Tag Archive | "Cubs"

The Wood That Makes It Good

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The Wood That Makes It Good

Posted on 30 May 2013 by Will Emerson

If you have Travis Wood on your fantasy team, you are a lucky duck.  For real! Travis Wood has been the bargain of bargains at the fantasy starting pitcher slot this season. Even I, a man with a certain fondness for Wood and fantasy crush on the entire Cubs rotation, could not, would not, have predicted the start that Travis Wood is having. The thing now, from the fantasy baseball view, is can we hope to get out of Wood for the remainder of the season? A valid question that will be asked of any player who puts up good numbers, virtually out of nowhere. If you are currently a proud Travis Wood owner you are probably, even as you read this, wondering what the future holds for the Cubs’ wily southpaw. If you’re not, you probably should be. Okay, now that all Travis Wood owners have this thought rattlin’ around their noggins, time to drop some knowledge on them.


Personally, I have liked Travis Wood for a couple of seasons now. “Why,” you may ask. Well, I don’t really know. Travis Wood is just one of those pitchers I like, but cannot quite pinpoint the reason for this “liking”. Other members of this club include such big names as Chris Volstad and Brett Cecil. I guess Cecil sort of has K potential, but really none of them offer anything in the way of star, or even above-average, potential in real or fantasy baseball. They are not guys I peg as sleepers at the beginning of a season, but rather, guys who I might spot start here and there, at best. I am a K/9 guy, so liking Wood is very strange for me. Wood’s career K/9 is 6.78, so he should not even be on mike likability radar. But he is. Now, K-rate aside, there are pitchers who can make do whilst allowing more contact. We call those guys crafty. Picture a Mark Buehrle type. A solid innings eater, who won’t be especially flashy, but will get the job done for your team, more often than not. The key for those types of pitchers is to keep the ball on the ground and not give up hard hit balls.  So, does Wood fall into this Buehlre-esque (not to be confused with burlesque) mold? Maybe?

Here are Wood’s career numbers- 21-25, 3.94 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 6.78 K/9, 2.94 BB/9, 33.5 GB% and a 71.9 LOB%. Seems sort of like a Buehrle like guy, right? I mean, personally I might be a bit concerned about the ground ball rate, but Wood seems to be working with it, for the most part. Wood’s career line drive rate is right around 20%, which seems about average. Now let’s look at Wood’s 2013 numbers at this point in the season.

In 2013, Wood is 4-2, with a 2.24 ERA, .93 WHIP, 5.82 K/9 and a 2.83 BB/9. So compared to his career and, pretty much projected, numbers the K-rate, just like the ERA and WHIP, are down significantly. So what’s changed? Well, his ground ball rate, while still lower than I’d like, is actually up over five percent from 2012. More ground balls, in theory, will generally help a pitcher’s cause, that is for darned sure! Wood is also walking slightly fewer hitters, down a little (about .11 per nine innings) from his career number. So those numbers will help a bit, but the biggest improvement right now for ol’ Travis is his pitching with men on base.

To this point in 2013, Wood has a LOB% of 82. Eighty-frickin’-two, folks! For those that may not know, that is quite a good strand rate. Not only as that more than 10% higher than Wood’s normal numbers, but it is almost 10 higher than the league average! Now, it does not take a rocket surgeon to realize that preventing baserunners from scoring is a good idea, but the question is, can Wood sustain this rate? It’s really hard to say yes to that question. I don’t think there are many, if any, people who believe in that rate continuing. Obviously, if you start letting more baserunners score, your ERA will rise. The thing is, even if the strand rate goes down to the league average or in that vicinity, remember Wood has not been allowing a ton of runners to reach base.  So even if Wood’s strand rate was right around league average his ERA would still be right around three. Now before you get all crazy and start telling people I said his ERA would be around three the rest of the way, just wait a tick.

