Zoilo Almonte (OF-NYY): Zoilo Almonte shined in his first start for the Yankees, going 3 for 5 with his first career homer to lead the Bronx Bombers to victory over the Rays. Almonte isn't a highly touted prospect but he had shown improvement at AAA this season. Specifically, he had cut his K-rate from 22.7% to 16% and raised his BB-rate from 5.6% to 10.2%. He had OPS's of .810 and .790 the past two seasons in the minors, and I think we can expect something in the .750 range this season (.250/.320/.430 with modest power and speed sounds reasonable). With Vernon Wells' struggles, he could see a fair amount of playing time in moving forward and makes for an intriguing add in extremely deep mixed leagues and all AL only leagues.
Adam Lind (1B-TOR): Adam Lind continued his amazing resurgence yesterday, hitting his 10th homer of the year to lead the Blue Jays to their 9th straight victory. The effort pushed his season line to .338/.403/.564 with 30 RBI and 33 runs in 59 games. While his .373 BABIP portends some AVG regression, I don't see much of a decline in the 2nd half. He has talked extensively about his evolving approach at the plate and his focus on being more selective, and the numbers back it up: he boasts a career low 24% chase rate and a career high 90.7% contact rate. Combine that with his 1.034 OPS against lefties this season, and you have a man putting it all together.
Jacoby Ellsbury (OF-BOS): Jacoby Ellsbury went 2 for 5 with 2 RBI and 2 runs. The speedster has picked things up in June, posting a .333/.397/.455 line with 10 steals in 15 games. Even when he was "struggling" Ellsbury was stealing bases and getting on base, as he has improved his BB rate by 2.9% from last season. The main knock against him has been the lack of power, as he has a .108 ISO and 1 homer through 69 games. A final line resembling his 2009 seems reasonable as long as he stays healthy. And with this being a contract year, Ellsbury is focused on staying on the field and performing.
Jon Lester (SP-BOS): Jon Lester continued his recent struggles, allowing 5 earned runs on 9 hits and 3 walks in 5 and 2/3 innings, but earned the win thanks to a Sox offensive explosion against Doug Fister. After a scorching start to the season, Lester has reverted to his 2012 form, especially in June, a month in which he's posted an 8.44 ERA and a 1.134 OPS against. Control has been a big part of the story, as he's walked 13 batters through 21 and 1/3 June innings. And the curve ball adds to it, as opponents are batting .300 off of it. John Farrell has been working with Lester on his release point, but until we see back-to-back outings with results, I'd keep him benched.
R.A. Dickey (SP-TOR): R.A. Dickey's tumultuous 2013 continued last night, as the knuckleballer allowed 6 earned runs on 7 hits and 2 walks in 6 innings of work to earn the no-decision. He has now given up 6 earned runs or more 6 times and 2 earned runs or less 7 times, with not much in between. As many predicted, he has struggled more at home with a 6.02 ERA and 12 homers allowed there compared to a 4.29 ERA and 5 homers allowed on the road. Until he shows some consistency, I wouldn't trust him as anything more than a spot-starter on the road. The Jays' look primed for a second-half run, so if Dickey puts it together the W's could starting piling up.
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