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Field of Streams: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options

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Field of Streams: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options

Posted on 06 May 2013 by Will Emerson

Welcome to another edition of Field of Streams, your look at some streaming options for the upcoming week in fantasy baseball. Sorry for the short little hiatus, but I am back and better, well at least probably as good as, ever! So here are my fantasy pitching streaming options for the upcoming week in fantasy baseball.

July 22, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie (33) delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

Kyle Kendrick- I will admit, I have never really been much of K-squared fan, but Kyle has certainly been getting things done this season. Kendrick is 3-1 with an ERA of 2.43 and a WHIP of 1.13. Now, having not been a believer in Kendrick in the past, I immediately wanted to see if these stats are legit. Well, while it does not look like the ERA is really that sustainable, but his xFIP this season is 3.65 and his SIERA is 3.95, so he has been pitching decently. Don’t expect many Ks from Kyle as his K/9 is under seven, but he could still get you some quality starts. Kendrick will get two starts this upcoming week, at San Fran and at Arizona. Both teams have been decent at scoring runs, but have wOBAs in the bottom half of the league, so I would go ahead and stream away with Kendrick this week!

Andrew Cashner- I’ve liked “Tango and” Cashner for a good amount of time now. Now aside from his ability to grow just absolutely glorious facial hair, Cashner has not been exactly spectacular thus far in 2013. Cashner is 1-3, with a 4.24 ERA, a 1.37 WHIP and a K/9 under seven. The advanced stats seem to indicate that these numbers or on par with what they should to this point. The stat pundits, as I shall refer to them, however, project better numbers. Nothing eye-popping, but a K/9 over eight, maybe even close to nine, and an ERA between 3.60-3.75. Cashner also has two starts this week and the best news is that first start is against the Marlins. The Marlins, if you don’t know, are pretty much the worst offense in baseball, so that is a must start for Cashner. Cash’s second start is against the Rays, who are 18th in the majors in runs. Rays have had their moments offensively and that could be a play it by ear start for AC, but I say go ahead and stream him this week.

Jhoulys Chacin- Chacin is fresh off the disabled list and before he was put on the shelf with an injury he was cruisin’! Chacin stands 3-0 with a sub-two ERA. Now, the numbers will not be quite as good as they are now, but Chacin’s 3.53 xFIP and 3.77 SIERA do point to him being very serviceable in the fantasy baseball spectrum. Chacin will make his second start after coming back from the disabled list next weekend at St. Louis. Chacin does not strikeout a lot of batters and the Cardinals do not strikeout much anyways. Plus the Cards tend to do pretty well scoring runs, so I am not 100% pushing Chacin this week, but depending on how your stats are looking headed into the weekend, he may be worth a shot. I would say like 60-65% chance Jhoulys has a very good start against the Cards.

Jeremy Guthrie- “Guth” is never gonna be an ace of a staff and will generally be available. Lately Guthrie has been very good at not losing. Going into Saturday, Guthrie is working on 16 straight starts where he has managed to not lose. With a record of 3-0 and a 3.06 ERA, “Guth” has been a delight for Kansas City in 2013. Now that is all good and well, and I am sure you will see Jeremy on here plenty, but his 4.95 FIP and .269 BABIP point to a lot of good luck, and also a big regression, for the veteran. This week Guthrie makes a triumphant return to his old stomping grounds, Camden Yard. This is not a favorable match up for the Royals righty and I would steer clear of him this week.

Jose Quintana- Quintana has looked good for the Pale Hose this season. Quintana’s 3.58 ERA and 1.19 WHIP look sustainable based on his peripherals. Q’s K/9 is over seven for now, but it is more likely to hover around six. With a ground ball rate just under 50%, Jose could be living a bit dangerously from time to time, but looks like he can sustain most of the numbers that appear on his stat line. Quintana has the Halos this week and that sounds like a sort of iffy matchup, but did you know that the Angels strikeout the sixth most in baseball against lefties? Hmm? Yeah, so, there is that. I think you can expect a quality start here, but with the way the White Sox are scoring, or rather not scoring, runs, I would not bet on a “W” for “Q”.

Felix Doubront- Ah yes, Felix’s ERA is over five, but he is 3-1. Also, to be fair, much of the high ERA is due to Felix’s recent outing in Texas, in which he did not make it out of the fourth inning. Now, aside from the fact the umps were squeezing Doubront a bit Friday night in Arlington, Doubront has generally been much better than his numbers would have you believe. Felix has a K/9 of 10.33 which is good for ninth in the majors amongst starters. Doubront is also sporting a FIP under three, so you can see the potential is there. Seems Felix’s biggest problem has been control and getting into too many deep counts, so long outings may not be something you will see a bunch, but he will almost definitely get you the Ks. This week’s match-up against the Twins is just plain super for Felix so I say stream away!

