Will Middlebrooks (3B-BOS): Middlebrooks hit his 14th homer of the season as part of a 2-for-5, 2-run night at the plate. He has definitely made some adjustments in the second half, posting a 8:18 BB:K ratio through 22 games compared with a 9:60 mark in 52 first half games. The .407 second half BABIP portends some AVG regression, but if he can continue to refine his approach at the plate and pair it with selective aggressiveness, he could work his way into the Sox opening day lineup in 2014 and be a strong power source. It's amazing how some guy named Xander can light a fire under you.
James Shields (SP-KC): Caution: if you own James Shields, you may want to sit down before reading the rest of the blurb. The Royals' ace allowed 10 earned runs on 14 hits and 2 walks in 3 and 2/3 innings. He had a 3.03 ERA/3.86 xFIP coming into the context, and the regression monster nearly took it all away in one horrific start. I wouldn't read too much into this one and Shields remains a must start for the remainder of the season. However, I am concerned that his line drive rate is up 2% and his K-rate is down 3% from 2012 and have moved him down a notch heading into 2014.
Scott Feldman (SP-BAL): Feldman tossed a CGSO, striking out 3 while allowing 5 hits and 1 walk against the White Sox. He has now only allowed 5 earned runs in his last 33 innings. For the season he carries a 3.54 ERA/3.91 xFIP, so while his 17.7% K-rate limits his upside, his improvements with lowering his line drive rate and increasing his groundball rate make him a solid spot starter when the matchups are there. Unfortunately, he gets the Yankees at home and the Red Sox on the road in his next two starts, so depending on the size of your league, you may want to look elsewhere.
Scott Kazmir (SP-CLE): Kazmir turned in perhaps his finest performance of the season, striking out 12 in 6 shutout innings in picking up his 8th win. He allowed only 4 hits and didn't walk a batter in the efficient, 97-pitch outing. Kazmir continues to be extremely inconsistent: in his last 10 starts, he has allowed 4 earned runs or more in 4 of them, while allowing 0 earned runs in 3 of them. With a 22% K-rate and a VERY favorable schedule for the rest of September, Kazmir presents an intriguing option for the rest of 2013, one I'd recommend in the majority of formats.
Josmil Pinto (C-MIN): Pinto went 2 for 4 and hit his 1st major league homer. He is now 9 for 14 out of the gates since being called up on September 1st to fill in for the injured Joe Mauer. Pinto had been under the radar as a prospect, mostly because of concerns over his conditioning. But, he lost 20+ pounds in the offseason and continued to make strides at the plate, posting a .309/.400/.482 line with 15 homers across two levels. Most impressively, Pinto continued to improve his EYE as he moved up the ladder, from .50 to .90. The AP reports that Mauer has not cleared his concussion symptoms just yet and there is no timetable for his return, so Pinto should continue to see plenty of ABs. He could also be a nice late-round sleeper for 2014.
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