Archive for April, 2010

Waiver Wire: April 30th

Today, we’ll go with a diptych of guys that should be available in your league. Their upside is limited, but there are reasons to like em.

Blake DeWitt | 2B, 3B | Dodgers (1% owned)
He’s got no power, hits for a middling average and doesn’t steal a base. So he’s got those things going for him. Why pick up DeWitt? Well, for one, he’s playing almost every day – 18 of the Dodger’s 22 games. Another nice thing about DeWitt is his patience. He’s finally showing the patience that got him a .349 OBP in Albuquerque last year, and the stick control that produced more walks than strikeouts that same year. Swing rates, because of their high number per AB, become significant earlier than most stats. DeWitt is swinging less (41.6% this year, 42.4% last year) and making more contact (88.6% last year and 93.9% this year). A 17% walk rate and .390 OBP probably won’t continue, but a double-digit walk rate and decent OBP plays well in the right league and are achievable thresholds. We now have 470 career ABs for DeWitt, though, and a 3.3 speed score and .117 ISO mean that the power and speed don’t look to be developing much. Ironically, someone like a young Ronnie Belliard seems to be his ceiling.

Edward Mujica | SP, RP | Padres (3% owned)
Here’s another guy with warts for you! (You’re welcome.) Mujica probably won’t start, and he probably won’t close. Since the Padres haven’t gone to him in high leverage situations yet (0.69 gmLI), he’s only even racked up two holds. But there are reasons to enjoy Mujica’s game (and name). Ever since he added his split finger pitch and moved to the bullpen, he’s been lights out (his name has always sounded great). His strikeout rate since he started using the splitty over 20% of the time has been close to eight per nine and his walk rate below two per nine. The pitch itself is nice – 3.89 runs per 100 pitches – and it adds to his overall mix in a great way. Batters are reaching more than ever (31.3%) and making less contact than ever (70.5%). Plus, it’s just one of those pitches that breaks MLB pitch f/x, like the Mike Pelfrey split-change. You have to root for a pitch like that.

Interesting Week Five 2-Start Pitchers

Everyone is happy when one of their pitchers is scheduled for two starts in a week. But that is not always a good thing. Here are five pitchers you may be on the fence about (or should be on the fence) putting into your lineup for Week Five.

Brett Cecil – After getting the Rays and the Red Sox in his first two starts this year, Cecil gets a break from AL East opponents this week with road starts in Cleveland and Chicago, two teams with a combined 18-25 record. Cecil has allowed 2 HR in 12.2 IP but the Indians are 13th in the American League in HR. He will face a harder time on that score against the White Sox, but outside of HR, the Chicago offense has been terrible this year. Southpaws have limited the White Sox to a .216/.219/.381 line this season. Cecil is on the waiver wire in most leagues and could be a nice pickup for his two-start week.

Kevin Correia – After losing his first start of the year, Correia has run off four straight wins. But that has had as much to do with the level of offensive support he has received as it has had to do with his pitching. In his last two starts, Correia has 10.2 IP, 6 ER, 4 BB and 11 H allowed and 2 W. With matchups this week against Ubaldo Jimenez and Roy Oswalt, do not expect the Padres offense to supply him with a ton of runs. Put Correia on the bench this week.

Gavin Floyd – It has been a rough start to 2010 for Floyd, who finally broke into the win column in his last outing. The key was that he did not allow a single walk in 7 IP. Even after that outing, Floyd has a 4.10 BB/9. In the three previous years, Floyd’s highest BB/9 was 3.05. And even with the elevated walk rate, Floyd’s xFIP is 2.42 runs lower than his ERA. With home starts against two sub-.500 teams in the Royals and Blue Jays, Floyd is set up for a good week if he can continue to throw strikes.

Jaime Garcia – As Dave Cameron alluded to yesterday, Garcia has a pretty nice GB rate. Maybe the Cardinals can start removing Skip Schumaker and perhaps even David Freese when he takes the mound. But aside from that, right now Garcia is really outperforming his peripherals. His xFIP is 2.65 runs higher than his ERA. Garcia has yet to allow a run at home this season, but this week he has two road starts, including one against the Phillies and Cole Hamels. Give Garcia a week off if you have a safe alternative.

