The Astros lefty is off to a strong start, but can he sustain it?
Last week, I took the opportunity that the Fantasy Freestyle affords us to look at one of the hotter pitching names in the early going: Nathan Eovaldi. This week I thought it prudent to take a similar look at another starter that is burning up the waiver wires and getting a lot of love from the internetting baseball community (in fact he was just profiled by Mike Petriello yesterday). We look at Dallas Keuchel on the heels of the latest sterling performance in a string of many. His eight and two-thirds inning performance left him one out shy of a second consecutive complete game. He lowered his ERA from 3.06 to 2.92 and he induced 18 ground balls, a season-high, snapping a streak of three straight games where he induced 15 ground balls.
Keuchel’s emergence as a high quality rotation option is as surprising as he’s been dominant. As a minor leaguer he never once cracked a 20 percent strikeout rate. Last year he checked in at 18 percent and this year he’s upped his game to just under 23 percent. He’s paired that impressive knack for improvement with a diminishing walk rate, going from 10.3 percent in 2012 to 7.6 percent last year to five percent thus far in 2014. Where he really sets himself apart though, is in his batted ball profile. Keuchel is generating ground balls at a 67.7 percent clip. For frame of reference Justin Masterson, as elite a ground ball starting pitcher as there is topped out at just under 60 percent in 2010, and even then his fly ball rate was five percentage points higher than Keuchel’s is now.
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Craig takes a closer look at a flame-throwing pitcher who made his top 150 U25 list for dynasty leagues and is off to a fine start.
Yesterday, Ben Carsley and I released the first portion of our Top 150 U25 fantasy players, the culmination of a six-week division-by-division look. The name that received the most attention was one towards the bottom of the list, with Nathan Eovaldi checking in at no. 141 on our collaborative list. Eovaldi has jumped out to a great start in 2014, posting a 2.86 ERA backed by a 2.94 FIP, and phenomenal strikeout and walk rates, at 23.4 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively.
This has earned him many plaudits, and a ton of new fans, as fantasy owners who took a random flier on him have become devoted advocates. The question at hand for Eovaldi, and an important one for those wondering how to value him, is whether this new level of success is sustainable. Our eyes tell us it is, as we watch 96 MPH fastball after 96 MPH fastball whiz by us, even into the seventh or eighth inning. So if the numbers say one thing, and our eyes confirm it (or vice versa), where is the debate?
In the first installment of this series, Ben and Craig take you from Domingo Santana to Jonathan Schoop.
We’ve done it, Internet. We’ve compiled a Big List of Players just for you.
Craig and I have spent the past six weeks breaking down each division, forming individual top-30 U25 dynasty rankings and comparing those lists with some witty (read: tired) commentary in each installment. We’ve also been debating each list on TINO, with the help of Dear Leader Bret Sayre and Mauricio Rubio, and have fielded many questions and concerns on Twitter and via the comments section, too.
Get to know the Rangers' other second baseman of the future.
The Situation: Former no. 1 overall prospect Jurickson Profar is out for several more weeks and Donnie Murphy just landed on the disabled list with a neck strain. Josh Wilson, the Rangers’ Opening Day second baseman, was designated for assignment. The Rangers are looking for a jolt until Profar returns.
Background: The Rangers signed “Roogie” Odor out of Venezuela for $425,000 and he immediately found success in the states, slashing .262/.323/.352 in 258 plate appearances as a 17-year-old in Low-A Spokane. The promising start jumpstarted an accelerated path to the big leagues for Odor, as he landed in Hickory (A-Ball) in 2012 and again held his own. Often in the shadow of other highly touted middle-infield Rangers prospects, Odor finally got his time to shine in 2013. Across two leagues, he hit .303 with a .369 on-base percentage and raised his slugging to .474. In fact, in 144 Double-A plate appearances, Odor slugged an eye-popping .530. After the season, he was rated the no. 1 overall player in the Texas Rangers system and second-best second baseman in the minors according to Baseball Prospectus.
The centerpiece of the package the Tigers received in return for Doug Fister is about to arrive.
The Situation: When Anibal Sanchez went on the disabled list with a finger laceration, the Tigers knew they would need another starter on May 6. The speculation as to who that starter would be ended when Detroit announced that the headliner in the Doug Fister trade, Robbie Ray, would take the bump next Tuesday in place of Sanchez.