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Field of Streams: Fantasy Pitching Options

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Field of Streams: Fantasy Pitching Options

Posted on 20 May 2013 by Will Emerson

Yes, yes, yes, it is that time again! Time to take a look at some fantasy pitching options for the upcoming week. The following pitchers have a great chance of being available in your league and may just be the key to fantasy victory.


Edwin Jackson, CHC- E-Jax has had a bumpy 2013 with the Cubbies so far, but I have always been a fan of his work. Jackson is not an ace, by any means, but should certainly be a solid fantasy option at the SP slot. Well, E-JAx is 1-6 with an ERA over five on the season, but he really has not pitched that poorly. Really, I’m serious! The K/9 is over eight and the xFIP and SIERA are both under four. The struggle has been with men on base, as Jackson’s LOB% is under 60 right now. Jackson will pitch at Pittsburgh this week, which is no gimme match up for him, but I like the odds of him righting his ship so to speak in this one.

Brandon McCarthy, ARI- After a slow start with the D-Backs, McCarthy is really starting to settle in. In McCarthy’s last two starts he has thrown 17 scoreless innings, 17?! Now those innings were against the Phillies and the lowly Marlins, so let’s not go too overboard with these outings. McCarthy should be much better than his early season numbers, and a solid three or maybe four, fantasy starter. But this week McCarthy has the Padres, so you can expect another ace like outing from him this week.

Tom Koehler, MIA- Do I know a ton about Koehler? No. What I do know is he has rattled off back-to-back decent starts for the Fish. On Saturday, against the D-backs, he hurled six strong innings allowing one earned run on three hits, while walking only two and striking out seven. Do I think Koehler is as good as those numbers indicate? Eh, not really. However, TK has had back-to-back solid starts and he draws the White Sox this week. The ChiSox have struggled producing runs this season and while they have cut down on the Ks, they are still striking out with great aplomb. Now the one drawback is the Marlins are not known for providing run support, so this may not be a great chance at a “W”, but you should get some help with your peripherals.

Travis Wood, CHC- Travis Wood, much like life (according to Madonna), is a mystery. I like Travis Wood, always have, but I am still a bit on the fence believing in his early season numbers. Wood is 4-2 with a 2.38 ERA and a WHIP of .92. I can’t imagine Wood can keep these numbers up, and judging by the percent he is owned in most fantasy leagues, I am not alone. Wood is more likely to have an ERA in the high threes. Wood has a LOB% of 80% and a ground ball rate below 40% and is not a strike out pitcher. Some sort of regression should be on its way and I feel like a start against Wood’s former mates in Cincy this week, may be where it begins.

Felix Doubront, BOS- It should be widely known that Doubront is a favorite of mine. I was high on Felix in the preseason. With a solid xFIP and K-rate, Doubront was high on my sleeper list. Now the numbers have not been great for Felix this season, although the xFIP, SIERA and K/9 were not terrible, until a clunker against Texas and a bad relief outing. The biggest issue has been the walks. Doubront has been all over the place, walking almost six batters per nine innings. This is a wild card stream for sure, but you can count on the Ks, especially against the White Sox. The White Sox have struggled to score runs, so while I can’t fully support this stream, I do think there is a 50-50 shot Doubront gets a quality start in the Windy City

Wandy Rodriguez and Francisco Liriano, PIT- I am lumping these two Pirate southpaws together. Both are similar this week in streaming. Both pitchers face the Cubs this week, at home. Liriano has looked sharp in his first two starts since returning from the disabled list. Sure they were against the Mets and Brewers who have not been world beaters at the plate, as both are towards the bottom of the league in runs scored in May. Wandy’s last two starts have been just as good, lacking the strikeouts, also against the Mets and Brewers. Now the Cubs have actually started to score a few runs here and there over the last couple of weeks, but nevertheless I would say roll the dice on both Bucs starters this week.

Jason Vargas, LAA- Jason Vargas is far from a flashy fantasy pitching option, to say the least, and the numbers pretty much back this statement up. Vargas is solid however. and I like him this week, because he is matched up against the Royals. The Royals are in the bottom third of the league in most offensively productive categories, so I think you may see one of Vargas’ best starts of 2013.

