May 19, 2013
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Wednesday, April 11, 2012
As we all should know, it is important not to overreact to early season slumps or bursts. The most often repeated, and inarguably true, reason why this is the case is that takes a considerable amount of at-bats for a player’s stats to begin to normalize.
Encapsulated in this truth is a smaller kernel that isn’t widely articulated, perhaps because it is an inconvenient truth for most of those in the business of prognosticating and offering advice. That smaller kernel of truth is that it is virtually impossible for your preseason speculations to have been proven or disproven yet.
While a hot week may feel as if it has more significance because it happens to correspond with an educated guess you made in the preseason, your prediction is still far from the threshold of proof or disproof. As I’ve written before, the insight more readily attainable at this point in the season pertains to trends such as usage patterns and bullpen hierarchies.
However, the fact that much of what we want to know can’t yet be known does not preclude people in positions such as mine from offering their opinions. There’s nothing wrong with that—and I’m about to offer some shortly—but it is important to remember that such opinions aren’t necessarily more informed than they were a week ago simply because teams have a handful of games under their belts.
With that disclaimer in mind, here are some observations and opinions that attempt to blend empiricism and objective patterns with educated speculation.
Reports of David Wright’s death have been widely exaggerated
Many were down on Wright coming into the season, both because of potential health issues and more disappointing recent campaigns than stellar ones. But Wright has started the season off hot. I had written in the offseason that I expected Wright to bounce back this year, and I still expect that to be the case.
The new, shorter dimensions at Citi Field allow Wright to prosper by reverting to his natural approach at the plate. I’ve noticed in past years that Wright had adopted more torque in his swing and seemingly attempted to pull the ball more in an attempt to salvage his power numbers. Early indications are that he is shedding that tendency. Health issues still loom, but presumably Wright’s stock fell further than it should because the concern and uncertainty about his health hit their peaks during prime fantasy draft period.
As I’m writing this, news has broken regarding Wright’s now-injured pinky. It looks like he’ll be in a splint and miss some time; additional info probably will be known Wednesday, the day this piece runs. My observations here relate more to Wright’s ability to produce truly elite fantasy value than his ability to stay on the field. I worry more about that latter than the former and, obviously, playing hurt mitigates anybody’s ability.
The rebirth of Ichiro … meh
Another player whose stock hit bottom this offseason was Ichiro Suzuki. Coming off a poor season and at 38 years of age, the soft-hitting former batting-average monster wasn’t attracting many fantasy suitors this draft season. But he, too, is off to great start, and now that he’s hitting third, perhaps there’s some renewed optimism about Ichiro’s fantasy prowess.
Overall, color me unconvinced. My skepticism is not reflective of a lack of faith in Ichiro—I do think he will be better than last year—but I still question how much fantasy value to which such an improvement will translate. Hitting third sounds like a nice proposition, but Seattle’s offense is so anemic that it’s almost like a paper-only benefit.
Further, I don’t believe in Chone Figgins either, and I think it’s likely that if Ichiro does continue to hit, he’ll just be moved back into the leadoff spot. Either way, he faces an uphill battle. As a middle-of-the-order hitter, it will be difficult for him to drive in a ton of runs without hitting for more power, and as a top-of-the-order hitter, it will difficult for him to amass a gaudy runs-scored mark with his supporting cast.
So, at best, Ichiro becomes what he used to be, which is a player who really couldn’t earn his price unless he hit .350. Batting average is an underrated fantasy asset, but still, Ichiro is a middling commodity, and since vintage Ichiro was overvalued in the first place, anybody who thinks "he’s back” likely values him too highly now. If Ichiro keeps up to the point that his resurgence becomes a real storyline, I’d be looking to sell.
Matt Kemp is not really going to go 50-50
Selling a superstar at the height of his powers is one of the most difficult things for a fantasy owner to bring him or herself to do. However, when hype and talent crescendo, and you get a sprinkling of small-sample-size luck to boot, it’s worth exploring the market. After coming into the season as the consensus top overall fantasy player, Kemp has begun this season on an absolute tear. Who knows what other owners might be willing to pay for him?
I may have mentioned in this column before that I have a bit of a sneaker addiction, so I’m going to make an analogy here. When a hyped, limited sneaker is released, many of those people lining up to buy that pair are doing so with the intent to resell them. If hype reaches critical levels and there happens to be real demand for the shoe beyond its limited nature (the nexus of “hype” and “talent”) the secondary market explodes immediately.
That sneaker will fetch its highest price on ebay within 24 to 72 hours. Down the line, it will still be easy to sell that pair for much above retail, but that premium commanded when the commodity is “now” fades. Kemp may now be in that window of price maximization. It’s worth finding out what other owners will (or will not) pay for The Bison. Oh, and sneaker resellers—get a life!
Bullpens remain volatile
As usual, we’ve already witnessed some surprises, semi-surprises, and implosions out of various bullpens around the league. Alfredo Aceves and Mark Melancon have both struggled. Hector Santiago emerged with the closer job over Matt Thornton and Addison Reed. Joel Peralta seems to have given way to Fernando Rodney after one poor appearance. Sergio Santos has blown two saves already with Francisco Cordero waiting in the wings. Jonathan Broxton was given first chair in Kansas City, leaving Greg Holland without a closer gig.
None of these situations should be considered permanent. If possible, I’d avoid dropping any of these players. Quality middle relievers with a potential path to saves, an undervalued commodity class to begin with, are players whose values can skyrocket on a moment’s notice. I’d much rather drop a middling player with bounce-back aspirations, a Jason Bay type, than a player like Thornton who could become quite valuable and tradable in the span of two weeks.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 5:11am (1) Comments
Welcome to Trader's Corner, your one-stop shop for bargains and busts. I've partnered with our good friend Oliver to look at the recent performances of a few players and why they could present a major profit opportunity for you. This won't just be your typical buy high/sell low column, though. As much opportunity as those situations may present, we'll also try to identify the hot streaks that figure to last and the cold spells that could spell doom.
Every two weeks, I'll look at a pair of players in each of four categories: Buy High, Buy Low, Sell High, and Sell Low. The first player will be my own selection and the second based strictly on the Oliver projections.
I'll keep a tally of all my recommendations, the date I made them, and the players' performances from that point forward. From time to time, I'll share the results in an attempt to evaluate how I'm faring and if there are trends to be found.
Each entry will include the player's rest-of-season Oliver projection in the standard rotisserie categories (in the format AVG-R-RBI-HR-SB for hitters and W/SV-ERA-WHIP-K for pitchers). Also provided will be the accompanying projected dollar values according to THT Forecasts' custom price guide for both the standard Yahoo! and ESPN formats.
Dollar values are based on a $260 draft budget with $2 allocated to each bench spot and a 70/30 hitter/pitcher split.
For the first few weeks of the year, I'll also include Average Auction Cost (AAC) figures for both ESPN and Yahoo, since they provide a reference for each player's market price heading into the season.
Week Two's edition of Trader's Corner will include a bit of discussion on players' early season performances, but established values will still be more heavily weighted towards players' preseason prices than 2012 results.
Buying high is one of the most difficult and frequently overlooked strategies at a fantasy manager's disposal. We all love to discuss player trends that look promising in the offseason, but somehow, once the season begins, every sample size becomes too small and every unexpected performance a matter of mere luck. The consensus bias shifts from heavily weighting recent performance and "upside" to nigh unshakable temperance and prudence. For the savvy, risk-seeking owner, this can present a great deal of profit opportunity.
This week we'll examine at a breakout pitcher from 2011 that I think Oliver is overlooking and an outfielder who still doesn't seem to be getting the recognition he deserves.
My Pick: Matt Garza
Yahoo! AAC: $11
ESPN AAC: $8
Oliver RoS: 11-3.92-1.29-175
Oliver Yahoo! Value: N/A
Oliver ESPN Value: $4
Despite a poor record last year, Matt Garza was a fantasy asset. While I view the breakout as legitimate, Oliver disagrees. Let's take a look at why we differ.
Although Garza has had strong years in the past, he had never been nearly so good as he was last year. He saw a massive jump in strikeout rate last year—from a career 19.6 percent to a career-best 23.5 percent, a mark that was good for 12th in baseball. This was supported by a similar spike in swinging strike percentage—from a career rate of 8.7 percent all the way to 11.2 percent, tied for fourth-best among major league starters.
His groundball rate also increased from a career 41.1 percent to 46.3 percent while his walk rate was a stable and solid 7.5 percent. That all added up to a 3.19 xFIP and 3.31 SIERA, marks that were 11th and 15th in baseball, respectively.
Oliver sees Garza's 2011 as an outlier. It recognizes his less-impressive prior track record and assumes he will likely move back towards those rates rather than maintain his new-found success.
What I see is a drastic shift in approach that lead to Garza's improved results. Prior to 2011, Garza typically was throwing his fastball roughly 70 percent of the time and his slider a bit less than 15 percent of the time. In 2011, all of a sudden he reduced the frequency of fastballs to a bit over 50 percent of his pitches, while his slider usage jumped to nearly 25 percent.
This approach shift makes sense—over his career Garza's most effective weapon has been his slider. Based on FanGraphs' Pitch Type Linear Weights, his slider has been worth 0.71 runs above average per 100 pitches since he entered the league. His fastball has only been about half as effective, at a solid 0.39 runs above average per 100 pitches—still a quality pitch but not nearly to the extent of the slider.
