Jay Bruce- CIN- Hot- Although Bruce is a Red, he has become the New Black. The hottest player in baseball added another homer to his total and went 2-for-4 last night. When 2-for-4 lowers your batting average to .577, you know you are hot. Of course he is not going to finish there, but it is quite a ride in the early going of his major league career. That concludes the mandatory daily Jay Bruce blurb.
Kory Casto- WAS- Rise Value- For Casto, 2007 started with a lot of promise but quickly became a season to forget. He was shifted from 3B because of the presence of Ryan Zimmerman and installed in LF despite having no experience above AA ball. Casto did not produce and was sent to AAA New Orleans. He bounced back and forth again but ended up with no success at either the major league (.130 average) or AAA (.246) levels. With some stability this season, Casto put the problems of last year behind him and had a .315 average at AAA and is likely to be recalled to take the injured Zimmerman’s roster spot. The Nationals will probably use Casto, either in the outfield or at 3B and with a Batting EYE of .85 at New Orleans he could provide some decent production if he doesn’t have difficulty handling the transition again. Mark him as a possible sleeper candidate.
John Smoltz- ATL- Cold- Theoretically, Smoltz’s return from the DL to the bullpen should have bolstered Atlanta’s relieving corps. In practice, it didn’t work out that way. Smoltz is not going to be 100% and will be pitching with discomfort for the rest of the year. This raises the specter of further injury, if he ends up altering his delivery, even unknowingly. Smoltz thinks it will take 10 days for him to know how well he can perform out of the bullpen. As part of the closer mix, there is some fantasy value there in him, but there is also risk.
Carlos Marmol- CHN- Cold- Marmol picked up his 17th hold of the season, but it was not pretty. He was charged with 3 runs on 2 hits and a walk in his inning of work. The problem may be over work, as Marmol has pitched 7 times in the past 10 days. Manager Lou Piniella said after the game that he wants to return to 13 pitchers on the roster today, so a position player will be going down to make room for a reliever to take some of the burden off Marmol. This should help Marmol in the long term.
Bronson Arroyo- CIN- Cold- After tossing quality starts in 4 of his last 5 outings, Arroyo got hammered last night, giving up 5 runs on 10 hits and 2 walks in 4-1/3 IP. Of those 10 hits, 3 left the park. Arroyo had given up no long balls in his previous 5 starts. He has been fighting bad luck this year, with a .345 BHIP% and his K ratio of .94 is a marked improvement over last season’s .74. Arroyo has given up 7 of his 11 homers allowed in just 2 of his 13 starts. These things give hope that Arroyo will show steady improvement, but there still might be the occasional klunker thrown in there.