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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!


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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NL Pitching Planner:  June 18 – June 24

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NL Pitching Planner: June 18 – June 24

Posted on 18 June 2012 by Mark Sherrard

Fresh off his perfect game, Matt Cain headlines this week’s list of two-start pitchers in the NL.  The pool of two-starters is strong at the top.  However, these strong two-starters are offset by a larger than usual pool of bottom feeders.

Here are the NL two-start pitchers and other favorable matchups for Week 12:

Two-Start Pitchers


Matt Cain:  6/18 @ LAA; 6/24 @ OAK – although Philip Humber hasn’t fared well after his perfect game, you have to feel Cain can keep pitching well, as he has a better track record.

R.A. Dickey: 6/18 vs BAL; 6/24 vs NYY – one questionable call away from a no-no last time out

Cole Hamels: 6/19 vs COL; 6/24 vs TB – should bounce back after poor start last time out

Lance Lynn: 6/19 @ DET; 6/24 @ KC – has proven to be one of the more reliable pitchers in the NL


Week 10 -4 GS, 3 QS, 1 W, 27.2 IP, 30 H+BB, 37 K’s, 12 ER, 3.90 ERA, 1.08 whip

YTD – 60 GS, 40 QS, 24 W, 388.1 IP, 436 H+BB, 385 K’s, 134 ER, 3.11 ERA, 1.12 whip

Not Too Shabby

Matt Garza: 6/18 @ CHW; 6/24 @ ARI – a little shaky last time out.  Are the trade rumors distracting him?

Mark Buehrle: 6/19 vs MIA; 6/24 vs TOR – has only given up more than 4 runs in one start

Mike Minor: 6/18 @ NYY; 6/24 @ BOS – two straight strong starts has solidified his position in rotation, for now

Aaron Harang: 6/19 @ OAK; 6/24 @ LAA – does not pitch well on the road (4.37 ERA vs 2.51 at Home), but the A’s could help change that

Wade Miley: 6/18 vs SEA; 6/24 vs CHC – putting up great number in rookie year and faces a couple weak teams

Mat Latos: 6/18 @ CLE; 6/24 vs MIN – still trying to string together some quality starts


Week 10 – 24 GS, 14 QS, 7 W, 149.2 IP, 192 H+BB, 115 K’s, 71 ER, 4.27 ERA, 1.28 whip

YTD – 204 GS, 120 QS, 76 W, 1265.1 IP, 1584 H+ BB, 999 K’s, 520 ER, 3.70 ERA, 1.25 whip

Risky at Best

Randy Wolf:  6/18 vs TOR; 6/24 @ CHW – Wolf was decent last year, but not so much this year.  Best to avoid.

J.A. Happ:  6/18 vs KC; 6/24 vs CLE – its hard to get excited about Astros pitchers, especially those with 5.33 ERA’s

Kevin Correia: 6/19 vs MIN; 6/24 vs DET – A 25/21 K/BB ratio to go with 4.43 ERA and poor offensive support

Josh Outman: 6/19 @ PHI; 6/24 @ TEX – 8.44 ERA, including 7.94 ERA is 3 starts, does not bode well

Jason Marquis: 6/18 vs TEX; 6/24 vs SEA – might benefit from pitching in Petco, but was released by Twins for a reason

Chien-Ming Wang: 6/19 vs TB; 6/24 @ BAL – Nats should have kept Ross Detwiler in the rotation


Week 10 – 9 GS, 7 QS, 6 W, 54.2 IP, 65 H+BB, 41 K’s, 27 ER, 4.45 ERA, 1.19 whip

YTD – 74 GS, 41 QS, 23 W, 446.0 IP, 587 H+BB, 307 K’s, 223 ER, 4.50 ERA, 1.32 whip

Other Favorable Matchups (<50% owned)

Nathan Eovaldi (16% owned): 6/20 @ OAK

Favorable matchup for young pitcher who is throwing well

Dillon Gee (41% owned): 6/20 vs BAL

3.05 ERA over his last 3 starts, could be a good time to take a chance on him

Joe Kelly (5% owned): 6/22 @ KC

Young sinkerballer will square off against a Royals offense that’s 28th in the majors in runs scored

