Tag Archive | "Adam Wainwright"

Triple Play: Matt Moore, Carlos Gonzalez, Adam Wainwright

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Triple Play: Matt Moore, Carlos Gonzalez, Adam Wainwright

Posted on 29 April 2013 by Chris Caylor

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Who’s Hot?

Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays’ 23-year-old lefty is off to a sensational start in 2013, going 5-0 with a 1.12 ERA and a WHIP of 0.87. If you’re lucky enough to have him on your fantasy team, chances are it is off to a good start as well. He does need to limit his walks (4.2 per 9 inn.), but he is permitting a league-best 3.7 hits per 9 innings. Expecting Moore to sustain that (and his ERA and WHIP by extension) would be foolish; however, there is reason for hope that he will be able to keep them in the 3.30/1.20 range: his swinging strike rate is BELOW the league average. Moore was fifth in the AL with 175 strikeouts in 177 innings pitched in 2012, so he has the ability to whiff hitters. If his swinging strike rate goes up, then he could be even more dominating than he’s been. That should be a scary thought for major-league hitters (and a dream for fantasy owners).

Who’s Not?

Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

CarGo is the poster child for the Rockies’ slump. Although Gonzalez has 4 HR, 12 RBI and 4 SB in the season’s first four weeks, Gonzalez is hitting a paltry .111 with three singles in his past six games. He has not hit a home run in his past 10 games. The slump is severe enough that Rockies manager Walt Weiss gave Gonzalez the day off Sunday. While it’s obviously too early to get too concerned about the kind of season CarGo will have, it may not be too early to wonder if the Rockies’ hold on first place in the NL West is already slippling away. With Gonzalez slumping, the timing of Troy Tulowitzki’s shoulder injury might be enough to push the Rockies out of first place in the division. And once they’re out of first, the chances of them getting back there aren’t good. If you own Gonzalez, you really have no choice other than to ride out this slump.

Playing the Name Game

Player A: .271/.326/.365, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 11 runs, 4 SB
Player B: .286/.307/.514, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 10 runs, 0 SB

Both of the players listed here batted cleanup for their teams on Saturday night. Player A is the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp. Player B is Yuniesky Betancourt. Yes, you read that correctly. Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke actually did this. I know Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez are both on the disabled list. I know Rickie Weeks is slumping horribly. But, still, really? A guy with a career OPS+ of 83 hitting cleanup? Naturally, of course, Betancourt would go 2-for-5 with an RBI. This means it will likely happen again (although it didn’t repeat itself on Sunday). I can’t actually bring myself to suggest that a fantasy owner pick up Yuni, so I’ll just say this instead: all fantasy stats count, regardless of who accumulates them. He would be an easy drop once the inevitable regression back to his usual terrible self happens.

Player A: 0-0, 1.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 4 saves
Player B: 2-0, 0.81 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 6 saves

Player A is Edward Mujica, the Cardinals’ current closer. Player B is Jim Henderson, the closer for the Brewers after John Axford’s implosion. Mujica replaced Mitchell Boggs, who had replaced Jason Motte. A fellow owner in my NL-only league mentioned Mujica as soon as Motte’s elbow injury became public knowledge. He had the foresight to pick up him. I, on the other hand, figured that young flamethrower Trevor Rosenthal would become the closer. While that may still happen, Mujica has done an excellent job closing games. Henderson, meanwhile, may not give the job back at all. He is 6-for-6 in save chances and I would not put much stock in manager Ron Roenicke’s concern about Henderson throwing too many pitches as the closer. Axford may have had a few scoreless innings of late, but he has proven repeatedly that he cannot handle the ninth-inning pressure on a regular basis. Yanking Henderson from the job would be a terrible decision. Then again, Roenicke has shown a flair for terrible choices before (see Yuniesky Betancourt above).

