Teams need fast guys in September. Here's who the contenders should use.
Last year, the best/my favorite transaction of the season came in late August: “Tampa Bay Rays signed free agent CF Freddy Guzman to a minor league contract.” Guzman was 32, had most recently appeared in the majors in 2009, had a career OPS+ of 42, and was at the time playing in Mexico, where his teammates included Esteban Loaiza (41 years old), Ruben Rivera (39) and Ruben Mateo (35). I liked this move so much that Ben Lindbergh and I devoted an entire podcast episode to it.
Helping you set your fantasy rotation for next week with a look at the two-start pitchers.
Welcome to the Weekly Pitching Planner! It’s that magical time of year when the calendar flips to September and the playoffs wander into town like a surly drunk in fantasy leagues near and far. There’s a decent crop of two-start options this week, as a handful of rainouts and wrap-around series have extended the options for some teams, while only the White Sox and Astros will be limited to five-game schedules. The Tigers still haven’t confirmed a starter for their Tuesday/Sunday slot in the wake of Anibal Sanchez’s setback, but given the collective performance of their no. 5 starters over the last few weeks (8.44 ERA over nine starts totaling just 37 1/3 innings), whoever it is will be unlikely to warrant consideration. As always feel free to use the comments section to request additional ramblings on a certain pitcher not covered in the write-ups below.
On to the nuts and bolts: Outside of the elites, two-start pitchers are often as much or more trouble than they’re worth. Rare is the week in which the stars align to offer your starters not just one but two consecutive tasty matchups. As a result you’ll notice that sometimes the better starters will find themselves in the “consider” category, because they might have one good matchup but a second tough one. And similarly, less-talented hurlers might just meander their way into “start” territory on account of a plum schedule. The pitchers will be split by league, and then by categories:
The Rockies outfielder is enjoying a breakout year, and Craig believes it's no fluke.
You may have noticed the absurd year that Corey Dickerson is putting up in Colorado, or you might not have. He’s having the year Charlie Blackmon was supposed to have after his incredible April, and he’s part of a plethora of outfielders the Rockies have that each have some value. Drew Stubbs is hitting .296 with a .195 ISO in partial playing time. Blackmon might be the worst offensive player of the bunch, given other options are Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer. But back to Dickerson, who might be the best of the bunch, if we consider the existence of the tentacled fatty mass on CarGo’s finger his biggest contribution of the season.
Of his 378 plate-appearances, Dickerson has faced a right-handed pitcher 308 times, and has slashed .326/.377/.609 (!), against them. While you might think he’s just a strong-side platoon guy, Dickerson has managed a .281/.343/.469 slash line against southpaws, which might earn him a stretch of full-time play in the future. Given the 70 plate appearances that line came in, small sample size warnings do apply, but it’s worth noting he’s had some success against them in his career.
Many a day has passed, the night has gone by, but still I find the time to put that bump off in your eye.
Sam Miller: So with Jason Parks gone, we thought it was appropriate that the staff assess his tenure here and make sure that his future employers know what they're getting: A guy who will write the occasional scouting report in the voice of Bud Cort's character in Electric Dreams; a guy who will push to sign every cast member from the Venezuelan remake of The Outsiders based solely on the way they wrap cigarette boxes in their t-shirt sleeves; and so on.
So, everybody: Now's the time to pile on. Consider this something like a roast. Profanity follows.
For a nine-year span, from 1994-2004, Troy Percival and Darin Erstad were teammates and eventual champions as Angels. But this duo formed a bond well beyond that of cohabiting a roster. The former college catcher Percival and Erstad understood each other’s intensity, drive and discipline, which carried them to very memorable careers. They would share a daily ride to the ballpark on the road, a carpool that on most days would have them arriving long before their teammates. Percival will kiddingly tell you that he and Erstad were close because no one else had the courage to attempt to do so based on Darin’s dogged approach to the game and gruff personality. Then in the next breath Troy would say something like he said to me back in 2007 when both had moved on to other organizations:
“I can’t say enough. He’s given his body to the game. The guys could’ve probably played 15-20 years, but the way he played the game you have to respect it,” Percival said, while a member of the Cardinals. “I’ve told this to people a lot: I’d come in to get a courtesy inning the last inning with a six-run deficit or lead and he’s still diving in the gap trying to make a play to save his teammates, save me pitches and runs crossing the plate. That’s the type of guy you want out there behind you.”
In the prospect world, we like to use the term helium for a player whose fictitious stock is rising fast, and perhaps no player in the minors had more helium this year than Dilson Herrera. His promotion to the majors serves as the culmination of an incredibly fast journey through three levels in the Mets system (and skipping over one).
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Mets second baseman Dilson Herrera and Phillies lefty Yoel Mecias.
Hitter of the Night: Dilson Herrera, 2B, Mets (Binghamton, AA): 3-4, 2 R, HR, K.
You’re getting a heavy dose of Herrera today, as he ended his minor-league season with a bang before receiving a surprising major-league call-up last night. Herrera has made tremendous progress this year in his development, both in his mechanics at the plate and in the resulting production. He’s being rushed to the majors and could struggle at first, but he has a solid future.
Pitcher of the Night: Yoel Mecias, LHP, Phillies (Lakewood, A-): 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, BB, 7 K.
Mecias missed the second half of 2013 and the first half of this year after having Tommy John surgery, so just the fact that he’s out there making his starts is a good sign. He wasn’t an overpowering pitcher before the injury, so it’s not surprising that he’s not missing a ton of bats at this point given the recovery period, but it’s a good sign to see him throwing strikes consistently. He should only get better as he regains the feel for his pitches and gains experience.
Protests and hidden perfect games! What a Thursday! Doubleheaders and ace matchups! What a weekend!
The Thursday Takeaway
On July 22nd, the Giants called upon 29-year-old swingman Yusmeiro Petit for an emergency start against the Phillies after they had placed Matt Cain on the 15-day disabled list. The Giants went on to win the game in 14 innings, but there was nothing special about Petit’s start; he lasted five innings, gave up seven hits and five runs, walked two and struck out five.