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05-12

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Finesse the Pitching
by
Nick Shlain

04-23

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12

Prospectus Feature: The Left-Handed Pitcher's Guide To Jon Lester's Pickoffs
by
Colin Young

03-20

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7

Every Team's Moneyball: New York Mets: You Will Always Have Enough Pitching Injuries
by
Will Woods

11-05

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Curb Your Pitching Enthusiasm
by
Nick Shlain

09-23

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0

What You Need to Know: September 23, 2014
by
Daniel Rathman

09-19

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1

Pebble Hunting: Cueto's Quirks
by
Sam Miller

09-19

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3

Raising Aces: Carlos in Charge
by
Doug Thorburn

07-11

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2

Raising Aces: Breakout Breakdown: Corey Kluber and Garrett Richards
by
Doug Thorburn

06-13

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1

Raising Aces: Under the Hood of the 2014 Draft, Part Three
by
Doug Thorburn

06-06

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0

Raising Aces: Under the Hood of the 2014 Draft, Part Two
by
Doug Thorburn

06-05

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1

Working the Count: Jose Abreu's Not-So-Slow Bat
by
Noah Woodward

05-30

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4

Raising Aces: Under the Hood of the 2014 Draft, Part One
by
Doug Thorburn

05-13

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0

BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 448: Why Can't We Have a Healthy Jose Fernandez?
by
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller

05-09

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4

Raising Aces: Making Setup Man Magic
by
Doug Thorburn

05-07

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12

The Knuckle Curveball
by
Dan Rozenson

05-02

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7

Raising Aces: Too Early to Worry?
by
Doug Thorburn

04-18

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2

BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 431: The Rising Strikeout Rate Symposium
by
Ben Lindbergh

04-18

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5

Raising Aces: Masahiro Tanaka, the Debut Ante
by
Doug Thorburn

04-11

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11

Raising Aces: Starting Pitcher Four-Pack
by
Doug Thorburn

04-09

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16

Pebble Hunting: Max Scherzer and the Sabermetric Approach to Pitching to the Count
by
Sam Miller

04-07

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9

Baseball Therapy: Beware of the Intentional Walk?
by
Russell A. Carleton

04-04

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1

Raising Aces: The Aces of Opening Day
by
Doug Thorburn

04-03

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2

Pitcher Profile: New Arms (and Pitches) of the Week
by
Harry Pavlidis

04-01

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14

Baseball Therapy: The Complete Value of a Complete Game
by
Russell A. Carleton

04-01

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7

Moonshot: Cracking the Location Code
by
Robert Arthur

03-28

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10

Raising Aces: Out on a Limb: 2014 Pitcher Predictions
by
Doug Thorburn

03-21

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3

Raising Aces: Bush League: Eddie Butler, Tyler Glasnow, and Alex Meyer
by
Doug Thorburn

03-14

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7

Raising Aces: Bush League: Jonathan Gray
by
Doug Thorburn

03-07

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9

Raising Aces: Over the Radar 2.0
by
Doug Thorburn

03-03

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17

Raising Aces: Under the Gun 2.0
by
Doug Thorburn

02-28

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1

Raising Aces: Bush League: Andrew Heaney
by
Doug Thorburn

02-21

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3

Raising Aces: Organizational Trends: Looking for Mechanical Hallmarks
by
Doug Thorburn

02-12

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4

BP Unfiltered: T-Mac's Mechanics
by
Doug Thorburn

02-07

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5

Raising Aces: Bush League: Archie Bradley
by
Doug Thorburn

02-06

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14

Baseball ProGUESTus: Entropy and the Eephus
by
Robert Arthur

01-24

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19

Raising Aces: Classic Deliveries: Fade to Black and White
by
Doug Thorburn

01-17

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9

Raising Aces: Classic Deliveries: Hall of Fame Inductees 1980-89
by
Doug Thorburn

01-10

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9

Raising Aces: Classic Deliveries: Hall of Fame Inductees of 1990-94
by
Doug Thorburn

01-03

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9

Raising Aces: The Good Old Days: Nolan Ryan
by
Doug Thorburn

12-27

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19

Raising Aces: Examining Masahiro Tanaka's Mechanics
by
Doug Thorburn

12-20

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2

Raising Aces: Bush League: Julio Urias
by
Doug Thorburn

12-16

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28

Baseball Therapy: What Happened to the Four-Man Rotation?
by
Russell A. Carleton

12-13

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3

Raising Aces: Bush League: Jameson Taillon
by
Doug Thorburn

12-06

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11

Baseball ProGUESTus: Explaining Mistake Splits
by
Evan Petty

12-06

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2

Raising Aces: Diff'rent Strikes
by
Doug Thorburn

12-05

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19

Measuring Pitching with TrackMan
by
Zach Day

11-15

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17

Baseball ProGUESTus: Pitch Types and the Times Through the Order Penalty
by
Mitchel Lichtman

11-15

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18

Raising Aces: Bush League: Noah Syndergaard
by
Doug Thorburn

11-08

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11

Raising Aces: Great Pitchers, Flawed Mechanics
by
Doug Thorburn

11-05

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42

Baseball ProGUESTus: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Times Through the Order Penalty
by
Mitchel Lichtman

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May 12, 2015 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Finesse the Pitching

1

Nick Shlain

A look at how to address pitching weaknesses in-season, if your auction plans went awry.

