Evan Longoria, Ryan Dempster, Brandon Beachy, Felipe Paulino, Brandon Morrow, Matt Harrison, Clayton Richard, Salvador Perez, Derek Norris, Martin Maldanado
Evan Longoria, Ryan Dempster, Brandon Beachy, Felipe Paulino, Brandon Morrow, Matt Harrison, Clayton Richard, Salvador Perez, Derek Norris, Martin Maldanado
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 drink on. Third, it’s time to get ready for your weekend of fantasy baseball with DailyJoust.com.
For those of you unaware of just what DailyJoust is and what the offer, click on the link to BBGuys Partners with DailyJoust. The bottom line is DJ 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
Brandon Phillips vs. J.A. Happ: Just like Uggla below, Phillips doesn’t have much of a track record against the pitcher he is facing. At the same time, what he has done is hard to ignore. In nine at-bats Phillips has five hits leading to a .556 batting average against Happ. Three of those five hits were dingers, and that has helped to push his RBI total top five in this tasty matchup.
Ryan Theriot vs. Paul Maholm: Looking for an under the radar play on Friday? If you are, it would be wise to look to the Giants’ Theriot who has had quite an extensive run of success against the lefty with the Cubs. Theriot has hit .343 with a .410 OBP in 35 at-bats against Maholm over 35 at-bats.
Dan Uggla vs. Stephen Strasburg: How in the world could I suggest starting a guy against a pitcher who has a 2.64 ERA, 1.10 WHIP an a 10.86 K/9 mark? It’s been a mere eight at-bats but Uggla has had phenomenal success against the righty from Washington with six hits including two homers leading to seven RBI. Pretty darn amazing.
PITCHERS – FRIDAY
Wade Miley vs. Padres: The young lefty has held his own and then some through 10 appearances this year as he has gone 6-1 with a 2.41 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. He still has a poor 2.00 K/BB ratio, that 5.50 K/9 mark is weak, and two homers in 52.1 innings – let’s just say that isn’t likely to continue. Still, in this matchup against the Padres in Petco, it’s lock and load time.
Felipe Paulino vs. Athletics: The A’s have a historically bad offense, an I’m not making that up. Paulino has a 2.03 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 34 Ks through 31.1 innings this season. Moreover, three of his five outings this year he has held the opponent scoreless. I’m going to ignore his lone performance against the A’s last September 5th (4.1 IP, 6 ER).
Randy Wolf vs. Pirates: Why not complete the trifecta of starters against the worst offenses in baseball? Wolf has struggled this year big time (5.73 ERA, 1.67 WHIP), but he has looked better of late allowing three or fewer runs in three of his last four starts. He’s also facing a Pirates club that he has gone 9-3 against in his career with 112 Ks in 124 innings. Plus, the club from Pittsburgh has the lowest average in the NL (.218), the worst OBP in baseball (.272) and has scored 17 runs less than any other club in the game (147).
HITTERS – SATURDAY
Ryan Ludwick vs. Wandy Rodriguez: Wandy has pitched well this season, and the perception is that Ludwick has really struggled this year. The truth is in the middle perhaps. Ludwick has had a lot of success against Wandy with two homer an a .314 batting average in 35 at-bats against the lefty and he’s also gone deep twice while knocking in eight runners in his last eight games.
Hanley Ramirez vs. Cole Hamels: HanRam has barely been a .250 hitter since the start of the 2011 season and he’s also hit a mere .264 against Hamels in 53 at-bats in the match up. Why in the world would I suggest paying close attention to Hanley on Friday then? Of the 14 hits that Hanley has against the lefty Ramirez has 10 doubles. Ten. That’s a pace for 100 doubles over 530 at-bats. Wow is right. Is it a stretch to think that he could lift one of those pitches into the seats?
