Cole Hamels snapped a six-start losing streak, and he stays in the auto-start ranks as Paul looks ahead to next week.
Welcome to the Weekly Pitching Planner. Each week I will cover the pitchers are who slated to make two starts and help you decide who you should start and who you should sit. Sometimes guys will be in the “consider” where they might have one good start, but a second tough one and then your league settings might determine whether or not you should go forward with him. The pitchers will be split by league then by categories:
Auto-Starts – These are your surefire fantasy aces. You paid a handsome sum for them either with an early draft pick or high dollar auction bid so you’re starting them anywhere, anytime. Guys can emerge onto or fall off of this list as the season evolves. There won’t be many – if any – notes associated with these groupings each week. We are starting them automatically so why do I need to expound on how awesome they are and will be in the coming week?
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Examining the mechanical changes that have driven the success of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and the Red Sox.
One of the biggest stories of the first month of the 2013 season has been the incredible turnaround of the Boston Red Sox. The team went from a near-lock for the postseason in September of 2011 to the victims of one of history's greatest collapses, and the disaster carried over to 2012. The Sox were a .500 team in April of last season, and were still three games over at the end of June. However, Boston would go 28-56 over the rest of the campaign, winning just one-third of their remaining games in a brutal crash that was catalyzed by bad blood in the clubhouse and the fire sale of August 25th, in which the Red Sox flipped a quarter-billion dollars worth of contracts in a salary-dump that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett to Los Angeles.
General Manager Ben Cherington made a splash in free agency, signing a handful of players to revamp the roster, but the general outlook for this season was bleak. Preseason predictions by the BP staff placed Boston fourth in the AL East this year, but the team and the city have become a symbol for triumph in the wake of tragedy. Going into play on Tuesday, the Sox have the best record in the game at 18-7, and their run differential of +40 also leads the majors.
Opening Day observations about James Shields, Jon Lester, Mike Moustakas and others.
Like many fans with MLB.tv access, I spent the first 24 hours of the new season binging on baseball. That meant taking in the Rangers-Astros, Red Sox-Yankees, and Royals-White Sox games. Along the way I wrote down some observations about a few players.
Jason Castro PECOTA and I disagree on Castro's offensive outlook. The algorithm sees Castro hitting .238/.319/.351 with eight home runs this season in a hair fewer than 500 plate appearances. I'm more optimistic about the Stanford product and former first-round pick's chances of being an offensive asset independent of his position. Castro's problem to date has been an inability to hit same-handed pitching. He boasts a career True Average of .286 against righties and .113 against lefties—that's the difference between Jason Kubel and Lucas Harrell's 2012 offensive production. Castro did me no favors on Sunday night, going 0-for-4 against southpaws Matt Harrison and Joseph Ortiz. Still, I came away pleased with Castro's efforts behind the plate.
Five hitters and five pitchers PECOTA expects to see big improvements from this year.
BP’s PECOTA projections arrived two weeks ago today, offering answers to two of the most common questions asked each spring: Which players are expected to make major improvements, and which are big risks to head downhill?
We’ll tackle five hitters and five pitchers whom PECOTA projects to make major gains today, then do the same for some of the biggest projected decliners tomorrow. One note: It doesn’t take PECOTA to tell you that a player like Troy Tulowitzki—who missed most of last season after left groin surgery—could be in line for a big bounceback with better health, so this list is restricted to people who played full seasons in 2012.
Can mechanical changes help explain what went wrong with Dan Haren, Tommy Hanson, Jon Lester, and Ricky Romero this season?
In the medical field, diagnosis is a skill that requires as much art as science. Consider the case of Clayton Kershaw, who was scratched from his anticipated start on BP day at Dodger Stadium due to a hip impingement, with an initial diagnosis that suggested that the ace could be out until May of 2013. Kershaw sought a second opinion from a hip specialist, and eight days later he was lacing up the spikes for a start against the Reds. I had a similar experience when I blew out my shoulder 15 years ago, as the initial diagnosis of “a separated shoulder” failed to identify a torn rotator cuff, requiring a secondary assessment that altered the long-term prognosis for recovery.
Diagnosing the struggles of a major-league pitcher is an imperfect science, considering the lack of reliable data and the multitude of variables that can influence performance. When a pro pitcher is “under the weather,” one evaluator might point toward mechanics as the key symptom while another blames pitch command (though a savvy scout acknowledges the interplay between stuff and mechanics). Other factors may also come into play, including but not limited to pitch sequencing, functional strength, psychology, and luck.
What transpired during Jon Lester's 50-pitch inning against the Rangers earlier this week?
On Tuesday, Jon Lester threw a 92-mph fastball to Michael Young for a strike, and then some other things happened, and then Jon Lester threw a 94-mph fastball to Michael Young and got a groundout to shortstop. The other things that happened were 47 pitches, and also this thing,
The late Mel Parnell was one of the few lefties who've been given the opportunity to fend for themselves at Fenway Park.
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.
The late Mel Parnellpassed away on Tuesday at the age of 89. In his memory, we present a piece about Parnell and the exaggerated perils of southpaw pitching at Fenway, which originally ran as a "You Could Look it Up" column on May 20, 2008.
Pegging BP's favorites in both leagues, both in the standings and for the major awards.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division with first-place votes in parentheses, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that has been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.
Pegging BP's favorites in both leagues, in the standings and for the major awards.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division with first-place votes in parentheses, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting. Picking favorites for the Wild Card for the respective leagues initially might have seemed easy, since the selections universally favored the second-place team in the AL East, while all but two voters picked their second-place teams in the NL East to earn the non-division champ playoff team, but a tie in the rankings had to be broken in favor of the team named the Wild Card winner on the most individual ballots, which is sure to upset some people.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that's been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.
The lefty's story only keeps improving with every turn, but will last season's hero build on this year's ALDS dominance?
Jon Lester has made headlines each of the past few seasons, but this is the first year that he's garnered attention due to his performance as a major league starting pitcher. Prior to the end of the regular season, Red Sox announcer Jerry Remy stated that Jon Lester was the best pitcher in the Red Sox rotation, and based on his performance both this season and in the playoffs, it's a tough position to argue against. How did he get to this point, and will he able to keep it up in the future?