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MLB Barometer: A's Anderson Acing the Test

Eric Nehs

Eric Nehs

Eric Nehs writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

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Brett Anderson P, OAK - In two starts since returning from the disabled list, Anderson has allowed just one run in 14 innings of work while striking out 11 and only walking two. His average fastball velocity (91.7 mph) might not be has high as he was averaging in his first two seasons, but it a represents a significant improvement from last year (90.4 mph). Anderson has not been afraid to use his slider and curveball so far using them at a 24.9 percent and 14.4 percent clip respectively. A 9.4 percent swinging strike rate would represent a career high, and he would represent an upgrade for owners in any league. Pick him up for the stretch run, and don't hesitate to use him in any matchup.

Tyler Colvin OF/1B, COL - Colvin went 2-for-4 with a double, a home run and three RBI on Saturday night against the Padres to improve his slash line to .294/.335/.557. The home run was his 16th of the season, and he now has 61 RBI in just 353 plate appearances. After a dismal 2011 campaign with the Cubs, Colvin has reestablished his value in Coors Field, where he has an 1.022 OPS. Jim Tracy has finally decided to play him everyday, as he has shown he can handle left-handed pitchers (.776 OPS). His .354 BABIP is more than likely to regress, but his 21.2 percent line drive rate is a career high and he has been producing more fly balls than ground balls. A strikeout rate of 24.4 percent is too high, but he still provides considerable power (.263 ISO) for owners needing some down the stretch.

Carlos Villanueva P, TOR - Villanueva delivered another strong outing on Thursday night against the Rays improving his record to 7-4 for the year. He has a 3.11 ERA/4.01 FIP/3.85 xFIP in 98.2 innings pitched with an impressive 9.21 K/9. In nine of his 11 starts, Villanueva has allowed three runs or less and he should remain in the rotation for the rest of the month. His 10.5 percent swinging strike rate indicates that his strikeout rare won't see much regression over the next month, but his 83.7 percent strand rate is just a little high. I wouldn't expect him to finish with an ERA between 3.00-3.10, but he should provide six innings per start with five to six strikeouts a game and an ERA somewhere between 3.50 and 3.75.

Jeff Keppinger 1B/2B/3B, TB - Keppinger had a strong month of August, hitting .369/.382/.512 with two home runs in 84 plate appearances for the Rays. With six home runs and a .331/.380/.452 line for the season in just 309 plate appearances, the veteran infielder has put together his strongest career year. He is certainly a plus in daily leagues where owners can plug him in against left-handed pitching, against whom he has produced an 1.016 OPS. He does not have the power numbers one would like to see at the corner positions, but he is worth a look at second base. With September call-ups, it might be possible that he loses some playing time. However, I expect Joe Maddon will be sitting the slumping Carlos Pena as the playoffs are on the line, which should only benefit Keppinger.

Caution/Check Status

Daniel Murphy 1B/2B, NYM - Murphy has produced a solid line for most of the season, as he is currently hitting .285/.325/.393 with four home runs in 504 plate appearances. However, his weak power numbers have dropped even farther down since he has not had an extra base hit since August 7th. His .108 ISO is a career low, and is within the bottom twenty of all qualified hitters. Murphy's 3.9 percent HR/FB ratio is a career low, but a career worst fly ball rate of 25 percent is mostly to blame. Ronny Cedeno has started to see more time at second base against left-handed pitchers, and I would not be surprised to see Murphy's playing time to decrease in September. In terms of 2013, Murphy's defense is a liability and the organization could decide to go in another direction over the winter.

Tyler Cloyd P, PHI - With Vance Worley missing the rest of the season because of bone chips in his right elbow, Cloyd will take his spot for the rest of the season. In his major league debut on Wednesday against the Mets, Cloyd delivered a solid performance allowing three runs on seven hits in six innings. His stuff is below average as he relies on a cutter in the 82-86 mph range, and his fastball averages 87.8 mph to go along with a decent curveball and change-up. His 2.35 ERA in triple-A this year was the product of an 84.8 percent strand rate and a .226 BABIP. Look for him to only strikeout 5.00 per nine innings, and as a result I would be surprised to see him finish with an ERA below 4.50 this month.

