Mark Buehrle (SP-MIA)- Buehrle won his tenth game of the season on Wednesday afternoon against the Phillies. He allowed two runs on five hits, a home run and a walk while striking out three in seven innings of work. Buehrle was able to improve his overall record to 10-11, while lowering his ERA to 3.74 for the year. With a 4.16 FIP and 4.18 xFIP, he has put together another solid season while posting his best strikeout rate (5.32 K/9) since 2008. While Buehrle does not excel in any particular skill other than control, he should remain a capable starter for in most leagues as we get closer to September. The NL East is not in the best shape after the Braves and Nationals, and I would have the utmost faith in starting him against almost every National League lineup. Consistent starters are often underrated heading into the playoffs, and he should be available in over 50 percent of leagues for ESPN and Yahoo.
Jim Henderson (RP-MIL)- Henderson blew his first save of the season on Wednesday afternoon against the Rockies after allowing two runs on three hits while just recording one out. Last week I mentioned that Henderson could see some more save opportunities throughout the rest of the season, but I have no idea who will continue to be featured in the ninth inning for the Brewers from here forward. Henderson has shown good stuff in his 10 appearances while being somewhat unlucky with a .522 BABIP and a 66 percent ground ball rate. He induces swinging strikes (14.1 percent), but with no proven track record, I would find it hard to believe if he continues to get more opportunities after this blown save. At this point, it would make sense to see Axford reinstated into the role just in order to increase his value.
Danny Espinosa (2B/SS-WAS)- Espinosa went 2-for-4 with a double, a home run, two RBI and two strikeouts to help lead the Nationals to a 6-4 win over the Giants. The home run was his 13th of the season, and he was able to improve his slash line to .255/.322/.417. Espinosa has continued his recent hot streak hitting four home runs this month while producing a .308/.384/538 line, and he has been able to improve his value by gaining eligibility at shortstop with Ian Desmond's injury. His HR/FB of 12.6 percent is slightly down from last season, but Espinosa will likely finish just below the 20 home run plateau because of a drop in his fly ball rate from 39.6 percent to 33.9 percent. However, he has been able to match his stolen base total from a season ago (17) and should be able to finish with 21-24 by the end of the year. His .336 BABIP is likely to decline somewhat by the end of the year, and should finish with a .245/.320/.410 line.
Wandy Rodriguez (SP-PIT)- Rodriguez delivered a sub-par performance on Wednesday against the Dodgers to earn his twelfth loss of the season. He allowed five runs on ten hits and a walk while striking out one in 5.2 innings pitched. Rodriguez's 4.06 ERA is his highest since 2007, but his 4.05 FIP and 4.17 xFIP suggest that he has pitched as well as his ERA would advertise. A strikeout rate of 5.85 K/9, down from 7.82 K/9 in 2011, has been one of the main culprits in his decline. His 7.1 percent swinging strike rate is a career low despite maintaining his average fastball velocity. His 12.1 percent change-up usage represents a career high, and according to the linear weights, the pitch has often got him into trouble this season. Owners should expect Rodriguez to finish with an ERA similar to the one he currently has, as there is no evidence that he can be able to produce a strikeout rate above 6.10 K/9.
Stephen Drew (SS-ARI)- Drew went hitless in four plate appearances with three strikeouts in last night's loss to the Cardinals. He has two home runs and eleven RBI in 144 plate appearances with a .206/.299/.333 slash line, but has been in a cold streak over give games going 2-for-18. Drew has been hurt by a 22.9 percent strikeout rate and .261 BABIP during his slow start to the season, but a 31.9 percent line drive rate and a career low swinging strike rate of 5 percent indicate that those numbers should turn around. His 18.6 percent chase rate has been just as impressive, but Drew has been somewhat less aggressive within balls in the strike zone. I expect those numbers to improve once he gets more plate appearances. He has been get some rest against left-handed pitching as he still has to deal with the effects his ankle, but I expect Drew to have a solid month and a half to regain some of his value heading into 2013.
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