Max Scherzer – In three of his first four starts this season, Scherzer threw a Quality Start. In his other outing he missed because he only went five innings. In his last start, he got lit up by the Twins. But Scherzer gets a rematch versus Minnesota this week. My opinion is that whenever a pitcher faces a team in back-to-back outings, he usually has the opposite result in the second start. In his other game this week, he faces the weak-hitting Indians, a nice tonic for a pitcher who has allowed a HR in his last four starts. Ignore Scherzer’s poor outing his last time out and keep him active this week.

Other scheduled two-start pitchers in Week Five are listed below. Please remember that these are projected pitchers and changes can and will happen between now and next week.

Sabathia, Jimenez, Kershaw, Oswalt, Dempster, Shields, Lester, Hamels, Baker, E. Santana, Peavy, Pavano, Harden, Matusz, Braden, Garcia, L. Hernandez, Leake, Kennedy, Sanders, Talbot, A. Sanchez, Blanton, O. Perez, Vargas, Maholm, Kawkami, Guthrie, Meche, Wellemeyer, Narveson, Paulino, Mulvey.

Check back Sunday night for an update of two-start pitchers.

Now I want to provide some accountability and check in and see how previous recommendations turned out. There needs to be a two-week lag, since last week’s pitchers have not completed their second start yet. So here are Week Three pitchers and how they fared.

Bailey – Recommended to sit. 13 Ks, 7.15 ERA, 1.677 WHIP
Morrow – Recommended to sit. W, 16 Ks, 2.08 ERA, 1.077 WHIP
Myers – Recommended to start. W, 8 Ks, 4.15 ERA, 1.539 WHIP
Pelfrey – Recommended to start. 2 W, 9 Ks, 0.00 ERA, 1.333 WHIP
Slowey – Recommended to start – W, 11 Ks, 3.375 ERA, 1.200 WHIP

NL Closer Report: April 30

There are definitely some National League closers on the hot-seat this week.

Strong Performers

Carlos Marmol | Chicago Cubs
The Comments: When you look back to his 7.91 BB/9 rate in ’09, it’s hard to believe that Marmol is arguably the most dominating late-game reliever in the Majors right now. He has a 16.03 K9 rate and a 0.84 ERA (1.97 xFIP). He’s also allowed just six hits in 10.2 innings of work. He still has just three saves, though, and he’s had one opportunity since April 14 (which he blew). He’s allowed hits in just four games and three of his six hits came in one game (His only blown save). The saves will come.

Matt Capps | Washington Nationals
The Comments: Playing for a team that doesn’t score a lot of runs can really pay off for a closer. Capps leads the Majors with 10 saves and he currently has a 0.68 ERA. He has been a little lucky, though, with a 4.25 xFIP and his control has not been the sharpest at 4.05 BB/9. He made four appearances this past week without allowing a run and he went 3-for-3 in saves.

Francisco Rodriguez | New York Mets
The Comments: The Mets club has really turned its season around, but Rodriguez is still struggling in the overall saves department with just three. The goods is that his ERA is just 0.84 (4.02 xFIP, though) and he’s striking out a lot of batters. The saves will come and he’s had all three of his saves in the past eight days.

Leo Nunez | Florida Marlins
The Comments: Nunez’ ERA currently sits at zero and his strikeout rate is a career high 9.64 K/9. It remains to be seen if it will remain at that level over the course of the season, but his owners will take it right now, one way or the other. Nunez has allowed just one hit on the season (April 11) but he’s lacked save opportunities; he converted his only opp this past week.

Ryan Franklin | St. Louis Cardinals
The Comments: Franklin is a perfect example of the good things that can happen when you throw strikes. His strikeout rate is a baffling 2.70 K/9 but he has seven saves in as many tries. He was 2-for-2 over the past seven days. He hasn’t allowed a run since April 16.

