Jorge De La Rosa (SP – Rockies)
On Tuesday, Rockies manager Clint Hurdle attributed Jorge De La Rosa’s recent poor performances to problems while pitching from the stretch. The numbers confirm Hurdle’s assertion. With men on base, De La Rosa has an opposing batter OPS of .808 and a K/BB ratio of 1.92, which has resulted in a 59% strand rate; without men on base, he has an opposing batter OPS of .622 and a K/BB ratio of 2.64. The underlying cause of his struggling from the stretch has not been identified, but I am of the opinion that it is still too early in the season to treat this as a trend. I expect De La Rosa’s numbers with and without men on base to regress to the mean, and when they do his ERA will come down significantly (current FIP of 3.44). Following his recent blow-ups, his numbers do not look incredibly appealing; but, a pitcher with 9.42 K/9 screams potential and is always worth owning.
Juan Pierre (OF – Dodgers)
Juan Pierre continued to smoke the ball on Tuesday night by going 3 for 5 with another triple. Juan’s BA is now up to .394 on the season, and luck has not been as large of a factor as one might think. Pierre’s BABIP is an astronomical .412, but his LD rate of 29.8% actually supports this number. Pierre has also increased his EYE to an incredible 1.71 on the season by roughly doubling the percentage of walks that he draws. In addition to lacing line drives all over the place, and busting out the walking stick more frequently, Pierre has shown the best power of his career in ’09 with an ISO of .125 (career of 0.72), and an extra base hit rate of 10.6% (career of 5.3%). We know the type of player that Pierre is by this point, so although promising, these numbers are likely just an aberration. Regardless of how sustainable these numbers end up being, Pierre has been quite the spark-plug for fantasy owners as well as the Dodgers. Continue to ride him out until the return of Manny.
Joe Blanton (SP – Phillies)
Joe Blanton threw a 7 inning shut-out on Tuesday night while striking out 11 and walking 2 batters. This came out of nowhere since Blanton had been pretty dreadful this season (7.11 ERA, 1.67 WHIP). Last night’s start raised Blanton’s K/9 to 8.47 on the season, which is a substantial improvement on his previous career high of 5.48 in ’07. On the other hand, his BB/9 is also the highest of his career (3.35). If Blanton can maintain his current K/BB ratio of 2.53, his ERA should come down substantially as his HR/FB rate (17%) normalizes. I remain skeptical that the vastly improved K rate is sustainable, but it has been accompanied by a noticeable change in pitching approach, as well as an increased K rate after his trade to the Phillies last season. Blanton is throwing his slider about 6% more often, and his curveball about 6% less often. If this new approach is responsible for his increased K rate, Blanton should have more value this year than was expected.
Kris Medlen (SP – Braves)
Kris Medlen improved upon his lousy major league debut on Tuesday night, but the improvement was very slight. He lasted 5 innings while allowing 4 ER, walking 2, and striking out 3 batters. Based upon his fantastic walk rate in the minors (2.0 BB/9 career), the 7 walks in 8 IP in the majors certainly come as a surprise. If Medlen can stick in the Atlanta rotation, I believe that his great talent will soon win out (2.42 ERA and 5.16 K/BB in minor league career). But therein lies the problem. With Tom Glavine gently knocking on the door, and Tommy Hanson effectively beating down the door with a sledgehammer, Medlen may not get the long look that he deserves in the majors right now. He is going to have to turn it around in his next couple starts for the Braves to consider leaving him in the rotation. If he does perform well enough to solidify a spot, he becomes an immediate add in all leagues. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the kid.
Miguel Tejada (SS – Astros)
Miguel Tejada continued to scorch the ball on Tuesday night by going 3 for 5 with his 16th double of the season. Tejada’s .348 BA will surely come down since it has been greatly aided by a .344 BABIP that is overstated by roughly 40 points. However, Tejada has drastically reduced his K rate (6.3%) and drastically increased his contact rate (91.3%) in ’09, which tells me that a BA well above .300 is not out of the question. Additionally, Tejada is currently sporting his highest ISO (.170) since ’05 and his highest FB rate of his career (36.1%). Tejada’s power is clearly not what it used to be, and his 8.3% HR/FB rate explains why he has only hit 5 HR with the additional FB this year. Even with his declining power, Tejada would have a very good chance at 20 HR this year if he can continue to elevate the ball at his current rate. 20 HR and a BA above .300 still make Tejada a very valuable fantasy commodity at the SS position.