Tale of the Tape: Kings, Rockets, and Pronks, Oh My!
Roger Clemens, SP, NYY: He's been pitching from behind in counts due to inconsistent command of his 89-91 mph fastball, but his splitter has been outstanding in his first two starts. With sharp, late break on the pitch, he's been able to finish off hitters. He has also shown he can take a little bit off his fastball and spot it for strikes. Problems with the fastball could be due to some difficulty pushing off the mound, as his lingering groin injury could be weakening his lower half. He's still had some gas left when the sixth inning comes around, but it remains to be seen if he'll be able to go that long every time out; there may be a bunch of five-inning performances mixed in. Yet, the most intriguing question may be the one posed in this hilarious spoof: Is Clemens going to pitch in the year 2057?
Here was his pitch count each inning versus the Pirates on June 9:
1st inning - 21 pitches
2nd inning - 23 pitches
3rd inning - 12 pitches
4th inning - 28 pitches
5th inning - 11 pitches
6th inning - 13 pitches
Felix Hernandez, SP, SEA: I'm not buying the theory that he's still hurt in some way. His curveball and slider have been terrific, and although his fastball command needs work, the pitch's velocity is what it should be. Rather, I think that Hernandez just has considerable maturing left to do as a pitcher before we can crown him again. Just like last year, Hernandez is leaning on his fastball too much early in the count to set hitters up, and they seem to be waiting on it. There's been more than one occasion when he's thrown a belt-high fastball while ahead in the count. When he goes to his off-speed pitches for an entire at-bat, the result is generally very positive because his stuff is just that nasty. It's important to remember he's only 21 years old and might need more seasoning before he correctly learns how to best use his repertoire.
Travis Hafner, 1B, CLE: He does appear to be pressing at the plate, as he's been out in front of off-speed pitches and chasing balls in the dirt. He's being caught flat-footed on many of his swings, resulting in more groundouts than usual. That said, he's also ripped some line drives right at defenders and hit a couple of fly outs to the warning track recently.
Andruw Jones, OF, ATL: Jones has been very off-balance at the plate; flailing at pitches with an uppercut swing and getting underneath balls for infield pop ups. Overall, his swing is extremely long -- he can't control his body and stop the momentum -- and he's stumbling after many of his cuts. During one of his at-bats on June 14 against the Twins, Jones actually hit Joe Mauer in the arm at the end of his follow-through. It does look like he's trying to swing for the fences every time up, and that's left him susceptible to both off-speed and outside pitches. He barely missed a homer inside the left-field foul pole on Friday night against the Indians.
Vernon Wells, OF, TOR: Wells' approach at the plate makes it look like his new contract will expire if he doesn't hit a home run within the first few pitches of an at-bat. He's been very impatient, swinging at the first pitch far too often and working himself into a hole by taking too many hacks early in the count. Please, if you happen to stop by the Rogers Centre, maybe you could toss him a baseball that reads: "Hey Mr. Dork, stop swinging at the first three pitches." On June 8 against the Dodgers, Wells saw a total of 10 pitches during an 0-for-4 showing. Perhaps the big day he had on Saturday at Levale Speigner's expense will get him started on the right track.
John Maine, SP, NYM: In Tuesday's outing against the Dodgers, Maine gave up back-to-back-to-back home runs to the seven, eight, and nine hitters in the lineup by throwing three consecutive high fastballs. Elevating his fastball -- and subsequently giving up long balls -- was a problem for Maine last season, so this is something to keep an eye on.
J.J. Hardy, SS, MIL: The power drought Hardy is going through is no joke. Opposing pitchers have adapted to Hardy's fastball-crushing ways, and are not giving him anything high to swing at. He's being fed a steady diet of pitches low and outside, resulting in plenty of singles ... and not much else. If you have someone in your league who still thinks Hardy is hitting 30 homers this season, get a deal done.
Kelvim Escobar, SP, LAA: He had his full arsenal working in his 14-strikeout start versus the Reds on Tuesday. Escobar's fastball stayed in the 95-mph range, and he had 8-10 mph difference between his fastball and changeup. The changeup was his nastiest pitch by far -- as he located it at will on the outside corner -- and he mixed in his splitter and curve with good command as well.
Hong-Chih Kuo, SP, LAD: Kuo has put up two very good starts in a row; getting ahead of hitters by locating a 90-92 mph fastball, as well as a backdoor slider, for consistent strikes. He rides the fastball high and inside to left-handers, finishes batters off with a plus slider that dives out of the zone and can mix in a changeup to keep them honest. To tell you the truth, I see some similarity to another left-handed pitcher, Oliver Perez, albeit with less velocity. I'm especially high on his prospects in NL-only leagues; and he could continue to be a nice source of strikeouts and spot starts in mixed leagues as well.
Bronson Arroyo, SP, CIN: He's having a lot of trouble commanding his curveball, often hanging it over the plate without much break. He also hasn't been able to locate his fastball early in the count and get control of his slider.
Dustin McGowan, SP, TOR: McGowan is doing a better job of getting ahead of opposing hitters; commanding his mid-90s fastball with consistency and locating his plus curve well. Overall, he's avoided three-ball counts, and is turning into a more economical pitcher. His keeper value in AL-only leagues is certainly back on the rise.
Mike Fontenot, 2B, CHC: Fontenot, a 2001 first-round pick of the Orioles, could be a mainstay in the Cubs lineup for the rest of the season if he can keep this up; and might even have value in mixed leagues. In his first legit chance in the big leagues, Fontenot has exhibited a knack for getting clutch hits; armed with a quick and compact stroke that steadily produces line drives.
Tom Herrera is a sports video logger and a fantasy sports analyst for TalentedMrRoto.com. E-mail him with your questions and comments at THerrera@talentedmrroto.com.
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