Francisco Liriano (SP-PIT)- Liriano delivered another strong outing on Monday night, as helped lead the Pirates to a win over the Cardinals. He allowed one run on four hits and two walks while striking out eight in seven innings of work. The left-hander managed to improve his ERA to 2.16, and his 2.65 FIP and 3.04 xFIP are even more representative of his success this season. Liriano, who has been hounded by control problems over the previous two seasons, lowered his walk rate to 3.48 BB/9 for the season. Additionally, he has managed to improve his first pitch strike percentage to its highest mark in three seasons (57.5 percent). Liriano's velocity has not improved from last year, but his 13.9 percent swinging strike rate is his highest since 2006. Coupled with his 51.8 percent ground ball rate (third highest of his career), there is no doubt that he has been the one of the top 20 SP in the league.
Brandon Beachy (SP-ATL)- Beachy struggled in his first major league start since undergoing Tommy John surgery early last season. He allowed seven runs on eight hits, two home runs and one walk while striking out five in 3.2 innings of work. The right-hander posted a 2.00 ERA with a 3.40 FIP and 4.14 xFIP before he went down with his injury. Beachy's strikeout numbers dropped last season as his overall velocity was down, but I think that had something to do with his injury. Beachy showed improved velocity in his outing last night averaging 91.9 mph with his fastball and recording twelve swinging strikes overall. He might struggle with his command at his first, but Beachy can be a solid option moving forward considering his ability to record strikeouts. His fly ball rate has been a concern in the past (42.9 percent career rate), but he has managed to post an above average HR/FB ratio for his career (8.2 percent entering last night's game).
Bobby Parnell (RP-NYM)- Parnell recorded his twenty-first save of the season to help the Mets seal a victory over the Marlins on Monday night. He allowed a hit and a walk in his shutout inning, but also recorded two strikeouts to lower his ERA to 2.20 for the season. Parnell has made great strides in his first season as a closer posting a career best FIP (2.24). His 3.00 xFIP is the second best mark of his career, and he has lowered his walk rate for the second straight year (2.02 BB/9). Parnell's strikeout rate may not be as impressive as other closer's (8.08 K/9), but his swinging strike rate is still above average (10.1 percent). He has continued to benefit from an above average ground ball rate (50.7 percent), and has shown the ability to handle left-handed hitters almost as well as right-handers. Most importantly to owners, it seems as if the Mets are going to hold on to Parnell unless they some major talent back.
Starlin Castro (SS-CHC)- Castro went hitless in four plate appearances against the Brewers on Monday night, as owners saw his slash line drop to .248/.286/.354 for the season. The 23 year-old shortstop continues to be one of the biggest disappointments of the year hitting six home runs and stealing eight bases in 103 games (458 plate appearances). His .283 wOBA is the worst of his career, and his current numbers fall behind 20 other qualified players at the position. His overall average has fallen because of a decline in his BABIP (career low .296) and a career worst strikeout rate (18.3 percent). His current batted ball profile is almost identical to his career rates, which leads me to believe that he has been somewhat unlucky this season. His plate discipline looks to have improved from last season, as his chase rate has dropped from 37.3 to 32.2 percent. However, his walk rate has also decreased to 3.8 percent. Castro's power has also yet to improve as many thought it might, as his HR/FB ratio has dropped from 8 to 5.2 percent.
Everth Cabrera (SS-SD)- Carbera went 2-for-4 and was caught stealing in the Padres win over the Reds on Monday night. He has 36 stolen bases to go along with four home runs, and he managed to improve his slash line to .281.357/.376 for the season. For the most part, Cabrera has put together a career year by cutting down on his strikeout rate. His BABIP (.333) remains similar to last season (.336), however, he has dropped his strikeout rate from 24.5 to 15.7 percent. Owners should not see this as a fluke, as Cabrera has posted a career low 5.4 percent swinging strike rate (8.1 percent last season). Owners should not expect any more home runs out of him this season, as his HR/FB ratio will continue to fall back down to its career rate (4.8 percent). With that said, Cabrera has been one of the best bargains at the position considering he is likely to finish the year with 48-51 stolen bases.
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