It's Labor Day so hopefully you are all spending time with the family. Or you're sitting at the pool, BBQ'ing, drinking out of the keg, out of a paper bag, whatever... hell, I hope you're doing all the things I'm not doing as I work away. Part of that working fest this Monday is me providing a review of a handful of pitchers and batters that are in the news. None of them are really big names, figured it was apropos to deal more with lesser names on Labor Day, but that doesn't mean they aren't names you should know.
Kevin Correia has been good of late. Over his last five outings for the Twins he's allowed seven earned runs and gone at least 6.2 innings in each outing. On the year he's still nothing great, he's 9-10 with a 4.18 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and 5.0 K/9, but he can help folks in most league formats right now with the way he is pitching.
Nathan Eovaldi has been very solid this year for the Marlins with a 3.40 ERA and 1.29 WHIP over 14 starts. If we remove his August 16th start against the Giants, when he allowed 12 hits and nine earned runs over three innings, here is what his numbers look like over his other 13 starts: 2.45 ERA, 1.14 WHIP. Not bad at all.
Joe Kelly has a 2.82 ERA, 1.38WHIP, an a mere 6.0 K/9 mark. So why am I mentioning him? Have you seen what he has done lately? Over his last nine starts he's allowed more than two earned runs one time, and in those nine games, get this, he's allowed a total of 10 earned runs. Not a misprint. He doesn't have the skills to keep this up, in fact he doesn't have the skills to ever do this over a 9-game stretch, but there it is. The last two months say trust it. Everything else says do not.
Mike Leake is 11-6 with a 3.51 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. If you told his owners those would be his numbers five months ago they would have been psyched to draft him in the reserve rounds in mixed leagues. His current owners likely don't feel that way. Leake has allowed 11 runs over his last two starts and he's permitted at least four earned runs in five of his last six starts. He's clearly listing to the point that he should be planted firmly on your bench. He's not an overly skilled pitcher so when he's missing his spots he's bound to get hut hard at times. If he makes 30 starts and has a 3.51 ERA you have to feel good about that. Sorry if you thought he was the 2.75 ERA arm we saw earlier in the year.
Danny Salazar has been fantastic this season. He's started six games with a 3.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 37 Ks in 33 innings. The real problem with Salazar has nothing to do with performance. It has to do with the kid gloves the Indians are treating him with. Salazar tossed 93 innings in the minors, a year after throwing 87.2 innings, and the Indians seem to be very worried about his innings count this season. As a result they've allowed him to work more than 18 outs just one time in six starts despite the fact that in the five games in which he threw 6.0 or fewer innings he's allowed a total of seven runs.
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Mike Aviles hit a grand slam on the weekend as he continues to have a solid season for the Indians. He's played all over the field – 12 games at second, 37 games at third, 44 games at shortstop and five games in the outfield – and boy does that make him valuable in deep leagues. He's also one homer and two steals away from a 10/10 season. Not lighting the world on fire of course, but not bad at all for a guy who has only 306 at-bats. Toss in his 39 RBIs and 49 runs scored and he's been a very productive, under the radar, ballplayer. Looks like he's batting average is gone, his current .261 is a three year high, but the rest of his game is solid.
Ike Davis has an oblique strain and the Mets will wait until Tuesday to render a decision on his outlook for the rest of the season. The early returns aren't good, and it sure seems like he could be done for the 2013 season. Davis was much improved in the second half as he hit .286 with 32 walks and just 28 strikeouts in 38 games. That BB/K rate switchover is huge if he could hold on to that (he's got a career mark of 0.50). Overall though it was another pathetic season as he hit .205 with a .334 SLG. Sorry Mets' and Davis owners but that is just embarrassing. He also hit only nine homers in 317 at-bats. It's back to square one with Davis meaning he shouldn't be drafted until the 20's next season. I'm talking rounds.
Todd Helton is 40 years old. Todd Helton was, at one point, a fantastical hitter. On Sunday he produced the 2,500th hit of his career, and even though he's been nothing remotely approaching a HOF level producer for more than five years, he can still get it done at times. Well, maybe. In an NL-only league. Over his last five games he's gone deep three time with eight RBIs and four runs scored. In the end, will he make the HOF? Maybe not, but Helton is one of only seven men who have ever player the game to have had at least 3,000 plate appearances with a slash line of .315/.415/.540 (he's at .317/.415/.540). The others? Try Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx, Ted Williams and Babe Ruth.
L.J. Hoes is an outfielder for the Astros. I felt like I had to make that point or folks may not have known who I was talking about. He's been playing regularly in the outfield and, while his performance may not have grabbed your attention, his play has been noteworthy for those in AL-only leagues. His .272 average isn't going to hurt/help anyone, but at this point of the season the batting average game is pretty much written in stone if you're playing in a roto league. He's shown little pop with one big fly in 30 games and he's driven in five runs. So what am I talking about – him being a solid option in AL-only leagues? In 30 games he's scored 18 runs and stolen seven bags. That's a 150 game pace of 80 runs and 35 steals. See what I mean?
Alex Presley is now with the Twins, and he figures to play pretty much every day the rest of the way. He made it happen in his first start with three hits, a run scored and one RBI (he was even caught stealing). In 660 career at-bats Presley has hit .264 with 16 homers, 19 steals, 50 RBIs and 84 runs scored. That's the type of guy, at this point in the season, that you hopefully emptied your remaining FAAB in AL-only leagues, even if there isn't a whole lot of upside to hang your hat on.
Darin Ruf has a lot of power. In 172 at-bat this season he's gone deep 12 times, a pace that would lead to 35 homers over 500 at-bats. He has no speed, he hasn't even attempted a steal in 61 big league games, and he's batting just .256 this season. Don't be fooled by the .333 average he threw up there in 12 games last season either as he's way more the .256 hitter we're seeing right now. The biggest issues is that the guy does Ryan Howard proud with all those strikeouts. Through 205 big league at-bats he has 74 Ks. Obviously, that's a 200 K pace in 600 at-bats. He had better keep that HR/F ratio over 25 percent cause you don't hold a starting spot in the big leagues very long if you have a 31.5 percent K-rate and you aren't swatting big flies.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answer everyone's questions.
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