Trevor Ray (@TRay0128) & Shane Connolly (@Sconnolly114) discuss the ins and outs of getting a deal done before its too late. They will also talk about some pitchers that have been struggling in the first half but breakdown if they think they will bounce back.
I woke up in a good mood this morning, ready to attack the world of fantasy baseball analysis. So I’m speaking the truth today, just putting it where it needs to be put. You feel me?
I still find it very hard to trust any hurler working in Coors Field, but this Tyler Chatwood kid is making a believer out of me on the road (well, at least a little bit). In his five road starts he’s working with a 1.26 ERA and 1.01 WHIP, and his BAA is .104 points lower than the .318 mark he has at home. He’s still been unable to complete seven innings, and he has a mere 2.00 K/BB ratio with only 42 punchouts in 62.1 at-bats, but in the right circumstance he’s worth a look.
Jeff Francoeur has signed with the Giants. He’ll be sent to Triple-A to start, but with Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres not exactly killing it, and Angel Pagan on the shelf, the Giants could use offense anywhere they could find it (Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval are a combined 4-for-56 in July. Look it up. I did). Problem is, Frenchie is not the place to look for that spark. He’s hit .208 this season in 193 plate appearances, this after hitting .235 last season in 603 plate appearances. He’s got moderate power, zero patience, and the 22 bases he stole in 2011 were a mirage. NL-only leagues can add him and hope.
Remember when people were nervous that tests on Felix Hernandez‘s arm showed some minor issues when he was going through the process of signing that long-term deal with the Mariners? The 27 year old is 9-4 with a 2.69 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 136 Ks in 130.2 innings. So much for that.
The Mets let Matt Harvey throw 121 pitches over seven innings against the Giants, and now comes word that he’s dealing with a blister issue that may stop him from making his next start. Actually he’s been dealing with a blister issue over the previous two starts before last night which begs the question – why on Earth would the Mets let him throw 121 pitches last night? I mean, seriously? “I didn’t throw a bullpen at all this week,” Harvey said. Your Franchise player has a minor issue and you slough it off an let him throw a season-high tying 121 pitches? Great work Mets.
Speaking of Harvey, he was actually slightly out-pitched by Tim Lincecum. The Giants hurler allowed three runs over seven innings, but it was the one walk and 11 punchouts that really stood out in his effort. Like I say all the time, Lincecum can dominate at any moment. I admit to having an unhealthy appreciation for the talents of the freak, but let’s be honest here – he could be on the verge of a mini-breakout. Stop the laughing – I’m being serious. Over his last four outings he’s walked a total of five batters, and that’s huge. If he locates his pitches, as he did last night, he can have a lot of success. Second, he’s struck out 31 batters leading to a better than six to one K/BB ratio over his last four starts. That’s elite pitching. Just keep that in mind if he’s floating on your waiver-wire.
For my thoughts on Puig, Myers, Cingrani, Franklin and Profar see: Five Hot Shot Rookies.
Has anyone noticed that Justin Smoak has become a major league hitter? I’m sort of serious. He had three hits Monday night and he’s killing it hitting over .430 in July. He’s up to .267 with a solid .369 OBP on the year, but seven homers and 17 RBIs in 210 at-bats are still extremely weak totals. When Michael Morse returns he could sit against lefties, but Smoak has the look of someone who might actually be able to contribute in AL-only leagues.
Eric Young Jr. has always been one of my favorite players. A little guy with some decent pop and oodles of speed, he was stuck for years in a reserve role with the Rockies. The Mets dealt for him a few weeks back, and they’ve been playing him everyday and reaping the rewards. In 19 games with the Mets Young has hit .299 with a .354 OBP and he swiped six bags. Toss in 10 RBIs and 12 runs scored and you’ve got yourself one hell of a waiver-wire addition.