While a single pitch's effectiveness can't be taken out of context from the rest of a pitcher's repertoire, Garza is still throwing more than enough fastballs to effectively throw his slider off of it. His slider was actually more effective than ever in 2011, an outstanding 1.54 runs above average per 100 pitches. And though any single-season pitch type linear weights mark should be treated as too small a sample size to draw significant inference, the reduced fastball frequency certainly doesn't seem to have diminished the effectiveness of his slider.
Garza's already made one start this year. Exactly 55 percent of his pitches were fastballs and 25.3 percent were sliders. He went six innings, yielded two runs, recorded five strikeouts against just one walk and, exactly half of the balls put in play against him were on the ground. Through one start, Garza appears to be sticking with the approach that made him so successful in 2011.
My money's on the success that Garza found last year following his revamped approach into 2012. His ERA may creep up a bit due to regression, but I'm betting it won't be nearly to the extent Oliver is predicting. If he can luck into a few more wins, he might be the cheapest Top 20 starter you'll find for 2012.
Oliver's Pick: Jay Bruce
Yahoo! AAC: $19
ESPN AAC: $18
Oliver RoS: .264-88-101-32-8
Oliver Yahoo! Value: $31
Oliver ESPN Value: $26
Jay Bruce is a good hitter. I know it, Oliver knows it, Dusty Baker knows it, and the pitchers of the NL Central know it. For some reason, the people responsible for stock fantasy baseball rankings don't seem to know it, and these rankings have anchored Bruce's perceived value quite a bit below where it belongs.
Bruce may not be the most balanced player in the game, but power is an increasingly rare commodity and is something Bruce provides plenty of without really costing you anywhere else. It's nice to get at least a .280 batting average and 20 steals, but .265 and eight are perfectly nominal for the current run environment. Plus, Bruce is still only 25 years old and still may have a bit of room for improvement.
There really isn't a whole lot more to say on Bruce. Oliver sees a slight uptick in batting average, but otherwise, those are basically his numbers from a year ago. As you can see from the dollar values, they're quite a bit more valuable than the amount you can be expected to pay for them. If you're feeling a bit light on power and have room for an outfielder on your roster, don't pass the opportunity to acquire Bruce at (literally) 70 cents on the dollar before his owner realizes what he or she has.
Everyone loves a buy-low candidate. The problem is the owner who owns the buy-low candidate usually loves him, too, so you may not be able to buy as low as you wish you could. Still, it's always helpful to identify guys who could see their performance improve in the not-too-distant future.
Much like the Buy High section, this edition's Buy Lows include a mid-priced pitcher who could produce top-tier results and a hitter being punished too much for a substandard batting average.
My Pick: Mat Latos
Yahoo! AAC: $10
ESPN AAC: $9
Oliver RoS: 13-3.65-1.21-200
Oliver Yahoo! Value: $12
Oliver ESPN Value: $13
I'm not entirely sure why Latos is being overlooked in the 2012 market, but I'm even more bullish on his prospects than Oliver is.
The change from Petco Park to Great American Ball Park concerns me, but only slightly. If we were talking about a more extreme flyball pitcher, I would be a bit more concerned, but Latos has a career 43 percent groundball rate. That's just a touch below the major league average.
Latos has given up 201 and 220 fly balls in his first two seasons, eight percent of which have gone for home runs. If instead 10 percent of those fly balls go for home runs, you only have to tack on about four extra homers to Latos's expected total.
According to The Book, the run expectancy of an average home run is about 1.7 (though since Latos is better than the average pitcher at preventing baserunners, it's likely lower for him). That means we would expect four extra home runs to add about 6.8 runs to Latos's season total. That would have increased Latos's 2011 ERA from 3.47 to about 3.70.
The flipside is that the Reds provide a far superior supporting cast for Latos on both sides of the field. They'll not only provide quite a few more runs for the young right-hander work with, but they'll also likely save a few more with their gloves, as well. Over the last three seasons, the Reds as a team have posted a 6.7 UZR/150, second only to the Rays over that span. Their UZR/150 has been no worse than 5.4 in any single season. The Padres had a UZR/150 of 1.5 over that span.
If Latos throws 190 innings, that will account for roughly 13 percent of the Reds' season. If their average fielder has a UZR/150 of 6.5, that would be 5.0 runs better than the support Latos was getting from the Padres. That means each fielder would save an additional 0.65 runs per about 190 innings. Multiply that by eight fielders, and you get 5.2 runs saved while Latos is pitching. That mark would nearly eliminate the damage done by the extra home runs.
Then when you also consider that the Reds are a far superior offensive team to the Padres, it actually becomes likely the trade will have a positive impact on Latos's fantasy value in aggregate.
In two seasons thus far in the major leagues, Latos has posted strikeout rates of 25.3 percent and 23.2 percent, walk rates of 6.7 percent and 7.8 percent, and groundball rates of 44.7 percent and 42.8 percent, respectively. If that sounds an awful lot like what Matt Garza did last year, and what I'm expecting from him again this year, it's because it is. They're very similar-looking pitchers moving forward with very similar costs to acquire. Unlike Garza, Latos had a rocky first start in 2012. Don't let that fool you. If you need pitching, look to get him on the cheap while you still can.
Oliver's Pick: Kelly Johnson
Yahoo! AAC: $2
ESPN AAC: $2
Oliver RoS: .241-79-79-22-12
Oliver Yahoo! Value: $10
Oliver ESPN Value: $15
Kelly Johnson's batting average is a bit of an enigma. Over the last four years alone, it's ranged from fairly helpful to highly detrimental. Because of this volatility, the market seems to be shying away from him. Don't shy with it—your opponents' trepidations can sometimes be your gains.
It's easy to flip the context on Johnson. He's a second baseman hitting near the top of a potent Blue Jays lineup. He'll play his home games in a ballpark that boosts run production. And best of all, he's coming off consecutive seasons of at least 21 home runs and 13 stolen bases. It's stunning to think that such a player can be had for merely a song, even despite a weak batting average.
The downside with Johnson is that the batting average decline appears to be more than superficial. His .277 BABIP in 2011 didn't help. Considering his career mark is .311, we should expect some increase, but the prospects of a .285 batting average and true five-category benefits are likely a thing of the past.
Johnson had been a respectable contact hitter during his career up through 2009, never posting a strikeout rate over 20 percent over a full season. In 2010, his strikeout rate crept up to 22.1 percent, a fact that was largely masked my a .339 BABIP. In 2011, the strikeouts increased even more, to a near-dangerous 26.6 percent. Even with a BABIP boost, a positive batting average is a long shot as long as he continues whiffing like that.
Of course, this doesn't mean Johnson is valueless. As long as he keeps hitting home runs, stealing bases, and drawing walks at a respectable clip, he makes a fine mid-range second baseman. But because of all the batting average variance, it seems the market just has no idea what to do with him. Rather than attempt a somewhat difficult evaluation, owners are neglecting to evaluate him at all.
That's a poor reason to ignore a legitimate threat in both power and speed who should provide plenty of runs and RBIs, as well. If an owner in your league landed on Johnson cheaply but isn't seeing the value, make sure you punish him for it.
There may be nothing more satisfying in fantasy baseball than selling a player at his peak value only to watch him crash and burn for another owner while you reap the benefits of said owner's former studs. It happens every year, whether it was Michael Pineda's second half swoon in 2011 or that time that closer saved 20 games in the first half only to blow four in a row and lose his job. You remember that guy, right?
This round of Sell Highs includes a pitcher whose price tag may not match his value and an example of why the keystone is the most misunderstood position in fantasy baseball this year.
My Pick: Ian Kennedy
Yahoo! AAC: $17
ESPN AAC: $13
Oliver RoS: 14-3.58-1.18-198
Oliver Yahoo! Value: $15
Oliver ESPN Value: $16
Ian Kennedy sure had a fine year last year. He notched 21 wins, a 2.88 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 198 strikeouts. He induced swinging strikes at a high rate, avoided bases on balls, and threw plenty of first pitch strikes. So what's there to be bearish about with this emerging ace?
Honestly, I'm not that bearish on Kennedy. The selection flows largely from the two buy candidates I chose for today's edition. I simply don't see a huge difference between Latos, Garza, and Kennedy, and actually prefer the former two.
Garza's 2011 xFIP was by far the best of the three, at 3.19, while Kennedy's 3.50 mark was nearly identical to Latos's 3.52. Meanwhile, Latos was actually better in 2010 than he was in 2011, while Kennedy has never been as good as he was in 2011 by any measure.
Let's dig a bit deeper, though. There are two major factors with Kennedy that point to negative regression.
The first is his combination of his flyball proclivities and low home run-per-fly ball rate from 2011. He typically generates ground balls on fewer than 40 percent of the balls he allows to be put in play. Unlike Garza and Latos, this mark is well below than the league average.
Only 7.7 percent of Kennedy's fly balls left the park last year. Although not quite the bandbox Great American Ball Park is, Chase Field also produces quite a few long balls (and has actually had the higher combined park factor over the last few seasons). As such, whatever home run regression we're tabbing Latos for, we also have to tab for Kennedy.
However, unlike Latos, Kennedy doesn't have the stable track record of generating strikeouts and walks, with career rates of 20.4 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively. Kennedy also won't get the bonus of an improved defense to help offset the extra home runs we can expect him to give up.