I am not saying Wood will still be tossing up these ace like numbers. throughout the rest of this season. Wood’s ERA should finish in the mid threes though, which is a bit of alright! Wood’s been throwing a cutter more frequently, and with more consistency, which has definitely contributed to his success thus far. So while he will not keep up his current pace, I feel like he will definitely pitch better than some of the current projections that have his ERA the season being up over four. I need a few more strikeouts for my liking, but he definitely has some fantasy upside the rest of the way.

If you have Travis Wood on your roster, his price may not get much higher than it is now and it would definitely behoove you to test trade market waters. That being said, it is still tough to say who believes in Wood enough to give you a premium return in a deal. Wood has been pitching very well dating back to the end of last season, but there is just no track record or even any sort of expectations that have popped up, pointing to this sort of performance. It is definitely worth testing the waters. Wood should be good (I’m a poet and I don’t even know it!) going forward, just not quite this good. Hey, put it out there and see what happens, I mean there’s always one in every league, right? Let’s just hope you are not that one. I mean in the words of Mike McDermott, “If you can’t spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker.”






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It’s all fun and games until Greg Maddux teaches you his pick-off move.

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It’s all fun and games until Greg Maddux teaches you his pick-off move.

Posted on 08 March 2013 by Trish Vignola

Ok, my prediction that Barry Larkin will get some serious notice when the managerial carousel begins this season is pretty much on the mark. Everything else I said regarding the World Baseball Classic? Not so much. In an attempt to save face, I’ve decided to turn my attention to another pool of countries. Let’s look at one I actually know something about.

Hello Team USA!


As the clock ticks down to Team USA’s first official game, Greg Maddux walked out to the mound to visit Derek Holland. This time though it was as a pitching coach and not an ace. However, every time Maddux went to the mound to pitch in his career (22 seasons and 355 major-league victories), he was doing it as a pitching coach…kinda of.

Take that Eric Gagne! (He was the pitching coach for Team France which failed to qualify.)

Are you surprised though? Greg Maddux was always a lesson in “what to do” for pitchers in both dugouts. He was and is a constant reminder of the lethal properties hiding in an 88 m.p.h. fastball.

Ask folks like R.A. Dickey.

Joe Torre, Team USA’s manager, said he contacted Maddux before any other potential member of his coaching staff. The belief that working in the WBC “imperils arms” demanded a reassuring presence, especially because pitchers in the WBC are expected to be ready faster. “I just felt it was important to have a pitching coach who knows what it’s like to go through spring training, and he was playing, what, four years ago?” Torre said to MLB.com. “It’s a security blanket for a lot of the pitchers here.”

Probably for a fair amount of General Managers as well.

Maddux took a day to answer Torre’s request, clearing the idea with his family. “I wanted to do it the minute I hung up,” he said. “But you’ve got to take care of the other side of your life.” Maddux spent the last three seasons as a special instructor for the Cubs and Rangers. His responsibilities have been limited, allowing for a normal family life relative to his years as a player.

Maddux hadn’t studied the effect of WBC participation on arms, but he committed to running the staff exactly as if it were prepping to start a full MLB season. “I know the intensity of the games is a lot more,” he said. “But the physical load of it’s going to be no different from what they’re accustomed to this time of year in spring training.”

Maddux has to defer to some pretty strict WBC ground rules (no more than 65 pitches per appearance in this opening round) and the concerns of his pitchers’ regular coaches. But he’s free to coach in the most important ways, advising on technique or massaging a pickoff move. More than free, actually. “That’s one of my obligations,” he said.

It might also have been one of Torre’s recruiting tools.

“I think it made a lot of… managers comfortable (about pitchers leaving spring camps for the WBC),” he said, “because let’s think about it. Their pitchers have a chance to spend these weeks with Greg Maddux. That’s pretty good tutoring.” Ryan Vogelsong, the Giants’ postseason ace of 2012, didn’t hesitate when asked what he most wanted to learn from Maddux: “The backdoor two-seamer to a righty. I have my first bullpen session with him tomorrow, and we’re going to dive into it.”

