Scouts' quotes about Jeff Samardzija, Maikel Franco, Michael Lorenzen, and other players of interest.
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.
These five starters saw a lot of the balls hit against them land for hits, but was it bad luck or a sign of things to come?
A lot of the time, batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is used as a shorthand for luck, and while that can be the case, it’s not necessarily the case. Today I’m going to look at the top five BABIP pitchers in the National League with a minimum of 150 innings pitched to see what, if anything, connects them, and if that means there is hidden value in these players.
Rick Renteria's lineup has a few intriguing bats, but you'll probably have to look elsewhere for pitching.
Last year was yet another tough one for Cubs fans, even if the Epstein/Hoyer/McLeod-led front office continues to stockpile assets. The win-loss record is a nagging source of frustration for the fans, and the on-field lineup might just be as frustrating for fantasy owners. With the potential to sport a platoon in the outfield and a defensive specialist in the infield, as well as a patient front office that will keep its drool-worthy prospects at bay, this Cubs tree isn’t likely to bear much fruit in the early going.
Do pitchers target a tough opponent's weakness, or stick with their own strength?
Every hitter has a hole. Barry Bonds, during spring training, had given an interview with ESPN in which he as much as said, "if you make your pitch, you can get me out." The issue wasn't whether a hitter had a weakness, but where it was. Every pitcher in the big leagues knew that Giambi's hole was waist-high, on the inside corner of the plate. It was about the size of a pint of milk, two baseballs in height and one baseball in width. Which raised an obvious question: why don't the pitchers just aim for the milk pint? — Moneyball, Chapter 7, "Giambi's Hole."
There seem to actually be two points in that paragraph, and they contradict each other. "Every pitcher in the big leagues" was saying that Giambi had a weakness, and that if you could throw him kryptonite it would get him out. But Bonds seemed to be saying something else: "If you make your pitch, you can get me out." Your pitch.
Jose Fernandez put a damper on the Dodgers on Monday, but their recent performance is still historic.
The Monday Takeaway
When the Dodgers took the field last night, they did so nearly two months removed from their last string of consecutive defeats. They had logged seven separate winning streaks of four games or longer since their last losing streak. And over that 53-game span, they were 42-11.
Matched up against fellow first-year starter Hyun-jin Ryu, Jose Fernandez set out to do what the likes of Matt Cain, Cliff Lee, and Stephen Strasburg could not: prevent the Dodgers from rebounding immediately from a rare loss. The young right-hander needed 109 pitches to complete six innings, but he held Don Mattingly’s club to two runs (one earned) on four hits and three walks, striking out eight along the way. With help from A.J. Ramos, Chad Qualls, and Steve Cishek, Fernandez came out on top in the “ace-off” and dealt the Dodgers their first two-plus-game skid since June 20-21.
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.