The daily grind: 4-22-13

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.

Today’s grind

Pitcher (to start): One of the fun things about doing this column for the second year is seeing the players who became popular with an offseason of analysis. Thus, when I see A.J. Griffin, Mike Minor and Wade Miley starting on the same day, I get temporarily excited until I realize I can no longer recommend them.

However, I can still recommend Felix Doubront, who also happens to be the second best Felix today. More on Doubront below in a new section.

I came close to picking up Kevin Correia several times yesterday, but I could never quite get over the terribly low strikeout totals. If I can’t start him against the Marlins, then I can’t start him against anybody, but maybe you are ballsier.

I’m quite confident in J.A. Happ this season as a back-of-the-fantasy-rotation workhorse. So far, the results have been mixed, and a match-up against the Orioles qualifies as neutral.

If you like throwing dice, Jonathan Pettibone starts for the Phillies today. In two starts, he’s been terrible in Triple-A this year, but he profiles as a real life, mid-rotation innings eater.

Pitcher (bum): Pettibone could also be a bum today. That’s how it is with pure gambles.

Dan Haren has been treated like a scrub this season and I think the Cardinals will continue that trend.

Chris Tillman made strides in the second half last season, but I didn’t see the same guy when I watched his last start. He’s struggling to get whiffs despite a high strikeout rate. The Jays have several all-or-nothing type hitters who could make this start look good or bad for Tillman.

Jeff Francis is easy to pick upon. For one, the Braves seem infatuated with the long ball. For two, the game is at Coors Field. Unfortunately, there is some of that pesky white stuff in the forecast (snow if that’s not clear).

Hitter (power): I discovered today that Garrett Jones is only 33 percent owned. He should make for a good gamble on power today, as should teammate Travis Snider.

My fingers are crossed that Matt Adams finds his way into this match-up, but you’ll have to monitor the situation later in the day.

Nate Freiman versus Doubront will produce some true outcomes. It’s just a question of which ones.

Chris Johnson is somehow 50 percent owned, which I can only assume is a slow response to Freddie Freeman‘s reactivation. A match-up against Francis, if they play, is quite great.

Hitter (speed):
Nate Schierholtz will get the chance to continue being the Cubs’ best hitter.

Leonys Martin is starting to look a little better.

I’ll also note Gerardo Parra against Ryan Vogelsong.

Tomorrow’s grind

Pitcher (to start): Bartolo Colon is doing his usual fly-under-the-radar thing.

I think Wade Davis is going to give us a bumpy ride, but he’s been a solid fantasy earner in the past and could have even learned a few things from his bullpen stint.

Tony Cingrani is the guy I was most excited to recommend, until I saw he’s 49 percent owned. Whoops, too late.

Meanwhile, Zach McAllister is available almost everywhere.

I have to give one more.Patrick Corbinhas the Giants at AT&T tomorrow.

Pitcher (bum): I’m not a huge fan of Jeff Locke.

I expect the Brewers to get to Clayton Richard.

Similarly, I don’t think Jason Vargas against the Rangers is favorable for Vargas.

Given Julio Teheran‘s early season struggles, the thin Colorado air, and the Rockies’ solid lineup, I do not expect tomorrow to be the day Teheran puts everything together. If you own him, sit him.

Hitter (power): John Mayberry Jr. has been hot early and has the platoon advantage.

I think Juan Francisco will be taking his usual hacks against Jon Garland tomorrow.

A Phil Hughes start is an opportunity to use Matt Joyce.

Seth Smith and Brandon Moss should enjoy Alfredo Aceves.

Hitter (speed): Craig Gentry will start against the lefty.

Noteworthy news

Freddie Freeman is supposedly returning to action today which means fewer reps for Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson.

Early season favorite Jhoulys Chacin is sidelined with an oblique injury. Future fantasy regular Drew Pomeranz will likely take his place, but may not be ready for widespread ownership.

Weather watch

Watch out for more rain and snow in Colorado along with the cold temperatures that go with that forecast.

There is also snow in the forecast in Minnesota, which gives me another opportunity to be baffled by Target Field’s lack of retractable dome.

Good enough for me

I try to make a note when a player I recommend is also a player I (plan to) use. Now I will occasionally highlight such players in this section.

Felix Doubront would be good enough for me, if he were available in any of my leagues. I find it interesting when players have a low ownership rate like Doubront’s 16 percent, yet aren’t available in my leagues.

From the early small sample results, we see a few interesting trends. His 4.50 ERA does not jump off the spreadsheet, but a .429 BABIP and 10.3 percent swinging strike rate (average is 9.2 percent) have me intrigued about his long term prospects.

When I watch Doubront, I see a pitcher who has a slight problem with home runs and can be a bit too hitable at times. So a BABIP around .325 might be expected (indeed, ZiPS agrees). Still, that translates to an expectation of a low fours ERA which should come with a fistful of wins and strong strike out rate. Unfortunately, his WHIP may ultimately be unpleasant as well.

His peripherals also make him a candidate to take a large leap forward, since a small refinement in his command could result in league average rates in hits and home runs allowed. If that were to happen, a mid-threes ERA would be expected.

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  1. AJ Leight said...

    Would you prefer him over Colon? I kinda need the K’s and possible wins of a 2start, as I’m facing a good staff who is slotting Medlen in at RP for a 6 man rotation. I also have Ogando in my starting 5 due to injuries. Would you bench either for Jose against a 6man? Thanks in advance!

