It’s Monday and I’m writing this report from the FSTA Conference in San Francisco. Don’t believe any of the reports of late night gallivanting… OK, maybe you can believe some of them. Regardless how many Vodka and Red Bull’s I pulled back on last night, there’s still plenty going on in the world of baseball that deserves my, and your, attention.
When does a demotion to the minor leagues mean a guy has gained value? When that player is a pitcher who is relieving but being looked at to join the starting rotation. That’s the situation with Andrew Cashner. A middle reliever for the Padres, he’s been sent down to stretch out his arm as the club has made the decision that they need a starter who isn’t 39 years old (have you seen some of the garbage that the Padres have been running out there this year?). Cashner was hitting 100 mph in his first start of the year against the Brewers (he lasted just 2.1 innings), and he could be back by the end of the month.
R.A. Dickey has been amazing since the start of the 2010 season. In that time Dickey has taken the hill 72 times leading to a 2.97 ERA for the Mets. How impressive is that number? Among NL hurlers who have tossed 400-innings since the start of the ’10 season, Dickey’s ERA is the 6th best mark in the NL – sixth. That mark is even lower this year at 2.44 as Dickey’s knuckler is simply nearly unhittable right now. Dickey has won nine games on the year including each of his last seven decisions and he’s picked up a win in each of his last four games. In those four contests he’s gone at least seven innings each time, has allowed a total of one run, and he’s working on a 24.2 inning scoreless streak. Most amazing of all? How about the fact that he’s racked up at least eight Ks in each of his last five outings and 78 in 81 innings on the year. Knuckle ballers just aren’t supposed to be able to do that. Truly impressed am I.
Felix Hernandez (back) will take the hill Tuesday for the Mariners after missing his last turn though the rotation. After allowing nine runs in his last two outings, an at least 10 hits in three of his last five starts, King Felix has the look of a guy who has been struggling with health for a while. Still, he has 81 Ks in 81.2 innings, and his 3.42 ERA and 1.26 WHIP aren’t awful by any means given his recent slump.
Daisuke Matsuzaka won 18 games with a 2.90 ERA. Since then, he’s been worse than replacement level, just look at the numbers: 16-16, 5.08 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 1.73 K/BB. He’s back with the Red Sox, and he did have eight Ks in five innings, but he’s got a ton of proving to do before I’d suggest anyone in a 10 or 12 team mixed league looked his way.
Kevin Millwood combined with five other Mariners pitchers to toss the 10th combined no-hitter in big league history last Friday. Why didn’t Millwood finish the game? He injured his groin making warmup tosses before the 7th inning. Good news out of Seattle in that Millwood might be able to make his next start an it’s also not likely that he will need a stint on the DL. Somehow Millwood has allowed a total of six earned runs in his last six outings. I smell a sell high opportunity here – don’t you?
Chris Sale lowered his ERA to 2.05 after eight shutout innings Saturday. He also lowered his WHIP to 0.92 for the Pale Hoes. Everyone knows how great he has been this year, but he’s been out of control of late. In his last five starts, all wins, Sale has allowed four runs. He’s also walked just seven batters while punching out 43 batters in 36.2 innings. Oh yeah, he’s also gone at least seven innings in 4-straight outings. All of this just makes that soap opera week with him being hurt, being demoted to the pen, being named the closer, and then being placed back in the rotation even more vexing. Here’s an interesting question to ponder – could a starting pitcher be sent to the bullpen and then win the Cy Young award in the same season? If Sale keeps up this pace we just might find out.
By Ray Flowers
It’s Friday, and that means a couple of things. First, the weekend is nearly upon us (thank goodness). Second, it’s time to get your wild party on. Third, it’s time to get ready for your weekend of fantasy baseball with DailyJoust.com.
DailyJoust allows you the chance to play daily fantasy baseball, choose a team today an another one tomorrow if you want, all the while giving you the chance to make some real money. Today, I’ll give some advice on how you might choose to fill out your lineup for Friday or Saturday.
HITTERS – FRIDAY
Adam Dunn vs. Wandy Rodriguez: Dunn has seen his average dip from .240 to .214 over his past nine games though he has gone deep three times in that time. However, he has racked up 17 Ks (wow). So why mention him for today when he’s facing a lefty, his career long Kryptonite? For whatever reason he kills Wandy hitting .435 with two homers in 23 at-bats.
Raul Ibanez vs. Johan Santana: Ibanez has slumped down to .255 from .270 a little over a week ago, but Mr. Santana, you know Mr. No-Hitter, might be the tonic he needs to turn things around. Ibanez has racked up 16 hits and 10 RBI in 36 at-bats against Johan leading to a .348 batting average. By the way, Derek Jeter also lights Johan up with a .455 average in 33 at-bats.
Rickie Weeks vs. Edinson Volquez: Weeks has been in the discussion for the worst every day player in the NL hitting .160 with a .582 OPS. He’s also gone hitless, 0-for-12, in his last three games. So pull the trigger on starting him Friday? Why not. Against Volquez has has gone 6-for-12 with two homers.
