Paulino, Dickey, Zambrano, and Ogando make the VP cut this week
We have seen a shift in recent years with dwindling offensive output giving way to more dominant pitching. At one point or another, each of the last two years has been dubbed the “Year of the Pitcher,” and 2012 is on the same path (though Matt Kemp and Josh Hamilton may have something to say about that). This can be seen as a boon to fantasy owners, as Value Picks remain plentiful. Heck, just a cursory look at the top 10 starters in fantasy this season shows a handful of VP-types like Lance Lynn, Jake Peavy, and Jason Hammel. In short, there will always be some arms out there being undervalued or on the cusp of breaking out. Let’s take a look at this week’s list.
A few young starters have dazzled us early, but some similar starts last season proved to be false ones.
A pitcher's first start of the year often seems like a momentous event. It's not the first time most fans will have seen him in the past month, but it is the first time his performance will count for anything more than tea leaves. For young pitchers, especially, the first start sets the bar for the expectations game fans and media types like to play with young and unproven players.
With the plodding morass of spring training behind us, our interest in Real Baseball reaches rabid heights for the first week or two of the season, before we settle into the jogger's pace that takes us to the All-Star break. However, the increased importance we assign to early-season starts doesn't make them reliable barometers. They're certainly no more worthy of consideration than any other individual start over the course of the season just because they're the only data point available at the end of the first week. So before we write too many more breathless words about Jake Arrieta, Jeff Samardzija, and others, let's revisit the good first impressions some young starters made last season and look at how things ended up for them.
In the old days, we ran a feature called Prospectus Game of the Week. Started by Jonah Keri and later written by Derek Jacques, the column ran fewer than 40 times in total—most recently popping up more than five years ago. A rise in team-specific blogs offering game threads and recaps probably cut into the utility of the piece, but the timing was a shame, as it coincided with the rise of MLB.tv. No longer does a person have to record a game to access it later. Rather, you can do it online through myriad devices. Maybe it was decided people didn’t care to watch a game and then read a recap about it later on. Whatever the reason, Prospectus Game of the Week—which, actually, was rarely offered weekly—faded from memory; at least until now.
With a tip of the cap to a tip from the beat, an expanded series preview of a key mid-week matchup.
As each of his On the Beat columns draw to their close, John Perrotto highlights a short list of three- or four-game sets worth keeping an eye on. The series are not chosen at random, and tend to boast either compelling storylines or intriguing pitching matchups. In an attempt to be synergistic, I thought it would be fun every now and again to pick a series touted in his column and go to town creating series previews, in essence scouting the series as a whole as opposed to a key player or two. The Phillies and Cubs showdown that will be contested from tonight through Thursday serves as the perfect starting ground, as it features both storylines and intriguing matchups, with the former largely encompassing the latter. In fact, the storylines surrounding the pitching matchups were so topsy-turvy that I wrote this entire piece on Sunday and had to drastically revise it Monday afternoon in light of developments.