It's all about pitching today with a breakdown of some once proud hurlers who are struggling, a surging starting pitcher in Chicago who was a reliever last seeason, and what the Dodgers are going in the 9th inning (hint, it's positive news for Jansen owners). We'll also hit on a few batters – Carlos Beltran and Emilio Bonifacio will get the once over – as we work our way around the diamond.
Carlos Beltran has missed some time of late with a bruised left knee. The 35 year old returned to the lineup today, the knee injury is believed to be relatively minor, but this situation is exactly what many (including myself) were afraid of with the veteran performer. Through the first three months of the year, in just 75 games, Beltran had gone deep 20 times, knocked in 61 runs and scored 48 times while hitting .310. Since then the expected regression has occurred, both in terms of his performance as well as the return of the ever present injury bug. Over his last 52 games Beltran has just eight homers and has knocked in a 25 runs, but the worst part is that .206 batting average. Obviously that's more than a .100 point fall off from his early season success. Overall Beltran is hitting .266 with 28 homers and 86 RBIs, but after such a phenomenal start to the year his performance to date has got to be considered disappointing. It remains to be seen just how much of this hole he can pull out of as well given that his knee is bother him and that the last time he appeared in 145 games in a season was 2008. He's an injury and performance risk at this point, no way around that.
Emilio Bonifacio is done for the year as the Marlins decided to shut him down because of his most recent malady – his right knee. It's not clear if surgery will be performed, but there is no reason to continue to run him out there at this point of the problem could be exacerbated. Emilio will end the year with an impressive 30 thefts in 33 attempts, a damn impressive total given that he appeared in just 64 games this season. Bonifacio hit one homer and knocked in 11 runs on the season, and though I wish that was a misprint it isn't – he had 11 RBIs 244 at-bats. Chase Headley had nine RBIs Sunday and Monday for the Padres. Bonifacio appeared in 51 games in the outfield in 2012 but only 15 games at second base and not a single outing at shortstop is to be found. Being only OF eligible next year will significant impact his fantasy outlook.
Clay Buchholz was dominating in 2010 when he won 17 games with seven loses and posted a 2.33 ERA with 1.20 WHIP for the Red Sox. Since the start of last season he has taken the hill 38 times for the Red Sox going 17-8 with a 4.13 ERA an a 1.30 WHIP. There is nothing at all wrong with those numbers, but you do see how far his ratios have fallen since 2010, right? For some reason everyone seems to ignore the fact that he just isn't the 2010 pitcher we remember (maybe it's cause he pitches for the Red Sox who are on TV for about 12 minutes of every SportsCenter?). From July 15th through August 17th Clay allowed a total of eight earned runs in six starts, but in his last three trips to the hill the old regression beast has reared it's head as he's allowed 14 earned runs in 19.1 innings. I'm sorry folks, but he's just not that good. Put behind you those dreams of another 2.33 ERA – you would be more likely to discover anti-matter – and realize that the overall pitcher you see before you this season isn't that far off what you should be expecting (4.47 ERA, 1.31 WHIP). When you don't strike batters out (6.17 per nine), have a poor K/BB ratio (2.18 is worse than the league average) and your xFIP mark is 4.37 (career 4.18) you should have all the proof you need that his 2010 season is going to go down as a career best effort.
Ross Detwiler has made 28 appearances this year, including 22 starts, and though he's won only nine games against six loses, he's actually had a special season. Ross is sporting a 3.15 ERA and 1.16 WHIP as he has been a huge boost for those in NL-only leagues. He's also on a bit of a roll right now having allowed five earned runs in his last three starts and three or fewer runs in six of his last seven outings (he gave up four earned runs back on August 12th). He may not be a big strikeout guy with just 86 in 140 innings, but if he is able to maintain his current 52 percent ground ball rate, five percent over his career mark, that will go a long way to making sure that he remains successful in a big league uniform. Still, do yourself a favor and make sure you don't over-inflate his worth heading into next season as he's not yet shown the skills to support his current ERA (a 2.21 K/BB is poor and there is little reason to think that he will be able to hold on to the 16 percent line drive rate he has allowed this season, not when you consider that his career mark is over 20 percent).
Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers, and his owners got some good news late Tuesday when it was announced that Jansen would return to action this season. Currently out with a heart issue, there was some concern that the Dodgers might have to shut Jansen down for the rest of the year. Not so. Turns out the team is hopeful that Jansen will be able to return to action at some point during the series with the Nationals on September 18-20 (in fact, he might actually be ready for action on September 17th if he responds as expected to medication). Jansen has dominated hitters this season with his filthy stuff to the tune of a 2.54 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 86 Ks in 56.2 innings (13.66 K/9), five wins and 25 saves. Dominating is the correct term for that effort. In the meantime it appears that Brandon League will handle most of the 9th inning work though Ronald Belisario could get a look or two.
