Mike Hampton (SP-Astros)—it’s hard to be surprised that Mike Hampton has returned to the disabled list on Wednesday, this time with a groin injury. Hampton has done decently for the Astros this season from time to time, holding his own with a 4-5 record and a 4.70 ERA. Not exactly numbers that scream excellence, but serviceable against the appropriate teams with the appropriate matchups. However, he has only been able to put together 4 quality starts this season and at best has been inconsistent from start to start. His ERC%(0.98) and DIP%(0.99) are both below 1.00 which would suggest that he has not been the victim of being unlucky in his starts. In fact with a BHIP of .297, we could even make a case for him being more fortunate that his ERA isn’t higher. With a velocity that tops out in the low 90’s and averages in the high 80’s, its not a wonder that his CT% is at 84%. In fact, opponents are hitting a very healthy .276 against in for the year. It’s doubtful that his trip to the DL will put any fantasy owners in a panic as there are better pitching options. Unless you play in a very deep NL only league, Hampton has little value, especially with him sitting on the DL.
Alfonso Soriano (OF-Cubs)--The past month has been a rough road for Alfonso Soriano, who, like his team, seems to be underachieving. On Wednesday against the cross-town rivals White Sox, Soriano went 0-4 with an RBI and 2 strikeouts. It marks a season low BA for Soriano at .225. Over the past month, Soriano has dropped 55 points off his average and is hitting .146/.212/.260 in his last 24 games while striking out 32% of the time. To say there is room for improvement is an understatement. What's even more surprising is that Soriano has not had one, I repeat, has not had one multi-hit game during that stretch. Despite the slump, Soriano still has a TotA of .719. While this is much lower than his career TotA of .837, it does indicate that he has done moderately well despite his struggle which is representative of the kind of player Soriano can be when he gets hot. To back that up, this season when Soriano gets a hit, 49% of the time they have gone for extra bases so he still has displayed the power we expect of him. With a BHIP of .253, Soriano is bound to start turning things around. If you've got the guns in your lineup to afford to sit Soriano, go ahead until he heats up. Otherwise he is just too good to sit and has too much potential, because things can turn around for him quickly and when they do, you don't want to miss the boat.
Casey McGehee (INF--Brewers)-- Rickie Weeks season ending injury has opened the door for Casey McGehee to show what he can do at second base. McGehee walked off the field on Tuesday with an ankle injury and took the day off on Wednesday to give the ankle a little more down time. Until Tuesday, McGehee had been the Brewers hottest hitter and just ended a modest 6 game hit streak where he had batted .571 with 5 extra base hits that included a home run (his first in his career). Over the season so far, McGehee has been impressive with solid numbers of .338/.407/.473. It’s especially nice when you get that kind of production from a middle infield position. But like most middle infielders, we shouldn't expect much power, certainly at this early stage in his career. But putting things into perspective, McGehee only has 74 AB's under his belt and less then 100 for his career. There are some very nice signs of a disciplined hitter with a CT% of 84%, an EYE of 0.83 and only swinging at first strikes 29% of the time shows a lot of patience. But with a BHIP of .381, we should expect that average to start to come down. Brewer manager, Ken Macha, is reluctant to declare McGehee a full time player, so it may be premature to pick him up on your fantasy team but let's face it, with the way he has been hitting, it would be hard to sit him on the bench. Only time will tell if what we are seeing in McGehee is the real deal, but while he remains hot, he might be worth riding if you don't have better options especially in NL leagues or deep mixed leagues.
Javier Vazquez--(SP--Braves)--At the start of the season there we a lot of people that may have overlooked Javier Vazquez on draft day. And quite frankly, I can understand why if you are just looking at the surface level. He has a career ERA of over 4.00. He looks like a .500 pitcher based upon his won/loss record and he gives up about 9 hits per game while opponents have a .258 lifetime batting average against him. Not exactly the kind of pitcher that leaps out at you on draft day and screams, "Pick me! Pick me!”. But Vazquez had a lot of things going for him this season. First, he made the transfer back to the DH-less National League after spending 4 of the last 5 seasons in the A.L. Second, despite the high number of hits he may give up over the course of the game and yes, he does allow runs, Vazquez has a fantastic BB/K ratio of 6.5K to every walk. He doesn't hurt you with walks and his strikeout potential is huge, averaging over 11 K's per game. It seems even on poor days when he doesn't have his best stuff, the strikeout seem to come. On Wednesday against the Reds, Vazquez wasn’t great. He lost for the 6th time allowing 4 ER over 8 innings, allowing 4 hits, 2 walks and striking out 7. Despite the less than stellar outing, what I really like about Vazquez this season is that he has an ERC of 2.46 and a DIPS of 2.54 which means that he has actually pitched better and has been unlucky compared to his ERA of 3.31. He also has a CT% of 70%, so Vazquez continues to be a must start if not for just his strikeouts, but also for his ERA which should continue to be in low the 3's if not dip below.
John Lannan (SP-Nationals) –One of the best things about baseball is that sometimes the best performances come from the mostly unlikely of places. John Lannan of the Nationals (yes, the Nationals!), had a terrific performance Wednesday night against the Yankees at that Great Softball Field in the Bronx. Aside from two pitches that went for home runs (surprise, surprise!), Lannan was in complete control against the Yankees coming away with his 4th win of the year, completing 8.1 innings, allowing just 4 hits, 1 BB and 4K’s and walking away with a very solid ERA of 3.38. One of the strengths of Lannan is that he is a pitch-to contact pitcher, so he is dependent on his defense as his DIP% would indicate at a very high 1.48. He averages only 4.4 strikeouts per game but his GB% is a very solid 51.4% so it’s not surprising to see a CT% of a high 86%. So from a fantasy standpoint, Lannan gives up a number of hits, he will not be a source of a lot of strikeouts or a have a very low WHIP, but because of his knack for inducing the ground ball, he should be able to maintain a fairly good ERA. Watch out though if those ground balls start turning into line drives. Because Lannan plays for the Nationals, he won’t get a lot of wins but he has put together 8 QS out of 13 games started. If you are in a deep league, Lannan is worth adding as he has been hot. Also he is worth starting when the match ups are right but then again, look how he handled the Yankees on Wednesday.