Scott Kazmir, CLE- There are still plenty of seats available on the Scott Kazmir bandwagon folks. Sure Kaz was roughed up by the Phils in his last outing, but most of his starts have been excellent. Kazmir’s velocity has been good as has K-rate and he has two starts this week. The first one is a no-brainer start for Kazmir as he faces the punchless Mariners, but the second start is against the BoSox and this one is iffy. I would take the first start against the Ms and hold off against the start against Boston.

Andrew Cashner, SD- The K-rate is lower than I would expect from Cash-money thus far, but the ERA has been solid. Cashner’s xFIP, SIERA and strand rate point to bit of an ERA regression, AC heads out to the desert this week to face the D-backs. This match up is tough to gauge for Cashner, but I think, if I had to, I would say roll the dice on this one.

Hector Santiago, CWS- Santiago has been up and down as a starter in 2013. The up? 12.1 innings pitched against the Mets and Twins, allowing one earned run, striking out 14. The down? 3.1 innings pitched against the Angels on Saturday, in which he allowed four earned runs. Ups, downs, what have yous, bottom line is Santiago starts against the Marlins this week and frankly that is really probably all I had to say because the Marlins offense is not even close to good right now.

Justin Grimm, TEX- Seems like “Reaper” has appeared here quite a bit and with good reason, he is not quite worth rostering year round. Plus Grimm is still outpitching his projections, but his ERA and WHIP thus far are about on par with how he is currently pitching. In other words, Grimm’s ERA and WHIP seem accurate thus far. Love him or hate him, Grimm faces the Mariners this week, and while they are not the Marlins, this is more or less a great match up for Grimm.

Bronson Arroyo, CIN- Arroyo has always been a middle of the road, reliable, innings eating pitcher. You will not get a lot of strikeouts, but Bronson also rarely gets completely rocked when he takes the hill. Arroyo has given up more than four earned runs in only one start this season and has only gone less than six innings in one start this season. In the one start Arroyo did not go six innings, he went five. There is never anything spectacular about Arroyo’s numbers, but he does manage a lot of quality starts, Arroyo faces the Cubs this week and for some reason I like this one. Cubs are putting runs on the board, but I like the chance for a QS and a “W”.

Well, that’s all I got this week, good luck, godspeed and happy streaming!

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The 1988 Cleveland Indians And The Greatest Question In Bar Trivia History…Ever

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The 1988 Cleveland Indians And The Greatest Question In Bar Trivia History…Ever

Posted on 08 December 2012 by Trish Vignola

This week at Winter Meetings, Ron Washington got a pop quiz.

“Four other members of your 1988 club are now current Major League managers, just like you. Can you name them?”

The Rangers skipper, approached with this informal test by MLB.com, thought for a moment. “Terry Francona,” he said. Francona, the new leader of the Indians, hit .311 in 62 games that season, primarily as a designated hitter. “John Farrell,” Washington continued. Farrell, who jumped from the Blue Jays to the Red Sox this winter, was a 25-year-old starter who won 14 games that year. “Um,” said Washington, looking momentarily stumped, until the memory clicks. “Charlie Manuel was the hitting coach!” Long before he won a World Series with the Phillies, Manuel was, indeed, the hitting coach on this particular club.

Nonetheless, Washington was still short one.

“Buddy Black!” Washington exclaimed. Black, principal of the Padres, was a midseason rotation acquisition for the 1988 Indians. “See?” said Washington. “I don’t have Alzheimer’s!”

Nope. He does not. What Ron Washington does have is a spot in one of baseball’s trickiest trivia questions. MLB.com challenges you to ask your friends the following… Can they name the five active managers who were on the same squad at one time? Doubtful they’ll immediately guess the 1988 Cleveland Indians.

I couldn’t and when I tried this question with my friends, no one could do it either. I am also pretty sure that at least one person mentioned Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn.

He doesn’t count.