Random Thoughts

  • Any questions about whether Adam Wainwright is “all the way back” from Tommy John surgery? Through five starts, the man they call “Waino” is averaging more than 7 innings per start, with a 37/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. One walk in five starts. Lots of pitchers can’t get through five innings without issuing a free pass.
  • Conversely, the Cardinals’ bullpen is a hot mess right now. While it’s so frustrating to watch the bullpen ruin two decent starts over the weekend from Jake Westbrook and Shelby Miller, it is still April. Here’s hoping that general manager John Mozeliak stays true to his history and does not make a knee-jerk trade in response. It would be easy to deal a useful player like Matt Carpenter for a fungible setup man or middle reliever.
  • Doug Fister has hit eight batters already in 2013. Good thing he didn’t plunk Carlos Quentin that night or it might be him on the DL.
  • Shin-Soo Choo has already been hit by pitches 10 times this season.
  • Nelson Cruz is on another one of his carry-the-team-on-his-back hot streaks: 3 HR, 13 RBI, 6 runs scored, along with a hitting line of .440/.533/.840 over the past week.
  • Hilarious on-pace stat of the year so far: Mike Napoli is on pace to drive in 190 runs for the Red Sox.
  • Seriously, though, I don’t think Boston misses Adrian Gonzalez so far this year.
  • In the same at-bat versus Albert Pujols last week, Yu Darvish threw a 97 mph heater and a 64 mph curveball. Proving that he is human, Pujols struck out.
  • Going into Sunday’s games, Justin Upton and Allen Craig had each driven in 18 runs for their teams. The difference? Upton has 12 home runs and Craig has none.
  • Most of the hype among the game’s youngest players goes to Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, but don’t overlook 20-year-old Manny Machado in Baltimore. Machado is on a seven-game hitting streak, during which time he has compiled a .433 average, 5 RBI, 5 runs scored and two steals.
  •  Which one of these statements is true? Edinson Volquez pitched seven consecutive innings without walking a batter last week. Petco Park was sold out.
  • Believe it or not, it’s Volquez. Someone call Ripley.

Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10

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Who’s Hot: Tampa Bay Rays rotation

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Who’s Hot: Tampa Bay Rays rotation

Posted on 21 August 2012 by Chris Caylor

Let’s throw a little change of pace into this week’s edition of Who’s Hot, Who’s Not. Instead of individual players, we will touch on the starting rotations that have been the best (and worst) of the past month. Not surprisingly, the teams with quality starting pitching the past few weeks are in the playoff mix (with one exception), while the team on the “Not” list slides into oblivion for 2012.

Hottest of the Hot: Tampa Bay Rays

It has nearly become as certain as death and taxes: great pitching by the Tampa Bay Rays. Over the past month, the Rays’ starters have compiled a 6.2 WAR – far above any other team in baseball. Thanks to the sturdy starters, they were able to tread water until Evan Longoria returned from injury; since then, the Rays have made their move, soaring into first place in the Wild Card standings (and only five games behind the New York Yankees entering Monday’s games). This past weekend, the Rays crushed the Los Angeles Angels, outscoring them 37-14 in a four-game sweep.

At the front of the rotation, David Price has to be considered a leading candidate for the AL Cy Young Award, with a 16-4 record, 1.10 WHIP and WAR of 5.0. Price has been particularly dominant in the past month, going 3-0 while averaging over 7 innings, 10 strikeouts and under two walks per start. It’s safe to say he has blossomed into the ace folks envisioned as a rookie during the 2008 World Series run. At 26, he will only get better.

Matt Moore tantalized everyone in 2011 with his shutout of the Texas Rangers in the ALCS, but 2012 had been a roller coaster ride for 23-year-old southpaw. Until the All-Star Break. Since then, Moore has been nearly as unhittable as Price, winning 4 of 5 starts and averaging 9 Ks per start. A 1-2 punch like that would be tough enough to beat, but the Rays have more pitching to throw at their opponents.

“Big Game” James Shields has shaken off the trade rumors that swirled in July and lived up to his nickname, winning 3 of 5 starts with 9.25 K/9 and 1.75 BB/9 ratios. Last Wednesday, when the Rays were prey to Felix Hernandez’s perfect game, Jeremy Hellickson pitched seven terrific innings of his own, giving up five hits and the game’s only run. Earlier this year when injuries struck the Rays’ rotation, Alex Cobb came up from the minors and held his own. His xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching) is 3.29, which is well above league average and more than a run lower than his ERA.

