How the Royals starter survived a perilous sixth to steer his team to a 1-0 series lead.
The Royals’ third-best starting pitcher threw fully a third of his pitches in Game One in the sixth inning, facing the meat of one of the best offenses of the last five years for the third time. Edinson Volquez walked the first two batters on nine pitches apiece, bringing the tying run to the plate in the person of Edwin Encarnacion—who hit 39 home runs during the regular season. The case for leaving him in to start the inning was tenuous; the case for letting him face Encarnacion was nonexistent. The Royals’ 5-0 win on Friday night defied logical analysis, because no logical decision-making process leads to Volquez pitching his way through that sixth inning. There’s no stone I can turn over in order to find Ned Yost’s secret rationale for leaving Volquez in. He didn’t have one. He simply got caught unprepared when Volquez got into trouble, and decided (once Volquez began working his way out of it) to let him keep going.
The Pirates righty's fine season came to an end yesterday, but can we expect more of the same in 2015?
This is going to come to you a day late, and likely a dollar short. Edinson Volquez took the mound last night, but I’m writing this in the afternoon so the results of his one-game playoff performance aren’t yet known, nor if he’ll get another shot. That said, we do have a 31-start sample from which to analyze this year, allowing us to determine how we feel about Volquez going forward.
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2001, Volquez matured gradually, not appearing on a prospect list until 2004. From there he took off, ranked by Baseball America as the Rangers no. 1 prospect following the 2005 season, in addition to ranking in their top 100 for the first and final time. He was a member of the Rangers vaunted DVD trio (Danks-Volquez-Diamond), and thought to be part of the wave of pitching prospects that would save Texas.
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A look at five scuffling pitchers whose luck might turn next year, and who could be fantasy bargains with better results.
When it comes to starting pitching, my philosophy has long been “it’s always available.” Even when it comes to deep/dynasty leagues where the talent is scarce, finding pitching depth isn’t as difficult as it might seem. With that in mind, we turn our spotlight to five pitchers who have struggled—to varying extents—in 2013, but who have the ability, history, and peripheral statistics to pique our interest. Note that, unsurprisingly, two of these pitchers appeared in the Starting Pitchers section of BP’s Mid-Season Outliers, which should be a good source if you’re looking for anyone beyond the five mentioned in this article.
Jeremy Hellickson, Rays
It’s been a rough season for pitchers who have made a habit of outperforming their FIP, and Hellickson has been chief among those types. He’s also been chief among those having a rough season, including last night’s putrid performance (2 2/3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K). The interesting part though, is that unlike some of the others listed, Hellickson is actually producing better peripherals than he ever has, so instead of just relying on past performance, we can say that he’s actively getting better.
The Nationals started slow, but the Braves should be looking over their shoulders.
The Weekend Takeaway
At the midway point of the regular season, the Nationals were 41-40, and their -19 run differential suggested that they were fortunate to have notched even that mediocre tally. A week earlier, they were a game under .500, at 37-38. And two weeks before that, they were a season-high eight games out of first place in the National League East, a division that, before Opening Day, they were widely expected to win.
Playing a month without Bryce Harper did not help. Neither did the apparent flop of Dan Haren, in whom general manager Mike Rizzo invested $13 million to complete a dominant rotation. And the prolonged slump that befell fellow newcomer Denard Span, who was supposed to be the sparkplug for a potent lineup, rippled through an offense that instead underwhelmed for weeks.
If an extra two wins or an extra two dozen strikeouts will make a big difference in your standings, here's where to look.
Over the past week, I’ve discussed the importance of prioritizing categorical impact over raw value with the season nearing an end. At this point I think I’ve given the concept more press than Psy is getting, and while "Gangnam Style" becomes no less brilliant play after play, I fear me talking anymore about this would have the opposite effect. So, I’ll simply point you towards my one-category contributor articles for saves and homers and steals and invisible horse dance my way onto the meat of today’s article...
