Tag Archive | "Jeff Samardzija"

The Rotation Crush; It’ll Be A Thing

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The Rotation Crush; It’ll Be A Thing

Posted on 04 February 2013 by Will Emerson

There are crushes, there are man-crushes, there are bro-mances, heck, I even have my advanced stat man-crush, Ben Zobrist! But I am going to add a new kind of crush to the list. A rotation crush! See, I was pouring over pitching stats, preparing for upcoming fantasy drafts, as I am want to do and came across the Chicago Cubs starting rotation and well, woah, mama! After just a quick glance I realized that, yes, I now had starting rotation  crush!

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Yep, the Cub rotation has me all starry-eyed. I may even plaster my bedroom walls with their pictures, posters and other assorted memorabilia,. Okay, I probably won’t  go to that much of an extreme. Probably. But, that is neither here nor there. The Cub rotation is my kind of rotation. Seems, like it has been a tad bit under the radar, but the Cubbies, in general, are actually well on their way to building themselves back up and into the real of respectability and it starts with their starting pitching. Garza, Jackson, Baker, Samardzija, Villanueva, Wood. Okay it does not sound overly intimidating or like a legitimate law firm, sure. Also, it’s not the Brave rotations of the 90s or the A’s of the early 2000′s. It’s not even the Phillies ace rotation of a couple seasons ago, for that matter. They are probably not going to adorn the cover of Sports Illustrated with a clever and catchy cpation next to them, any time soon, okay. But they are, unbeknownst to many, quite solid. I am not saying any of these picthers are gonna be winning the Cy Young Award in 2013, but in their starting picthing, the Cubs have a solid building block. Peruse these numbers from 2012 (2011 for Scott Baker since he missed all of 2012)

Matt Garza:              3.59 xFIP, 3.60 SIERA, 1.18 WHIP, 8.33 K/9

Jeff Samardzija:      3.38 xFIP, 3.40 SIERA, 1.22 WHIP, 9.27 K/9

Edwin Jackson:       3.79 xFIP, 3.75 SIERA, 1.22 WHIP, 7.97 K/9

Scott Baker:              3.61 xFIP, 3.44 SIERA, 1.17 WHIP, 8.22 K/9

Carlos Villanueva: 4.09 xFIP, 3.72 SIERA, 1.27 WHIP, 8.76 K/9

Travis Wood:           4.62 xFIP, 4.41 SIERA, 1.20 WHIP, 6.87 K/9

Well, I think you can quickly see why my inaugural rotation crush is for the 2013 Cubs. The advanced stas are very consistently above average for the most part. Sure, Wood is a bit of an outlier, but Travis Wood is just a pitcher I like. One of those pitchers I just like for no statistical or gut reason whatsoever. I have a similar unexplained affinity for Chris Volstad, but I am veering a bit off course, here. Back to the rotation crush. My guess is that Wood ends up coming out of the bullpen for the Cubbies, anyway, but who knows what could happen in Spring Training? Alright, focus. Roatation crush. Looking at these advanced stats, you have to feel the Cubs are going to be in a lot of their games and will not need to tax their bullpen all that much. Each one of these pitchers (okay, with the exception of Villanueva) have been high on my list for quite some time and are now all in one glorious rotation in Chicago! Again, though, let’s not start throwing these guys Cy Young votes just yet. While I can barely contain my excitement about this rotation, there are certainly some question marks hovering above it.

First off, you have Scott Baker. Now, I have liked Scotty Baker for awhile and I do like the move to the National League. The change of scenery should certainly do him well, even if he is moving to a more hitter friendly park. The concern though is that he did miss all of 2012 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Missing a season of baseball, for any reason, especially an injury and super especially (yes I said super especially, deal with it) for an arm or shoulder injury, will make things somewhat difficult. At some point Baker should be at, or at least close to, his former self, but there is no telling when that may be. Word is he will be ready for the start of the regular season and early projections make it seem like most baseball prognosticators think he will be up on the bump looking like he has not skipped a beat. There is no guarantee on what Baker will provide, but it is definitely worth whatever small risk there is, for the Cubbies. But Baker, of course, is not the only question mark in this rotation.