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Field Of Streams: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options

Posted on 04 September 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. At this point your fantasy baseball playoffs are probably either under way or just about to get under way, so now, more than at any other time during the season, it is extremely important to stream wisely and get whatever edge you can to help you inch closer to that fantasy baseball championship. So without further ado, on with the show! Here comes your look at your fantasy streaming options, owned in less than 50% in ESPN and Yahoo! leagues, for the week of 9/3-9/9 (all stats and information are prior to Saturday’s games):

Ross Detwiler (WAS)- It looks to be a two start week for Mr. Detwiler, with both starts being at home. At home this season Detwiler is 4-1 with a 2.74 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP, which I don’t have to tell you, although I guess I am anyways, is pretty darned good. Of course his 3.92 xFIP and .284 BABIP at home does point to some regression, but a regression you can live with for a streaming spot starter. Now his strikeout numbers are extremely low, home and away, so if it’s Ks or K/9 you are looking for then, well, Detwiler is not your man. But with home starts against the Cubs and Marlins this week you have to like the chances for a W and help in your other peripherals, so stream away!  (27.1% owned in ESPN and 33% in Yahoo!)

Collin McHugh (NYM)- McHugh is getting called back up and getting the nod for the Metropolitans on Monday. McHugh’s lone major league start was masterful and brilliant to say the least. Against the Rockies, he twirled seven shutout innings, while fanning nine and walking only one. Oh yeah, and he allowed only two hits to boot! Now the Rockies are not the best hitting team in the league, but are decent enough that this is still impressive. Now should we start annointing young Colin as the second comng of Ron Darling? Probably not. Let him get his feet wet and see what happens. His fastballs did not have a great deal of movement, but he was able to mix in a slow curveball ranging from 68-73 MPH that really kept the left handed batters he faced, off-balance. His 8.55 K/9 and 3.42FIP down at AAA, is very promising. Obviously I don’t think he’ll keep a K/9 over eleven, but I do like what I see so far. Now his start Monday does come against the Cardinals in St. Louis and the Cards can certainly hit, so it could be a growing experience for McHugh. Having not seen him before though, the Cards could just as easily struggle a bit. So clearly I have a firm grasp on what to expect from McHugh this week. I say live on the edge and throw him out there! Hey, if it’s a clunker, at least you have the rest of the week to make up for it, right? (.4% owned in ESPN and 1% in Yahoo!)

Patrick Corbin (ARI)-  Corbs has become quite the mainstay here on Field Of Streams and really I am not confident enough in him yet to make him a regular must start fantasy pitcher. I was iffy on him this past week against the Reds, and he turned in a solid quality start. This week he looks to have two starts and they are on the road against the Giants and Padres. So that’s two starts against teams that tend to not knock the ball around the park too much, in pitcher friendly parks. If he keeps up his 4.26 K/BB and 3.30 xFIP that he is rocking for August, he should continue to improve the rest of his numbers along the way as well. The good recent numbers should stay in place, especially against the Giants and Padres this week. (6.6% owned in ESPN and 10% in Yahoo!)

Andrew Werner (SD)- It is that time of year folks! Time for call-ups! Some call-ups have been highly touted and others have been barely touted at all, but the bottom line is fantasy owners are looking to catch lighting in a bottle with one of these said call-ups. Enter Andrew Werner. Since his call-up Werner has had two starts, both of the quality persuasion, going six innings and giving up two earned runs in each start. He is 1-1, with an ERA of 3.00 and a WHIP of 1.00. So is Werner a good bet for fantasy owners down the stretch? Well his xFIP thus far is 3.95, his BABIP is .194 and his SIERA is 3.53, so there should be a slight regression forth coming. He could be a solid 4th or 5th fantasy starter down the road, but I am not all the way sold on him just yet. He does, however, have the Dodgers and Diamondbacks this week, and neither team has been racking up the runs lately, so Werner could be a decent spot starter. I would say stream Werner, but with caution for now. (.3% owned in ESPN and 0% in Yahoo!)