Clayton Richard (16% owned):  6/23 vs SEA

Has a 2.79 ERA in last 3 starts and 1.97 career ERA against the Mariners


Week 10 – 2 GS, 0 QS, 0 W, 12.2 IP, 17 H+BB, 6 K’s, 8 ER, 5.68 ERA, 1.34 whip

YTD – 28 GS, 14 QS, 14 W, 175.2 IP, 231 H+BB, 156 K’s, 81 ER, 4.15 ERA, 1.31 whip

Be sure to check out the AL Pitching Planner and see ya next week.

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NL Pitching Planner: May 21 – 27

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NL Pitching Planner: May 21 – 27

Posted on 17 May 2012 by Mark Sherrard

After a little bit of inter-league play, its back to a NL and AL only schedule this week.

Here are the NL two-start pitchers and other favorable matchups for week 8:

Two-Start Pitchers


Roy Halladay:  5/22 vs WAS; 5/27 @ STL – only one hiccup this year (8 ER in 5.1 IP vs ATL), no more than 3 ER in all other starts

Matt Cain:  5/22 @ MIL; 5/27 @ MIA – the real Giants ace.  If only they could score some runs.

Gio Gonzalez: 5/21 @ PHI; 5/27 @ ATL – rough 1st start of season, but no more than 3 ER allowed in any start since

Brandon Beachy: 5/22 @ CIN; 5/27 vs WAS – has not given up more than 2 ER in ANY start, including shutout last start

Johan Santana: 5/21 @ PIT; 5/26 vs SD – normally not a no-brainer, but gets to face the two worst hitting teams in NL


Week 6 – 6 GS, 4 QS, 1 W, 41.0 IP, 40 H+BB, 40 K’s, 12 ER, 2.63 ERA, 0.98 whip

YTD – 29 GS, 24 QS, 8 W, 189.0 IP, 206 H+BB, 183 K’s, 56 ER, 2.67 ERA, 1.09 whip

Not Too Shabby

Madison Bumgarner: 5/21 @ MIL; 5/26 @ MIA – despite a couple rough starts (4 ER apiece), still reliable

Matt Garza: 5/21 @ HOU; 5/27 @ PIT – a couple nice matchups for the Cubs ace

Chris Capuano: 5/21 @ ARI; 5/27 vs HOU – got roughed up a little by SD, but still a pretty safe bet

Adam Wainwright: 5/22 vs SD; 5/27 vs PHI – you may want to wait until he strings some good starts together

Mat Latos:  5/22 vs ATL; 5/27 vs COL – still a little iffy, but seems to be getting back on track

Jaime Garcia: 5/21 vs SD; 5/26 vs PHI – giving up a few more baserunners than usual, but has limited the damage

Mark Buehrle: 5/21 vs COL; 5/26 vs SF – does not strike out many, but keeps the ball in the park

Edinson Volquez: 5/22 @ STL; 5/27 @ NYM – has not given up more than 3 ER in any of his last 5 starts

Bud Norris: 5/21 vs CHC; 5/27 @ LAD – gets to face Kemp-less Dodgers and a weak Cubs team

Ricky Nolasco: 5/22 vs COL; 5/27 vs SF – got roughed up by Mets last time out, but still pitching well

R.A. Dickey: 5/22 @ PIT; 5/27 vs SD – knuckleballers seem to get better with age

Erik Bedard: 5/21 vs NYM; 5/27 vs CHC – already the subject of trade rumors, maybe he’ll go to a team that can score

Clayton Richard: 5/21 @ STL; 5/26 @ NYM – an iffy pick, but pitched well last time out


Week 6 – 16 GS, 8 QS, 7 W, 96.2 IP, 119 H+BB; 82 K’s, 40 ER, 3.72 ERA, 1.23 whip

YTD – 103 GS, 66 QS, 41 W, 644.1 IP, 784 H+BB, 496 K’s, 235 ER, 3.28 ERA, 1.22 whip