Ichiro Suzuki vs. Gavin Floyd: Ichiro has struggled this year, at least when compared to his previous levels of excellence, but he’s pretty much looked very much like the guy we saw for most of 2011. Middling. Still, Ichiro has a track record of success against Floyd as he has hit .361 in 36 at-bats. Given that Floyd has also allowed 21 runs in his last 14.2 innings it would seem like a pretty good time to trust Ichiro.
PITCHERS – SATURDAY
Mat Latos vs. Astros: Latos has been uneven this year, all those that own him understand that, but he’s won his last four decisions and has allowed three or fewer runs in four of his last five outings during which time his ERA has gone down from 5.97 to 4.58. He’s also struck out 18 batters while issuing only four walks in his last three starts, so as long as he can keep the ball in the park – he allowed an amazing five homers in his last start – he should have a solid outing against an Astros club that he is 3-1 with a 3.21 ERA, 0.89 WHIP against in his career.
Ricky Nolasco vs. Phillies: Off the top it sounds a bit crazy, but think about it. Nolasco will be facing a Phillies club without Howard/Utley, Jimmy Rollins can barely hit his way out of a papersack right now, and Carlos Ruiz is less than 100 percent physically. There’s also the fact that Nolasco has long had success against the club from Philly going 6-4 with a 3.55 ERA and 1.16 WHIP over 83.2 innings.
Edinson Volquez vs. D’backs: Volquez pitches at home Saturday, and he’s had a ton of success there this season even though his record is 1-3 (3.19 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 42 Ks in 42.1 innings). He faces a D’backs club that he held to two runs in seven innings in his second start of the year, and in his career he has 28 punchouts in 24.1 innings against the club from Arizona. He’s also allowed three or fewer runs in nine of his 11 starts this season. It’s not always pretty, sometimes he has trouble throwing strikes, but he has been able to limit the damage, for the most part, in his first year in San Diego.
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By Ray Flowers
Each week I’ll be here answering questions that have been sent to me at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter page.
What do you think of this trade offer: Dan Haren for Ryan Zimmerman?
Haren has lost his last four trips to the hill and he’s given up at least three runs in all four of the outings. He’s also dealing with a bit of a wonky back, an overall he’s 1-5 with a 4.37 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. Is it time to grab a pitchfork and a flaming torch to storm the castle? Not so fast. Haren is matching his K-rate from last season, though it is in the 7.2′s for the second straight year after 3-straight seasons over eight. His walk rate would be an 8-year high but we’re still talking about a 2.26 per nine mark. His BABIP is slightly elevated (.315) while his LOB% is slightly down (71 percent), and his GB/FB ratio of 1.08 is within shouting distance of his 1.19 career mark. He hasn’t pitched anywhere near as poorly as it would appear from his record and ERA. There are some signs of erosion of course, but it’s a gradual thing and not something that should add a run to his ERA and cause him to lose 15 games this season.
Zimmerman continues to be bothered, at least somewhat, by his shoulder. The result is a poor slash line of .248/.341/.350 from a guy who has career mark of .287/.354/.475. That’s right. Zimmerman’s current SLG is below his career OBP. A look at the rest of his line this year reveals a 0.62 BB/K mark, slightly above his 0.55 career rate, and his BABIP of .300 is just a hot week or two away from being right there with his career mark of .318. What has changed this year is a lack of fly balls, and this is a concern. Since the start of last season Zimmerman has hit more than 50 percent of his batted balls into the ground, that the is going to make big homer totals impossible to attain given his 12.5 percent career HR/F mark. In fact, his 1.50 GB/FB ratio since the start of last season is something you want to see on the back of the ball card of a 30 steal guy, not a middle of the order thumper.
Both these struggling options should improve as the season progresses. Third base has been hit by some injuries this year, including the one that has felled Zimmerman, so it would be understandable to add the Nationals third sacker with the hope that he is healthy. Given that I’m not sure he is, I’m going to side with Haren here but under the proviso that there are certainly setups in which it would make more sense to add Zimmerman (i.e. if your roster was deep in pitching and you needed a boost at the hot corner).