By Ray Flowers
If you talk to some folks in the fantasy baseball world they will tell you they think that Brett Anderson of the Athletics can be a top-25 starting pitcher (the A’s seem to think so as well as they named him their Opening Day starter). You don’t have to draft him that highly this season, his ADP in NFBC Drafts is barely inside the top-40, so he should be viewed as a prime target on draft day right (for those of you interested, The Oracle currently has Brett Anderson inside his top-50 in his 2013 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide)? Let’s see here…
Anderson had a solid rookie season in 2009. After coming into the year as one of the top-10 prospects in baseball according to Baseball America he went 11-11 with a 4.06 ERA and 1.28 WHIP over 175.1 innings (he also punched out 150 batters). However, the injuries then began to strike. After making 30 starts as a rookie he totaled just 32 starts in 2010-11. Anderson was terrific in 19 starts in year two with a 2.80 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, but he made only 19 starts. In 2011 he lasted a mere 13 outings before he had to shut things down due to a wonky elbow that eventually required Tommy John surgery. Coming back from that injury in 2012 he tossed six games for the Athletics reminding everyone why there was so much interest in Anderson a few years ago (he went 4-2 with a 2.57 ERA and 1.03 WHIP). All told Anderson is 25-25 in his career with a 3.57 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. Those numbers certainly don’t jump off the page at you at all, but they are solid numbers for a young hurler who has spent his brief career in the American League.
Let’s take a look at some of his other career numbers.
Anderson owns a career minor league number of 9.4 punchouts per nine innings. Wow is right. The only way that I could be more impressed was if he didn’t walk anyone. Viola. For his 54 game minor league career his walk rate is under two per nine leading to a dominating 4.98 K/BB ratio. Simply, you can’t help but have success with a nearly 5:1 K/BB ratio. In fact, you will likely be a borderline dominant talent if you can do that. Anderson hasn’t been quite that good at the big league level though. He’s still not walking anyone with a 2.19 per nine mark, but the K-rate has really shrunk down to less than seven per nine innings (only in his rookie season has that mark been seven – the last three year’s he’s posted marks of 6.01, 6.59 and 6.43 per nine). As a result he’s given back 40 percent of that K/BB ratio with the Athletics, though a 3.14 career mark is still darn impressive (for his career Felix Hernandez owns a 3.10 mark, Jered Weaver is at 3.17 mark and Jake Peavy at 3.20.).
Anderson’s other calling card at the big league level has been his impressive ground ball tendencies. Anderson has posted a ground ball rate of at least 50 percent in each of his four seasons, and last year the mark was a career best at 59.8 (his career rate is 54.0 percent). When you don’t beat yourself with the free pass, and you keep the ball on the ground, success is very likely to follow.
Anderson’s health is key. It’s one thing to have an injury here or there. It’s another thing to have suffered injury induced reduction in your innings pitched total for 3-straight years. At this point the good news is that Anderson has been deemed healthy after a setback in Spring Training, and it seems like he has a legit shot to return to the 30 start total of his rookie season. However, it would be wise to avoid getting too aggressive with Anderson. After all, he did throw just 35 innings last season for the A’s after throwing only 25.1 innings in the minors. Would the A’s allow Anderson to throw 175.1 innings in 2013 as he did back in 2009? If he did he would be adding more than 100 innings to his total from last season. Even if the A’s let him go for 175 innings he’s not likely to be allowed to reach 200 innings, and that does somewhat cap his value somewhat. It’s also a concern that he’s only been able to throw 120 big league innings in only one of his four seasons, and that certainly increases the risk. Still, he’s a very talented arm who induces ground balls with the best of them, and that should leave the floor pretty elevated with Anderson as long as he can take the ball every five days. He’s a solid 4th starter type to add to you mixed league squad though one that may have a bit less upside than others would lead you to believe given the health concerns and the lack of punchouts.
* Don’t forget to pick up your copy of the 2013 BaseballGuys Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide which is now available. Nearly 150 pages of insight to help you dominate the competition in 2013.
By Ray Flowers
Jason Hammel has long been a pitcher with the skills to succeed, even if his efforts on the hill never quite led to the production that it was thought he could bring (I wrote about Hammel back in February of 2011 in The Strikeout: Starters). Last season, his first in Baltimore after three seasons in Colorado, he was well on his way to finally fulfilling those expectations. Alas, he was limited to just 118 innings due to injury (his knee bothered him for long stretches of the year and he had surgery on the wheel in July) which leaves his outlook heading into 2013 about as fuzzy as it has always been.
Why would I bother talking a guy who has a 42-51 record and a career 4.78 ERA? That’s a fair question. Each year, from 2008-11, Hammel had an ERA of at least 4.33 and a WHIP of 1.39, and his record in that time was 31-34. However, he had just enough punchouts, kept the walks under control, and kept the ball on the ground just well enough to be of interest. Add in the Coors Field factor, we all know how it’s not a hospitable place to perform if you are a pitcher, and there was some thought that he could have a little more success in Baltimore even though he would be moving to the AL to pitch in arguably the toughest division in baseball (the AL East). So what happened last year in Baltimore? Some stuff that was better than anyone could have possibly hoped for.
