Cole Hamels - Cole Hamels took on the Mets Friday evening in Philadelphia and gave up 4 ER over six innings. He struck out five and his ERA now sits at 4.50. Despite the inflated ERA, I'm not that concerned about Hamels turning around his season. While Hamel's ERA is much higher than it was during the past three seasons, his peripherals aren't terribly far off. With a 3.66 xFIP, the lefty is just slightly above his 3.23 mark from 2012 and his 22% K% is just 1% off his career mark. He's walking the same number of batters and allowing roughly the same number of HRs and line drives, but has been hurt by a lower strand rate (78% in 2012 vs. 69% in 2013). If you look at just his xFIP and peripherals, you would guess he'd be having a season that was solid, but not quite as good as his 2012 campaign. However, the high ERA and poor win-loss record skew people's perception. I'd go as far as to recommend Hamels as a buy-low candidate and someone who I think has a great chance to get better results in the coming weeks.
Jeremy Hefner - The Mets' Jeremy Hefner tossed six innings and allowed 2 ER on 10 hits versus the Phillies on Friday. Hefner now sports a 3.89 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 81 innings this season. The former Padres' farmhand has a so-so K% (17%), solid BB% (7%) but has struggled with HRs (13% HR/FB%). He's been able to maintain a low BABIP so far in 2013 thanks, in large part, to a very good 16% LD rate. If he can sustain the LD rate and lower his HR rate, Hefner would likely become a decent back end fantasy starter. He did post an 8% HR/FB% in 93 innings with the Mets last season and, aside from his 2011 campaign at AAA, has never struggled with the long ball. There's not a huge upside here, but definitely potential value in deeper 12+ team mixed leagues and NL-only formats.
Stephen Strasburg - Stephen Strasburg entered Friday's start with a 3-6 record, but owned a 2.50 ERA. He gave up 1 ER over seven innings with nine strikeouts versus the Rockies. The right hander now owns a 3.33 xFIP in 86 1/3 innings this season. He's increased his GB% to 52% while seeing his K% drop from 30% in 2012 to 24%. Encouragingly, Strasburg has also lowered his LD rate by 7% to 15% this season, so batters are not making good contact off him. While more strikeouts would be nice, he's still missing bats at a solid clip and his improved GB and LD marks should help maintain that impressive ERA.
Tyler Chatwood - Tyler Chatwood continued his impressive turnaround by allowing 1 ER on four hits against the Nationals on Friday. He struck out four and walked two. Once a prospect with the Angels, Chatwood struggled during his debut season in 2011 by striking out fewer than five batters per game and posting a 4.90 xFIP. With too few strikeouts and too many walks, the right hander looked destined to be a bust. However, after getting traded to Colorado, and struggling through 2012, Chatwood re-emerged this season and has shown an improved ability to miss bats (7.05 K/9) while cutting his walk rate (3.02 BB/9). He's also done an excellent job of inducing grounders (60% GB%). It's a small sample, but Chatwood has moved himself well into the conversation of viable fantasy starting pitchers each week. He's got legitimate value right now in NL-only and 12-team+ mixed leagues.
Ian Desmond - Ian Desmond blasted his 12th HR of the season on Friday against Colorado and now has 40 RBI in 2013. Desmond is putting up very similar numbers to his 2012 breakout campaign when he posted a .511 SLG%, hit 25 HRs and tallied a .218 ISO. This season, Desmond's ISO and SLG% are both slightly lower, but he's still hitting for a decent batting average and showing excellent power, especially for a shortstop. I'm particularly encouraged by his 21% LD rate (compared to 17% in 2012). I'd like to see more patience (5% BB%) to boost his OBP, but that seems unlikely as Desmond hasn't shown much interest in taking a walk throughout major league career. Overall, Desmond continues to be a nice option at a tough to fill position.
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