Here are seven players for your consideration to either acquire or send packing.
Yovani Gallardo – It has been an ugly beginning for Gallardo, as he has allowed 12 runs (11 earned) in 18 IP. His BABIP is a normal .296 and his K/9, which jumped from 8.24 to 9.89 last year, is back to 7.50 after three starts in 2010. But Gallardo has been hurt by a below-average strand rate and some early problems with gopher balls. He has a 64.2 LOB% and an 18.8 HR/FB rate. Gallardo has a lifetime 76.4 LOB% and a 10.3 HR/FB rate. His xFIP of 3.89 is right in line with last year’s 3.76. Other positive signs for Gallardo so far include an increased GB% (50.9) and a drop in BB/9 (down 0.56).
Casey McGehee – There are going to be no shortage of McGehee owners looking to sell high, figuring that neither his .366 BABIP nor his 21.1 HR/FB rate is going to last. But there are reasons to be encouraged about McGehee’s start, too. He has nearly tripled his BB/K ratio, thanks to a more patient approach at the plate. McGehee has a 35.7 Swing% as he has swung at fewer pitches both out of the zone (20.1 to 12.2) and in (64.0 to 58.7). His increased patience has led to an improved Contact%, and his 88.3 rate puts him in the top 20 percent of batters in baseball. Last year McGehee hit fastballs well but struggled against off-speed pitches. This year he is punishing both curve balls and sliders. Acquiring McGehee now will take some finesse and certainly an owner should not pay based on his current numbers. But I like his chances to exceed his (prorated) preseason projections going forward.
Mark Reynolds – Perhaps no player in recent fantasy baseball history had more naysayers coming off a 44-HR season than Reynolds. Even those who expected Reynolds to maintain his power were less sure of his ability to match last year’s AVG or SB totals. The end result was Reynolds being one of the players with the biggest discrepancy in draft results. Some considered him a first-rounder while others had him as the eighth-best third baseman. After 14 games he sits with a .220 AVG and just 1 SB. But Reynolds is not going to maintain either of those paces going forward. His BB/K rate has increased to 0.59 after a 0.34 showing last year. And with a lifetime .338 BABIP, Reynolds will definitely increase his current .207 mark. His HR, R and RBI numbers prorate to similar totals as he had last year. Expect Reynolds to pick up 35 points of average going forward. And while he will not match last year’s SB totals, he should once again reach double digits.
Chris Coghlan – Owners drafted last year’s Rookie of the Year expecting him to provide a healthy AVG. But a .179 BABIP has produced just a .140 AVG. While Coghlan is certain to increase his BABIP, it is unlikely he can come close to matching last year’s .321 AVG. RoS ZiPS projects him to hit just .278 the rest of the way. And if Coghlan continues to struggle at the plate, a drop in the batting order will come, hurting his R and SB numbers. He has already lost the leadoff spot to Cameron Maybin.
Tommy Hanson – In his rookie season Hanson outperformed both his FIP and xFIP by substantial margins. He is doing it again so far in 2010, perhaps enough to encourage people that it is a repeatable skill on his part. But Hanson is giving up more walks and home runs this season. Right now he is being saved by an 89.1 LOB%. Last year only three qualified pitchers had a LOB% over 80, led by J.A. Happ and his 85.2 rate. Hanson strikes out a ton of batters but once his strand rate regresses, look for his ERA to head towards 4.00 territory. Even with an ERA that high, Hanson is still a valuable commodity. Still, look to see if you can leverage his name value and hot start into a good return.
Luke Hochevar – Last year Hochevar had horrible results despite solid peripherals, which led some analysts to tout him as a sleeper for 2010. And sure enough, he is 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA after three starts. But now his luck is good and his peripherals are so-so (or worse), making him a trade candidate. While Hochevar is getting a bunch of ground balls, his strikeouts are down, his walks are up and he is getting fewer swinging strikes. Hochevar is thriving because his HR rate is one-third of what it was in 2009 and his strand rate is 11.6 percent higher than his career average. Hochevar’s FIP (4.14) pegs him as a below-average pitcher and his xFIP (4.69) shows him as one to avoid.
Jon Garland – The move to San Diego has gotten off to a rough start for Garland, who is 0-2 with a 3.60 ERA. And both FIP (6.41) and xFIP (5.45) think he is even worse. His cutter and curve, which were such effective pitches last year with the Dodgers, are getting hammered. But I like Garland to rebound. His current BB/9 of 6.00 is over twice his lifetime mark and should regress significantly. Meanwhile, Garland’s K/9 is the highest it has been since his rookie season. And playing in Petco makes it unlikely his HR/FB rate will continue to be at its current career-high of 16.7 percent. My hunch is that he beats his projected RoS ZiPS in W (9), ERA (4.25) and Ks (100).