Tag Archive | "Starting Pitchers"

Kansas City Royals – Contenders Or Pretenders?

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Kansas City Royals – Contenders Or Pretenders?

Posted on 08 May 2013 by Jennifer Gosline

As a baseball fan watching Kansas City suffer for years, I have to wonder if they are actually a good contender this season for the playoffs, or if this is just their 15 minutes of fame.

Kansas-City

There is certainly something for Royals’ fans to get excited about right now. At this point in the year, Kansas City is 17-10, when last season at this time they were only 10-20. A dramatic difference. Pitching, in particular, seems to be carrying most of the team, but their offense is not far behind.

Royal Pitching

Veterans like Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie are having stellar seasons. They have combined for 7 Wins to date, both with having an ERA under 2.50 and WHIP just above 1.00. According to ESPN, while Santana is owned in 97% of fantasy leagues, Guthrie is only owned in 50%. Guthrie brings a commendable work ethic to the team and I think would be a valuable pick-up if he is still available in your league. The right-hander excels at mixing all of his pitches to keep hitters off balance, and he recently threw his first major league shut-out.

The Royals’ starting rotation has been rounded out with the new additions of Wade Davis and James Shields. While Davis is has been struggling since joining Kansas City with a 4.75 ERA, he hopefully can get back down to that 2.43 ERA he finished with in 2012. And Shields may soon become the ace of the team, filling the void that Zack Greinke left. Both Davis and Shields are 2-2 this season.

The Royals’ bullpen has been strengthened with former-starting-pitchers-now-relievers, Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar. Chen has not allowed an earned run yet this year in 5 appearances, and Hochevar has only given up 1 earned run in 7 appearances. Greg Holland is settling in nicely as a solid anchor for the bullpen. He has 7 saves so far this year and only 1 blown.

Royal Batting

Kansas City’s pitching has started off hot, but the fans are still waiting to see the promise the line-up showed during Spring Training this year. There are only three batters with an average above .300 right now, Jarrod Dyson is one of them and he only has 20 plate appearances so far.

The power is not quite there yet from their top hitters. It somehow got lost in the transition between Spring Training and the regular season. If this team can get their bats going and keep the pitching consistent, they can be a force for the entire summer.

Fantasy owners might want to watch players like Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez, and Mike Moustakas. They have all been showing signs of improving in their last 15 games, and might just break out of their slumps soon. Moustakas is only 39% owned in fantasy leagues which is obviously due to his struggle at the plate. If he can start making solid contact again, he will prove he deserves a position on your fantasy roster.

Even though the Kansas City line-up is not producing the way they are capable of, they can still be tough to beat in the American League Central. But if history is any indication, this poor team does not have a chance. If someone were to walk into the baseball world right now and not know anything about the Royals’ past, they would never know that they are usually toward the bottom of the AL Central division.

First place Detroit Tigers better take notice that Kansas City is only a half game back. Can they keep this up? Is this just a flash in the pan? If the starting pitching can continue eating up innings, their bullpen will be able to stay fresh for the long season. And if their bats start producing, then I would say that the Royals can shed the pretender branding and will be a contender in 2013.

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Barry Zito – Am I a genius?

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Barry Zito – Am I a genius?

Posted on 15 April 2013 by Trish Vignola

Or have I just gone plain insane? Fearing the impending Joey Votto 2012 injury to sink my team, I perhaps overcompensated a tad bit this year regarding my everyday players. By doing that, I neglected my starting pitching.

BarryZito

Ok. I only have five starting pitchers and three of them go on the same day.

This is not the wisest move you can make when playing head-to-head. So, it was time to let go of one of my three center fielders. (Seriously, I had three…I know.) Today, I went trolling the free agent market.

As of 6:50 AM this morning, I announced on Facebook (to an audience of no one) that “Beat with an Uggla Stick” picked up Barry Zito to solidify its staff. Stop, laughing. I’m serious. I might be a mad genius. Follow me here…

Why was he just sitting there? That’s the real shocker. Is anyone aware that he has not lost a game since Aug. 2? True! Barry Zito has not lost a game since early August 2012.

This baffling streak (as compared to Zito’s history with the Giants) included him winning his last six straight regular-season starts. He then proceeded to go 2-0 in three postseason starts. This spring Zito put the icing on the cake, going 2-0 within six spring outings (technically five starts) this year. This is an amazing fete, considering the Giants were looking for every reason to run this guy out on a rail last year.

Why are Fantasy owners overlooking this outstanding run? He should not have been siting there for the taking.

Barry Zito posted a 3.92 ERA in his last 11 regular-season starts in 2012. He posted a 2.70 ERA this spring and opened the 2013 season with seven scoreless innings. He was the team’s fourth starter in a row to toss a scoreless outing in a 1-0 win.

