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MLB Barometer: Tough Sledding For Santana

Eric Nehs

Eric Nehs

Eric Nehs writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.


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Jaime Garcia P, STL - Garcia was very impressive in his first start off the disabled list Sunday against the Pirates. He went eight strong innings in which he allowed just two unearned runs on five hits with 10 strikeouts. Garcia averaged only 88.5 mph with his fastball, but he was able to record 13 swinging strikes (11.5 percent swinging strike rate for season). His 2.57 FIP and 3.44 xFIP indicate that Garcia has deserved an ERA lower than 4.00 this season, as his .351 BABIP and 66.5 percent strand rate have been unfavorable. Furthermore, his aforementioned swinging strike rate and 64.6 percent first pitch strike rate are the best of his career. Expect improved peripherals over the next month, and his 54.5 percent ground ball makes him a must add in any league.

Ichiro Suzuki OF, NYY - Ichiro had his best offensive night of the season in Sunday night's game against the Red Sox in which he went 3-for-4 with two home runs to bring his total to seven for the year (most since 2009). Since joining the Yankees last month, Ichiro has produced a .322/.344/.506 line in 92 plate appearances with three home runs and four stolen bases. For owners in non-OBP leagues, his value has gone up dramatically since moving to Yankee Stadium. His three home runs have been hit in the park despite producing a fly ball rate lower than with the Mariners. His 1.1 percent walk rate will improve considering his chase rate has actually improved since the trade, and it would be his lowest since 2006.

Hishasi Iwakuma P, SEA - Iwakuma delivered a strong start on Friday night against the Twins, allowing just one unearned run in seven innings of work. In eight starts this season, he has a 3.19 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 48 innings, which comes out to a 3.79 ERA for the year (4.92 FIP and 3.94 xFIP). An 80.1 percent strand rate and .271 BABIP have helped his overall numbers, but owners should also take into account a 21 percent HR/FB ratio that is due to regress over the next month and a half. His ground ball rate of 51 percent is strong, and pitching in Safeco Field is just as good of a reason as any to pick up the import. The only question remains is why Eric Wedge was so against using him as a starter at the beginning of the year.

Brett Wallace 1B/3B, HOU - Wallace has looked like a different hitter since rejoining the Astros at the end of July. He has produced a .293/.383/.500 line with five home runs and 11 RBI in 107 plate appearances this season. Some detractors might point out that his .412 BABIP will see some regression and his 31.2 percent strikeout rate is worrisome, however it looks as if his newfound power is not an aberration. His 21.7 percent HR/FB is a career best, but he has improved his fly ball rate from 26.7 percent to 39.7 percent. In addition, his 31 percent line drive indicates that his BABIP might not regress as one might initially believe. He will continue to play every day at one of the corner spots, and should continue to hold his own at a corner infield spot in deeper leagues.

Caution/Check Status

Erik Bedard P, PIT - Bedard was charged with his 13th loss of the season in Saturday's start against the Cardinals after allowing five runs in 4.2 innings of work. The veteran left-hander has struggled since June and has seen his ERA jump to 4.76 for the year. I think Bedard still might have some value for owners down the stretch, as his 3.90 FIP and 4.05 xFIP indicate he has pitched better than his numbers indicate. Despite an increase in his walk rate from 3.34 BB/9 to 4.02 BB/9 this year, Bedard is essentially the same pitcher from 2011 except with a lower strand rate (67.2 percent) and higher BABIP (.316). His chase rate is identical, and his first pitch strike and swinging strike percentages have actually improved from last year.

Luis Cruz 3B/SS, LAD - Cruz has filled in admirably on the left side of the infield for the Dodgers producing a .286/.329/.474 slash line in 144 plate appearances with four home runs and two stolen bases. His 39.7 percent chase rate is slightly troubling, but he makes enough contact to maintain batting average over .275 for the rest of the season. It is unclear whether he will lose some time to Jerry Hariston, who is eligible to return from the DL in a week, but he is a solid option for owners looking at shortstop help. Considering his power numbers have improved over the last few seasons in Triple-A, it might be reasonable to believe that his .188 ISO will not regress. However, his .211 ISO in Triple-A this season might just be a product of the PCL.

