Ryan Dempster - After missing his start on Saturday against the Blue Jays due to personal reasons, Ryan Dempster faced the Orioles on Monday and allowed 1 ER on 4 hits over 8 innings. He also struck out 6. In 4 starts as a Ranger, Dempster has allowed 17 ER in 25 1/3 innings. He's also continued an alarming trend of giving up HRs as he had allowed a HR in 5 straight starts prior to Monday. For the season, Dempster now owns a 2.99 ERA which is still well under his 3.84 xFIP. The good news is that the right hander's 2012 xFIP is right in line with his xFIP marks from the past 4 seasons, so he's back at his normal performance level (at least according to his peripherals) and shouldn't continue to regress at such a fast rate. My guess is that Dempster owns a 3.75-4.00 ERA with a decent whiff rate from here on out this season.
Alex Gordon - Alex Gordon went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a walk on Monday against the Rays. The Gordon of 2011 posted a .200 ISO and hit 23 HRs, but the Gordon of 2012 has just 9 bombs and a .148 ISO. As you look at the outfielder's career numbers, it's clear that his power spiked last season and wasn't a true testament to his ability. He's much more of a BA guy, hitting .303 in 2011 and .292 in 2012 thanks to 22% and 25% LD rates. While I like that Gordon is scoring a lot of runs (69), hitting for a solid average and tallying bunches of doubles (39), it's hard to get too excited about those numbers from an outfielder. He's a No. 3 OF in deeper leagues.
Alexei Ramirez - The White Sox shortstop slammed his 7th HR of the season on Monday against the Yankees. Ramirez has been a pretty big disappointment this season, posting a .102 ISO to go along with a mere .362 SLG%. He's also walking in just 2.3% of his plate appearances and owns a 62:11 strikeout-to-walk rate. After debuting in 2008 with a .290 BA and .475 SLG%, Ramirez has gotten progressively worse nearly every season since. His atrocious walk rate makes Ramirez a poor option in OBP leagues and his .260-ish BA the past 2 seasons doesn't make him much more attractive in BA leagues. He's also witnessed his HR/FB rate fall from 11% in 2010 to 8% in 2011 to just 5% this year. All told, Ramirez is on a downward trend and there doesn't seem to be any stopping the slide.
Jeremy Hellickson - Jeremy Hellickson took on the Royals on Monday and allowed 1 ER over 7 innings. He struck out 6 and walked 1. If you've read my previous updates on Hellickson, you already know the guy annoys me with always seeming to outpitch his peripherals. This season is no different as the right hander owns a 3.28 ERA despite a 4.67 xFIP. For the third straight season, he's enjoying a strand rate above 80% and BABIP under .270. Despite a whiff rate in the 5.00s, walk rate in the 3.00s and HR rate well above 1.00, Hellickson just keeps chugging along. He's now had a significantly lower ERA than xFIP in 3 straight seasons, so perhaps we just throw out the advanced stats when discussing him.
Brandon McCarthy - Brandon McCarthy was solid in his return from the DL in his last start, going 6 2/3 innings and allowing just 2 ER versus Kansas City. But on Monday he faced the Twins and logged just 3 1/3 innings while yielding 6 ER. He also struck out 2 and gave up 10 hits. McCarthy makes his living on control. He entered last night's start with a 3.00 strikeout-to-walk rate after posting a 3.67 mark in 2011. His strikeout rate remains around 6.00 and his walk percentage is a mere 5%. One reason to be cautious when evaluating McCarthy is his strand rate and GB rate. His strand rate has jumped by 10% from 67% to 77% this year while his GB rate has fallen by 5% to just 41%. Those changes have been the driving force behind McCarthy's xFIP sitting at 4.24 compared to 3.32 in 2011. I generally like McCarthy, but he's not pitching as effectively as he did a year ago and should be deployed in a spot starter role until his peripherals improve.
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