Buy Low, Sell High: Hot start for Pence likely to cool over summer
Good health, dave Duncan should help Chris Carpenter tame streak of wildness
Derrek Lee is a .293 hitter after June 1 throughout the course of his career
Hunter Pence is striking out at a career-high 22.8 percent clip this year
There's a name for people who don't make trades during the year, but it's not fit to print on a family-friendly column. A healthy league is one with many trades, and all season long you can come here to get the kind of edge you need to get ahead ...
Chris Carpenter, Cardinals: I wouldn't blame anyone for giving up on Carpenter at this point. He's getting hammered (eight hits to the Padres? That's usually what they get in a week) because he's been wild within the strike zone. Opponents are hitting .297 against him right now, and while that will come down, Carpenter has to make the necessary adjustments to make it really come down. His line drive rate is sitting at 23.7 percent right now (it was 16.7 percent last year). The good news is that his velocity is actually a little better than it was a year ago, so there's no reason to think he's not 100 percent healthy. And you'd have to think that between him and Dave Duncan, they'll be able to make the necessary tweaks to get him back on track. It's reasonable to expect Carpenter to be one of the 20 best starters in fantasy baseball from here on in.
Derrek Lee, Orioles: He should be coming off the DL as soon as he's eligible (Wednesday), and this is usually the time of year when Lee's bat really starts to heat up. Yes, it's a little more complicated than that. He's 35. He's still adjusting in his first year in the American League. But over the course of his career, he's a .259 hitter until May 31 with a home run every 24.1 at-bats. From June on, he's a .293 hitter with an HR every 19.8 ABs. Those splits are even more exaggerated over the past two years: .240, 30.4 before June 1, .302, 17.3 after. Considering the Orioles have left his nestled in the third spot while he hit only .231 with four homers over the season's first 40 games, they should put him right back there when he returns, and hitting between Nick Markakis and Vlad Guerrero is a nice place to be.
Hunter Pence, Astros: I hesitate to put Pence here, just because people get better at pretty much everything in life when they're 28 years old. But none of Pence's peripherals suggest that his batting average on balls in play this year should be 50-plus points higher than usual. His line drive rate is 14.4 percent -- it was 14.6 percent each of the past two seasons. His groundball-to-flyball ratio is at 1.49, just a bit lower than his career average (1.58). And he's actually hitting for less power; his isolated power is .170, 22 points below his career mark, and he's hitting a home run on 10.9 percent of his flyballs, far lower than his 15.0 percent career number. So a jump from a BABIP in the low .300s the past three seasons to .364. Expect his current .301 batting average to sink back around .280 as the year goes on (it will be even lower if his strikeout rate continues to hover around a career-worst 22.8 percent). And considering his average power, no-better-than-decent speed and terrible supporting cast, the arrow is pointing down for Pence.
Josh Collmenter, Diamondbacks: This isn't so much in reaction to his bombing in Colorado on Monday, because those things happen. I touched on Collmenter on Twitter last week (yeah, that's right, I'm on Twitter, thanks for not following me, jerks). I'd love to see the guy succeed, because baseball doesn't have enough starting pitchers who look like extras from The Big Lebowski. Obviously, Collmenter isn't going to maintain the 1.19 ERA he's posted thus far. He'll be lucky to hang in the mid-4s once he gets around the league a bit more. The biggest reason for his success is a bizarre, über-over-the-top delivery that's unlike anyone else throwing in the bigs right now. But funky deliveries only stay funky for so long. Collmenter has No. 5 starter stuff on his best days. He probably won't be worth a roster spot in the second half of the year, so get what you can for him now.
Do you have questions? Concerns? Unflinching boredom? Following me on Twitter (@GGramling_SI) won't help, but you should do it anyway.
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