There is finally a week of MLB games in the books. It might have two weeks for MLB to get all the teams on the field and playing, but how nice was it to see some action that actually counted? Did we learn anything in the first week of action? We learned that closers all over the place will have a hard time keeping their jobs if they keep this up. We learned how damaging losing one of your bullpen arms can be (see the Red Sox disastrous meltdown in the 9th with Andrew Bailey on the shelf after thumb surgery). We also learned that miracles can happen as the Mets started the year 3-0. What else did we learn that you might be able to apply to your Daily Joust fantasy baseball teams? So glad you asked.
LOSER OF THE WEEK
Anyone who rostered Clayton Kershaw ($319,000 DJ Salary) on their DailyJoust club.
Kershaw, suffering from the flu, managed to toss just three scoreless innings before he had to remove himself from his Opening Day start. You pat him on the back for giving it the old college try, but he simply killed everyone who had him active, and that was a large amount of folks given that Kershaw was coming off a season in which he led NL hurlers in wins (21 – tied with Ian Kennedy), ERA (2.28) and strikeouts (248). Kershaw should be ready to take his turn in the rotation Tuesday in the Dodgers homer opener and the expectation is that he will be able to pitch as long as his performance dictates.
Yoenis Cespedes ($90K): His opening series, highlighted by that 462 foot bomb he blasted to dead center field, showed just what type of hitter Cespedes can be. However, pitchers will find his weaknesses. They will exploit his weaknesses. His swing is still very long and has holes. He’s never faced this level of competition on a daily basis. Speaking of that, he’s never played a season with 162 games. Cespedes has produced a nice prologue, but this book still has 25 chapters to go.
Zack Cozart ($76K): The Reds’ shortstop killed it in Week 1 going 6-for-11 with a homer and four RBI. That’s as good as it’s going to get. Expectations are very high for Cozart heading into his first full season. The good news is that his recovery from Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing arm is complete. The bad news is that he isn’t as good a hitter as some think. Just look at his minor league numbers that include a .270 batting average, .332 OBP and .421 SLG. In 506 career games he hit 50 homers, stole 55 bases and produced that blah slash line. He’s simply not a prime time performer with a bat in his hand.
Rafael Furcal ($87K): After four games and 19 at-bats Furcal is hitting .526. As recently as 2010 he hit .300 with 22 steals, but he also appeared in 97 games that season, one of three years in the past four campaigns in which he didn’t appear in 100 games. That’s the key for the 34 year old – health. When he’s out there he can still produce, but the battle to drag his body out onto the field continues to be one that he often loses. Ride the hot hand, but realize that it’s all downhill from here.
Nick Markakis ($98K): Worries about his recovery from offseason abdominal surgery have been put to rest. It’s just three games, but Markakis has a triple, two homers an is hitting .556. One of the more stable commodities in the game, Markakis has produced at least 182 hits in each of the past five years. He plays everyday which helps to lead to the production, but he’s also failed to hit more than 18 homers the past three years, has seen his RBI total fail to hit 75 the past two years, and the last time he scored 80 runs was 2009. He’s consolid, but he’s unlikely to become a megastar in 2012.
Through three games the Orioles are the best staff in baseball with a 1.00 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP as they led the club to a 3-0 start against the Twins. The real question though is – are the Orioles arms that good or are the Twins bats that bad? Go with the second choice. The Twins just didn’t hit the ball – at all – in the opening series of games. Here’s a quick run down of each of the Orioles hurlers who started those three games.
* Note: All three hurlers were/are great values given that the elite arms can approach or surpass $300,000.
Jake Arrieta ($151K): Win, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BBs, 4 Ks
Jason Hammel ($144K): Win, 8 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 3 BBs, 5 Ks
Tommy Hunter ($150K): Win, 7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks
All three dominated the Twins and cost virtually nothing. If you were crazy enough to start any of them, the payoff was massive. Alas, none profile as strong long term options.
Arrieta is the best arm on this list. However, he struggled mightily at times during his first two seasons, an eventually had to have elbow surgery. He throw hard but still only struck out batters at a league average rate last season. He also walked batters like he was Jonathan Sanchez with a 4.45 per nine mark. Through 226.2 big league innings he has a 4.73 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 5.14 K/9 and 2.00 K/BB. It doesn’t get more bland than that.
Hammel is slightly intriguing. Freed from Colorado, perhaps he will live up to expectations with the Orioles (though pitching in the AL East isn’t exactly going to be easy). Unfortunately he’s coming off a putrid season that resulted in career worsts in K/9 (he lost nearly two batters off the mark he posted in 2009-10), while his BB/9 rate climbed by more than a batter per nine innings. He does a decent job in limiting the fly balls, but nothing in this skill set raises the flag up the pole at the moment.
Hunter is as average as you get when you look at his skills – worse than that actually. His K/9 rate is 4.96 for his career, more than two batters below the league average. At least he doesn’t beat himself with the walk so the result is a rather impressive 3.00 K/BB ratio. Still, he doesn’t miss any bats, is slightly below the league average with a 1.00 GB/FB mark (1.10 is the league mark), and he was never able to convince the Rangers to given him more than 128 innings of work in a season which should tell you something.
Today you can sign up for the King Arthur’s $50 Free Roll on DailyJoust. No entry free is required to get a chance to play the game and earn your free chance to take home part of the $50 prize pool. All games that start at 7:05 PM EDT or later are open to add players to your daily fantasy baseball squad. So get over to DailyJoust, put together your one day lineup, and get ready to win some free $.
By Ray Flowers