Francisco Cordero | Cincinnati Reds
The Comments: Cordero has allowed a lot of base runners – 12 hits, seven walks in 12.0 innings – but he’s’ second in the NL in saves with eight. Although he’s struggled with his control, the Reds’ closer has a solid strikeout rate at 9.49 K/9. Over the past week he’s been worked hard (surprise) and was 2-for-2 in save opportunities.

Jonathan Broxton | Los Angeles Dodgers
The Comments: Broxton is currently bringing the pain to National League hitters: He’s striking them out (13.50 K/9), he’s not issuing walks (1.13 BB/9), and he’s not allowing runs (0.00 ERA). Although he has yet to allow a runner to cross home plate, Broxton did blow a save this week and he gave up three hits in two appearances.

Steady Performers

Matt Lindstrom | Houston Astros
The Comments: Lindstrom has been surprisingly effective so far this season. He’s a perfect 6-for-6 in save opportunities and he hasn’t allowed an earned run in his past four outings, including three during the last week. Unfortunately, his control has slipped recently and he’s walked three batters in his last two appearances, so monitor him closely for regression.

Heath Bell | San Diego Padres
The Comments: On the year, Bell has allowed 10 hits in 9.1 innings but he’s 6-for-7 in save opportunities. He’s also striking out batters at a clip of 13.00 K/9. He appeared in three games this week (April 26-28) and went 2-for-2 in saves. He allowed three hits but struck out six.

Brian Wilson | San Francisco Giants
The Comments: It’s been a frustrating year for Wilson owners. The closer has a 2.25 ERA, a strikeout rate of 10.13 K/9 and a ground-ball rate of 70%, but he has just four saves in five tries. The rate of save opportunities picked up this past week and he went 2-for-3. He’s given up runs in just one outing all season (April 28).

Billy Wagner | Atlanta Braves
The Comments: One save. That’s all Wagner has managed this season despite a respectable ERA at 2.57 and a strikeout rate of 16.71 K/9. Overall, the veteran has had just two save opportunities all year and his last one came on April 9. Talk about bad luck… but it might be a good time to try and grab him in a trade.

Franklin Morales | Colorado Rockies
The Comments: At first glance, the ERA is OK at 3.72 but it gets much worse if you look at the xFIP of 5.99. Morales also has a strikeout rate of just 5.59 and he’s allowed nine hits in 9.2 innings. The young right-hander appeared in two games this past week but did not have a save opportunity.

Chad Qualls | Arizona Diamondbacks
The Comments: The 9.00 ERA is not pretty but the xFIP is just 3.28 and Qualls has produced a large number of strikeouts (10.00 K/9). He gave up a run in his last outing, but he was a perfect 3-for-3 in saves this past week. Perhaps he’s turning things around?

Fallen on Hard Times

Ryan Madson | Philadelphia Phillies
The Comments: With Brad Lidge close to activation, Madson’s save opportunities are about to diminish, although the club has said that it will ease the veteran back into the job. It’s about time to cut bait on Madson (at least move him to the bench), at least for now. It’s not a great loss, as he was just 4-for-6 in save opportunities with a 7.00 ERA (but 2.79 xFIP).

Octavio Dotel | Pittsburgh Pirates
The Comments: Despite a strikeout rate of 11.57 K/9 on the season, it’s been a rough month for Dotel, who has a 10.61 ERA. This past week has been particularly ugly and he allowed nine runs (seven earned) over a three game stretch between April 22 and 28. Eno recently looked at the situation with a little more depth.

Trevor Hoffman | Milwaukee Brewers
The Comments: Like Dotel, Hoffman has had a rough year, and the past week hasn’t been a picnic, either. His ERA currently sits at 13.00 and he’s allowed 15 hits in 9.0 innings or work. He got into three games in the last seven days and allowed six runs while blowing both of his save opportunities. Again, Eno looked more in-depth at the Milwaukee situation.