“The Shark” , Jeff Samardzija had a very, very good season in 2012. There were a few bumps along the way, *cough* June *cough*, but he still finished the season with some very respectable numbers. Plus, you have to love a 44.6 ground ball rate coupled with a K/9 over nine! Trust me, you have to! That’s not a ton of fly balls, which is great if, like “the Shark”, you pitch a lot of games at Wrigley Field. The one main concern/question around Samardzija, is whether or not he can duplicate his 2012 numbers in 2013. Looking at the numbers, themselves, nothing really points to a regression in 2013. In fact, if anything, they point to a bit of an improvement. So what’s the problem? Well, if you buy into this sort of thing, it could be his inning total from 2012. His innings thrown in 2012 were the most he has thrown in any season of professional baseball. In fact, it almost double his 2011 innnings thrown, back when he was coming out of the bullpen. But hey, the numbers point to some improvement, so maybe the innnings thing will counter act the expected improvement and he will duplicate those 2012 numbers, in 2013. Did that make sense? No? Yeah, it seemed to make more sense in my head. Personally, I think Shark will be fine in 2013, but I could see that increased innings thing being a mild concern to some. Of course numbers and projections are great, but they are not the end all, be all. They cannot always tell the whole story, per se.

Any baseball fan who follows stats, especially advanced stats, knows that while these stats can be helpful and show patterns, point to regressions, etcetera, etcetera, and should help us predict future performance, this is not always the case. When you look at this Cub rotation and see those xFIP and SIERA numbers, it looks all fine and dandy, peachy keen. For whatever reason though, we know it is highly unlikely that each of these pitchers will have an ERA matching, or even close to, their xFIPs or SIERAs. At the very least you have to like your odds if you are Theo Epstein and company over there in the Cubs front office. I know I sure do! When you have a fifth starter with the potential to strike out close to nine batters per nine innings, well everything else should be cream cheese. So congratulations to the 2013 Chicago Cubs starting picthers for becoming my very first rotation crush! You should feel greatly honored. Well, enough out of me, I have to go track down a life-sized Jeff Samardzija cardboard cutout.

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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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JeffSamardzija

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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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Field Of Streams: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options

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Field Of Streams: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options

Posted on 12 August 2012 by Will Emerson

Welcome to another edition of Field Of Streams, a weekly look at some viable and, possibly, some non-viable, streaming options for your fantasy team(s) in the upcoming week. Fantasy leagues are in the home stretch and if you’re in the playoff hunt, it is time to be savvy, get crafty and stream away! All of these pitchers are owned by less than half of ESPN and Yahoo fantasy owners, meaning there is a good chance you will be able to snag ‘em. So without further ado, here’s a look at your streaming options for the week of 8/13-8/19:

 Jeff Samardzija (CHC)- This upcoming week is Shark Week, so naturally we have to start with the Shark himself. Clearly my praise for Samardzija in last week’s Field of Streams has not had people jumping the Shark’s bandwagon as he is actually now owned in fewer fantasy leagues than last week. Huh?! Remember Samardzija’s July numbers? 1.91 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and a 9.82 K/9? Those are great numbers, people!  His last start, while it was at Petco, was impressive as well: 7 IP, 6K, 4H, 2BB, ER, sporting a 2.86 xFIP and 58.8% of batted balls were worm burners. Shark has a two start week this week, that starts with the Astros at Wrigley. The Astronomicals are not slugging by any means, so you should already generally stream against them as much as possible, and Shark Ks almost 10 batters per nine at home. The second start agains the Reds in Cincy though, could be a slight cause for concern, but I have faith and highly recommend fully embracing Shark Week and grabbing Smardzija!  (40.0% owned in ESPN and 43% in Yahoo!)