If your fantasy baseball philosophy is anything like mine, chances are you decided to fade pitching in at least one league this year. This strategy can go a number of ways. Sometimes, despite spending significantly more on offense at the auction, you’re able to hit on a few (or more) bargains and end up with more profit coming from the pitching staff. Other times, you might only get what you paid for, which isn’t much.

In the latter scenario, action is necessary. This isn’t real-life baseball, where general managers don’t make big trades until June at the earliest. It’s the middle of week six of the season, and all that should mean is there’s plenty of time left for your team to come together and make a run at a fantasy pennant. But you must actually plug your team’s holes, whether they are on the pitching or offense side.

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What goes through a lefty's mind when he's staring at a baserunner.

Colin Young was a left-handed pitcher who spent six seasons in the minors with the Rockies and the Red Sox, reaching Double-A with both organizations. He also, as of this season, covers the Texas League for Baseball Prospectus. Here's what he sees when he watches Jon Lester struggle with his pickoff throws.

Scrutiny is alive and well. In the days of death by analysis, we get obsessed with the subtle character flaws and moments of weakness in our superstars. We grasp at anything within our reach to knock them down a peg. So it is that we get the recent intrigue over Jon Lester’s bungled pick-off throw. Cries of the “Yips” or “Mental Block” follow, and suddenly we imagine that Lester has the mental strength of a tired 6-year-old at the end of a 10-hour excursion through Disneyland. But Lester, historically, has been as mentally tough as it comes. The dude has straight ice water in his veins. If you’re looking for someone to pitch Game 7 of the World Series, to make a 3-2 pitch with bases loaded and the game on the line, and yes, even attempt a crucial pick-off throw, I’ll take Jon Lester 10 out of 10 times.

But, numbers don’t lie, and the numbers here—the year-plus without an attempt, the 50 percent error rate on two tries this year—are astounding to say the least. Visually, we can see discomfort when he throws over to first, and quantifiably, the attempts are basically nil. These two components reasonably lead me to believe that there is something going on mentally with him.

We’ve seen plenty of guys unable to field their position as a pitcher, making errant throws to a base, overthrowing/underthrowing pickoffs, or tossing lollipops to the catcher on pitch outs or wild pitches on intentional balls. Lester’s has been magnified into a “What’s wrong with him” conversation, but his quote in the Chicago Tribune following his throwing error last week sheds some light on the situation: “When you’re not used to doing stuff like that, I got a little overexcited and threw the ball too soon.” Pickoffs are worked on during spring training and maybe a couple times a month in season, and pitchers may only get a few reps a few times a week practicing this move. I have yet to see a pitcher dedicate any great amount of time to perfecting his pickoff move following morning workouts or an intense bullpen session. In baseball talk, quality reps are what make you better; however, pickoff moves are not high on the to-do list. So one explanation is that Lester has simply fallen out of practice, it affected his ability to perform a deceptively complex move, and the lack of rehearsals snowballed. Another is that he’s just saying the right things to cover up a more severe underlying issue.

THE MENTAL GAME
For a left-hander, the pickoff move—and other means of holding the runner on—can be almost part of your repertoire. Lester, like many pitchers, appears to prefer to focus on the hitter and make a quality pitch with runners on base. There’s a case to be made for this.

Pitchers talk about focus, conviction, and execution when it comes to pitch selection and attacking a hitter. It requires a laser-like mindset dedicated to executing the pitch; Kevin Costner’s character in For the Love of the Game captures it when he tells himself to “clear the mechanism.” When runners are on base, a pitcher’s focus becomes divided and his attention is split between the runner and the hitter, detracting from his focus on attacking the hitter. Now we have two variables at play: slowing the running game and getting the hitter out.


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How Sandy Alderson hurts and helps his team by preparing for pitcher injuries.

Every day until Opening Day, Baseball Prospectus authors will preview two teams—one from the AL, one from the NL—identifying strategies those teams employ to gain an advantage. Today: the front offices of New York (Yankees), New York (Mets).

Previous team previews: Giants | Royals | Dodgers | Rays | Padres | Astros | Rockies | Athletics



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November 5, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Curb Your Pitching Enthusiasm

0

Nick Shlain

Why blowing the bulk of your budget on pitchers might not be the way to go.