Hammel had never struck out more than 7.14 batters per nine innings and he owned a career mark under 6.50 heading in to last season. Given that, it was pretty shocking to see his K/9 mark swell to a dominating 8.62. He threw his fastball harder than ever before, a mph harder than his career average, and that helped a bit. He also generated more swings on pitches outside the strike zone than ever before as his 29.7 percent mark was one percent better than his previous seasons best (oddly, his 44.6 swing percentage, the number of pitches he threw that batters swung at, was a six year low). Also, batters were able to post a 77.3 percent contact rate on all pitchers, light years below the 84 and 85 percent marks of 2010-11. Are those growth moves sustainable?
Hammel walked 3.20 batters per nine innings last season, a slightly elevated number for a guy with a 3.12 career mark. Add the walks to the strikeouts and you end up with a 2.69 K/BB ratio, well ahead of his 2.11 career mark but still well below the 3+ mark he posted in 2009-10.
The move out of Colorado certainly helped him to keep the ball in the yard as his 0.69 HR/9 mark was a career best and 30 percent below the 1.01 mark he owns for his career. Was his HR/F ratio to blame? Was it some ridiculously low number last season? Nope it wasn’t as it was 9.7 percent, within less than a percent of his career mark of 10.5. That leaves the explanation as to why the homer total fell at the foot of the amount of fly balls he allowed in his first season back in the AL (he pitched for the Rays from 2006-08). Hammel, somehow, held batters to a 28.1 percent fly ball rate. That’s extremely low, even for an extreme ground ball arm, and lo and behold that was what Hammel was last season. After six years never posting a ground ball rate of 47 percent, Hammel was able to generate a mark of 53.2 percent last season leading to a 1.89 GB/FB ratio. Some perspective here.
Hammel for career: 46.1 ground ball rate, 1.37 GB/FB, 6.58 K/9
Hammel for 2012: 53.2 ground ball rate, 1.89 GB/FB, 8.62 K/9
Felix Hernandez for ’12: 48.9 ground ball rate, 1.71 GB/FB, 8.65 K/9
Wow is right. Hammel shifted from solid for six years to dominating last season, so much so that his numbers compare favorably to King Felix, the highest paid pitcher in baseball history (if his 7-years, $175 million deal stands up as there are some concerns about his elbow right now).
Can growth like that happen for a pitcher in his seventh season in the league? Sure it’s possible. He might develop a new pitch, a new motion, just be “on” more times than not, learn a new way to attack hitters or might be moved to a ballpark that is more conducive to his pitching style. All of that could help explain how a pitcher improves. But ask yourself this question. How many times do you remember a guy going from six years of league average performance to becoming a borderline star overnight? How many times does that happen to a fella who pitches in the AL East? As if the questions about the division and performance weren’t enough, how would you feel about the guy if he was coming off an injury marred season that required surgery to the players knee? There’s a lot to like here with Hammel if the price is right (over in the NFBC world his ADP is 69th among starting pitchers). Make sure the cost is fair before you invest too heavily as there is always the chance that his knee holds him down or, more likely, he isn’t able to hold on to all the gains he flashed last season.
- Don’t forget to get your copy of the 2013 BaseballGuys Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide which is now available. Nearly 150 pages of insight to help you dominate the competition in 2013.
By Ray Flowers
I stand accountable for my actions. More times than not I’m right, but sometimes I make mistakes. When I do, I’m not afraid to admit it. I’d like to think that helps to set me out a bit in this industry. I try to be transparent and truthful. To that end, I thought I would spend a few days reviewing the results from my “experts leagues.” It wasn’t exactly pretty, I’ll be straight forward with that, but again I don’t believe in running and hiding. Here is how things went in my first year in Tout Wars (I was in the mixed league with 15 clubs).
It all went wrong from the day the draft was held. The following three players saw me battle down to the end, it’s an action league, but ultimately I stopped bidding on all of them a dollar short (I was the runner up for each if you will): Edwin Encarnacion, Zack Greinke and Andrew McCutchen. In their place I ended up with Pablo Sandoval, Cliff Lee and B.J. Upton. Pretty understandable how I didn’t finish higher in the league isn’t it now? Speaking of Lee, I’m flabbergasted at his total of six wins. I started him every time he took the hill this year, so let’s saw he won 13 games and not six this season (his performance warranted 13 victories, at least, and he averaged 16 wins the previous four years). If I had seven more victories to my team total I would have gone from 86 wins to 93 victories. That alone would have netted me three more points in the standings and put me into 8th place overall. It’s always amazing how closely these things end up being after 162 games. If I had rostered EE, Greinke and McCutchen… I don’t even want to try and figure that out cause it would likely make me want to vomit.