All five Rays’ starters have a HR/9 ratio of 1.00 or less. Further, Moore’s BB/9 ratio of 2.31 is the highest of the bunch. When you keep the ball in the park and don’t issue free passes, good things happen. Fantasy owners have no doubt appreciated their consistency all season.

The Rays have still more pitching depth. One of the pitchers Cobb replaced is Jeff Niemann, who currently is on a Triple-A rehab assignment recovering from a broken right fibula. When healthy, Niemann is a proven major-league starter. Finally, let’s not forget about Wade Davis, who likely would be starting for about two dozen major league teams. Davis is averaging over a strikeout per inning (and has done so all season). He is a weapon out of the bullpen and valuable insurance in case of injury.

Who Else is Hot?

Seattle Mariners – The Mariners are turning into a classic spoiler team. They might be too far out of contention for 2012, but with their rotation pitching as well as it has for the past month, they will be a thorn in their opponents’ sides. At the top of the rotation, of course, is Felix Hernandez, who pitched a brilliant perfect game against the Rays last week. He is a nightmare for anyone, but he has had help. Jason Vargas has been every bit as good as King Felix the past month, averaging over 7 innings per start and winning 4 of 6 outings. However, Vargas’ run is likely unsustainable, given his too-good-to-last home run to fly ball ratio of 2.4%. He might have good control, but that type of luck is bound to run out. If you own him in your fantasy league, hopefully you have reaped the benefits of Vargas’ good fortune. Blake Beavan has turned his season around after a difficult start, while Hisashi Iwakuma has also pitched well. Kevin Millwood hasn’t been great, but he hasn’t been terrible, either.

Los Angeles DodgersClayton Kershaw is well established as the Dodgers’ ace, but Chad Billingsley has been better than Kershaw the past month. Billingsley has teased the team (and fantasy owners) for years; has he finally turned the corner? The jury is still out, in my opinion. Billingsley needs to be active in all fantasy formats while he pitches this well. In the meantime, the Dodgers’ relatively low-profile offseason signings have paid off handsomely. Chris Capuano has a 24-to-5 K/BB ratio over his past 22 innings pitched, while Aaron Harang has tossed three straight quality starts this month. Both Capuano and Harang have greatly benefited from pitching their home games at Dodger Stadium. They aren’t as easy on ERA or WHIP for fantasy owners, but they are great matchup plays. With Ted Lilly’s return delayed, the Dodgers acquired Joe Blanton from Philadelphia, but his two starts have been atrocious. Blanton isn’t worth owning in any leagues right now.

St. Louis Cardinals – The Cardinals are one of baseball’s more enigmatic teams. Over the past month, they have gotten outstanding starting pitching from Adam Wainwright, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook, yet they have actually lost ground in the NL Central. Wainwright struggled at times in the first half of the season, but he has come on strong the past month. He hasn’t allowed more than two runs in a start since July 18, with an ace-like 40-to-6 K/BB ratio. Lohse boasts a microscopic 0.46 ERA in the month of August to go along with a 1.11 WHIP. Pretty good time for a career-best year, what with Lohse being a free agent at season’s end. I consider him a must-start in all formats. Lance Lynn has struggled the past month – probably due to his workload increasing drastically – but he has been a rock of consistency for St. Louis through the year. Not much was expected of rookie righty Joe Kelly when he took Jaime Garcia’s place in the rotation, but Kelly has been respectable. Garcia’s return to the rotation Sunday couldn’t have gone much better – 8 shutout innings, career-high 10 strikeouts. If he is able to maintain that type of quality, the Cardinals will be a dangerous team over the season’s final six weeks. Starts like that would be a huge boost to fantasy owners over the remainder of the season.