PSA: Throw on “If it Ain’t About The Money” as we’ll get into some pricing and I’m playing Young Thug to Mike Gianella’s T.I.

Fantasy baseball is one of my favorite things in the world, but one thing I truly hate about it is anytime I overpay for a pitcher. Generally, my strategy entering an auction is to spend much more on hitting than pitching. Sometimes this strategy yields a bargain-basement staff and bloated offense, but I’d honestly rather waste the money on my offense than not even try to build a winner throwing it away on arms.

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September 23, 2014 6:00 am

What You Need to Know: September 23, 2014

0

Daniel Rathman

Lots of good pitching, occasional horrible pitching, and long, LONG game highlight yesterday's action.

The Monday Takeaway

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September 19, 2014 6:00 am

Pebble Hunting: Cueto's Quirks

1

Sam Miller

Johnny Cueto is a good pitcher. Johnny Cueto is a quirky pitcher. Is there a causal relationship?

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September 19, 2014 6:00 am

Raising Aces: Carlos in Charge

3

Doug Thorburn

On Carlos Carrasco's excellent six weeks in Cleveland

The Cleveland Indians retain the slimmest hopes of postseason baseball, but the team could be surprisingly dangerous in October if they happen to get red hot for the final week of regular-season play. The emergence of Corey Kluber has given the Tribe a legitimate ace who can face off against any pitcher in the American League, but the meteoric rise of another pitcher has caught the rest of the league off guard while giving Cleveland a potentially devastating one-two punch at the front of their rotation.

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A close look at the mechanics of two starters who've taken steps forward in 2014.

Pitcher breakouts are one of the most exciting aspects of each baseball season, but it’s hard to get riled up about them until we have a healthy chunk of the season in the rearview mirror. The halfway mark of the 2014 campaign has revealed a handful of players who have made great leaps in terms of value, both to their teams and on the stat sheet. Two of those pitchers are particularly intriguing. The Indians’ Corey Kluber and the Angels’ Garrett Richards have ascended to a higher plane of pitching performance this season, so let's dig into the components of each player's improvement.

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June 13, 2014 6:00 am

Raising Aces: Under the Hood of the 2014 Draft, Part Three

1

Doug Thorburn

Close looks at the mechanics of first-round picks Kyle Freeland, Kodi Medeiros, Sean Newcomb, and Brandon Finnegan

We wrap up our mechanical look at the draft's top pitchers this week, and after tracing the BP mock draft for the first two editions, this time we will shine the spotlight on the top selections who were drafted ahead of expectations.

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June 6, 2014 6:00 am

Raising Aces: Under the Hood of the 2014 Draft, Part Two

0

Doug Thorburn

Mechanical looks at four more first-rounders selected in the first round of the amateur draft.

The first round of the 2014 draft was saturated with arms, as teams popped pitchers with 13 of the top 19 picks. It may have been the result of an arm-heavy draft class, or perhaps teams are stockpiling moundsmen in the wake of the UCL epidemic of 2014; either way, the plethora of pitcher names called on day one of the draft was anticipated by the BP Prospect Staff in their “whom would you draft” mock that was conducted throughout the month of May. The exercise produced a match with reality at the top of the draft, nailing the identity and order of the first three players (and pitchers) picked: Brady Aiken, Tyler Kolek, and Carlos Rodon. I tackled that big three last week in Part One of the “Under the Hood” series, along with Jeff Hoffman, whose recent trip under the knife did little to drop his stock, as the Blue Jays snapped him up ninth overall.

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The book on Abreu said that he'd struggle against inside heat. Has the book been right?

When the White Sox signed Jose Abreu for $68 million over six years, responses ranged from optimism to skepticism about how the Cuban rookie’s swing might fare in the United States. In this year’s Baseball Prospectus Annual, for instance, we wondered whether Abreu possessed a swing that could “be tamed by well-placed fastballs on the inner half.” Baseball America’s 2014 Prospect Handbook included another knock: “Some scouts worry about his double toe-tap stride and average bat speed, fearing they will inhibit his ability to catch up with premium velocity on the inner half.”

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Mechanical looks at big-time pitching draft prospect Brady Aiken, Tyler Kolek, Carlos Rodon and Jeff Hoffman.

The 2014 first-year player draft is loaded with arms who are projected to fly off the board in the early going. The BP prospect crew recently conducted a mock draft of next Thursday's action, with each evaluator answering the question, “Whom would you draft?” The first edition covered the top 10 picks of the draft, and when all was said and done, the participants had chosen pitchers with eight of the first 10 selections, including the top four players overall. The only time in the history of the draft that the first four names announced were pitchers was in 2011, with the quartet of Gerrit Cole, Danny Hultzen, Trevor Bauer, and Dylan Bundy, and the early indications are that the arm-saturated draft of 2014 could match that tally.

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