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Who to Buy and Who to Sell

   by ASA - 05/03/2007

Buy

Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants: Young Giant right-hander Matt Cain has been the most unhittable pitcher in all of baseball this year and there’s no reason to believe that won’t continue. Cain’s 1-1 record doesn’t stand out from the crowd but a closer look at the stats suggests his place in baseball is among the elite. He has yet to allow more than five hits in any of his five starts this year and has allowed three or fewer hits in four of his five starts. Cain boasts a 1.54 ERA and a miniscule 0.83 WHIP while holding opposing batters to a nifty .109 batting average. His record would be better if he could get a little help from his teammates. He has received an average of 2.4 runs per game in support from the offense and the San Francisco bullpen has coughed up three of his leads.



Carlos Zambrano, Chicago Cubs: Chicago ace Carlos Zambrano has gotten off to a slow start this year but expect him to turn it around. He has been one of the National League’s best pitchers the last three years and will revert to his previous form soon, if he hasn’t already. Zambrano’s ERA has gone down a full two points over his last two starts as he has allowed just three earned runs in his last 12.1 innings of work. Walks and the home run ball have been his undoing this year but history suggests that won’t be the case all season. Zambrano owns a 1.3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season but boasted a 2.2:1 ratio in his previous three years combined. Additionally, his home run total should decrease as the season progresses. In the three years prior to this season, Zambrano allowed just 0.57 home runs per game. This year he is allowing 1.3 home runs per outing. That won’t continue.



Gil Meche, Kansas City Royals: Kansas City was ridiculed mercilessly following the 5-year, $55 million signing of Gil Meche in the offseason. While Meche hadn’t really done anything to merit that kind of cash prior to this season, he’s earning every penny this year. He has allowed more than three earned runs just once in six starts and hasn’t surrendered a run in half of his starts. Perhaps his most valuable trait is his ability to go deep into games. Meche is seventh in baseball with 41.1 innings pitched, which bodes well for the Royals since their bullpen is 29th in all of baseball with a 5.16 ERA.



Sell

Jason Marquis, Chicago Cubs: Jason Marquis’s transition from Cardinal to Cub has been a good one thus far but don’t expect him to maintain his current pace. Marquis is fresh off a season that saw him post a 6.02 ERA and has recorded an ERA under 3.50 just once in his seven previous years. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is nearly even and eventually his poor control is going to come back to haunt him.



Doug Davis, Arizona Diamondbacks: Veteran lefty Doug Davis has also enjoyed success with his change of scenery with a 2-2 record and a 2.79 ERA. Control problems have plagued Davis throughout his career, though, and will continue to this season. He walked 102 batters in just 203.1 innings last year and has given free passes 16 times in 29 innings this year. Davis has also been getting hit hard despite the impressive ERA. He has allowed 36 hits in 29 innings and opponents are hitting .308 against him on the season. Davis might look like a solid play at this point but don’t expect it to last.



Dontrelle Willis, Florida Marlins: Dontrelle Willis leads the National League with five wins but that is primarily due to some of baseball’s best run support. The Marlins are averaging 8.2 runs per game in Willis’ six starts and 9.4 runs per game in his five wins. This offensive production has disguised his 5.35 ERA, 1.59 WHIP and .312 opposition batting average. Florida is averaging just 4.9 runs per game in every game not started by Willis so eventually the southpaw’s luck will run out. Don’t let Willis’ impressive record fool you.

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