Suzuki and Buck both had career worst seasons.
Carlos Lee was passable but Gaby Sanchez went from productive to the minors. Dreadful.
Chase Utley was supposed to miss about a month. He ended up playing only 83 games. Dustin Ackley played on a bad ankle all year and was terrible. At least Danny Espinosa turned out pretty damn well with 17 homers, 20 steals and 82 runs scored.
Derek Jeter was a star and a fantastic $13 investment on draft day.
Pablo Sandoval was solid when on the field. He didn’t get to even 400 at-bats though.
Nelson Cruz stayed healthy but didn’t perform to his previous levels, though surprisingly he remained relatively healthy. B.J. Upton was supposed to miss a week. Turned out to nearly be a month even though he was very impressive when on the field. Alex Rios – superstar effort for $13. Carl Crawford was thought to be good to go by May 1st at the latest. Hey, it was worth the risk as my 4th outfielder. Turns out his season was an unmitigated disaster as he had more injuries than John J. Rambo picks up when saving people in the jungle. He appeared in 31 games. Denard Span was a decent 5th OF in a 15 team mixed league, especially for $2, as he hit .283 with 17 steals.
On the hill Cliff Lee pitched very well, but couldn’t get any run support at all. Felix Hernandez wet the bed in September, but overall he had a very impressive season. John Danks, was injured and made just nine starts. Chad Billingsley was having a nice bounceback season but made 25 starts, his lowest total in five years, cause of injury. James McDonald was a fantastic reserve round add even if he too died in the second half. Oh, and Ricky Nolasco? It’s time to give up there. In the pen I had a tremendous group with Tyler Clippard, Sergio Romo (I bought the duo for $7) and Kenley Jansen. However, Sergio Santos was a total bust due to injury, and literally right after Mariano Rivera was hurt and David Robertson was moved into the closing role, Robertston also came up lame. You guessed it. I also had Robertson on my staff. I could have had Romo/Clippard/Robertson/Jansen, all as closers, for a total of $13. That’s how you put together a pitcher staff without spending big dollars on closers. I finished second in the league in saves even with the injuries to Sergio Santos/Robertson and the Giants stubbornness in not using Romo as the closer until late in the year.
Missed substantial time on DL: Utley, Sandoval, Upton, Crawford, Santos, Robertson, Danks, Billingsley. When you lose that many guys in a 15 team league, it’s rough to play catchup. Not that I didn’t try considering that I had, at one time or another, 44 hitters and 25 pitchers work their way through my lineup.
CONGRATS: Cory Schwartz who won the league. Greatest celebration picture ever by the way.
FINAL RESULT: 9/15. Just wasn’t meant to be this year.
By Ray Flowers
The following bits of info were posted on the BaseballGuys Twitter account. See what you’re missing if you aren’t following along…
@MLB_PR: All-time doubles leader Tris Speaker had 445 through his age-32 season. Albert Pujols has 505.
@ESPNStatsInfo: Albert Pujols has 50 doubles this yr. He is the first player in MLB history to have 3 seasons of 30+ HR and 50+ doubles.
@MLB_PR: Robinson Cano and Rogers Hornsby are the only 2B ever to have consecutive seasons with 80+ extra base hits.
@GregJohnsMLB: Felix was Cy Young contender heading into Sept., but in last 6 starts went 0-4 with 6.62 ERA and 53 hits in 35.1 IP.
@richardjustice: A’s rookies have 53 victories. According to Elias, this is the most victories for rookies on one team in MLB history.
@richardjustice: Tommy Milone and Jarrod Parker, A’s are 1st team to have 2 rookies win 13 games since the ’52 Dodgers (Black, Loes).
Some of my own thoughts…
Albert Pujols is simply amazing. It hasn’t been the season he has hoped for, and it will go down as his worst season ever, but he’s still hitting .289 with 30 homers, 105 RBIs and 85 runs scored. This means he is polishing off his 12th straight season of 30 homers and 99 RBIs. That ties him with Jimmie Foxx for the second longest such streak in baseball history behind the 13-year run of Alex Rodriguez. Oh, and the other two times that Pujols had 50 doubles, he hit 51 each year, he blasted 43 and 46 homers (2003-04).
