JP Arencibia (C-TOR)- Arencibia went 3-for-4 with a walk, a double, a RBI and three runs scored in the Blue Jays victory over the Orioles. He is now hitting .236/.253/.477 to go along with his eleven home runs in 178 plate appearances. The backstop has put together one of the stranger offensive seasons this year producing a career best ISO (.240), but he has struck out 32.1 percent of the time and walked 1.7 percent of the time (second lowest among qualified hitters). For owners who do not play in OBP leagues, Arencibia has been provided a lot of value at the position. However, his 15.2 percent swinging strike rate and career worst 38.3 percent chase rate are troubling as we head into June. He has been able to produce a career best .286 BABIP despite an 18.3 percent infield fly ball rate, and I would worry that his BABIP slip a bit closer to his career rate (.265) later this season.
Chris Perez (RP-CLE)- Perez left Sunday's game after 31 pitches because of a right shoulder injury after walking the bases loaded. He was credited with the loss (Joe Smith with the blown save) after allowing four runs on three walks and two hits. He did not record a strikeout, and his ERA jumped to 4.32 for the season. There is not any word on Perez/s status at this time, but it wouldn't be surprising to see him go on the disabled list in the near future. Joe Smith and Cody Allen are the favorites to see some time closing games if Perez misses time, as Vinnie Pestano does not look to be a realistic option at this point. Perez has continued to struggle for most the season with his control (5.32 BB/9), and the home run ball. His strikeout rate was due for some regression considering his swinging strike rate has dropped to 7.6 percent.
Alex Cobb (SP-TB)- Cobb delivered a stellar outing on Sunday to improve his record to 6-2 holding the Yankees to just two runs on five hits (zero walks) while striking out eight in 8.1 innings pitched. Cobb's ERA dropped to 2.66 for the season, and his xFIP of 2.88 indicates just how excellent he has been over these first two months. The right-hander has improved his strikeout rate to 8.25 K/9, while continuing to generate a high amount of ground balls (56 percent ground ball rate). Additionally, Cobb has displayed great control over these first few months posting a walk rate of 1.86 BB/9. He has benefitted from a .265 BABIP and 86.3 percent strand rate, but a 20 percent HR/FB ratio has negated most of those benefits. Cobb's walk rate will likely regress considering his 55 percent first pitch strike rate, but owners should keep running him out there regardless of the matchup.
Seth Smith (OF/DH-OAK)- Smith went 1-for-4 with a double, a strikeout, a RBI and a run scored in the A's victory over the Astros. He has been hot of late improving his slash line to .292/.360/.466 to go along with his five home runs. What has been important about Smith's production this season has been his work against left-handed pitching. He has a .929 OPS against LHP in 48 plate appearances, which is way above his career number (.620). The knock against Smith in the past has been his platoon status, but he might continue to see more and more action against left-hander starter. That might hurt him in the long term as this could be due to a small sample size, but he does have a 31.4 percent line drive rate against them. Smith's overall batted ball profile looks identical to last season, so it is more likely that his average will come back down to the .270 range considering his .365 BABIP.
Hishashi Iwakuma (SP-SEA)- Iwakuma might have delivered his most impressive start of the season on Sunday against the Rangers. He did not earn a decision, but he only allowed two runs on five hits (one home run) without issuing a walk and striking out eight. The Japanese import has lowered his ERA to 2.35 by improving his strikeout rate to 8.55 K/9, and cutting his walk rate to 1.36 BB/9. In addition, Iwakuma has been able to keep his BABIP below average (.220) by keeping his line drive around 14.5 percent. The improvement in Iwakuma's peripherals are not just by chance, as he has improved his swinging strike rate from 9.5 to 11.3 percent and improved his first pitch strike rate to 64.6 percent. Regression more than likely to come with his below average BABIP and favorable strand rate (85.4 percent), but I still would expect him to finish with an ERA between 3.35 and 3.50 this season.
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