In fairness, Kennedy did see sizable spikes in both his rate of first-pitch strikes and swinging strikes 2011, which supports the increase in strikeouts and decrease in walks. But, unlike the case of Garza's breakout, it's difficult to tie this to a major change in Kennedy's approach. His fastball velocity and pitch mix were essentially the same as they had always been.
Looking at Kennedy's Brooks Baseball card, we see that he did have a career-best whiff rate on his fastball at 7.31 percent. That's a solid number, but not enough to explain Kennedy's sudden dominance. His fastball had more movement than it did in the past—both on the horizontal and vertical planes—and while this likely helped, it seems an unlikely reason for the drastically improved results.
And this brings me to the second major regression factor that's begging for attention but also easy to miss. Kennedy's fastball, which averaged just 90.3 mph on the radar gun, graded as 28 runs above average in aggregate by Pitch Type Linear Weights in 2011. Since 2002, the earliest FanGraphs provides data on average pitch velocities and pitch type linear weights, only five right-handed pitchers have aggregated at least 25 runs above average with a fastball that averaged fewer than 91 mph in a single season.
Three of those pitcher seasons—Derek Lowe in 2002, Brandon Webb in 2006, and Tim Hudson in 2010—can essentially be ignored. They all had groundball rates of over 60 percent and represent a unique class of pitchers who generate outs in a specific way that has more to do with movement than velocity.
The other two examples were Chris Young in 2007 and Mike Mussina in 2003.
Young is a complete oddity and not much like Kennedy, either. Although much of his recent career has been lost to injury, most of the success he has enjoyed can be attributed to his career .248 BABIP. He's also 6-foot-10 and has surprisingly mediocre command. I don't see much to glean here.
Mussina presents a much better comparison. He likely had many years before 2003 where he got quite a bit of mileage out of a fastball without huge velocity. Still, 2003 was one of the best years he ever had and not a great example of a season he was able to replicate with regularity. His 3.09 FIP was the second-best mark of his career (xFIP also isn't available before 2002), and included a minuscule 4.7 percent walk rate.
It's very difficult to believe Kennedy can continue to generate such spectacular results—specifically via swings and misses and fly balls—with on a fastball having such modest velocity. Since pitch type linear weights are not defense independent, this issue probably overlaps the expected increase in his home-run rate. If anything, though, it probably better indicates the full extent of the expected regression. While it's possible the added movement on Kennedy's fastball was the major factor in his improved results, without other improvements, it's probably not a means to sustained dominance.
Kennedy is being drafted alongside potential aces like Madison Bumgarner and Matt Moore. If you bought him at that price, you probably should shop him around and see what you can get. You may be able to net a pitcher like Garza or Latos, who should produce very similar results, and then some.
Oliver's Pick: Robinson Cano
Yahoo! AAC: $46
ESPN AAC: $36
Oliver RoS: .305-81-91-22-4
Oliver Yahoo! Value: $29
Oliver ESPN Value: $25
The reason Oliver is selecting Cano this week isn't so much because it disagrees with the evaluation of Cano in particular, but in the market's evaluation of the keystone as a whole. Oliver concurs with the market than Cano is in fact the best second baseman going into the year. What Oliver disagrees with is that this makes Cano is a first-round value.
In the ESPN format, Oliver ranks a whopping 21 players at second base as superior to the replacement level. That's more than either third base or shortstop. Oliver also sees a fairly moderate performance variance between these 21 players. The market is simply neglecting to account for these factors.
The result of the market's inability to recognize this lack of projected variance is that most high-end second baseman are tabbed as overvalued and most low-end second baseman as undervalued. There's roughly a $20 projected profit swing from a player like Cano, who may cost you upwards of $10 at his market price, against players like Kelly Johnson, Danny Espinosa, and Ryan Roberts, who can all be had for pocket change and net around $8-10 in profit.
The general conclusion is that if you spent top dollar on a second baseman, it might be wise to shop that player around and see what's available. You can probably get a solid replacement second baseman as a secondary throw-in as part of a larger deal, or even find a valuable replacement on the wire. You'll be much better off with Carlos Gonzalez and Jose Altuve than with Robinson Cano and Lorenzo Cain.
If selling high is one of the most enjoyable acts of a fantasy baseball season, selling low is one of the most painful. Admitting sunk cost is difficult, but there is opportunity in these situations when the admission is managed. Many times, other owners will pay above a player's projected value out of a misguided instinct to buy low or on name value alone. Even if the return price is below the price you paid, it may still be well more than the price you'd earn in keeping a broken player on your roster.
We'll wrap up this week with a couple outfielders who will give you solid production in a category or two but who probably won't provide enough total value to justify their prices.
My Pick: Matt Holliday
Yahoo! AAC: $23
ESPN AAC: $21
Oliver RoS: .304-73-79-20-5
Oliver Yahoo! Value: $17
Oliver ESPN Value: $18
It was just a year ago than Holliday was a virtual lock to be drafted in the second round of a 12-team draft. After missing a month 2011 with a bad quad, the price to acquire him has dropped a bit but probably not enough to justify the investment.
Holliday spent most of his mid-to-late 20s as a true five-category performer—someone who could hit 25-35 homers, steal around 15 bases, and bat over .300 while putting up gaudy totals in both runs and RBIs.
At least one element of Holliday's game has almost entirely evaporated since those days—speed. After attempting no fewer than 14 steals in any full season prior to 2011, he attempted only three last year. While it's tempting to write this off to his balky quad, he'd previously set a career low in both stolen base attempts and success rate in 2010 by getting caught five times in 14 tries. Expecting more than a handful of steals is no longer reasonable.
There are a few other troubling signs for Holliday, as well.
First, he's no longer a true 30-home run threat. He hasn't reached that mark since 2007. It seems unlikely he does again any time soon.
Second, his strikeout rate of 18 percent in 2011 was the highest it's been since his rookie campaign. With no speed left and power that's more good than great, Holliday absolutely can't afford to start striking out more frequently. Batting average is a huge part of his value, and if that starts to decline, it will be almost impossible for him to justify his price. It's not quite all-hands-on deck in the category yet, but it's a risk that bears watching.
Finally, his groundball rate inched up a bit in 2011, too. The 45.9 percent mark he posted last year was the highest he's had since his sophmore season of 2005, when he hit "only" 19 home runs in 526 plate appearances. Again, like the strikeout rate, this may be just noise, but it's something that bears watching.
At the very least, there's more risk than ever before that both his power and average decline in the near future, something fantasy owners absolutely cannot afford.
At age 32, the increasing possibility of injury and decline are starting to loom large for Holliday. If he does tally 600 plate appearances, it's still likely he hits around .300 with 25 home runs. But with no speed to back that up and no Albert Pujols to drive him in so regularly, there's not nearly as much supporting those totals as there once was.
The best-case scenario seems to be that Holliday justifies his cost but provides little to no profit. Oliver believes you can actually get similar, if not better, production out of players like Jay Bruce, Michael Morse, Pablo Sandoval, and Jason Heyward for a percentage of the cost. If someone is willing to buy him as the more-than-$20-player he used to be, don't hesitate to sell.
Oliver's Pick: Brett Gardner
Yahoo! AAC: $10
ESPN AAC: $10
Oliver RoS: .259-73-38-6-36
Oliver Yahoo! Value: N/A
Oliver ESPN Value: $8
Oliver is a bit unsure of how to handle Gardner. It views him as less than a Top 40 outfielder, meaning he won't carry significant value in the three-outfielder Yahoo! format. In the five-outfielder ESPN format, it sees an acceptable player, but not someone worth paying a significant price for.
In fact, Oliver is quite fond of Gardner on a rate basis. The problem is almost exclusively one of volume, as Gardner is only projected to receive 542 more plate appearances this season.
Unfortunately, in this case, it seems Oliver may be correct on the playing time issue. Joe Girardi is fairly set on getting Andruw Jones into the lineup against left-handed pitching, and this will largely come at Gardner's expense. Then even when Gardner is in the lineup, he's been penciled into either the eighth or ninth spot in every game thus far. This is not a good combination for his chances of accruing volume in the counting categories.
There's an interesting twist here, though, and a good example of something raw projections fail to account for. Gardner will likely in fact be more useful in the Yahoo! format, where you have deeper benches and fewer total games to fill, than the ESPN format, where the opposite is true.
Although the totals he's expected to produce leave him at roughly the replacement level in Yahoo!, the format's deeper benches and lower cap on games played give you the flexibility to roster other useful players who can fill in on days Gardner sits. On the other hand, in ESPN, the deeper starting lineups and diminished flexibility that comes with fewer bench spots means volume per player is absolutely crucial.
In the latter situation, there's not much difference between Gardner and a player who would give you identical totals in 650 plate appearances. In Yahoo!, that's a massive difference, since you can micromanage when you deploy Gardner and when you deploy other supporting players.
As a result, contrary to Oliver's recommendation, I would be more inclined to take a chance on Gardner in the Yahoo! format than ESPN. But when you combine the raw projection with these decision theory aspects, Oliver would recommend staying away unless the price is severely reduced in either case. If an owner in your league is short on speed and willing to pay a premium for Gardner's steals, make sure you don't stand in his way.
If you're curious about the projections and dollar values provided, make sure to check out the THT Forecasts section. For $14.95, you get full access to the Oliver projections for thousands of major and minor leaguers, including six-year major league equivalency (MLE) forecasts on every player card.
