1) Kyle Kendrick (SP/RP, PHI) - Kendrick dealt the Cards a complete game shutout Saturday at Busch Stadium. He scattered seven hits, did not walk anyone, and needed only 94 pitches (70 strikes) to dispatch the Cardinals. It was Kendricks' first win of the season, his first career shutout and the first time the Cardinals have been shut out at home this season. The key for Kendrick was working ahead in the count; he threw first pitch strikes to the first 13 batters he faced. His F-Strike rate is above 61 percent for the first time since his rookie season and he has career-highs in Swinging Strike rate (8 percent) and O-Swing (32.4 percent), resulting in a greatly reduced Contact rate (82.1 percent). As a starter, Kendrick has an ERA of 3.25 over six starts, however; in relief, his ERA is 9.53 over 5.2 IP, so he is clearly more comfortable working as a starter. He will continue to start as long as Vance Worley is sidelined as is worthy of use in NL only leagues as a spot starter when faced with a good matchup.
2) Daniel Espinosa (2B, WAS) - Espinosa doubled and homered against the Braves Saturday for his third multi-hit game in his last six played. He's raised his batting average 27 points since the beginning of May, but he's still only batting .222 for the year. Espinosa is swinging and missing more than ever (15.3 percent Swinging Strike rate) and chasing a high percentage of pitches out of the zone (36.6 percent O-Swing) this has led to a greatly diminished Contact rate (71.2 percent) and a career-high strikeout rate (29.4 percent). Unless Espinosa can nudge his peripherals closer to last season's levels, he will find it difficult to achieve his goal of hitting the 20 HR/20 SB plateau, which he just missed last year (20 HR/ 17 SB). One aspect of Espinosa's game has improved this season; his walk rate is a robust 10 percent after 180 PA. Unfortunately, those walks haven't led to stolen bases, due in part to his poor success rate of just 62.5 percent. Last season, he was successful 74 percent of the time, which is tolerable at the major league level but not exactly ideal. His batting average (.222) is very close to his career mark (.229). Espinosa needs to get on base more often than his current .303 OBP and steal more bases to be useful in mixed leagues. Right now, he's more like NL-only fodder and barely that.
3) Ryan Zimmerman (3B, WAS) - A couple of minor injuries (as usual) along with a 74.5 percent Contact rate (somewhat unusual) have kept Zimmerman's batting average on the low side (.256) this season. Meanwhile, a batted ball profile that still features a 50 percent Groundball rate (left over from 2011) and a very low 31.3 percent Flyball rate have combined with an unusually low 6.7 percent HR/FB rate to put a damper on his home run total. However, there are signs that Zimmerman is turning things around and your buy low opportunity on him may be gone very soon. He has 12 hits in his last 35 at-bats (.343), including three doubles and a home run, which has raised his average roughly 30 points over his last eight games. He also has six RBI and five runs scored in that span. Historically, Zimmerman has been a slow starter; his career batting average in April is .261, while in May it is .292. His recent hot streak began when Bryce Harper was slotted into the two-hole ahead of him, and it looks as though Davey Johnson may have hit upon a winning combination with Harper and Zimmerman followed by LaRoche and Desmond, as the Nationals have scored 38 runs over their last eight games (4.75 runs/gm). That's a full run higher than their season average of 3.78 runs/gm.
4) Johan Santana (SP, NYN) - Santana had what was easily his best outing of the season Saturday, a complete game, four hit shutout of the Padres in which he struck out seven without issuing a walk. The win evened up his record at 2-2 and lowered his ERA to 2.75 with a 1.10 WHIP. All of a sudden, Santana looks a lot like the pitcher he was back 2004-2006 with the Twins. His strikeout rate has climbed back to 9.15 K/9 for the first time since 2007 and his walk rate remains phenomenal at 2.44 BB/9. His velocity still averages in the 88-89 mph range, but he is occasionally able to reach back for low 90's heat when needed. I have to admit that I was not a believer. I thought there was no way possible for Santana to come back from the shoulder surgery he had to become a dominant starter again. At best, I thought Santana might become a closer or bullpen reliever. He's obviously learned to pitch without his full-velocity fastball, instead using location and deception in his delivery, especially with his changeup, to get hitters out. My faith in Santana is restored with this outing, but I still don't believe he can pitch more than 150 innings this season, if that much. Remember, he didn't pitch at all last year after completing 200 innings the year before; he cannot possibly throw 2oo innings this season. Consider selling high on him right now; his value will never be higher.
5) Scott Hairston (OF, NYN) - Hairston celebrated his 32nd birthday this past week and on Saturday, he had a pair of hits to drive in three runs and he scored another. Hairston is only a part-time player so mixed need not apply here, but deep NL only players may find him of some use. For the third consecutive season, Hairston is showing an improvement in batting average. He's an extreme fly ball hitter (49.2 percent Career FB rate) with little or no patience or discipline at the plate. The result is a walk rate of 6.5 percent with an O-Swing of 37.7 percent. He only makes contact about 78.8 percent of the time, and that's partially because he often starts behind in the count (F-Strike 60.9 percent) and then swings and misses 9.5 percent of the time anyway. He managed 17 home runs in both 2008 and 2009, but his power has all but disappeared since then. He doesn't run well at all, with just 27 stolen bases in over 2000 PA and his defensive skills are not all that great. In fact, I'm left wondering how Hairston even nailed down a major league roster spot. At most, Hairston is an injury fill-in in most Fantasy formats, so you can place him back on the waiver wire.