Washington Nationals – With the Nats, it’s been all Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper this season. But the rest of the rotation has been terrific for Washington this season. Before Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann was the stud young pitcher on the team. He has returned from his own Tommy John surgery to post numbers every bit as strong as Strasburg. Zimmermann has no innings restriction this season. Over the past month, he has averaged a strikeout an inning, while walking just one batter per 9 innings. Strasburg, of course, has been sensational, striking out 10 batters per 9 innings. There has been plenty of debate about the impending shutdown, but Strasburg has helped pitch the Nationals to the best record in the National League. Gio Gonzalez has tailed off a bit from his first half, but he still has been worth 1.0 WAR over the past month. Edwin Jackson has pitched well (10 Ks per 9 innings, 3.05 xFIP), but has been especially prone to the long ball over the past month, with a 22% HR to fly ball ratio. His strikeouts make him a worthy start, especially in rotisserie leagues. Ross Detwiler has pitched much better than an average fifth starter, despite a low K/9 ratio.

Who’s Not: Los Angeles Angels

Okay, I give up on this team. A few weeks ago, Albert Pujols was on fire and the Angels were seemingly primed to make a move in the AL West after trading for Zack Greinke. Instead, it’s been all downhill. Greinke has been terrible since switching leagues, getting lit up to the tune of a 6.19 ERA and 20% HR to fly ball ratio. In fact, the Angels pitching staff as a whole has been the worst in either league the past month. Worse than the Rockies, the Astros, the Twins. Everyone. Even Jered Weaver has not been immune. The Rays pounded him for 9 ER during the four-game sweep over the weekend. C.J. Wilson has averaged less than 6 innings per start while his BB/9 has gone up. Dan Haren has been so awful that the Angels are going to skip his turn in the rotation in an attempt to “work on his release point,” according to the Orange County Register. In terms of WAR, the Halos’ best pitcher over the past month has been reliever Kevin Jepsen, who has pitched only 12 1/3 innings. Not a good sign for the team. You have to believe that Weaver and Wilson will improve, but Greinke and Haren are larger conundrums for fantasy owners. Do you risk cutting them or trading them, only to watch them get it together for the final few weeks of the season? Or do you watch them torpedo your season? Situations like this are tricky for fantasy owners. The Angels don’t have a choice but to keep running them out there and hope the results improve.

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Field Of Streams: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options

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Field Of Streams: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options

Posted on 19 August 2012 by Will Emerson

Welcome back to another edition of Field of Streams, your in depth look at some viable, and some not so viable, fantasy streaming options for the upcoming fantasy week.

Now before we dig on in this week, I just want to mention that, thanks to my stellar praise (shameless plug here,) you will no longer find the Shark Jeff Samardzija on this list as he is now owned by more than, albeit barely, 50% of ESPN and Yahoo! owners. Huzzah! He is still only owned by about 51% in both ESPN and Yahoo! leagues so you can still probably grab him, but the rise over 50% eliminates him from this list. So now on with the show, here comes your look at your fantasy streaming options, owned less than 50% in ESPN and Yahoo! leagues for the week of 8/20-8/26:

Mike Leake (CIN)- After a sluggish start, Leake turned it around with a solid June. In the month of June he posted a 2.55 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and a very solid 3.17 xFIP. Good numbers indeed! But then came July. In that month, he had a 5.46 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP, a pretty drastic turnaround, if you ask me, and while you didn’t ask me, I’m the one writing, so deal with it. The bright spot here is that his xFIP was still below four at 3.69, so maybe he was not quite as bad as he seemed. So far in his three August starts he has a 3.43 ERA, a .90 WHIP and a respectable 6.86 K/9 and his last start was plain brilliant. Against the Mets he pitched a complete game, allowing just one earned run on four hits, walking no one and striking out four. His xFIP and SIERA point to him sustaining an ERA around 3.70-4.00 and could provide a fantasy team with some quality starts down the stretch. He has two starts this week, but unfortunately he is locking horns with Roy Halladay at Citizen’s Bank Park in the first start and looks to be matched up with Adam Wainwright in Cincy in the other. Neither of these looks to be any sort of lock for a quality start or a “W”. So, I would keep an eye on Leake, but until he stays consistent, I would steer clear. (3.7% owned in ESPN and 10% in Yahoo!)

