Brian McCann - The Braves' catcher got a routine day off in hopes of helping him clear his mind. McCann has been in a prolonged slump, hitting just .114 over his past 15 games to go along with a .114 SLG% and .295 OBP. For the season, the backstop has been the victim of some bad luck as his BABIP is .223 despite seeing a 3% improvement in his LD rate compared to last season. His ISO and HR/FB rate are also right in line with his 2011 campaign, so he doesn't appear to have lost any power. Interestingly, McCann is chasing fewer pitches but also swinging at more pitches in the strike zone while making more frequent contact on those swings than a season ago. Based on his peripherals, I don't expect McCann to continue with his current struggles so expect a rebound in the coming weeks.
Allen Craig - I normally cover the AL, so it's a real treat when I get to write about NL players because that means I get to write about my boy, Allen Craig. Al Craig went 1-for-4 on Friday against the Pirates, but, let's be honest, he could have gone 0-for-11 with 11 Ks and you were still getting a blurb about him. Lucky you. Craig's having a very good season and has actually improved from his excellent 2011 campaign when he hit 11 HRs in 75 games and posted a .240 ISO to go along with a .315 BA. This year, Craig owns a .272 ISO and has already smacked 18 HRs to complement his .575 SLG%. He's also improved his walk rate by 2% and his LD rate by 3%. Based on his minor league numbers (he hit 20+ HRs in 3 different seasons) as well as his 2011 breakout year, it's reasonable to expect Craig to maintain much of his current power and BA, making him a valuable play in all league formats.
Chris Young - Arizona's Chris Young batted leadoff and took a 1-for-4 on Friday against the Astros. Young has been a disappointment this season, although he may still end up with similar numbers to his 2011 campaign. The power is still there as Young owns an excellent .215 ISO and 12.5% HR/FB rate. On the downside, he's posted just a 17% LD mark and incredibly poor 21% IFFB%, which has certainly played a large part in his .233 BABIP. At this point, we can safely assume Young is going to hit in the .210-.230 range with a SLG% around .430 and 20 HRs with 15-20 steals. He's like the National League's version of BJ Upton and a guy who is really tough to start every day due to the low BA and OBP marks.
Jake Westbrook - It feels like Jake Westbrook has been flying under the radar this season as he entered last night's start against Pittsburgh with 12 wins (only referencing wins because many fantasy leagues still use this as a category) and a sparkling 3.73 xFIP. He gave up 1 ER on 7 2/3 hits against the Pirates on Friday and now owns a 3.50 ERA this season. Westbrook's numbers are very similar to his 2010 season when he struck out 5.68 batters and walked 3.02 batters per game while also tallying a 56% GB rate. This year, he's got that high GB rate again (59%) and is striking out 5.54 and walking 2.39 batters per game. I'm also encouraged that Westbrook has lowered his HR rate for the third straight season. In deeper leagues, this is a guy who can eat innings and provide you with decent ERA and WHIP totals. His performance to date looks almost entirely sustainable assuming he maintains his current peripherals.
Chris Capuano - Chris Capuano entered Friday's start with a 3.87 xFIP, which marks the second straight season the left hander has posted an xFIP under 4.00. He went out and tossed 7 1/3 innings of 3-run ball versus the Braves last night. Capuano definitely hasn't been as good as his 3.14 ERA this season, but he's still been a very solid pitcher. He owns an excellent 3.00 strikeout-to-walk rate, 0.91 HR rate and batters are hitting just .237 off him. One reason Capuano is enjoying so much success is thanks to his strong first-pitch strike % which, at 67% is 8% above league average. By working ahead in the count to two-thirds of the batters he faces, Capuano is putting the percentages in his favor from the start of the AB. Last season, Capuano's success was surprising but now that he's doing it for a second straight season, there's clearly a pattern here and he's a valuable SP in all league formats.
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