AL Closer Report: April 30

After a few weeks of steady movement, the closer roles in the American League are holding steady.

Strong Performers

David Aardsma | Seattle Mariners
The Comments: Aardsma is still ‘The Man’ in terms of overall save total with eight. He blew his first save of the year this past week, but the right-hander was successful in two other attempts. All his runs allowed on the season have come in the one game against the White Sox. Everyone has an off-day now and then; Aardsma is still a top AL – and mixed league – closer option.

Kevin Gregg | Toronto Blue Jays
The Comments: Gregg finally allowed his first walk of the season and it came at a really bad time (it led to a Toronto loss). He was, though, a perfect 2-for-2 in save opportunities over a four-game stretch this past week. He struck out seven batters in 4.2 innings of work. The cutter continues to do wonders for him.

Jon Rauch | Minnesota Twins
The Comments: No signs of cracks in the foundation just yet. Rauch has seven saves in nine appearances on the year. This past week, he made two appearances and went 1-for-2 in saves. That blown save was his first of the season and he ended up recording the win.

Joakim Soria | Kansas City Royals
The Comments: Soria appeared in three games this week but he had just one save opportunity, which he converted. In 3.2 innings, he struck out six batters. Soria is a strong closer option, but Kansas City needs to get the lead to him.

Steady Performers

Mariano Rivera | New York Yankees
The Comments: It was a quiet week for Rivera. He appeared in just one game and it wasn’t even a save opportunity. The Yankees club is going to keep on winning so the save opportunities will come. Rivera has already shown this season that he’s still not slowing down.

Jonathan Papelbon | Boston Red Sox
The Comments: On the flip side of Rivera we have Papelbon. The Red Sox closer was a busy man this week with four saves in as many appearances. The right-hander had a bit of a hiccup against the Orioles (3 H, 1 R), but he still got the job done. Overall, the strikeout rate remains low and the walk rate is high; the .195 BABIP-against is really helping him right now, so be wary of his recent success.

Andrew Bailey | Oakland Athletics
The Comments: The save opportunity can be an elusive beast and Bailey has yet to tame it this season. Despite not allowing a run in eight appearances so far this season, the sophomore closer has just two saves in as many opportunities. He came out throwing strikes this past week; of his 25 pitches thrown, 19 were strikes (76%).

Rafael Soriano | Tampa Bay Rays
The Comments: The second-year closer has seen a huge drop in his strikeout rate so far this season (7.88 compared to 12.13 K/9 in ’09) but he’s still a perfect 5-for-5 in saves. He was a perfect 1-for-1 this week in two appearances. With the Rays club playing well, Soriano should be provided plenty of opportunities.

Jose Valverde | Detroit Tigers
The Comments: First the good news: Valverde has seven saves and a 0.82 ERA. Now the bad news: His BABIP-allowed is .133, his FIP is 4.74, and his strikeout rate is 4.09 K/9. If you want to take a positive spin to the numbers, then you’d point out that Valverde is succeeding despite modest numbers. The pessimist will simply say that’s his been lucky and that his luck is bound to change. This past week, Valverde appeared in four games and saved two in as many attempts. Although his strikeout rate is down, the Tigers closer has had a lot of success with his splitter and his ground-ball rate is currently 73.3%, which bodes well for his success (although it doesn’t help his fantasy owners in the K-department).

Bobby Jenks | Chicago White Sox
The Comments: Jenks’ strikeout rate of 14.00 K/9 is no doubt welcomed by his owners. The 6.00 BB/9 rate, though, is not so nice. Overall, Jenks has four saves on the year and has yet to blow a save. This past week, he was 1-for-1 in opportunities and appeared in three games. He was roughed up in his non-save appearances with four runs allowed in 2.0 innings.

Brian Fuentes | Los Angeles Angels
The Comments: Fuentes was solid this past week. He saved two games in as many tries and did not allow a run in three appearances. He even struck out four batters in three innings.