And best of all for us fantasy junkies, you get full access to THT's custom fantasy price guides, which allows you to create your own price guide based on your league settings and play-style preferences using the Oliver projections, with projections and dollar values updated throughout the season.
Posted by Mark Himmelstein at 5:13am (15) Comments
Thursday, April 12, 2012
A few days back, I was challenged by a league-mate to build a league average rotation that was constructed only of starters drafted after the 200th pick. It wasn't an easy task—I had to wade through the weeds a bit to find six competitive hurlers—but the list below actually came out quite good for what I had expected. Whether or not the Top Six would actually comprise a league average rotation, I'll leave that to the readers to decide.
Expanding on that, I thought this would be a good opportunity to build on the heels of last week’s theme of the top 10 late-round outfielders—giving me the opportunity to make a list of cheap, valuable hurlers who can be priority trade or free agent targets for people in need. Therefore, the list was expanded to 10—even if it got a little bit ugly after the Top Six.
While this crop is not as talented as the outfielders were, there are still some gems to be found.
Here are the rules:
• ESPN Average Draft Position (ADP) was used. All starters must have been drafted, on average, below 200.
• FantasyPlayerRater.com’s roto points calculator was used to establish the value and, therefore, final rankings of the selected pitchers
• Pitcher values are based upon their regressed projections for standard 5x5 roto leagues (ERA, WHIP, W, K, SV)
The Top Six
1) Jonathon Niese
Projected Line: 3.492 ERA, 1.275 WHIP, 13.03 W, 167.13 K, 195.41 IP
FantasyPlayerRater.com value: +1.811 points above average
Rotation Fit: Good #3 Starter
Every season, there are a few guys who fall through the cracks.
Everyone on this list fell to a certain extent, but Niese slipped the furthest. He is also the most valuable. If you want bang-for-your-buck, Niese is one of the most valuable players in the league—averaging a 228.0 draft position, 78th among starting pitchers.
There’s a couple reasons why he’s available this late. For one, he dramatically underperformed his expected ERA last year (4.40 ERA, 3.41 expected ERA). Second, he doesn’t have any single overwhelming skill. Third, he’s got a smallish body of work and lacks the name recognition of his contemporaries.
No, he won’t blow you away in any category, but he’s above average everywhere. He generates ground balls, has decent strikeout rates, and keeps the free passes low. For a player available in 80 percent of leagues, you can’t ask for much more. However, if there’s one thing to watch, its whether the porous defense behind him can keep his BABIP down. I’ve projected a .3024 BABIP for him, but you never know.
Bottom line, Niese is a gem that most owners are ignoring. His ADP suggests a fifth or sixth starter. FantasyPlayerRater.com has his line worth 1.8 points above average, suggesting a solid number three starter. I think that’s an appropriate valuation and it rightfully places him as the best pitcher on this list.
If he’s available in your league, pick him up. If you need to get him via trade, he should come relatively cheap. From what I’ve seen, most owners don’t know what they have in him.
2) Mike Minor
Projected Line: 3.708 ERA, 1.326 WHIP, 12.54 W, 173.67 K, 192.33 IP
FantasyPlayerRater.com value: +0.939 points above average
Rotation Fit: Solid #3 Starter
Minor is a nice pitcher who suffers many of the same detractors that people see in Niese: he hasn’t been around that long, he didn’t have a plus ERA in 2011 (4.14 ERA), he lacks name recognition, and struggles with his BABIP.
Don’t let that deter you. Go after him and don’t look back.
One point above average seems appropriate for him, which would place him as a solid number three. However, he’s received more attention than Niese as a sleeper, so he may be more difficult to pry away from some owners. Regardless, he should be owned in all leagues and you shouldn’t hold back in your pursuit of him.
3) Francisco Liriano
Projected Line: 3.921 ERA, 1.356 WHIP, 12.01 W, 185.71 K, 198.51 IP
FantasyPlayerRater.com value: -0.057 points below average
Rotation Fit: Fringe #3 – Mid #4
Liriano is probably the most polarizing guy on this list. He had a sensational 2010, was drafted high as a result, and followed it up with an absolute stinker.
As a result, Liriano garners widely divergent opinions. If he can repeat his 2010 season—as some believe (though, I don’t count myself among those)—he’s a fringe #1 to high #2, easy. In fact, my projection based on his 2010 season has him at 4.93 points above average: 3.107 ERA, 1.251 WHIP, 14.13 W, 214.4 K, 194.15 IP.
But this isn’t 2011 and we can’t forget last season. Liriano is a boom or bust draftee now and that’s the way it is.
If we were rating on potential alone, he’s #1 by a wide margin. Realistically though, he’s fourth That -0.057 point estimation seems reasonable to me, but if you ask someone else, you’re likely to get a very different opinion. Take Rotochamp for example. They have him a -2.71 points. Ugly.
4) Phil Hughes
Projected Line: 4.153 ERA, 1.321 WHIP, 14.13 W, 155.94 K, 196.06 IP
FantasyPlayerRater.com value: -0.323 points below average
Rotation Fit: Solid #4
Hughes finds himself in much the same boat as Liriano—he was fantastic in 2010, awful in 2011, and his ranking has suffered because of it.
And just like Liriano, if you think he can repeat his 2010 performance, he belongs far higher than this.
I don’t think the Phil Hughes of 2010 returns, but I also don’t think he’ll be that far off. His above line doesn’t look like much, but with the Yankees’ bats behind him, he levels up from a number six to a solid number four.
Hughes will earn more than his share of wins and won’t hurt your elsewhere. You can do much worse with the fourth pitcher in your rotation.
5) Jhoulys Chacin
Projected Line: 3.7443 ERA, 1.4177 WHIP, 13.413 W, 160.21 K, 194.15 IP
FantasyPlayerRater.com value: -0.359 points below average
Rotation Fit: Solid #4 – Solid #5
My projections like him and the valuation above makes sense, but you’re not alone if rostering a pitcher with a projected WHIP north of 1.40 alarms you—it should. And while he loses 1.59 points from the WHIP alone, he does makes some of it back with decent Ks, wins, and ERAs. After all, you roster players for what they do for you as a whole and not about what they do in one particular category.
Putting it that way, I feel better about recommending Chacin as a number four. However, I’m also concerned with how he finished the season last year, and therefore lowered his threshold to being a solid number five.
Give him a go in your leagues, and know that I have him on a team or two as well—though, in full disclosure, that has something to do with my nostalgia for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox.
6a) Jake Peavy
Projected Line: 4.051 ERA, 1.283 WHIP, 12.18 W, 161.81 K, 194.47 IP
FantasyPlayerRater.com value: -0.173 points below average
Rotation Fit: Solid number six until he gets injured, Solid number 3 or 4 without the health problems
OK, this one needs some explaining.
Yes, I think Peavy is a better pitcher than both Hughes and Chacin.
No, I don’t think Peavy makes it through the whole season. The above line was generated purely for comparative purposes.
Though his final line didn’t prove it last year, Peavy was actually an effective pitcher and should have a reasonably successful 2012 until he gets injured.
But that’s just the thing, isn’t it. He’s going to go down at some point and you’re going to need to pick up a replacement when that happens. So, enjoy him while he’s healthy and be ready with a backup.
6b) Vance Worley
Projected Line: 3.7148 ERA, 1.356 WHIP, 12.07 W, 146.94 K, 195.95 IP
FantasyPlayerRater.com value: -0.835 points below average
Rotation Fit: Solid #5
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: Vance Worley will not exceed 8.00 strikeouts per nine this season. In fact, I don’t think he passes 7.00. It just can’t be done with an 87.2 percent Contact rate.
However, he’ll still be a useful pitcher and shouldn’t cost much to acquire. I’d prefer to slot him in as a number six pitcher—and potential wise, that’s where he belongs. But, when the dust settles on the season and the under-performers have pulled down your fantasy team’s overall line, Vance Worley will probably rank as your fifth best pitcher. Also (and this is a point of personal philosophy), I don't think there's anything wrong with rostering a "below average" starter. In fact, for leagues who typically roster six starters per team, starters four through six should be below average—by default.
Think of him as a guy who will compile counting stats and won’t hurt you anywhere. Just be aware that his ceiling is very low.
Rounding Out the Top 10
8) Derek Holland
Projected Line: 3.982 ERA, 1.442 WHIP, 14.30 W, 150.71 K, 192.46 IP
FantasyPlayerRater.com value: -1.069 points below average
Rotation Fit: Solid #5
9) Gavin Floyd
Projected Line: 4.118 ERA, 1.349 WHIP, 12.15 W, 164.85 K, 196.40 IP
FantasyPlayerRater.com value: -1.074 points below average
Rotation Fit: Solid number five
10) Bud Norris
Projected Line: 3.998 ERA, 1.421 WHIP, 10.19 W, 171.01 K, 190.00 IP
FantasyPlayerRater.com value: -1.168 points below average
Rotation Fit: Solid—Fringe number five
11) Ryan Dempster
Projected Line: 4.118 ERA, 1.402 WHIP, 11.42 W, 167.79 K, 193.96 IP
FantasyPlayerRater.com value: -1.622 points below average
Rotation Fit: Solid #6
12) Johan Santana
Projected Line: 4.101 ERA, 1.350 WHIP, 11.65 W, 144.8 K, 190.86 IP
FantasyPlayerRater.com value: -1.661 points below average
Rotation Fit: Solid number 6
Posted by Mike Silver at 5:20am (7) Comments
Friday, April 13, 2012
Brett Anderson| Oakland A's| SP| 0.1 percent ESPN ownership, 4 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 60-day DL
Oliver ROS: 3.69 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 6.6 K/9
Anderson is a forgotten man in many leagues, it would appear. He shouldn't be. When he is healthy he pounds the strike zone and piles up worm burners. He calls a pitcher's paradise home, and the lone knock against him is a below league average strikeout rate. He was primarily a fastball/slider pitcher prior to his injury, using his four-seam fastball, sinker, and slider 86 percent of the time in 2011 according to his Brooks Baseball player card. He'll occasionally mix in a change-up or curveball when he's not leaning on his bread and butter fastball/slider combo.
