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Monday, May 06, 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.
Pitcher (to start): Andrew Cashner is back down to 28 percent owned and the only guy today that I can possibly recommend.
I suppose Nick Tepesch's command and control profile matches-up well with the Cubs.
Pitcher (bum): It's easy to forget that Chris Capuano is coming off the best season of an otherwise mediocre career. He's probably worth trying to exploit until he has a solid start.
Vance Worley has a tough assignment against the Red Sox.
Ubaldo Jimenez is coming off his best outing in years, but the A's present a surprisingly difficult lineup to flummox.
Hitter (power): Cody Ross will see Capuano.
Seth Smith and Brandon Moss draw the righty.
You can try good 'ol Daniel Nava against Worley too.
Hitter (speed): Chris Denorfia will face lefty Wade LeBlanc.
Pitcher (to start): There are a few names worth a shake today.
Justin Grimm looks like an under-the-radar core fantasy starter. He is opposed by a potent Brewers offense, so beware.
J.A. Happ finally gets a match-up against a mid-tier lineup.
Zach McAllister has a semi-difficult assignment against the A's.
Pitcher (bum): I think the Pirates will plunder the Mariners and Aaron Harang.
I'm predicting some struggles out of Scott Diamond tomorrow despite good results to date.
Hitter (power): Try Brandon Belt against Kyle Kendrick.
Jonny Gomes and Nava will face a hittable lefty.
C.J. Wilson is a nice opponent for Chris Carter.
Hitter (speed): Gerardo Parra will see Josh Beckett.
Roy Halladay appears headed to the disabled list with an unspecified shoulder injury. I've been saying all season that he's throwing through a shoulder issue - I've watched enough tape of myself doing the same to know what it looks like.
Three games face a rain threat today, including two in California. The Braves and Reds are most likely to see delays or cancellation, but the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Marlins, and Padres may see some rare California rain.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:40am
The big news in baseball this week was Roy Halladay succumbing to the injury bug, and it seems as though the concerns about him during Spring Training were legitimate after all. There’s all sorts of speculation out there regarding who will take his rotation spot, so I’m going to dig deep and try to predict the Phillies’ next move.
After three consecutive quality starts, Halladay had a total meltdown on Tuesday, giving up eight runs on nine hits (including three home runs) and two walks in 3.2 innings against Cleveland. Then came Sunday, when he imploded in a most spectacular fashion, exiting after just 2.1 innings, having surrendered nine runs on four hits (including another homer), four walks and two hit-by-pitches.
It was the first time the 35-year-old had given up five or more runs in the first inning of a game since his rookie season in 1999. The most disturbing part is that he did this facing the Miami Marlins, whose lineup for the day looked more like a Triple-A roster: Juan Pierre, Chris Valaika, Placido Polanco, Justin Ruggiano, Marcell Ozuna, Greg Dobbs, Miguel Olivo, Adeiny Hechavarria and Kevin Slowey.
Coming into Sunday, Halladay’s average fastball velocity for the season was 89.9 mph. Against the Marlins, he averaged 88.2 mph on his heater. More alarming than the drop in velocity, which can fluctuate from start to start, was his fastball location, or complete lack thereof. In the eight plate appearances that ended with a fastball, the Marlins roasted Halladay for a single, a double, a homer, a walk and a hit batsman, while recording just three outs.
He also seemed to know he didn’t have command of his fastball (or his cutter, for that matter), as he threw nothing but curveballs in three-ball counts. After the game, Halladay admitted that his shoulder has been bothering him since before the Cleveland game, while Ruben Amaro said that Halladay will see Dr. Lewis Yocum and is almost certainly headed to the disabled list. With John Lannan expected out for at least another month, the Phillies will have to turn to their farm system for a replacement.
Phillies fans have been taking to Twitter all day to express their desire for the team to call up top prospect Jesse Biddle. Sure, his overall numbers in Double-A this year are extremely impressive (2.56 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 11.37 K/9), but he recorded four walks while retiring just two batters before getting pulled after 41 pitches in his start on Saturday. He’s not ready.
