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Who’s Hot: Andrew McCutchen

Posted on 23 July 2012 by Chris Caylor

Welcome to Who’s Hot, Who’s Not, my new weekly feature where I’ll shine the spotlight on a handful of players who have killed it for their fantasy owners, plus another few whose struggles are killing their owners. Off we go!

Hottest of the Hot:

Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh – For the season, McCutchen is hitting .371/.426/.644 (1st in the NL) and boasts a 1.075 OPS (also 1st in the NL). He’s smacked 22 homers, driven in 65 runs, scored 65, and swiped 14 bases. He’s already been worth 5.2 WAR (Wins Above Replacement Player), which is a fantastic SEASON for most players. His park-adjusted OPS+ is a staggering 195. That is not a typo. McCutchen has been nearly twice as good as a league-average player this season.

In short, there is no player in either league as vital to his team.

The reason he’s at the top of this list, though, is this: recently he enjoyed a stretch where he went 49 for 100 at the plate. That’s not just a hot streak; those are high school or beer-league softball numbers. Consider this: McCutchen is on pace for about 600 at-bats this season. If that holds true, those 100 at-bats represent would about 17% of his season; that he hit .490 during that much of a season is flat-out ridiculous.

At first blush, McCutchen doesn’t seem to have the same kind of power credentials as other NL sluggers like Ryan Braun, Carlos Beltran, Giancarlo Stanton (and hey, look: Pedro Alvarez has 20 HR!). Don’t be deceived, though; McCutchen’s AB/HR ratio has dropped each year since he debuted in 2009:

• 2009 – 36.1%
• 2010 – 35.6%
• 2011 – 24.9%
• 2012 – 15.3%

If there is a weak aspect to McCutchen’s game, it is his walk-to-strikeout ratio, which is 33/67 this season. Cutch is only 25, so it seems eminently reasonable that he is able to hone his plate discipline. But this is like complaining that the picture on your new 3D HDTV is too sharp.

McCutchen is having the kind of season few players get to experience. Not coincidentally, the Pirates are in the thick of the NL Central race. It would be a shame if the Pirates fail to take advantage of their situation and acquire a big bat or two (Justin Upton? Josh Willingham? Chase Headley?) to lengthen their lineup. Imagine the kind of numbers @TheCutch22 could put up if he had the lineup support of, say, the Cardinals, Yankees, Angels or Rangers. As it is, he currently is the hands-down choice for NL MVP, and the best all-around player the Pirates have had since Barry Bonds.

Who else is hot?

Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland – The Cuban defector is tearing the cover off the ball himself this month, with three homers, nine RBI and a .852 slugging percentage in the past two weeks. He has an eight-game hitting streak, six of the multi-hit variety. He appears to be just scratching the surface of his potential, which should frighten the rest of the AL.

Felix Hernandez, Seattle – King Felix is back on track after that brief DL stay a few weeks ago, averaging over eight innings a start over his past three, with a 21/4 K/BB ratio, a 0.73 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. While the Mariners continue to insist they have no plans to deal their ace, imagine the haul of talent they could get if they change their mind.

Mark Trumbo, L.A. Angels – The man who didn’t have a set role at the start of the season has smashed five home runs since All-Star break, eight in July and 27 on the season. In the majors, only Adam Dunn and Josh Hamilton have more. Trumbo is on pace to hit 46 homers on the season, which was what the Angels were expecting from Albert Pujols.

Homer Bailey, Cincinnati – Doesn’t it seem like Bailey has been around since Barry Larkin was playing short? Actually, with a name like Homer, he sounds more like he should be playing basketball in Indiana, but I digress. Anyhow, in his past four starts, the 26-year-old Bailey is 4-0 with a whopping 27/3 K/BB ration and a 0.98 WHIP. With Bailey, Mat Latos and Johnny Cueto anchoring the rotation and Aroldis Chapman slamming the door in the 9th, the Reds finally have some stable pitching to complement their lineup. Well, until Dusty Baker ruins it.

Who’s not?

Tommy Hanson, Atlanta – Hanson just hasn’t looked right all season. His last six starts: 7.27 ERA, nine HR allowed in 34 2/3 innings. Accordingly, his hits and home runs allowed per nine innings have ballooned to career highs.  For the first time in his career, his park-adjusted ERA is below 100 (league average).  His sensational rookie year seems like more than four years ago.

