The Cubs power their way through a pivotal game against the Cardinals.
Game Three of the NLDS between the Cardinals and the Cubs shifted to Wrigley Field on Monday night, with the advantage tilting to the Cubs not only because they split the first two games of the series in St. Louis but because their ace was taking the hill. While Michael Wacha certainly isn’t any kind of slouch, it would be difficult to argue that the Cubs didn’t have a significant edge with the white hot Jake Arrieta on the mound.
In a time when pitch counts and innings limits are a hot topic, Joe Maddon fears not and goes with the unknown.
Jake Arrieta had just tossed 123 pitches as he stood on the mound celebrating his 20th victory of the season with his teammates. It was a moment he won't soon forget, and his manager Joe Maddon was the one who allowed him to experience it. There are those who believe there was no good reason for Arrieta to still be out there when that game ended, however Maddon felt otherwise. Was he justified? At BP Wrigleyville, Sahadev Sharma takes an in-depth look at pitch counts, experiencing the moment, and understanding the need to treat each player on a case-by-case basis.
Can one of the league's hottest pitchers keep it up?
I’m flipping the script a bit this week. Y’all brought interesting names to the table in the comments section last week, and while I normally choose an individual player on whom to focus based upon your suggestions, I felt the need to go off the board. Quite simply, it’s because right-hander Jake Arrieta laid waste to Major League Baseball last month. He wasn’t talked about enough in fantasy circles, but after flirting with no-hitters in back-to-back outings, he’s on the tip of every fantasy owner’s tongue.
Through 39 2/3 innings in the month of June, Arrieta compiled a 0.92 ERA with 48 strikeouts and only six walks. He’s gone four consecutive starts in which he’s thrown at least seven innings and struck out nine. Fantasy owners have taken notice, too, as the 28-year-old hurler is now owned in 83.5 percent of ESPN leagues (as of Monday evening). It’s a number that has increased dramatically in the past couple weeks, and owners have begun to ask whether Arrieta is someone to simply plug-and-play while he’s scorching hot, or if this breakout is something more permanent.
Jake Arrieta's breakout season continues, two games last beyond the 13th inning, plus more from a wild Tuesday and what to watch today.
The Tuesday Takeaway Jake Arrieta entered Tuesday coming off a trio of superb outings over which he allowed just one run and 10 hits with a shiny 27-to-2 K:BB ratio in 20 innings of work. The 28-year-old right-hander continued his breakout campaign by flirting with perfection and twirling seven outstanding innings against the Reds.
Scouts' takes on Andrew Cashner, Freddie Freeman, Burch Smith, and other interesting players.
Many of our authors make a habit of speaking to scouts and other talent evaluators in order to bring you the best baseball information available. Not all of the tidbits gleaned from those conversations make it into our articles, but we don't want them to go to waste. Instead, we'll be collecting them in a regular feature called "What Scouts Are Saying," which will be open to participation from the entire BP staff and include quotes about minor leaguers and major leaguers alike.
A look at five pitchers who could be in line for save opportunities in future years.
Joe Borowski, Brandon League, Todd Jones, Kevin Gregg, Frank Francisco, Billy Koch. No, I’m not working on a baseball version of We Didn’t Start The Fire (that you know of). These are all relievers who have ascended to the closer role, whether they deserved it or not. They acquired the closer mystique that allowed them to beef up their earnings and hold on or land jobs long past when they should have. To be clear, I’m of the mind that it’s often helpful to have a Gregg or a Koch at the back of the bullpen—someone who is competent enough to finish most games and allows the use of a more efficient or dominant reliever, a fireman, to enter into the higher-leverage situations.
That opinion belongs to the baseball analyst in me, though, not the fantasy analyst. As a fantasy owner, I’d rather see the most talented bullpen option in the closer role because then I don’t have to roster nincompoops who destroy my ERA and WHIP, all while chasing the dragon save. Of course, being blocked by an incompetent colleague is not the only reason that pitchers get denied coffee. Injuries, a couple of poorly timed blow ups, or a lack of experience can also cost a reliever a shot to use SemiSonic as his entrance music as well. The point of this article, then, is to shine a spotlight on some guys who would be closers, but for a minor flaw, be it in their game or their situations. These are players who could be elite-level fantasy closers if they are presented with the opportunity. The key is identifying them before the opportunity arises.
A look at players who might be available to help your fantasy team, depending on the format in which you play.
Jedd Gyorko, 2B, San Diego Padres
A June groin injury followed by an awful July caused a number of standard mixed-league owners to run for the exits, as Gyorko is only owned in about 29% of ESPN leagues. If he’s available in your mixer, snatch him up. Even without taking the injuries into account, since May, Gyorko has been an offensive force. His ISO in May, June, and August has been no lower than .242. In other words, Gyorko is a legit source of power at a middle infield position. Unless you’re in a points league that penalizes severely for hitter strikeouts, there’s no way Gyorko should be a free agent. —Mike Gianella