Paul looks at five starting pitchers that could help your fantasy squad if you deploy them only when they take the mound at their home yards.
A couple of weeks ago, I started to take a look at the 2014 first round, discussing what we’ve learned so far in 2013 and how it might impact the early part of drafts next March. I also mentioned a second part next time out. The “Sporer Report” was off last week for the holidays, and though it’s obviously back this week, I’m tabling part two for a little while to cover a topic a bit more useful for the here and now as you charge toward your 2013 league pennants.
There is nothing new about streaming pitchers as it relates to fantasy baseball. It’s a viable strategy with known pros and cons. It is often a matchup-based decision, but today we are going to look at some guys who are useful candidates for the other primary factor when deciding on streamers: venue. Depending on their team’s ballparks, some pitchers perform markedly better at home or on the road. I have 10 such pitchers, five for each side, whom you can maximize by deploying them only on their plus side. Let’s start with the homebodies.
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The Astros aren't exactly a success, but they certainly aren't a failure. We bet you didn't see that coming.
Last season, the Twins won 63 games and were widely acknowledged to be a total disaster. But the Twins were baseball’s second-worst team. The Astros were on another level of awful. They won only 56 games, the lowest total of any team since the 2005 Royals. They were the NL’s worst pitching team and the NL’s worst defensive team, and they weren’t much good at offense, either.
That level of futility wasn’t foreseeable. In order to be as awful as they were last season, the Astros had to decline by a whopping 20 wins. In the 1982 Abstract, Bill James observed that a team that declines in one year is likely to improve the next. He called it the Plexiglas Principle.* In most cases, we’d expect a team that fell off by as much as the Astros to bounce back the following year. But the Astros weren’t most cases, and they weren’t supposed to bounce. They were supposed to break through the glass and fall even further.
Why the Royals and Padres will win their divisions, and four questions with Dustin Ackley.
The emails and tweets have been most interesting in the days since our staff predictions were posted on the website. Most people think I am nuts for picking the Royals to win the American League Central and the Padres to win the National League West. Perhaps they will be proven right. After all, I was the only one of 27 staff members to pick either team to win its division. Remember, though, that 29 of the 30 people who were on the staff at this time last season picked the Red Sox to win the AL East. The one person who predicted the Red Sox not only wouldn't win the division but also fail to qualify for the postseason? Well, I was a taught at an early age that it's impolite to brag.
There's hope in Houston, just not for next season (or the one after that)
Kiss 'Em Goodbye is a series focusing on MLB teams as their postseason dreams fade -- whether in September (or before), the League Division Series, League Championship Series or World Series. It combines a broad overview from Baseball Prospectus, a front office take from former MLB GM Jim Bowden, a best- and worst-case scenario ZiPS projection for 2012 from Dan Szymborski, and Kevin Goldstein's farm system overview.
Why has Wandy Rodriguez's performance suffered when he has wandered away from Houston?
When Wandy Rodriguez takes the mound in Philadelphia tonight, what kind of performance should the Astros expect? That seems like a fairly simple question, but in Wandy’s case, it’s considerably more complicated than it might be for the typical pitcher. Wandy’s weighted-mean PECOTA forecast prior to this season called for a 3.66 ERA; to date, he sports a 4.00 ERA, supported by a 3.77 SIERA. His ERA actually stood over 6.00 as late as June 23, but he’s been one of the hottest pitchers in baseball over the last two months, posting a 1.84 ERA in his last 11 starts and 73 1/3 innings. Still, given what we know about the predictive power (or lack therof) of hot and cold streaks, it seems safe to say that the Astros would be wise to expect a rate of performance in that 3.50-4.00 ERA range, with the caveat, of course, that performance can fluctuate wildly in any given start.
However, there’s more to Wandy than meets the eye. Check out his home/road splits over the course of his career (italics means better in the given location, while bold means worse):
How do starters who throw particularly high pitch-count initial innings perform subsequently?
Delivering to the dish with a 2-2 count, Wandy Rodriguez hit the outside corner with a 91 mph fastball with which Edgar Renteria could do nothing but whiff. This heater happened to be the 55th pitch that Rodriguez threw in the inning on August 1, 2007. While the pitch brought the inning to a close, it simultaneously placed Rodriguez atop a list of the pitchers who had thrown the most pitches in a single inning. Compiled by Retrosheet's David Smith and posted on the Inside the Book blog, the list is composed of the pitchers with the most pitches thrown in an inning from 2004-2007.
I decided to examine the Pitch F/X for Wandy's game. Analyzing the velocity and movement of Rodriguez's fastball, I was surprised to find that his fastball sustained its velocity and "bite" as he went deeper into the inning. However, during the rest of the game things changed a bit. In the second inning, his velocity lost three miles per hour, but his movement increased. It has been theorized before that some pitchers may throw with more movement when they tire due to a dropping of their arm angle; perhaps this happened here, as Wandy lost velocity but threw with more movement.
Jonah takes us through the Inning of the Week as the Astros try to win the wild card with very little offense.
CF Willy Taveras
2B Chris Burke
3B Morgan Ensberg
1B Lance Berkman
RF Jason Lane
LF Luke Scott
SS Adam Everett
C Raul Chavez
P Wandy Rodriguez
It's been a career year for Morgan Ensberg, and Lance Berkman has bounced back after a slow start to the season because of an ACL injury. Other than that, this is exactly the kind of lineup that narrows your margin for error substantially every time out. With Craig Biggio and his Father Time-defying season on the bench, you're looking at a lineup riddled with holes. Jason Lane hit 20 homers and slugged a shade under .500, but he's sitting on a .306 OBP. He and Willy Taveras have been decent considering their youth and low salaries, but both are no more than one win better than replacement level. Meanwhile Luke Scott, Chris Burke and Raul Chavez are all putting up numbers that are worse than your basic Triple-A lifer or waiver-wire fodder would be expected to produce.