Bloomberg Sports Anchors Rob Shaw and Julie Alexandria preview this year’s edition of the Fall Classic between the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants.
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYERS
Buster Posey, C, Giants
The clear frontrunner for the NL MVP this season has gotten off to a slow start in the playoffs hitting only .178 so far in 12 games. That being said, Posey did have perhaps the biggest hit of the year for the Giants when he took Mat Latos deep for a Grand Slam in the winner-take-all Game 5 in Cincinnati. San Francisco will be looking for more of that clutch hitting against Detroit in this series.
Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Tigers
For Miguel Cabrera, earning the first Triple Crown since 1967, and most likely an AL MVP award, was just not enough. He has now led his team to the Fall Classic as well. After hitting 44 home runs in the regular season, he has only hit one in nine games so far in the postseason, but that could change rather quickly given his prodigious power. Cabrera is back in the World Series for the first time since his rookie season in 2003 with the Marlins, and he is trying to add to his tremendous individual year with the highest team honor, a World Series ring.
Marco Scutaro, 2B, Giants
Scutaro has to be at the top of the list of best midseason acquisitions this year when he came from Colorado to San Francisco in late July. He was hitting .272 while he was with the Rockies, but he started out hot with the Giants and never cooled down, hitting .362 over the final 61 games of the season. It seems he is even hotter now heading into the World Series after a NLCS that saw him hit .500 (14 for 28) over the seven-game series against St. Louis, earning him MVP honors.
Delmon Young, DH, Tigers
It sure seems like Delmon Young enjoys playing in October. In the last two postseasons for Detroit, a total of 18 games, Young has seven home runs, which is a franchise record. Coming up as a prospect in the Tampa Bay system, Young was considered a five-tool player, but that notion is long gone since he has been the Tigers DH all season. However, it does appear that Young will need to channel his minor league days when he plays left field for the Tigers when they are in an NL ballpark in at least Games 1 and 2.
By only allowing two runs in their four starts, the only adjective that you could use to describe the starting pitchers for the Tigers against the Yankees in the ALCS was dominant. It will obviously be tough to keep that up against a hot hitting team in the Giants, but you would not put it past the rotation of Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer, who all had great numbers all season. The Giants will most likely try to get to the Tigers bullpen where they have struggled, most notably their closer Jose Valverde, who was replaced by Phil Coke after a blown save in Game 1 of the ALCS.
The starting pitching for the Giants was supposed to be their strength heading into the postseason, but it has been the offense and bullpen that has carried them through to this point. Madison Bumgarner, a 16-game winner this year, really struggled in his two postseason starts and has since been sent to the bullpen. On the other side of the coin, Barry Zito, has been a pleasant surprise for the Giants, last seen pitching 7 2/3 shutout innings with Giants facing elimination in Game 5 of the NLCS against the Cardinals. That being said, the goal for the Giants is clear. They want to get the game to their dominant bullpen for a chance to lock down four more wins.
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If you’re lucky your rival fantasy managers may have forgotten about Doug Fister and what he offered last season. The Tigers right-hander returned this week from the disabled list and was offered a dream fantasy week.
Fister took on the hapless Mariners offense and the A’s offense both in big-time pitcher’s parks. Though the Tigers did not offer the run support that we expected, Fister was sensational even if his record is just 0-1.
In his return to the mound, Fister stymied the Mariners for seven innings, allowing just four hits and no walks through seven innings. The Tigers eventually lost that contest 3-2. Next, Fister went six innings against the A’s, allowing nothing more than a first inning run. The right-hander fanned eight batters, but again lacked the run support for a win.
Through 16.2 innings, Fister now boasts a 0.54 ERA and 14:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has dominated in his 14 appearances since joining the Tigers. Fister’s value should only improve throughout the season as the offense should eventually awake and offer the run support that allowed the 6’8” right-hander to go 8-1 down the stretch a season ago.
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It’s been a week of surprises in Major League Baseball.
Jason Motte takes over the closer’s role from Fernando Salas despite the fact that Salas was doing perfectly fine and also happens to be younger.
Madison Bumgarner looks as good as his two colleagues Tim Lincecum and Matt Caine and finally, Doug Fister looks like an absolute steal by the Tigers.