Stay the course with Miguel Montero at catcher?
Last year Montero was a top-5 catcher as he hit .282 with 18 homer, 86 RBI, 65 runs scored, a .351 OBP an a .820 OPS. This season he has been far from that level as he has hit .255 with two homers, 21 RBI and 16 runs scored. However, he’s still on pace for 75 RBI and 57 runs scored, numbers right in line with his production last year. He also is sporting a .350 OBP which is virtually identical to last season, and his 0.44 BB/K mark is just under the 0.48 mark he had last year. The average should come up, Montero has hit .282 the past three years, and it’s unlikely that after 4-straight years with a line drive rate of at least 19 percent that he’ll continue to struggle along at 16 percent the rest of the way. The power? That’s the big issue here. An 11 percent HR/F guy for his career, that number is just 5.7 percent this year. Of course, if Montero hits three homers in the next week that number will be right back where it should be. Bottom line for me is that Montero should still be a solid #1 catcher by the time the season is over if he stays healthy and you remain patient.
Do you think Felipe Paulino is a better value than James McDonald or Carlos Zambrano?
Paulino has always had a big arm, one that has produced a total of 349 strikeouts in 373 innings. Unfortunately injuries have long been a part of his game, as well as the fact that teams haven’t been sure if he would be best served as a starter or reliever. The Royals are committed to him as a starter, an in four starts this year has has allowed zero runs three times as he’s blown away hitters with 29 Ks, and just seven walks, in 25.1 innings. Obviously it would be wise not to read too much into four starts, so let’s look a bit further back. In 25 career appearances with the Royals (24 starts) Paulino has a 3.66 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 148 Ks in 150 innings. Could I see him pitching at that level this season? He certainly could given his power arm. There is a question about durability though. Here are his innings pitched totals for his career starting in 2006: 126.1, 131, 0.2, 132.1, 95.2 and 139.1. Clearly he is far from certain to be a guy we can bank on taking the ball in September.
McDonald has made nine starts this season and he has yet to allow more than three runs in a start leading to a 2.51 ERA. He;s also been rather stingy with the walks allowing no more than three in any outing which has helped him to post a 0.99 WHIP. James has also struck out 58 batters in 57.1 innings as he is fulfilling the potential that had the Dodgers so excited about him for years. However, consistency has always eluded him which brings up the question of what expectations should be for the rest of the season? Is McDonald going to be able to hold on to his batter per nine gain in the strikeout column? Is he going to be able to hold on to the batter per nine inning reduction he’s provided in his walk rate (Currently 2.83 per nine)? Is he going to continue to be so stingy with the home run ball which seems unlikely given that his 0.31 HR/9 mark is less than half his career 0.88 mark? Is he going to continue to have a BABIP of .264, below his .299 career mark, which has enabled him to hold batters to a .198 batting average?
Until Wednesday, Zambrano had been off to a remarkable start to the season. Even with the beating he took at the hands of the Rockies (seven runs in five innings) his numbers are still rather impressive highlighted by his 2.85 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. Still, his K/BB continues to languish at 1.76, his BABIP is about .045 points low at .233 and for a guy has had a GB/FB ratio under 1.25 in each of the past three seasons it’s pretty hard to believe he’ll be able to sustain the 1.76 mark he currently owns. Zambrano has a great set of ratios, but they are deceiving. He really hasn’t pitched much different than “normal” and there is always the possibility that he could go postal on something at any point which has to make you nervous.
If I was ranking these guys, and let’s face it that’s what I’ve been asked to do, I’d go McDonald, Paulino and Zambrano.
Would you drop Josh Willingham for Matt Adams? Keeper league, but competing for 1st this year.
Willingham has tanked of late as he’s hit .212 in May with only one homer in his last 12 games. However, let’s not be too short sighted here. Willingham was terrific in April so in total he’s hitting .283 with eight homers, 27 RBI and 24 runs scored putting him on pace to go .281-30-100-90 which would be the best season of his career (his previous bests are .277-29-98-75). Willingham has also ramped up his walk rate helping lead to a .400 OBP while his .565 SLG is nearly .100 points clear of his career mark (.479). Overall, a terrific start to his Twins career.