*** Avoid Michael Young who has hit just .232 with a .601 OPS against Barry Zito in 82 at-bats.
PITCHERS – FRIDAY
Felix Doubront vs. Phillies: In 27 innings at home this year he has 33 Ks, and over his last five starts he has allowed two or fewer runs each time for a total of eight runs allowed. The Nationals are near the bottom of the league with a .241 batting average an are also in the bottom five in baseball in runs scored (209).
Jeremy Hellickson vs. Marlins: I can’t always explain how he gets it done, but the bottom line is that he does. In 50 career starts he has a 2.95 ERA and 1.15 WHIP while holding batter to a .218 average. Over his last nine outings this season he’s allowed two or one earned runs seven times with the other two outings resulting in just three runners crossing the plate.
Shaun Marcum vs. Padres: It might seem obvious to start any pitcher against the Padres, but there are also plenty o’ numbers to suggest it’s the right move with Marcum. Career vs. Padres: 2-0, 3.15 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 4.00 K/BB in three starts. Last two starts this year against the Dodgers and Pirates: 2-0, 1.29 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 8.5 K/BB ratio over 14 innings.
HITTERS – SATURDAY
Johnny Damon vs. Kyle Lohse: When he isn’t busy making babies with his hot wife, Damon is lashing out hits against the righty from St. Louis. Damon has six hits in 16 at-bats against Lohse leading to a .375 average. Yes, that’s also a picture of Damon’s wife. I wouldn’t care if I got a hit either.
Prince Fielder vs. Bronson Arroyo: On paper this doesn’t look anything like a matchup that favors the Tigers’ slugger. Prince has hit just .238 in 42 at-bats against the righty from Cincy, but there is one obvious reason to play Fielder – power. Fielder has gone deep four times against Arroyo, and since the start of last season Bronson has given up a rather insane total of 54 long balls in 43 starts.
Kevin Youkilis vs. Gio Gonzalez: It’s only 11 at-bats of a matchup, but Youkilis has six hits, including a homer, leading to a .545 AVG an a 1.402 OPS. He’s also hit .303 with a .909 OPS at home in his career, and that’s over 482 games.
PITCHERS – SATURDAY
Matt Moore vs. Marlins: As a club the Fish are batting .233 with a .307 OBP and .401 SLG against left handed pitching, numbers that all lag behind the average big league hitter this season (.252/.318/.402). Moore has also seemingly started to find his groove as he’s allowed a total of five runs in his last three starts and he has 20 Ks over the 17.2 innings.
Chris Sale vs. Astros: It’s almost like taking candy from a baby, isn’t it? Sale has allowed a total of four runs over his last four starts as he has punched out 36 batters while issuing only seven walks in 4-straight victories. If things go according to plan, the Astros don’t stand a chance.
Jason Vargas vs. Dodgers: It’s a brutal matchup on paper as Vargas has to face the best left-handed pitcher in baseball in Clayton Kershaw. Owner of a 3.64 ERA and 1.10 WHIP on the year, Vargas has flat out dominated at home this year with a 1.91 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in four starts and in 49 career games at Safeco he is 18-16 with a 3.46 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.
It’s Friday, and that means it’s time to win a few bucks thanks to DailyJoust.com. Sign up for a Free Roll and try your chances, or you can join any other number of daily fantasy baseball games that include home run derby’s, survivor pools and a chance to win a trip to the 2012 MLB All-Star game.
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By Ray Flowers
Justin and Trevor discuss several different relief pitchers that are hoping to make their team’s rotations, and we will tell you who has the best chance.
Profiled are: Daniel Bard, Aroldis Chapman, Aaron Crow, Neftali Feliz and Chris Sale.
Johnny Damon is a free agent, and though he hit just .261 with a .326 OBP he still has value as a player. The soon to be 38 year old had 16 homers, 73 RBI, 79 runs scored and 19 steals. Thanks to the 19 steals this year he’s now stolen at least 11 bases each of the past 16 seasons. That’s tied for the 5th longest streak ever (Rickey Henderson did it 23-straight years). Damon also appeared in 150 games, the 16th straight season he has been on the field at least 141 times, an all-time major league record. Three others have previously accomplished that feat – Hank Aaron, Brooks Robinson and Pete Rose. Damon also finished the year with 2,723 hits leaving him 277 away from the magical total of 3,000, a total only 27 men have ever reached. Could he possibly, one day, find himself enshrined in Cooperstown?
How good is CC Sabathia? Over the past five seasons he’s averaged 19 victories, 217 Ks, a 3.09 ERA, a 1,16 WHIP and 240 innings pitched a season. Moreover, that inning pitched total leads baseball, it’s 4.1 more innings than Roy Halladay, and his 1,084 strikeouts leave him behind only Tim Lincecum who has 1,127 (Justin Verlander also had 1,084).
I was listening to AC/DC’s Back in Black today. That’s still one hell of an album.