Miguel Gonzalez (BAL)- Some of you still may not have M-Gon, his unofficial terrible nickname, on your radar but the 28 year old has twirled a few good starts this year. Now the first red flag is this is the first many of us are hearing about Miggy and he is 28 years old. He was selected in the 2004 amateur draft and did not pitch in the minors at all in ’08 or ’09. At Triple-A Norfolk this year he had a 1.61 ERA with a .72 WHIP and a K/9 over 10, which as you know tends to grab my attention. Since being called up all he’s done is go 5-2 with a 3.38 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP and a 6.90 K/9. In his last outing he stymied the Red Sox over six innings and this week he has two starts, so he should be grabbed immediately, right? Well, maybe not. These starts come against the Rangers and Blue Jays, two heavy hitting teams and for a pitcher inducing ground balls only about a third of the time and an xFIP close to five I would think long and hard before streaming him. (7.9% owned in ESPN and 8% in Yahoo!)

Freddy Garcia (NYY)- Another two start pitcher for the upcoming week, Freddy could be a solid pickup for any fantasy squad. Don’t necessarily expect a ton of Ks, but if you need some quality starts Steady Freddy (new nickname pending) may just be your man. Only once in his last eight starts has he given up more than three earned runs and in that start he gave up four earned runs. As much as I am not a fan of the quality start stat, it is nice to know that five of those eight starts were quality starts. I like Steady Freddy a lot this week at the White Sox and at the Indians. This could very easily be a two win week for Garcia and he is a pitcher that is unlikely to hurt your stats this week unless you are, and really you should be, in a league with K/9. Although his season K/9 of 6.80, which is a bit lower than I’d necessarily care for, is certainly respectable enough.(1.3% owned in ESPN and 6% in Yahoo!)

Mark Rogers (MIL)- Obviously I absolutely love the K/9 of 9.13 Mr. Rogers is throwing out there, but that 4.94 ERA may steer some fantasy owners away. Well his xFIP is 3.14 thus far and the high ERA could have a lot to do with the last start in Colorado where he was roughed up a bit, but that can be expected a mile above sea level. Most prognosticators seem to feel his ERA will be somewhere in the fives, but the xFIP is promising, mostly because he is walking less than three batters per nine, which is much lower than his walk rates in the minors which tended to hover in the five or six range. His K/9 is also higher than his Triple-A numbers, which you don’t often see. Maybe he is gaining better control or maybe it is just major league hitters not having seen him and his stuff, previously. So while a regression could be coming, his starts this week are against the light hitting Cubs and the upstart Pirates. The Cubs and Pirates are currently 28th and 29th in the majors in walk rate, not exactly the most patient of hitters, so I say ride the trolley on in to Mr. Rogers neighborhood this week. (.2% owned in ESPN and 1% in Yahoo!)

Kevin Millwood (SEA)- Kevin Millwood is an innings eating dude and while that will not always translate into fantasy goodness, you have to like him in his first start this week. He is at home against the Tribe and Millwood has been cruising in his home starts of late. In his each of his last four home starts, against the Rays, Royals, Yankees and Rangers, he pitched into the 7th and allowed less than 3 earned runs. The peripherals have not been great, per se, but I really like his odds at home against the Tribe this week. His second start will be at the Cell against the White Sox and this is a bit more iffy. I say stream him against the Tribe and sit him against the ChiSox. (1.1% owned in ESPN and 4% in Yahoo!)

Marco Estrada (MIL)- I know I have made my fantasy crush on Marco “Ponch” Estrada readily known, but here he is still owned less than 10% in both ESPN and Yahoo! leagues! I mean, sure, who would want a pitcher with a 8.73 K/9, 1.91 BB/9, 1.21 WHIP and a 3.72 xFIP? Of course at home, his recent start against the Phillies not withstanding, he has been even more superb. At home his K/9 is 9.35, his BB/9 is 1.24, his WHIP is 1.06 and his xFIP is 3.46! But wait! That’s not all! Pick him up this week and we’ll throw in a start against the Cubs who have scored the fewest runs in the majors this season! So what are you waiting for?! Operators are standing by! (2.1% owned in ESPN and 6% Yahoo!)