Zito threw 102 pitches and limited the Cardinals to just three walks and three singles. He picked up seven groundball outs and 10 flyball outs. He struck out four batters!

Zito allowed a runner to reach second base just once in the game. That was in his final inning of work. However, he quickly retired the side to secure the win.

Did you see what he did today versus the Rockies? He went 7.0 innings again. He allowed only 7 hits, walked 1 and struck out 4. He’s got a 0.00 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. Heck! He might be leading the team in batting average now too.

Not that I care. Barry Zito’s batting average buys me nothing!

Don’t get me wrong. At some point, Zito is going to start walk batters. His strikeout rate won’t be mesmerizing. Nonetheless, if he can make 30+ starts and maybe eat up some innings, I will look like a mad genius. CBSSports.com’s prediction of a 12 and 12 record will look like a woeful estimation if he keeps up this rate. Last week, he garnered his owners 27 points. That’s Strasburg territory. If he can help me get out of the gate strong, even if he starts to lose steam mid-season, he’ll still be worth the move.

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Edison Volquez: Stream Dream?

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Edison Volquez: Stream Dream?

Posted on 22 March 2013 by Will Emerson

Alright, time to take a look at another starting pitcher who may be available after your fantasy baseball draft, thus making him a viable streaming option during the season. As somewhat promised I will venture outside of the American League East this time around, as I take a look at Edison Volquez’s streaming viability.

EdisonVolquez

Volquez is currently consistently ranked in the high 90s amongst starting pitchers, and this is fairly accurate location for him in my eyes. Last season, Volquez was 11-11 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.45 WHIP, so he was not exactly a world beater or anything. Also it is not as if he was tremendously unlucky and these fantasy statistics are that misleading. Volquez had a 4.20 xFIP and he walked over five batters per nine innings which does not exactly help his cause and shows us that his ERA is pretty much right where you should expect it to be. Sadly, those walks are huge detractor when thinking about picking up Volquez. With a career walks per nine innings of right around five, last season was also not anomaly or fluke and those walks will continue. However, if you are streaming Edison, then you may be able to work with the free passes and a generally high WHIP.

Now, much like skinning a cat, there is more than one way to go about streaming. Some people will stream until their little hearts are content, if their league settings and rules will allow. For those who stream with reckless abandon, Volquez will be all over their radars because for some reason I feel like Volquez has been considered a “name” starting pitcher for years. Although Volquez has only really had one very good season in the majors, he has been continuously taken on draft day. The ERA is tolerable, but that WHIP should be a big red flag causing some hesitance and caution when thinking about throwing Volquez out there at any point in your scoring week. Now, for those who do stream this way they are basically looking to take wins and strikeouts and hope for the best in the other categories. So if this is your method of choice Volquez should be a solid option. Well, sort of.

I mean, wins in general can be a crapshoot and any pitcher with the potential to win 12-15 games is draftable and any pitcher with double digit win potential that is not drafted is certainly a viable streaming option. I believe Volquez may be able to get to 12 wins and anything more is just icing on the cake. When streaming for wins you will need to pick a favorable match up for not only the pitcher but his team in general. So while wins, are quite possibly attainable with Volquez, strikeouts are definitely attainable with Volquez. Edison had a K/9 of 8.57 last year and that number for his career is 8.65. So if you are looking to stream to capture strikeouts and you are not too concerned with your other categories Volquez is your man. However, if you are in a tight race in the other categories you may need a little more help in deciding whether or not Volquez is a good pickup.

So, from the information we now have about Volquez, it seems he is a better streaming option for the end of the week. At that point you will have a better idea of where you stand in your match up and can decide if you should roll the dice with Volquez. Your other option, if you are looking to Volquez for an early week game, is to look for his most favorable matchups. Now if Volquez is facing a struggling, weak, or, especially in his case, free-swinging offense this would be an ideal time to take a chance and throw him out there. But another thing you could look at, is his splits.

Volquez plays his home games in what is widely known to be a pitcher’s park and while most pitchers will throw better at home, Volquez is extremely better at home. In 2012 Volquez had an ERA of 2.95, a 1.29 WHIP, and an 8.85 K/9. See? Extremely good. It may also be interesting to point out that Volquez’s walk rate was about the same at home as it was on the road, so clearly he was not giving up a lot of hits at Petco in 2012. On the road he posted an ERA over five, a WHIP of 1.65, with an 8.23 K/9. As you should have read above, for the most part the strikeouts should consistently be there for Volquez. Now his home xFIP was still 3.88, but this is still better than the 4.56 xFIP he posted on the road. Of course, fantasy leagues don’t care about a pitcher’s xFIP and with a FIP of 3.20 at home I would say you can expect some more home cookin’ from Volquez in 2013, leading to a home ERA in the low threes.

