Every contender needs rotation help and there are plenty of big-name starters potentially available.
If your favorite team is at or above .500, odds are you think they should add starting pitching help before the trade deadline. And they probably agree. As part of the Cubs’ surprisingly difficult fight to rise above .500 and properly defend their title, they kicked off the festivities by acquiring left-hander Jose Quintana (and his team-friendly contract) from the White Sox for a four-prospect package led by Single-A slugger Eloy Jimenez. Which other rotation-boosting arms may be on the move? Here’s my best guess at the top starters who could realistically be available before the trade deadline, and the pros and cons of each.
Monday is the start of our positional series at Baseball Prospectus, and we’re going to give you a lot of information, opinions and strategy tips. In fact, we laid it all out for you here. But before we get into the nitty gritty, we thought we’d have a little fun with some quick-hit questions that we answered as a team. Some of these were questions we got from you, the readers. Some were just interesting discussion points. But here are 14 opinions on 20 questions:
We are in uncharted territory with this category, so let's make a plan.
Nearly a quarter of all major-league plate appearances (21.1 percent) ended with a strikeout last season. A decade ago, that number was just 17.1 percent. Isolated from broader historical context, those numbers don’t accurately reflect the scale of the league-wide rise in strikeout rate over the last decade. Pitchers struck out opposing batters at the highest rate in the modern era, which dates back to 1947 (according to Sam Miller on a recent episode of the Effectively Wild podcast), in each of the past nine seasons. Meanwhile, walk rates have remained relatively stagnant, ebbing and flowing between seven and nine percent, during the same period.
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The Royals score 11 runs off a defending Cy Young winner for the second straight day, the A's continue to trouble Yu Darvish, and much more action from Tuesday.
The Tuesday Takeaway
For much of Angels starter Matt Shoemaker’s career, the odds have been stacked against him. Shoemaker went undrafted out of Eastern Michigan—where he had a 4.83 ERA and 1.36 strikeout-to-walk ratio in three seasons—and spent parts of the next seven years in the Angels’ minor league system before making his major league debut last September. On Tuesday night, Shoemaker toed the rubber against the Indians for what turned out to be the best outing of his short big league career, and he was well on his way to a complete game before a short rain delay in the ninth inning brought a premature end to his night.
The Nationals move into first place, Cole Hamels and Tyson Ross duel in Philly, plus more from Wednesday and previews for today.
The Wednesday Takeaway
Nationals starting pitchers have issued four walks over their last 10 games. Combined. That’s four walks in 71 innings and just one in their last 54. Giants starter Matt Cain walked four Nats in the first inning of last night’s game alone, including the first three who stepped into the box.
Yu Darvish flirts with perfection again and Aroldis Chapman returns, plus more from a busy weekend and preview for Monday.
The Weekend Takeaway In his first start of the 2013 season, Yu Darvish set the tone for his stellar sophomore campaign with 8 2/3 flawless innings against the Astros. When the 27th batter, Marwin Gonzalez, hit a grounder that turned into a single, the Texas right-hander threw his hands up and couldn’t help but crack a smile.
Sonny Gray, the Brewers bullpen, and other Monday stars, plus what to watch today.
The Monday Takeaway
First innings have been a bear for Athletics ace Sonny Gray this season. Coming into his start at Globe Life Park on Monday, Gray had issued six walks and recorded four strikeouts in the opening frame of his first four starts; his K:BB ratio thereafter was a solid 27-to-7.
The top four picks in redraft leagues are relatively clear-cut, but whom should you target if your selection is just outside that tier?
Depending on what you value, there’s a distinct separation in 12-team 5x5 draft formats when it comes to the fifth pick. Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt,and Andrew McCutchen all deserve to go in the no. 1-4 spots, and I don’t think there can be much debate on that. The big question facing owners picking fifth is a value-based one. I was handed the no. 5 pick in a home league, so let’s take a look at some of the names that I thought about taking there. (Note: I’m concentrating solely on 12-team leagues, so your mileage may vary).
Kershaw is a popular choice here judging by the ADPs across a few different sites. The reasons are obvious: Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball right now; he’s a good bet to help across four categories again this year; and there’s a decent amount of uncertainty with the position players who would also be the fifth-overall pick.
The fantasy crew tries to peg the top 15 picks and predict breakouts from later picks.
We know from Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster that since 2004, there is a 36 percent success rate in the ADP projecting the top 15. The most in any one year is seven of 15; the least is four. With that in mind, I challenged the fantasy team to try to guess the top 15. In addition to their stab at the top 15, I had them give their answers on the following: