Author Archive

The Pulled Flyball Revolution

Not so long ago, when it came to pull-heavy power hitters, there was no equal to Brian Dozier. Based on developments currently unfolding this season, the genre could explode in 2020.

Back in 2016, Dozier was unique among major league hitters in his ability to pull flyballs at an extremely high rate consistently. Among hitters who launched at least 100 flies in both 2015 and 2016, Dozier was the only batter to exceed a 35 percent pull rate on flyballs in both seasons. He essentially lapped the field, surpassing a 40 percent rate in both campaigns. Then Dozier was the only hitter to pull off the feat in both 2016 and 2017.
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Bullpen Report: August 21, 2019

On Saturday, Matt Magill became eighth Mariner to record a save this season, and on Tuesday night, he joined a more selective group, becoming the fifth Mariner to record a second save. Given that the Mariners are just 53-73, have a staff with a collective 5.07 ERA that doesn’t hand off many leads in the late innings and have recorded only 26 saves on the season, we can be excused for not having much of an appetite for chasing saves in Seattle. That apathy could be compounded by Magill’s status as a 29-year-old journeyman with a history of pedestrian strikeout rates, questionable control and a propensity for allowing homers.

However, this version of Magill is not the same as the earlier one we may be more familiar with. He is throwing fewer four-seam fastballs, but he has roughly doubled his SwStr% on the pitch from 6.4 percent to 12.9 percent. Magill has also increased his curveball usage, and it’s a pitch that has been less prone to hard contact over the last two season (90.9 mph EV FB/LD) than his four-seamer has been (95.1 mph EV FB/LD). As a result, Magill has a more impressive strikeout rate (28.1 percent) and SwStr% (14.5 percent), and he also has an HR/9 ratio (1.13) that is well below the major league average.
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Bullpen Report: August 19, 2019

When the Rockies opened their series against the Marlins on Friday night, it was business as usual for Scott Oberg, who tossed a scoreless inning to record his fifth save of the season. On Saturday, in response to feeling heaviness in his right arm, Oberg ultimately underwent a procedure to remove a blood clot from the arm. He was placed on the IL on Sunday, and in all likelihood, he will not pitch again this season.

With Oberg out, the Rockies turned to recently deposed closer Wade Davis to finish off a game they were leading 4-3 heading into the top of the ninth inning. Davis faced three batters, but he did not retire any of them. He began by walking Jorge Alfaro and then had two runners in scoring position as a result of a Lewis Brinson double. Then Davis blew the save by allowing a Neil Walker single. Carlos Estévez took over from there, but he allowed the Marlins to tack on two more runs, which were both charged to Davis.
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NL Lineup Analysis (8/16/19)

The Diamondbacks’ promotion of Josh Rojas has created some unexpected fallout, while the Rockies, Phillies and Cardinals have given their outfields a new look. Here are the most noteworthy lineup changes for each National League team.

Arizona

The Diamondbacks have used a number of different platoons throughout the season, but a brand new one may be emerging between David Peralta and Adam Jones. Peralta has been out of the lineup for four of the last six games featuring a lefty starter, while Jones has started only once over the last seven games with a righty starter, including Friday night’s game against Jeff Samardzija and the Giants. The apparent beneficiary of Peralta’s and Jones’ reduced playing time is Rojas, who has started four of the team’s five games since he was called up to make his major league debut on Monday. For the one game he didn’t start, Tim Locastro got the nod in left field over Peralta versus lefty Kyle Freeland. Locastro has since been demoted to Triple-A Reno.
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Bullpen Report: August 16, 2019

It took a combination of four relievers for the Cubs to allow the Phillies to overcome a 5-0 deficit on Thursday night. The North Siders held that five-run advantage for seven-and-a-half innings, thanks in part to a superb start from Yu Darvish. Kyle Ryan took over in the bottom of the eighth inning and immediately found himself with runners on first and second base and no one out. He and Rowan Wick each got an out and were on the verge of stranding both runners — that is, until Corey Dickerson laced a single into right field that brought one run in. If not for Nicholas Castellanos‘ on-target throw to get Rhys Hoskins out at home, the Cubs’ lead would have been cut to 5-2.

