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Tuesday, April 23, 2013
The Daily Grind provides daily match-up advice for tinkerers and daily fantasy players. I welcome advice to help make this column more effective, including notice of impending weather events, new injuries, and changes to platoon situations. Ownership rates are from Yahoo!
The daily picks are a mixture of Daily League specific advice and information for the more typical fantasy owner.
Two snow outs yesterday have turned into two double headers today. Teams with same day moves should adjust accordingly.
Pitcher (to start): Half the guys I tabbed for today have rain in the forecast, and I usually try to avoid those starts.
That leaves Patrick Corbin as my top pick of the day. I own him outright in a couple leagues, including a fairly shallow one.
I like Zach McAllister's skill set and usually expect him to hold his own. There is rain in the forecast for this game, too, but I think they'll get it in without major delays. Still that makes this a second string choice.
Tony Cingrani is exciting, but his ownership is now up to 51 percent.
Kevin Correia still gets to face the Marlins, so he's still a fringe option to start.
Pitcher (bum): Jeff Francis rides over from yesterday to today. Despite the cold, I think it's hard not to expect big offense out of the Braves.
I mentioned Jeff Locke yesterday, but the Phillies offense is pretty lackluster. So while they might put up five runs, don't expect the huge outburst required to win in daily fantasy.
The Brewers, however, have a great offensive blueprint and a favorable match-up against Clayton Richard.
I feel similarly about Jason Vargas' start. Both Vargas and Richard are mediocre lefties who leave little margin for error.
Julio Teheran at Coors Field is not a recipe for good pitching results.
There are some great power options including Juan Francisco against Jon Garland, Chris Johnson against Francis, John Mayberry versus Locke, and Matt Joyce against Phil Hughes.
Hitter (speed): This list is shorter. Try Craig Gentry against Vargas.
If you want to roll the dice, I'd hazard a guess that a double header should equal a usually unpredictable start for Eric Young. Or at least two pinch running opportunities.
Pitcher (to start): Tomorrow is not a day to stream starters. Wandy Rodriguez is 59 percent owned, but he's floating around a couple of my leagues. A match-up against the Phillies is favorable.
Ted Lilly is today's dice throw. I wouldn't touch this start, but I don't have too much to point at right now.
Pitcher (bum): There are at least a few exploitable match-ups that stand out.
Edinson Volquez against the Brewers stands out the most given his early season command issues.
Luis Mendoza is the kind of mediocre pitcher the Tigers feast upon.
The Orioles, Rockies, and Angels are currently starting TBA and he usually isn't very good. I suspect the Rockies will be using Drew Pomeranz here, and he might actually be worth streaming.
Hitter (power): I like when Chris Carter gets the platoon advantage, like when he faces Joe Saunders.
Jonny Gomes gets to face Brett Anderson so long as Anderson's sprained ankle doesn't intervene.
Hold Mayberry; he gets another lefty tomorrow.
Hitter (speed): Andy Dirks has struggled early this season, but his match-up for tomorrow is good. He's not really a stolen base threat, but he's probably more likely to steal than to hit a home run.
Will Venable's match-up with Marco Estrada isn't great, but I think that's where you need to be chasing steals tomorrow if you need them.
Jason Heyward had surgery to remove his appendix, so he'll be out for a bit. Evan Gattis could see a couple of extra starts in the outfield as a result.
The Biogenesis scandal now includes Robinson Cano's name, which couldn't come at a more inopportune time for him. I think every fantasy owner is terrified that their star player could disappear for 50 games, since several big names remain under investigation.
The Rockies' doubleheader will be cold—right around freezing. It appears rain will affect games played in Detroit, Boston and Chicago. The forecast for the White Sox appears to be the least likely to result in delays or postponement.
Good enough for me
Felix Doubront weaved in and out of traffic yesterday and survived his outing with a win.
Today, I'll briefly cover Pat Corbin, whom I've liked since he arrived on the scene last season.
Corbin has a reliable four-pitch mix—two fastballs, a slider, and a change-up—and he's throwing about one mph harder this season. Over time, I would expect a very slight improvement in strikeout rate to about 7.5 K/9 with about a 3.0 BB/9. He generates a reasonable amount of ground balls, which is important for a pitcher in Arizona.
