Chuck James: There could be some trouble looming for James. In two seasons, he has been at the league average with his HR/FB%, 10.3% last year and 10.6% this year. His fly ball pitching ways, 49% in 2007, means that he will be susceptible to the longball, he has surrendered 14 home runs in just 86 innings this year. If his HR/FB% climbs into the mid-teens and his BB/9 remains high, 3.9 in 2007, there could be a big spike in his ERA.
Tim Lincecum: It has been a mixed bag for Lincecum after his first 10 starts. His ERA of 5.19 is inflated by a 61% strand rate, but he is not helping himself with a high 4.4 BB/9. On the positive side, he is sporting an impressive 9.4 K/9 and 46% GB%. He has had problems with control in the minors, 3.2 BB/9 in Triple-A this year. If he can keep the walks in check, the ground ball/strike out potential package makes him keeper material and a good bet for success in the second-half of this year.
David Weathers: Eddie Guardado was not able to throw a scheduled batting practice session because of a sore upper left forearm. It looks like it could be at least a few weeks before he is ready to return, further strengthening Weathers' hold on the closer role. After blowing 7 saves in 19 tries last year, Weathers has been effective this year, 14 saves in 16 tries. His K/9 of 7.8 and BB/9 of 2.5 are borderline closer-worthy, but the 46% FB% could lead to trouble, especially in his home park. Despite the high amount of fly balls, he has been quite fortunate in preventing home runs, 4.3% HR/FB%. If the HR/FB% gravitates towards the league average of 10%, his ERA could spike and there could be a few home runs allowed to blow saves. However there is hope, in the past Weathers has shown ground ball inducing skills, 2003/2004/2005/2006 GB%'s of 50%/49%/50%/45%.
Chad Qualls: With Brad Lidge out for a couple of more weeks and Dan Wheeler blowing another save, Qualls may get a shot to close games for the Astros. The 28 year-old Qualls is showing some nice improvement in strike outs, 2005/2006/2007 K/9's of 6.8/5.7/9.2, without sacrificing his ground ball skills, 2005/2006/2007 GB%'s of 58%/60%/57%. His ERA of 4.26 is inflated by an unlucky HR/FB of 19%. The 6 home runs allowed in 38 innings should decelerate with his ground ball inducing skills. Now is a good time to spec on Qualls to take over the Astros closer role.
Yovani Gallardo: It looks like Gallardo will lose his rotation spot when Chris Capuano returns from the disabled list next week. This is no fault of Gallardo, who has allowed just 4 ER in his two starts. He has also struck out an impressive 12 batters in 13.1 innings. There is talk that the Brewers will move him to the bullpen rather than send him back to Triple-A. A move to the bullpen will still give him value in NL-only leagues, but will severely affect his value in mixed leagues.
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