Kyle Kendrick P, PHI - Kendrick had a fantastic week with 15 shutout innings against the Brewers and Marlins this week. He was able to improve his record to 6-9 while lowering his ERA to 4.20 for the year with 111.1 innings total. Despite his recent success, Kendrick has improved from last season because of his ability to miss more bats (career best 8.8 percent swinging strike rate). However, his FIP (4.25) and xFIP (4.62) indicate he will probably have his ERA hover around 4.20 for the rest of the season as his walk (3.31 BB/9) and ground ball rates (42.8 percent) are considered average. I would also expect his HR/FB ratio to regress back to its 11.4 percent career rate.

Yunel Escobar SS, TOR - Escobar's numbers have plummeted since the beginning of August since the Blue Jays had to move him to the middle of the lineup because of various injuries. With a .185/.243/.200 slash line this month, his overall numbers have dropped to .245/.294/.327 in 486 plate appearances. Escobar has been chasing pitches out of the zone at a career high rate (28.1 percent), which has cut his walk rate in half. However, his batted ball data remains similar to last season so it is possible to see some significant improvement over the coming month. Expect his HR/FB ratio to remain stable for the rest of the season, as his 7.6 percent ratio is just below his career rate of 8 percent.

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Adam Dunn 1B/DH, CHW - Much has been made about Dunn's comeback season by the media and Hawk Harrelson, but Dunn has not been very productive over the last month of the season hitting .176/.270/.397 along with four home runs in 74 plate appearances. There is no denying that Dunn's power has returned with a career best 31.3 percent HR/FB ratio, but his batting average has been seriously hurting owners as well. With a second straight season with a BABIP under .245, owners should consider this batted ball rate the new normal for Dunn. His strikeout rate of 33.9 percent hurts his overall value in daily leagues, and I would bet his HR/FB ratio regresses to a ratio closer to his 21.2 percent career rate.

Johan Santana P, NYM - Santana was bombed by the Nationals in his start on Friday to the tune of six runs on seven hits and two home runs in five innings of work. In his last five starts, which included a stint on the disabled list for an ankle injury, Santana has allowed six runs or more in each of those starts along with eight home runs in just 19 innings. He has been able to record swinging strikes despite the decline in velocity, but his command has been lacking of most of the season. His zone percentage (44.3 percent) and 58.9 percent first pitch strike rate are the lowest of his career. Furthermore, MLB.com reported that the organization is considering shutting down the veteran at some point in the near future. I'm certain Santana can string together a few solid starts, but it does not sound as if that window has already closed.

Carl Crawford LF, BOS - Crawford opted on the advice of Dr. James Andrews and will have Tommy John elbow surgery Thursday. It is a shame for fantasy owners who have been waiting for his return, considering his solid production in 125 plate appearances (.282/.306/.479 line with three home runs and five stolen bases). We'll have a better timeframe on his return date after the surgery.

Samuel Deduno P, MIN - While Deduno's 4-1 record and 3.33 ERA suggest he might be a candidate in some formats, but a 5.40 FIP and 5.08 xFIP are all one needs to know about the 29 year-old rookie. He has been extremely lucky producing a .254 BABIP and stranding runners at an 82 percent rate. He does not record many strikeouts (5.87 K/9 and 6.6 percent swinging strike rate). Deduno's one above average skill is generating ground balls at an above average rate (57.1 percent), but a walk rate of 7.04 BB/9 is stunningly terrible. Deduno is not worth a roster spot, even in the deepest of AL-only leagues. It is only a matter of time before his the magic runs out, and his ERA balloons to a figure closer to his DIPS.

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