“Little did we know,” said Farrell to MLB.com, “that the fertile soil of the shores of Lake Erie was cultivating five future managers.” “That,” said Francona, “was such a bad team.” Francona, never one to mince words, is right. The 1988 Tribe went 78-84, had a minus-65 run differential and finished sixth in the AL East.

That wasn’t even the worst team of that era for the Indians. That honor belongs to the 1987 club touted by Sports Illustrated (which put Cory Snyder and Joe Carter on its cover) as one ready for an “Indian Uprising.” That club proceeded to lose 101 times and finish 37 games out of first. The 1988 club looked like the Yankees of the late 90s in comparison.

To the team’s credit, Carter hit 27 homers and Snyder hit 26. They gave the Indians a legitimately potent middle of the order. Julio Franco, in the final year of his first Cleveland stint, batted .303. Farrell (14-10, 4.24 ERA), a 23-year-old Greg Swindell (18-14, 3.20) and knuckleballer Tom Candiotti (14-8, 3.28) gave them the makings of a solid rotation. And Doug Jones (2.27 ERA, 37 saves) was one of the better closers in the game.
They didn’t have much else. “Other than Jones, we were lacking a bullpen that year,” Manuel said. “Our bullpen was [awful]. Also, we had some injuries in our infield.” The injuries were why Washington, who made the move the previous winter from Baltimore to Cleveland, just like team president Hank Peters, got a little more playing time at age 36 than anticipated. It’s also why Francona got on the Major League radar in Spring Training and was later called up in July.

“I went from, like, Field 11 to Field 1 in Spring Training, because those guys were going down like flies,” Francona recalled. “And [clubhouse manager] Cy Buynak didn’t have any lockers available. Cy put me in a closet. So every morning, I would dress, and the guys would come over to rub up the [baseballs] and be like, ‘Excuse me, can you move over?’”

With a club this bad, you would think the team would have been at each other’s throats. “We were so bad,” said Francona, “that we couldn’t have a whole lot of arrogance. It was a team that genuinely liked each other. We just got beat up.” Lessons must have come from the beatings, though, because quite a few guys on the 1988 Indians went on to leadership roles.

Snyder managed in the independent Golden Baseball League from 2007-09, followed by a stint with Na Koa Ikaika Maui in the North American League. Franco has managed in the Venezuelan Winter League and has often expressed his Major League aspirations. Jay Bell is the new hitting coach of the Pirates and Brook Jacoby is the hitting coach for the Reds. Dave Clark is the first-base coach for the Astros and was the team’s interim manager at the end of 2009. Still, for five members of a single club to wind up in the full-time managerial ranks in the Majors is certainly a quirky coincidence. One that will guarantee you’ll win at bar trivia.

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25 Random Thoughts on Baseball

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25 Random Thoughts on Baseball

Posted on 24 August 2012 by Chris Caylor

Random thoughts are fun. Baseball is fun. Put the two together and you get 25 Random Thoughts on Baseball!

1) I get that Red Sox management is upset that only four players on the current roster attended Johnny Pesky’s funeral, but from what I’ve read, many of the other players were attending a charity bowling function sponsored by Josh Beckett. It’s not like they were playing golf or at the shooting range. Only in Boston does this become such hysteria.

2) In any event, I continue to enjoy the hell out of this hideous season Boston is experiencing. All we need now is for Toronto to move up and dump the Dead Sox into last place. Hurry back, Joey Bats.

3) As terrible as the Astros are now – and make no mistake, they’re a traveling Keystone Kops routine some nights – with Jeff Luhnow as the GM, they’re in good hands. The Cardinals’ farm system was never considered one of the best while he was in charge of it, but look at all the homegrown players contributing to the Cards this season:

Allen Craig
Barret Browning
Daniel Descalso
David Freese
Fernando Salas
Jaime Garcia
Jason Motte
Joe Kelly
Jon Jay
Lance Lynn
Maikel Cleto
Matt Adams (injured)
Matt Carpenter
Ryan Jackson
Shane Robinson
Tony Cruz
Trevor Rosenthal
Tyler Greene (since traded to Houston)

Players like Lynn, Kelly, Carpenter, Descalso and Browning have filled crucial roles for St. Louis this season. I don’t recall seeing their names listed as blue-chip prospects, but they are solid major-league players who have met or exceeded expectations this season, and they are a big reason why the Cardinals have been able to weather the loss of Albert Pujols as well as they have. Astros fans can hope Luhnow is able to replicate that success in Houston. It just might take a while.