Jose Altuve, Houston – The diminutive second baseman has become a popular Twitter meme this season, but the only thing trending with Jose right now is his sliding batting average. Altuve has gone 8 for 60 in his last 21 games, with a .183/.230/.233 line. Altuve doesn’t offer much pop, so if the batting average isn’t there, then he’s a one-category player (steals).

Ricky Romero, Toronto – The presumptive Blue Jays ace can’t win for losing. Before getting shellacked last week against the Yankees, Romero had two nice outings ruined by a lack of run support. His walks per game, hits per game, home runs allowed per game, strikeouts per game and K/BB ratio are all at career-worst levels. Yikes.

Dustin Ackley, Seattle – Bill the Cat’s favorite player has to be considered one of the season’s biggest disappointments. He is only 10 for his last 64, a batting line of .156/.228/.296. During that same time, his double-play partner, the noodle-swinging Brendan Ryan, has a line of .234/.274/.340. Ackley is on pace for only 10 home runs, far from what the Mariners were hoping from when they selected him 2nd overall in the 2009 draft.

That’s it for this week. Tune in again next week for another round of Who’s Hot. Meanwhile, follow me on Twitter (@chriscaylor) and read the rest of our outstanding writers on Full Spectrum Baseball.

(stats thru 7/21/12)

 

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NL Pitching Planner: June 4 – June 10

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NL Pitching Planner: June 4 – June 10

Posted on 04 June 2012 by Mark Sherrard

Not a lot of high end pitchers for the NL this week, but the middle tier is stacked.

Here are the NL two-start pitchers and other favorable matchups for week 10:

Two-Start Pitchers

No-Brainers

Clayton Kershaw:  6/4 @ PHI; 6/9 @ SEA – the reigning Cy Young winner is always a must start

Cliff Lee:  6/5 vs LAD; 6/10 @ BAL – tough matchup against Kershaw in first start

Results

Week 8 – 10 GS, 4 QS, 5 W, 62.0 IP, 72 H+BB, 63 K’s, 25 ER, 3.63 ERA, 1.16 whip

YTD – 49 GS, 34 QS, 19 W, 315.2 IP, 353 H+BB, 305 K’s, 100 ER, 2.85 ERA, 1.12 whip

Not Too Shabby

Tim Lincecum: 6/5 @ SD; 6/10 vs TEX – control is a concern, but should be able to hold the Padres in check

Yovani Gallardo: 6/5 vs CHC; 6/10 vs SD – gets to face a couple weak hitting teams

Anibal Sanchez: 6/5 vs ATL; 6/10 vs TB – if he would get more wins, he’d be a no-brainer

Jordan Zimmermann: 6/5 vs NYM; 6/10 @ BOS – has to face a hot Mets team and the hard-hitting Red Sox

Ryan Dempster: 6/5 @ MIL; 6/10 @ MIN – Brewers are banged up and Twins can’t score

Kyle Lohse: 6/4 @ NYM; 6/9 vs CLE – keeps finding ways to win with less than dominant stuff

Jeff Samardzija: 6/4 @ SF; 6/9 @ MIN – a couple weak hitting opponents for the “Shark”

Homer Bailey: 6/5 vs PIT; 6/10 vs DET – 4 straight quality starts has pushed ERA under 4.00

Ryan Vogelsong: 6/4 vs CHC; 6/9 vs TEX – continues to prove that last year was not a fluke

Dillon Gee: 6/5 @ WAS; 6/10 @ NYY – 3 straight quality starts has dropped ERA nearly a full run

Joe Saunders: 6/4 vs COL; 6/10 vs OAK – Rockies don’t hit outside Coors, A’s just don’t hit

Jake Westbrook: 6/5 @ HOU; 6/10 vs CLE – has had a rough go of it last 4 starts, so tread carefully

Results

Week 8 – 26 GS, 15 QS, 13 W, 167.0 IP, 186 H+BB, 141 K’s, 65 ER, 3.50 ERA, 1.11 whip

YTD – 162 GS, 98 QS, 61 W, 1011.1 IP, 1248 H+BB, 788 K’s, 402 ER, 3.58 ERA, 1.23 whip

Risky at Best

Chad Billingsley: 6/5 @ PHI; 6/10 @ SEA – 5.52 ERA in May

Lucas Harrell: 6/5 vs STL; 6/10 @ CHW – followed up one of his better starts (7.1 IP, 1 ER), with worst (5 IP, 9 ER)

