Elite Starting Pitchers Struggling
This is something Ryan Butler is going to touch on in an article later this week, but it’s something worth noting here. After two turns through pitching rotations, six starting pitchers ranked in the top 100 by Yahoo! have an ERA over 6.00 (Tim Lincecum, 12.91; C.C. Sabathia, 6.75; Zack Greinke, 6.75; Dan Haren, 6.97; Adam Wainwright, 11.42; and Daniel Hudson, 8.71). Yu Darvish, the Chosen One, has eight walks in two starts and his WHIP (2.21) weighs more than he does. Mat Latos has the same amount of walks as strikeouts (five).
Conversely, pitchers like Chad Billingsley, Edwin Jackson, Barry Zito, and Jonathon Niese are all pitchers who went largely undrafted in many leagues, but are ranked among the top starters through two weeks.
We’re not saying you should hit the panic button yet, but it’s a reminder that there’s always pitching to be had.
It might be easier to name the closers who haven’t had season ending surgery. Gone for the season are Brian Wilson, Joakim Soria, and Ryan Madson. Out for significant time are Andrew Bailey, Drew Storen, and Kyle Farnsworth. On top of the injuries, Sergio Santos and Heath Bell already have two blown saves. Thirty-five other relievers have a blown save. Overall, closers are 71 for 110 to start the year. That’s a 64.5% save percentage. In April last year, all teams had a 66% save percentage.
Already some underrated and unnoticed outfielders have come out swinging. Among them: Adam Jones, Chris Young, Andre Ethier, Corey Hart, J.D. Martinez, Austin Jackson, Jason Heyward, and Jordan Schafer are currently ranked in the top 30 on Yahoo! It wouldn’t surprise us to see Jones end the year in the top 30. He’s improved every year, and he’s dedicated himself to stealing more bases this year (already has three). The knocks on Young and Jackson in the past were low batting averages and high strikeout rates. This year? Both are hitting over .360 and only have 15 total strikeouts in 67 combined at-bats. Finally, Martinez is a player who seemingly came out of nowhere. He’s playing for a team that will likely lose 100 games and his counting stats are going to be hard to come by considering the lack of runners on base, but he’s an interesting pickup (consider his six homers in 208 at-bats last year; already three in 35 this year).
Post-Season Breakouts; What it Means
Two players who had their coming out parties during the post-season last year (during the World Series in particular), David Freese and Jason Motte, are continuing their success. Freese, the World Series MVP, is hitting .406 with three homers and 11 RBI. Motte already has two saves and a 0.50 WHIP.
Freese, a constant candidate to hit the DL (he’s never played more than 97 games in a season), is already hurt this year, but it appears to be a minor injury. Motte seemed to be misused by LaRussa during the regular season in 2011. He was given the closing gig, but then pulled after he struggled. This year he seems poised to hold onto the job.
Lastly, there are a few fantasy sleepers who are still sleeping. Jamile Weeks, Jason Kipnis, Dee Gordon, Francisco Liriano, and Kendrys Morales aren’t pulling their collective weight. Weeks and Kipnis were trendy second basemen to target after you missed out on the top guys. They have five homers between the two of them, but both are hitting below .215. Gordon was similarly a mid-round pick, and while he has seven steals already, his 10 K and .200 BA aren’t going to cut it. Liriano, my ex-boyfriend, is flat out droppable, and I don’t feel like explaining why. Morales was supposed to be better than this, way better, but he hasn’t played in a year, might want to give the guy a break.