4) Speaking of the Disastros, they are 6-33 since the All-Star Break and 7-43 in their past 50 games. Oy.

5) Good luck in the AL West next year.

6) The Tampa Bay Rays still have the worst attendance in MLB, despite being on track to make the playoffs again. The franchise deserves to be in a better city.

7) I may get accused of blasphemy by my Cardinal-fan friends, but I’m not really a big Mike Shannon fan. That said, this one-liner from Thursday’s game vs. the Astros is a beauty: “This 5th inning is longer than an orphanage’s grocery list.”

8) What in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks was Dan Uggla doing at the end of that game against the Nationals?

9) How much fun would it be to see Billy Hamilton (who just broke Vince Coleman’s stolen-base record in the minors) try to steal against Yadier Molina?

10) Jon Jay is doing a great job making Cardinal fans forget about Colby Rasmussen, er, Rasta…what was that other guy’s name again?

11) Gregor Blanco is not doing a good job making Giants fans forget about Melky Cabrera.

12) Not a baseball-related item, but the “Skip Kardashian” headline and article Thursday on Fox Sports was awesome on multiple levels.

13) Good to know that folks with the Phillies have kept their sense of humor in the midst of a disappointing season:

14) News: Colorado Rockies complete 4-game sweep of New York Mets at Citi Field. Views: Not getting sucked in by all the media or players proclaiming, “Watch out for the Rockies next year!” Nope, not again. Sorry.

15) The Stephen Strasburg Shutdown has been debated ad nauseum, but what I can’t understand is why the Nationals did not do a better job of managing his starts up to this point so he would have plenty of innings left in September-October. Seems to be that skipping a start here and there, plus a couple extra weeks around the All-Star break so they could have their ace available for the most critical time of the season would be simple common sense. Did GM Mike Rizzo and the rest of the Nats’ front office not believe the team would be so good this year?

16) After I listed the Dodgers in my list of teams with the hottest starting rotations, San Francisco invaded Los Angeles and swept the Dodgers right out of first place. You’re welcome, Giants fans.

17) Meanwhile, the Seattle Mariners have won 8 games in a row and inch closer to the .500 mark. Don’t seem to be missing Ichiro much, do they?

18) Three guesses who the leaders are in quality starts for the NL so far this year – Strasburg? Nope. R.A. Dickey? Guess again. Matt Cain? Bzzzz, thanks for playing. Yovani Gallardo is first with 21, followed by Kyle Lohse and Jordan Zimmermann with 20 each.

19) Where would the Yankees be without Hiroki Kuroda? I’m guessing third place in the AL East.

20) Usually Jeff Francoeur makes shake my head in disbelief while at the plate. Not this time.

21) Remind me again why the Royals don’t DFA Frenchy and call up Wil Myers. Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

22) Here’s a good addition to the list of current player nicknames: Andrew Brown of the Rockies, coined “UPS” while in Triple-A Colorado Springs. Now he just needs to stick in the majors long enough so we can see what Brown can do for Colorado.

23) I’m now referring to Indians closer Chris Perez as “Barfy.” Seems apropos after his actions earlier in the season at St. Louis and a few days ago in Oakland.

24) So Roger Clemens wants to pitch again. Perfect example of an athlete with no other practical skills, so he continues to come back time and again to embarrass himself. In other words, baseball’s version of Brett Favre.

25) Naturally, ESPN will televise his start, because that’s what the Worldwide Leader in Shoveling Crap does.

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3 Up and 3 Down: Los Angeles Dodgers and more

Posted on 04 August 2012 by Gary Marchese

It is that time again for the weekly 3 Up and 3 Down column.  As always, thanks for reading and you can contact me through facebook, twitter @gmarchesej, email at gmarchesej@aol.com and under this article.

