Jeff Karstens (SP-PIT)- Karstens improved his record to 4-2 for the year after a strong start against the Cubs on Wednesday afternoon. He allowed just one run on three hits (one home run) and one walk while striking out four. With an ERA of 3.70 this season, Karstens has put together one of his stronger seasons to date albeit in only ten starts. His 3.20 FIP is a career best, and his 4.02 FIP is the second best rate of his career. Furthermore, he has been able to improve his strikeout rate to a career best 6.75 K/9. His 10.7 percent swinging strike rate indicates there also might be some room for improvement. In terms of BABIP and strand rate, Karstens has hovered around the major league average, but his HR/FB ratio of 6.3 percent should see some regression toward his 9.9 percent career rate. However, Karstens newfound ability to miss bats and his above average control (2.09 BB/9) makes him a worthwhile starter in deeper leagues.
Patrick Corbin (SP-ARI)- Corbin, who replaced Josh Collmenter in the rotation, made his sixth start of the season yesterday afternoon. He threw six shutout innings allowing two hits and two walks while striking out five. He lowered his ERA to 3.60, and improved his record to 3-4 for the year. I like what he has shown in his brief stint so far in 2012 and his 3.82 FIP and xFIP of 4.04 indicate that has pitched pretty strongly so far. He has been able to strikeout a solid number of hitters per nine innings (7.00 K/9), and he has proved himself to be a reliable ground ball pitcher (47.4 percent). His walk rate of 3.00 BB/9 is solid for a rookie, and his offspeed pitches (slider and change-up) look to be real weapons. Considering the Diamondbacks moved Collmenter to the bullpen despite pitching well in the rotation over the last few games, show that the organization has a lot of faith in the rookie left-hander.
Steve Cishek (RP-MIA)- Cishek threw a scoreless inning on Wednesday night against the Braves to record his fifth save of the season. He allowed one walk while striking out a batter to lower his ERA to 1.83. Ozzie Guillen looks committed to keep Cishek in the role, and owners should expect him to stick there unless he has a few meltdowns in a row. However, Chishek's FIP (3.62) and xFIP (3.98) indicate that he might have some hiccups down the road. He has benefitted from a below average .269 BABIP and a 79.9 percent strand rate, and his walk rate of 4.06 BB/9 is a little high. While his DIPS takes into account his below average BABIP, his 13.9 percent line drive rate indicates that he has earned that low rate. Basically, Cishek is in the bottom tier of full time closers, but his performance should be enough to keep his job for the rest of the season and earn owners a decent amount of saves without hurting their overall ERA.
Ryan Ludwick (LF-CIN)- Ludwick went 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI in Wednesday's game against the Padres, and continues to be one of the hotter hitters in baseball. He hit .333/.383/.707 along with seven home runs during the month of July, and has raised his 2012 line to .264/.333/.555 to go along with his 19 home runs and 56 RBI in only 295 plate appearances. Amazingly, he is owned in only 20 percent of Yahoo leagues as of this morning. I do not expect him to continue to hit home runs at this pace, as his 21.8 percent HR/FB ratio is likely to regress. However, I believe there might be some improvement in his overall line considering his .279 BABIP is underwhelming for a hitter with a 23.3 percent line drive rate. He should be considered a must add if he is still available on the waiver wire.
Matt Holliday (LF-STL)- Holliday went 3-for-4 with a strikeout, two home runs, three runs scored and five RBI in the Cardinals 9-6 win over the Rockies last night. He increased his home run total to 21 for the season, and he improved his slash line to .325/.408/.561. Holliday has quietly put together his best overall offensive season since his years with the Rockies. His .236 ISO is his best since 2007, and his 164 wRC+ is a career best. Holliday's batted ball rates look very similar to those 2006-2008 seasons, and he has cut his infield fly ball rate in half to 5.5 percent, his lowest since 2007. Furthermore, Holliday's 8.9 percent swinging strike rate is the best of his career, and should lead to an improved strikeout rate over the next two months. Owners can expect Holliday to finish with 29-32 home runs along with a .320/.405/.555 slash line by the end of 2012.
Follow us on Twitter all year: @Fantistics and @enehsy