BY ROB SHAW
One of the top stories for the White Sox last season was the breakout season by former first round pick Philip Humber. Selected by the Mets with the third pick of the 2004 draft, Humber dealt with injuries and never met expectations when he was traded for Johan Santana in 2008. The trade did not exactly work out for the Twins, as Humber moved to the White Sox and aside from him the only other key contributor is their former centerfielder Carlos Gomez, who proved to be a part-time player.
Last season, Humber finally got a crack at sticking in the Big Leagues. He made 26 starts and 28 appearances. Though his record was just 9-9, more impressive was his 3.75 ERA and 1.18 WHIP despite pitching in a hitter’s ballpark. What separates Humber from most pitchers is his devastating curveball. In fact, he ranked fourth in Major League Baseball last season with a .159 opposing average against his curveball.
If there is an area for Humber to improve, it’s his stamina. In his first full season in the Big Leagues, Humber experienced a major drop off after the fifth inning, as his ERA spiked from 2.96 to 6.34. At that point, his control fell a bit and his opposing average spiked to .305. Of course, the increased workload may explain the trend.
Humber has a dream week in fantasy baseball, as he opens with a start against an overzealous Orioles offense that lacks much plate discipline. He aced that test, allowing just one run to score in 5.1 innings of work, while fanning 7 batters. Next, he hurls in Seattle’s cavernous Safeco Field, against a mediocre Mariners offense.
Fantasy managers should plug Humber for both starts this week. For more fantasy baseball insight visit BloombergSports.com.
BY ROB SHAW
This is very much the start of a new era for the Marlins, as the team moves into a new state-of-the-art ballpark, changes it’s jerseys, as well as it logos and colors. However, the greatest difference that will be felt on the field is the addition of Mets legend Jose Reyes to the top of the Marlins lineup.
The leadoff hitter plays a very important role in baseball as the table setter for a lineup. Reyes is coming off a season in which he led the National League with a .337 average, while reaching base at a .384 OBP. Despite missing 36 games (more than 20% of the season), he still racked up 101 runs. That number should go even higher now that he joins a lineup batting in front of perennial MVP candidate Hanley Ramirez and several other rising sluggers.
There has been much controversy made in the media concerning the addition of Reyes to the Marlins and what this would mean for Ramirez. However, the star shortstop transitioning to third had no such qualms when we asked him about the addition of Reyes: “It’s good, he brings a lot of energy to this team and every morning he is always smiling and that’s good.” Ramirez then added, “I think we need that and obviously he’s a pretty good ballplayer and a pretty good person.”
In truth, the Reyes impact is felt more than just at shortstop. By moving Ramirez to third base, he fills a void at a position that did not get much production last season. Suddenly, the fish have one of the best left-infields in baseball while also enjoying a top leadoff hitter in the lineup.
Despite some frustration that the Mets did not make him an offer, Reyes is excited about his new team. “It’s been unbelievable so far, everybody has welcomed me like I’m home here, and that’s made me feel very comfortable,” said the star shortstop.
With Reyes getting on base before Ramirez and slugger Mike Stanton, the Marlins should have one of the elite offenses in the Big Leagues, while the defense also gets an edge. Now if Josh Johnson can stay healthy they will have a shot at surpassing the Phillies. However, that is a big “if,” as Johnson has only once made 30 starts in a season.
For more Major League Baseball insight visit BloombergSports.com.
BY ROB SHAW
Edwin Jackson is young, durable, and has been a winner with 10-plus wins in each of the last four seasons. The solid track record begs the question why did so many teams pass on him.
The 28-year-old hurler is now on his seventh Major League team and he hasn’t played for losers either. He went 5-2 down the stretch for the Cardinals last season, playing a role in the team’s World Series Championship.
One of the hardest throwing hurlers in baseball, Jackson has improved his control over the years. His greatest weakness recently is that he is just too hittable. Even in his successful run with the Cardinals the opposition hit .300 against him. The good news is that he keeps the ball in the yards, but for fantasy managers looking for a low WHIP, Jackson is not a solution.
The move to Washington means he’ll now don the jersey for his sixth team over the last four years. However, Bloomberg Sports likes his fantasy value. The larger ballpark and National League setting should translate to 170 strikeouts, double-digit wins, and a 4.21 ERA.
Jackson is a fine low-risk, high ceiling option in the later rounds of fantasy drafts. After all, it was just a few years back that he threw a no-hitter while pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Let’s see if he can finally sustain such dominance over a full season.
Once one of the hurlers in the most demand in the Major Leagues, Erik Bedard hopes to build on his improvement from last season while joining the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Bedard was a disaster in Seattle. Because of injuries, he never lived up to the hype and while the Mariners traded away top prospect Adam Jones to the Orioles for him, they ended up letting him go for very little in return last season to the Red Sox.
The good news is that Bedard showed that even after all of the injury-ravaged seasons, he still has some potential right now. He offered fine control last season and fanned a batter per inning throughout the year.
A move to Pittsburgh should lead to some good results for Bedard’s fantasy managers. Pittsburgh’s ballpark plays neutral and he will no longer have to deal with designated hitters in the majority of his starts. Most importantly, he has sustained his health, which is the key to his performance.
BloombergSports.com projects a solid 3.74 ERA and 1 .30 WHIP from the veteran hurler this season, and with some luck he could reach double-digit wins for the first time in five years.
The loss of CJ Wilson could be crushing to the Texas Rangers. Just a year removed from a second World Series, the Rangers lost their ace for a second time. First it was Cliff Lee who bolted to rejoin the Phillies. Now it’s Wilson, and while he may not be as dominant as Lee, the fact that he joins the rival LA Angels of Anaheim makes matters worse.
The Rangers were desperate to respond and without many proven stars on the market they had to compete with teams including the Toronto Blue Jays to land Yu Darvish, an ace from Japan. With an enormous bid, the Rangers land the hard-throwing hurler who will enjoy the loftiest expectations by a free agent to join the Rangers perhaps since Alex Rodriguez signed his now infamous $252 million deal.
As far as realistic projections for Darvish, BloombergSports.com offers a 13-8 record, 185 strikeouts, and a 3.63 ERA for the hard-throwing hurler. That makes him the 16th best starting pitcher, and a top-50 fantasy talent.
Despite the lofty projections, there is still a great deal of risk for fantasy managers. After all, Darvish is new to America and will have to adapt culturally to Major League Baseball, plus he calls home to one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the league. He will not get away with many mistakes and the media will be hounding him all season long.
For more fantasy baseball insight visit BloombergSports.com.