  2. AJ Leight said...

    There’s no question I like Jose more… just not sure if this is the week to start him. I had him active for the last couple, though. And love that I just so happened to pick him up about 12 hours prior to him being named to the opening day rotation. In a keeper league, that was just dumb luck. I was just trying to make him ineligible for our prospect draft in June. Anyone who stays on our 25 man roster from opening day til the draft is ineligible.

  3. BJ said...

    I picked Leake vs. the Cubs as my streamer for the day, I liked his last start vs. Philly. I’m in a very deep 12 team league, also have Griffin starting today.

    Other options: Wood (@ CIN), Tillman (vs. TOR), Happ (vs. BAL), Axelrod (vs. CLE) – would you take any of those guys over Leake?

  4. Alan W. said...

    The Rockies don’t fare too well against lefties- in fact, they are pretty pathetic- is Minor still a sit?

  5. Brad Johnson said...

    Oh Minor is a start, I was just saying that last season I got to recommend him a lot but now he’s too heavily owned to be featured in this space.

    I like Happ more than Leake, but there’s not much differentiating the two.

  6. Edgardo said...

    I happen to like Doubront (disclaimer: I am Venezuelan and a Red Sox fan), but I fear his biggest problem is getting deeper into games. I don’t see how improved command alone would do much. He still would have to go through the order for a third time. Maybe the AL East is not as fearsome as a few years ago, but he still calls Fenway home.

    I think Carlos Villanueva and his new found confidence on the sinker is a much better gamble.

  7. Brad Johnson said...

    I’ve been streaming Carlos Villanueva since 2007 and will likely continue this season (I’ve called his name once so far). However, I’m concerned by several things.

    His velocity is way down, his groundball rate is way up, his home run rate is up, and his BABIP is practically 0 (.189). His repertoire is the same and he’s using his pitches at a similar frequency to past seasons.

    If not for the reduced velocity, I’d cry small sample and throw up my hands. But I’m concerned that a slower fastball will equal a higher HR/FB ratio, which is already not a strength for him. Especially as the calendar turns to May and June in Wrigley.

    Right now he’s preventing fly balls, which makes the gopheritis more tenable. If he reverts to his usually GB/FB/LD rates, that’s a lot of long balls.

    Ultimately, I’m not too concerned. I expect an ERA around 4.00 when all is said and done which is typical of a streamer pitcher. That being said, I’ll pick and choose my match-ups carefully.

  8. Alan W. said...

    My plan was to sit Minor because most fantasy sites are warning that the Rockies have the number one offense in baseball right now.  But after checking, it’s almost all against right handers. I told myself not to ever start a pitcher at Coors regardless, but that one tidbit is making me rethink that.

    Meh, I’ll stream off the wire…

  9. Brad Johnson said...

    I’m confused by fantasy baseball analysis. So much of it seems to be based on “This player/team is hot/cold!”

    We’ve discarded that explanation from traditional baseball analysis, so why does it hold sway in fantasy? Analyze a players’ peripherals like I did with Villanueva above, relate your concerns and optimisms, share your amateur scouting opinion. But for the love of the gods, don’t couch an argument in a phrase like “he’s hot right now.”

    End rant.

  10. Alan W said...

    Well said and I agree. Coors field is a different animal, though. It turns an average lineup into monsters- I don’t even like playing my studs there.

    I guess I didn’t draft Minor to sit ony bench but I’d almost rather start a middlin’ guy against the Marlins…

    Great stuff, dude, read every day.

  11. Edgardo said...

    Fascinating answer from someone who certainly knows more about analyzing pitchers than I do.

    I lost Greinke on two teams (14 team mixed leagues) and replaced him with Capuano -you know how that went. I went back to the player pool and found Villanueva. According to fangraphs he is using his two-seamer 22% of times as opposed to 6% in 2012, which explains the high GB% (49% in 2013 vs. career 39%). His velocity was up a mile and a tick in his last start. More than his HR/FB% and obvious regression to the mean BABIP, I am concerned that his O-Contact is at a crazy 71%. If hitters eventually lay off of bad pitches, BBs will increase and they will sit on the 4-seamer, right? Thus, dooming possibilities of long term success this season. Greinke’s injury derailed my staff. In your view, what other undervalued SP’s (beyond Dubront!) could there be? I’m already streaming Colon, Josh Johnson, AND Jackson. McAllister? Really?

    Thanks a lot for the initial reply.

  12. AJ said...

    Nice read, thanks. I’m gonna give Bartolo a whirl in my 14 team salaried keeper league. After losing Weaver and Harrison, I’m struggling to put out a decent 5 man rotation, so a 2 start from Colon could be my best option. It’s either that or a favorable matchup for Jose Fernandez. Either way it should be a rough week as I face off against Kershaw, Darvish, JJ and Medlen.

  13. Brad Johnson said...

    JJ has been RUINING my linear weights team. Prior to the season, I put together substantial offers for him in two other leagues, but thankfully they were rejected.

    I had him tabbed as a big performer for this season, but so far he’s looked bad.

    I like Fernandez quite a bit if you’re OK with the usual rookie hiccups. I didn’t mention him because his ownership rate was up around 60 percent. I might suggest taking a go big or go home approach with that matchup.

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