BY ROB SHAW
There was once a time when drafting a Colorado Rockies pitcher in your fantasy league was nothing but trouble, but after we saw Ubaldo Jimenez not just tame the altitude, but dominate in it, fantasy managers are willing to invest in a Rockies hurler. One pitcher who is drawing a great deal of interest is Jhoulys Chacin.
The 24-year-old hurler was hurt last season by a lack of defensive and offensive support as his record was just 11-14 and more than 10% of runs scored against him were unearned. However, some of his struggles were self-inflicted. Chacin walked 87 batters and surrendered 20 home runs. Though he still managed a solid 3.62 ERA, he was flirting with danger despite the stellar .231 average against.
What makes Chacin so effective in Coors is that he keeps the ball on the ground. In fact, of all pitchers in the Majors last season with at least 100 innings pitched, Chacin ranked seventh with a 57% ground ball rate.
While Chacin is a solid pitcher the question is whether he will become a great pitcher. In order to do so he has to improve his control, which would result in a lower WHIP, better ERA, and a career-high in wins. At 24 years old, there is a great deal of upside for Chacin and it is fair to assume that he’ll take a step in the right direction this season.
Typically pitching in a pitcher’s park is more advantageous than a hitter’s bandbox. There is an argument to the contrary for Reds hurler Mat Latos who makes his way from San Diego’s PETCO Park to Cincinnati. The greatest liability in Latos statistics last season was the 9-14 record. Otherwise, the second-year hurler was stellar with a 3.47 ERA and 1.18 WHIP.
The idea here is that Latos could use a little run support. With Adrian Gonzalez having left the west coast for Boston last season, Latos had few batters to offer the run support needed for a winning record. That should not be an issue this season as he once again will have an MVP candidate manning first base with Joey Votto, plus the presence of Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce among others in the lineup.
Expect a rise in the ERA as the hitter-friendly ballpark can’t be ignored, but it will come with nearly 200 strikeouts and around 15 wins.
The Rays will compete once again in the AL East thanks to the fine young talent making up their starting rotation. While the Yankees and Red Sox acquire talent in trades and via free agency, the Rays secure their stars via drafts.
The next top prospect to follow the path of David Price and Jeremy Hellickson as prospects turned stars is rookie Matt Moore. In his first taste of the Big Leagues, Moore actually pitched more post-season innings than he did in the regular season. In 19.1 combined innings, Moore fanned 23 batters compared to just six walks.
In the minor leagues, Moore dominated while fanning batters at a shocking rate. The sunshine state southpaw surpassed 200 strikeouts in both seasons despite pitching 155 innings or fewer. Similar to Hellickson last season, Moore will likely make an immediate fantasy impact, though with more K’s. On the other hand, the Rays will likely play it safe and limit him to around 180 innings.
While most fantasy managers prefer proven commodities when it comes to fantasy drafts, there are very few hurlers with the upside of Moore’s, and yet you can likely nab him as late as the 10th round. For more fantasy insight visit BloombergSports.com.
1) Brian Wilson
2 wins, 3 saves, 7 K’s, 5 IP, 0 R (9 Straight shutout apps)
2) Tom Gorzelanny
2 wins, 15 IP, 10 K’s, 1.20 ERA(2.87 ERA, 0.90 WHIP)
3) Jaime Garcia
1 win, 9 IP, 8 K’s, 0 R, 0.33 WHIP (4-0, 1.99 ERA)
4) David Price
1 win, 8.2 IP, 10 K’s, 0 R, 0.46 WHIP (3.26 ERA, 1.13 WHIP)
5) Tim Hudson
1 win, 9 IP, 6 K’s, 0 R, 0.22 WHIP (2.86 ERA, 0.95 WHIP)
As far as the historic performances, have some more confidence in Francisco Liriano and Yovani Gallardo, they are good pitchers off to bad starts. Justin Verlander is an absolute star and that’s why he was often my top pitcher in fantasy drafts.
by Eno Sarris //
The Rays, as seems to a yearly tradition, have a bright young pitching prospect hitting their rotation this year. Jeremy Hellickson comes off a stellar, if short, debut, already has a scintillating nickname in “Hellboy.” But we’ve seen this story before, and with varying results. How does Hellickson stack up against fellow young Rays David Price, Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann?