Lucas Harrell (HOU)- Harrell has two starts this week and his recent numbers are highly decent, meaning a lot of fantasy owners are starting to take a notice and eyeing his progress. But these owners clearly did not read the inaugural Field of Streams, because his two starts this week are on the road, where Harrell has been less than good, to say the least. On the road young Lucas has an ERA over five a WHIP of 1.42, a sub six K/9 and an xFIP of 4.82. oh yeah, and his first start of the week is in St. Louis. The Cardinals are fourth in the majors in runs scored and have the 3rd best wOBA to boot. Avoid Harrell this week, but keep an eye on him for future starts. (5.3% owned in ESPN and 12% Yahoo!)

Dan Straily (OAK)- On the surface Straily’s looked pretty good since his call up with a 1-0 record, an ERA of 3.18 and a 1.18 WHIP. But below the surface he has not been so dazzling, as evidenced by his 4.56 SIERA, 4.82 xFIP and a .240 BABIP. He is also striking out less than 7 per nine innings which does not combine well with the fact he is only inducing ground balls 28.3% of the time. Now sure he could be solid in the future, but he will go through some growing pains very soon. Luckily a cavernous home park can somewhat compensate for the low ground ball numbers and normally I would still recommend giving him a whirl at home, but he has the Twins, who have been surprisingly decent offensively of late. So I’d avoid Straily for the near future, unless you are in a dynasty league preparing for the future. (8.7% owned in ESPN and 15% Yahoo!)

Zach McAllister (CLE)- Zach Attack has a 3.64 ERA and 1.24 WHIP to go along with a K/9 just over eight. Now his xFIP is close to four, but his SIERA is 3.73, so his ERA is about where it is expected to be. Ks may drop a bit, but Zach Attack seems like he could be a good pickup for the stretch run. But, if you’re not sold on him as a keeper through the end of the season, you should at least believe in him this week when he faces the lowly Mariners in Safeco. What do we say? Stream against the Ms when you can, especially at Safeco. (5.5% owned in ESPN and 10% Yahoo!)

Kris Medlen (ATL)- Medlen has been an asset pretty much wherever the Braves have needed him. The Ks have been a bit lower than expected at 6.53 per nine innings, but everything else has been the bee’s knees! A 2.03 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP are nothing to scoff at, so scoff elsewhere! His 3.30 SIERA and 3.43 xFIP mean that, yes, an ERA and WHIP regression are on the way, but personally, I can live with an an ERA in the 3.30-3.45 range. But all of these numbers are based on mostly bullpen numbers. In his four starts, including his last one which was a complete game shutout, he’s thrown 25.2 innings and allowed three, yes THREE, earned runs, 19 hits and four walks. That’s a 1.05 ERA and a WHIP of .89. He also had a K/9 of 7.71 in those starts. So, I’d recommend getting as many starts out of Medlen as possible while he is still in the rotation. Now he is actually owned by more than 50% in ESPN, but still more widely available in Yahoo!leagues, so he is on the list on a slight technicality. (57.9% owned in ESPN and 37% Yahoo!)

Patrick Corbin (ARI)- With a 3.41 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP, Patrick Corbin has worked out quite well for the Diamondbacks as a starter. His K/9 of 7.60, FIP of 3.34 and an xFIP of 3.74, seem to back up that his numbers thus far have been legit. This week he heads into Miami to face the Marlins and you have to like his chances in that park! If you have not already, it’s time to take a flyer on Corbin! (28.8% owned in ESPN and 17% Yahoo!)

So there you have it, another edition of Field Of Streams in the books! So what did we learn this week, children? 1) As always, stream against the Astros and the Mariners when possible, B) Ks/9 are your BFFs, 4) Hop on the Kris Medlen train while you can and F) Marco, is still the coolest Estrada since Erik! Good day and godspeed!