Justin Grimm- “The Reaper” has been the kiss of death for opposing hitters this season. Grimm is 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP and a K/9 over 9. Now the K rate should drop, and the ERA should rise quite a bit, but based on his peripherals the ERA still be in the mid to high threes at this point. The preseason projections have Justin posting an ERA over five so, it may be a matter of getting in on the good starts while you can. The “Reaper” will start at Milwaukee this week, which is not terrible, but not great. I feel pretty confident in this start for him though, so I will give the go-ahead for a Grimm stream.

Dan Straily- Straily should be readily available since he currently has an ERA over six. So what you should also know is he has a SIERA of 1.88 and an xFIP of 2.17! Wow! Couple that with a whopping BABIP of .370, a K/9 of 13.50 and you can see that the current numbers are due to get better. This week Straily will head to Seattle to face the Mariners, which seems like a very good place to stream him.

John Lackey- Well the return from injury for Lackey was going well, until his, well, next injury. So Lackey’s back from his new injury and hoping to build on those good numbers he has already posted this season. John Farrell and or Juan Nieves may just be some sort of pitcher whisperers, cause the Sox starting rotation has been quite good. Lackey has an ERA, SIERA, FIP, and xFIP under three and a 10.45 K/9. Those numbers are off the charts for Lacker and probably not so sustainable, but his start this week against Minnesota, so I think they will be sustainable enough for this start.

So there are some viable streaming options for you for the upcoming week. Have fun streaming, be safe and keep on truckin’!

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Welcome to the Bigs, Kid: Jose Fernandez

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Welcome to the Bigs, Kid: Jose Fernandez

Posted on 08 April 2013 by T.J. McDonald

Welcome back for another exciting year of fantasy baseball action.  The season is only a week old but we have already had one of the top prospects in the game, Jose Fernandez, make his unexpected debut & boy did he not disappoint! In the 2013 debut edition of Welcome to the bigs, kid we will be profiling and discussing him and his debut outing. Also as always we will be discussing his fantasy value for the rest of the year and many years to come.

JoseFernandez

Jose Fernandez is a 20 year old right hand pitcher from Cuba for the Miami Marlins.  He is the third youngest Marlin to make their major league debut and youngest starting pitcher. He was drafted by the Marlins with the 14th pick in the first round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft. In his first full professional season last year in 25 starts 14 coming in low A and 11 in high A he went 14-1, striking out 158 batters and walking just 35 in 134.0 innings. His ERA was 1.75 and his was WHIP 0.93.  He was ranked as the #1 Marlins prospect & #5 in all of baseball to start the year by Baseball America.  He was surprisingly called up to be the Marlins 5th starter to start the year, after they had two projected starters of their rotation start the year on the disabled list.

Once the announcement was made he would start the rotation, the skeptics were out as to whether he would be a viable fantasy option this year or not. After his debut performance I am confidante in saying he will be. I sat down yesterday and with the help of DirectTV watched every pitch of his debut outing and not only did he not let me down he greatly exceeded by expectations.  He went a very strong 5 innings with a Marlins debut record of 8 strike outs. He pitched flawlessly the first three innings getting the side out in order all three and striking out the side in the 2nd. He then got into a slight jam in the 4th after allowing a single with one out and a walk with two outs  before getting the next hitter to ground out.  His control that inning did seem to be a bit shaky out of the stretch as he walked one and went to a 2-2 count with the final batter of the inning. He was able to get it under control and get a inning ending ground out leaving both runners stranded.  In his fifth and final inning of work he gave up his lone earned run but was able to limit the damage by leaving a runner stranded on second.  He exited after throwing 80 pitches, 53 for strikes.

Now that we know a little bit about Jose Fernandez and have detailed how his first outing in the big leagues went, lets talk fantasy value. After watching his impressive debut there is no doubt in my mind that not only is he a top dynasty/keeper lg player but that he will also be a relevant redraft mixed leagued starter.  Will he have his ups and downs, yes and wins may be hard to come by playing for the lowly Marlins but the Ks and other quality pitchers stats will be there. One thing to keep an eye on however is that the Marlins do plan on limiting him to around 150 to 170 this season. He only went 5 today and I foresee that to be a pretty regular occurrence.   This may mean he will not be leading your team come playoff time but first you have to reach the playoffs and he could be the type of free pickup that helps you reach that goal.

Regarding his keeper/dynasty league value there is not a lot to say that already hasn’t been. He was the #5 prospect in baseball coming into the season and had a very impressive debut. Add to the fact that he is only 20 years old, if your league mates haven’t been smart enough to roster him already drop what you are doing and RUN to pick him up. Pitchers like this don’t come along everyday and in a long term format he looks to be the type of pitcher that can anchor your pitching staff for many years to come.  As of this writing he is currently owned in 70% of CBS, 32% of yahoo, & 9.9% of ESPN leagues, which I imagine will have a pretty big spike following his debut outing.

Now that we have welcomed Jose Fernandez to the bigs, will you have him rostered? I do. Let me know in the comments and as always follow me on twitter @FantasyzrTJ for all your fantasy baseball needs. Enjoy the season gamers, it has only just begun.