I touched on the outlook of Adams earlier this week in the On Deck Circle where I mentioned that Adams has a big bat but that he lacks experience. I also mentioned that playing time could be an issue since Matt Carpenter was around to potentially take at-bats from Adams. Consider one road block removed as Carpenter was placed on the DL with an oblique issue. The Cards will welcome back Allen Craig shortly, but Adams should be given an ample opportunity to secure a full-time position given the bat he possesses.
It’s a keeper league and that certainly swings the pendulum toward Adams, but at the same time if you’re playing to win this year you have to hold on to Willingham. Not only is he the one locked into a full-time role, he’s also the one who has the experience/success at the big league level. Put it this way – Adams hopes to one day be what Willingham is right now, so if you’re goal is to win now keep Willingham.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 5-8 PM EDT, Monday through Friday.
Monday’s I will be taking a look at the fantasy baseball game by breaking down players who have produced noteworthy performances. This week it’s all about hot starting batters and pitchers – can they keep it up?
To get your daily fantasy baseball fix make sure you head over to DailyJoust.com to set your salary cap club.
GAINERS OF THE WEEK
Johnny Cueto (+96, $379K in DailyJoust salary)
Through nine starts Cueto has a 1.97 ERA, 1.13 WHIP an a 5-1 record. He’s also allowed more than two earned runs just once this season. Moreover, six times this year he’s left the game having allowed one or zero earned runs. Injuries limited him last year to 24 starts, but if we add in his nine starts this year we get 33 starts covering 215.1 innings, a full season of work for an “ace-like” arm. In those 33 starts he has gone 14-6 with a 2.22 ERA an a 1.10 WHIP so maybe talk of him being an “ace” is warranted. Still, he’s struck out an average of 5.93 batters per nine innings, more than a batter below the big league average, and his 2.41 K/BB ratio is pretty average. The grounders have led to am immense level of success and there is no end in sight.
Felipe Paulino (+60, $426K)
Through three starts for the Royals Paulino has a 1.93 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 21 Ks in 18.2 innings. A long time power arm, Paulino has 344 Ks in 366.1 innings in his career. He’s struggled with two things in his career – health and consistency. Well he’s already been hurt this year, so let’s hope that is out of the way. If he can just throw strikes, currently he’s sporting a 2.41 walk per nine mark which is more than a batter below his career rate, then he’s bound to have a lot of success even though few have seemed to have taken note (check out his owned percentage over at Fleaflicker).
CC Sabathia (+85, $425K)
A rock, CC has 65 Ks in 64.1 innings, and in each of his nine start he has gone at least six innings. The results haven’t been spectacular, he has a 3.78 ERA, but he gives you innings, Ks, pitches for the Yankees (leading to a 5-2 record), and never hurts you in the WHIP column (1.21). Expect the ERA to come down a bit as we move forward an expect him to continue to be one of the safest elite level arms in the game.
Max Scherzer (+46, $270K)
And that is why I kept telling everyone to keep the faith in Scherzer. The last time Mad Max took the hill he held the Pirates to two runs over seven innings as he allowed only five base runners. All of that is great news but it was the 15 punchouts that made it an elite effort. Fourth in baseball with 63 punchouts, Scherzer leads baseball with an 11.65 K/9 mark. You just don’t give up on an arm like that, even when it’s struggling to produce consistent results.
Ryan Zimmerman (+24, $90K)
Over his last three games Zimmerman has pushed his average up .025 points thank to seven hits. Struggling to find his way after injury, Zimmerman is still hitting just .257 with two homers and 12 RBI through 28 games. The lack of pop is what has really dragged him down so far as his .367 SLG is literally more than a hundred points low (career .476). Frequently injured, it seems like Ryan takes a while to find his groove once he returns. Seems like he just may have found that groove over the past few days.