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Matheny-bp

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Bolstering the Cardinals’ bullpen (again)

Posted on 27 July 2012 by Chris Caylor

About this time last year, the St. Louis Cardinals were in dire need of pitching help. Adam Wainwright was out for the year, Jake Westbrook was struggling, and the bullpen was like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates.

Once again, this season, the Cards need some reinforcements for their pitching staff. Chris Carpenter is out for the year, Jaime Garcia is out until mid-August (best case) and the bullpen has been up and down, particularly from the left side.

Last year, they dealt away Colby Rasmus and other spare parts to acquire Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski. Rzep, known as “Scrabble” to many fans, became the top lefty specialist; Dotel took over the “fireman” role, often coming in to get strikeouts in key situations. We know how well that deal worked out for the Cardinals.

Here we are in 2012, and the Birds on the Bat need a similar deal. Scrabble has struggled this year. Rookie Barret Browning has done quite well so far, but will it last? Brian Fuentes was recently added to the roster in hopes he has something left. Since Fuentes was dumped by the Oakland A’s, I’m a bit skeptical. But hey, he can’t be any worse than J.C. Romero, right?

At closer, Jason Motte has been solid. Mitchell Boggs has a nice scoreless streak going, but I’m just not sure he is the right guy to take over Dotel’s role from 2011. Fernando Salas, such a rock last year, pitched so poorly earlier this year he was sent to Triple-A Memphis (although he has improved since being recalled). Victor Marte was used heavily the first two months of the season and wore down. He was sent down earlier this week to make room for Fuentes. The remaining bullpen spot has been a revolving door that need to be slammed shut (paging Chuck Norris!).

With that in mind, here are three relievers the Cardinals should target who would solidify their bullpen for another stretch run:

1) Matt Belisle, Colorado Rockies – The Rockies are reluctant to trade the consistent Belisle, as he is signed to a club-friendly deal through 2013 with a mutual option for 2014. With Todd Helton nearing the end of the road and Allen Craig looking like the long-term first baseman in St. Louis, first base prospect Matt Adams should be enough to pry Belisle away.

2) Wade Davis, Tampa Bay – Davis would be starting for most teams in baseball, but he has done well out of the pen this year, pitching to a 2.70 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings. Adams also should be enough for the Rays, who have got to be sick and tired of Carlos Pena and his anemic production.

3) Jason Marquis, San Diego - Just checking to see if you’re paying attention. Put the sharp object down, please.  Luke Gregerson is the guy to get from the Padres.  The former Cardinal farmhand has been the epitome of steadiness in San Diego, pitching to a 1.12 WHIP the past three seasons and striking out over a batter per inning.  Gregerson likely would come at a cheaper cost than Belisle or Davis (Robert Stock maybe?). Plus, bringing him back to the Cardinals would help negate the disastrous Khalil Greene trade.

Any of these relievers would be capable of assuming the fireman role so capably filled last year by Dotel. I don’t expect a huge trade like last year’s Colby Rasmus deal, but we know that Cards GM John Mozeliak is unafraid to make moves to bolster his team’s roster. If Mozeliak is able to patch his team’s bullpen as well as he did in 2011, the Cardinals would again become the most complete team in the NL Central. As well as the Pirates and Reds are playing right now, it’s becoming clear that the Cardinals need to make a move before the deadline if they want to keep pace.

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NL Pitching Planner: June 11 – June 17

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NL Pitching Planner: June 11 – June 17

Posted on 11 June 2012 by Mark Sherrard

Interleague play is in full swing this week, which means even more unpredictability when it comes to pitching.  Not only do you have to try to figure out each pitchers ever changing whims, but you have to figure out how they might perform against unfamiliar opponents.

In the NL, there’s not a lot of quality up top, but there’s not a lot of crap at the bottom either, so most of your two-start pitchers are fairly safe bets.