Alex Cobb (TB)- Although my Cobb recommendation last week did not pan out so well last week (4.2 IP, 4R, 3 ER) I still like his moxie! That was, after all, only his second start since July 1st where he allowed more than three runs. In fact in eight of his last ten outings he has allowed 3 runs or less! But he does have the Yankees this week and that could spell trouble for A.C. He did have one start against the Bombers already this season, back at the beginning of June and he allowed four earned runs over seven innings in that outing. He only gave up five hits and one walk in that outing though, but was hurt by the long ball twice. That start was in New York, whereas this week he gets them at home and like most pitchers he is much better at home. While at the Trop he is striking out batters at almost double his road rate, for crying out loud! I still like Cobb, but I am hesitant to stream him this week against the Yankees. (11.1% owned in ESPN and 19% in Yahoo!)

Jeff Karstens (PIT)- Do not adjust your monitors, you read correctly, Jeff Karstens.  In case you haven’t noticed, and judging by his ownership you haven’t,  he has been quite solid at home. At PNC Park, Karstens has a 1.76 ERA, with a 1.00 WHIP , baffling visiting batters game in and game out. Now while his 3.68 xFIP, 5.49 K/9, .272 BABIP and 39% ground ball rate at home does point to a hefty regression, he is pitching against Houston this week and well, need I say more? (4.8% owned in ESPN and 11% in Yahoo!)

Marco Estrada (MIL)- Ponch’s ownership has skyrocketed in both ESPN and Yahoo! leagues, which can obviously only be attributed to the high praise he has received here week after week. Or, I guess, there’s a chance it could be due to his August numbers. In August he has a 3.12 ERA, a 1.46 WHIP, a 7.96 K/9, a 2.77 BB/9 and a 2.26 FIP. Sure there is that whole pesky 3.95 xFIP, but that is by no means atrocious, per se. But that 3.12 ERA is with a ridiculously high .361 BABIP as well, which I feel, really says something. Additionally, in his last two starts albeit they were against the Cubs, he allowed no earned runs and also struck out 17 batters over 11 innings. This week Ponch has the floundering Marlins in Miami, a perfect spot for Estrada to shine! (11.5% owned in ESPN and 12% in Yahoo!)

Francisco Liriano (CWS)- Francisco, that’s fun to say! Liriano had another solid start in Baltimore, which was his third start in a row where he allowed only two earned runs. In fact, in his six starts with the White Sox he has allowed more than two earned just once.  Over the last three starts he has an ERA of 3.11, a WHIP of  1.32 and a 8.31 K/9 and for the most part has been almost like the Francisco Liriano of old. This week he draws the Royals, and that should be a good matchup for Liriano and the White Sox, so go ahead and do it to it ! (23.6% owned in ESPN and 43% in Yahoo!)

Tyler Skaggs (ARI)- There’s been a fair amount of hype surrounding Skaggs and thus far, on paper, he has looked solid. Skaggs is 1-1, with a 2.52 ERA and a WHIP of  1.22 thus far in his major league career. See? Solid on paper. You know what else looked solid on paper? The Titanic. Okay, that may be a bit of a harsh metaphor. What Iam getting at is the traditional numbers are, at the moment, a bit misleading. His xFIP is 5.98, his BABIP is .182, and he has a BB/9 of 5.22. So although this is all in a tiny sample size it would seem that a big time regression is forthcoming for Skaggs. He does draw the Padres at Petco this week, so he could continue to be lucky, but right now, to me, he is only a borderline stream option. (3.6% owned in ESPN and 10% in Yahoo!)