Alex Cobb (TB)-  Now Cobb is not the flashiest of guys by any stretch of the imagination and may never post those high K/9 numbers he was posting in the minors, but he has definitely been more than serviceable for the Rays.  Now the 4.32 ERA and 6-8 record, has managed to steer many fantasy owners clear of Cobb, making him readily available. What most don’t see is his 3.61 xFIP, 3.59 SIERA and a nice 57.9 ground ball rate, which is really enhanced when the mad genius Joe Maddon is aligning the defense behind him. Oh, did I neglect to mention that his first start of the week is against the Mariners at Safeco? The same Ms that have the worst wOBA and second fewest runs scored in the majors this season, which should be a gimme for Cobb. His second start of the week, however, will be against the Angels and they have scored more runs and posted a higher wOBA than any other team in the majors over the last month. So he’s a safe bet in Safeco, but I’d recommend sitting him against the Halos. (4.0% owned in ESPN and 5% Yahoo!)

Jeff Karstens (PIT)- Do not adjust your monitor, you read right! Jeff Karstens as a stream option this week. Karstens starts the week off at PNC, against the Dodgers. Karstens has been highly above average at home this season, with a 1.33 ERA and a .96 WHIP. Of course the .263 BABIP means these unworldy numbers with regress a tad, but the 3.69 xFIP is still promising. Plus, only the Cubs and Astros have been less effective offensively than the Dodgers over the last month. Start him against the Dodgers, but hold off against the Cardinals at Busch.  (5.0% owned in ESPN and 10% Yahoo!)

Patrick Corbin (ARI)- The youngster has put together back-to-back solid starts at the Dodgers and at the Pirates. Striking out 12 batters in 12 innnings while only two earned runs, eight hits and five free passes. He also put up a sub-three FIPs in both of those starts. Now, as I mentioned the Dodgers bats have not exactly been striking fear into opposing pitchers of late, but Corbin has the Astros this week and they have not been striking fear into opposing pitchers most of the season. So it is a thumbs up for Patty Corbin against the ‘Stros this week! (2.5% owned in ESPN and 4% Yahoo!)

Jarrod Parker (OAK)- If you have not been living under a rock for the past couple of, I dunno, decades or so, you know that the Athletics always seem to have young pitchers that can, quite simply, get the job done.  Parker is no different, with a very decent 3.55 ERA,  1.29 WHIP and a 7.10 K/9. Now his .291 BABIP and 4.02 xFIP points to a bit of a regression, but he’ll still be very solid. He draws the Tribe at the Coliseum, where he has has a 2.75 ERA and an xFIP of 3.09, making him a highly viable stream option this week. (40.3% owned in ESPN and 45% Yahoo!)

Bartolo Colon (OAK)- Big ol’ Bartolo has found nice little home in Oakland this year, right now posting his lowest ERA since 2002 and over a half a run better than his career ERA. The K/9 numbers will not get much higher than they are, maybe slightly above six, nothing off the charts, but with a K/BB rate over four, a ground ball rate cl0se to 50% and a prime chunk of real estate behind him in the Coliseum, the quality starts should continue to flow like wine. With his first start of the week coming on the road against the Royals, who are not exactly crushing the ball, and his second start of the week coming at home against the Indians, I would fully recommend freshening the air around your fantasy team with a spritz of Colon! (21.5% owned in ESPN and 29% Yahoo!)

Scott Diamond (MIN)- On the surface, yes, he appears to be a diamond in the rough, and yes, I am sure I am the first one to use that, but he is not as ace like as he seems. So far this season Diamond is 10-5, with a 2.91 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, but with a .290 BABIP and a 3.70 xFIP there is a regression storm a comin’! He Ks less than five batters per nine, but with a ground ball rate just over 55% he can probably manage to get away with the low K-rate more often than not. But Scotty is pitching in Seattle this week and until the Mariners prove other wise, it is generally a good idea to stream against them. You may want to avoid him though, if you are in a K/9 league or in search of Ks. With all that being said, I am not entirely sold on his overall fantasy value and so, whilst I recommend him this week, for the future I would say sell high if you can. (46.6% owned in ESPN and 49% Yahoo!)

