Colby Rasmus OF (TOR) - Rasmus has made some obvious changes in his swing over the past year (closer to the plate, more straight up, much lower leg kick) and it appears to be paying off in a big way. He hit 2 more homers last night to give him 12 on the season. Of Rasmus' 12 homers, half of them have come in the month of June. Rasmus' EYE could use a little work, but his K% has dropped for the second straight year (27.7/22.1/18.8). Also, his ISO is now a career best .227, closely resembling the .222 mark he posted in 2010 that had many calling him a breakout candidate. With the LD rate also a career best (22.1%) I see no reason to sell high on the 25 YO Rasmus - a player who once had a huge ceiling attached to his name.
Adrian Gonzalez 1B (BOS) - Gonzalez has hit just 1 HR in June and his struggles continued last night with an 0-3 outing. I would be lying if I didn't say I was somewhat concerned. Gonzalez's BB rate has dipped 2 consecutive seasons since joining the Red Sox: 13.4/10.3/7. Also, his K rate has expanded this season from 16.6% to 18.9% as Gonzalez has a career high chase rate of 36.6% (career mark of 28.9%). Not only is the high chase rate likely at least a partial cause of the declining plate discipline numbers, but the fact that Gonzalez is making contact with 75.5% of those chased pitches (also a career high, career mark of 61.4%) likely explains his career worsts in ISO (.143) and HR/FB% (6.4%). It's tough to drive the ball when you are hitting pitcher's pitches. Gonzalez certainly will not be this bad all season, but as an owner I would have no problem shipping him off to someone who anticipates a full bounce back.
Luke Hochevar SP (KC) - Hochevar tossed 7.2 scoreless innings against the Astros last night, striking out 6 and posting an impressive 61.1 GB%. At first glance I expected to write how unlucky Hochevar has been and how his ERA (6.27 heading into last night) should drop closer to his FIP (3.86) and xFIP (4.24). While this is partially true (BABIP 48 points above his career mark should normalize and help the ERA and WHIP), I noticed that for his career Hochevar has an ERA (5.39) well above his FIP (4.35) and xFIP (4.26). Simply put, Hochevar has consistently shown that he is unable to pitch effectively with runners on base. Most starters have a LOB% in the low 70's, but Hochevar has a career LOB% of 63.2%. He has pitched over 100 innings in 4 straight seasons prior to 2012 and has never posted a LOB% greater than 66%. Given the history this is clearly a skill related issue that will make it difficult for Hochevar to post a sub-4.50 ERA rest of season.
Jason Vargas (SEA) - For his career (vast majority of innings with Seattle) Jason Vargas has held hitters to a .679 OPS at home but allowed a .798 OPS on the road. In particular, Vargas allows a homerun every 40 opponent at bats at Safeco, but on the road he allows a homerun every 25.5 at bats. So, today's start against Arizona could be a disaster for Vargas as he moves from spacious Safeco to the thin air and homer friendly confines of Chase Field. Avoid him in all formats.
Tom Wilhelmsen RP (SEA) - It initially appeared as if Brandon League was about to get his closer's job back, but the Mariners have stuck with Wilhelmsen. He came through again for them last night, earning his 5th save in impressive fashion; Wilhelmsen worked a perfect 9th inning, striking out the side. Wilhelmsen certainly has the skills to keep this job. He is a FB neutral (44.6 GB%), extremely dominant (29.7 K%) and has good control (7.4 BB%). His current ERA of 3 is not a fluke as Wilhelmsen's FIP is 2.70 and xFIP is 3.01.