Randy Johnson- ARI- FYI- The Big Unit is set to take the mound tonight against the Giants. Despite his recent dominating performances, there are reasons for concern. First, of course, are the physical issues. Johnson's back was starting to stiffen up when he left his last start after 61 pitches and 6 innings. Also, there is some evidence that batters may be able to catch up with Johnson's stuff a little more than you'd want to see. Twice this season he has thrown over 100 pitches, with over 70 strikes. The longest he lasted in those games was 6 innings, however. So why was there a relatively high pitch count when Johnson seemingly had such command of the strike zone? In each of those games over 20 of Johnson's pitches were fouled off. Batters were getting wood on the ball, just not good enough to get the ball in fair territory. The Big Unit was not constantly blowing the hitters away with his strikes. Johnson is worth having in there for you, but realize that there is risk involved.
Todd Coffey- CIN- Rise Value- It appears that Coffey has solved the two problems that earned him a trip to AA Louisville, walks and homers. In his 5-2/3 IP for the bats, he walked one and gave up no long balls, while striking out 9. If he can translate that into major league performance, Coffey enters the sleeper ranks. David Weathers' grasp on the closer role is always loose and Coffey did earn 8 saves in 2006.
Garrett Atkins- COL- FYI- Another indication that Atkins is due to have a rebound is his abysmal luck so far this season. When his Fantistical Player Charts were last updated his BHIP stood at an abysmal .188. That leaves a lot of room for improvement as fortune evens out. Atkins' Batting EYE also seems to be making a recovery. In 2006, it was at a very good 1.04, but had dipped to .63 as of May 25th. Since then, he has walked 3 times and only struck out twice. Even Atkins' current season Batting EYE of .69, while not up to the gaudy standard of last season, is higher than what he posted in 2005, which was a solid year for him. That gives confidence that he still maintains the skills to be productive when balls start falling in for him.
Oliver Perez- NYM- Hot- After two very forgettable seasons, Perez is putting together an impressive campaign. He is on a string of 5 consecutive quality starts, each of which has lasted at least 7 IP. After looking like he had some after effects of a 120-pitch start earlier this season, he breezed through starts following a 122-pitch outing in the middle of this current stretch. Perez may not maintain his current level of production (2.80 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) as he has benefited from a .222 BHIP, but his increase in K rate and decrease in BB rate give hopes that his performance is not just a mirage.
Pat Burrell- PHI- Cold- Burrell was out of the starting lineup as lefty killer Jayson Werth took his place in the batting order. He did make a pinch hit appearance, but the ground out did not help break him out of his slump. Since May 1st, Burrell has hit only .169. There is hope for improvement, as he has a very low .198 BHIP and an excellent 1.11 Batting EYE.
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