Derek Holland (SP-TEX)- Holland threw a gem on Thursday afternoon against the Yankees to improve his record to 6-4.He allowed two hits without issuing a walk and struck out seven as his ERA dropped to 3.14 for the year. The Yankees lineup and their inability to hit left-handed pitching contributed to this performance, but Holland did average 94.5 mph with his fastball and was able to record seven swinging strikes with his slider. His 2.75 FIP and 3.44 xFIP indicate that can continue to have this kind of success for most of the season considering his improved walk rate (2.29 BB.9), and his 10.1 percent swinging strike rate could lead to more strikeouts. Holland is likely to see his home run rate increase over the coming months, but I think he should be able to pitch to a 3.40 ERA when the season is finished.
Ernesto Frieri (RP-LAA)- Frieri recorded his nineteenth save of the season on Thursday to seal a 3-1 win over the Tigers by throwing a shutout inning in which he allowed a hit. The right-hander has continued to serve in the roll with Ryan Madson still sidelined, Frieri has put together another strong season posting an ERA of 3.12 along with strikeout rate of 12.72 K/9. His 16 percent swinging strike rate is a career best, but and his 62.9 percent first pitch strike rate and 49.1 percent zone percentage leads me to believe he will continue to improve his 4.93 BB/9. While Frieri has benefitted from a .247 BABIP, but his 12.2 percent line drive rate indicates that opposing hitters have consistently struggled making solid contact. His fastball is still his primary weapon, but he has started to throw his slider harder this season to give him a stronger weapon against left-handed hitters.
Chien-Ming Wang (SP-TOR)- After three strong starts since joining the Jays rotation, Wang delivered a dud on Thursday night against the Red Sox. He allowed seven runs on six hits, a home run and two walks in 1.2 innings pitched. Wang did not record a strikeout and he saw his ERA increase to 4.84 in the process. Its apparent Wang has lost something on his sinker, even when compared to last season, but he has still generated a 63.6 percent ground ball rate. Wang has tried to reinvent himself by throwing his splitter once again, but his swinging strike rate is still below six percent. In his prime, Wang used to avoid home runs because of the velocity on his sinker. Now that the pitch averages just over 90 mph, his HR/FB ratio has increased to 20 percent this season. Wang might have a few strong starts in him this season, but he practically zero impact in most leagues.
Nate McClouth (LF-BAL)- While many of us were laughing at the Orioles for giving McClouth playing time late last season, he has turned into an important piece for the Orioles and has become relevant in fantasy baseball this season. He went 2-for-4 with a run scored and a strikeout in last night's win over the Indians, and he now has a .284/.363/.395 line to go with his four home runs and 24 stolen bases. McClouth has turned himself into one of the better leadoff hitters in the league by changing his approach. He has cut down his swinging strike rate to 3.1 percent (a career low), which has lead to an 11 percent strikeout rate. He continues to be very selective (19.8 percent chase rate), and has kept his walk rate (10 percent) right at his career rate. His power numbers have taken a hit as a result, but his improved his stolen base numbers have more than made up for that fact.
Mike Moustakas (3B-KC)- Moustakas went 0-for-4 with a strikeout against the Twins on Thursday nigh after a steady run of two hit games. His slash line dropped to .210/.269/.308 for the year, and he has only hit four home runs in 245 plate appearances. Moustakas has been able to improve his overall strikeout rate (13.9 percent) by limiting hi swinging strike rate (7.9 percent), but his BABIP (.229) has been the driving force behind his poor numbers. Luck has factored into his poor start, but like last season, Moustakas does not have a favorable batted ball profile. His ground ball rate has actually increased to 39.1 percent, and he does not hit many line drives (15.1 percent). He hits plenty of fly balls (45.8 percent), but his 18.2 percent infield fly ball rate indicates that many of them do not leave the infield. The Royals have indicated that he will get more time to turn the corner. Without any power (.098 ISO), he still looks like he has a long way to go to become fantasy relevant again.
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