Dillion Gee (SP-NYM)- Gee struggled in yesterday's start against the Rockies after seeing his start delayed a day by snow. The right-hander allowed five runs on seven hits, one home run and two walks while striking two in 4.2 innings pitched. Gee's ERA ballooned to 9.64 for the season, and his record fell to 0-3. His diminished velocity has been a real concern so far in April. Gee averaged 90.2 mph with his fastball last season, but he has averaged just under 88 mph this month. The drop in velocity has resulted in a career worst swinging strike rate (6.1 percent) and poor strikeout rate (5.14 K/9). Considering Gee does not have the best overall control (3.40 BB/9 for career), this spells bad news for any owners. I would stay away until we see some improvement in velocity.
Justin Upton (LF-ATL)- Upton went 1-for-4 with a strikeout and a solo home run in the Braves 6-3 win over the Royals last night. The home run was his eight of the season in only 52 plate appearances, and he has a .340/.404/.900 slash line during that time. Obviously Upton is on a torrid pace, but his recent home run out burst is not only the product of an insane HR/FB ratio (40 percent). In this small sample, Upton has consistently gotten the ball in the air with a 54.1 percent fly ball. In addition, only 5 percent of those balls in the air have been within the infield. This power display also is an indication that Upton's thumb injury was a major contributing factor in his performance last season. At 25, he is not even considered in his prime as of yet and owners should be able to continue to reap the benefits this year.
Dan Haren (SP-WAS)- Haren's early season struggles continued on Tuesday night against the Marlins. He allowed seven runs (three earned) on seven hits, one home run and one walk while striking out two. I tweeted last week that I thought Haren's stuff has looked much better here in the early part of 2013, and that I thought the results will eventually match. However, I am somewhat worried about this recent performance against a lowly lineup. Haren has been the victim of the home run ball (19 percent HR/FB ratio). His HR/FB ratio will eventually regress, but I am worried about his decreasing ground ball. It is a small sample size, but a 26.4 percent ground ball rate is troublesome. Haren's control will continue to be an asset, but it might be best for owners to put him on the bench until there are some results. I'm not ready to give up on Haren, but owners should monitor him carefully over the next few weeks.
Brandon Belt (1B-SF)- Belt went 3-for-4 with two RBI in the Giants 10-8 loss to the Brewers on Tuesday night. Despite the strong performance, Belt has gotten off to a slow start in 2013 hitting .191/.235/.255 without a home run in 51 plate appearances. Owners should not be too concerned as of yet, as it seems a lot of his poor production can be attributed to an unlucky BABIP (.237) in this early part of the season, as his 28.6 percent line drive indicates. In addition, he has yet to hit an infield fly ball this season. Belt has also seen his swinging strike rate drop from 12.8 percent to 7.4 percent in the early part of this season. While getting off to a slow start, Belt has managed to provide some fantasy value by stealing two bases during the first two weeks. My only concern is whether Bruce Bochy will continue to play him if he continues to struggle over the next few weeks. Bochy has been a notorious with his benchings of Belt in the past.
Jim Henderson (RP-MIL)- Henderson earned the save on Tuesday night against the Giants to preserve the Brewers 10-8 victory. The 30 year-old allowed one run on two hits in his innings of work, but also did manage to record a strikeout to record his second save of the season. Henderson was very impressive in his rookie season in 2012 compiling a 13.21 K/9. An unlucky BABIP (.352) kept Henderson's 3.52 ERA some what inflated, but a 1.95 FIP and 2.73 xFIP proved he was an effective piece last season. Henderson certainly has the stuff to close posting a 15.1 percent swinging strike rate in his brief career. He averages 95 mph with his fastball, and has a great slider. Henderson proved he could hold his own against left-handed hitters last season posting a 1.70 FIP and 2.99 xFIP in his brief stint. I like Henderson in the role over the long term for the Brewers, and he is certainly the club's best option in the ninth.
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