Archive for July, 2011

Week 18 Two-Start Pitchers Update

Here is the latest update to Week 18 two-start pitchers. Again this list is subject to change going forward.

Pitchers not listed on last update: Scherzer, Chen, Beaven.

Pitchers no longer scheduled for two starts: Hughes, Fister, Huff.

Let’s take a look at Bruce Chen. Only family members, Royals fans and fantasy players could tell you that Chen had 12 Wins and a respectable 4.17 ERA last year for the Royals. In his last seven starts of 2010, Chen was 4-0 with a 2.64 ERA and a 1.015 WHIP. Still he was owned in less than 10 percent of fantasy leagues on Opening Day 2011.

According to Joe Lefkowitz’ site, Chen threw four pitches roughly the same percentage of the time in 2010. This year, he is throwing far fewer four-seam fastballs, roughly the same amount of sinkers and change-ups and more sliders than anything else. The slider is his primary pitch versus LHB while the changeup serves the same purpose for RHB.

Chen won his first three decisions and he was 4-1 with a 3.59 ERA after his start on May 5th. But he went on the disabled list with a strained back muscle, which caused him to miss seven weeks of the season. In his first five starts back from the DL, Chen posted a 2.90 ERA but was only 1-2. In his last start, the Royals lefty had his worst outing of his major league career, as he gave up 10 ER and saw his ERA jump from 3.30 to 4.29 on the season.

Some might say that was merely regression hitting all at once for Chen, as now his ERA is right in line with his xFIP (4.56). He did seem to be doing it with smoke and mirrors, as Chen has a career-low 5.45 K/9 and a 74.6 LOB%.

Overall this year, Chen has a 3.11 ERA at home and a 6.03 mark on the road. He’s allowed 7 HR in 31.1 IP in road games this year and 5 HR in 46.1 IP at Kauffman Stadium, one of the toughest parks to homer in this season.

This week Chen gets home starts against the Orioles and Tigers. Both teams are above-average in the AL in raw HR totals. Detroit also does well against LH starters, with a .735 against southpaw starters. Baltimore, however, ranks 13th in the 14-team loop with a .664 OPS against LH starters.

Likely available on the waiver wire, you could do worse then Chen as a streaming option for his two home starts this week. If your league has daily transactions, his game against Baltimore looks like the better matchup of his two in this upcoming period.

Thank You, Albert Pujols

There is no MLB trade deadline information or secret fantasy baseball advice to be had here.  No sleepers, no breakouts, no rookie names for you to be the first to know.  Today is merely a day of appreciation; a chance to thank one of the greatest baseball players of the new millennium for something which he gets very little credit or notoriety.  Thank you, Albert Pujols, for changing the game of fantasy baseball forever. Read the rest of this entry »

RotoGraphs Chat – 7/29/11

Jason Catania and Howard Bender will be chatting with you today at 1:15. The chat will open at 12:15 so come on by and leave your questions!

Two-Start Pitchers: Week 18

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 18

John Danks – After getting beat up in May, Danks was hitting his stride in June until he had to leave his last start of the month with a strained oblique. He came back after the All-Star break and picked up right where he left off. In his last two starts, Danks has allowed just 1 ER in 13 IP and he notched 16 Ks in that span. Because of his horrendous start (0-8, 5.25 ERA), Danks’ overall numbers still look poor. But he is pitching well and should be in your lineup, even with a start against the Yankees.

John Lackey – In his last eight starts, Lackey has alternated between good and bad each start, with four outings with a game score 41 or lower and four with a game score 55 or higher. If this pattern continues, he’s due for a good start his first outing against the Indians and due for a poor one against the Yankees. Regardless of pattern, Lackey has two home starts this week. His ERA in Fenway is 6.54, which should be enough to slide him over to the bench this week.

Jake Peavy – The fact that Peavy is pitching at all is a minor miracle after he suffered a complete tear of the latissimus dorsi muscle from his shoulder. It really should be no surprise that he’s just a shadow of his former self. His fastball velocity is down nearly two mph from his heyday with the Padres and he throws his heater just 51 percent of the time now. In his last five starts, Peavy is 0-3 with a 6.67 ERA. He should not be in your lineup and it’s questionable if he should even be on your roster at this point in time.

Ervin Santana – It’s not unusual for a pitcher to suffer a letdown after pitching a no-hitter but Santana has been pitching great over his last eight starts and he has favorable matchups this week. He has two home starts and up first is the Twins, who have scored the third-fewest away runs in the AL this season. Next up is the Mariners, who have scored the second-fewest road runs in the league. While Santana has not displayed any significant home/road split this year, he has had some trouble with the gopher ball in his home park and he faces two of the bottom three HR teams this week. Keep him active in your lineup.

