Zack Greinke (SP-MIL)- Greinke earned his ninth victor of the season on Wednesday against the Reds improving his overall record to 9-2 and his ERA currently rests at 2.82. He allowed two runs on five hits (one home run) and one walk while striking out three in 6.1 innings of work. The right-hander did not have his best stuff, inducing only six swinging strikes in 96 pitches, but he was able to locate his pitches and stayed away from deep counts. His career best walk rate of 1.94 BB/9 is reminiscent of his 2009 Cy Young award season, and his 52.3 percent ground ball rate (career high) has allowed him to keep his home run rate low. Look for Greinke's strikeout rate to drop slightly over the rest of the season as his 7.8 percent swinging strike rate is below his career average, but he should still average a little more than 8.45 K/9.
Tim Lincecum (SP-SF)- Lincecum delivered his best start of the season on Wednesday against the Dodgers. He threw seven shutout innings in which he allowed only four hits and two walks while striking out eight. He lowered his ERA to 5.60 for the season, and improved his overall record to 3-8. Lincecum has displayed better velocity over the last few starts (but was about average at 90.6 mph yesterday), and he would have put thing together in previous starts if it weren't for a few terrible innings. Lincecum still needs to improve upon his walk rate of 4.70 BB/9, but he is still getting swinging strikes (11.6 percent) and has an almost identical chase rate to 2011. His strand rate of 62.2 percent has to improve, and I still think there is plenty of time for him to bounce back. His 3.61 FIP and 3.68 xFIP also suggest a strong rebound.
Andrew McCutchen (CF-PIT)- McCutchen went 2-for-5 with a home run, two runs scored, two RBI and strikeout in last night's game against the Pirates. The home run was his fourteenth of the season, and he improved his slash line to .342/.397/.586 to go along with fourteen stolen bases. McCutchen is tied for the fifth best wRC+ in baseball, and he has put together one of the five best offensive performances during the first half of the year, and there is a chance he can improve in certain areas. It will be hard for any hitter to keep a BABIP over .390, but I would not be surprised to see him improve upon his 35.1 percent fly ball rate (lowest of career) and reach the 30 home run plateau. He has a legitimate shot to produce a 30/30 season, and he should finish with a slash line around .320/.375/.550.
Heath Bell (RP-MIA)- Bell earned his fifteenth save of the season in last night's game against the Cardinals. He worked a scoreless ninth allowing a hit and not striking out a batter to lower his ERA to 6.35. June has been Bell's best month of the season so far with a 4.95 ERA, but he has a strikeout rate of 13.50 K/9 and a walk rate of 2.45 BB/9. Ozzie Guillen has maintained he will stick with Bell in the role for the rest of the season, and his ERA should continue to improve as his .356 BABIP and 61.6 strand rate move toward the league average. The rest of his numbers are still below average considering he is allowing a 27 percent line drive rate, and has a career worst 5.6 percent swinging strike rate. However, he will continue to get save chances for the rest of the season baring injury.
Ian Desmond (SS-WAS)- Desmond went 2-for-5 with two strikeouts, two runs scored, a double and a home run in the Nationals 11-5 win over the Rockies. The home run was his twelfth of the season, and he improved his slash line to .274/.302./.472 to go along with his eight stolen bases. Desmond has developed his power stroke this season producing his best HR/FB ratio as a starter (14.8 percent), and his .199 ISO is a career best. His batted ball rates are similar to his career rates, but his 11.2 percent swinging strike rate and 35.2 percent chase rate are both career highs. As a result, I do not think Desmond will be able to keep his batting average above .265 considering his strikeout rate could see more of a jump during the second half. Either way, Desmond continues to have the breakout season he desperately needed and there is a decent chance he puts together a 20/20 season.