Around the Majors: May 4, 2013: Struggling Aces (Price, Strasburg), Youngsters Shining (Machado, Arenado) & More

Some of the best starting pitchers took the mound yesterday, looking to win their second game of the season.  Nope, that’s not a typo and shows how chasing wins is never the best idea.  First, let’s take a look at if any of the game’s best were able to come away with a victory:

  • Jose Fernandez and Cole Hamels put on a great show, with both pitching well but Fernandez getting the better of the matchup.  Hamels allowed 2 ER on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 6, over 8.0 IP to fall to 1-4 with a 4.34 ERA.  As for Fernandez, all he did was toss 7.0 shutout innings allowing 1 H and 1 BB, striking out 9 to earn his first career victory.  We all know that young starting pitchers are generally inconsistent, and a pitcher making the jump directly from Single-A is that much riskier.  That doesn’t mean that he’s not worth using, just be read to take the good with the bad.
  • David Price took a beating in Colorado, falling to 1-3 with a 6.25 ERA, by far the worst numbers of the aces struggling to win games.  He allowed 9 ER on 11 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 6.2 IP.  It’s the third time this season he has allowed 5 ER or more and he’s only made 1 start where he hasn’t allowed a HR (8 HR over 44.2 IP).  The latter is one of the bigger concerns, though he also has shown a nearly 2 mph drop in fastball velocity (95.5 mph to 93.6 mph) and has had poor luck (.351 BABIP, 64.5% strand rate despite a 19.6% line drive rate).  We will be taking a much closer look at him in the next few days, but there is definite reason to think that he can turn it around.
  • It wasn’t a great start for Stephen Strasburg, but it doesn’t seem to matter what he does, he just can’t buy a W.  Yesterday he allowed 4 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 7.0 IP in a no decision.  He remains at 1-4, despite a 3.45 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.  We all know the W will come, but this is a prime example of why chasing W is never a great idea.

Now, onto the rest of the notes from the day:

