Khalil Greene (SS – Cardinals)
Khalil Greene made his first rehab start on Tuesday, which leads me to believe that he’ll get the call back up to the majors in about a week. He was a popular sleeper candidate heading into ’09 due to the switch away from Petco Park, but he has been a colossal bust thus far. However, looking beyond Khalil’s miserable .200 / .287 / .295 slash stats, he has actually shown improvements across the board. Three-year EYE of 0.25 / 0.22 / 0.71; contact rate of 76.7% / 75.5% / 80.2%; LD of 17.8% / 20.6% / 22.2%. As you can see those aren’t just minor changes, Khalil has made huge strides in each of these important indicators. The problem has been a brutally unlucky BABIP of .221. Once Khalil returns to the majors, this should begin to normalize and he will have a very nice 2nd half. Recall that his career road slash stats are .265 / .315 / .477, along with an average of 20 HR per 500 AB. If he has been dropped in your NL-only league, I highly recommend scooping him up.
Ryan Madson (RP – Phillies)
With Brad Lidge hitting the DL with a recurring knee issue, Ryan Madson is set to assume closer duties in the interim. Madson has been nothing short of brilliant this year with a 2.22 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. He has increased his K/9 to 9.85 this year from 7.29 last year. The extra strike outs have come from a very substantial increase in the velocity on his fastball. In his two previous seasons as a reliever, Madson’s fastball averaged 91.4 and 92.9 MPH. This season, Madson is up to an incredible 95 MPH. Madson should fill-in quite nicely for Lidge and is worth a pick-up in nearly all leagues.
Charlie Morton (SP – Pirates)
The Pirates have called up the recently-acquired Charlie Morton and handed him the 5th rotation spot, while bumping Jeff Karstens into the bullpen. Morton is a guy who the Pirates are hoping is a late-bloomer. He has ripped it up in his last two seasons in Triple-A by posting a 2.16 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, and 2.6 BB/9 over 150 IP. However, even if you include these last two spectacular seasons, Morton’s career 8 seasons in the minors are quite underwhelming (4.29 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, and 4.3 BB/9). Morton had struggled mightily at every level prior to Triple-A with both an inability to throw strikes and an inability to strike batters out. Also, recall that Morton was spanked around in the big leagues last season (6.15 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 5.79 K/9, and 4.94 BB/9 in 74 IP). If Morton can limit the free-passes as he has done in Triple-A and rely on the Buccos’ above-average defense to carry the day, he could be usable in NL-only leagues. But, I still doubt that he warrants adding in any leagues at this point.
Ross Detwiler (SP – Nationals)
Despite having his start moved up, as well as sitting through a 2 hour rain delay, Ross Detwiler tossed a quality start on Tuesday. He struck out 6 and walked 3 to move his K/BB ratio to 23/9 on the season through 26 IP. The early results from Detwiler have been both surprising and encouraging. In fact, a K/9 of 7.96 and BB/9 of 3.12 are solid enough to make Detwiler the Nationals 2nd most effective starter in my book. When also considering the fact that they are the Nationals and have nothing to lose, I can see Detwiler sticking in the rotation all season long (although a couple blow-ups could have him sent back down). He is still very young and very green, so expect a very bumpy road in his first season in the majors.
Matt Cain (SP – Giants)
Matt Cain picked up his 8th win of the season on Tuesday, which ties his win total from all of last season. This win was actually not deserved as he allowed 4 ER and walked 5 through 6.1 innings. Cain’s ERA of 2.55 and WHIP of 1.35 clearly don’t match-up, and that is due to an unsustainable 87.6% strand rate that is greatly enhancing his ERA. His WHIP is fairly accurate, while his ERA should actually be somewhere near the 4’s. Cain has seen his K/9 drop to 6.69 on the season, which is a significant departure from the 8.45 that he posted in his rookie year. Cain’s velocity on his heater has decreased substantially since that season, falling from 93.4 in ‘06 to 91.8 MPH this year (very strange at just 24 years old). Without the mid-90s gas, Cain is much less impressive and his command issues become even more problematic when he cannot blow hitters away. I’d try to sell Cain before the inflated run support and strand rate catch up with him. He clearly is not the same pitcher this season.