Wick came back out for the bottom of the ninth with the Cubs still up by four runs. The Phillies got their second run as a result of a David Bote error and a pair of singles, all with one out. With the lead further reduced, Joe Maddon brought in Pedro Strop, who recorded the Cubs’ last save on Sunday versus the Reds. He would face only two batters, neither of whom he would retire. After allowing Roman Quinn’s RBI single and hitting Hoskins to load the bases, Strop gave way to lefty Derek Holland, who was charged with getting Bryce Harper out. He did not, in spite of having a .184/.268/.195 slash line against lefties entering the game. Harper hit a walk-off grand slam that gave Holland his first blown save of the season and left Strop with his fifth loss.
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Julio Teheran is Pitching to Contact But Gettting Strikeouts

When Julio Teheran takes the mound against the Mets at SunTrust Park on Thursday night, he will be looking to extend a hot streak that extends back to the beginning of July. Over his last seven starts encompassing 42.1 innings, Teheran has registered a 1.91 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. Since July 1, Teheran ranks 30th in Roto value among starting pitchers (per CBSSports.com rankings), and he would place in the top 20 if not for inconsistent run support and a Luke Jackson blown save that cost him a win against the Nationals on July 19. Despite excellent ratios, Teheran is just 2-1 over this stretch.

When a pitcher gets more strikeouts and reduces walks and home runs, an increase in fantasy value is to be expected, and Teheran has recently been accomplishing all three things. The decrease in his walk rate is the most dramatic of the improvements and also the most needed. Over the preceding season-and-a-half, Teheran’s walk rate was a lofty 11.7 percent, but over his last seven outings, that rate is a slightly-below-league-average 8.1 percent. He did not have a home run problem over the first three months of this season, as evidenced by his 1.05 HR/9, but since then, he has been even better at keeping the ball in the park with an 0.85 HR/9.
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Bullpen Report: August 14, 2019

The Red Sox’s bullpen has been among the most confusing ones for fantasy owners to figure out all season. In Tuesday night’s game against the Indians, we had more twists and turns to follow, but ultimately, much of what happened may not have a lasting impact.

The first surprise was seeing Nathan Eovaldi enter the game with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning with a 6-5 lead and a runner on second base. Eovaldi was supposed to begin his return to the Red Sox’s rotation on Wednesday as the scheduled starter for the series finale. Alex Cora has not abandoned that plan, but he put Eovaldi on a slight detour on his path back to a starting role because of what he called “probably the biggest inning of what we were trying to accomplish.” Eovaldi validated Cora’s decision, as he kept the slim margin intact by retiring Roberto Pérez and Jason Kipnis.
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Bullpen Report: August 12, 2019

With Steve Cishek going on the 10-day IL with hip inflammation on Saturday, the Cubs are without four of the relievers in the back end of their bullpen. Kyle Ryan has been on the bereavement list since Friday, and Craig Kimbrel (knee) and Brandon Kintzler (pectoral) are both on the IL. However both Kimbrel and Kintzler could be back by this weekend.

In the meantime, who’s left to get saves? Pedro Strop, who served in the role before the Kimbrel came on board, pitched a scoreless ninth inning against the Reds with a 6-3 lead on Sunday, picking up his 10th save. David Phelps, who recorded the Cubs’ previous save on Aug. 5, got the win in this contest, as his 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth inning preceded Kris Bryant’s go-ahead three-run homer in the top of the seventh. Sandwiched in between Phelps and Strop was Rowan Wick, who got his second hold as a result of pitching two scoreless innings. It would seem that any of the three could collect saves this week, as well as Ryan, who will be eligible to return on Monday.
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NL Lineup Analysis (8/9/19)

With the trade deadline behind us, player movement has slowed to a crawl, but as in any other week, injuries and slumps are causing managers to tweak their lineups. Here are this week’s most notable changes in the National League.

Arizona

Just as it appeared that Christian Walker was losing playing time against righties, he has gained it back. Walker has started five straight games, including three against right-handed starters. Instead, it’s Adam Jones who is losing playing time, as he has been out of the starting lineup for three of the last five games with a right-handed starter
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Bullpen Report: August 9, 2019

Thursday night’s schedule consisted of only eight games, and even for a small slate, there weren’t many high leverage situations to speak of. It was a big night, however, for some long relievers, so let’s check in on them and what they might have to offer us in fantasy.

Luis Cessa was one of only three relievers to notch a save on Thursday night, but his required him to pitch the final three innings of the Yankees’ 12-6 win over the Blue Jays. The 27-year-old righty has had issues with the long ball, and the one run he allowed was a Reese McGuire solo home run — the 11th homer he has allowed over 58.1 innings. He also tallied five strikeouts, giving him 61 on the season, which is as many as Ken Giles has and more than either Kenley Jansen or Sean Doolittle has. It was Cessa’s first save of the season, so he is nowhere close to Giles, Jansen or Doolittle in value, but in deeper formats,  you may not be able to find a reliever who can help more with strikeouts.
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