The three up for this week are the Los Angeles Dodgers, who flexed their financial might,  Matt Harvey, as he made his major league debut and one other successful start and Joba Chamberlain, who returned to the big leagues after 14 months away.

3 Up

Los Angeles Dodgers:The Dodgers were sold to a group led by former NBA player Magic Johnson earlier this year.  They are ½ a game out of first place in the NL West and they made several moves at Tuesdays trade deadline.  They acquired reliever Brandon League from the Mariners.  They also acquired Hanley Ramirez from the Marlins and Shane Victorino from the Phillies.  Things are looking up in Hollywood for Donnie Baseball and the Dodgers.

Matt Harvey has looked very impressive in his two major league starts with the Mets.  In his first start he struck out 11 batters.  He struck out seven in his second start, the 11 in his first start were the most by a Mets pitcher in his debut in franchise history.  He is 1-1 with a 1.59 ERA.

Joba Chamberlain made his return on Wednesday coming into a blow out game.  He didn’t pitch particularly well but he did pitch 1 1/3 innings and get his feet wet.  He could be a huge factor down the stretch for the Yankees bullpen. He could become the seventh inning guy and really shorten the game as he, Dave Robertson and Rafael Soriano can close out the games.

3 Down

Josh Hamilton has been going through a tough stretch and finally came out and said he is attempting to quit tobacco and it is really affecting him right now.  His numbers have just been awful and it might be because he has struggled with quitting tobacco.

Ivan Nova has really been hit lately and he has been losing a lot more then he has in a long time.  Nova got knocked around the other night by the Baltimore Orioles.  He gave up nine runs and then said he just pitched in bad luck.  It looks like he may need to mature a little more and learn.  It may have come to easy to him in the beginning and this is what happens.  He is 10-5 with a 4.53 Era this season.

The Miami Marlins are down because they haven’t lived up to expectations and now traded away their team as the trade deadline came.  They traded their star Hanley Ramirez.  They traded Anibal Sanchez one of their pitchers, Gaby Sanchez and more.  They just got their new stadium and they are already tearing their team apart.  I don’t know how they expect to sustain a fan base in South Florida.

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The Roy Oswalt Watch

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The Roy Oswalt Watch

Posted on 24 May 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Oswalt Watch

Roy Oswalt hath descended from the mountaintops to declare himself available to pitch for the right team and presumably, the right price.  Thank goodness, because I was just sitting in a bean bag chair wondering exactly what baseball would do without Ol’ Roy.  Honestly, the kind of impact this guy could have might be measured in World Series championships.  He practically dwarfs the comeback of Michael Jordan to baseball with the manner in which he could affect a team, nay a whole division or even all of baseball.  He might just be that important.  Or not.

When baseball fans last got a glimpse of Oswalt throwing off of a real pitcher’s mound in a real game, he was not exactly about to run off with a trophy named after Cy Young.  Oswalt finished his version of 2011 with a career high in ERA (3.69), WHIP (1.338), H/9 (9.9) and a career low in SO/9 (6.0).  Pitching effectiveness aside, Oswalt’s health was the biggest issue in 2011, and it should also be on the minds of anybody interested in signing RO.

Oswalt has thrown for the Phillies and Red Sox, and he has already declared his intention to be a starter and not a reliever.  He potentially makes sense for a number of teams, and the 2 teams that met in the last World Series are among them.  Is he worth the risk?  If so, what is he actually worth to a potential contender?

If the various sports outlets were abuzz with “Oswalt can no longer pitch” rumors, then this article would not be worth the 11 minutes taken to author it.  However, no such news abounds, and Oswalt probably looked about normal for someone who would likely require a month or more to be prepared to throw a pitch that really counts in a game.  That said, he almost has to be worth the risk to some team desperate for another arm just to eat up some innings.  Despite the fact that he basically pitched just 2/3 of a season in 2011, he still managed 2.0 WAR for the Phillies.  If he can manage anything close to his “bad” numbers from last season for about half a season in 2012, he conservatively could provide a team with 1.0-1.2 WAR.  A reasonable guesstimate puts his payroll number at around $4-5M for a few months of renting the little “O”.

