B.J. Upton (OF-ATL): B.J. Upton went 1 for 4 with 2 K's and 1 SB. Through 3 games, Upton is 1 for 12 with 6 K's and 0 BB's and looks to be carrying over the extreme contact issues he endured last season. The 66.7% contact rate and 15.6% swinging strike rate were the worst marks of his career. His SOB (speed off of bat) at 104.4 MPH shows the skills are still there, but unless he can make more contact, it's going to be another long season. I don't see how the Braves can continue hitting him 2nd.
Matt Garza (SP-MIL): Matt Garza allowed only 1 earned run on 2 hits and 1 walk across 8 solid innings. The veteran added 7 K's, but was outdueled by Aaron Harang. While his BABIP was a miniscule .056, it is nice to see a 52.6% GB rate, much more akin to what he did prior to 2013. According to Pitch FX, his AVG VELO on his fastball was 94.6, also a welcomed sight. The question is going to be health for Garza, as he has thrown 259 innings the past two seasons due to a myriad of injuries. So far, I like what I'm seeing, and can see him fueling a Brewers run to the post-season.
Emilio Bonifacio (OF/INF-CHC): Emilio Bonifacio continued his scorching start to the season, going 5 for 7 with 1 run scored, 1 BB, and 2 SB's as the Cubs lost to the Pirates in 16 innings. Bonifacio now has 9 hits in his first two games and is looking to earn himself consistent playing time. Bonifacio stole 98 bases the previous 3 seasons combined, so we know he brings plus speed to the table. The key for him, in addition to playing time, is going to be fixing the EYE, which dwindled to .29 last season. With his experience and versatility, things are looking up for Bonifacio and his owners.
Jonathan Papelbon (RP-PHI): Jonathan Papelbon blew the save last night against the Rangers in dramatic fashion, allowing 3 earned runs on 4 hits and 2 walks, squandering the solid performance by Kyle Kendrick. Many analysts thought 2013's regression portended the beginning of the end of Papelbon's 9th inning dominance, as his 2.92 ERA/3.51 xFIP combined with a rapidly declining K-rate and the lowest swinging strike rate sent us clear signals. As tends to be the case with closers, the velocity is put under the microscope. Papelbon lost nearly 2 MPH on his avg fastball (to 92 MPH), and last night according to multiple sources, he averaged 91. While it's early in the season and Papelbon has a long leash, owners should be making contingency plans--Michael Waldo has Antonio Bastardo as the next in line.
Dee Gordon (2B-LAD): Dee Gordon continued his solid start to the 2014 campaign, going 1 for 3 with 1 RBI, 1 BB, and 1 SB. He now has 5 hits and 2 walks in his first 4 games, and is making good on his promise to seize the job. Gordon added muscle in the off-season, worked hard on becoming versatile defensively, and is looking like a man on a mission. It's easy to forget that Gordon was a consensus top-20 prospect in 2011, and after hitting .304 and stealing 24 bags in 56 games that season, things were looking up. However, pitchers figured him out and Gordon looked to rely too much on his speed. He's finally putting in the work and looks primed for a solid season. We'll keep an eye on Alex Guerrero at AA, but even when he is called up, Gordon should still have a significant utility role.
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