Risky At Best

Kyle Kendrick: 5/21 vs WAS; 5/26 @ STL – filling in for Vance Worley, best to avoid

Mike Minor:  5/21 @ CIN; 5/26 vs WAS – going through a rough patch

Randy Wolf: 5/21 vs SF; 5/27 @ ARI – 6.38 ERA and 1.80 whip on the season, let someone else take a chance

Mike Leake: 5/21 vs ATL; 5/26 vs COL – one good start is not enough to convince me

Patrick Corbin: 5/21 vs LAD; 5/27 vs MIL – only good start came against the light hitting Giants

Jamie Moyer: 5/21 @ MIA; 5/27 @ CIN – despite 4.20 ERA, he’s too hittable for my taste (1.60 whip)


Week 6 – 6 GS, 5 QS, 1 W, 38.2 IP, 49 H+BB, 28 K’s, 18 ER, 4.19 ERA, 1.27 whip

YTD – 37 GS, 20 QS, 10 W, 227.0 IP, 300 H+BB, 155 K’s, 116 ER, 4.60 ERA, 1.32 whip

Other Favorable Matchups

Cole Hamels: 5/23 vs WAS

Hamels is 11-4 with a 2.62 ERA against the Nats

Anibal Sanchez: 5/24 vs SF

Sanchez has gone 2-0 with an 0.75 ERA in 24 IP against the Giants

Tim Hudson: 5/25 vs WAS

14-3 with a 2.03 ERA in his career against the Nats

Yovani Gallardo: 5/25 @ ARI

5-0 with a 1.20 ERA against the Diamondbacks


Week 6 – 4 GS, 4 QS, 2 W, 27.0 IP, 24 H+BB, 36 K’s, 5 ER, 1.67 ERA, 0.89 whip

YTD – 18 GS, 12 QS, 11 W, 114.1 IP, 135 H+BB, 110 K’s, 36 ER, 2.83 ERA, 1.18 whip

Next up is the AL.

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NL Pitching Planner: April 23 – April 29

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NL Pitching Planner: April 23 – April 29

Posted on 23 April 2012 by Mark Sherrard

Here we go again.  Heading into week 4, we are starting to get a better idea as to which teams possess the good offenses (St. Louis, Atlanta, Los Angeles) and which teams do not (Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and, surprisingly, the Phillies), so those of you keen on playing the matchups, take note.

Here are the two start pitchers and favorable matchups for Week 4:

Two Start Pitchers


Matt Cain: 4/24 @ CIN; 4/29 vs SD – Cincinnati is struggling and SD isn’t much better

Cliff Lee: 4/23 @ ARI; 4/29 vs CHC – Lee is one of the best pitchers in the NL

Not too shabby

Mark Buehrle: 4/24 @NYM; 4/29 vs ARI – Buehrle has pitched well, just needs run support

Madison Bumgarner: 4/23 @ NYM; 4/28 vs SD – gets to face two of the weaker offenses

Chris Capuano: 4/23 vs ATL; 4/29 vs WAS – pitched well against Atlanta last year

Jaime Garcia: 4/23 @ CHC; 4/29 vs MIL – good pitcher backed by the best offense in the NL

Matt Garza: 4/23 vs STL; 4/29 @ PHI – a bit iffy as Cubs “ace” must face STL offense and Cliff Lee

Zack Greinke: 4/23 vs HOU; 4/29 @ STL – one out of two ain’t bad

Lucas Harrell: 4/23 @ MIL; 4/29 @ CIN – Two quality starts out of three for the youngster

Daniel Hudson: 4/23 vs PHI; 4/29 @ MIA – Hudson good. Phillies bad.