Over the course of a full season, I expect an ERA around 4.00. Carefully managed, especially to avoid starts at Coors Field and bad match-ups at home, Corbin can probably exceed that expectation and provide average fantasy stats for free.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:56am
Chris Sale is a fun pitcher to watch. He throws three solid pitches and has a plus fastball. He is one of those oddly proportioned left-handed pitchers, and he made the transition from reliever to starter look easy. As is not the case with most who share his physique, we currently have the luxury of seeing him pitch more than one or two hitters per outing.
Sale has been great as a starter, and has since silenced most of those who criticized his move from the bullpen. Sale’s transition to his current role was was aided by the fact that he already was already able to throw three pitches at the major league level as a reliever.
While he has been able to make it work as a starter without relying so heavily on his fastball, some may still believe that he doesn’t have the ability to go deep into games. Most of the damage done against Sale comes after he crosses the 50-75 pitch mark. Through his four starts so far in 2013, the trend has persisted. If you look at the table below (courtesy of Baseball Reference), you’ll notice this trend.
Sale strikes out more hitters and exhibits slightly better control as the game progresses, and his peripheral skills suggest that he should actually be a better pitcher after 50 pitches. His opponent OPS suggests otherwise, though.
The White Sox decided not to impose an innings cap on Sale in 2012, and manager Robin Ventura frequently allowed him to throw more than 100 pitches in a start. It is possible that White Sox know something that we don’t, because it doesn’t appear that Ventura has any plans to treat his ace differently in the near future. If we look at Sale’s mechanics over the course of a start, we might be able to better understand why the White Sox are so comfortable letting him pitch deep into games.
I’ll start with Sale’s release point. On the surface, his delivery looks pretty erratic. He slings the ball from a somewhat unconventional three-quarter arm slot, and some were worried about his ability to repeat this delivery as a starter. He says that he has adjusted his delivery in an effort to reduce the probability of injury. Sale throws across his body, and he adjusted the location of his landing foot by “three or four inches.”
In the graph below, I break down Sale’s release point by pitch count. I lumped his fastballs together and set other pitches aside to isolate the possible effect of fatigue on his release point. To be clear, this graph represents Sale’s four-seam and his two-seam fastball. The horizontal and vertical lines represent the average release point for each pitch count level.
It appears that Sale’s release point might actually be pretty consistent over the course of a start. A better model for consistency, however, is release point variance. In graphical terms, variance essentially measures the distance between the different points on the graph. The chart below compares variance levels across pitch count for Sale.
I did this same type of analysis last year on Daniel Bard’s stint as a starter, and found that his release point variance increased significantly as he approached 90 pitches. For comparison, I’ve also thrown up a chart of Bard’s horizontal release point variance last year. My sample size for Bard is much smaller than it is for Sale, and this explains part of the difference in baseline variance between the two (because variance decreases as the number of observations in sample increases).
Inconsistency in Sale’s horizontal release point over a start doesn’t increase quite as much as Bard’s does, but it is around 25 percent higher after 90 pitches. This might concern those banking on Sale to remain healthy and log 200+ innings this year and beyond. Bard's release point variance jumped more than 45 percent as he approached 90 pitches, and we all know what happened to him.
What about movement?
The good news for Sale is that his “stuff” doesn’t worsen as he throws more pitches. The graphs below demonstrate that Sale is just about as effective on the 90th pitch he throws as he is on the first. Horizontal and vertical movement is plotted on each axis, and the lines represent averages for the different pitch count groups.
I left the change-up chart out of this article, because he is consistent in his release point for that pitch. The slider becomes a little flatter (good sliders have little horizontal movement), but not by much. The difference in movement between a Sale slider after one pitch and a slider he throws after 100+ pitches is only about an inch horizontally.
So what are we to do with this information on Sale’s response to fatigue? On the one hand, Sale’s effectiveness doesn’t seem to be affected by pitch count. Coaches monitoring Sale throughout a start are likely making the correct move in leaving him out there for the long haul often. The disproportionate number of runs and extra base hits coming in the late innings are probably just a result of randomness. Sale suffers from a high late-inning BABIP, and that would help explain why it looks like he struggles as he tires.