Casey Kelly (SD)- As a big chip in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, Kelly has had some hype attached to him and now here he is, up in the majors. In his debut against the Braves he pitched six shutout innings. He allowed just three hits and two free passes, while striking out four. Seems like a decent enough debut, but his BABIP was .200 with a SIERA of 4.33 and a ground ball rate of 40%. It does not appear that Kelly will be striking out a ton of hitters, so that ground ball rate is something of a concern. Granted, it is only one start, so still tough to get a great read on Kelly, but he tore through the Padres farm system this season and could be a decent enough starter for the Padres down the stretch. As far as his current fantasy value, I am not quite sold on him just yet, but he has a chance at a good start this week, at home against the Diamondbacks who struggled to put runs on the board in August. I am still cautious to recommend Kelly even if he does post a good start against Arizona, but I would go ahead keep an eye on his progress. (1.7% owned in ESPN and 5% in Yahoo!)

So there you have it, another edition of Field Of Streams in the books! So what did we learn this week, children? 1) Casey Kelly and Tyler Skaggs are to be streamed with caution)   B) Ks/9 as always, are your BFFs, but if you don’t need ‘em in your fantasy league, Ross Detwiler is worth a stream 4)  There’s still plenty of room on Marco “Ponch” Estrada bandwagon and F) Francisco Liriano is darned good with the White Sox. Good day and godspeed!

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Field Of Streams: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options

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Field Of Streams: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options

Posted on 26 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. So on with the show! Here comes your look at your fantasy streaming options, owned in less than 50% in ESPN and Yahoo! leagues, for the week of 08/27-09/02:

Marco Estrada (MIL)- Still plenty of available seats on the “Ponch” Estrada bandwagon, kids! Sure Estrada has only one win, but you can’t judge him on that. With a 9.03 K/9, a 1.88 BB/9 and a 3.18 SIERA the tools are in place. Sure he had a stretch of mediocre starts, if you want to base it on wins, or runs given up, but he should have two starts this week and the first one will be against the Cubbies. Not only do the Cubs not tend to score a ton of runs, but Ponch already dominated them last week, tossing a six inning, two hit shutout in which he struck out nine. You may not see an identical outing this week, but it should be pretty darned good. A second start would be against the Pirates, which could be a tougher outing, but I would risk streaming him in that start as well. (2.6% owned in ESPN and 6% in Yahoo!)

Francisco Liriano (CWS)- That 5-10 record with an ERA over five on the season does not look all that appealing, but his xFIP is 3.91 and his K/9 is close to ten. Not to mention he has been quite good since joining the White Sox. He is 2-0 with a 4.39 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and a K/9 of 10.12. Now those numbers are also inflated by one clunker of a start against Oakland. Throw that start out and with the Pale Hose he has a 2.70 ERA, a .99 WHIP and a 9.64 K/9. He looks to be starting at Baltimore and Detroit this week though, no gimmie in either case. He did stymy the Yankees and Blue Jays in his last two starts so he may be alright this week. I say take the risk and stream him! (20.9% owned in ESPN and 41% in Yahoo!)

David Phelps (NYY)- Phelps has been solid out of the bullpen or as a starter for the Yanks this season, as evidenced by his 2.69 ERA and 9.33 K/9. With a SIERA 0f 3.16, it would seem that ERA will rise, but not a ton, so the numbers for the most part are legit. In his two starts since being slotted into the rotation, he has pitched well against the Rangers and Red Sox, holding both to under 3 earned runs. Ks may come down a bit, but will be more than solid. Plus, he will have a pretty good lineup behind him. He should start against Toronto and Baltimore this week and I have no problem recommending streaming him while he remains in the rotation. (1.2% owned in ESPN and 6% in Yahoo!)

Bud Norris (HOU)- Two home starts for Bud this week, means he is worth a stream. I probably don’t need to elaborate here, but I will. Commence elaboration! At the Juice Box this season Norris has an ERA of 2.18, a WHIP of 1.06, a K/9 of 10.40 and an xFIP of 2.83. Hard to argue with those numbers. He should be good to go against the Giants and the Reds. (25.1% owned in ESPN and 31% in Yahoo!)