So I would say for the most part Volquez will be a very viable streaming option whenever he takes the bump at Petco and possibly on several other occasions. When looking through last season’s splits, I also noticed Volquez managed a 3.52 ERA in the first half, but do not get too hyped about this as his FIP in the first and second half were pretty much the same, so the second half was more or less just a regression, bringing his numbers to where we can expect them to be. Currently Volquez is owned in 5.4% of ESPN leagues and 16% in Yahoo! Leagues, so there’s a great chance he will not be drafted in your league(s), but is worth keeping an eye on for streaming. With that I am sure Edison will be making several appearances in Field of Streams this season. Alright well, keep, keep on truckin’ folks.

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The Other Felix

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The Other Felix

Posted on 13 March 2013 by Will Emerson

Well you poor, poor souls are still several weeks away from the much-anticipated season premiere of Field of Streams. That does not mean, however, I cannot give you a quick look at some starting pitchers who are most likely not going to be drafted in many leagues, but could be viable streaming options for fantasy fanatics as the season progresses. These pitchers are not necessarily sleepers, per se. As I said, they probably won’t be drafted, but who knows? Anyways, over the next few weeks I will be throwing some future streaming options at ya, starting this week with the one, the only, Felix Doubront. Or as I like to call him, ”The Other Felix”, as in not ”King” Felix. I am also not comparing them in anything regards, other than by their names.

Felix Doubront

The Other Felix put up a decentish 2012 season with the BoSox, going 11-10 with a 4.86 ERA and a WHIP of 1.45. What? I said decent-ish, didn’t I? Doubront was by no means a world beater or even an unsung hero in Boston’s rotation, but I like how he gets things done. Felix’s xFIP was a shade under four at 3.81, which is certainly respectable, I would say, wouldn’t you? Well, of course if you know me at all, and you probably don’t, you should probably know the main reason I like Mr. Doubront. No? Ummm, Ks/9, folks! Doubront sported a more than  impressive 9.34 K/9 last season. 9.34, for crying out loud! Who knew? Just for a fun little comparison Jered Weaver had a K/9 of 6.77 and an xFIP of 4.18. Yeah, you read right, in those two categories, Doubront was better than Jered Weaver. Now, before you get all riled up, I am not saying that Duobront is a better pitcher than Jered Weaver or anything, especially in fantasy where that xFIP is not a factor during the season, but I just found that to be an interesting little tidbit of sports information I would share with you, my beloved reader(s). Anyways, combine that K rate with a decent ground ball rate around 43% for Doubront and it seems like he is headed in the right direction. Doubront certainly finished 2012 strong at least in the advanced stat categories.

Mr. Doubront posted his best xFIP of the season in the months of September and October, at 3.53. Of course his actual ERA during that stint was just over five, but still, there is big time potential there. Felix also induced more ground balls, getting batters to knock the ball into the ground at a rate of 47.1% during those months. Coupled with a K/9 of 11.07 and you are looking at what should have even looked like a strong finish, right? So what was with that high ERA? Was the Red Sox defense just plain bad? Some might think this, but much to my surprise, the BoSox had the third best UZR in the majors. See? Surprise! So if not the defense behind Felix, what then. Well, Felix did walk almost four batters per nine innings, which will never really help a pitcher’s overall numbers so much. On top of that Doubront’s BABIP was .312, which is not grossly unlucky, but was a fair 19 points higher than the league average. So, if he gets a bit more luck going his way and can cut down on the walks, The Other Felix could really turn some heads in 2013. Especially with a pitching minded manager at the helm, right? Well, there we hit a bit of a gray area.

John Farrell had very good success as the Red Sox pitching coach before becoming Toronto’s manager, but how does his pitching knowledge translate when he is the head honcho in the dugout? Well, in 2012, the Blue Jays were 27th in xFIP, 26th in K/9, 29th in K/BB, 26th in ERA and 25th in WHIP. Hmmm, not exactly anything to write home about. So maybe Farrell won’t help Doubront harness his control and potential, but wait, hope is not quite lost yet, folks! Former Red Sox ace and Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez is a special assistant with the Sox this season, and he should be able to really help the 25-year-old lefty hone his craft. At least I think so. Plus the new pitching coach, Juan Nieves has been under the tutelage of White Sox pitching coach over the last several seasons. Working with long-time pitching coach Don Cooper, Nieves helped guide a White Sox pitching staff that posted the 6th best ERA in the American League from 2008-12. The White Sox pitching staff set club records in Ks each of the past 3 years, including a franchise-best 1,246 K’s in 2012, so if Nieves brings a little of that magic mentoring with him to Boston, Doubront should be good to go!

