'm trying to take advantage of those looking to sell high.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (SP - BOS): I didn't get the chance to see much of it on Saturday but Daisuke's first start of the season has to be considered a success. Matsuzaka allowed 4 ER's in 5 innings but yielded just 5 hits, most importantly 1 BB, and struck out 8. Matsuzaka's average FB velocity for the game was 91.5 mph which is back in-line with career averages after a velo decline in 2011. He generated 9 swinging strikes on his 80 pitches, which is a number more in-line with Dice-K's performance when he first came over to the states. Granted it's just one start and it did come against an NL opponent that has had contact issues throughout the year, but it was a nice start. We of course need to temper expectations given the small sample size and the opponent; especially since those who return from Tommy John surgery often struggle with command right out of the chute. This was Dice-K's biggest weakness in the past and if it rears its ugly head again will become an issue against the more patient AL East opponents. I'm not adding Dice-K on the one start in traditional 10 and 12 team mixed leagues, but deeper formats I'd consider speculating with an open roster spot. If he's not skipped, he'll get a matchup against the Cubs in his next outing which would be one I'd strongly consider spot starting him for.
Ben Zobrist (OF - TB): It seems like whenever I've written about Zorilla this year it's come after a disappointing performance that has me demanding patience out of owners, but not this time. Zobrist reached base in all 5 of his plate appearances which included 2 HR's, 2 BB's, 4 Runs, and 4 RBI's. The outstanding performance raised Zobrist's 2012 line to just .218/.350/.416, but I continue to stress patience and profess confidence in Zobrist's 2012 prospects. As I've mentioned in prior posts Zobrist's poor batting average is largely being influenced by a .232 BABIP that simply doesn't match up with his 18.5% LD Rate. Furthermore all of his plate discipline indicators are at or near career bests with batted ball data that is completely in-line with his career averages. Once Zobrist's luck turns he'll get back to the .280-90-20-80-20 pace that we'd expect from him. Zobrist remains an elite buy-low candidate.
Ben Revere (OF - MIN): Those in need of a boost in their SB production should hone in on Ben Revere. Owned in just 2% of ESPN leagues Revere's hot start appears to have entrenched him in an OF spot for the rebuilding Twins. Revere's inability to draw BB's (career 5% BB Rate) or hit for power (.049 ISO) makes him a limited offensive player, but his best asset happens to be one that works well for fantasy. Revere swiped 34 bags in just 117 games last year and has built on that pace with 8 in the first 25 games he's played this year. While Revere doesn't work many counts, he does have great contact rates (career 92%) and a magnificent 68% GB Rate that caters to Revere's best skill. As a result his .349 BABIP this year isn't outlandish. A career .326 hitter in the minor leagues who averaged 40+ SB's, Revere is a nice 2.5 category player that can be deployed for teams in need of speed in all formats.
Follow us on Twitter all year: @Fantistics and @drewdinkmeyer
These are only a few of the players we are covering today. We profile over 100 players everyday in our premium section, become a member today.