Vance Worley (SP - PHI): If you've read along with the thoughts Schuyler and I have been posting on Worley this season you'll notice a common theme: initial skepticism followed by eventual caving. Our skepticism centered around Worley's inability to generate swinging strikes (5.5% last yr, 5.9% this yr) and an extended minor league track record of middling strikeout rates (career 6.9 K/9). The package didn't add up and frankly it still doesn't add up. Worley's swinging strike rate is amongst the bottom 10% in all of baseball, yet his K Rate ranks in the Top 30 of all of baseball. Where we're starting to come around is in the idea that Worley may be an anomaly; a player who generates so many looking strikes that he can overcome the high contact rates. With the sample sizes growing (170+ big league innings now), the chances for Worley being the exception grow. Opposing batters continue to swing at just 40% of Worley's pitches (league average is 45-46%) and Worley continues to rack up K's looking. At some point you have to figure opponents will change their approach, but I've been figuring that for the last 15-20 starts and it's yet to happen. Continue to start him with confidence as a high-end #3 fantasy starter. I've changed my stance that his high K Rate can't maintain and while I continue to question whether he's an anomaly or hitters are just slow to make an adjustment, I've realized he's not really the sell high candidate I anticipated him being. Worley was strong on Friday night against the Padres, striking out 9 over 6 innings. He allowed just 3 ER's on 6 hits and a BB while generating a remarkable 69% GB Rate in the game.
Jordan Schafer (OF - HOU): The real Jordan Schafer is starting to stand up. Schafer went 0-4 with 3 K's on Friday night and is now down to .252/.341/.333 on the young season. As I alluded to in a post on April 20th, Schafer's extremely poor contact rates (74%) make it unlikely for him to hold offensive value. Fortunately from a fantasy perspective Schafer has little competition for playing time in CF and ultimately that opportunity should add up to some value in bulk. Schafer is a career .234/.318/.313 hitter at the big league level. His 35 SB's in 162 total games played at the major league level show the upside in his fantasy value, but it will come with batting average risk, zero power or RBI potential, and above average run production. Make sure the upside in Runs and SB's is worth the downside in the other categories, because Schafer can't hit.
Mike Minor (SP - ATL): I typically hate writing about guys that have been covered multiple times within the week, but I get so many questions on Twitter about Mike Minor I figured I'd address him in the notes this morning. Minor struggled again on Friday night getting knocked around for 6 ER's in just 4 2/3 IP. He allowed 8 hits but 5 of them went for extra bases, including 3 more HR's. Minor did strike out 7 and didn't walk a batter which continues a trend of elite peripherals and poor performance. After Friday's outing Minor possesses a 8.72 K/9 and 2.55 BB/9, but poor "luck" stats .333 BABIP, 16.3% HR/FB Rate, and 55.3% LOB% are exaggerating his bad start to the season. Minor has surrendered a 23% LD Rate, so we can't write this all off as luck. In addition his chase rates (22%) are well below average and his swinging strike rates (8.7%) are right at average. It's possible Minor's stuff and control is good enough to allow him to post elite peripherals but command inside the strike zone and inability to get swings outside the strike zone are poor enough to drive the hard contact. Even if that is the case Minor is likely due some level of positive regression. In 10 team leagues I'm at the point where I'm strongly considering dropping Minor in 10 team leagues. I would not be at the point where I could take that tact in deeper leagues. The ability to miss bats is too unique and in leagues deeper than 10-12 teams, I'll certainly be more patient but get him reserved as he works through a rough patch.
Chris Capuano (SP - LAD): One of my favorite late round sleepers as a SP this year continued to roll on Friday night. Chris Capuano limited the Rockies to just 1 ER on 4 hits over 7 innings. Capuano struck out just 3, but didn't walk a batter and continues to benefit from his friendly home park that limits HR's. Capuano's K Rate fell to 8.04 K/9 while his BB Rate came down to 3.09 BB/9 on the young season. His skills have always been strong when healthy and the home park helps mitigate his biggest risk as a starter which is the HR. Capuano entered Friday's game with a 44% FB Rate (career 40%), but a 7.1% HR/FB Rate (career 11.6%) had helped hold down his ERA. Throw in some fortunate luck on balls in play (.242 BABIP, 21% LD Rate, .330 or so expected BABIP), along with an absurd 89.1% LOB% and you've got the makings of a phenomenal sell-high candidate. Capuano's solid and he's a high-end matchups option for traditional 10 and 12 team mixed leagues, but he's been masquerading as a #2 fantasy starter and that's simply not the case. He'll get a great matchup next time out in SD, but after that may be the ideal time to sell high. A perennial injury risk, Capuano has been pitching over his head.
Michael Cuddyer (OF - COL): We haven't touched on Cuddyer in a while and I guess it's because his performance this year has been almost identical to last season. Cuddyer entered play on Friday with a .284/.347/.468 line that looks remarkably similar to his .284/.346/.459 line from last season. Cuddyer's raw totals haven't seen much improvement over his time in Minnesota but a big part of that is because Cuddyer's peripherals have actually shown some deterioration. He's chasing 39% of pitches outside the zone, which would mark a career high and his 9.3% swinging strike rate is also up over last year (7.8%). Cuddyer's overall swing % is up to 48% which is continuing a trend we've seen from Cuddyer in the last few years. It's been subtle but at 33 Cuddyer is starting his bat a bit earlier than he has in the past. Coors Field will help mask any of this deterioration in skill as it will inflate Cuddyer's power and help boost the RBI/R production to levels he posted when Mauer/Morneau were constantly on base before him. From a fantasy perspective I see little reason for concern here. Yes Cuddyer at age 33 is in a slight decline phase, but he'll continue to be similarly productive and the change in park effects will help mask any skill decline.
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