Omar Infante 2B, DET - Since being acquired by the Tigers in late July, Infante has not been able to sustain the success he had with the Marlins for the first half of the season. His overall line has dropped to .280/.303/.435 after going .264/.281/.419 for Detroit in 137 plate appearances. He has been able to maintain his power with an identical .155 ISO thanks to three home runs to bring his total to eleven. Looking at his batted ball profile, this seems to be largely a luck issue in terms of BABIP. His profile is identical to the one he produced with the Marlins during the first half, and he has improved his strikeout rate. Infante should continue to provide solid production at the second base position down the stretch, except for owners in OBP leagues. For owners in daily drafts, he is a much better fit against left-handed pitching, where he has an .872 OPS (.688 OPS against RHP). 

Jordan Zimmermann P, WAS - Zimmermann was knocked around by the Cardinals on Saturday but did not earn a decision. He allowed eight runs on eight hits, two home runs and a walk in 3.2 innings of work and saw his ERA increase to 3.01 for the year. A 3.60 FIP and 3.80 xFIP indicates that Zimmermann should continue to see some more regression over the next month, and he has looked like a starter who has begun to wear down posting a 4.39 ERA in August. His walk rate remains strong (1.80 BB/9 and 69 percent first pitch strike percentage), but opponents are now hitting line drives at a rate greater than 24 percent. His 9 percent swinging strike rate indicates that his strikeout rate might improve, but owners should be wary of using the right-hander for the rest of the season if he has another poor performance this coming week.

Downgrade

Fernando Abad P, HOU - Abad was moved from his LOOGY role in the Astros bullpen to a spot in the starting rotation last month. In his second start for the Astros on Friday, the Reds smacked around the left-hander to the tune of six runs on nine hits in 4.1 innings pitched. Abad has a 4.83 ERA in 31.1 innings pitched this season with a 5.22 FIP and 4.47 xFIP, but it is hard to see where the Astros thought Abad would be an upgrade in the rotation. He has 5.94 FIP and 5.19 xFIP against right-handed hitters (4.23 FIP and 3.49 xFIP against left-handed hitters), and right-handed hitter have a .446 wOBA against Abad this season. Abad does not have value in any format, and I would not take a chance on him even in daily leagues.

Eric Thames OF, SEA - Since being acquired by the Mariners at the trade deadline for the Blue Jays, Thames has been installed as the starting right fielder and has hit four home runs with a .225/.258/.438 line in 94 plate appearances (.236/.277/.392 for the year). Thames has shown an impressive power numbers with an 11.5 percent HR/FB ratio (seven home runs for the year), but his inability to make consistent contact prohibits him from being an impact fantasy player. He has a 13 percent swinging strike rate this season, which has lead to a 27.2 percent strikeout rate. His 37.9 percent chase rate is too high, and has contributed to a below average 5.1 percent walk rate. The good news is that these skills can be improved upon, but those adjustments will be worked sometime before 2013.

Mark Rogers P, MIL - Rogers pitched well for the Brewers on Friday night to improve his record to 3-1 for the year. He allowed just one run in 5.1 innings work to lower his ERA to 3.92. However, the Brewers announced that Rogers will be shut down for the rest of the season because of an innings cap. The 26 year-old rookie compiled a 3.82 FIP, a 3.70 xFIP and 9.46 K/9 in his 39 innings of work for the Brewers.  While he does not hold any more value for the rest of the season, Rogers looks as if he will be a part of the Brewers rotation plans for 2013. His 10.3 percent swinging strike rate and 61.2 percent first pitch strike percentage indicate his peripherals, including a lower than expected 3.46 BB/9, were not an aberration despite the small sample size. Rogers should be on owners' radars in March of next season.

Michael Young IF/DH, TEX - Another downgrade that has been months in the making, Young's 2012 campaign has been the worst of his career producing a weak .266/.298/.342 slash line with only four home runs in 530 plate appearances. His 3.8 percent HR/FB ratio is the worst of his career, but he has also been plagued by the worst fly ball rate of his career (23.8 percent) and highest ground ball rate (53.9 percent). His past exploits and role as a "clubhouse leader" have kept him in the starting lineup, but is numbers are historically bad for a DH (.278 wOBA). He is still owned in a ton of leagues (93.2 percent on ESPN and 85 percent on Yahoo), but there are a ton of hitters on the waiver wire who could provide more production at this point.

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