Robinson Cano is on his way to Cooperstown. Hitting .308 with 31 homers, 88 RBIs and 102 runs scored, he’s a four category fantasy superstar. Moreover, each of the past four years he hit at least 25 homers with 85 RBIs and 100 runs scored. That four year run is the longest by any second sacker in baseball history (Ryne Sandberg did it three years in a row from 1990-92). Cano is also a double machine. With a career-high tying 48 doubles this year, Cano has reached 40 doubles six times in his last seven seasons missing only in 2008 when he hit 35 (his career-low for a season is 34 doubles). Only one other second sacker hit 40 doubles in 4-straight years – Jeff Kent in 1999-2002.
September cost Felix Hernandez. His terrible final month pushed his ERA to 3.09 on the year, For some reason as well, the guy just can’t get the Angels out. Take a look at his career numbers against the club from Southern California: 6-12, 4.07 ERA in 30 starts. “I don’t know what kind of approach they take,” he said. “Don’t ask me. Ask them. They hit me pretty good.”
As noted, Tommy Milone and Jarrod Parker both have had a lot of success this season. In fact, their numbers are virtually identical if you look at their fantasy production.
Milone: 13-10, 3.74 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 137 Ks in 190 IP
Parker: 13-8, 3.47 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 140 Ks in 181.1 IP
Milone was tremendous when pitching at home as he went 7-5 with a 2.74 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over 15 starts. Parker tied for the team in in wins and led the club in ERA and Ks and WHIP (Bartolo Colon was better at 1.21 but he only threw 152.1 innings on the year falling short of the 162 needed to qualify for the ERA title).
A few more notes for fun.
Manny Banuelos, one of the elite prospects on the hill, will likely miss all of the 2013 season as the Yankees announced he will need to undergo Tommy John surgery. Just goes to show you why it is so dangerous count on young arms when building a dynasty club. You have to build around those young arms of course, but give me an Arroyo or Harang type any day over a prospect that could be something at some point.
Lance Berkman is unlikely to play again because of his knee issue. His career could be over.
Since Gio Gonzalez will skip his last start, Tom Gorzelanny will take his spot Tuesday against the Phillies, Gonzalez will become the first pitcher in baseball history to win 21 games in a season while throwing less than 200-innings (199.1 is his total this season).
C.J. Wilson admitted that he will have offseason elbow surgery to remove bone spurs that have been bothering him for a couple of months. Now we finally find an explanation that fits to explain the pathetic work that Wilson has offered his owners the past couple of months. After a 2.43 ERA and 1.16 WHIP over his first 18 starts he barely made it to the finish line with a 5.54 ERA and 1.57 WHIP over his last 16 outings. Use that slow finish to your benefit next year on draft day.
By Ray Flowers
I hate to say I told you so, oh who are we kidding I love nothing more than to tell you I told you so, but Henderson Alvarez has stunk this year. As I wrote back on April 2nd in his Player Profile: “Henderson Alvarez had “no chance” of being a top-75 SP in 2012…He also doesn’t miss enough bats putting him at the mercy of his defense and some random forces.” Amazingly for a guy who throws 93 mph with a wicked high 57.3 ground ball rate, Alvarez has still been just as bad as I suggested he would be five months ago. He’s gone 9-12 with a 4.91 ERA and 1.46 WHIP with, wait for it, 62 Ks in 168.2 innings. That’s a 3.31 K/9 mark. You could TRIPLE that and he still wouldn’t be striking out 10 batters per nine innings. Given his stuff, that’s an unbelievably pathetic number.
It looks like the Cards will roll out there Chris Carpenter next week. Can’t have set up a better return for him either as it looks like he will be on the hill to face the Astros (more on them below). Carpenter will still have to make it through a 90 pitch simulated game, so he’s still no lock to return from his neck/shoulder woes, but the clubs is encouraged.
Felix Hernandez seems to think that he is Dice-K all of a sudden. King Felix allowed seven runs Thursday night and now has a 9.00 ERA and 2.13 WHIP over his last three starts. What do I always say? Sample size people. He’s been unabashedly awful his last three starts but over his last 12 outings he still owns a 2.63 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. It’s not what anyone really wants to hear, but the truth is that things are just returning to “normal” with his performance.