Javier Vazquez – Last season was a year to forget for Vazquez and 2011 started off in much the same fashion. But in his last eight starts, Vazquez has recorded 4 W, a 2.40 ERA, a 1.233 WHIP and 39 Ks in 48.2 IP. He may only be a six-inning pitcher at this point in his career, but he’s giving the Marlins a chance to win each time out. And the Marlins lead the NL in runs scored since the All-Star break. Get him in your lineup this week.

Other scheduled two-start pitchers in Week 18 are listed below. Please remember that these are projected pitchers and changes can and will happen between now and next week.

Lincecum, Beckett, Hamels, Kershaw, Sabathia, J. Garcia, Carpenter, Jurrjens, Kennedy, Greinke, Cain, Romero, Lewis, Cahill, Chacin, Tomlin, Norris, Luebke, Zambrano, Correia, Maholm, Hughes, Arroyo, Duensing, Fister, Lannan, Pelfrey, L. Hernandez, Kendrick, Wells, Hand, Huff, Cook, Simon.

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 16 pitchers and how they fared.

Baker – Advised to start. W, 5 Ks, 0.00 ERA, 0.800 WHIP. 5 IP, 0 ER
Buehrle – Advised to start. W, 3 Ks, 2.57 ERA, 0.857 WHIP, 7 IP, 2 ER
Capuano – Advised to start. 11 Ks, 5.27 ERA, 1.317 WHIP, 13.2 IP, 8 ER
Hammel – Advised to start. 8 Ks, 10.13 ERA, 2.531 WHIP, 4.1 IP, 7 ER
Marquis – Advised to sit. W, 11 Ks, 3.21 ERA, 1.143 WHIP, 14 IP, 5 ER

Johnny Giavotella and Ryan Lavarnway: Mining the Minors

This week, it’s finally time to get to a pair of guys who were becoming impossible to ignore with their recent play. Even if one of them is forever blocked by the unsurpassable Chris Getz.

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Asdrubal Cabrera: Is the Home Run Spike Real?

Asdrubal Cabrera has always shown the ability to hit the ball, but he is hitting significantly more home runs this season. His fantasy owners will be happy to know that there are signs that the increase in power looks sustainable.

In 1610 PA before this season, he hit 18 home runs, or 1 every 89 PA. This season, the twenty-five year old has almost equaled his career total in only 445 PA with 17 HRs — or 1 every 26 PA. These new home runs have really increased his value, especially since he is a shortstop. By looking at his contact rate, batted ball profile, batted ball angle and distance, let’s try to determine if the increase is from luck or a change in his ability.

Contact – The switch hitter is making contact 1% more often this season when compared to his career numbers. He is putting a few more balls into play, but not a significant percentage more.

Batted Ball Profile – Cabrera is definitely hitting more fly balls this season when compared to his previous 4 seasons. In those 4 seasons, he hit an FB 32% of the time. In 2011, that value is at 37%.

Hitting 5% points more fly balls will definitely help increase his HR total, but not to the level to triple the number hit. The key is not that he is hitting more FB, but about half as many of the FB (13.8%) are going for HR’s compared to his career numbers (7.2%).

Batted Ball Direction – Using the direction that the ball is hit, we can decide if he is turning on the ball more and putting it in the short porches in left and right field. Using an angle with -45 degrees as the left field line and 45 degrees as the right field line, the average direction of his fly balls and home runs can be determined. Since he is a switch hitter, the the average angles from both sides of the plate need to be examined (most of his home runs are from the left side of the plate):

Batting Right Handed (angle in degrees)
2007 = -3
2008 = +3
2009 = +9
2010 = -7
2011 = +8

Batting Left Handed
2007 = -6
2008 = -4
2009 = -5
2010 = -4
2011 = 0

Looking at when he is hitting right handed, he is definitely not pulling the ball more. Most of his home runs, 13 of the 17, have come when he is batting left handed where he is pulling the ball more this season then in any previous season. It is not a whole lot, but enough to make a difference.

Batted Ball Distance: Besides the angle, the actual distance the ball travels can be examined for when he hits left and right handed

Distance (in feet)

Bating Right Handed
2007 = 270 ft
2008 = 269 ft
2009 = 273 ft
2010 = 273 ft
2011 = 281 ft

Batting Left Handed
2007 = 281 ft
2008 = 276 ft
2009 = 300 ft
2010 = 273 ft
2011 = 286 ft

In 2011, Cabrera hit the ball further than in any season except for one year. He is generally hitting the ball around 10 ft further in 2011 than in the past from either side of the plate.