Patrick Corbin (ARI)- Seems like some people are starting to take notice of Patty Corbin, but his last two starts, especially the last one, have been less than spectacular. So now is the time to determine what you can actually get out of him. As a starter this season he has an ERA of 4.40 and a 1.33 WHIP with an xFIP of 3.81, so the numbers have not been dazzling. His K/9 has also been sub 7, but other than the last two starts he has been very, yes VERY, decent. He is definitely a pitcher worth keeping an eye or two on, but I would avoid him this week against the Reds and wait until he maybe strings a few more good starts together or has a more favorable matchup. (31.8% owned in ESPN and 16% in Yahoo!)

Alex Cobb (TB)- The numbers are not really mind-blowing for Cobbsy. A 4.32 ERA, a 1.29 WHIP and a 6.71 K/9. Nothing earth shattering, right? Well his xFIP is 3.62 and he has been stellar throughout August, aside from one bad start against the Angels in which he could not escape the third inning. He followed that up with a complete game, four hit shutout though, so a nice little bounce back. In August he now has a 3.03 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and a 7.44 K/9. I like Cobb’s progress this season and while he is pitching against the Rangers in Arlington, I still feel like he is worth the start. (17.2% owned in ESPN and 16% in Yahoo!)

Lucas Harrell (HOU)- Another Houston home start hero (see Norris, Bud), Harrell is facing the Reds in the Juice Box this week and becomes a super viable stream option. At home his ERA is 2.14, his WHIP is 1.22 and his K/9 of 7.14. Now the Reds are good, but Harrell just finds a way to get the job done at home, so I would stream him. As far as my confidence level with this recommendation though, I would say it is about 70-75%. (5.2% owned in ESPN and 13% in Yahoo!)

Mark Rogers (MIL)- Mr. Rogers pitched well, although not great, in his last outing against the Cubs. The Ks/9 are still stellar though as he struck out seven batters in five innings. The K/9 is 9.73 and as long as he keeps the walks below three per nine he should have success. His 3.32 xFIP and 3.33 SIERA indicate that he has been much better than his 5.02 ERA would have you believe. He faces the Pirates at home this week, where he has pitched extremely well and the Bucs are not very patient at the plate. Some may see this one as a tad bit risky, but I am making Mr. Rogers my wild card streaming pick of the week! (1.2% owned in ESPN and 2% in Yahoo!)

Zach McAllister (CLE)- Zach Attack has been a bit inconsistent which has many fantasy owners on the fence about what to expect from him. Zach has an ERA of 3.50, a WHIP of 1.22 and a K/9 of 7.90. His BABIP of .285 is lower then the league average, but not grossly lower and his xFIP of 3.99 is not great, but not terrible. Personally I am not sold on McAllister as a mainstay of a fantasy rotation, but I like him as a streaming spot starter from time to time. And by “from time to time” I mean this week against Oakland. I have no trouble starting him against the Athletics, but would be hesitant to throw him against the Rangers. (3.4% owned in ESPN and 9% in Yahoo!)

So there you have it, another edition of Field Of Streams in the books! So what did we learn this week, children? 1) Lucas Harrell and Bud Norris are must streams at home, B) Ks/9 are your BFFs, 4) Hop on the Marco “Ponch” Estrada train while you can and F) Francisco Liriano is working his way back to fantasy relevance. Good day and godspeed!

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Shark Week: The Jeff Samardzija Evaluation

Posted on 15 August 2012 by Will Emerson

We are in the midst of one of the greatest weeks of the year folks. That’s right, it is Shark Week ladies and gentleman! No better time to try and figure out the real fantasy value of Jeff “The Shark” Samardzija than by taking a bite out of his numbers! You see, The Shark has actually been very solid for the Cubbies this season. Even more solid than his 8-10 record would indicate. Even more solid than his 4.06 ERA would indicate. And yes, even more solid than that 1.28 WHIP would indicate. Don’t believe me? Well then, let’s dive on in and look inside his numbers this season.

