Pitchers are the bane of the fantasy leaguers existence. Just when a guy seems like he’s figured it all out he goes out and lays a series of stinkers (see Zambrano below). There are also hurlers who are humming along but they seem to hit an injury wall which raises concerns (Kershaw). There is also the fact that at any point any single pitch could spell doom for a hurler (Paulino, Worley). We’re also left to deal with the residual memory that is often lingering in our minds as we remember an ace-like arm, even when the results are far from that (Matsuzaka). There are often unfair expectations placed upon young arms so even when they pitch well they are looked at as disappointing (Moore). Finally, there are always a handful of guys that vault themselves from relative obscurity into the realm of becoming a household name (McDonald). All of these situations will be discussed in this piece because, frankly, I’m a really nice guy who wants to inform my readers. I’m such a wonderful human being.
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Diagnosed with plantar fasciitis in his foot, it’s like everyone lose their minds with Kershaw (you should have seen some of the trade questions that were floated my way the past couple of weeks from people). Admittedly Kershaw’s on the field performance wasn’t quite up to par โ he allowed 15 runs over four starts โ but let’s not lose our perspective here. After seven innings or one run ball against the Athletics Thursday Kershaw lowered his ERA to 2.73 and his WHIP to 1.01. His career marks are 2.86 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. His K/9 rate is down at 8.36, the mark is 9.23 for his career, but he’s also kept his walk rate down at 2.20 per nine leading to a 3.80 K/BB ratio that is a batter better than his career rate and it would be only the second time in five years that the mark was over 2.65. It’s just not fair to compare Kershaw to what he did last year. He’s been terrific, and will continue to be so, foot issues and all.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox
Oh what ever happened to that gyro ball.
In 2010 Dice-K went 9-6 with a 4.69 ERA and 1.37 WHIP as he was limited to 25 games due to injury.
In 2011 he tossed just eight games before Tommy John surgery was needed. He posted a 5.30 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and 1.13 K/BB ratio in eight games.
In three starts this year he is 0-2 with a 6.06 ERA.
So why is it that I still get nearly daily questions about him?
(1) He pitches for the Red Sox.
(2) People remember his 33 victories in his first two seasons.
(3) People can’t let go of the past. Consider this. Over his last 36 outings Dice-K is 12-11. He has a 4.91 ERA. His WHIP is 1.37. His K/9 mark is 7.55. His K/BB ratio is 1.71. The strikeouts aren’t bad, bu that is about as boring an effort as you’re going to find and it should relegate him to AL-only leagues.
James McDonald, Pirates
Turns out that you can teach an old dog new tricks. The 27 year old McDonald had sporadic success over his first four big league seasons, but everyone knew there was an extremely talented arm lurking in the Long Beach born righty. Consider that arm on full display. McDonald tossed his first career complete game Thursday against the Twins along six hits, no walks and just one run to lower his ratios to levels one never thought would be associated with McDonald’s name โ 2.19 ERA, 0.95 WHIP โ thanks to seven of nine outings in which he has allowed one or zero earned runs. McD has also done a rather impressive job throwing strikes as he’s walked two or fewer batters in 10-straight outings. Obviously there is regression coming, but the consistency that he has shown to this point of the season points to the landing being a soft one.
Matt Moore, Rays
Fourteen starts into the 2012 season many would say Moore has been a disappointment. He’s 4-5, his ERA is 4.13 and that WHIP is 1.38, so it’s understandable how people might be frustrated. Still, the power lefty has 85 Ks in 80 innings bringing his brand of heat and hammer curves to batters. He’s also been pretty darn consistent of last allowed two or fewer earned runs in five of his last six starts as his ERA has come down from 5.20 to 4.13. He needs to cut the walks, 40 in 80.2 innings isn’t acceptable, but he’s rounding into form quite nicely.
Felipe Paulino, Royals
So much for a breakout fantasy campaign.
It was announced, totally out of nowhere might I add, that Paulino hurt his arm during his minor league rehab outing on Wednesday and that the injury is to his UCL. That means Tommy John surgery is probable ending what was shaping up to be a great 2012 season as Paulino had a 1.67 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 39 Ks over 37.2 innings. If he does undergo TJ surgery he’ll likely miss not only the rest of the 2012 season but most if not all of the first half of next season.
Vance Worley, Phillies
Pitching with a loose bone chip in his elbow, Worley has been quite effective in four June starts since returning from some time on the shelf. Worley has hurled 24 innings this month, and though his K-rate is way down (16 in 24 innings), he’s allowed only one home runs and six earned runs leading to a 2.25 ERA and 1.08 WHIP (slightly better than his season long 2.78 and 1.25 marks). There’s obviously concern about his arm, that bone chip could move and cause problems on any pitch he throws, but for now he continues to operate as a pretty impressive right handed arm that may not be getting the credit he deserves.
Carlos Zambrano, Marlins
You would have to say that Big Z’s first 14 starts in a Marlins uniform have gone well, even though things have take a turn for the ugly, and I’m talking like someone has been beating with the ugly stick about the head for weeks, over his last three starts (0-2, 14 earned runs in 9.1 innings leading to a 13.50 ERA and 2.79 WHIP). How can I call his effort to date a positive one? (1) He’s avoided any blow ups. Gatorade coolers rejoice. (2) He’s taken the ball every five games. (3) His WHIP is 1.30, a mark that would be a 4-year low. (4) Even with nosedive-tastic efforts the last two weeks, his 4.01 ERA is still more than three quarters of a run better than the 4.82 mark he posted last season. He hasn’t been great, but as an NL-only option he’s been passable.
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.