Take a look at the table below for a quick overview of the relevant statistics these young Rays accrued in the minor leagues and in their respective debuts. The percentage of games started is included because players always perform better in short stints out of the bullpen.
Some differences immediately step to the fore. Not all debuts were created equal. We can probably eliminate the chance that Hellickson ends up like Niemann based on a few factors, including his debut. Not only did Niemann show the worst control of the group in the minor leagues, but his strikeout rate dropped as he advanced through the minor leagues, eventually bottoming out in his debut.
But eliminating Niemann still leaves the possibility that Hellickson ends up more Wade Davis than David Price. Now, these pitchers are all different, and have varying arsenals, ages, and histories, but they all have the common misfortune of having to face the AL East from the get-go. David Price obviously did well, and Hellickson’s numbers compare favorably to Price’s. If only Hellickson used his left hand, we’d have a nice comparable player to point to.
Why won’t Hellckson end up like fellow right-hander Wade Davis? Control is the easiest answer. Hellickson’s is elite, Davis’ average or below. Another answer lies in their comparative arsenals. Davis relied mostly on a fastball, while Hellickson has a plus-plus changeup and a solid curveball to go with his 91 MPH fastball. Bloomberg Sports has him putting up a 3.89 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, and he obviously has the upside to better that.
Given his elite control, strong off-speed arsenal, and historical record so far, Jeremy Hellickson is on track to be more David Price than Wade Davis. Expect a strong year from Hellboy, even if he hits a few bumps along the way.
For the best fantasy baseball analysis and insight please visit BloombergSports.com
By R.J. Anderson //
A few things about David Price’s fastball were evident entering Wednesday night’s start versus the Boston Red Sox:
1) It goes fast:
Pitchfx data has his average four-seamer at 94.8 MPH and his two-seamer clocking in at 90.7 MPH.
2) Hard to hit:
A poll of, say, 300 baseball fans right now asking which starting pitcher has the fastball most difficult to hit would probably yield results that showed Stephen Strasburg’s heater near the top. As it turns out, Strasburg gets whiffs 9.2% of the time. Price? 9.1%. Not too shabby.
3) He uses it a lot:
More than 70% of the time, as it turns out.
Combine that information with a Boston lineup missing Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and J.D. Drew (Drew not for health reasons) and nothing about Wednesday night’s game should surprise. Price’s fastball sat around 93-95 all night long, topping out at 96.9 MPH. He threw it constantly. Thirty-nine of his first 40 pitches were heaters, 100 of 111 overall. He pounded the zone with it too; more than 75% of his fastballs were strikes of either swinging, called, or foul variety.
The most amazing aspect of the start was that as Price continued to pump fastballs, everyone sort of caught on. Undoubtedly the Red Sox realized he was doing his best Mariano Rivera impression by tossing almost nothing but fireballs, yet they simply couldn’t hit any of them. Not only did Price strike out 10 Red Sox (while allowing only two earned runs and walking one), he also turned up 19 swinging strikes on those 100 fastballs. That’s an absurd 19% whiff rate. As mentioned before, Price’s seasonal rate is a little less than half that. To say Price’s heater was working in all its glory last night then, is an understatement.
Graphic courtesy of FanGraphs.com
All in all, it was one of the best starts of Price’s season. Which is really saying something, since Price leads the American League in wins (with 12), trails only Cliff Lee in ERA (2.42), and has shown progress in various fielding independent metrics (3.61 FIP). The former number-one pick is bridging the gap between potential and production in only his second full season in the majors.
If you own Price in a keeper league, go ahead and slap the franchise tag on him. If you own him otherwise, sit back and continue to enjoy the maturation of a rising ace.
For more on David Price and other Egyptian-based dinosaur deities, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kits.