Fallen on Hard Times

Jim Johnson | Baltimore Orioles
The Comments: The 6.23 ERA jumps out at you, but his xFIP is 3.21. Johnson has also done a nice job of limiting the walks (2.08 BB/9) and the homers (none). He appeared in three games this past week and did not have a save opportunity. Johnson was also roughed up by Boston for two runs in 2.0 innings on April 25. The hard-throwing Alfredo Simon was recently recalled and recorded a save in his first game. He could cut into Johnson’s save opportunities.

Neftali Feliz | Texas Rangers
The Comments: Feliz was human this past week and his ERA jumped to 5.91, although his xFIP is much better at 3.62. The youngster was used heavily and appeared in four games despite having just two save opportunities (He went 1-for-2). During that span of games, Feliz allowed 10 hits and six runs in 4.0 innings.

Chris Perez | Cleveland Indians
The Comments: Well, the xFIP is ugly at 6.95 and the walk rate is atrocious at 8.10. His K/BB rate is 0.50. It’s kind of a miracle that Perez is 4-for-5 in save opportunities. The Indians might have to look at another option soon unless Perez can throw more strikes.

Who Might Replace Octavio Dotel?

Yesterday, we took a look at the guys that might replace Trevor Hoffman if he goes down with injury. Today, it’s time to look at another old dude poorly plying his trade at the back end of a bullpen – Octavio Dotel.

Dotel was a medium-priced low-risk signing that they could move out of the closer’s role without too much backlash, but the Bucs could also gain from pumping his value up and trading him to a contender, so they may give him some leash yet. He’s still doing his high-walk, high-strikeout thing, and is obviously suffering from his .456 BABIP-induced bad luck. His xFIP of 4.49 does not induce a ton of confidence on the other hand. His walks have been trending north for a while now, and he’s giving up over two home runs per nine right now. He could lose the role.

As with yesterday, we’ll run a few stats out for each contender. It seems that gmLI is a decent proxy for “Manager’s Confidence,” as it measures the leverage index of the situation at the point of the game when the pitcher enters. A higher gmLI means that the manager is consistently putting a player into the game in tough situations. As Brian Joura pointed out in the upcoming podcast, that could just be a relic of a manager’s static bullpen roles (he always pitches a certain guy in the 7th, and there have just happened to be a ton of high-leverage situations in the 7th this year), but a check of the leaderboard shows some of the better non-closer pitchers rank highly in gmLI. Also, we used holds plus saves over holds plus saves plus blown saves because a blown hold results in a blown save and that stat seems to better represent the save % for a pitcher who has been both a closer and a setup man.

Evan Meek 0.64 ERA, 2.85 xFIP, 4.23 career xFIP, 4/6 career holds+saves / opps, 0.69 2010 gmLI
DJ Carrasco 5.00 ERA, 3.31 xFIP, 4.47 career xFIP, 19/27 career holds+saves / opps, 0.87 2010 gmLI
Joel Hanrahan 9.95 ERA, 4.05 xFIP, 4.36 career xFIP, 28/37 career holds+saves / opps, 0.82 2010 gmLI
Javier Lopez 3.38 ERA, 6.52 xFIP, 4.51 career xFIP, 67/74 career holds+saves / opps, 0.95 2010 gmLI
Jack Taschner 4.91 ERA, 3.24 xFIP, 5.01 career xFIP, 33/42 career holds+saves / opps, 0.29 2010 gmLI
Brendan Donnelly 7.00 ERA, 6.19 xFIP, 4.07 career xFIP, 106/116 career holds+saves / opps, 1.37 2010 gmLI

Um, yeah, that’s a pretty terrible bullpen. And a terrible team that can barely get a high leverage situation to their relievers at all. Looks like the manager likes Donnelly’s experience, but he’s not providing results, and his career xFIP is not that much better than the obvious front-runner, Evan Meek. Lopez just has too poor a split vs righties to use as a closer (5.03 xFIP, 3.95 K/9 vs righties), and everyone else is scuffling. Taschner might be considered competition for Meek if only his gmLI was any higher. Looks like he’s got mop-up duty right now. Hanrahan is the only one that has been a closer, but he wasn’t especially good at it and almost has a double-digit ERA right now.

