Charlie Morton (SP-HOU) - The Seattle offense isn't exactly a juggernaut these days, but it was still another strong performance from Morton on Thursday. The right-hander allowed just three hits in seven shutout innings, including no walks and eight strikeouts. Morton now has a 0.72 ERA in four starts, including a 33:6 K:BB in 25 innings. Incredibly at age 34, his velocity is up for the fourth consecutive year, as he averaged 91.1 mph on his fastball in 2014 and is up to 95.9 mph so far this year (prior to Thursday). Morton is generating more ground balls this year (59.5% GB% vs 51.8% last season), and combined with improved control, all signs point up. As a caveat, Morton has topped 150 innings just twice in his career (2011, 2014), though it would seem at a listed 6'5", 235 lb. that he could easily throw 200+ annually. Perhaps this is the year.
Alex Cobb (SP-BAL) - Cobb was roughed up on Thursday in Detroit, allowing seven runs (five earned) on a whopping 10 hits over 3.1 innings. He did fan four and walk just one, but even Jose Iglesias (.128 BA entering the game) had three hits, so he was probably lucky to only allow five earned. Cobb has now made two starts and put up the following numbers (hide the women and children): 7 IP, 20 hits, 12 earned runs, three homers, a 15.43 ERA, and 3.14 WHIP. It could be that Cobb is just rusty after signing late in March, but obviously right now he can't be used. It's one thing to get lit up by Boston (start #1), but this isn't a great Tigers offense he faced Thursday. Cobb should eventually be okay, as his velocity is about on par with expectations, but clearly location and movement are issues. If you're a believer and a risk taker and want to use him in Draft Kings next time out (4/24 vs TB most likely), just make sure you get him cheap (I'm talking under $6k).
Jeimer Candelario (3B-DET) - The prize in the deal sending Justin Wilson to the Cubs, Candelario has settled in nicely as the everyday third baseman and now, #2 hitter. Everyone hit Alex Cobb and the Baltimore relievers on Thursday, but Candelario still went a notable 4-for-4 with his third home run, a walk, an three RBI. The monster day took up to an impressive .284/.360/.537 and he now has eight hits, including three home runs in his last three games to raise his BA 84 points in short order. Candelario is walking a solid 9.3% of the time while striking out a reasonable (these days) 24% of the time. He's managed to steal a paltry ONE base since 2013, so speed isn't a part of his game, but we may be seeing him develop into a solid OBP / 20 home runs hitter. The ideal #2 guy in an order.
Leonys Martin (OF-DET) - Like many Detroit hitters, Martin had a strong day against the Orioles Thursday, going 3-for-5 in the leadoff spot with four RBI and three runs while falling just a double short of the cycle. The monster day lifted him to .295/.358/.475, a whopping 119-point OPS improvement in one outing. Martin has four multi-hit games in his last six, and though he hasn't drawn a walk since April 9, Martin's BB% is still 9%, a nice improvement given his career best in a full season is 7.6%. He's striking out less, so look for him to remain in the leadoff, at least against RHP. Martin is just 0-for-10 versus southpaws, but given his recent success, perhaps he gets to face them a bit more going forward just to see how he performs.
Marco Gonzales (SP-SEA) - The deal sending Gonzales to Baltimore and Tyler O'Neill to St. Louis looks to have serious bust potential for the Mariners. Gonzales allowed three runs (none earned) on four hits with one walk and an impressive eight strikeouts, but he was pulled with two outs in the fifth inning. Gonzalez actually lowered his ERA from 8.24 to 5.94 in this one, but batters are still hitting him at a .329 clip, which has been more than enough to offset a solid 19:3 K:BB in 16.2 innings. Gonzales has always had excellent control, but given his upper-80s fastball, when he misses, it gets crushed, and in his first three starts, just 9.5% of his batted balls were classified as soft. Rest were medium or hard. I'm just not seeing much, if any, upside.
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