The reason Anderson is available in so many leagues is that he is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery he underwent last July. Will Carroll discussed Anderson a bit in his March 20, Under The Knife. Carroll speculated that Anderson could be ready to return by May or June. That would be less than a year after undergoing surgery, and would delight fantasy owners.
Reports of his rehab are positive of late. He threw a Bob Melvin, mixing all of his pitches.">45-pitch bullpen session for A's manager Bob Melvin, mixing all of his pitches. The next step will be live batting practice. The time is now to add and stash Anderson. As he gets closer to returning to the majors, the competition for securing his services will increase. He may have some struggles in the early going, as every pitchers recovery is different from Tommy John surgery, but he may not. This is a rare low risk, high reward gamble.
Recommendation: Should be stashed on the DL in leagues of all sizes and scoring types.
Glen Perkins| Minnesota Twins| RP| 0.4 percent ESPN ownership, 4 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 0.00 ERA, 0.55 WHIP, 0.00 BB/9, 14.73 K/9, 50.0 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 4.19 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, 6.9 K/9
One bad appearance from Matt Capps, a game he actually successfully saved on Thursday, isn't reason to depose him from his closer role. That said, he is following up an ugly 2011 and may not have the longest of leashes. Perkins emerged as a dynamic setup man after years of serving as a starter. His conversion to the bullpen began in 2010. He spent most of that season starting for Triple-A Rochester, but ended up appearing in 12 of 13 games as a reliever for the Twins. His results in the pen that year didn't even begin to foreshadow his breakout in 2011.
His strikeout rate skyrocketed to better than a batter per-inning, and he continued to coax ground balls roughly half the time the ball was put in play. The most likely reason he was able to strike more batters out in the pen than as a starter was improved stuff, and dramatically improved stuff at that. His four-seam fastball averaged 90.49 MPH, and his sinker averaged 89.3 mph, in 2009 as a full-time starting pitcher. Both fastballs failed to miss bats, and none of his secondary pitches generated empty swings at an above average rate.
In 2011, his first year as a full-time reliever, his four-seam fastball average velocity spiked to 95.61 mph while his sinker average velocity jumped to 94.11. Those gains paid huge dividends. He got many more empty swings with his now mid-90s fastballs, and his slider also became a swing-and-miss weapon.
Perkins is a southpaw, and the first thought of many is probably that he has a noticeable platoon split when facing right-handed pitching. However, that isn't the case. Perkins actually exhibited a reverse platoon split last year, dominating right-handed batters, 11.36 K/9 and 2.57 xFIP, while merely successfully retiring left-handed batters, 6.92 K/9 and 3.41 xFIP. Should Capps cough up the closer role, look for Perkins to take over and do just fine.
Recommendation: Should be owned in large mixed-leagues where non-closing relievers have value, and should be owned in all AL-only leagues.
Danny Duffy| Kansas City Royals| SP| 1.4 percent ESPN ownership, 6 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 0.00 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 6.0 BB/9, 12.0 K/9, 33.3 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 5.02 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 3.7 BB/9, 7.4 K/9
Duffy's first start of the year against the A's, in very wet conditions, was impressive. I was fortunate enough to be home for the game, watched the vast majority of the pitches he threw that night, and came away impressed. His fastball was routinely hitting 94-96 mph, and he leaned on it heavily. This should come as no surprise, as Harry Pavlidis took an in depth look at Duffy's PITCHf/x data from last year for a March 16 Dispatch post, and noted that he used his premium velocity heater often.
What did surprise me was how effective his secondary pitchers were. He used a curveball that he froze hitters with in the zone, and was able to get them to chase out of the zone on occasion. His change-up was also quite good, earning one called strike, and three swinging strikes on eight change-ups thrown.
His play against the A's showcased why Duffy has an intriguing arm. He struck out eight batters in six innings, and could be a good source of Ks if he isn't undone by poor control. His poor control was also on display in that start, as he walked four batters and started with more 1-0 counts than 0-1 counts (he threw a first pitch strike just 47.6 percent of the time).
There is some risk in starting him until he strings together a few solid starts, but there is little risk in stashing him on benches and watching how he does. Not everyone has the luxury of stashing him, and those owners would be wise to add him to their watch list and keep tabs on how he does from a distance. This southpaw has proven he can dominate in the minors, and it's only a matter of time before he becomes a reliable starter in the majors.
Recommendation: Should be owned in some large mixed-leagues as well as most AL-only leagues.
Jake Arrieta| Baltimore Orioles| SP| 8.7 percent ESPN ownership, 14.0 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 2.63 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 1.98 BB/9, 5.93 K/9, 35.1 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 5.01 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 4.3 BB/9, 6.4 K/9
It wasn't that long ago that Arrieta was one of a handful of prospect pitchers in the Orioles organization who were supposed to help lift them out of the American League East basement. Unfortunately for the O's, things didn't come to fruition. Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz have struggled mightily, and Arrieta hasn't been much better.
Last August, Arrieta underwent surgery to remove a bone spur, ending a season in which he was not much better than a replacement level pitcher. This year, manager Buck Showalter tabbed him the Opening Day starter. He took the ball on April 6, at Camden Yards, and was sharp against the Twins. He pitched seven scoreless innings allowing two hits and two walks while striking out four and inducing more groundballs, eight, than flyballs, six. His second start was a greater challenge, facing the Yankees at Camden Yards. The results weren't as good, but were promising nonetheless.
Historically, Arrieta has struggled with his control. His walk rate in 233.1 innings in the majors is 4.24 BB/9, and he hasn't struck out enough batters, 5.94 K/9, to offset his below average control. While it is early, his control has been pristine. His strikeout rate remains low, but there are reasons to think that can improve. In 2009-2010 he had no problem piling up strikeouts at the High-A and Double-A levels. His rate dropped significantly in Triple-A, but remained acceptable in the mid-to-high-7 K/9 range.
Perhaps more important than his past minor league performance is a notable change in the present. His four-seam fastball velocity is up a tick. As we know, thanks to the hard work of Matt Swartz, more velocity is, well, a good thing.
Pitching in the American League East is a challenge. With that in mind, it is probably best to exercise caution with Arrieta. For now, he looks like a solid stream/matchup play in large mixed leagues, and rosterable in AL-only leagues. If he's able to sustain his gain in velocity and control, he should find himself on more mixed-league rosters.
Recommendation: Should be owned in some large mixed-leagues as well as most AL-only leagues.
Addison Reed| Chicago White Sox| RP| 1.9 percent ESPN ownership, 16.0 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP, 0.00 BB/9, 3.86 K/9, 14.3 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 3.71 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, 9.3 K/9
First-time manager Robin Ventura shocked many when he named Hector Santiago the White Sox closer. Coming into spring training, most speculated that the competition was limited to Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, and Reed. None of the candidates pitched poorly, but Santiago seized the opportunity, and won over Ventura.
Santiago has been a non-prospect for the bulk of his minor league career, but became a modest prospect (he ranked as the White Sox' 11th-best prospect in the 2012 Baseball America Prospect Handbook) after adding a screwball to his repertoire in the 2010 Puerto Rican Winter League. All of his minor league appearances came as a starter in 2011, but he made two relief appearances for the White Sox in July. His underwhelming minor league career, his ho-hum prospect ranking in what is widely considered the worst farm system in baseball, and the presence of a superior prospect with more minor league success makes me skeptical Santiago will retain the job all year.
Who is the superior prospect nipping at his heels? That would be Reed, who most reputable outlets ranked as the White Sox top prospect coming into the season. All he did last year was dominate at four levels of the minors last year, and reach the majors for a September cup of coffee. Though he appeared in only six games last year for the Pale Hose, he showed off the goods that make him the team's long term answer at closer. He sported a robust 14.73 K/9 in seven and one-third innings pitched, devastating hitters with three swing-and-miss offerings. He threw a four-seam fastball that averaged 95.60 mph, a low-80s slider, and sprinkled in a mid-80s change-up.
Scouting reports gush about his fastball and slider, and both are consider plus pitches. He doesn't throw his change-up as often as the other two pitches, but it is at least an average offering to keep hitters off balance. I'd be shocked if he didn't snatch the closer gig away from Santiago by the early summer. In the interim, he is worth owning to help in ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts. The saves will come.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all but shallow leagues.
Greg Holland| Kansas City Royals| RP| 1.8 percent ESPN ownership, 32.0 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 4.91 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 2.45 BB/9, 12.27 K/9, 60.0 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 3.60 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 4.2 BB/9, 9.7 K/9
Like Reed, Holland was in a competition for the closer gig in the spring. Unlike Reed, the closer opening was the result of an injury, in this case, to former All-Star closer Joakim Soria. The Royals opted to turn to a reliever with previous closing experience, Jonathan Broxton.
