John Lannan- WAS- Cold- Lannan was a pleasant surprise for the Nats in 2008, posting a 3.91 ERA. If he had been given more support, his 9-15 record would have at least turned around as his Deserved Wins was 7 higher than what he actually got. Can Lannan repeat or even improve? Not if he performs like he did yesterday. The Marlins touched him for 6 runs (all earned) on 6 hits. Lannan didn’t walk anyone, despite throwing 28 of his 58 pitches out of the strike zone and only recorded 1 strikeout. Is this a harbinger of things to come? Probably not. Lannan does not have any of the classic risk factors for overuse of young pitchers. His highest pitch count last year was 110 and that happened only once. He only threw 21 more innings than he did in 2007. Other factors work in Lannan’s favor. His road ERA was actually substantially lower (at 3.19) than it was at pitcher-friendly Nationals Park (4.87). The major concern about Lannan is that he is not a power pitcher, registering only 117 Ks in 182 IP. Still, there is enough good stuff there to give him value.
Tony Clark- ARI- Hot- Maybe the Rockies should have brought the humidor with them to Arizona. There were 8 homers in the Opening Day game yesterday, including a pair each by two unlikely Diamondbacks, Clark and Felipe Lopez. Lopez hit 6 in 481 ABs yesterday, while in 151 ABs, Clark hit only 1 more homer than he did in 4 ABs yesterday. (For the mathematically challenged, that means he had 3 homers in 2008). Neither of those Opening Day sluggers can be expected to keep up any sort of power production, thereby making them prime candidates for the 2009 Tuffy Rhodes Award.
Edinson Volquez- CIN- Caution- Volquez gets his first start of the year tomorrow against the Mets. Don’t get your hopes up too high for a repeat of last season’s breakthrough campaign, despite a Grapefruit League ERA of 1.19. Volquez faded mightily in the second half, as his ERA of 2.08 before the All Star Break more than doubles to 4.38 after it. Volquez’ main problem is control and he made no strides in that area this spring, allowing 12 walks in 22-2/3 IP, along with 22 hits. That ERA was a product of luck and timely strikeouts (19 of them overall). The odds are that the stars will not continue to align now that the games count.
Rich Harden- CHC- Caution- Odds are that the earlier dates are better than the later ones in the “When will Rich Harden go on the DL?” pool. As of right now, Harden will make his first start of 2009 against the Brewers this weekend, but the guy has “Fragile” above his locker where his name plate should be. He wasn’t able to get to 5 IP in any of his Cactus League starts after suffering a rotator cuff tear in January. Of the 16 spring training hits he allowed, 7 were homers. Harden’s velocity was 5-7 mph below his norm and batters were teeing off on him at will. The injury does not appear to be coming around and the DL definitely looks like a matter of “when” not “if.”
Emilio Bonifacio- FLA- Hot- Bonifacio’s hallmark is speed and he had it on display yesterday, legging out an inside the park homer and stealing 3 bases against the Nationals as part of a 4-for-5 game. That equaled his homer total for 2008, when he only had 1 round tripper while at AAA Tucson. At the top of the Florida lineup, Bonifacio will have plenty of opportunity to hit for average, steal, and score runs. Enjoy the homer from yesterday, but don’t count on more of them. Bonifacio will help you in other ways.
There are over 100 player news blurbs posted in the member area each morning, members can read the rest of today's player news by clicking here link:www.fantistics.com/baseball00/. Not a member? Join today link:www.fantistics.com/join/join.php3