Eduardo Sanchez (RP - STL): After Sanchez blew the save opportunity on Wednesday night, I figured Tony LaRussa would simply turn to the next man down the line and we'd be stuck in a closer-by-committee; but after the Cardinals rallied for 4 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning on Thursday Sanchez was back out there for his 2nd consecutive save opportunity in as many nights. It's big news for fantasy owners as Sanchez has elite stuff and the chance to become a high end closer right away. He struggled a bit with command again on Thursday, walking 2 in the outing, but was able to generate 2 ground balls to get out unscathed. For the season Sanchez has flashed a Carlos Marmol-eque skill set. He's striking out over 14 batters per 9 innings and has a swinging strike % of over 16%. It's coupled with an extremely high FB Rate (60%) and some mediocre command (BB Rate above 4.00), but with a K Rate that elite he's got the potential to make a big fantasy impact. His K Rates in the minors weren't quite this good, so over time I'd expect a regression closer to the 9.0 K/9 range (still very good), but even then he has the upside of a 2nd tier closer pitching for a good STL team. I added him in a number of leagues yesterday. He won't be available tomorrow, having pitched three consecutive days, but I think he's the guy the Cardinals want to take control of the job and the opportunity after one blown save suggests that's the case. Mitchell Boggs and Fernando Salas didn't get a 2nd opportunity and Sanchez did. That's enough for me to be adding him across the board. I suggest you do the same.
Buster Posey (C - SF): It's been a slow start to the sophomore campaign for Buster Posey. He went 0-1 on Thursday in a pinch-hitting appearance dropping his 2011 line to .248/.316/.381. It's a far cry from his .305/.357/.505 line last year. I noted in the offseason that Posey's 2010 ISO seemed a bit high relative to his minor league career and early on in 2011 we've seen the ISO drop back down to .135. Ultimately I think it bounces back into the .160-.180 range rather than all the way down to .135. The bigger concern for owners early on might be the fact that Posey's K Rate has jumped back up to 20%. The increased K's has hurt the batting average and with minor league K Rates in the 15-17% range, Posey's 13% rate posted last season looks a bit out of line. But dig in deeper and you don't see much difference in Posey's swing data from last year. He's actually improved his contact rate by 1% and is chasing 6% less pitches outside the zone. With an improved approach at the plate, based on the swing data, I'd expect Posey's K Rate to start working its way down and the average to work its way up. He's a fine buy-low candidate.
Homer Bailey (SP - CIN): Bailey was activated from the DL and made his season debut in fine fashion on Thursday allowing just 1 ER on 4 hits and a walk over 6 innings of work while striking out 7 to pick up his first win of the season. Bailey's been considered a disappointment in larger part to the significant hype surrounding him as a prospect, but he showed some signs of breaking through in the 2nd half of last season. Bailey bumped his K Rate to 9.1 K/9 while keeping his BB Rate just a tad over 3. The improved peripherals translated to a 3.55 ERA and 1.27 WHIP over his final 10 starts of the season. Whether the boost in peripherals was due in part to facing some September call-up heavy lineups or a legitimate step forward only time will tell, but the strong first outing (7 K's in 6 IP) on Thursday is a good sign. He's worth a speculative add for those looking for SP upside and deserves a look in all formats.
Brandon Beachy (SP - ATL): Make it four straight impressive outings from Brandon Beachy. Beachy toyed with the Brewers on Thursday night racking up 9 K's in 6 innings while allowing just 1 BB, 4 Hits and 1 unearned run. Beachy now has a stellar 45:11 K:BB Ratio in 42 1/3 IP to go with a tidy 2.98 ERA. I'm a big fan of Beachy and preached patience early on through some struggles, but his value may be at a peak after this strong outing. Beachy entered yesterday's outing with the benefit of a .237 BABIP against and his 27% GB Rate leaves him open to some issues with the long-ball that he's generally avoided early on. In addition, while he should be able to maintain a strong K Rate, a 9.6 K/9 is probably asking a bit too much from Beachy at this point in his career. I do envision him being close to an every week starter for mixed leaguers, but the stellar start might allow owners to sell him as a #2 fantasy starter. I still like him a lot as a fantasy option going forward, but owners should at least test out the market to see if there's an opportunity to capitalize on a relatively unknown commodity near peak value. He'll get favorable matchups in his next two outings with WAS and HOU at home in which I'll be confidently starting him.
Casey McGehee (3B - MIL): With all the injuries making 3B even more shallow than anticipated coming into the season, Casey McGehee's disappointing start has been overlooked a bit. I brought this up a few times back in April but McGehee's lack of power this season is not just a short-term concern. McGehee's power rates in the minors weren't anywhere close to the rates he put up in 2009-2010 (career minor league - .409 Slugging %) and digging in on 2010 month-by-month splits, we see a 2nd half in which McGehee posted Slugging %'s of .362, .383, .589, .418. Now the big .589 slugging % posted in August ended up giving McGehee a 2nd half Slugging % of .474, but those other three months look awfully similar to McGehee's minor league career. So far this season McGehee's slugging % is at just .365. A late-bloomer who had two big years in Milwaukee that looked out of the ordinary with his minor league career, I'm concerned McGehee's power isn't coming back. He'll still get plenty of RBI opportunities hitting behind Braun/Fielder but I'm beginning to think a 20 HR-90 RBI season isn't likely and we're more likely looking at a 15 HR-80 RBI campaign.