Here are the Week 11 two-start pitchers and other favorable matchups for you NL pitchers:

Two-Start Pitchers

No-Brainers

Zack Greinke: 6/12 @ KC; 6/17 @ MIN – Greinke gets to face his former team for the first time this week

Johnny Cueto: 6/12 vs CLE; 6/17 @ NYM – 15-8 with a 2.42 ERA over his last 36 starts

Madison Bumgarner: 6/12 vs HOU; 6/17 @ SEA – 3.13 career ERA, but only 27-23 (if only the Giants could score)

Results

Week 9 – 7 GS, 3 QS, 4 W, 45.0 IP, 53 H+BB, 43 K’s, 22 ER, 4.40 ERA, 1.18 whip

YTD – 56 GS, 37 QS, 23 W, 360.2 IP, 406 H+BB, 348 K’s, 122 ER, 3.04 ERA, 1.13 whip

Not Too Shabby

Josh Johnson: 6/11 vs BOS; 6/17 @ TB – has not given up more than 3 ER in any of his last 6 starts

Adam Wainwright: 6/12 vs CHW; 6/17 vs KC – still not 100% back, but getting better (4.05 ERA in last 8 starts)

Ian Kennedy: 6/12 @ TEX; 6/17 @ LAA – Diamondbacks ace has only allowed one run in last two starts

Bud Norris: 6/12 @ SF; 6/17 @ TEX – the Giants are 20th in the majors in runs scored, the Rangers are first

Edwin Jackson: 6/1 @ TOR; 6/17 vs NYY – has pitched well this year, but these are tough matchups

Chris Capuano: 6/11 vs LAA; 6/17 vs CHW – 8-2 with a 2.82 ERA nearly earns him the no-brainer label

Clayton Richard: 6/12 @ SEA; 6/17 @ OAK – below average pitcher, but gets to face light hitting A’s

Randall Delgado: 6/11 vs NYY; 6/17 vs BAL – should stick in rotation thanks to strong performance of late

Chris Young: 6/12 @ TB; 6/17 vs CIN- cannot throw over 85 mph, but can still get guys out

Results

Week 9 – 18 GS, 8 QS, 8 W, 104.1 IP, 144 H+BB, 96 K’s, 47 ER, 4.05 ERA, 1.38 whip

YTD – 180 GS, 106 QS, 69 W, 1115.2 IP, 1392 H+BB, 884 K’s, 449 ER, 3.62 ERA, 1.25 whip

Risky at Best

Jeremy Guthrie:  6/12 vs OAK; 6/17 @ DET – two straight shellackings has raised talk of removal from rotation

Paul Maholm:  6/12 vs DET; 6/17 vs BOS – has given up 4 or more runs in 4 of last 5 starts

Kyle Kendrick: 6/12 @ MIN; 6/17 @ TOR – just does not have the stuff to consistently succeed

Brad Lincoln: 6/12 @ BAL; 6/17 @ CLE – 5 ER allowed in last start (4 IP) and career 4.97 ERA has me wary

Results

Week 9 – 5 GS, 3 QS, 2 W, 32.1 IP, 35 H+BB, 21 K’s, 15 ER, 4.18 ERA, 1.08 whip

YTD – 65 GS, 34 QS, 17 W, 391.1 IP, 522 H+BB, 266 K’s, 196 ER, 4.51 ERA, 1.33 whip

Other Favorable Matchups (< 50% owned)

Jason Marquis (1% owned): 6/13 @ SEA

Not for the faint of heart, but Marquis does own a 1.95 career ERA against the Mariners

Travis Wood (6% owned): 6/14 vs DET

Has never faced the Tigers, which could work in his advantage

Michael Fiers (5% owned): 6/15 @ MIN

Has pitched well in first two major league starts and faces a light hitting Twins team.

Anthony Bass (39% owned): 6/16 @ OAK

Has been surprisingly good this year and faces a weak hitting A’s team

Results

Week 9 – 3 GS, 0 QS, 1 W, 17.1 IP, 35 H+BB, 9 K’s, 18 ER, 9.35 ERA, 2.02 whip

YTD – 26 GS, 14 QS, 14 W, 163.0 IP, 214 H+BB, 150 K’s, 73 ER, 4.03 ERA, 1.31 whip

Up next is the AL.

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