Randall Delgado: 6/5 @ MIA; 6/10 vs TOR – either he or Mike Minor will lose their spot to Kris Medlen

Christian Friedrich: 6/4 @ ARI; 6/10 vs LAA – don’t trust rookies

Jeremy Hefner: 6/4 vs STL; 6/9 @ NYY – see above

Brad Lincoln: 6/5 @ CIN; 6/10 vs KC – great season so far, but still has a career ERA of 4.77

Results

Week 8 – 11 GS, 4 QS, 2 W, 65.1 IP, 91 H+BB, 40 K’s, 34 ER, 4.68 ERA, 1.39 whip

YTD – 60 GS, 31 QS, 15 W, 359.0 IP, 487 H+BB, 245 K’s, 181 ER, 4.54 ERA, 1.36 whip

Other Favorable Matchups

Here are pitchers owned less than 50% in CBS leagues, with favorable matchups for Week 10

Anthony Bass (45% owned): 6/6 vs SF

What’s it gonna take for this guy to get some love?  Owns career 1.10 ERA against the Giants

Mike Leake (20% owned): 6/7 vs PIT

2.84 career ERA against the Pirates, despite a 1-3 record

Clayton Richard (12% owned) 6/7 vs SF

Should come as no surprise considering the Giants’ weak off the last few years, but is 5-3 with 3.35 ERA against them

Results

Week 8 – 3 GS, 1 QS, 1 W, 19.1 IP, 27 H+BB, 17 K’s, 13 ER, 6.05 ERA, 1.40 whip

YTD – 23 GS, 14 QS, 13 W, 145.2 IP, 179 H+BB, 141 K’s, 55 ER, 3.40 ERA, 1.23 whip

AL is up next

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The Hump Day Look See 5/30/12 – Panic in pitchertown!

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The Hump Day Look See 5/30/12 – Panic in pitchertown!

Posted on 30 May 2012 by J. Ellet Lambie

The Hump Day Look See is your weekly Wednesday foray into all things fantasy baseball. Sneaky stat lines, rapid risers, trends and tricks to help maximize your roster are all celebrated here. Equal parts analysis and common sense with a splash of humor, served fresh every Wednesday morning right here on Full Spectrum Baseball.

THE END IS NIGH! RUN FOR THE HILLS!

That is, if you happen to own Roy Halladay or Jered Weaver, who were both shelved this week with injuries. Halladay is expected to miss 6-8 weeks, there is not yet a timetable for Jered Weaver to resume his duties on the bump. Also hobbling to the sidelines in the past two weeks: Ted Lilly, John Danks, Danny Duffy and Marco Estrada. LIGHT THE LANTERNS AND HEAD FOR THE SHELTER!

Or….you could look elsewhere on the disabled list to names such as Brandon McCarthy, Jonathan Sanchez and Vance Worley – all three should return in the next week and change. Aces they are not, serviceable stop gaps that could become more? Sure, it’s possible.

And don’t forget to frantically check the free agent pool in all of your leagues for Roy Oswalt, now that he has agreed to join the Texas Rangers. I have to imagine we’re looking at a couple of weeks minimum of stretching him out before he toes a major league rubber, so don’t expect a miracle this week. Also of note, his career OPS against at Ameriquest (Arlington) is .878, with a 4.78 ERA and 9 HR allowed in 52.2 innings pitched. Caveat Emptor my friends.

I had a couple of inquiries following the first HDLS post last week, wondering why I listed the top 10 added and dropped hitters, but not pitchers. A fair question. With a decent percentage of players in ESPN standard 5 x 5 rotisserie leagues streaming pitchers each week, I’ve found it skews the numbers, and paints a confusing picture. So to balance the coverage, I’ll make an effort to highlight pitching options in other ways each week – see above. You can also check out the AL and NL weekly Pitching Planning posts right here at Full Spectrum Baseball.