Joe Saunders (ARI)- With a career K/9 of 5.14 and ERA over four, I’ve never really seen Joe Saunders as much of fantasy pitcher. This season he has a K/9 over a K higher than his career average and his 3.52 ERA is his lowest ERA since 2008 with the Angels, but this still does not have me sold on his fantasy merits. Mainly because the Ks/9 are only now only slightly over six, his xFIP is 4.20 and that ground ball rate below 45% does not instill me with a lot of confidence. Combine all this with the fact that he is pitching against the Cardinals who have the highest wOBA of any team in baseball this season. So disregard that nice little ERA and do not stream Joe Saunders against the Cards. (8.6% owned in ESPN and 14% Yahoo!)

Marco Estrada (MIL)- I am absolutely loving the young patchwork rotation the Brewers are throwing out there these days, especially Marco “Ponch” Estrada! With a 9.26 K/9, 1.79 BB/9, 1.14 WHIP and a 3.45 xFIP, what is not to love, am I right? And you know what is even more lovely?  His home numbers, that’s what! At home his K/9 is 10.17, his BB/9 is .78, his WHIP is .93 and his xFIP is 2.97! Amazingly he is winless at home, and for that matter, everywhere. Yes folks, he is 0-5 on the season and 0-2 in his eight starts at Miller Park. Well, although he’s got Cliff Lee and the Phillies in town this week and I have a sneaking suspicion that this when he breaks into the win column. Not only should you stream him, but if you can buy low for the rest of the season, he is most likely worth the stash! (8.6% owned in ESPN and 11% Yahoo!)

Carlos Villanueva (TOR)- Villanueva has been money since being put in the Jays rotation and it could be for real, but he has not generally been a big success as a starter in the past. Just last season he had 13 starts with the Jays and, well, it was not so stellar. In only three of those starts did he have a K/9 over seven and only two starts with an xFIP of below 3.65. In fact, in six of those starts he had an xFIP over 4.89. Nothing impressive to say the least. However, this season he has only had one start with an xFIP of over four, so maybe, quite possibly, there’s a chance he has made a turnaround. I mean his K/9 over nine as a starter this season is  somewhat encouraging, but I am still not sold as he faces the White Sox and Rangers this week at home. With his 12.9% HR/FB I would advise against streaming him.  (8.8% owned in ESPN and 23% Yahoo!)

Aaron Harang (LAD)- Harang has two starts this week and generally if you need some innings and a quality start or two, Harangutang is your man. However this week he draws the Pirates and the Braves on the road and while these two teams are not crushing the ball right now, the Dodgers are crushing the ball even less and I don’t see a lot of run support coming Harang’s way. So do not count on “W”s from Harangutang this week and in general take a pass on streaming him. (9.3% owned in ESPN and 19% Yahoo!)

Jose Quintana (CWS)- The 4-2 record, 2.78 ERA, and 1.09 WHIP all look like fairly sexy numbers and word on the street is Q is in line to stay in the White Sox rotation for the stretch run. All this information has fantasy owners slowly, but surely, adding him to their rotations. But with a 4.86 K/9, .263 BABIP and a 4.09 xFIP those sexy looking ERA and WHIP numbers are bound to rise and become, well, less sexy looking. So while you should steer clear of Quintana against the Blue Jays early in the week, he could grab you a “W” against the Royals in his second start of the week, just don’t expect the Ks or an ace-like outing. (19.7% owned in ESPN and 27% Yahoo!)

Franklin Morales (BOS)- While I do love me some Franky M as a starter, it looks like he will draw the Yankees this upcoming week and thus far, the biggest, and really only, blip as a starter has been against the Yankees. In that one start he lasted only 3.1 innings, allowing six earned runs on  four home runs. Now while this does not mean a similar outing is in store, you should probably avoid Franky at the Stadium this week. But, if you have him, I would keep him and the great K-rate down the stretch. (13.2% owned in ESPN and 16% Yahoo!)

So there you have it, another edition of  Field Of Streams in the books! So what did we learn this week, children? 1) Stream against the Astros and the Mariners when possible, B) Ks/9 are still your best friends, 4) If you see the Jose Quintana bandwagon rolling by, stay grounded, do NOT hop on and F) Marco, is the coolest Estrada since Erik! Good day and godspeed! 

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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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