The most likely candidate for a call-up is lefty Adam Morgan, another of the club’s top prospects who is pitching pretty well in Triple-A (3.89 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 6.75 K/9 in six starts) after a spectacular 2012 season (3.35 ERA, 2.58 FIP, 9.59 K/9, 2.21 BB/9) in 26 starts between High-A and Double-A.
When Lannan originally got hurt, Amaro said that Morgan was not an option to fill the rotation spot because he would have been pitching on short rest. It was even expected by many (myself included) that Morgan would replace Jonathan Pettibone the next time through the rotation. As it turned out, Pettibone has done an admirable job and hasn’t given the Phillies any reason to replace him yet. This time, it’s a different story. Morgan, like Halladay, pitched on Sunday and would be on normal rest to take Halladay’s rotation spot.
The problem with Morgan is that he isn’t currently on the team’s 40-man roster, so the Phillies would have to open up a spot for him. Tyler Cloyd, also in Triple-A, is on the 40-man and actually started six games for the major league club in 2012. Cloyd is coming off a fantastic start on Friday in which he allowed one run on four hits with ten strikeouts and zero walks in eight innings of work.
Unfortunately for Cloyd, that’s the only impressive start he’s had this year. He had given up at least three runs in all five of his previous starts, his K/BB ratio was just 1.83 before Friday’s gem, and even after that start he owns a 5.40 ERA and 1.49 WHIP.
Furthermore, despite the fact that he’s had good numbers in the minors throughout most of his career, Cloyd is little more than a warm body who has never been considered to be amongst the Phillies’ top 15 prospects. Ethan Martin also is on the 40-man, but he has been beyond horrible in Triple-A this year; I don’t feel the need to cite any stats other than his outrageous 8.06 BB/9.
By the time you’re reading this, it is possible that the Phillies have already announced their move. The thing is, it really doesn’t matter too much. The way I see it, it’s between Morgan and Cloyd.
If Cloyd gets the call, he’s worth an add only in the very deepest of NL-only leagues. He's an extreme fly-ball pitcher, his secondary offerings (cutter, curve, change-up) are all fringe-average or worse, and he has a four-seamer that pretty much tops out around 87 mph. Yay.
Morgan, however, has the ability to be a mid-rotation starter in the majors for years to come. The 23-year-old has good command of his deep arsenal, which includes a plus slider, a change-up and a curveball to go with his low-90s fastball.
He doesn’t have as much experience in the high minors as one would like, and Morgan may have to do some learning on the job at the major league level, but the potential is there for a solid fantasy starter. He’s worth adding in the majority of NL-only leagues and possibly even in very deep mixed formats.
Even if the Phillies go with Cloyd for now, Morgan still is worth a stash because he’s simply a better pitcher than either Cloyd or Pettibone. He’ll find a spot in this rotation.
Posted by Scott Strandberg at 3:07am
Greetings, fellow fantasy travelers. Just five days ago, Nolan Arenado was a fantasy neophyte looking to establish himself in the vocabulary of casual fans, but that was before he cranked out two home runs, including a grand slam. Brian Dozier, still the Twins’ primary leadoff hitter for the time being, has yet to establish himself as a regular fantasy play, though Justin Grimm posted nine strikeouts in a start against the White Sox on Thursday night.
Speaking of waiver wire alumni, Garrett Richards lost his rotation spot to Jerome Williams, Andrew Cashner’s control issues surfaced in a bad start against the Cubs, and Aaron Hicks actually hit a home run in Week 5, even though he continues to struggle to keep his head above water at the big league level.
But you didn’t come here to read about yesterday’s mashed potatoes. Let’s get to work dissecting some new guests on today’s waiver wire column.
