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Given the way the Red Sox pitching staff has opened the season, it’s hard to argue against any decision John Farrell makes. So when he opted to go with Junichi Tazawa for his new closer instead of the well-proven Koji Uehara, there was little backlash from the fantasy community. Sure, there were some grumblings from the eager-beaver waiver hounds who remain glued to their league’s waiver wire and snatched up Uehara moments after Joel Hanrahan was hurt, but most of them were still fairly quick on the draw the following morning when it was announced that the choice made was actually Tazawa.
I've been sick, so there is precious little brain power I currently have at the moment for any grand unifying theory. The upshot of that is the fact that there really is no theme with today's piece. I just looked at the news of the day and pulled out a bunch of bits that caught my eye. A $125 million player stinks. A set of rookies are off to strong starts. Will one or both be able to sustain that? An all-star catcher returns to the fold down south. A handful of outfielders, with varying pedigrees and levels of success, will also be discussed. I told you there was no plan this week.
As bad as some of the pitching performances have been this past week, and believe me, there have been some bad ones, none have stood out as much as Roy Halladay’s pair of debacles against the Cleveland Indians and Miami Marlins. The 2013 road had been a rocky one for Doc, but after three consecutive quality starts that saw him post a 1.71 ERA with a 16:5 K:BB over 21 innings, it looked as if things were getting back to normal. With a two-start week coming to wrap up the month of April and open May and match-ups against what appeared to be soft opponents, fantasy owners thought they were getting ready to cruise into the second month of the season. What they got was a whole lot of disgustingness shoved right up their fantasy team’s WHIP-hole.
For two straight years, Dee Gordon, son of former All Star reliever Tom Gordon, was listed among Baseball America’s top 50 prospects thanks to a slick glove in the field and blinding speed on the base paths. He got his first taste of the big leagues back in 2011 and over a 56 game span that saw him come to the plate 233 times, Gordon hit .304 with 34 runs scored and 24 stolen bases. But in 2012, when he was given the starting shortstop gig to open the season, Gordon struggled mightily at the plate. Yes, he swiped 32 bases over 87 games, but he also hit just .228 and had a woeful .280 on-base percentage. He was shipped back down to Triple-A and his overall fantasy value took a hit. And when the Dodgers traded for Hanley Ramirez and announced that he would play shortstop in 2013, Gordon became even more of a forgotten man as there was, obviously, no room for him on the big league roster. Well guess what? He’s baaaaaaaaack!
It’s been a fairly rough week for yours truly here, not just in real life (hence the absence for the majority of the week), but in the fantasy racket as well. Injuries have been absolutely brutal to all of my fantasy teams during this young season and Friday turned out to be yet another dark and dismal day in my attempts to climb back into contention. Obviously there’s plenty more to come, but when your team is sitting in a relatively deep hole and you continue to lose players faster than you are getting them back, the fantasy doldrums seem a lot like a permanent residence than just a temporary situation.
It’s time to cut to the chase. Theory is good if not necessary. I take as much pride in helping to teach proper analysis as I do correctly evaluating a player. But let’s be honest. You want my opinion on some struggling players so that’s what we’ll do. Well, I’ll drop in just a little more theory to work in concert with our BABIP discussion from last week.
For those of you who didn't hear, I was hospitalized for three days with a hideous case of the flu (throwing up 20 times, and I'm not exaggerating for effect, ain't fun). I'm back at it today, at least I'm trying to be. Fantasy Alarm pays me to be witty and informative. I will not be witty today, so let's hope I will be informative. With this being the first day of May, the season is unofficially a sixth over, let's look back on a handful of players who excelled in April or those who were unable to get things on track. Again, nothing witty, but hopefully there will be some things in here that are at least informative.
One of the keys to a successful fantasy season is not just identifying which players are about to catch fire and embark on an impressive hot streak, but your ability as an owner to ride that streak and cut bait when it’s all said and done. All too often, we fall in love with our players, particularly the ones who are massively exceeding our expectations, and we tend to put false hope in numbers that, deep down, we know won’t last. We may hope they last, but we need to be realistic and understand that the law of averages is in play here and what goes up, usually comes back down. Sure, there are always exceptions to the rule, but for every one legitimate breakout, you’re looking at dozens of guys playing over their heads who will eventually see their lofty numbers normalize over time, some shorter than others. Understanding that fact and the ability to simply cut these hot players once they go cold is almost as much an art form as identifying the breakouts before they happen.
While the month of April gets ready to wrap, fantasy owners should realize that there is still plenty of work to do to get their teams ready for a long and arduous season. The offseason prep work, the draft, and the early-season waiver hunting may be your foundation, but now you have a five-month long process of taking that foundation and building it into a championship. You now have to keep an astute eye on the waiver wire, explore some possible trades that will help your team in the long run, track injuries, and most of all, pay close attention to the daily happenings around MLB. You’ve got full slates of games five days a week with shorties on Mondays and Thursdays. So much can happen over the course of just one day that missing even just one could be the difference between finishing in the money and standing on the outside looking in. Maybe it sounds silly and a bit over-dramatic to some, but just look at yesterday’s action and the potential fantasy impact…
Welcome to Saturday morning and this week’s edition of Pitcher Appreciation Day. We’re doing it today, because as we look through the top performers from Friday’s games, you’ll see that there were some phenomenal outings, some killer pitching lines and not a single high-ranking ace was among the names. It stands as further evidence that you can find plenty of quality starting pitching out there and a large investment in someone named Kershaw, Price, Hamels or Verlander isn’t always a necessary thing. Now will all of these guys continue to perform at such an incredibly high level? Probably not, but they are all capable of posting strong numbers the rest of the way and collectively, could make up the bulk of an outstanding fantasy rotation.