Tom Wilhemsen (RP-SEA)- Wilhelmsen, who was sent down to triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday, actually made the start for Tacoma on Tuesday. The Mariners have not officially announced plans to make him a starter. Wilhelmsen struggled in double-A as a starter in 2011 before being promoted to the majors as a reliever. He allowed three runs in two innings (31 pitches) in yesterday's start. The 29 year-old has a 4.37 ERA (3.76 FIP and 4.49 xFIP) in 47.1 innings pitched, but has struggled to throw strikes over the past month. His walk rate is a career worst 4.94 BB/9, but the move was facilitated to improve his control. Wilhelmsen has the arsenal to start with an above average curveball and change-up, but his success will rely primarily on his control moving forward. My guess is he stays in some kind of relief role. Either way, owners can give up his roster spot now.
Justin Masterson (SP-CLE)- Masterson saw his record fall to 13-8 after allowing five runs in seven innings of work in the Indians loss to the Tigers on Tuesday night. He allowed those five runs on seven hits, one home run and two walks while striking out six. His ERA increased to 3.46 after the outing, but his FIP (3.32) and xFIP (3.26) are still very impressive. Masterson's success has come in large part to his always-impressive ground ball rate (58.6 percent), but his strikeout rate (9.13 K/9) has distinguished his performance this year. This improvement has come thanks to pitch selection. His fastball is averaging 91.9 mph, which is identical to last season. However, he came into last night's start throwing his slider at a 27.2 percent rate, the highest of his career as a full time starter. As a result he is posting his best swinging strike rate as a starter (9.3 percent). I expect Masterson to finish the season with these types of numbers. His .280 BABIP is sustainable, as his 16 percent line drive rate indicates.
Josh Reddick (RF-OAK)- Reddick's terrible 2013 campaign continued on Tuesday, as he went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in the A's loss to the Reds. His slash line dropped to .205/.289/.330 for the year with eight stolen bases, and he has only hit five home runs in 312 plate appearances. Reddick has actually improved his strikeout rate (18.9 percent) compared to last season (22 percent), but the right fielder just has not had much luck in terms of his BABIP (.239). Reddick has practically produced the same line drive rate (21.5 percent) compared to last year (21.2 percent), but his ground ball rate has increased by seven percent. In addition, it is looking like his HR/FB ratio from last season is an aberration. He continues to get most of the playing time in right field because of his defense, but one has to wonder if that will be case heading down the stretch
Chris Sale (SP-CHW)- Sale turned in a strong outing last night against the Yankees improving his overall record to 7-11 for the season. He allowed one run on five hits and four walks while striking out six in 7.1 innings of work. The left-hander improved his ERA to 2.83, and his 2.92 FIP/xFIP put him as the tenth most effective starting pitcher in baseball. Sale has been more effective in terms of his strikeout rate, improving from 9.00 to 9.72 K/9 from last season. His overall fastball velocity has improved from 91.6 to 92.8 mph, as he has not had to deal with arm problems this season. He averaged 95.9 mph with his fastball last night (second highest average of the year), but he only recorded three swinging strikes overall. Sale's average fastball velocity last season dipped from August forward, so his performance last night is a step in the right direction for owners.
Jacoby Ellsbury (CF-BOS)- Ellsbury went 2-for-4 with a strikeout, two walks, four runs scored, two home runs and three RBI in the Red Sox win over the Astros. He now has seven home runs, 40 stolen bases and a .301/.364/.438 slash line this season. While he is not approaching the numbers he put up in 2011, Ellsbury is on track to put up the kind of numbers he did from 2008-2009. His 8.0 percent walk rate, 13 percent strikeout rate and .3309 BABIP compare favorably to those seasons with his batted ball rate looking almost identical. Along with 50-plus stole bases and 10-12 home runs, Ellsbury has been a valuable asset for owners this season. Look for his BABIP to drop somewhat over the next two months, but he should finish with a .295/.355/.430 type of slash line before the season is over.
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