Broxton was mostly lights-out as the Dodgers closer in 2008-2010. Prior to that, he was filthy in a setup role for the Dodgers in 2006-2007. He overpowered hitters with a fastball that routinely hit the upper-90s, and sat regularly in the mid-90s. The wheels fell off in 2011, and the reason for his struggles was a bone spur and bone chips that required surgery. He signed with the Royals as a free agent in the offseason, and showed off a fastball in the spring that resembled his pre-injury version.
He has made three appearances for the Royals thus far this year. The first two were clean appearance, but his most recent was far from. He fell apart, blowing a one run lead in the 12th inning in truly epic fashion. He started off the save opportunity with a strikeout, but it was all downhill after that. The next batter reached by error, and Broxton followed that up with consecutive walks. He recorded a ground out next, but the out resulted in the tying run scoring. What happened next was nearly unthinkable. He plunked consecutive batters, forcing home the winning run. It's possible the ugly appearance is nothing more than a blip on the radar for Broxton, though, it probably shortens his leash substantially.
Holland was electric in a setup role last year. He's already ownable in large mixed-leagues thanks to his stellar contributions in ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts. He, like Broxton, has a bad relief appearance under his belt. Holland's came in the Royals' opener, but wasn't nearly as ugly as Broxton's. A few well-placed hits did Holland in during that outing, and he has since responded with two scoreless appearances, one of which was of the two-inning variety.
The closing situation could be fluid in Kansas City, and Holland has had the most recent success. Because of that, it likely won't take much for him to unseat Broxton. In competitive leagues, saves are always at a premium. Avoid the hassle of racing to a computer to add Holland should Broxton falter in the near future. Add him now, and wait for Broxton to implode once again.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all but shallow leagues, and snatched up immediately in those leagues should he end up closing.
Luke Hochevar| Kansas City Royals| SP| 3.2 percent ESPN ownership, 18.0 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 2.84 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 2.84 BB/9, 5.68 K/9, 23.5 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 4.56 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, 6.1 K/9
My man crush on Hochevar is well documented. I first discussed why I buy into Hochevar's strong finish after last year's All-Star break at Fantasy Baseball 365 in November. I have since expanded on why I'm so crazy about Hochevar for Fantasy Pros. If you look at his player card at Fantasy Pros, you'll notice that I ranked him as the 41st best fantasy starting pitcher for 2012. That ranking is the highest of any expert, but I'm not the only one here at The Hardball Times who believes in Hochevar more than the masses. You'll see that both Nick Fleder and Ben Pritchett ranked him higher than the expert consensus.
As opposed to rehashing what I've already discussed in depth previously, I'll suggest checking out the links above. In short, Hochevar changed his repertoire dramatically, and his strikeout rate saw a bump because of it. He already was capable of besting the league average in walk rate while getting hitters to pound the ball into the ground at a high clip. The missing piece of the puzzle was striking batters out, and now that he is using his slider and cutter to do so, expect him to continue his breakout that began in July last year. This isn't the same pitcher of years past. This is a pitcher who should be rostered nearly universally.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all but shallow leagues.
Michael Taylor| Oakland A's| OF| 0 percent ESPN ownership, 0 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .244/.313/.376
It's going to be difficult for Taylor to crack the A's outfield, but he's doing everything in his power to. He's swinging a hot stick in Sacramento. In 37 plate appearances he is slashing .429/.462/.686. He has clubbed six doubles and one home run. He also hasn't sold out for power, having struck out in just 10.8 percent of his plate appearances. He has long been considered a threat to hit for power and steal bases, and he has repeatedly come up short of lofty expectations. Perhaps the light bulb has come on. It may take a change of scenery to find that out though.
The old saying goes that a player is playing for all 30 clubs. While the A's may not have a use for him, another team may decide he is worth trading for. It's not hard to envision Taylor being dealt sincer he's already been dealt from the Phillies to the Blue Jays, and then from the Blue Jays to the A's in his young career. It's not necessary to add Taylor at the moment, but he warrants keeping tabs on. Forward thinking managers in large mixed-leagues and AL-only leagues should check in on Taylor, and keep abreast of any possible trade rumors that crop up.
Recommendation: Should be on watch lists in large mixed-leagues and AL-only leagues.
Travis Snider| Toronto Blue Jays| OF| 0 percent ESPN ownership, 1 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .251/.308/.421
Speaking of prospects who have failed to live up to expectations, it is that time of year that I recommend keeping an eye on Snider. Snider lost out on the left-field competition in spring training to Eric Thames. Thames has since scuffled in the early going. In fact, the entire Blue Jays outfield has struggled.
Jose Bautista isn't going anywhere, and one would have to assume the Blue Jays won't be quick to pull the plug on Colby Rasmus in center field. That leaves open the possibility of them injecting some life into the outfield by swapping Snider in for Thames.
Of course, making that change would require promoting Snider from Triple-A. As expected, Snider is showing he has little to learn in the minors. In 29 plate appearances he is hitting a blistering .370/.414/.704 with two home runs and just five strikeouts. Strikeouts have been a big source of Snider's struggles in the majors, but his current 18.5 percent strikeout rate with Las Vegas is excellent for a slugger.
Can he maintain his improvement in the bigs? There is only one way to find out.
While it seems like Snider has been around forever, he is only 24 years old, and played all of last year at 23. If gamers need a reminder of a player breaking out of prospect bust status in recent years, look no further than Alex Gordon and Cameron Maybin last year. Both had lofty expectations, like Snider, and were jerked around. In the case of Gordon, injuries may have also been a factor in his slow ascent to blue chip fantasy asset status. With Maybin, it was a case of being in a vicious cycle of being called up and then sent down repeatedly. Sounds pretty similar to the handling of Snider to me.
If Snider is given the chance to sink or swim for an extended period of time in Toronto, he has a chance to be a source of plentiful home run contributions. Add him to watch lists now, and if you are in need of power in large mixed-leagues or AL-only formats, feel free to add him upon promotion.
Recommendation: Should be on watch lists in large mixed-leagues and AL-only leagues.
Ryan Lavarnway| Boston Red Sox| C| 0.1 percent ESPN ownership, 0 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .259/.335/.475
All you need to know about my feelings on Lavarnway's fantasy potential can be found in his prospect write-up as part of my Top-100 fantasy prospect list. His bats ready, and he hit in spring training. He isn't currently crushing the ball in Triple-A, but he is using his discerning eye to work walks and reach base at a high rate.
The Red Sox are struggling, and one position that has been an eyesore in particular has been catcher. Starting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is striking out often, which is the norm, but has only one hit in 13 at-bats. Backup catcher Kelly Shoppach hasn't been much better with one hit in seven at-bats.
If manager Bobby Valentine gets sick of having a free out in his lineup, he may turn to Lavarnway and tolerate his defensive deficiencies. Lavarnway has enough batting prowess that he could become relevant in one catcher leagues later in the season. Owners in two catcher leagues, where the dregs of the position are rostered, would be wise to take the plunge and stash Lavarnway now in anticipation of his eventual promotion.
Recommendation: Should be stashed on benches in large-mixed leagues that use two catchers. Should also be stashed in AL-only leagues.
Dayan Viciedo| Chicago White Sox| OF| 1.0 percent ESPN ownership, 12 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .267/.315/.435
The portly Cuban is getting his first opportunity to hold down a regular starting job for the White Sox. While he'll never get rave reviews for his defense, it's the bat that brings home the bacon in fantasy land anyways. Viciedo has plus power, and is a threat to hit 25 plus home runs annually. Last year in the Triple-A International League he hit 20 home runs in 505 plate appearances. It was his second straight season of hitting 20 home runs in the International League. His greatest gains came in controlling the strike zone and making contact.
Viciedo had a paltry three percent walk rate in 2010 in Triple-A. In 2011 he nearly tripled that rate walking in just under nine percent of his plate appearances. He simultaneously reduced his strikeout rate reducing it from 21.5 percent in 2010 to 16.4 percent in 2011. His new found patience lead to hope that he can be more than a one dimensional slugger. In 16 plate appearances this year he has struck out twice. He has walked only one time, but is showing enough that I feel comfortable penciling him in for an average north of .270.
The next step is ramping up the power production. Since his power has never come into question, expecting 20 plus home runs this year, with the potential for more, is fair. With home run power at a premium, it's hard to believe Viciedo is so readily available. If he's available in your league, you should scoop him up.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all but shallow leagues.
Alejandro De Aza| Chicago White Sox| OF| 9.7 percent ESPN ownership, 46.0 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .269/.325/.412
De Aza is the most owned player Yahoo! leagues featured this week. I'm not as bullish on De Aza as others, but recognize he is a threat to reach double digits in home runs while also stealing 25-30 bases. He has been a bit old while hitting .300 or better in Triple-A, and the fact he hasn't gotten a full-time look until now makes me question why that is. Regardless, he's starting for the White Sox, and will now have an opportunity to prove he's more than an older player taking advantage of minor league pitching.
His strikeout rate is a bit high for a none power threat. Don't be fooled by his two home runs on the season—he is more of a 12-15 home run threat than a threat to challenge 20 taters. He made up for his strikeout rate last year in his 171 plate appearance trial by walking at an above league average rate.