Top 10 Added Hitters in ESPN Standard Leagues – Last 14 Days:

Player % Add/Drop %
owned
Notes
Dayan Viciedo CWS – OF +52.8 83.2 #4 last week, added +20% since. 22/55 with 7 HR, 20 RBI in last 15 games.
Jeff Francoeur KC – OF +40.1 81.2 Frenchy is too good to have been that bad for that long, .375 with 4 bombs in last 15, hope you bought low.
Jonathan Lucroy MIL – C +34.4 78.4 News of his broken hand will put out this fire, but keep him on your watch list for mid/late July.
Justin Morneau MIN – 1B +33.1 91.3 5 HR and 16 steaks since his return from the DL. If he stays on the field he should stay in your lineup.
Mitch Moreland TEX – 1B/OF +33 87.1 On the fringe last week. Multi-position eligible, power stroke like the weather, getting warmer.
Chris Davis BAL 3B/1B +25 74.4 6th most dropped last week, streaky hitter that will inspire the Yo-Yo effect.
A.J. Pierzynski CWS – C +22.3 85.6 Top 5 among ALL catchers in Hits, Runs, HR, RBI – How is he still available in 15% of leagues?
Jed Lowrie HOU – 3B/SS +17.1 94.6 Health and a change of scenery have done wonders – 1/2 of his HR (4 of 8) in last 15 games.
A.J. Ellis LAD – C +16.5 28.2 Almost June and still hitting .315, smells like a regression candidate to me (.282 career), but he’s extra scrappy.
Michael Brantley CLE – OF +15.8 37.5 Hit safely in 8 straight games, 7 RBI and 6 SB in that stretch.

And the Yang of failure, also known as the 10 most dropped:

Player %
Add/Drop
%
owned
Notes
Cody Ross BOS – OF (DL) -37.3 27.3 Victim of nervous injury drops, might be back in a couple of weeks.
Chipper Jones ATL – 3B (DL) -37.2 47.3 Hopes to return soon, surgery to drain fluid from his leg not an encouraging sign.
Lance Berkman STL – 1B/OF -22.4 49.8 Residual dropping from 6-10 week prognosis of last week.
Miguel Montero ARI – C -21.7 67.9 Missed 5 games with a groin injury, signed a massive new deal, still hitting .248 with only 2 HR’s, but OBP .342 – excellent buy low candidate.
Torii Hunter LAA – OF -13.6 61.4 Hangover droppage from time away for family issues. Returns Tuesday night.
Bryan LaHair CHC – 1B/OF -12.9 87.1 Returned to earth with a miserable week. 3 for 4 Monday, but likely to sit against lefties (3-22 this season).
Emilio Bonifacio MIA – 2B/SS/3B (DL) -11.2 86.7 Oh sweet Emilio, curse your balky thumb. Out for a while but speed doesn’t slump, keep your eyes on him close to his return.
Jon Jay STL – OF (DL) -8.8 29.4 Could be back in 10-14 days, should resume a starting role then. 9 Hits and 8 Runs in final 10 games before injury.
Jemile Weeks OAK – 2B -8.2 51.5 .235 with 3 Runs, 1 SB, 0 HR, 0 RBI in last 15 games. Perhaps track is his forte.
Robert Andino BAL – 2B/SS/3B -7.8 31.4 Ladies and gentlemen, this is what regression to the mean looks like while wearing an orange hat.

And for the value shopper, this week’s 5 Under 50 – five players owned in less than 50% of ESPN standard leagues that can help your roster right now. Last week I recommended Anthony Bass of the Padres, who then proceeded to have his worst outing of the year, arguably. Consider this proof I am not in fact omnipotent. With that being said, stick with the kid, he’s been far more good than bad this season. I also pointed a finger at Joe Blanton, insert joke here. On the upside, Alcides Escobar, J.P. Arencibia and Daniel Nava did not burst into fantasy flames (Arencibia did hit .136, but had 2 HR), so I suppose there is hope after all.

Paul Goldschmidt ARI – 1B 35.4%: He hit a 471 foot HR the other day. Not kidding. 471 feet. The former prized prospect has hit in 7 straight games through Monday, with 4 doubles and 7 runs scored over that span. He’s at least worth a stash if you’re thin at 1B short term.

Michael Brantley CLE – OF 37.5%: As mentioned above in the most added section (#10), he’s been hitting and running and doing all sorts of fun fantasy things. If he keeps it up he’ll be ineligible for this category in no time.

Gregor Blanco SFG – OF 19.6%: 21 runs scored with a .397 OBP in 95 at-bats from the leadoff spot this year. Sustainable long term? Eh, perhaps not, but even with a bit of a slide he’ll remain above average. 6 steals on the year to boot.