Then again, there exists no law, bylaw, or principle that dictates MLB teams or even players have to be “reasonable”.  Just think in terms of all the teams within 5 games of the wild card lead and the corresponding payrolls for each of them.  For some it might be reasonable to take on Oswalt and the associated salary bump in order to try to catch lightning in a bottle.  For others, the risk might be deemed too great or the price too high.  Which is which, though?

The AL

  • Angels (5 games back) – $151.7M
  • Mariners (4.5 games back) – $79.5M
  • Tigers (3 games back) – $132.5M
  • White Sox (2.5 games back) – $95.9M
  • Red Sox (2.5 games back) – $173.1M
  • A’s (2 games back) – $54.5M
  • Yankees (1.5 games back) – $207.2M
  • Blue Jays (2nd in AL WC) – $82.1M
  • Rays (leading AL WC) – $63.2M

The NL

  • Astros (4 games back) – $59.0M
  • Pirates (4 games back) – $50.9M
  • Phillies (3.5 games back) – $173.1M
  • Mets (1 game back) – $91.6M
  • Giants (1 game back) – $129.4M
  • Reds (.5 games back) – $81.3M
  • Marlins (2nd in NL WC) – $99.7M
  • Braves (leading NL WC) – $92.7M

Granted, Oswalt has expressed a variety of preferences since last season.  At different times, he has specifically gone on record as favoring a contending team, a team relatively close to home, an NL team, a team that allows sock puppets in the club house, and a team that will pretty much guarantee him a starting role.  Just go ahead and toss out those preferences for a moment.  Does anybody really think that Oswalt would turn down a huge payday to go to an AL team, located far from home as long as that team is contending?  After all, we’re really only talking about 3 months plus the playoffs at most.  That said, here is my top 5 list in descending order of handicapped chances.

  1. Phillies – He has already done the dog and pony show for the Phillies, and the team stands only 3.5 games back of the WC lead.  Oswalt’s familiarity with the team, the city, and especially the primary catcher could sway him back to the City of Brotherly Love.  Also, the Phillies may have noticed that the clock is really ticking on their window of opportunity, and adding Oswalt wouldn’t be a huge addition to the opening day payroll.  The recent injury to Vance Worley might even make Oswalt more attractive than he was before the injury.
  2. Rangers – Despite looking like the best team in the AL, the Rangers have to remain concerned about the starts they have been getting from both Matt Harrison and Derek Holland.  Although they have other options, it would be a shame to move Ogando from what currently figures to be one of the top shutdown bullpens in the league.  Maybe the Rangers were just doing their “due diligence” in checking on Oswalt, but that might be another way of saying “looking to sign”.  Also, signing Oswalt keeps him from the competition, and bringing that factor into play would be a savvy move right now.
  3. Blue Jays – Despite having the best run differential in their division, the Blue Jays find themselves looking up at both the Orioles and the Rays.  Adding Oswalt to basically replace the #5 starter would cost the team a hefty amount compared to the current payroll, but this might be the year to ride Brett Lawrie, Kelly Johnson, Yunel Escobar, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and J.P. Arencibia all the way to the playoffs.
  4. Red Sox – The Sox have not made the playoffs since 2009, and they haven’t tasted any playoff success since 2008.  If Oswalt can provide a steadying influence in Boston, he might be worth the gamble.  After all, the Red Sox have nothing to lose, since they currently dwell in the AL East’s basement.
  5. Reds – The Reds sit at 23-19 which puts them 2 games above their projected Pythagorean record.  The team’s lack of quality starting pitching has been masked by late game comebacks, but likely regression could end that trend at any time.  It’s not that I don’t have faith in their offense, but not many teams can keep it rolling when the bullpen has almost as many wins (10) as the starting rotation (13).

Of course, nobody knows exactly what Oswalt will do, but based on all considerations, the 5 listed above seem the “best” destinations, even if they do not seem the likeliest at first inspection.



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