Jair Jurrjens: 4/23 @ LAD; 4/29 vs PIT – facing Pittsburgh may cure his ills, but beware of the Dodgers

Mat Latos: 4/24 vs SF; 4/29 vs HOU – a couple of weak offenses for the struggling righty

Jamie Moyer: 4/23 @ PIT; 4/29 vs NYM – Pittsburgh is averaging only 2.2 runs per game

Johan Santana: 4/23 vs SF; 4/28 @ COL – the Rockies offense is clicking, the Giants not so much

Jordan Zimmermann: 4/24 @ SD; 4/29 @ LAD – the Nats other ace just needs run support

Risky at best

R.A. Dickey: 4/24 vs MIA; 4/29 @ COL – has not pitched well and faces 2 of the better offenses

Clayton Richard: 4/24 vs WAS; 4/29 @ SF – has given up 18 runs (12 earned) in 18.1 IP.

Other Favorable Matchups

Roy Halladay: 4/27 vs CHC

Halladay should fare well against the AAA Cubs

Tim Lincecum: 4/27 vs SD

The Freak is 9-4 with a career 1.96 ERA against SD

Josh Johnson: 4/28 vs ARI

Johnson is 3-1 with a 1.00 ERA in his career against the Diamondbacks

Tomorrow I’ll take a look at the AL matchups.


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DOs And DONTs: Chicago Cubs

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DOs And DONTs: Chicago Cubs

Posted on 11 February 2012 by Mark Sherrard

The Chicago Cubs are in the midst of rebuilding their roster this year, but that does not mean you should overlook them when it comes to building your fantasy team.

Here is a look at the Do’s and Don’ts regarding the Cubs roster and their fantasy impact:

DO draft Starlin Castro.  He is the Cubs star and a fantasy star in the making.  He is still young and has yet to reach his full potential, so I wouldn’t go overboard and take him in the first round. But those of you in keeper leagues need to jump on his bandwagon before his price skyrockets.

DON’T expect a lot of wins from the Cubs pitchers.  Let’s face it, this team is not going to be very good.   They finished 71-91 last year with Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster leading the team with 10 wins apiece.  Do not expect more than 10 wins from any of the Cubs starters.

DO take a chance on Bryan LaHair in the end game or late rounds.  He hit .331/.405/.664 with 38 homeruns in just 456 at bats at AAA Iowa in 2011.  Yes, at 28, he is old, but there have been other late bloomers, such as Casey McGehee and Ryan Ludwick.  After holding his own in 59 at bats with the Cubs late last season, he will be given a chance to prove he belongs.  But, at the same time…

DON’T forget about Anthony Rizzo.  He is the Cubs future at first base and could get a mid-season callup if LaHair does not hit the ground running.  Rizzo struggled in 128 at bats with the Padres last season, hitting only .141/.281/.242.  But he is a career .296/.366/.514 hitter in the minors.

DO look at Tony Campana as a source of cheap speed.  He stole 24 bases in 143 at bats last year and will be used as a 4th or 5th outfielder for the Cubs.  He also showed the ability to hit for average in the minors, posting a career line of .303/.359/.353 .  Just do not expect any power from him.

DON’T be fooled by Darwin Barney.  After hitting .306/.334/.374 in the first half last year, he struggled in the second half, hitting only .238/.286/.328.  There are rumors that the Cubs consider him a utility player and recent addition, Adrian Cardenas, could compete with Barney for the starting second base job this spring.

DO draft Brett Jackson for your reserve or bench.  The Cubs top prospect has 20/20 potential and although he will start at AAA this year, he could get the call should Marlon Byrd or Alfonso Soriano be traded.  His strikeout totals are somewhat concerning, but his ability to draw walks helps to make up for it.

DON’T rely on Carlos Marmol as your main source of saves.  He struggled last year with a 4.01 ERA and has been the subject of trade rumors this offseason.  He could end up as trade bait come July, which means…

DO hedge your bets.  If you draft Marmol, make sure you look at Kerry Wood and/or Jeff Samardzija as a backup plan.  If Marmol is ineffective or traded, one of those two could take his place, with rookie Chris Carpenter as a possible dark horse.

Finally, I DON’T know what to make of Ian Stewart.  Is he the capable of bouncing back after a truly awful 2011 campaign or is he washed up?  The Cubs are hoping that a change of scenery will help him return to form and he might be worth a late round flier.  Just don’t expect much from him and you could be pleasantly surprised.

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