News and notes from around the league for June 13, 2013.
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Probable Pitchers for June 13, 2013
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Jason makes nine bold predictions based off early season happenings
The first month of April is the most frustrating month for any fantasy writers. Sample sizes are incredibly small, making article ideas tough to come up with, but that does not stop people on Twitter from overreacting to opening weekend moves anyway. Between covering the firsttwo games of the Rays and Yankees series and completing an online auction (don’t!) in my longtime mixed league this weekend, I must have received at least 50 inquiries on Twitter related to add/drop moves.
The woe of Boston's bullpen, and debating whether it's important for a closer to have ninth-inning experience.
Andrew Bailey couldn't even wait until Opening Day to get hurt. Before the Red Sox’ most high-profile off-season acquisition could even take the mound during the regular season, the team discovered that he had torn the ulnar collateral ligament of his thumb, requiring surgery that could sideline him until at least the All-Star break. General manager Ben Cherington and manager Bobby Valentine resisted the call to push converted set-up man Daniel Bard back to the bullpen, instead namingAlfredo Aceves—another reliever who spent the spring vying for a rotation spot—the interim closer.
While fans may be fretting in Boston, nobody should be hasty in evaluating the job GM Ben Cherington has done in shoring up the Sox.
The 2012 Red Sox are a work in progress, Ben Cherington's unfinished symphony. When I set out to write this article, it was from the vantage point of looking back at the weekend's head-scratching swap, which sent shortstop Marco Scutaro to the Rockies for sinkerballer Clayton Mortensen. In isolation, it was a dismal return for a player who's been worth 5.5 WARP over the past two seasons, but by dumping Scutaro's salary, the Sox created room to fill other needs. As if on cue, they agreed to a one-year deal with outfielder Cody Ross on Monday night, consigning this article's brilliant original lede* to the dustbin of history and serving as a reminder that very few ballclubs are expected to win games in the dead of January.
The playoff races have been de-zombified, and Team Entropy was on the prowl, looking for meaningful baseball going into the final game.
Welcome to Team Entropy! Grab a seat on the couch, and here, have a beer. You've been invited to this party because after almost exactly six months and 160 games of regular-season baseball, you've suspended the need to root for a specific team and are working for the greater good, more interested in maximizing the amount of end-of-season chaos the remaining schedule can produce. The amount of season, even, if it comes to a 163rd game—or two.
With big names missing from the active rosters of both the Yankees and the Red Sox, some unlikely hurlers are pitching in.
Six-game losing streaks have a way of cropping up over the span of 162 games. When they happen can dictate the narrative that surrounds them. The Yankees suffered through one that ended last week, which was dismaying but ultimately forgettable. The Red Sox, on the other hand, opened the season with one and have been trying to live it down ever since. Now just a half game out of first, the Sox are playing as everyone expected them to, but their pitching depth is on the verge of taking center stage in their season’s narrative.
After starting out 0-6 and 2-10, the Red Sox have turned it on. They beat the AL Central-leading Indians last night to improve to 26-22 on the season, but they’re doing it with their bats. The team’s offense is tops in the league in on-base percentage, fourth in slugging, and third in OPS. The pitching, though, has been pedestrian. Sox hurlers have struck out a lot of batters, but they have also walked plenty of hitters and been prone to the longball. Their team ERA is 11th in the majors.
The former Yankees' swingman trades his pinstripes in for red stockings.
Nothing gets the competitive fuels flowing like a player moving from a team to its hated rival. Alfredo Aceves may not spark the fire like Johnny Damon or even Ramiro Mendoza by jumping from New York to Boston, but he is worth discussing because the Red Sox envision a role change. The Yankees had Aceves make five starts over three big-league seasons, but mostly used him in long relief. The transition does not appear to be as outlandish as it may sound.
Brad Lidge and Mark DeRosa are still feeling achy months after having surgery, along with other injury news from around the majors.
Brad Lidge (elbow soreness, ERD TBD) Consistency isn't a word you think of from Lidge, but that's why he's headed back to Philadelphia. What happened to him during spring training occurred in much the same way. While the trainers are there every day, working on the players and understanding how things are changing and feeling, it's tougher for the doctors. At best, they see the players during homestands and treat them in much the same manner as a normal patient. (Actually, at best they never have to deal with them outside of a physical.) By making sure that Lidge is seeing the same doctors consistently and as he has problems, the Phillies are making sure they have the best possible situation for managing his injuries. By managing this consistently and holistically, the Phils and Lidge have a shot. Don't read too much into the trip back to Philly. The soreness sounds like scar tissue breaking loose, but there's a chance that this could be analogous to the Joe Nathan situation in the worst case. Like the Phillies, we'll just have to wait and see. Jose Contreras—yes, really—will get the save opportunities in the meantime, though you can be sure that Ruben Amaro Jr. is checking in on Heath Bell and some other usual suspects.
Who are the favorites for the #5 spots in the starting rotations of last year's World Series participants?
At the outset, Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes have the inside track to the #5 spot for the New York Yankees. Neither Chad Gaudin (career 4.61 SIERA) nor Sergio Mitre (4.15) have had sustained success at the Major League level as a starter. Mitre missed the entire 2008 season due to Tommy John surgery and did not inspire confidence upon return in nine starts last year. However, stats like xFIP and SIERA have thought more highly of his performances than regular old ERA.
Chamberlain in 2009 (4.43 SIERA), after spending most of '08 as a reliever (3.02), saw his strikeout rate chopped by nearly three batters per nine innings while his walk rate increased by nearly one, sending his K/BB ratio below 2:1. Additionally, he allowed nine percent fewer ground balls and seven percent more line drives while his HR/FB rate more than doubled. His fastball and slider usage dropped by several percentage points while his curve and change-up use increased accordingly. The velocity on his fastball and slider diminished by 2.5 MPH and 0.5 MPH respectively.
The Yankees still control the World Series, but will their decision to use just three starters prove a critical miscalculation?
The Phillies hit 224 home runs during the regular season, and another 14 through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Through the first four games of the World Series, they added seven more, but they didn't get so much bang for their buck, as all of those homers were solo shots. That changed in the first inning on Monday night, when Chase Utley crushed an A.J. Burnett meatball for a three-run homer, erasing a 1-0 Yankees lead in a potential World Series clincher and sending the Citizens Bank Park fans into a towel-waving frenzy.