Gavin Floyd (SP - CHW): I'm not really sure what is going on with Gavin Floyd, but I'm not particularly encouraged. While Floyd has now tossed 3 straight quality starts and allowed just 3 ER's in his last 20 1/3 innings, he's also posted a 5:13 K:BB ratio during that span; including a rather ridiculous 2:11 K:BB ratio since coming back from the DL. On Sunday night Floyd allowed just 1 ER, but yielded 12 base-runners (5 BB, 7 hits) over 6 2/3 innings against the Rangers. Floyd's velocity (91.4 mph) was fine for the start but he generated just 7 swinging strikes on 110 pitches (6.4%), which is indicative of the significantly lower K Rate since he returned. While I've long liked Floyd as a back-end mixed league starter, the version that has returned from the disabled list has me very scared for his fantasy prospects. Floyd's a guy who struggles with the long-ball and has thrived with above average K rates and below average BB Rates. The last few starts he's kept the ball in the yard but isn't missing bats and is putting a lot of men on base. If that trend continues and the HR/FB Rate starts to normalize Floyd's going to post some awfully ugly starts. I'd be careful deploying Floyd until we see the K and BB Rates resemble something closer to what we've seen from him in the past.
Doug Fister (SP - DET): Fister stayed hot on Sunday with 8 innings of 1-run ball against the Blue Jays. Fister allowed 7 hits and 2 BB's while striking out 9 and improving his record to 5-7 on the season. Fister has not only held some of the K Rate gains he made in the 2nd half of last season, but he's expanded on them by raising his swinging strike rate to 8% and keeping his chase rate around 35%. Coupled with his usual great command (sub-2 BB/9), Fister's continued growth in strikeouts (20.4 K%) has allowed Fister to move towards a pretty legitimate #2 fantasy starter. His 52% GB Rate is just icing on the cake. After Sunday's gem Fister's xFIP is down to 3.15 on the season and while the Tigers abysmal defense will keep him from matching his peripherals, the ERA should continue to trend down towards the mid 3's. The schedule will offer some challenges to Fister's ERA as he faces CLE and then the NYY in his next two outings, two of the better clubs against RHP, but Fister's peripherals mandate that he should be in lineups regardless of the matchup. Fister is the only pitcher in baseball with a K/9 above 7.5, BB/9 below 2, and GB Rate above 50%. Zack Greinke (2.1 BB/9) and Madison Bumgarner (49% GB Rate) are the only two that are even close.
Matt Wieters (C - BAL): Expectations were fairly high for Wieters coming into the season and as a result fantasy owners have been frustrated with the extended slumps that have curtailed his season long numbers. Wieters has hit just .197/.269/.268 here in July which coupled with a .188/.282/.323 May have given Wieters two months of almost zero production. Looking at the entire picture Wieters has seen his BB Rate improve thanks to a more disciplined approach, but he's also seen his K Rate regress back towards 20%, while his ISO has held in fairly steady at .172. Coming off a 2nd half in which Wieters slugged .504 last year, the "holding steady" on his yearly ISO comes as a bit of a disappointment. As someone who championed Wieters breakout as already happening (2011 2nd half), I should probably take some responsibility for those lofty expectations. Wieters still ranks near the Top 10 in Catchers and with his HR on Sunday is on pace for a 20 HR, 70 RBI campaign, but the average and the runs scored look to fall short of last year's performance and the step forward we expected in power (25-30 HR's) hasn't held. Long-term Wieters is still a tremendous young player and keeper option at the Catcher position but this is a reminder that 1) growth for young players isn't linear and 2) the catching position (due to the wear and tear) remains one of the more volatile positions in fantasy to project.
Wei Yin Chen (SP - BAL): Wei-Yen Chen just continues to surprise this season. Chen entered Sunday's game with a solid 3.82 ERA, 6.82 K/9, and 1.21 WHIP this season, giving him a more meaningful real life and fantasy line than that of his Japanese League counterpart Yu Darvish. Chen's surprise season may have peaked on Sunday when he struck out 12 A's in 5 1/3 of 1 run (unearned) ball, improving his record to 9-6. Chen got 16 swinging strikes on Sunday, continuing an increasing trend in his K Rate here in July (41 K's in 36 2/3 IP). Chen's benefited this season from a favorable .259 BABIP that will likely regress over time, but if he's able to maintain the bump in his K Rate the regression in BABIP wouldn't be as impactful (with fewer overall balls in play). I've deemed Chen a matchups play to take advantage of in big ballparks but with a 3.13 ERA at home this year, it's clear he has the ability to succeed in ballparks. I'd still be hesitant to use Chen against some of the elite AL East offenses, but he's handled pretty much every challenge thrown at him this year (2.29 ERA, 14:3 K:BB Ratio in 19 2/3 IP against Yankees/Red Sox this year). Perhaps I've underrated him.
Jhonny Peralta (SS - DET): Perhaps we're finally starting to see Jhonny Peralta turn some of the peripherals improvement he's demonstrated this year into actual production. Peralta homered twice on Sunday bringing his total up to 8 on the season and raising his 2012 line to .263/.331/.415. Peralta's improved his BB Rate this year and his LD Rate but has seen almost zero improvement in his batting average (.263 vs. career .267). His .302 BABIP is only moderately below his .314 career average, but his HR/FB Rate is about 4 percentage points below his career average. Given Peralta's LD Rate is over 5 percentage points above his career average, it's fair to assume his BABIP should top the career average, leaving additional upside from his current .263 and suggesting he's likely to settle in the .270's. Add in some necessary regression in his HR/FB Rate closer to his career averages and Peralta looks like a good bet to finish the year stronger than he's started. Peralta's RBI Rate has dropped this year due to some annoying lineup positioning by Jim Leyland (hitting 7th behind Delmon Young .298 OBP and Brennan Boesch .283 OBP) but he should make a run at 15 HR's and 60 RBI's to go with that .270 or so average. The raw totals will be a bit below Peralta's typical averages but little of it is due to deterioration in any of his skills. Look for Peralta to heat up to finish out the season.
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