Torii Hunter is hitting .300 this year, .309 to be precise. If you try to check the old memory banks for the last time that Hunter hit .300 you’ll be searching for a while since he has never hit .300 before as a big leaguer (he was one hit short in 2009 as he finished the season at .299). It’s not often that a guy sets a career best in his 16th season, but it certainly seems possible for Hunter given that he’s hitting an out of this world .351 over his last 56 games. Overlooked every year on draft day, Hunter just goes out and produces year after year (he’s batting .309 with 15 homers, 76 RBIs, 72 runs scored and nine steals).
The Houston Astros are 46-98 and have been outscored by their opponent by a major league worst 206 runs. No other NL team has been outscored by more than 117 runs (the Cubs). That is all.
Phil Hughes tossed 7.1 shutout innings against the listless Red Sox Thursday to up his season long record to 15-12. I know he’s a Yankee so everyone gets all excited about him, but consider these points. (1) His 3.96 ERA is only slightly below the league average of 4.09. (2) His 7.61 K/9 is only slightly better than the league average of 7.39. (3) His 1.25 WHIP is only slightly ahead of the league average as well (1.31). He’s solid, but you can put the ticker tape parade on hold.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde meet Jason Kipnis. Everyone’s fantasy darling at second base hit the All-Star break with a .277-11-49-53-20 line. In the 52 games since he has hit .216 with three homers, 18 RBIs, 21 runs scored and just seven steals in 13 attempts. He’s gone from being Ian Kinsler to Ronny Cedeno.
Lance Lynn stepped into the rotation for an injured Jake Westbrook an allowed one run over six innings Thursday (Westbook could still miss a couple more weeks of action so Lynn may see a start or two more down the stretch). With the effort he lowered his ERA to 3.95 on the season while picking up his 15th win. He’s been a remarkable waiver-wire add this year even if he has a 4.97 ERA and 1.58 WHIP over his last 54.1 innings.
Joe Nathan blew it on Friday night as he allowed three runs without getting an out for the Rangers. He only has a 2.83 ERA, 10.99 K/9 and 30 saves in 32 chances. Loser.
I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark last night in IMAX. Pretty amazing I must say. It’s the first time I’ve seen it in the theaters – I was an HBO junkie as a kid. The film holds up really well with the passage of some 30 years.
It’s way too little, way too late, but Michael Young has finally started to hit a bit. In 12 games in September he has posted three homers and 10 RBIs. Too little too late as I stated, but maybe he can give ya something down the stretch.
HITTERS – FRIDAY
Carlos Lee vs. Bronson Arroyo: .321-3-11 in 53 at-bats
Evan Longoria vs. CC Sabathia: .378-5-9 in 37 at-bats
Vernon Wells vs. Brice Chen: .333-3-7 in 21 at-bats
HITTERS – SATURDAY
Robinson Cano vs. James Shields: .417-4-12 in 72 at-bats
Casey Kotchman vs. Anibal Sanchez: .471-1-3 in 17 at-bats
Michael Young vs. Jason Vargas: .400-1-6 in 30 at-bats
PITCHERS – FRIDAY
Aaron Laffey vs Red Sox: .230/.302/.287 in 87 at-bats
Chris Sale vs. Twins: .183/.231/.283 in 60 at-bats
PITCHERS – SATURDAY
Edwin Jackson vs. Braves: .207/.292/.319 in 116 at-bats
Shaun Marcum vs. Nets: .196/.281/.301 in 56 at-bats
By Ray Flowers
(1) Erik Bedard released by Pirates. Kevin Correia to take over.
(2) Mark Teixeira out 1-2 weeks with calf strain.
(3) Felix Hernandez tosses 5th shutout. Amazing in second half.
(4) Tyler Colvin hot again.
(5) Brett Jackson driving ball into seats. Still striking out.
(6) Luke Gregerson Padres new closer?
(7) Dice-K on waivers. Roy Oswalt passes through waivers.
By Ray Flowers
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
(1) King Felix to have his start Wednesday skipped because of a wonky back.
(2) Johan Santana start pushed back two days. Chris Young to start for Mets Tuesday.
(3) Dustin Pedrioa (thumb) will avoid the DL.
(4) Jemile Weeks doing nothing at the dish – nothing.
(5) Alex Presley recalled by Pirates.
(6) Willin Rosario thinks he’s Adam Dunn.
(7) Mike Trout has been utterly dynamic.
By Ray Flowers