A picture is worth a thousand words - see how teams stack up by position at a glance with Visual Depth Charts!
There are two products at BP that use the name "Depth Charts." Here's a quick explanation of the differences, and a reminder that one of them is Visual Depth Charts (complete with Visual Year-to-Date stats).
Helping you set your fantasy rotation for the next week with a look at the two-start pitchers.
Welcome to the Weekly Pitching Planner! This is a hectic time of the season, as the trade deadline for both real and many fantasy baseball approaches. The NL will be on tap to showcase the greatest amount of two-start talent this week, as the schedule gods conspire to give NL-only owners 24 options to just 17 for the AL. As of press time the Mariners have not announced a starter for their Tuesday-Sunday slot, but my money would be on Hisashi Iwakuma taking the ball in Cleveland and Baltimore. If that’s the case, I like him as a start despite the less-than-ideal draws. Obviously with the deadline looming there are also likely to be some teams left in flux if and when deals are made, so this week will be an important one in which to keep up on the latest news before setting your lineup.
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:
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Will the Astros salvage the first-overall pick they did sign?
Take a moment to forget about the Brady Aiken mess and think about last year’s first overall selection. Mark Appel was supposed to be on the fast track. You aren’t supposed to struggle if you’re the first overall selection, and the 6-foot-5 right-handed starter with a prototype body had the look of a player who would move quickly, stopping only briefly in Lancaster and Corpus Christi to humble inferior hitters with his mid-to-upper-90s fastball. If you’ve been paying attention to his season, you know this hasn’t exactly gone as planned.
What has happened
First, appendicitis in January sidelined him for most of the spring. Regardless, the Astros aggressively sent him to Lancaster to begin the season. I was able to catch an early start of his, on April 10th, and was impressed with the raw stuff he brought to the table. Then 22, Appel showed a fastball that touched 98 mph, and paired it with a sharp, bat-missing slider (scouting report). Immediately after this start, on April 14th, Appel’s velocity dipped and only touched 91 mph. As has been well documented, the Astros installed a tandem or “piggyback” pitching rotation, where two “starters” would pitch back to back in the same game. Also, some pitchers would be subjected to only three days of rest, which happened to Appel in these two starts. This obviously took a toll on Appel, and there were rumors of shoulder soreness after the second start. He was sent to extended spring training to get some rest and have proper time to build stamina for the season. After returning, he had the worst start of his season on May 31st, surrendering 10 earned runs in 1 1/3 innings. Five days later, he was diagnosed with tendinitis in his right thumb and scratched from his next start. After getting the standard four days of rest (and sometimes more), he continued to struggle. Recently, the Astros made it public that Appel had a right wrist issue and received a cortisone shot. It’s unclear whether the thumb tendinitis is connected. I took in his start on July 10th with intentions of pin-pointing his problems.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Mariners outfielder Gabriel Guerrero.
Hitter of the Night: Gabriel Guerrero, OF, Mariners (High Desert, A+): 3-4, 3 R, 2B, 2 HR.
Many times with offspring of former players, we get lazy and take the path of least resistance to the easiest comp we can find and compare a player to his father/uncle, etc. When people compare Gabriel to his uncle Vladimir, it’s not laziness. No, he may not be as supremely talented, but few were as gifted as the future Hall of Famer. What we do see, however, are the same mannerisms, styles, and instincts that can only be transferred through DNA. He’s got the Vladdy starter kit, which makes him pretty lucky. What he does with it from here is on him.
Pitcher of the Night: Tyler Anderson, LHP, Rockies (Tulsa, AA): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 8 K.
Primarily a fastball/changeup guy, Anderson gets by on command and control rather than velocity. He’s not a strikeout guy and profiles as a back-end starter, but he should be able to eat innings and keep the ball on the ground at Coors Field.
Standout pitching all around, as the Royals climb over the Indians, the Blue Jays get a glimpse of a bright future, and Joe Nathan earns another ninth.
The Thursday Takeaway
For the second night in a row, Blue Jays fans watched one of their talented young arms baffle Red Sox hitters. Wednesday night, it was Aaron Sanchezmaking an impact with two perfect innings out of the bullpen in his major-league debut. Last night, Marcus Stroman continued to work his newest weapon into his arsenal as he flirted with a no-hitter and dominated Boston in his best start to date.
The mechanical roots of Shelby Miller's struggles.
At this time last year, the National League was being steamrolled by a young Cardinal right-hander whose mid-90s gas and hard-breaking curveball led the way to a 2.79 ERA as the calendar flipped to August. The instant success of Shelby Miller put him on the short list of the game's future kings of the hill, but he faded down the stretch and the Cards kept him out of the rotation (and essentially off the mound) during their postseason run; his lone appearance was a one-inning stint in game two of the NLDS, coming in the eighth inning of a 7–1 ballgame.
From the Astros draft saga to the Scoresheet mistakes, the Outcomes devote this week's podcast to what's gone wrong.
This week on the podcast, we tackled topics concerning failure. We did our part to run in circles around the Astros draft saga and also answered some reader questions. We also spent some time considering and discussing our collective failures as Scoresheet owners in 2014. One of the things we’d like to do is setup a framework for analyzing teams that underperform, in order to identify potential improvements, patterns of mistakes, or other ways that we could have done better on draft day.
The first step is to gather information and data, including the draft day valuations, the real life MLB performance of players to date, and the Scoresheet performance of players to date. The Baseball Prospectus Team Tracker is a helpful tool to get this information, and the remainder can be found on the Scoresheet league pages. Be careful when analyzing team-level results, especially if you’ve made personnel changes (i.e. traded away short term value), because they may not be indicative of mistakes you made on draft day, but the aftermath of going Full Rebuild (tm?).
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Cubs first baseman Dan Vogelbach and Nats righty A.J. Cole.
Hitter of the Night: Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Cubs (Daytona, A+): 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR.
Vogelbach put on a power display in Palm Beach on Wednesday, hitting a pair of opposite-field home runs to the left-center gap at Roger Dean Stadium, which is no small feat. The big first baseman wants to get his arms extended and is at his best when he’s trying to go up the middle. He had a tendency to reach on balls on the outer half when he gets pull happy, but when he stays up the middle, he can drive the ball to all fields, which is what happened last night. He missed a third home run by less than a foot, pulling one just foul down the right field line.
Pitcher of the Night: A.J. Cole, RHP, Nationals (Syracuse, AAA): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K.
After bouncing back and forth from Washington to Oakland and back, Cole has finally settled in with the Nationals and is now just a phone call from the majors. His premium fastball continues to carry him, and he commands it well enough to get away with average secondary offerings, even at the highest levels of the minor leagues.