 

 

 

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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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Believe It Or Not

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Believe It Or Not

Posted on 27 February 2013 by Will Emerson

That’s right folks, it’s time for a bit of “Believe it or not?”! Excited? No? What’s that? You have no idea what ”Believe it or not?” is, exactly. Oh. Well, then allow me to elaborate here.

“Believe or not?” is when I take at a look at some numbers from last season and see if I believe them or…..not. Not, people. I really thought you would get that. Anyways, what I have done is picked a few pitchers to look at and see if we should believe in their 2012 numbers. So, away we go!

Wade Miley

First up is Wade Miley. Mr. Miley actually could have won the National League Rookie of the Year Award had it not been for that no-name, out of nowhere Bryce Harper. Of course that could also speak to the weak rookie class outside of Miley, Harper and Todd Frazier. Nevertheless Miley was very solid, going 16-11, with an ERA of 3.33 and a WHIP of 1.18. Not too shabby, right? You’re darned tootin’, right. Miley is by no means an ace and no one seems to think he is either, as evidenced by his general preseason ranking in the 90s. So let’s say you’re in a 12 team fantasy league, Miley barely ranks as rosterable. Is rosterable a word? Ah, no matter. According to RotoChamp, Miley was just inside the top 25 fantasy starting picthers last season, so his current rank and general draft positions seem to show that know one believes in Miley’s 2012. But should they? Well outside of the those superficial numbers you’ve already seen, let’s look into some other numbers. Miley posted an xFIP of 3.75, which points to a good ol’ regression in ERA.  Well, if that doesn’t, that 6.66 K/9 combined with a 43.3 ground ball rate certainly should. Wins are obviously a crapshoot, but with that low amount of Ks and lowish amount of groundballs, in a hitter’s park, nonetheless, that WHIP and ERA are sure to shoot on upward. So I would tend to agree with the masses in the case of Wade Miley and say that I do not believe in his 2012 numbers.

Next up is Reds “ace” Johnny Cueto. Ya see how I put ace in quotation marks? Looking at Cueto’s 2012 numbers, he was ace-like. He was 19-9, with an ERA of 2.78 and a WHIP of 1.17. Dems right there are Cy Young type numbers. Based on Cueto’s 2011 numbers, it does not appear the 2012 numbers were completely out of nowhere. In 2011 Cueto was 9-5 with an ERA of 2.31 and a WHIP of 1.09, so the 2012 numbers were not completely unprecedented, although you will notice the slight increase in ERA and WHIP. However, while those numbers are great and all, he also posted a 3.90 xFIP in ’11 and a 3.65 xFIP ’12, well above his ERAs for those respective seasons. Cueto’s ERA and WHIP are due for a sizeable regression and with a career K/9 under seven, I don’t see him being a top 20 fantasy pitcher in 2013. So I guess I am saying I do not believe in Cueto’s 2011 or 2012 numbers. I’m not saying that he will be a flop in ’13, but I tnink he should be drafted as a three or four SP, instead of a one or two, which is where it appears he is being taken in early fantasy drafts.

Next up, we have former Cy Young Award winner, Timmy Lincecum. Lincecum had, without a doubt, his worst season in the majors, in 2012. An ERA over 5?! What?! That’s right the former Cy Young Award winner who posted a sub three ERA in 2011 had an ERA over five in 2012. However, his xFIP was 3.82 which is not great, but much, much, much better than his actual ERA. Plus, he still posted a K/9 over nine, so he was still striking guys out in 2012. The biggest problem for Lincecum in 2012 were walks and the longball. Lincecum had a 4.35 BB/9 and a HR/FB of 14.6%. Timmy’s fly ball rate was about the same as it has been over the past few seasons, but when batters were putting balls in the air against Lincecum in 2012 they were putting them over the fence at almost twice of his 2011 rate. Now there was a slight increase in hard hit balls for Lincecum, so expecting the Cy Young Award winning Tim Lincecum to show up in 2013 may be a bit of a stretch, but I would say you can expect much better than 2012. So when it comes to Lincecum’s 2012 numbers, I would say I do not believe in them that much. You will see a stat line in the middle of Lincecum’s 2011 and 2012 numbers.

So there ya have it kids. What did we learn this week? Well with regards to these three pitchers, I guess I don’t believe in any of their 2012 numbers. Maybe I should have just called this article, “Three Pitchers Whose 2012 Numbers I Just Plain Don’t Believe In”? Eh, seems a bit wordy, don’t ya think? Anyways, to be fair, it’s not like I was being all negative in my disbelief, right? I did not believe in Lincecum’s 2012 numbers, but in a good way. Unlike with Miley and Cueto, I do believe Lincecum’s numbers will improve over his 2012 campaign. So for now, take a tip from Journey and don’t stop believin’. Or, I guess, based on this post, don’t start believin’?

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