Scott Kazmir | Cleveland Indians | SP | 2 percent Yahoo ownership; .3 percent ESPN; 6 percent CBS
YTD: 14.1 IP / 5.79 FIP / 9.42 K/9 / 3.77 BB/9
ZiPS updated: 64.3 IP / 5.72 FIP / 7.13 K/9 / 4.48 BB/9
Ah, 2007. Motorola’s RAZR was the hot cell phone to own. Rudy Giuliani was the odds-on favorite to represent the Republican Party in the upcoming presidential race, where he was sure to face Hillary Clinton. The Mets? They were actually good—well, good if you subtract the last 17 games of the season.
But it was also a season in which a young phenom named Scott Kazmir ran the table in the American League, leading the pack with 239 punchouts while compiling a tasty 5.1 WAR. For the 23-year-old, the future couldn’t look brighter, as the ace so many thought the Mets gave away in the Victor “10 minutes to glory” Zambrano trade made his bones among Major League Baseball’s best.
Unfortunately, the baseball gods would have no part of it, banishing Kazmir to an odyssey of arm problems that destroyed his former ace-like ceiling. He made just one start in 2011, none in 2012, and by the time we ushered in 2013, he had gone from being a former strikeout king to a fantasy oversight.
But then came the invitation to Indians’ spring training. Kazmir, now 29, pitched well enough in 13 innings, and with some help from the Indians’ reluctance to start the year with Trevor Bauer at the big league level, snuck into Cleveland’s rotation, though a strained rib cage delayed his debut until April 20, when he got vaporized by the Astros.
Still, Kazmir has turned in two decent starts since, including a six-inning, two-run job on Saturday against the Twins. Yeah, they’re the Twins, but I’ll take seven strikeouts any day, whomever they’re against, and a player who has a strikeout title on his resume should forever deserve some respect.
With Kazmir, two things really matter: his health, of course, and the zip on his fastball, which is not unrelated to his health. The good news is that through his three starts, Kazmir’s average fastball velocity, as per FanGraphs, is 91.7 mph, and overall, he’s earning a 9.9 SwStr percentage, both of which are his best since 2008.
Obviously, we’re dealing with a microscopic sample size, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction, especially when you consider peripherals like a BABIP (.350) and HR/FB rate (18.2 percent) that won’t suck so much once he adds a few more starts to his season.
Kazmir, that super prospect from Mets days of yore, is a pitcher I’d like to see succeed, so maybe I’m reading too much into two weeks’ worth of performance while ignoring the shrieking reality that Kazmir could (will?) get injured again. It’s also hard to ignore Bauer’s looming presence, as he’s sure to get a tour in the Indians’ rotation at some point this year, which would squeeze out either Kazmir or Corey Kluber.
But it’s time to get back to considering Kazmir as a potentially viable fantasy baseball starter, a former phenom still chasing that upside as he looks to make good on the promise of yesteryear.
Recommendation: I want to see one more good start. Then I’m going to add him in deeper mixed leagues with the intent of using him as a match-up guy.
Dee Gordon | Los Angeles Dodgers | SS | 13 percent Yahoo ownership; 7.4 percent ESPN; 22 percent CBS
YTD: 5 PA / .500 / .600 / 1.000 with 0 HR and 2 SB
ZiPS updated: 176 PA / .253 / .301 / .323 with 1 HR and 14 SB
If cynicism is a disease, then consider me a terminal case. Example: When I saw Hanley Ramirez limp off the field with the help of trainers on Friday, I didn’t think about his career, his pain, his family, or the rest of his 2013 season because, hey, I don’t own him in any of my leagues, so why should I care? He’s an often-cranky multimillionaire who gets paid to play a children’s game, and in a country where millions of people are out of work and the desperate among us eat out of trash cans for subsistence, I’ll choose to donate my concern elsewhere.
But because it was immediately clear that HanRam and his strained left hamstring will be gone for at least several weeks, I, like a vulture waiting for its prey to gasp its last breath, immediately wondered whether a replacement, blessed with steady playing time, could provide any hidden fantasy value. And as fate would have it, he might.