When on base, he is a threat to use his wheels to steal a bag. His biggest problem is that he has been inefficient. Because it is Ventura's first year as a manager, it is unclear what his tolerance level will be for base runners getting caught stealing, and how often he'll send runners as well. Just know this: De Aza is fast, and with stolen base chances, he'll swipe some.
His power and speed combination is great enough that he should be owned nearly universally. Don't expect him to post a batting average of .300 or better like he has each of the last three seasons in Triple-A, but he won't need to if he provides in home runs and stolen bases like I've suggested he will above.
Recommendation: He should be owned in all but shallow leagues.
Posted by Josh Shepardson at 2:06am (12) Comments
Surprise, surprise. Injuries have ruled the headlines for the first two weeks of the season. Whether it be David Wright's nagging hand injury or Michael Morse's uncooperative lat; Lance Berkman's torn calf or Drew Storen's fragmented elbow (and my fragmented dreams)—the story lines and roster shakeups are hard to keep track of. So what are we waiting for? Let's see what awaits on the Waiver Wire.
J.D. Martinez | Astros | OF | 37 percent Yahoo ownership | 31 percent ESPN ownership
Oliver ROS: .289/.342/.462
Hyped as the Astros' savior—if you wan't to call it that—by yours truly, Martinez has delivered in his first small-sample taste of April baseball. He impressed last year on both sides of the ball and is viewed as one of the few valuable pieces of the lowly 'Stros roster, so Martinez should get as much burn as he can provide.
Martinez brings to the table batting average and power, supported by impressive minor league numbers and all. He's a line-drive hitter whose small sample size mark of 27.6 percent would've rivaled and bested, should he have qualified, the likes of Joey Votto (27.5 percent), Michael Bourn (26.6 percent), Michael Young (26.2 percent), Placido Polanco (25.7 percent), and Andre Ethier (25.3 percent). The simple physics of baseball tell you that if you hit the ball hard on a line, it'll give the fielder less time to position himself under the ball for an our. Simple, huh? Suffice it to say that his line-drive tendencies are for real, and could have him challenging for a .290+ batting average despite his high strikeout ways.
Minute Maid Park ain't so bad for home-run hitters, too. It rated as the seventh best hitter's park for home runs last year, clocking in behind only the launching pads in Arlington, Cincinnati, New York, Colorado, Toronto, and South Side Chicago. Martinez, as such, should sneak a few line drives over the tall-wall in left field at Minute Maid.
Recommendation: Run, don't walk, to pick up Martinez in all leagues (especially if you own Michael Morse).
Allen Craig | Cardinals | OF/2B | 25 percent Yahoo ownership | 13 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: No stats accrued
Oliver ROS: .281/.334/.464
The multi-eligible, ultra-talented Craig was a bit late to the party last May at 26 years old, but carried with him into his breakout month a history of mashing at Triple-A (a .320/.379/.545 triple-slash). He bookmarked a long DL stint with a pre-All Star average of .336 and a post-All Star average of .290, and added 11 long balls in a mere 200 at-bats. So why isn't this guy owned?
He's a massive, massive injury question mark. Craig characteristically missed time last season with a knee injury, and opened the 2012 year on the disabled list with another knee injury—the norm for the guy who has played in no more than 129 games in any single season, minors or majors. And the Cardinals outfield is awfully crowded with Jon Jay, Matt Holliday, and Carlos Beltran.
Beltran, however, is susceptible to injury, as is shortstop Rafael Furcal. Even though Craig's defensive returns at second base were ugly (to say the least: he would've cost the Cardinals 26+ runs over 150 games at second base last year), Tyler Greene would be forced to slide over to shortstop in the case of a Furcal injury, leaving Craig as the (most) logical replacement.
Regardless, Craig should spell Greene and whoever the most tired outfielder is at least a few times a week in order to get his potent bat in the lineup. He can certainly help in the batting average department and may provide good power returns, should he ever see the field.
Recommendation: Craig should be owned in all NL only formats and closely monitored or acquired as a bench player in mixed leagues.
Lance Lynn | Cardinals | SP | 31 percent Yahoo ownership | 8 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 1.35 ERA, 0.45 WHIP, 10.80 K/9
Oliver ROS: 4.46 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 6.9 K/9
So Oliver and I disagree on Lance Lynn, Chris Carpenter's rotation fill-in for an indefinite amount of time. This despite Lynn's 10.38 K/9 last season in 34+ innings of mostly bullpen duty and his squeaky clean 2.70 xFIP, and this also despite his extensive Triple-A seasoning and pedigree (rated the number six prospect in the Cardinals' system by Baseball America this very season).
I say trust me on this one. Lynn, in his debut outing, threw five different pitches effectively through six and two-thirds innings (I'm counting his two-seamer and change-up, the former of which he barely threw in his 2012 debut and the latter of which he barely threw last year but was valued as above-average according to FanGraphs).
Per BrooksBaseball.net, he generated six whiffs at his four-seamer in his debut outing this year (April 8 against Milwaukee's potent offense) and four more on his curveball. He hit 95 miles per hour on his four-seamer and threw five change-ups, on average, about 10 miles per hour slower.
The repertoire is a recipe for success, and the home park and injury-laden rotation should only be aids in getting Lynn 25+ starts. I like him as a toned-down version of Brandon Beachy last year—under the radar 'til the last minute, slow to draw people in but surprising in his immediate success.
Recommendation: Worth an add in all NL-only leagues and deeper mixed league squads—particularly those who roster Chris Carpenter.
Casey McGehee | Pirates | 3B | 4 percent Yahoo ownership | 2 percent ESPN ownership
Oliver ROS: .260/.312/.398
Early returns on Pedro Alvarez versus lefties: ugly. His OBP is .291, his strikeout rate is an alarming 42 percent, and he's hit a mere three home runs in 152 at-bats. Lest you forget, that's his game. So we know Casey McGehee, he of a lifetime .260/.322/.422 triple-slash against southpaws—merely respectable—, will vulture those at-bats.
The good news for McGehee watchers, owners, and fans is that Alvarez has shown almost equal ineptitude against righties, putting together a passable but ugly .723 OPS and a 31 percent strikeout rate. Early, and I mean very early, readings from the 2012 Alvarez Job Pressure Barometer tell me that he's pressing because the pressure's on, and his 1-for-9 showing with four strikeouts in three games isn't winning him any more playing time.
McGehee was barely above the replacement level last year, but is a league-average hitter and at incredibly weak position, and can be an able fill-in for David Wright in his absence. In his heyday, which was 2010, McGehee did stuff: stuff being, of course, 23 home runs, 104 runs batted in, and a .285 average. The out-of-nowhere breakout start of 2009 followed up his half-season cameo with an even better showing. It looked like a classic case of a prospect that crawled through the cracks.
Say it ain't so, Pedro. McGehee got 600 plate appearances for the Brewers in 2011, but did nothing with them offensively: he was 32 points below league average with the bat, putting together a .223/.280/.346 triple-slash that you would think belongs to a Paul Janish. Bad luck, however, was the main culprit, and McGehee has a change of scenery, (by all accounts weak, yet) healthy competition for a job, and a clear-cut path to a split-time at-bats...at worst. You, too, could do worse finding a replacement third baseman.
Recommendation: Worth an add in most NL-only leagues.
Posted by Nick Fleder at 3:28am (7) Comments
Monday, April 16, 2012
It’s hard enough following one’s own fantasy team without having to keep track of an entire sport’s daily transactions. To assist you, here’s a column dedicated to recapping the most notable trades, signings, promotions, demotions and role changes across the majors over the past week as they relate to fantasy. We'll do this on a weekly basis. If you feel I've missed anything important, please don't hesitate to keep the conversation going in the comments below.
News from the fantasy infirmary
• Raise your hand if you thought Brian Wilson was going to stay healthy through the entire season. Yeah, I didn’t think so, either. But that doesn’t make this weekend’s news any less depressing, as the All-Star closer is likely headed for the second Tommy John surgery of his career. That zaps any fantasy value he has in 2012, of course, and makes him suspect in 2013 as far as keeper value goes. (On the other hand, if he’s being cut in all leagues, it might be worth keeping an eye on his progress over the next few months, as he might be a cheap pickup to carry over into next season.)
As of Sunday, there’s not a clear frontrunner to replace Wilson, as manager Bruce Bochy has suggested a closer-by-committee in the early going. I’m a big Sergio Romo fan, but he experienced some mild elbow issues of his own over the spring, so there’s a chance he won’t be pushed into the role. Lefties Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt are available, but neither player has the kind of super strikeout ability that makes for an ideal closing candidate, and in a perfect world, they’d be saved for late-inning situations, anyway.
It woud be best to wait a day or so to see which way the wind is blowing in San Fransisco before pouncing on a replacement. But before you pick up anyone as the heir to Wilson, make sure you take a look at Santiago Casilla, 31, who posted a 1.74 ERA, 1.123 WHIP and 7.8 K/9 with six saves last year. With a good supporting cast—and an offense that will keep Giants’ games close, even in wins—anyone who replaces Wilson at the back of the bullpen could make a strong fantasy impact as the season unfolds.
• Conventional wisdom figured Jacoby Ellsbury’s numbers would take a dive after his astounding 2011 campaign. We just didn’t think his 2012 would get off to such a horrible start. Now that he’s dislocated his shoulder, Ellsbury, 28, will lose up to the next two months as he rehabs, making him a fantasy forgotten man until mid-June. How healthy will he be when he returns? That’s anyone’s guess, though it’s important to remember the injury is to his right shoulder, his lead arm when swinging.