The best strategy when chasing wins is to play the match-ups, if you have the luxury of doing so in leagues with daily transactions and/or deep-ish free agent pools. Ideally, you’ll target pitchers with good skills and potent offenses who are facing weak offenses. Mixing and matching is almost certain to be better than rolling with a single starter come hell or high water. Still, if you need to for whatever reason, here are a few to consider.
The Padres are off to a horrible start, so a housecleaning might be forthcoming. Who stays and who goes?
The San Diego Padres, perhaps predictably, have gotten off to a miserable start in 2012. Although expectations were not high coming into the season, almost nothing has gone right for the club. Between injuries and ineffectiveness, not to mention ongoing ownership/television deal issues (I live 15 minutes from Petco Park and cannot watch the team on TV in my home, which might qualify as “charmingly retro” if it weren't so annoying), the Padres are staring at their worst-case scenario only a month into the campaign.
Last week, Kevin Goldsteinsuggested that a “housecleaning in San Diego could be coming.” Reader pobothecat wondered what such a housecleaning might look like, and so did I.
The Rangers face a difficult decision about extending Josh Hamilton, but the decision to acquire him wasn't easy, either.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
With hindsight, it's easy to see that the Rangers won the Hamilton-Volquez trade. At the time the trade happened, though, that wasn't obvious, as indicated by the contemporary review reproduced below, which originally ran as part of a "Transaction of the Day" column on December 27, 2007.
The Padres pitching staff pools its knowledge about offense in an attempt to snap a hitless streak.
Pitchers are terrible hitters, but their terribleness is at least consistent. Since 2000, as offense overall has declined, pitchers have never slugged lower than .175 (nor slugged higher than .195). They've never batted lower than .130 (or batted better than .150). Pitchers can't do what you want them to do, which is get a hit, but at least they fail at a rate you can rely on. There's something okay about this arrangement.
This year's pitchers, though, are just so bad at hitting. They're hitting .110, and they're slugging .123. Both of these totals would be the lowest in the post-WWII era, and probably the lowest ever. We can't even blame it on some sort of seasonal disadvantage that hitting pitchers face in the spring. Switching to TAv, we find that April has traditionally been a strong month for pitchers at the plate, with April representing pitchers' best months of the 2009 and 2010 seasons:
The Padres and Dodgers met for their opening series last week, bringing to mind their intertwined histories.
Every now and then, someone not from these parts makes the mistake of calling San Diego a suburb of Los Angeles. I'm not very familiar with the East Coast, but my guess based on relative proximity is that this would be like calling Philadelphia a suburb of New York. We are a gentle people, and so just as folks from Hawai'i bristle but remain silent when some guy with a comb-over nursing an umbrella-laden drink loudly proclaims his intent to “go back to the States,” we blink and smile while being offended in a manner that might cause a riot were that same guy to refer to a person from Philadelphia as a New Yorker.
That being said, when the Padres first joined the National League in 1969 they were, in many respects, an offshoot of the Dodgers to the north. Not quite “The Jeffersons” to “All in the Family,” more like “After M*A*S*H” to “M*A*S*H.”
What are the fantasy implications of the latest roster rumbles?
This past week has been very active in terms of free-agent signings and trades, and now that some of the bigger names on the market are starting to go, we’re likely to see the rest follow suit rather quickly.
Josh Willingham | Minnesota Twins | OF | Signed as free agent Willingham has remained on the outskirts of mainstream relevance for his entire career, beginning with the Marlins (before their ridiculous spending, media spotlight days), getting traded to the Nationals, then getting dealt to Oakland, and now finally signing with the Twins. For as little notoriety as he receives, he’s actually a pretty darn good player, both in the real world and fantasy. In fantasy, his biggest contribution is his power, despite playing most of his career in parks that have played toward pitchers or have been neutral. Target Field will continue that tradition, but because Willingham has been playing in similar parks, it won’t change his projections much; Oakland’s O.co Coliseum is actually slightly worse than Target.