The White Sox drafted Chris Sale to be a starting pitcher. However, as many teams do anymore, they rushed him to the big leagues because of his arm. Knowing full well he wasn’t ready to start, they asked him to pitch out the bullpen, and through 79 appearances covering 94.1 innings he has been a dynamic option with a K/9 of 10.59, an ERA of 2.58 and a WHIP of 1.10. The decision for the team at this point is what do they do for 2012 – do they leave him in the pen where has dominated or move him to the rotation? To me, 200 innings as a strong starter is more valuable than 75 innings as a dominant reliever, but that’s just me. For more on the decision making process see No Decisions on White Sox Sale’s Role Just Yet.
Am I the only one that’s feeling a tinge of depression with the regular season over? The playoffs are great, but nothing beats following “your“ team, and if they aren’t still playing it rings a bit hollow doesn’t it? I mean, even if “your” team stinks during the year you’ve still got your fantasy baseball squad to follow.
David Wright had scored at least 87 runs in each of the last six seasons. He scored 60 in 2011. Wright had hit at least 26 homers in five of the past six years. He hit 14 this season. Wright had driven in at least 102 runs in five of the past six years. He drove in 61 in 2011. He simply didn’t square the ball up enough on the year as he had a line drive rate of 18.0 percent. Not only was that a career worst mark, it was also 4.5 percent below his 22.5 percent career mark. That’s a massive dip. As a result of fewer line drives he also saw his BABIP dip. Wright had never posted a mark under .321 in a season of 300 at-bats, and this season his mark was .302, some .038 points below his career mark. I’d expect him to rebound in 2011, especially if he gets out of New York, but you have to be worried about his inability to adjust this season and the mounting injuries.
By Ray Flowers
Photo by Stefanie Seskin
You asked on the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account, so here are my answers.
Ricky Romero – look to sell high or does he have the stuff to pitch like this all year? Not a keeper league – @brianmck558
I’m always one for selling high as it’s one of the best ways going to come out ahead in the long run. Question though – how can you sell high on a guy after one start? I don’t understand why everyone is freaking out this year. It seems like everyone playing fantasy baseball is ready to change their thoughts on every player on the diamond after a weeks worth of games. Wasn’t it just 10 days ago that we were all happy with our teams? Please give Around the Horn – Slow Starts a listen to help bring you down from the ledge.
As for Romero, like I said, I don’t know how one start will change his outlook in anyone’s eyes. He is what we thought he was. That is a stable, young hurler with a whole lot to like. In his second full season last year Romero upped his K/9 mark to 7.46, dropped his BB/9 mark to 3.51 and upped his GB/FB rate to 2.08. Add all of that together and you have a pitcher, who if anything, may have been slightly undervalued on draft day 2011.
Matt Thornton still safe for CWS? If not, whose the next in line? Chris Sale? – @atlnagel
Here we go again. Unfortunately some people will worry about their relievers now that we’ve seen the Angels totally panic with their 9th inning role (see Diamond Musings). Matt Thornton will be fine and he will hold on to the 9th inning role all year long in my opinion. For those of you who have forgotten, here is how Thornton ranks amongst all big league pitchers who have thrown 200-innings the past three years.
2nd in base runners per nine innings (9.58)
Fourth in K/9 (10.91)
Sixth in ERA (2.70)
Ninth K/BB (4.03)
I’ve said it before, but I truly think he is the best left-handed reliever in baseball, and the numbers certainly seem to support that position.
AL-only league. Should I drop Mark Buehrle for Jake Arrieta? – @canebluedevil
One of the most consist hurlers in the game, Buehrle had a rough spring and has followed that up with two less than exciting outings to start the year. Still, you know what you are going to get with him. (1) You’ll get at least 10 wins. He’s done that for 10-straight year. (2) You’ll get lots of innings as he has thrown at least 200-innings in each of the last 10 years. Moreover, Buehrle is the only pitcher in baseball who has hit both of those marks each of the past 10 years. (3) You’ll get a pitcher who is fairly certain not to hurt you in ERA (his mark has been 4.00 three of the past four years). There is no upside, but there would appear to be little downside.
Arrieta is a wild card. What happens when/if Justin Duchscherer and Brain Matusz return to action – will Arrieta hold on to his starting spot? Arrieta throws hard but his control isn’t terrific (his BB/9 rate if we combine his work at Triple-A and the majors last year was 4.26), and that doesn’t help when your off-speed stuff grades out as nothing more than average. He’s young and would seem to have the brighter future than Buehrle, but for 2011 I think the easy call is to go with the veteran lefty from Chicago.
Albert Pujols and Brett Anderson for J.P. Arencibia, Carl Crawford and Chris Carpenter. Who gains? – @faizalkhamisa
Arencebia is a wild card. Early reports suggest that he will start three of five games. Will that be enough to generate anything other than bottom level 2nd catcher value? Probably not. Carpenter is a stud, but is his outlook that much better than that of Anderson for 2011? Check out the numbers for the last two years.
Anderson: 7.04 K/9, 2.01 BB/9, 3.36 K/BB, 3.57 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
Carpenter: 6.80 K/9, 2.13 BB/9, 3.20 K/BB, 2.78 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
A lot closer than you thought, isn’t it?
Pujols is so good and so phenomenally consistent that I’d prefer the Pujols/Anderson side of the deal, and you know that pains me to say since I’m such a big supporter of Carl Crawford.
By Ray Flowers