LOSERS OF THE WEEK
Anthony Bass (-55, $185K)
He will be counted on heavily moving forward as it appears Cory Luebke will undergo Tommy John surgery. Bass has made eight starts and only once time has he allowed more than three earned runs resulting in a 2.89 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. He’s also whiffed 51 batters in 53 innings showing a rather powerful right arm. Impressively, he’s actually been more effective on the road (2.57 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 22 Ks in 21 IP) than at home (3.09 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 29 Ks in 32 IP), and that means something when your home games are at Petco Park.
Hiroki Kuroda (-52, $178K)
Through eight starts he has been awful twice and solid ever other time he’s taken the hill. I’ve gotten so many questions about the guy after his last outing, but just remember this – before his last outing against the Blue Jays his ERA was 3.56 and his WHIP was in the 1.30′s. If you were expecting more from him hit season in New York you likely had set your sights too high.
Madison Bumgarner (-46, $276)
From April 10th through May 10th MadBum went 5-0 while allowing a total of six earned runs. Yeah, he was dominating. The last two times he’s taken the bump have been far from impressive – he’s allowed eight earned runs over 13.1 innings leading to two loses – but on the year the guy has a 3.10 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and has looked every bit like the guy who might be ready to elevate his game even further this season.
Josh Beckett (-37, $279K)
I don’t know how his value has dropped the past week given that he’s worked 14.2 innings while striking out 14 batters an allowing one earned run in two victories. Putting behind him the seven runs he allowed to the Indians, Beckett is back to being a strong option on the hill for the Red Sox, and fantasy squads. In his eight starts he has six quality starts an overall his 40 Ks in 49.1 innings and 1.28 WHIP are solid enough to offset a somewhat elevated 4.28 ERA.
Denard Span (-19, $61K)
Span went hitless his last two games of the week but he still has six hits in his last five games. Hitting .291 on the year with four steals, Span is the type of player who is more valuable in real life than in fantasy. He will be an average booster (career .285) and he has the speed to be a 20+ steal guy, but he has no power and with the Twins struggling to consistency put up runs he’s scored just 17 times in 37 games despite a solid .359 OBP.
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By Ray Flowers
Yesterday in SWIP: 2012 – Starters, I gave a detailed description of exactly what SWIP is before I took a look at the starting pitcher pool from 2011. In PART II of my SWIP report, I’ll take a look at all the hurlers who tossed less than 160 innings including a discussion about the men that work the 8th and 9th innings.
* For an explanation of what SWIP is and how it works, click on the above link. Here is the “key” to help you to understand how to read the SWIP marks.
.90 and Up: Excellent season. Hall of Fame level.
.70 to .89: An all-star performance. Worthy of Cy Young consideration.
.50 to .69: Borderline all-star to decent starting pitcher. A guy you’d like to have on your staff.
.35 to .50: A guy who should be nothing more than the 3rd or 4th starter with his club.
.20 to .34: His major league days are likely numbered.
Below .20: Minor leaguer in training.
The league average in 2011 was 0.45.
Here are the hurlers who tossed between 90 and 160 innings in 2011.
0.87 – Brandon Beachy
Now maybe all of you out there who questioned why I have Beachy so high in my 2012 rankings, which you can find in the 2012 BBGuys Draft Guide, will at least partially, understand my reasoning.
0.79 – Cory Luebke
A great place to pitch, combined with an impressive K-rate, equals a lot of promise.
0.74 – Tommy Hanson
Injures an a new motion are causing some worry, but if healthy he has the tools to be a top-20 starting pitcher.
0.68 – Scott Baker
Keep an eye on his elbow woes, but Baker owns the skills to be a top of the rotation fantasy arm if he can make 30 starts.
0.64 – Marco Estrada
The likely rotation fill in with the Brewers if Shawn Marcum (shoulder) is unable to go at the start of the year.
