Yovani Gallardo (SP-Mil) Yovani Gallardo suffered his second loss of the year as he gave up 4 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks while striking out 7 in 5.2 innings. Even with this off outing, Gallardo sports a 2.92 ERA on the year. Yovani's VELO has stabilized this year at 90.8 mph after two consecutive years of decline. He has always been good GB pitcher and his 52% rate is a career high and is representative of that asset in his arsenal. This year he has kept the ball in the park at a career best rate of 7% well below his 11% career number. So this all sounds good but why are we concerned. Well, his 6.02/9 innings strikeout rate is a career low and continues a very steep downward trend from a rate of 9/9 innings just 2 years ago. His swinging strike rate is now 4.8% which is alarmingly low. Gallardo's xFIP is .388 which is nearly a full run higher than his current ERA. When his HR rate starts to regress to more normal rates for him, we will see that ERA start to rise to closer to his 3.68 lifetime rate. He is still on a team where he could register 12-15 wins, but his other pitches will have to improve significantly to overcome a 2 mph loss in velocity. Remember, with his career long tendency to give up the long ball, his margin of error is small pitching half his games in a home run hitter's park.
Julio Teheran (SP-Atlanta) Julio Teheran pitched an excellent ballgame tonight throwing 8 strong innings of 1 hit and 1 run ball while striking out 9 in a no decision effort. After his breakout 2013 season for the Braves, where he went 14-8 with a 3.20 ERA, his record stands at 2-2 with a 1.71 ERA. However, there is some cause for concern as I examined his underlying numbers. Most prominently is the marked decrease in his K/9 rate which is all the way down to 6.52 from an 8.24 mark last year. He has experienced a loss of velocity this year of about 1 mph to just over 91 mph. This decline will need to be monitored closely. Julio's 89% strand rate will have to adjust downward and his .188 BABIP will rise. The one positive note is that he has been able to sustain a very good 10.5% swinging strike rate, but the fact that it has not translated into a sustained K rate this year is a bit of a red flag. With the Braves offense near the bottom in runs, BA, and OBP, he does not have the kind of run support he would need to stabilize or offset the likely decline in his peripherals. He is a young pitcher at only 23, so I would not panic, but he may turn out to be an underperformer when all is said and done this year.
Adam LaRoche (1B- Nationals) Adam LaRoche has been a wonderful surprise for Washington this year. After going 0-2 today, he is leading the team in BA at .319 and OBP with .427, and tied with Rendon in HR's with 5. As a career .266 hitter, the BA number really is out of character for him. His .378 BABIP is way above his .307 career average, so we can expect a significant downturn as the year progresses. He has only hit above .280 once in his career so that number is probably the best we could expect if all things remain right. To his credit, LaRoche has shown greater plate discipline this year with his 15.3% walk rate at a career high and his 18.3% K rate his 2nd best career mark. He has exceeded his current .189 ISO many times in his career so if he continues to be selective at the plate we should see more power production from him. This is supported by a FB% which is 6% lower than his career average of 41.2%. His contact rate is up which is likely a product of his more patient approach. LaRoche won't bat .300 but he figures to be a solid performer for the Nat's the rest of the way.
Jason Hammel (SP-Cubs) Jason Hammel pitched another wonderful game today going 7 strong innings giving up only 2 runs and 7 hits in a no decision outing against the Braves. Hammel has been a surprisingly strong addition to the Cub rotation all year and sports a 4-1 record, with a .245 ERA. Unfortunately it is unlikely that he can sustain this level of performance. His xFIP stands at .362 and an 82.4% LOB is primed for regression. In addition, he is thriving on a .203 BABIP which when it corrects, will certainly move all his underlying numbers in a negative direction. Although his swinging strike rate is at a career high 10.2%, over the last few years, Hammel has been not much more than an average strikeout pitcher and this season is no exception. His walk rates have always been a problem for him and it is unlikely that he will sustain this 1.99/9 inning walk rate when his career average is over 3. His velocity has been on a steady decline since 2012 when he peaked at 93.6. This year his VELO sits at 91.6. The move back to the NL has certainly helped, but all systems point to diminished effectiveness as we move deeper into the year. If you own him now would be a good time to sell high.
Todd Frazier (3B-Cinn) Todd Frazier is having a strong start this season as he smacked his 6th HR in today's game. With 20 runs, 20 RBI's and 3 SB's on the season, he is one of the few Reds hitters who are doing their job this year. Last year Frazier batted only .234 which was in part the result of a .269 BABIP. This year he is sporting a .267 average which is more where he should be. His .233 ISO is a career best, but he has been close to that before so it is sustainable. The best part is that he is showing better plate discipline with the best K% of his career and he is walking more as well. All the other batted ball numbers and contact rates suggest that he will sustain his gains this year.
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