Greg Holland (RP-KC)- Holland recorded his third save of the season on Wednesday afternoon pitching a perfect inning in which he recorded three strikeouts, as the Royals beat the Braves 1-0. The closer now has a 9.00 ERA in four innings pitched for the season. Holland featured his best stuff of the season yesterday throwing two fastballs at 97 mph, and the rest were hard sliders that opposing hitters swung through four times. In his previous outings, Holland had a hard time throwing his slider for strikes that led to six walks in three innings of work. There is no doubt that he is the Royals most talented reliever, and Kelvin Herrera's struggles last night have given owners some breathing room. Even with all of his struggles, Holland still came into the game with a swinging strike rate of 11 percent. It will take some time for his ERA to improve, but Wednesday's performance was exactly what owners were looking for over the past few weeks.
Nolan Reimold (OF/DH-BAL)- Reimold struck out three times and was hitless in four plate appearances in last night's game against the Rays. He has struggled to get any kind of streak going hitting .189/.268/.270 with a home run in 41 plate appearances this season. Reimold hit well in limited duty last season before a neck injury sidelined him, but he has not looked the same in 2013. His 31.7 percent strikeout rate has kept his batting average under .200 in addition to his poor 33.3 percent infield fly ball rate. Reimold's poor strikeout rate is not the product of some poor luck and small sample sizes, as his swinging strike rate has almost doubled from his career rate of 8.6 percent to 16 percent. The Orioles don't have many options off the bench right now with Wilson Betemit on the disabled list, but Chris Dickerson might swipe away more plate appearances if Reimold can't start to make more contact and show some productivity.
CC Sabathia (SP-NYY)- Sabathia turned in another strong outing last night against the Diamondbacks to improve his record to 3-1 for the season. He allowed three runs on six hits, one home run and one walk while striking out six in eight innings of work. Sabathia lowered his ERA to 2.57 (2.69 FIP and 3.80 xFIP), but the left-hander still struggled with his velocity. It was his fourth straight start in which he failed to crack 92 mph (averaged 92.3 mph with fastball last season), and he hovered around 89 mph for most of the evening. It is obvious that Sabathia can succeed with diminished velocity because of his strong slider, change and curveball. His swinging strike rate has actually improved since last season, but Sabathia also came into the start with a 27.1 percent line drive rate. Owners are bound to see some regression considering Sabathia's 3.1 percent HR/FB ratio, and his career worst 39.1 percent ground ball rate is another troubling sign.
Nick Swisher (1B/OF-CLE)- Swisher went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI in the Indians loss last night. The home run was his second of the season, and he managed to improve his slash line to .295/436/.477. Swisher has been one of the few bright spots in the Indians lineup so far displaying his ability to get on base (16.3 percent walk rate) and an improved strikeout rate (18.6 percent). His 7.7 percent swinging strike rate is his lowest since 2009, and his 18 percent chase rate is the seventh lowest among qualified hitters this year. Swisher's batted ball profile has remained consistent through out the last few seasons, and he should provide another 25 home runs with his 39 percent fly ball rate and 15 percent career HR/FB ratio. Owners might be able to luck themselves into .285 batting average is everything goes well in terms of BABIP, but it is more likely he finishes with a .265/.370/.465 type of line.
Max Scherzer (SP-DET)- Scherzer was absolutely dominant in one of the best pitcher's duels I have ever seen on Wednesday night. While he did not earn the decision, Scherzer allowed just one run on six hits and one walk while striking out twelve in eight dominant innings. He managed to lower his ERA to 2.84, but his FIP (1.40) an xFIP (1.93) indicate just how well he has pitched in April. I've always been on the Scherzer bandwagon even though he has underperformed in accordance with his DIPS in three of the last four years, but he seemed to take a huge step last season before he dealt with a shoulder injury. His 11.08 K/9 was a career best, and he consistently displayed the best command I have seen during his major league tenure. Scherzer now has a 14.7 percent swinging strike, and has struck out 40 percent of opposing hitters he has faced this year. He has also added a curveball, which he started to use at the end of last season, to give him another weapon against left-handed hitters. Owners could be in for one of those special years.
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