Generally, I do not hold much stock in a starting pitcher’s win-loss record because there are just way to many factors that are out of the pitcher’s control, like the rest of their team for example. Shark’s team, the Cubs, have been one of the worst offensive teams this season. Their wOBA is better than only the Mariners and no one has scored fewer runs this season than the Cubs, so the run support is not always there. Thus, I am not too concerned about the actual  win-loss record Shark is sportin’. Instead, let us take a look at his Wins Above Replacement (WAR) as compared to the rest of the qualifying starting pitchers in the majors. Samardzija has a WAR of 2.8, which is tied with Madison Bumgarner this year for 23rd best amongst qualifying starting pitchers this year. Samardzija is owned by less than 50% in ESPN and Yahoo! fantasy leagues, yet at the very least, in real life, he is worth more wins above a replacement player than the much more widely owned likes of Yovanni Gallardo, CJ Wilson, Mat Latos and Jon Lester. Now, sure WAR does not necessarily translate into fantasy value, but it is a good jumping off point for our purposes. Now, hows about we get into some advanced stats and see what Shark has been doing this season, shall we? That was a rhetorical question.

While his actual ERA is up over four his xFIP is over a half of a run lower at 3.51, which is a highly decent number. Decent enough for 19th among all qualifying starting pitchers this season. That xFIP is better than that of some of your no name pitchers like Matt Cain, Jered Weaver, Tim Hudson and Dan Haren. Now let me be clear, I am not necessarily saying Samardzija is a better pitcher than these other fellas. Don’t go trading Jered Weaver for Samardzija or anything crazy like that, but just keep an eye on the Shark. Shark also shows that he has the stuff to get to that 3.60ish ERA with a SIERA of 3.59. In case you were wondering, and I know you were, his SIERA is better than that of Jered Weaver, again, Yu Darvish, Mat Latos and Yovanni Gallardo, among others. Again, it is not that Shark has been better, per se, but for a guy with these numbers, you would think he would be owned in a few more fantasy leagues. Now I realize this is what he has done this season, and he has had some bumps in the road (read June), so while in my mind he has been somewhat undervalued this year, the question is, are his numbers sustainable to make him a future fantasy stud? Or, in other words, is this season and an advanced stat anomaly? Well let us take a looksie!

Samardzija has an 9.09 K/9, good for 8th in the league among qualifying starting pitchers and this number is the real deal. The Shark’s average fastball is 95 MPH, and only Stephen Strasburg and David Price, perhaps you’ve heard of them, have a faster average fastball. When you can throw gas like that you can tend to miss quite a few bats. But that is just the straight gas, he also mixes in a two-seamer, a cutter and a split-fingered fastball into the repertoire as well. He just started tossing the cutter and the splitter more this season, allowing him to use the straight four-seam fastball less than usual, down to 54.5% of the time, the lowest of his career by almost 5%. The average velocity of the Shark’s cutter is 92 MPH and his average two-seamer has been about 94.7 MPH, meaning these come in to hitters close to the same speed as his four-seamer, but with some more movement. His mixing of these pitches has led to batters chasing balls out of the strike zone a little over a third of the time, up 3% from last season. In comparison, David Price has batters chasing balls out of the zone only 25% of the time and he has never had that percentage over 30%. Cy Young candidate R.A. Dickey? He is getting batters to chase 34.5% of the time which is higher than Samardzija, but not by much, so Shark is showing that he has the tools in place to be a must have fantasy starter.

From the numbers above, and remember these numbers are with a clunker of a June thrown in there, you can see the potential and judging by the fact he is still unowned in over half of ESPN and Yahoo! leagues this season, he could be a heck of a sleeper pick for a fantasy playoff team down the stretch and a nice fantasy sleeper pick in 2013. Now this is only his first full season as starter, so it is a small sample size, but things are looking good for Shark. The Ks should stay in the same range and look for that ERA to drop into the mid to high threes, say the 3.50-3.75 range. I see him as hovering the top 25 of starting pitchers next season, meaning he will be a solid two, most likely, three starter for your fantasy rotation, but you should be able to get him for fourth or fifth starter prices on draft day. Samardzija is gonna be fantasy gold, so get on the bandwagon while you can and prepare for next year to be the year of the Shark!

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