Meek was pretty good last year and cut his walk rate in half so far this year. He’s the best Dotel insurance and a sure-fire pickup in deeper leagues right now.

Waiver Wire: April 29th

Going to change it up a little bit today and give you one two rolls of the dice and one no-brainer…

John Jaso | C | Rays (1% owned)

Unless you were able to go out an nab a Joe Mauer or a Victor Martinez, I’m a big believer in getting whatever production you can out of the catcher’s spot even if it means picking up a new guy every few days and just riding the hot hand while it lasts. Jaso was recalled after Kelly Shoppach hit the disabled list, and he’s started five of the team’s last six games (with a hat tip to Dioner Navarro’s two game suspension). During that time, he’s hit .412/.522/.647 with eight frickin’ runs batted in, zooming him past guys like Martinez, Matt Wieters, Geovany Soto, and Russell Martin on the leaderboard. It’s obviously an unsustainable pace and the RBI’s are just a function of opportunity, but if you’ve got a two catcher setup, or are in an AL-only or deep mixed league and weren’t able to land one of the big three, you could do a lot worse than grabbing Jaso and enjoying his hot streak, even if it only lasts into the weekend. Every little bit helps.

Jonathon Niese | SP | Mets (4%)

Okay, I’m going to admit that this one is nothing more than an ever so slightly educated hunch, but I like Niese’s next matchup against the Phillies. First of all, the opposing starter in Kyle Kendrick, who is certifiably awful and increases the chances of a Mets win. Secondly, even though Chase Utley has no platoon split (seriously, dude’s got a .386 wOBA vs. LHP and a .387 wOBA vs. RHP in his career), Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez sure do, and both are susceptible to breaking balls just like Niese’s big ol’ Uncle Charlie. That’s half the meat in the middle of Philadelphia’s lineup right there (though Ibanez sitting in favor of Ben Francisco is a possibility), and don’t discount the magic winning powers of Ike Davis (kidding … or am I?). Like I said, it’s just a hunch, but who doesn’t enjoy disregarding common sense every once in a while? You have just enough time to grab Niese for tomorrow night’s start, if you’re willing to roll the dice of course.

Colby Rasmus | OF | Cardinals (76%)

How in the world is this guy still available in one out of every four leagues? Rasmus leads the National League in OBP (.459) and is second in ISO (.424), giving him the second highest wOBA in baseball (.493). His six homeruns are good for the second most among all outfielders, and his RBI total should start to climb once Matt Holliday decides it’s probably best for the team if he gets on base more than 32.6% of the time. I suspect that if you’re reading this site, you’re well aware of Rasmus’ exploits and he’s either on your team or is already owned in your league, but damn, one out of four? Really?

Ownership rates are based on Yahoo! leagues.

Fantasy Chat Friday

I’m pleased to announce that starting this Friday, April 30, live fantasy chats will become a regular occurrence at RotoGraphs. The chats will run for at least an hour each Friday at noon eastern. The RotoGraph writers (and maybe even a few lurkers from FanGraphs) will be around to answer any fantasy baseball related questions that might be weighing heavily on your minds. What a way to end the work week!

A Friendly Reminder: If you’re asking a trade-related question, please mention what type of league you’re playing in.

Who Might Replace Trevor Hoffman?

Trevor Hoffman just blew his fourth save of the season in seven chances. He has already given up six home runs this year, a number which he has only surpassed once in the last nine years. Nine years. He’s not walking anybody still, but he’s also not striking anybody out (4.5 per nine).

The pitching mix is off. It’s hard to tell if it’s just a sample size thing, but all of a sudden Hoffman is actually favoring his 85 MPH “heater” over his changeup (+43.4 runs career), and it’s not doing him any favors. Why is he throwing the changeup at a career low rate (17.8% this year, 29% career)? It could be injury, and a DL stint may be on the way.