Jair Jurrjens is done for the year, at least in terms of appearing with the Braves again, as the team has made the decision that he's just not needed right now. He might be healthy, but the only thing that is truly healthy when it comes to Jurrjens is the batting average of the batters who have faced him this season. I warn people every year about Jurrjens though they rarely listen. Maybe after his horrid 2012 effort they finally will listen to The Oracle (that's me by the way – it's my nickname on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio). Jurrjens went 3-4 with a 6.89 ERA and 1.86 WHIP over 11 outings with the Braves this year and, amazingly, he's barely been better in the minors as he has gone 4-6 with a 4.98 ERA and 1.31 WHIP at Triple-A over 14 starts. With the way the Braves staff is pitching, Mike Minor and Kris Medlen are surging (Medlen has a major league leading 0.59 ERA since the All-Star Break), there's just no space/reason for Jurrjens to be recalled. Even if you own him for a few bucks in a dynasty league, you can't be happy about what has been a totally lost season for Jurrjens in 2012.
Vinnie Pestano has recorded a hold and two saves in his last three appearances as he has spent some time in the 9th inning while Chris Perez spent some time away from the team to be with his wife who was giving birth. Pestano isn't taking over the 9th from Perez, don't add the fire-balling righty for that, but that doesn't mean that he hasn't had one hell of a season. On the year he has 66 Ks in 59.2 innings with a 1.96 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 34 holds, the most in baseball this season. Speaking of holds, Joel Peralta is also ripping it up in that category with 33 holds, not to mention a 0.93 WHIP, 5.46 K/BB ratio and 11.41 K/9. The NL leader in holds is Jason Grilli with 28. He too has killed it in the ratio categories (2.16 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) while mowing down batters with a 13.68 K/9 mark an a 4.22 K/BB ratio. Who says you can't find elite numbers from a setup man? If you had somehow rostered and started all three of those this season here is what they would have given your club: 5 wins, 6 saves, a 2.61 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 213 Ks in 165.2 IP.
Jeff Samardzija tossed only 88 innings last year as a big leaguer as he made 75 appearances out of the bullpen. This season he's made 27 starts covering 165.2 innings. The conclusion from that little bit of data that most will draw is that Jeff has likely reached the breaking point being that his innings pitched mark has literally doubled from last year. Consider that conclusion to be in error as Jeff has shown no signs of wilting at all. Allowing just one run in his last outing has led to JS dropping his ERA to 3.91 on the year. Moreover, the guy has allowed a total of five earned runs over his last three starts, all lasted seven innings, and in five of his last six trips to the hill the opponent hasn't scored more than two earned runs (he allowed four earned runs to the Reds on August 18th). It's not just that he has allowed few runs of late, he's also been supporting those low run totals with some excellent work. Consider the following. Over his last three outings he has 25 Ks in 21 innings. Over his last four outings he has walked three batters. Over his last seven outings he has a 6.25 K/BB ratio (50 Ks, eight BBs). That's about as well as this guy is ever gonna pitch. Sure Samardzija is just 8-13 on the year, but he's deserved much better than that given his performance this season (over his last seven outings he is 1-5). Given how well he is performing, and how strong he looks on the hill, the Cubs are also not inclined to merely shut him down because of the innings pitched increase. If he falters they may shut him down late, but if he keeps pitching like this he should go past 30 starts on the season (he currently has 27).
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday, 7-10 PM EDT. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and you can follow him on Twitter at the BaseballGuys' Twitter Page.
Rounding The Bases - Todd Zola Looks At The First 10 Rounds of a Likely 2014 Fantasy Baseball Draft
Master Fantasy Baseball Notes From Todd Zola - Looking Ahead To The 2014 Fantasy Baseball Season
Rounding The Bases - Master Fantasy Baseball Notes From Todd Zola
The Farm Report: Minor League Baseball Coverage From A Fantasy Perspective (20 Prospects for '14)
2013 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Pickups: Week 24
The Farm Report: Minor League Baseball Coverage From A Fantasy Perspective (September Call-Ups)
2013 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Pickups: Week 23
Rounding the Bases: A Day For the Little Man
Rounding The Bases: Morse, Willingham On the Move?
The Farm Report: Minor League Baseball Coverage From A Fantasy Perspective (Roster Expansion)
2013 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Pickups: Week 22
Rounding the Bases: Five Surging Pitchers & Hitters
Rounding the Bases: Rookies, Veterans & Roster Movement
The Farm Report: Minor League Baseball Coverage From A Fantasy Perspective (Pitching Help On The Way!)
2013 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Pickups: Week 21
Master Notes From Todd Zola - Taking A Look at Starting Pitching In Keeper Leagues
Rounding the Bases: Small Names, Big Production?
Rounding the Bases: A First for Stephen Strasburg and the (Near) Final Round-Up
The Farm Report: Minor League Baseball Coverage From A Fantasy Perspective (Hitting Help On The Way!)
2013 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Pickups: Week Twenty