On the other hand, release point variance can increase the likelihood of injury. In 2011, Kyle Boddy determined that pitchers with higher vertical release point variance levels suffered from elbow injuries more often than those with lower variance levels. I don’t have any evidence to back this up, but I’d guess that varied release points cause even more damage when an arm is fatigued. Boddy didn’t find any issues with horizontal release point variance, though, and that was where we saw changes for Sale.
If Sale’s vertical release point starts to move around, I’d hit the panic button. But for now, I don’t see any reason to worry about Sale’s ability to pitch deep into games. Rest easy, South Siders.
Posted by Noah Woodward at 3:08am
Before we get into the substance of the article, I would like to clarify one thing about the title. This article is NOT about the legal term of art known as "constructive abandonment" which applies in family law where one spouse refuses to engage in sexual relations with the other spouse for at least one year. Perhaps that scenario applies to some people because of the amount of time we spend on our fantasy baseball teams, but that is a topic for another day. Rather, I am using the term constructive abandonment in the context of a fantasy baseball league member and his participation.
It is every fantasy player's responsibility to set rosters and lineups in a timely manner and comport with the league's permissible minimum and maximum requirements. In this age of technology, people can access their teams and make necessary maneuvers from almost anywhere in the world using the Internet, smartphones, and tablets. Granted, there are extenuating circumstances that would excuse someone from being able to do so. Without getting into specifics, let's just say that some things in life are more important than fantasy baseball (as hard as that is to admit). Typically the commissioner and fellow league members would understand such a situation and extend leniency.
Unfortunately, many leagues are littered with individuals who do not have valid excuses for missing deadlines. Such recalcitrant owners are not always easy to spot, especially in leagues that are composed of friends, family members, colleagues, and acquaintances. The dilemma for commissioners is determining when enough is enough and then deciding how to handle a situation when a league member fails to submit a legal lineup so often that it undermines the integrity of the league.
In most fantasy baseball platforms, commissioners can select an automatic disqualification or penalty for teams that have illegal or incomplete rosters and lineups. This is more applicable for head to head leagues, where wins and losses are determined on a weekly or periodic basis. Electing such a setting clearly places all league members on notice that there are penalties in place for such actions. It is advisable to include such a procedure within a league's constitution (if one exists) or at least in writing to the entire league before the season begins.
Before we get into what solutions can be offered, we must discuss the unenviable task that commissioners face when there are shades of gray in determining whether to take action. As stated before, sometimes life gets in the way of fantasy baseball. That is understandable. There are also instances where someone will have the courtesy to provide advance notice of an issue, or at least acknowledge such malfeasance as soon as practicable afterwards. This is excusable as well. But when a league member needs to be reminded or encouraged to set his lineup or bring his roster in conformity with the rules, then we may have a problem.
Generally, everyone should be entitled to one mulligan. People aren't perfect and sometimes we forget to take care of all of our responsibilities, including setting a fantasy baseball lineup. On the first occasion of malfeasance, the commissioner should issue a warning to the offending league member. If it happens a second time, the commissioner must heighten the scrutiny and publicly announce that the offending league member is risking expulsion or some other form of serious penalty for the next offense. If it happens a third time, the commissioner should take swift and decisive action. Keep in mind, the commissioner would be well within his discretion to act this decisively on a first or second offense if he is given the authority within the league's rules or if he lays out his intentions from the outset.
If expulsion is the decided course of action, the commissioner must decide how to proceed. First of all, the offending league member should not be reimbursed his entry fee or any other fees that have been paid. Unless something tragic happened and a person had to pull out of the league on his own accord, refunds are not part of the game. The commissioner can then seek to replace that team with a new owner and proceed from that point on in the season.
Another option could be to retroactively change the league schedule and set a "bye" in lieu of the expelled team. This would place everyone else on even ground in terms of when he was the opponent. As for that team's roster, those players could be released into the free agent pool or there could be a redraft of those players based on various criteria such as reverse order of standings or a random lottery. That would be up to the commissioner or set to a league vote.
There is not one foolproof way to prevent something like this, nor is there one perfect method in handling such a situation. But it is something that all leagues should be cognizant of because it can happen to anyone. The most important thing to remember is that the integrity of the league must be maintained in the best interests to all participating teams. Each instance of a recalcitrant league member would need to be evaluated on a case by case basis, but these are some general guidelines you can refer to if this situation presents itself in your league.
Posted by Michael Stein at 3:01am
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