Brandon Morrow (SP - TOR): We're Morrow-believers around these parts and Friday night was another great example why. Against a Cardinals lineup that hung up 12 on Roy Oswalt and the Phillies the night before, Morrow limited them to just 3 ER's on 5 hits and 1 BB over 7 innings. As usual, he continued to strike batters out at a tremendous rate, whiffing 9 in the outing, but was bit by some HR/FB Rate regression on Friday night as he allowed 2 HR's that were responsible for 3 of the 4 ER's. I'd expect going forward we'll see more outings like this from Morrow where the Hits start coming down, but a few more balls start leaving the yard. Morrow entered the outing with a .349 BABIP against and a 2.6% HR/FB Rate, which both deserve their share of regression. For the season Morrow's making small strides in his performance as he's maintaining the elite contact and K Rates while making small strides in his BB Rate. The BB Rate coming down is confirmed by the fact Morrow's throwing 48% of pitches in the zone this year (44% last yr) and he's improved his first strike % from a career rate of 55% to 63% this year. With more pitches in the zone overall and more first pitch strikes, I'd expect Morrow to maintain the BB Rate improvements that should keep his BB Rate below 4.0 BB/9. He remains a solid buy-low candidate and while there will be WHIP challenges, the value of the high K Rate should mitigate any of the weaknesses in the WHIP category.
Magglio Ordonez (OF - DET): We've seen some signs of life from Ordonez the last 2 games as he's gone 3-6 with a 2B, HR, 3 Runs, and 3 RBI's. However it should be noted those two outings came against Ted Lilly and Zach Duke, soft-tossing LH's that fit perfectly into Ordonez's deteriorating skill-set. Last year Ordonez posted a 1.121 OPS vs. LHP and just a .752 OPS against RHP. This year we've seen Ordonez expanding his zone considerably. He's chasing 35% of pitches outside the zone and his swing rate is up from 48% to 55%. It's possible some of this is exaggerated by a rather small sample size, but at 37 I'm inclined to believe Ordonez's bat speed is in deterioration and he's having to start it earlier to catch up to good FB's. Against soft-tossing LH's the Tigers will use Ordonez in the middle of the line-up and he'll have some value, but I'll need to see some extended improvements against RHP before I'm diving back in. I noted Ordonez as a sleeper I liked coming into the season and his .176 batting average is certainly undeserved (21% LD Rate, .188 BABIP, expected BABIP of ~.330), but the .076 ISO coupled with high chase rate makes me believe we might be nearing the end for Maggs.
Russell Martin (C - NYY): Martin got fantasy owners excited after a big April in which he posted a .975 OPS with 6 HR's, 11 Runs, and 19 RBI's, but since then Martin's hit just .193/.321/.289 and posted just 11 Runs, 11 RBI's, and 3 HR's. Injuries have played a role as Martin's been playing through back issues, but more than anything Martin has struggled with some bad luck. He posted LD Rates of 19% and 24% in May and June, but earned BABIPs of just .214 and .212. The power rates he posted in April (.293 ISO) aren't sustainable as Martin's ISO the last few years has been between .079 and .116, but his contributions in the Run and RBI categories should be above average going forward. His OBP was held down in May and June due to some bad luck on balls in play. Going forward I'd expect Martin's season-long numbers to settle in closer to a 60 Run, 50 RBI pace, 10 HR's, making him a solid Top 10 catcher. I know it's been difficult of late with the injury woes and the lack of production, but Martin remains a solid #1 catching option and will get going soon enough.
Adam Dunn (1B/DH - CHA): I noted on June 13th that the headlines suggesting Dunn was "heating up" may be a bit premature. Since that point he's gone 4-24 with 9 K's and just 2 XBH's. Dunn's been one of the bigger mysteries of the 2011 fantasy season. A consistent performer for an extended period of time, his skill-set appears to have completely collapsed and seemingly out of no-where. I noticed early in the season that the high K Rate was an extension of last season's struggles with contact and they've just gotten worse as the season has worn on. I know many owners are getting impatient and in leagues with limited bench spots and viable other options I even understand pulling the trigger. In the league I own Dunn I've just kept him reserved for the last month and continue to hold in hopes of some improvement in his contact rates. It obviously hasn't happened and while my patience is wearing thin it's a tact I'm dedicated to. Many projection systems have noted Dunn's potential to rebound (to some muted version of his past performance) in the 2nd half is still reasonable and we've maintained that stance as well. I can't say personally I'm too optimistic, but I'm giving myself the chance to be lucky by holding (and reserving for now).
Carlos Carrasco (SP - CLE):Carrasco didn't get much help from his defense on Friday night. He allowed just 6 hits over 8 innings of work and didn't walk a batter, but ended up giving up 4 runs (1 ER) thanks to 2 errors in the 6th inning by Carlos Santana (playing 1B). The outing marked Carrasco's 4th straight quality start, a streak that has seen him lower his ERA from 5.18 to 3.62. Carrasco's been able to work ahead more consistently and induce weaker contact of late. His LD Rate which was over 25% in April, dipped to 17% in May and down below 13% in June. He's trading the line drives for ground balls which is a favorable trade-off for his performance and we've seen the results shine through. He's not likely to be able to maintain the recent reduced LD Rate long-term, but he's a legitimate back-end of the rotation SP thanks to above average command and GB Rates. He won't offer much in the way of K's but a mid 3's ERA coupled with a 1.25-1.30's WHIP and 6 K/9 seems like a reasonable expectation for Carrasco going forward.