Casey Janssen TOR – RP 46.6%: He’s picked up 4 saves since taking over closer duties in Toronto, and boasts a respectable 2.89 ERA and an impressive 0.91 WHIP in that time. Most closers suffer a hiccup here and there, and he won’t be immune, but he should bolster your bottom line more than he hurts it.

Homer Bailey CIN – SP 12.5%: As I type this Bailey just nailed down complete game win, allowing 1 run on 4 hits against the Pirates. That’s 3 straight wins and 4 consecutive starts with 3 or fewer earned runs allowed. He’s walked 5 in those starts while striking out 21.

Your questions and thoughts are welcomed, and encouraged, both here in the comments and on twitter @lembeck451. All stats accurate as of 10 PM EDT 5/29/12. 

 

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NL Pitching Planner:  April 9 – April 15

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NL Pitching Planner: April 9 – April 15

Posted on 07 April 2012 by Mark Sherrard

The 2012 season is already underway and has featured many quality starts so far. In the NL, Kyle Lohse, Tommy Hanson, Johan Santana, Roy Halladay, Erik Bedard, Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Dempster and Johnny Cueto have all given up one or less runs in their first starts.

For those of you in weekly or head-to-head leagues, decision time is looming for your starters for next week. Here’s a look at the two start pitchers and those with favorable matchups for week 2 for the NL.

Two Start Pitchers

No-Brainers

Clayton Kershaw: 4/10 vs Pit; 4/15 vs SD

Cole Hamels: 4/9 vs Mia; 4/15 vs NYM

Shaun Marcum: 4/9 @ ChC; 4/14 @ Atl

Kershaw should be in your starting lineup at all times, but especially when facing the likes of Pittsburgh and San Diego.  Hamels gets to square off against a rebuilding Mets team and a Marlins team that has started slowly out of the gate.  Marcum gets to face the AAA Cubs and an Atlanta team that recently has not been known for its offense.

Not too shabby

Brandon Beachy: 4/9 @ Hou; 4/15 vs Mil

Trevor Cahill: 4/10 @ SD; 4/15 @ Col

Jhoulys Chacin: 4/9 vs SF; 4/15 vs Ari

Kevin Correia: 4/10 @ LAD; 4/15 @ SF

Edwin Jackson: 4/9 @ NYM; 4/14 vs Cin

Mike Leake: 4/10 vs Stl; 4/15 @ Was

Mike Pelfrey: 4/9 vs Was; 4/15 @ Phi

Anibal Sanchez: 4/9 @ Phi; 4/15 vs Hou

Jake Westbrook: 4/9 @ Cin; 4/14 vs Chi

All of these pitchers have at least one start against a shaky offense or have pitched well against their opponents in the past.  I particularly like the matchups for Beachy and Chacin.

Shaky at best

Homer Bailey: 4/9 vs Stl; 4/14 @ Was

Ross Detwiler: 4/10 @ NYM; 4/15 vs Cin

J.A. Happ: 4/9 vs Atl; 4/15 @ Mia

Paul Maholm: 4/10 vs Mil; 4/15 @ Stl

Chris Narveson: 4/10 vs ChC; 4/15 @ Atl

Chris Volstad: 4/9 vs Mil; 4/14 @ Stl

Barry Zito: 4/9 @ Col; 4/14 vs Pit

Most of these guys are just not strong enough pitchers to take a chance on or are too inconsistent to rely on.  Its best to avoid them or risk getting burned.

Other Favorable Matchups

Tommy Hanson: 4/11 @ Hou

Pretty much any pitcher against the Astros is a favorable matchup, but considering that Hanson has a career 0.97 ERA against them, its especially so.

Roy Halladay: 4/11 vs Mia

Halladay is a good start against practically everyone and with a career 2.51 ERA against the Marlins, there is no reason to sit him.

Ian Kennedy: 4/12 @ SD

Kennedy holds a career ERA of 2.01 against the Padres and benefits from pitching in Petco for this matchup.

Ricky Nolasco: 4/13 vs Hou and Carlos Zambrano: 4/14 vs Hou

Not only do Nolasco and Zambrano get to face the lowly Astros, but they get to do so in their home park, which is already getting a reputation as a pitchers’ park.

Coming up we’ll take a look at the AL pitchers’ matchups.

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