Time for a little rampant speculation for his replacement. Here are the candidates, with some relevant statistical information.

LaTroy Hawkins
, 8.62 ERA, 4.03 xFIP, 3.79 career xFIP, 225/277 career holds+saves / opps, 1.20 2010 gmLI
Carlos Villanueva, 0.00 ERA, 2.62 xFIP, 4.19 career xFIP, 44/51 career holds+saves / opps, 0.83 2010 gmLI
Todd Coffey, 3.72 ERA, 4.89 xFIP, 3.99 career xFIP, 67/79 career holds+saves / opps, 0.72 2010 gmLI

Coffey isn’t killing it right now, and he doesn’t have a great history of racking up saves when given the chance. His career xFIP is pretty good, but just judging from when his manager is choosing to use him this year, he doesn’t seem like the guy.

Villanueva, on the other hand, is killing it this year and also took up the closer mantle late last year when Hoffman went down. His career xFIP is misleading, as he’s racked up 27 starts worth of innings which most definitely had a higher xFIP than he’s put up as a reliever. Brian Joura just talked him up two days ago as a good dark horse candidate for saves. In fact, he might be my choice for closing… if I were running the Brewers.

Unfortunately, I am not. (I mean unfortunately for me, I don’t pretend to know exactly what is right for the Brewers in this situation.) Instead, it seems most likely to be LaTroy Hawkins, who incidentally also owns the highest salary of the group. Despite a poor ERA, Hawkins has been performing right around his career levels. But most importantly, his manager is running him out there in important situations. He has the highest leverage index upon entering games (gmLI), and it seems we could use that as a proxy for “Manager Confidence” in this case. Hawkins looks like the pickup if you are speculatin’.

Week Four Trade Possibilities

Here are seven players for your consideration to either acquire or send packing.


Aaron Harang – Since winning 16 games in 2007, Harang has gone 6-17, 6-14 and is now off to a 1-3 start in 2010. His K/9 has fallen a full point over last season and his WHIP is an ugly 1.59, which is tied for 16th-worse in baseball. But Harang is suffering from the one-two punch of a .352 BABIP and a 59.6 LOB%. And to make matters worse, he has a 20 percent HR/FB rate. On the plus side, Harang is getting more ground balls than he has since 2004 and his K/BB ratio remains a very nice 3.00 despite the drop in strikeouts. Harang’s velocity is a tick better than last year but he is having some problems with his curve. An improvement with his breaking ball, combined with regression in his BABIP and LOB%, could make Harang a valuable pitcher the rest of the way.

Matt Lindstrom – Not many people viewed Lindstrom as a good bet at closer, coming off a 2009 season where he lost that job twice while a member of the Marlins. To make matters worse, the Astros had a viable alternative available in Brandon Lyon. But all Lindstrom has done this year is to be lights out in his nine games. His fastball velocity is down and he is throwing his slider more often. And with that he has 10 Ks and 1 BB in 9 IP. Lindstrom is getting a career-best 33.3 O-Swing% and has a personal best 48.1 GB%. Ideally, owners would have traded for Lindstrom while the Astros were losing every game at the beginning of the season. But it is still worth checking to see what the asking price is on a pitcher who looks primed to have a dominating season.

Brian McCann – His AVG is down 31 points and his SLG is 57 points beneath his final 2009 numbers. Pitchers are treating McCann with extra care, as Martin Prado is the only Braves player currently riding a hot streak in the season’s first month. McCann carries a career-best 21.6 BB%, which is tied with Josh Willingham for the sixth-best mark in the majors. But McCann has been unlucky with a .240 BABIP. And historically, April has not been the best month for him. McCann has a .271 lifetime AVG in April and an .829 OPS. In May those numbers are .350 and .976, respectively.


