Ian Desmond SS (WAS) - Desmond is struggling in his sophomore season, hitting just .223/.256/.393. However, I think there's reason to be optimistic that things will be much better from here on out. For starters, Desmond's ISO has risen from .124 last season to .170 this year. And while his contact rate has dropped about 5 percentage points, I expect it to be much better the rest of the season. Why? Well, Desmond is chasing 27.4% of pitches outside of the zone, down from 33.2 a year ago. Also, his swinging strike percentage has decreased from 10% to 8.7%. If anything Desmond's strikeout totals should have declined, not risen, and I expect that to correct itself from here on out. With the increase in ISO and hopefully a much better contact rate the rest of the way, Desmond's average and counting totals should be on the rise.
Jair Jurrjens SP (ATL) - I'm a Jurrjens fan and hopeful for another good start today, but there are a few reasons why he is a sell high candidate. For starters, part of Jurrjens' early success can be attributed to some elite control (1.53 BB/9). However, his BB/9 the last three seasons have been pretty consistent (3.35/3.14/3.25), so I'm not ready to believe in those massive control gains just yet. On the luck side of things, Jurrjens' BABIP is 18 points his career average, his LOB% a whopping 13.4 percentage points above his career average and his HR/FB% 3.9 percentage points below his career average. Once those numbers revert towards their career averages, owners should expect to see around a 3.50 ERA, which is solid but certainly not the 1.52 mark owners are currently enjoying out of Jurrjens.
Carlos Pena 1B (CHC) - Those of you who stuck it out with Pena through his horrid April are finally reaping some rewards here in the first week of May. Pena is still striking out a ton, but overall his EYE (.61) and LD% (17.3) are improved over the past couple of seasons. He'll have another low batting average but should be able to beat the .227 and .196 marks he posted the past two seasons. Power wise, we should expect the homers to keep coming for Pena as they have in the past week. He's getting the ball in the air enough as his 46.2 FB% is consistent with his career average, and there's no reason to not expect his 12.5 HR/FB% to climb towards his career mark of 20.3, especially now that he plays his home games in homer friendly Wrigley Field.
Daniel Hudson SP (ARZ) - Nothing like a start against the lowly Padres to get things going, as a cold Daniel Hudson threw 7 scoreless innings en route to his 3rd victory of the season and lowered his ERA to 4.47. He struck out 6 and walked none. Truth be told, though, Hudson has been superb all year. He has maintained solid control (2.64 BB/9) while seeing his K/9 rise from 7.93 to 8.73 and GB% from 35.2 to 40.3. Hudson will take his lumps as a FB pitcher whose home park is Chase Field, but still he's a buy low candidate as his xFIP of 3.33 is more indicative of where his ERA should be than is his actual ERA of 4.47.
Kyle Kendrick SP (PHI) - Filling in for the injured Roy Oswalt, Kendrick made a spot start yesterday and hurled 5 shutout innings. Despite the good start, don't be tempted to use Kendrick at all even if he gets another start or two in Oswalt's absence. His peripherals have been simply awful this year: 2.50 K/9 and 4.50 BB/9 leading to a K/BB ratio of .56. It's taken a minor miracle for Kendrick to have posted a 1.50 ERA thus far in 18 innings as his xFIP is 5.64. Kendrick's definitely an avoid next time out as his .190 BABIP and 0 HR/FB% are far from sustainable and will regress sooner rather than later.