You remember Gordon, 25, that speedster shortstop who was supposed to provide a fantasy kick in 2012 when he broke camp with the team. Too bad his bat was screamingly inadequate at the plate, as he was only able to compile a .561 OPS in 330 plate appearances, and when you factor in the 18 errors that were second-highest among shortstops last year—in only 79 games, I might add—you saw a raw talent who looked out of his depth in the big leagues.
But let’s get one thing straight: Gordon steals bases. Lots of ‘em. One hundred and ninety-two at the minor league level. Fifty-eight in the majors despite having appeared in just 144 games entering Sunday. That kind of speed, coming from a shortstop, deserves notice in fantasy.
As long as he can hit, of course. Gordon was smacking the ball around to the tune of a .314/.397/.431 line in the Pacific Coast League at the time of his call-up, and he carries a lifetime .303/.357/.390 line over his 1,963 plate appearances in the minors. Gordon also has flashed the makings of a top-of-the-order hitter when you consider a very decent 13.7 percent strikeout rate down on the farm, which goes nicely with an 85 percent contact rate.
Even when he was drowning in Los Angeles last year with a .228 average, Gordon’s 18.8 percent K rate suggested he wasn’t going up to the plate to flail around helplessly. But a solid average in the hitter-friendly PCL does not end the discussion over whether he can produce a better batting average than, say, .260, and a lack of walks is very troubling.
Also, keep an eye on his defense. While it won’t hurt us fantasy folks, abysmal play at the infield’s most critical position could affect his playing time, and with eight errors in 25 Triple-A games, it’s far from clear that he can play a competent shortstop. Fortunately, the bats of shortstop alternatives Justin Sellers and Luis Cruz have been nothing more than putty so far in 2013, and with the Dodgers needing offense, Gordon should get a serious opportunity to play.
I’m not a scout nor a soothsayer, so I don’t know whether Gordon will get on base regularly enough to be a significant fantasy factor in the month or so that he’ll have shortstop all to himself. But I think about Everth Cabrera and his lifetime .657 OPS, which hasn’t prevented many fantasy owners from using him. Obviously, Cabrera has more experience than Gordon and is probably a better player, but it’s not the worst comparison.
The bottom line: Middle infielders who steal bases always will have a place in fantasy, and in deep enough leagues, they typically find themselves on more than a few rosters.
Recommendation: If you need steals and can live with Gordon’s offensive shortcomings and lack of long-term job security, grab him in leagues mixed and otherwise.
Yonder Alonso | San Diego Padres | 1B | 19 percent Yahoo ownership; 21.4 percent ESPN; 65 percent CBS
YTD: 121 PA / .284 / .347 / .450 with 4 HR and 1 SB
ZiPS updated: 608 PA / .270 / .339 / .417 with 15 HR and 6 SB
No, Alonso will never mutate into a 35-home run fantasy wildebeast, and in standard mixed leagues, that hurts his value as a first baseman. But we don’t often look for shallow mixed-league players on the fantasy scrap heap, and if you can get a guy who will help you across the board in deeper leagues without hurting you in any particular area, you count your blessings.
Enter Alonso, 26. A key piece in the Mat Latos trade a couple of years ago, Alonso has proven his ability to take a base without striking out too much, witnessed by a career 16.5 percent strikeout rate against a 9.6 percent walk rate. He’s off to a good start this year, with a solid slash line and four home runs.
Part of what makes Alonso intriguing is his offseason efforts to improve his swing. Working out alongside Alex Rodriguez (a sentence that feels strange to write, let alone read), Alonso watched video and looked to incorporate more power into his swing. That improvement helped lead to five home runs in spring training, and, with four dingers already under his belt, a good bet to double up on last year’s home run total of nine.
Chase Headley is back, Jedd Gyorko’s bat is showing signs of a pulse, and those fences at Petco Park remain moved in. Alonso won’t appear on any fantasy baseball magazine covers heading into next season, but if you believe his ZiPS projections as I do, then you agree he can provide some help at a corner infield spot in many a mixed league.
Recommendation: Not yet a standard mixed-league play, but he should be owned in deeper leagues.
Posted by Karl de Vries at 3:03am
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