Rafael Betancourt: Betancourt earned a rare save yesterday, giving him 17 for his career against an astounding 23 blown saves. For the season, his 4.57 ERA and 4.6 BB/9 are on the high side, but his 9.7 K/9 is impressive. Given his high dominance and past track record of control, 2006/2007/2008 BB/9’s of 1.8/1.0/3.2, his ERA should come down, but just don’t expect him to get many save opportunities.
Joe Mauer: Mauer continued his impressive power display by smacking a home run and a pair doubles to go along with 6 RBI in the Twins 20-1 rout of the White Sox yesterday. For the season Mauer now has 8 home runs in just 72 AB, which is surprising given his past power output, 7 home runs in 406 AB in 2007 and 9 home runs in 536 AB last year. Usually such a power outburst with that kind of track record would need more of a sample size to be believable, but Mauer has several things in his favor. He has a history of above average skills, 2006/2007/2008 batting averages of .347/.293/.328, BB%’s of 13%/12%/14%, and Ct%’s of 90%/87%/91%, the size of a power hitter, 6’3 and 230 lbs, and at the age of 26, he is entering his prime power years. With an 86% Ct%, perhaps Mauer is opening up his swing to generate more power.
Fernando Rodney: Rodney threw a scoreless inning against the Rangers yesterday, making him a perfect 8 for 8 in save chances this year. Despite having a few rough outings in non-save situations, Rodney’s ERA is now down to a respectable 3.50. He has always had the dominance to close, 2006/2007/2008 K/9’s of 8.2/9.6/10.9, but poor control, BB/9’s of 4.3/3.7/6.7, a declining GB%, 57%/45%/40%, and injuries led to mixed results, ERA’s of 3.52/4.26/4.91, and 25 blown saves in 58 tries going into this season. This year he is healthy, has rediscovered the ability to induce ground balls, 51% GB%, and has traded in some dominance, 6.5 K/9, for much better control, 2.5 BB/9, for much more consistent results. Given his track record, there is no guarantee that this will continue but considering that you probably got him for nothing on draft day in your fantasy league, enjoy the ride.
Matt Tolbert: Tolbert hit his first career home run yesterday, but despite a 3 for 6 day, he is still only batting .208 in 48 AB. With little power, 12 extra-base hits in 161 career AB, and an average approach at the plate, 8% BB% and a 79% Ct%, there is not much upside to Tolbert, which limits his value to AL-only leagues for his speed, 7 career steals in 8 attempts.
Nick Blackburn: Blackburn improved to 3-2 with a 3.83 ERA on the year after shutting out the White Sox over seven innings yesterday. Given his lack of dominance, 2008/2009 K/9’s of 4.5/4.0, it is encouraging that Blackburn has shown an improved ability to induce ground balls, 45%/49%, while maintaining acceptable control, BB/9’s of 1.8/2.7. This gives him some value in AL-only leagues, but there is not enough upside or skills to justify using him in mixed leagues.
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