Mark Melancon (RP-PIT): Melancon narrowly escaped with his 13th save, allowing 2 earned runs on 4 hits in the process. His .85 ERA/2.16 xFIP coming in to the contest alluded to such regression popping up. With that being said, it's hard to argue with his body of work this season: a filthy 63:8 K:BB ratio and 13 for 15 in saves chances across 64 and 1/3 innings. The issue for him isn't so much this rough outing but the looming presence of Jason Grilli. The good news for Melancon owners is that Grilli has struggled since his return from the DL, allowing 2 earned runs on 4 hits and 1 walk in 2+ innings, so while I expect Grilli to reclaim the job during the next week, Melancon should get the next save chance. Watch closely, especially if saves are tight in your league.
Adam LaRoche (1B-WAS): LaRoche hit his 19th homer of the season as part of a 2-for-4, 2-run, 1-RBI effort. The effort pushed his line to a disappointing .237/.329/.410 with 59 RBI and 64 runs through 137 games. According to the Washington Post, part of the reason for LaRoche's struggles have stemmed from weight loss due to his medication for ADD. LaRoche reportedly has switched to a new medication and is incorporating more protein into his diet, hoping this will alleviate the issues down the stretch and into 2014. With another year left on his contract and the problem identified, he could easily return to the 25-30 homer level.
Andrew Cashner (SP-SD): Cashner turned in one of his best performances of the season, striking out 7 and allowing 2 earned runs across 7 and 2/3 innings in picking up his 9th win. He gave up 4 hits and allowed only 1 walk in the effort. For the season Cashner sports a 3.40 ERA/3.76 xFIP, a 52% GB rate, and a 7.3% BB-rate through 159 innings. However, his 17% K-rate is quite disappointing for a guy who averaged over 26% last season predominantly out of the bullpen. He has lost over 3 MPH on his AVG fastball velocity, which often does happen when a move from the pen to the rotation is made. HOWEVER, he has shown much better velocity in the past month, and not coincidentally, he K-rate is on the rise. He's learning how to be a starter and go deeper into games, and now that he looks to be healthy, look for him to continue to grow in 2014.
Jedd Gyorko (2B/3B-SD): Gyorko went 3 for 3 with 3 runs and 1 RBI to push his season line to .246/.290/.430. He has 17 homers, 45 RBI, and 51 runs through his first 106 games. Impressively, he has hit 11 of those homers at PETCO. To me, a combination of injuries, inexperience, and misfortunate has made him a quality sleeper target for 2014. His 23% line drive rate and track record suggest his .288 BABIP is quite low. His .20 EYE so far is disappointing, but his track record of .50 or better each season in the minors suggests he'll improve that with more MLB reps. I see Gyorko finishing of a successful rookie campaign with a bang and carrying it over into 2014.
Billy Hamilton (OF-CIN): Hamilton actually had his first two AB's last night, but went hitless. Previously the lightning-fast Hamilton stole 4 bases and scored 3 runs as a pinch-runner. While he may see some occasional AB's late in games, look for Hamilton to struggle with the stick. He posted a .256/.308/.343 line at AAA with a .37 EYE. For now, he is what he is: legs off the bench that could help with SB's and runs. As for his long-term value, many scouts question whether he will be strong enough with the bat to justify a spot in the lineup. I actually see him settling into a regular roll, as he posted OPS's of .852 and .789 at two levels in 2012, so the skills are there. It may take him a year to figure it out, but as early as 2015 you could see him stealing close to 100 bases. For 2014, I'd be careful.
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