Robinson Cano – An unbelievably hot start for Cano has caused the hype machine to go into overdrive, as evidenced by this story, where Reggie Jackson said the Yankees second baseman would be recognized as the best in the American League and ready to take on Chase Utley by the end of the season. While Cano has usually had an above-average BABIP, his current mark of .390 cannot last. Additionally, his .292 ISO is nearly 100 points above his personal best. Cano is likely to be one of the top players at his position at the end of the year, but now is a great time to see if you can cash in on his value. His ADPs put him at the end of the fourth round coming into the season and he currently has delivered first-round production.

Adam Jones – A breakout season last year made Jones a favorite of many fantasy players. This year he is off to a slow start, thanks to a .242 BABIP. But his ISO of .178 is nearly identical to last year’s .180 mark. Updated ZiPS shows him beating last year’s marks in HR, R and RBIs while tying his production in SB. But I am pessimistic about Jones reaching that forecast. His BB rate has collapsed from bad to atrocious, his HR/FB rate has regressed significantly from last year’s 17.8 mark and his 38.9 O-Swing% is tied for the 10th-worst mark in baseball.

Mike Pelfrey – One of the feel-good stories for the first-place Mets has been the production of Pelfrey, who is 4-0 with a 0.69 ERA. In the process, he’s gone from being owned in 25 percent of CBS Sports leagues on Opening Day to 86 percent currently. But by xFIP, Pelfrey is essentially pitching the same as he did last year, when he had a 5.03 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP. Yes, he is throwing strikes and adding more pitches to his arsenal. But he also has a .249 BABIP, a 93.6 strand rate and has yet to give up a home run. Trade him before regression hits.


John Maine – As good as Pelfrey has been for the Mets this season, Maine has been every bit as bad. Both his FIP and xFIP are over 6.00, his BB/9 are up to an unacceptable 5.40 and his velocity is down two miles per hour on his average fastball. But I like Maine’s chances to turn things around. He has been able to throw his slider nearly 20 percent of the time. If he can regain the velocity on his fastball he can return to being the pitcher he was during his 15-win 2007 season. Maine had to leave his last start early, due to muscle spasms in his non-throwing arm. He has been cleared to pitch, and is scheduled to take the mound this afternoon, in just under an hour from when I write this. Make me look good, Maine!

Waiver Wire: April 28

Looking around the free agent lists, I was surprised to see some names available at this point in the fantasy season.

Brett Gardner | OF | Yankees: Gardner is currently owned in just 39% of Yahoo leagues, which is surprising. Yankees players can sometimes be overrated in fantasy, but the sophomore is getting a bit of the cold shoulder. Playing regularly in the outfield for New York, the only thing he really hasn’t done is hit for power. Gardner is currently hitting .296/.387/.352 with nine steals in 10 tries. His stolen base total ranks him second in the Major Leagues behind just Andrew McCutchen of Pittsburgh (95% owned), and tied with Michael Bourn of Houston (84%), and Juan Pierre of Chicago AL (39%). Gardner is a great source of steals and runs, so he should be on your fantasy teams if you’re hurting in those areas.

Andruw Jones | OF | White Sox: Jones is currently owned in just 35% of leagues despite the fact that he’s tied for third in the Majors in homers with six. Yes, he’s posted some pretty bad numbers in the past, but Jones has lost a noticeable amount of weight and his bat is much quicker. He’s hit his six homers in fewer plate appearances than any of the other 14 home runs leaders in the Majors. He’s even added three steals, and is hitting a respectable .275. Jones is a low-risk option for home runs, especially given his history of power numbers.

Paul Konerko | 1B | White Sox: We normally focus on players with lower ownership numbers than 63%, but I find it odd that the MLB leader in homers doesn’t have a higher percentage. Konerko is the only player in the Majors with eight homers, he’s hitting .288 (no small feat in Chicago) and he’s driven in 14 runs for a struggling offense. He hasn’t been an elite slugger for a couple years now, but he’s still just 34 years old, so there is probably some gas left in the tank. Konerko last hit 30+ homers in 2007 but he still managed 28 last season. If he’s around in your league and you don’t have a ton of offense already at 1B and/or DH, snap him up and enjoy his solid performance.