Alfredo Aceves is still not someone I’m fond of, but after his rough start to the year he has settled down big time (kudos to him). Aceves has worked seven straight scoreless outings to bring his ERA down to a palatable 4.15 while his WHIP is down to 1.29. However, let’s face it, all anyone really cares about are the 11 saves that he has, and he’s converted his last nine opportunities. Somehow Aceves has jacked up his K/9 rate three full batters to 9.55. Don’t know how he is doing that. He is walking more batters than ever before those (3.74 per nine) so the Ks have come at a price. Somehow part #2. A career 40 percent ground ball guy, that number has vaulted to 51 percent this season. That makes little sense either. Let’s see if he can hold on to the gains over the long haul. Oh, and Mark Melancon, the reliever who was battling Aceves for closing duties at the start of the year, he’s dominating at Triple-A with a 0.56 ERA and 24 Ks in 16 outings covering 16 innings.
Daniel Bard should be the Red Sox closer right now. Instead, he’s been a middling starting pitcher. Middling might even be too kind as Bard has a 4-5 record, 4.69 ERA and 1.56 WHIP through his nine outings. While none of that is good, I’m even more dismayed at some of the other numbers he’s flopping up there. A career strikeout an inning guy enter the season, Bard has a total of 28 punchouts in 48 innings this season leading to a 5.25 K per nine mark. Basically the move from the bullpen to the rotation has cost him four strikeouts per nine innings, a massive drop off. Second, a slightly worse than average control artist, Bard had walked about 3.30 batters per nine innings the past two years. This season that number has exploded to 5.44 per nine. For those of you that didn’t put those two numbers together let me do it for you — Bard has walked one more batter this season than he’s struck out leaving his K/BB mark at less than half of the rate he produced while working as a reliever. Maybe Bard will figure it out and become a viable starting pitcher, but the early returns are not one bit encouraging. If you’re pitching him in mixed leagues you’re doing more harm than good.
Lance Berkman got some great news Friday when surgeons determined that his knee wasn’t going to require extensive surgery after all. Berkman’s ACL wasn’t damaged enough that it had to be repaired as the doctors repaired a meniscus tear and took care of some frayed cartilage. The upside is that he is expected to miss 8-10 weeks meaning he should/could be back on the field at some point in August. Obviously if you can stash Berkman on a DL spot, do it (hopefully you didn’t bail on him when you heard of the initial reports that he could be done for the year).
Ernesto Frieri has been superfantastical since joining the Angels. In 8.2 innings he hasn’t allowed a single hit while striking out 19 batters. That’s pretty much as impressive a run as any pitcher who has ever lived. Now I worry about the six walks he has issued, an obviously he isn’t going to continue to be this dominating, but Scott Downs better start to seriously look over his shoulder as Frieri is coming hard for that 9th inning job. Meanwhile, though no one in Anaheim seems to care, deposed closer Jordan Walden has allowed three hits in his last 8.2 innings while not permitting a single run to score.
Lance Lynn owns a special set of numbers as he’s gone 7-1 with a 2.54 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. Still, the slow erosion of those numbers has already begun. Over his last three outings, all of which he has lasted exactly six innings, he’s allowed 10 runs leading to an ERA of 5.00. He’s also surrendered 21 hits while seeing his K/BB ratio drop down to 1.88. Hopefully you sold him at his peak because that slow fade is likely going to last for a pretty long clip.
Chris Perez leads baseball with 16 saves and he’s blown only one chance. More than just saves, he’s greatly enhanced his performance this season when compared to his efforts from last season. After seeing his K/9 rate fall to 5.88 last year, he’s waylaid concerns about his stuff by bumping that number back up to 8.84 this season. He’s also continued an impressive trend of cutting his walk rate. Here are his totals for the last four seasons, per nine innings, and his mark so far this year: 4.75, 4.26, 4.00, 3.92 and 3.26. He’s been pretty fortunate having not allowed a long ball this season, and that 0.88 GB/FB ratio still causes me some pause, but he’s had success at those levels before. Moreover, his left on base percentage of 71 percent is well below his 78 percent career mark, so there’s even a reasonable argument that could be made that his performance could improve a bit moving forward.
Chris Sale has been jerked around all year by management, and there are those lingering worries about a wonky arm, but you would never know it looking at his results this season: 5-2, 2.50 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 46 Ks in 50.1 innings. He’s been even more impressive the last two outings as he’s allowed only seven hits, walked just three batters and allowed just one run. Seems like the only way he doesn’t meet expectations this year is if the Sox decide to turn him into a right fielder, which given the way the asylum has been run this season, may not be as bonkers as it sounds.
Jeff Samardzija is doing something that we don’t see too often. He’s not just improving in his move from the pen to the rotation, that on it’s own isn’t crazy, but it’s the fact that his skills have improved that really stands out. Compared to last year his K/9 (9.00), BB/9 (2.84), GB-rate (48.3) and fly ball (30.5) are all better. Heck, he’s even improved his left on base rate slightly (75.7 percent). Can he continue to defy the odds and hold on to all those gains as the innings pile up? Lest us now forget that Samardzija has never been a big innings pitched guy. During his big league career he has only one season with more than 60-innings, last year he tossed 88. If we combine his major/minor league innings we still don’t see too many huge innings marks: 141.2 (2007), 141 (2008), 123.2 (2009), 130.2 (2010) and those 88 innings last year. How will his arm hold up when he reaches uncharted territory? I’m not saying it’s panic time and that you should sell, sell, sell, but it’s worth keeping in mind if someone comes to you with a fair offer for the Cubs hurler.
Ryan Vogelsong had another solid outing for the Giants Thursday (6.1 innings, three runs). Starting the year slowly because of back woes, he’s continued to flash the success that he did last season in his return from Japan. Ryan has lasted at least six innings in all eight of his starts, an only one time has he allowed more than three runs (four back on April 26th). The result is a 2.50 ERA that should have led to a better mark than 3-2, but you can thank the Giants often woeful offense for that. Over his last 38 outings (223.2 innings) Vogelsong has a 2.66 ERA, and that’s pretty damn impressive for a guy who was a total afterthought just 16 months ago.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 5-8 PM EDT, Monday through Friday. Ray’s baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account.
Tags: Alfredo Aceves, Daniel Bard, Fantasy, Fantasy Baseball, Lance Berkman, MLB