  • Jason Kipnis has clearly started to wake up.  He went 3-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R and 1 SB yesterday and is now 5-9 with 1 HR, 6 RBI, 2 R and 1 SB in his last two games (in his past five he’s gone 8-22 with 2 HR, 7 RBI, 6 R and 2 SB).  He’s still hitting just .229, but the slow start is quickly becoming a thing of the past.  He has 20/20 upside and is worth using in all formats.
  • The Indians got Nick Swisher back into their lineup (first game since April 29), with him going 1-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R.  Get him back in your lineup in all formats.
  • Phil Hughes had a tremendous outing, tossing 8.0 shutout innings against the Oakland A’s.  He yielded 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 9.  He did get off to a slow start, but remember the Yankees opted to rush him to the Majors instead of letting him go on a rehab assignment due to necessity.  Over his past four starts he’s allowed 6 ER over 28.0 IP (to go along with 23 H, 5 BB and 30 K).  In other words he is firing on all cylinders and should be viewed as a good play in all formats.
  • It was a mixed bag for Tony Cingrani yesterday.  He allowed 4 ER over 6.0 IP, but only 3 H and 1 BB with 5 K.  The damage came from Alfonso Soriano, who finished the day 2-3 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R.  Home runs have been an issue for Cingrani, as he now has allowed 4 HR in four starts.  There’s a lot to like, though a regression is obvious (he entered with a 98.5% strand rate and .278 BABIP, despite a 24.5% line drive rate).  However his strikeout potential alone makes him worth owning in all formats.
  • Think the Seattle Mariners are happy to have Michael Saunders back in the lineup?  He went 3-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R yesterday, putting him at 7-22 with 3 HR, 6 RBI, 8 R and 1 SB since coming off the DL.  While he is always going to be a risk in the average department (8 K over his past 22 AB), he easily could go 20/20 and holds value in all five-outfielder formats.
  • R.A. Dickey’s struggles continued, as he got torched for 7 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP.  The big blow came from Dustin Ackley (1-4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R).  Dickey is now 2-5 with a 5.36 ERA.  He’s allowed 5 HR in his past two starts, struck out more than 5 just once and has 17 BB over 42.0 innings.  No one expected him to replicate last season’s performance, but no one really expected him to be this bad either.  He should post better numbers, at some point, so don’t sell low on him.
  • We all knew that Manny Machado had the potential to be a superstar, but I don’t think anyone expected it to get there quite yet.  After going 2-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R and 1 SB he is now hitting .311 with 4 HR, 19 RBI and 3 SB.  He did enter play with a .353 BABIP, so there is the potential for a regression, but he also has proven that he can make solid contact (15.9%) so there is no reason to think that he can’t hit for a solid average.  There’s an awful lot to like.
  • Allen Craig went 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 HR and 2 R, his first home run of the season.  It really should be just the beginning for him.
  • Speaking of Cardinals starting to heat up, David Freese went 2-3 with 1 R (three straight 2 H games) and Jon Jay went 2-3 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R.  If they are all going to start hitting, how scary could this team be?
  • Marcell Ozuna went 1-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R.  He continues to rake since joining the Marlins, hitting .389, though it will be interesting to see if he can adjust as opposing pitchers get a better look at him.  However, if he does hit he is going to remain in the Majors (and play regularly) even when Stanton returns.  With his upside that makes him worth adding in all formats, just in case.
  • It was a stellar start for Jeremy Guthrie, throwing a complete game shutout against the White Sox while allowing 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 3.  On the year he is now 4-0 with a 2.40 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, but no one should get too excited.  He has limited strikeout upside (5.88 K/9) and has gotten significant luck (.240 BABIP, 93.3% strand rate).  It’s a nice start, but consider him more of a 4.00 ERA type pitcher.
  • The Tigers pounded the Astros for 17 runs and 21 hits, but the best sign was probably the production from Victor Martinez (2-6, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R).  The home run was his first of the season and he also added a double.  Is it the sign of things to come?  Fantasy owners can only hope that it is as he continues to struggle after missing all of 2012 (.221 AVG, .280 OBP, .301 SLG).
  • John Lackey drew a much tougher opponent than in his first start off the DL (he had taken on the Astros) and the results were fitting.  Going up against the Rangers Lackey allowed 3 ER on 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 4, over 5.0 IP.  It’s very easy to imagine Lackey struggling consistently and there is no reason to trust him in the majority of formats.
  • Nolan Arenado went 1-4 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R, putting him at .308 with 2 HR and 7 RBI since joining Colorado.  Does anyone remember his struggles in the minor leagues last season anymore?  He may not be a HR machine, but he easily has the potential to hit close to .300 with 20ish HR a year (and the upside for more).
  • It was a big day for A.J. Pollock, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R and 1 SB.  He’s hitting .272 with 4 HR and 5 SB, though playing time in the Arizona outfield is tough to predict.  They already have Gerardo Parra, Jason Kubel and Cody Ross with Adam Eaton also coming back at some point.  If you are a Pollock or Parra (2-4, 1 R) owner, now may be the perfect time to shop them around.
  • Clayton Richard allowed 7 R (5 earned) on 7 H and 4 BB, striking out 3, over 3.2 IP.  He is 0-4 with an 8.54 ERA and it is easy to think that he soon could be dropped from the rotation despite any past success.
  • The Dodgers recalled Dee Gordon to take Hanley Ramirez’ spot in the lineup and he responded in his first start, going 2-4 with 2 RBI, 2 R and 2 SB.  He was hitting eighth, however, and that could limit his potential upside value.  He would be much more valuable if he was hitting higher in the order and he did have some defensive issues at Triple-A.   However, for now he’s going to play regularly and is worth owning if you are in need of some speed.
  • Ryan Vogelsong got bombed again, allowing 7 ER on 9 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 4.2 IP to raise his ERA to 7.20.  A lot of the issues are luck related (.352 BABIP, 61.5% strand rate despite 20.0% line drive rate), as well as HR allowed (over 2.00 per 9 innings).  We would expect him to right the ship before long.

Bullpen Notes:

  • Carlos Marmol faced three batters, all of which came around to score (2 BB and a HBP).  Think there is any chance that he returns to the closers role this season?  The fact is he shouldn’t, but we can never say never.
  • It was not a good outing for Jim Henderson, who took the loss after allowing 1 ER on 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over an inning of work.  It was a non-save situation and shouldn’t have an impact on his hold of the closers role.  These things happen.


  1. Sawyer says:

    I have a chance to pick up RA Dickey. Someone in our league got tired of him and dumped him. Our league has a limited number of free agent transactions – I only have 4 left. My pitching has been horrible (I have Greinke and Weaver, as well as Wade LeBlance and Brandon Mauer). So…what would you expect our of Dickey the rest of the year? I’m looking at some pretty awesome ERAs and WHIPs the last 3 years from him…

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I do think the move to the AL has an impact, but he is definitely better than what he’s shown. I can’t imagine too many bette FA presenting themselves, so I’d make the move.

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