The Sox called up Che-Hsuan Lin, 23, to replace Ellsbury, and he figures to get some playing time even if he’s not a prime-time prospect. Cody Ross’ fortunes definitely improve with Ellsbury gone, though he’s just a low-end outfielder in deeper leagues. Sox fans hope Carl Crawford’s rehab continues to make progress (he’ll be playing in Florida this week), but he won’t be back until at least next month.
• Here’s something fantasy owners don’t want to hear about one of their top outfielders: Michael Morse will be placed in “total shutdown mode” for the next six weeks as he recovers from a strained right lat muscle. I’m no doctor, but I’m going to assume that is not good news, especially since six weeks just signals the next time they take a look at him, not a projection of when he’ll return. Consider his entire first half to be at risk until things improve.
• Morse wasn’t the only National to receive some not-so-good news last week either. Drew Storen had surgery to remove a bone chip from his elbow, which will deprive fantasy owners of his services until the All-Star break or so. Even worse, Davey Johnson has yet to confirm whether Henry Rodriguez or Brad Lidge will assume full-time closer duties, so we’re going to have to keep a lookout for any late-inning trends coming out of DC over the next couple of weeks.
• Lance Berkman, who was shelved last week with a calf injury, looks ready to return Tuesday, so it looks as though he’ll be a safe start this week.
• Although he seemed certain to go on the DL with a fractured pinky, David Wright appears to be doing just fine, as he cranked out a home run on the first pitch he saw from Vance Worley Saturday. If you have Wright, it wouldn’t hurt to be cautious and make sure his finger fully heals, but like Berkman, he also seems like a safe start this week.
Performance of the week
Matt Cain probably deserved to win in Week One, but he broke down late to allow five earned runs in a loss to the Diamondbacks. There were no such hangups Friday against the Pirates when the right-hander threw a one-hit shutout, striking out 11. For a guy who’s my favorite to be the NL Cy Young winner in 2012 (full disclosure: I have him in my H2H league), this start reminds fantasy owners he’s a high-end starter in every meaning of the word.
AL player of the week
Here’s the thing about C.J. Wilson joining the Angels over the offseason: he was already battle-tested in the American League, and by going to Anaheim, he was staying in the familiar AL West, now joining a squad that plays in a better pitcher’s park with some serious offensive thunder backing him up. Wilson already is making it clear that he’s capable of continuing his All-Star form, too, as he notched two wins this week and looks ready to make a run at 18 to 20 wins this year.
NL player of the week
Whether you believe Matt Kemp will make good on his vow to become the first 50-50 player in major league history, there’s no question the center fielder is doing all he can to validate his words. This week, Kemp continued his white-hot start to the season, slamming four home runs with eight RBIs. (Apologies to Chris Young, who also had a monster week in fantasy, adding two steals to his three home runs.)
Posted by Karl de Vries at 5:04am (1) Comments
The Daily Grind is a project to provide daily match-up advice based on my every morning waiver wire search. I welcome advice to help make this column more effective.
Match -ps will provide the backbone of the content. Advice will cover both same-day and next-day selections. I also plan to include the numbers from my previous day's picks.
One problem with kick starting a column like this on a Monday is that the pickings are slim.
There are only 10 games today and most of the starters are rostered. If you're lucky, you can take Daniel Bard, Danny Duffy or Erik Bedard in rough match ups (Rays, Tigers, and Diamondbacks respectively). If, like me, you don't have those options, you could try Philip Humber against the inconsistent Orioles or Dillon Gee against a flat Braves lineup. I'm putting my money on nobody today.
If you're looking for a hitter, Casey McGehee is probably available and should be starting against lefty Joe Saunders. If you need to dig deeper than that, try Wilson Betemit against Humber. Neither player is guaranteed to start.
A shallower league might want to try Nolan Reimold, although he was out with leg cramps yesterday.
Two potentially available starting pitchers have favorable match ups tomorrow. Justin Masterson against the Mariners is an automatic start, although odds are he's taken in your league (77 percent owned in Yahoo!).
Joe Blanton is facing the Giants and is almost certainly available (2 percent owned in Yahoo!). The downside to Blanton is that his skill set isn't such that he will reliably dominate bad offenses. Further, the Giants aren't nearly as bad offensively as they've been the past few seasons, although they aren't exactly good either.
Several bad starters are going tomorrow, including Kevin Millwood, Tyson Ross, Jeff Karstens, Anthony Bass, Jamie Moyer, and Bruce Chen. The Indians have several position players, including Casey Kotchman and Shelley Duncan, who should benefit. Jason Kubel (facing Karstens) and Jesus Guzman (facing Moyer) also look like good match-ups that are generally available.
If Santiago Casilla has avoided attention in your league, grab him now. He should see the bulk of save opportunities in San Fran. Sergio Romo is frequently unavailable and Jeremy Affeldt doesn't have a shutdown profile.
Heath Bell appears to be continuing his multi-year decline. Steve Cishek appears to be next in line for now and Juan Carlos Oviedo may eventually join the picture down the road. Bell will probably rebound and retain his job, but this isn't a bad place to speculate.
I've seen Henry Rodriguez bounce on and off the waiver wire all season. If he's available and you have room, give him a shot. Brad Lidge is almost guaranteed to break down sooner rather than later.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:30am (1) Comments
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Navigating a team through the 27-week adventure that is the fantasy baseball season can be an arduous task. There will be plenty of roller coaster moments complete with mountain top highs and depressing, soul-searching lows. It’s extremely demoralizing to experience the latter in the first full week of the season.
That’s where I currently stand, though, as I’m left to pick up the shattered pieces after an abysmal Week Two performance.
I strolled through the first half of the week devoid of any legitimate hitting. My team had hit an unimaginable total of zero home runs heading into action on Friday.
Finally, it appeared as if my star first round pick, Jacoby Ellsbury had awakened from his slumber as he started the day 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. No sooner did I have the opportunity to appreciate his effort than I saw the misery that ensued as Reid Brignac came tumbling down on Ellsbury’s shoulder.
The early timetable has Ellsbury out for six to eight weeks, which is an absolutely crushing blow. In attempting to achieve my targets on draft day, Ellsbury had been penciled in for somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 home runs and 45 stolen bases. Oh, and doing so with a plus average, top-notch run totals and solid RBI numbers to boot.
There are few players capable of putting up those kinds of numbers, let alone available as free agents. This obviously won’t be a simple fix.
Hitting results: (297 AB) .253 AVG / 47 R / 4 HR / 31 RBI / 5 SB
Relative to targets: AVG - .037 (.238 compared to .275 target) / + 5.5 R / - 6.75 HR / - 4.5 SB
Even with the injury to Ellsbury, we still managed a solid total of 297 at-bats on the week. The power is obviously way under where we need it to be, but at least we managed four home runs over the weekend.
The average rebounded from an awful Week One, but is still far below the target. If this number is still sitting in the .240s after the next few weeks, I may have a real problem on my hands. Once you fall behind in average, it can be extremely difficult to make up the necessary ground.
The runs scored numbers were solid once again, and it’s the lone place on offense that I am ahead of pace. The steals numbers were a tad short, but still manageable. How they’ll react moving forward without Ellsbury is another story.
Chris Iannetta was the star of my offense for the week. In only 17 at-bats he managed to hit .353 with a pair of homers and a team leading seven RBI. Yunel Escobar, Hunter Pence and Melky Cabrera also turned in strong performances. Mat Gamel has failed to homer in the early going, but is contributing in other ways: He managed two stolen bases on the week.
Jesus Guzman hit just .095 on the week and has yet to homer or steal a base. He’s also in serious danger of losing his everyday job once Carlos Quentin returns. Ike Davis started off the season 1-for-22, but managed a two-hit day, including a home run, on Sunday. Angel Pagan, who started similarly slowly, came on over the weekend and grabbed his first stolen base.
Pitching results: (63.1 IP) 2 W / 52 K / 2 SV / 4.405 ERA / 1.532 WHIP
Relative to targets: -2wWins / + 4 K’s / - 0.25 SV / - 1.305 ERA (4.86 vs. 3.56) / -0.259 WHIP (1.484 vs. 1.225)
The pitching stared the week out strongly: Shaun Marcum pitched extremely well, earning a win on Monday and last week’s FAAB pickup Ross Detwiler followed with five shutout innings and a win of his own on Tuesday.
Sadly, those would be the only two victories we would acquire during the week. Dan Haren pitched poorly in his second consecutive outing, but still left the game with a 6-3 lead which his bullpen subsequently blew.
Similarly, Ricky Nolasco pitched decently in his five innings of work, leaving with a 4-2 lead of his own. Sadly again, the Marlins bullpen was unable to hold that lead and deliver the win.
Daniel Hudson was bombed at Coors by the Rockies, Matt Moore got whipped by the Tigers and Red Sox, and Luis Mendoza had one good and one very bad outing.
Marcum and Detwiler each pitched well in their second outings of the week as well, though neither picked up a second victory.
After picking up three saves in the first weekend of games, the Mets didn’t provide Frank Francisco any chances this week. Mariano Rivera rebounded nicely from his Opening Day blowup and was perfect in his two save chances.
On the plus side, Ryan Vogelsong returned from the DL and pitched well in his first start. He will be a nice addition to the lineup next week.