0.64 – Jake Peavy
He had nearly a four to one K/BB ratio last year, though he has looked awful in camp thus far.
0.60 – Jonathan Niese, Erik Bedard
One pitcher is always hurt, both are usually overlooked.
0.59 – Tom Gorzelanny
Whatever his role (RP or SP), Tom was an effective hurler last year with a career best 2.88 K/BB ratio.
0.56 – Felipe Paulino
Armed with a big arm, Paulino has quietly averaged 8.28 strikeouts per nine in 347.2 big league innings.
0.37 – Johnny Cueto
Totally changed him M.O. last year morphing from a K-arm, to a ground ball machine. SWIP isn’t a fan of that shift.
0.30 – Jair Jurrjens
I warn about him each year. Don’t buy that low ERA, it’s just not sustainable.
0.28 – Francisco Liriano
What an arm, but all those walks are just a killer.
Now on to the arms that worked at least 40 innings but no more than 90.
1.35 – Sergio Romo
I keep saying it, but here it is again. Romo has no shot at the Hall of Fame, but his numbers to this point of the game are as impressive as pretty much any hurler who has every lived.
1.30 – Kenley Jansen
The #1 target by most fantasy pundits from the middle reliever ranks.
1.20 – Jonathan Papelbon
All he does is save 30 games each year while striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings.
1.17- Koji Uehara
Often lost in the shuffle on draft day, this import runs smoother than a top of the line Honda Accord.
1.04 – Rafael Betancourt
Some doubt whether or not he can handle the 9th inning all season. That’s fine since he’s never done it for an entire year. However, don’t doubt the skills – they are elite.
0.99 – Sergio Santos
Some are worried about what he will do for an encore in his first year in Toronto. SWIP isn’t concerned.
0.98 – David Robertson
He’s shed the walking boot and appears to be well on his way to being ready for Opening Day after a scare with his foot. Could represent a nice buy low option on draft day.
0.97 – Vinnie Pestano
Looks like Chris Perez might be healthy enough for Opening Day after all, but that doesn’t mean it still wouldn’t be wise to roster Pestano.
0.96 – Rex Brothers
When you blow cheese like he does it doesn’t matter if you are pitching at a mile above seawater.
0.92 – Greg Holland
Never mentioned as an elite bullpen arm, but the guy had 74 Ks and just 19 walks in 60 innings last year.
0.43 – Javy Guerra
Will open the year as the Dodgers’ closer even though he is, literally, a third of the pitcher as Jansen according to SWIP.
0.42 – Jeff Samardzija
He has a great arm that led to 87 Ks in 88 innings last season, but the young fireballer simply has to reign in the free passes (he issued 50 last year).
0.39 – Neftali Feliz
Transitioning to the starting rotation, Feliz was dominant in the second half last year but his overall work places him as a below average SWIP arm.
0.32 – Matt Capps
How long can he hold on to the Twins 9th inning job? Not long if he repeats last years effort.
0.27 – Luke Gregerson
What happened to that once dominating arm out of the Padres’ pen?
For those of you who want to investigate further, here is the BBGuys-SWIP-2011-PDF file that lists all men who tossed at least 40-innings last season.
To sign up for your baseball league this year make sure you check out Fleaflicker.
By Ray Flowers
(1) Who do you want on your fantasy staff – Bronson Arroyo or Aaron Harang?
(2) There are a ton of players who look like they could return this weekend: Carlos Gonzalez (hamstring), Mike Cameron (kidney stones), Jacoby Ellsbury (ribs) and Chris Coghlan (ribs).
(3) Fred Lewis traded to Blue Jays.
(4) Felipe Paulino and Bud Norris performing pretty well for Astros.
(5) Carlos Beltran (knee) still not running.
(6) Ted Lilly (shoulder) nearing a return.
(7) Brandon Webb throwing, though off flat ground.
(8) Lance Berkman sent to minors to play this weekend, could be activated next week.
By Ray Flowers