Jason Motte, RP, Cardinals
There has been talk about Jason Motte becoming the Cardinals closer for a few years now and in his last chance to grab the job, he struggled two years ago and again earlier in the season before Fernando Salas took over. Salas has been solid with 23 saves and a 2.47 ERA. The problem here is that Motte has been even better and is a harder thrower that better exemplifies the role of a closer. Motte has not surrendered a run since the All-Star break, in fact the last run he allowed was back in June. Though he is older than Salas, with a 1.57 ERA and 0.91 WHIP, Motte earned the opportunity to impress Tony LaRussa in the ninth inning.
Madison Bumgarner, SP, Giants
We knew Madison Bumgarner was a solid pitcher. He proved this last season when as a rookie he played a large role in the Giants winning the World Series. We just did not know until recently that he could be as dominant as his teammates Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum. Over his last three starts Bumgarner has allowed just three runs to score over 22 and 2/3 innings. He is averaging just under a strikeout per inning and the ERA is down to 2.69 since the All-Star break. Poor run support explains the 12 losses on the season, but at just 22-years old this southpaw is clearly an ace in the making.
Doug Fister, SP, Tigers
Coming into the weekend Doug Fister already had the lowest ERA of any pitcher with 12 or more losses. Then he went out and threw the game of his life, offering eight stellar frames while fanning 13 and walking one. The 6’8 hurler was a great acquisition by the Tigers and clearly will have some fantasy value throughout the remainder of the season with a 3.17 ERA. Fister has now allowed just three runs to score over the last four starts, three of which have been wins. He is 4-1 with the Tigers with a 2.64 ERA through seven starts. The Mariners by the way have been happy with Casper Wells while Charlie Furbush has been inconsistent.
By R.J. Anderson //
Every year a handful of young pitchers will ascend the ranks, have a hot start, and cause a scramble to the fantasy waiver wire. Two of these early-season stories couldn’t be more contrasting in background and how they get the job done.
Doug Fister is a large human being. He stands six-foot-eight and most of that height is made up by lengthy stubs he uses as legs. Fister spent most of 2009 in Triple-A and showed impeccable command while getting outs via groundballs. Seattle placed him in their rotation late in the season and he continued those ways while giving up a few too many longballs. He still held a 4.13 ERA though.
Mike Leake has never thrown a pitch in the minor leagues. The Cincinnati Reds drafted the six-foot-nothing righty out of Arizona State University last June. The only pitches he threw for them thereafter came in the Arizona Fall League and during spring training. That didn’t prevent Leake from winning a job with the big league team this season, and so far the results have looked pretty good. Thanks to a Cliff Lee injury, Fister began the season in the Mariners’ rotation. Not only has he made three starts while lasting an average of six innings per, he’s allowed only three runs and 12 hits. He’s still not striking anyone out, but he doesn’t have to right now because he’s not handing out free passes or home runs. Even when his ERA regresses upwards – and it will – he could still fit the mold of a Nick Blackburn or – Seattle fans hide your eyes – what the Mariners thought they would be getting when they signed Carlos Silva a few fateful winters ago. With the Mariners’ terrific outfield defense, it could work.
In two starts and 13.2 innings, Leake racked up groundballs and avoided home runs, which made him a lot like Fister. Leake had a tougher time in his third start. He still managed to last seven innings, but gave up five earned runs on two home runs. Five strikeouts, a walk, and 16 of 23 balls in play going for groundballs provide some hope that this is an outlier rather than the real package heading forward.
Unlike Fister, though, Leake only has a 77% contact rate against, whereas his taller counterpart has a 92% contact rate against. That suggests that while they may take similar steps to getting the same result – groundball outs – Leake has the secondary stuff to also record strikeouts. Particularly his change-up and slider; according to pitch data from pitchfx, Leake’s change-up is being swung at and missed 18% of the time and his slider is being missed 19% of the time. Those are fantastic rates for any pitcher, especially for a rookie without a minor league track record.
In a vacuum, that potential along with his pedigree make Leake a more attractive fantasy option moving forward. At this point, either are worth adds in deep American- or National League-only environments. Leake might be worth adding in deeper mixed leagues too.
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