Conclusion: Even though Cabrera is making the same amount of contact with the baseball compared to past seasons, he is hitting more fly balls, hitting them further and towards the OF corners. The rise in home runs per fly ball may seem a bit high for Cabrera, but there are signs that the increase seen this season is not all luck.

Murphy, Hosmer, Moreland & Smoak: 1B Risers/Fallers

Let’s look at a pair of first baseman with their stock on the rise, and a pair with their stock heading south…

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Kicking Rocks: Cheap Saves Not So Cheap This Year

One of the trends fantasy baseball has witnessed over the last few years is the decline in value of the closer.  Not so much that closers are mere one category contributors, as we all know that not to be the case, but that, with the volatility at the position, saves have been much easier to come by on the waiver wire throughout the season.  Last year, we saw 14 teams change closers during the course of the season and that doesn’t even include the long term injury replacements for Huston Street and Brad Lidge.  It seemed like every time you scoured the waiver wire in need of saves, there was someone there.  This year, the trend seems to be bucking in the opposite direction and those that thought they could bypass reliable closers in their drafts and pick up saves throughout the year are finding it more of a struggle than they anticipated. Read the rest of this entry »

Rasmus Trade Ramifications

Yesterday, the Cardinals, Blue Jays and White Sox exchanged players with each team ending up with the following players:

Blue Jays: Colby RasmusMark TeahenBrian TalletTrever MillerP.J. Walters
Cardinals: Octavio Dotel, Marc RzepczynskiEdwin Jackson, Corey Patterson
White Sox: Jason FrasorZach Stewart

Here is a quick look at how the trade effects the fantasy value of players involved and not involved in the trade.

Colby Rasmus (to Toronto) – Rasmus’s fantasy value probably doesn’t change too much going from St. Louis to Toronto. Here are the main factors I see changing his value.

1. In St Louis, he batted towards the top of the order, 2nd, 5th or 6th. With Toronto, I would not be surprised to see him fall into the the #2 spot. This will give him more opportunities for Runs, but less for RBIs.
2. He will probably be seeing better pitching from the teams in the AL East compared to NL Central. This advantage is less this season than in previous seasons as the NL Central pitching has improved, notably with Milwaukee.
3. Rogers Centre in Toronto (100 wOBA park factor) is friendlier to hitters than Busch Stadium (95 wOBA park factor).

Rasmus’s fantasy value will not be exactly known until the Blue Jays define his exact role. I would not adjust his fantasy value up or down at this point.

Edwin Jackson – (to St. Louis) – Jackson’s move to St. Louis initially looks to improve his fantasy value for the following reasons:

1. He moves out of the 6 man rotation that Chicago was using. He will now be pitching every 5 days for St. Louis, giving his owners more chances to accumulate stats.
2. Busch Stadium (95 wOBA park factor) is more of a pitcher’s park than U.S. Cellular Field (103 wOBA park factor).
3. His ERA (3.92) is a little inflated compared to his FIP (3.21) xFIP (3.42) and SIERA (3.65) and could decrease as the season goes on.
4. Dave Duncan Effect. If Duncan could make Todd Wellemeter an OK pitcher for a season, he should be able to at least keep Jackson at the same production level.

The move to St. Louis looks to only improve Jackson’s value.

Brent Morel – With Mark Teahen gone from Chicago, Morel looks to take over as the everyday 3B for the White Sox. When both players were on the team this season, Morel started 62 games at 3B while Teahen started 23. While Morel’s rate stats look to remain constant, he will see a jump in his counting stats because he will see more time at 3B.

St. Louis Outfield – The trade of Rasmus helps the value of Berkman, Jay and Holliday as each will not have to share time with Rasmus in the field. Skip Schumaker will be the back up OF if one of the big 3 go down, but at this time he is worthless in fantasy baseball.

St. Louis Bullpen (gains Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski) – With 5 different pitchers recording a save this year, the Cardinals did not have a steady closer at the beginning of the season. Since Salas has taken over as the closer, there has been less fluctuation in the bullpen. I don’t see Dotel or Rzepczynski becoming the closer anytime soon.

All park factors are from

NL Starting Pitchers Who Could Be Traded

With the trade deadline fast approaching, owners playing in league-specific formats are going to be in for a hard time. When players change leagues, some owners are going to get hosed and some owners are going to get lucky. With all of that in mind, here’s some advice on how to handle a handful of starters who could get dealt.

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