While, I can see Felix having a breakout season in 2013, I am still not quite to the point where I can recommend drafting him as a sleeper, even in deep mixed or AL-only leagues. But I feel he will be a very viable stream option, if not a straight up waiver wire pickup in many, many, many leagues. The Red Sox offense should still put up a decent amount of runsin 2013, so, this should, should, translate into double-digit wins for The Other Felix. I would say you can get at least 10-12 wins out of Doubront this season and while the K rate may not be quite as high as it was in 2012, I would still expect it to at least be in the high to mid eights. For ERA, there is the potential to land in the vicinity of 3.50, but more realistically I would look for a 3.75- 3.85 range. The biggest detractor for Doubront could be his WHIP if the walks don’t fall in line, but I think you can get it in the 1.3s which may not hurt you too much. Currently Doubront’s average draft position is 260 in ESPN (owned in 1.6% of leagues drafted) and 239.5  in Yahoo! (owned in 6% of leagues drafted) so it is pretty clear he is headed for the waiver wire in a majority of leagues, making him an extremely viable streaming option in leagues with daily roster moves. So keep him on your post draft radar and look for him to appear in Field of Streams on a regular basis. Tune in next time, when I actually write about a player or team not in the American League East!

Well, maybe.

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Josh Hamilton and The Changing Face of the American League

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Josh Hamilton and The Changing Face of the American League

Posted on 17 December 2012 by Trish Vignola

Until recently, the Angels were planning on sporting no more than a $145 million payroll in 2013. Enter Josh Hamilton.

JoshHamiltonAngels

Start giggling now.

It seemed like they were done when the acquisition of two starting pitchers (Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton) and two back-end relievers (Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett). That pushed them to about $140 million.

Angels’ owner Arte Moreno, one offseason removed from spending more than $315 million on Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, decided he couldn’t let another winter go by not being the center of attention. The opportunity presented it self and prompted Moreno to push the payroll to a franchise record of about $165 million:

The acquisition of Hamilton makes cost-controlled Angels outfielders like Peter Bourjos and/or Mark Trumbo expendable. This gives them an opportunity to trade for a starting pitcher (like knuckleballer R.A. Dickey of the Mets who is currently in a stalemate in his contract negotiations with the Amazins’). It also counters the big-ticket moves made by the crosstown-rival Dodgers, who are fresh off signing Zack Greinke to a five-year, $147 million contract that the Angels were at one point unwilling to offer. It cripples the division-rival Rangers, who lost out on trading for James Shields, won’t be able to add Justin Upton and can’t bring back Hamilton. Adding Hamilton comes one offseason after the Angels signed Wilson, the Rangers’ former ace, to a five-year, $77.5 million deal.

“Really excited to dust off the Xbox controllers for the next few years on the road,” Wilson wrote on his Twitter account, @str8edgeracer. “It’s a great day to be an Angel/Angel fan!” Speaking to Rangers reporters at a media luncheon on Thursday, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Hamilton never gave his former club a chance to match the Angels’ offer.

“Our full expectation was that the phone call was going to be before he signed, certainly not after and giving us an idea,” Daniels told local reporters. “Josh had indicated recently, last week, he told us he felt it might be time to move on, but that we were still talking. I’m not going to get in to the reason, technically, why. I thought we had additional conversations this week that had moved it along in a positive direction. Apparently not.”

The 31-year-old Hamilton won the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 2010 and has long been considered one of baseball’s best all-around players, hitting .313 while averaging 33 homers and 107 RBIs the last three seasons. With the Angels, Hamilton’s left-handed bat seemingly fits perfectly behind Pujols in the cleanup spot. The likely scenario MLB.com trots out is to have Hamilton starting in left field, Mike Trout staying in center and Trumbo in right. This makes the chances of Bourjos being dealt more likely than ever.

Although he wants to stay in Anaheim, but Bourjos wants an opportunity. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen now,” he said when reached by phone Thursday. “But at the end of the day, from my perspective, I just want to play. I really don’t want to go through what I went through last year where I wasn’t playing. The last two months, I got like three at-bats. So hopefully, if I’m the odd man out, hopefully they’re willing to trade me and I’m able to go somewhere and play every day.”

With the Angels bottomless pockets and the Yankees trying to get under the cap, the landscape of the American League is starting to change. No longer will big spenders be solely relegated to the Northeast. Will this guarantee that all roads to October will lead through the left coast? I’m sure that teams like the Baltimore Orioles and the Detroit Tigers will have a lot say about that. Nonetheless, the hot stove just got very interesting.

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