Chris Archer (SP-TB): Chris Archer was right on target again, twirling a CGSO against the Yankees. The rookie allowed only 2 hits, didn't walk a batter, and struck out 6 in picking up his 6th win of the year. While we endorsed Archer a few weeks back as a buy low candidate, his recent string of 3 earned runs in his last 36 innings has featured some very good fortune, as he has only struck out 22, and his BABIP has hovered below the Mendoza line during the stretch. I continue to be bullish on Archer--his FB velocity has been between 94-95, and hitters have only mustered a .400 OPS against his improving slider--but there will be some regression along the way. With that being said, he's a must-start while he's hot.
Josh Johnson (SP-TOR): JJ added another ugly chapter to what has been a disastrous 2013, allowing 7 earned runs in 5 and 2/3 innings against the Astros. While he struck out 8, he allowed 7 hits, 2 walks, including 3 more homers. Some may point to his 4.60 FIP or 3.56 xFIP and say he's due for some positive course correction. And while I could definitely see some of that, he's way too volatile for my taste down the stretch. While he gives up more homers at home, his peripherals are better there than on the road. I could understand starting him if you're behind and need high upside plays against swing-and-miss lineups, but the risk is way to extreme for those protecting leads.
Jonathan Villar (SS-HOU): Villar continued what has been a solid start to his MLB career, going 1 for 3 with 2 runs, 2 walks, and 2 steals. While a .34 EYE and a .165 ISO at AAA leave much to be desired, especially since those numbers came via the Pacific Coast League, Villar can help those looking for MI help in 12-team+ mixed leagues down the stretch. In 91 games at AAA, he was 31 for 38 in stolen base attempts, after going 39 for 47 in 86 games at AA last season. He's going to see plenty of playing time hitting atop the Astros lineup, and could easily add 15 steals, a handful of homers, and a fair amount of runs while hitting in the .250-.260 range down the stretch.
Michael Bourn (OF-CLE): Michael Bourn hit his 4th homer of the season and walked twice to help lead the Tribe over the Rangers. His season line now sits at .291/.338/.382 with 29 RBI, 43 runs, and 13 steals in 75 games. What's most disconcerting about Bourn is that he's not attempting as many steals, and when he does, he hasn't been as successful: he's been caught 8 times out of 21 attempts after being caught 13 times in 55 attempts last season. Perhaps the main reason for his lack of attempted thievery is his career-worst .26 EYE. He's been walking more during the past week, and his high groundball rate and speed should enable him to maintain a high BABIP. Look for him to pick things up during the season's final two months.
Samuel Deduno (SP-MIN): Deduno continued to impress last night, tossing 7 shutout innings against the Mariners. He allowed 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 6 in picking up his 7th win of the year. Over his last three starts Deduno has allowed 3 earned runs in 21 innings. However, he has also posted a startling 14:11 K:BB ratio in those starts, with an xFIP that doubles his ERA. Deduno is a much better pitcher at home, so if the matchup is right, roll with him there. Otherwise, I'd exercise extreme caution.
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