News and notes from around the league for June 16, 2013.
Thanks to Jason Martinez and Clint Chisam of MLB Depth Charts, we'll now be bringing you daily news, notes, transactions, injury updates, and notable performances from the previous day's games...throughout the entire season! And if you like what you see here, don't forget to check out MLBDC's Insider subscription, which also includes starting pitcher rankings and matchups, top 25 batter vs. pitcher stat rankings, lineup tracker (includes lineups from past seven games), rotation report, stat tracker, and more!
Bret looks at the quintet of hurlers that has met the strikeout, walk, and ground-ball benchmarks that generally ensure a pitcher's success.
About a month ago, Russell Carleton talked about pitcher stats and when they stabilize. And now that we’re two months into the season, the time has come where we can look at some of the high-ticket items my eyes drift toward on the stat page without worrying about being distracted by small sample sizes. These performances are real and whether or not they continue, we will always be able to look back upon them through sepia tones and Instagram filters.
If you’ve read my stuff from a previous life, you’ve undoubtedly heard me talk about the Holy Trinity as it comes to starting pitchers. It encompasses the three skills that are most important to the art of pitching: getting strikeouts, reducing walks, and keeping the ball on the ground. Any pitcher who does at least one of these things well can be a major leaguer. Just two of these qualities are enough to be a star, but the pitchers who can do all three are the ones who are special, because they have the largest amount of control over their downside risk.
Cole Hamels snapped a six-start losing streak, and he stays in the auto-start ranks as Paul looks ahead to next week.
Welcome to the Weekly Pitching Planner. Each week I will cover the pitchers are who slated to make two starts and help you decide who you should start and who you should sit. Sometimes guys will be in the “consider” where they might have one good start, but a second tough one and then your league settings might determine whether or not you should go forward with him. The pitchers will be split by league then by categories:
Auto-Starts – These are your surefire fantasy aces. You paid a handsome sum for them either with an early draft pick or high dollar auction bid so you’re starting them anywhere, anytime. Guys can emerge onto or fall off of this list as the season evolves. There won’t be many – if any – notes associated with these groupings each week. We are starting them automatically so why do I need to expound on how awesome they are and will be in the coming week?
No matter how hard you try to discredit Trout, he stacks up as an elite fantasy option in 2013.
Like many fantasy players, I spend little if any time during the season worrying about what a player will earn the following year. Even in keeper formats, I don’t invest a significant amount of time trying to figure out future earnings.
While I didn’t have an exact dollar value assigned to Mike Trout for 2013 back in October, I assumed that I’d have him ranked first or second in AL-only formats and first, second, or third in mixed formats. Besides Ryan Braun and Miguel Cabrera, there were few players who seemed capable of putting up big enough fantasy numbers to come close to Trout.
Oakland's success this year is all the more surprising considering they have departed from the small-market blueprint perfected by Tampa Bay.
The Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays, two AL Wild Card contenders who looked like long shots at the All-Star break, are one game into a strangely scheduled Thursday-Saturday series. The two teams have a few things in common, in addition to both being AL Wild Card contenders who’ll be playing tonight in Tampa Bay. In fact, they might have more in common than any other two teams in baseball. This article isn’t actually about the ways in which they’re the same. It’s about one way in which they’re different. But I’m going to start with the similar stuff just to make the different thing more meaningful, which is pretty manipulative of me.
The first thing the A’s and Rays have in common is success in the second half. The A’s were the hot team in July, when they went 19-5. They’ve cooled off lately, but they’re 24-14 in the second half, and their playoff odds have risen by roughly 25 percentage points over that period. The Rays are the hot team in August. They’re 16-5 this month and 25-14 in the second half, which has raised their playoff odds by roughly 50 percentage points.
Injuries and attrition have probably wiped out at least a portion of your rotation. Here are six pitchers with upside that are probably available.
As we pass the 75 percent mark of the 2012 season and approach the homestretch, the list of injured players only continues to grow. Finding suitable replacements at this point in the year can be difficult, so I thought I’d look today at six pitchers who may be better than their ERAs indicate. For fantasy teams in need, no stone should be left unturned. Whether you’re looking for permanent roster replacements or just spot-starters to pad your win and strikeout totals, these guys are all worth considering, especially when they have favorable match-ups. Keep in mind that these players are best used in deeper leagues—don’t pass up Anibal Sanchez for Justin Germano just because he’s on my list—but some may at least warrant consideration even in medium-depth mixed leagues.
Marco Estrada | Milwaukee Brewers
Estrada has one of the largest differentials between his surface stats and peripherals in all of baseball, and that’s going to correct itself going forward. He’s a fly-ball pitcher, but his strikeout rate remains excellent (8.7 K/9), and he’s made big strides with improving his control this season (1.9 BB/9). He has a good offense supporting him for wins, and at just 5 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues, one could make a case that Estrada is most valuable unowned pitcher in fantasy baseball right now.
He doesn't have the fastest fastball, but everything else points to good things for the Rays' Alex Cobb.
One of my favorite under-the-radar pitchers this season is Alex Cobb of the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s only been three outings of 3.71-ERA ball, but I’m buying into that kind of performance completely and think good things lie ahead for the 24-year-old right-hander. He’s less heralded than many of the other young Ray pitchers and pitching prospects, but I believe he’s every bit as good as last year’s rookie sensation Jeremy Hellickson, if not better, and has the higher ceiling of the two. (Admission: that’s a cop-out. If I weren’t afraid of the backlash by Hellickson’s rabid supporters, I’d have been stronger in my assertion that Cobb is better right now. Okay, well, I guess that kind of counts.)
Cobb has posted K/9 rates north of 9.0 at each stop at Double- and Triple-A, but he’s the kind of guy people are skeptical of in the majors. He doesn’t have mind-boggling stuff, and the lack of a dominant fastball can put people off, but there is a lot to like once you get past his four-seamer. He throws with just slightly above-average, low-90s velocity, but he has an interesting smattering of secondary pitches to make up for it.
A.J. Burnett, Jake Arrieta, and Alex Cobb for the crux of this week's VP rotation
Last Chance: Time to get on board with these arms before they are snapped up in your league. These entries are becoming less available with each passing start and find themselves on rosters in 30-plus percent of the leagues at two of the three outlets and over 50 percent at one or more of them. We won’t necessarily have options in this field each week.