Shaun Marcum (SP-NYM)- Marcum, who was initially penciled in to start on Sunday against the Marlins, is now doubtful to pitch after he cut Tuesday's bullpen short because of neck pain. The injury prone right-hander was slated to be the Mets number two starter until a right shoulder impingement sent him to the disabled list. Marcum has dealt with shoulder and elbow problems consistently throughout his major league career, and owners may have to wait a while before he takes the mound again. There is no telling when Marcum might be ready to pitch again, but the Mets are expected to make an announcement on Wednesday about his status. In the mean time, Aaron Laffey is the favorite to make the Sunday start for the Mets. Colin McHugh is also in consideration. Owners who drafted Marcum should consider letting the right-hander go at this point. The injury issue sounds very familiar to what Chris Carpenter has been dealing with over the last few years.
Carlos Gonzalez (LF-COL)- Gonzalez went 2-for-5 with a home run two strikeouts, two RBI and two runs scored in the Rockies win over the Brewers. The home run was his second in as many nights. Our software ranked Gonzalez as the fourth best outfielder available heading into the season, and we anticipated him finishing with 30 home runs this season. Gonzalez's power numbers have dropped somewhat over the last few seasons due to a drop in his fly ball rate (career low 29.5 percent in 2012). In his first two games this season, Gonzalez looked as if he was driving the ball better than I had seen in seasons past. His HR/FB ratio has remained steady over the last few seasons ranging from 18.8 to 20.8 percent. If Gonzalez can improve his fly ball rate by five percentage points, there is little reason to doubt he can get past the 30 home run plateau.
Jaime Garcia (SP-STL)- Garcia earned his first victory of the season in Tuesday's start against the Diamondbacks. He allowed one run on two hits and four walks while striking out four in 5.2 innings of work. The veteran left-hander, who is coming back from shoulder surgery performed in the offseason, has lost a little life on his fastball. He averaged just a tick under 88 mph in his start last night, and he did not record a swinging strike with the pitch. However, Garcia still had tons of movement with his two-seam fastball that contributed to his 63 percent ground ball rate in the outing. The Diamondbacks failed to make much contact as proven by Garcia's 6.3 percent line drive rate in the start. He displayed a strong change-up, curveball and cutter in the outing which leads me to believe he should still pitch well as he builds up more arm strength. Garcia might see a dip in his strikeout rate this season, but we expect him to produce a similar ERA and WHIP to last season.
Cliff Pennington (SS-ARI)- Pennington went hitless with a strikeout in four plate appearances during last night's loss to the Cardinals, and the 28 year-old has struck out in half of his plate appearances during these first two games this season. Just as important as it was for Kozma to get off to a good start, Pennington owners might be in a completely different situation. Didi Gregorious, who is a vastly superior defender and long term answer at the position, has already started resumed throwing again (he is recovering from a right elbow injury). Pennington struggled throughout 2012 producing a lackluster .215/.278/.311 slash line with just six home runs in 462 plate appearances, and a slow start could force the organization's hand. As I will continue to say over the course of the first month, a small sample size does not much at this time. However, the Diamondbacks are known for being aggressive in that regard and Pennington has looked overmatched at the plate in these first two games.
Sergio Romo (RP-SF)- Romo recorded his first save on Tuesday night against the Dodgers after pitched a scoreless inning in which he recorded a strikeout. The veteran right-hander has displayed impeccable control over the last few season (1.84 BB/9 for career) along with an above average strikeout rate (10.68 k/9 for career) because of a wipeout slider. Romo seemed to make another improvement in 2012 posting a career best 48.5 percent ground ball rate. This increase came against left-handed hitters in which he recorded a 60.4 percent ground ball rate. Romo increased the use of his change-up, and I believe that Romo will end up as one of the top five closers this season. His decrease in velocity is not worrisome considering he has compensated by increasing the usage of his slider. Romo's slider is one of those few pitches where hitters can know what is coming, and still swing and miss. Romo's strand rate of 90 percent from last season will drop this year, but I am still expecting him to pitch to an ERA around 2.00.
Follow me on Twitter for good fun and baseball info.