Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses five players who are making an impact in fantasy baseball.
Matt Cain, SP, Giants
Coming into the season, it was already clear that Matt Cain was the best starting pitcher in baseball to never reach 15 wins in a season. He averaged 13 wins over the last three seasons despite having an ERA less than three over that period. This year it looks like Cain is finally going to get the overdue respect he’s earned.
Whether it’s because of Tim Lincecum’s struggles, the 8-2 record, or the absurd 0.85 WHIP, Cain has shined bright this season and has become the clear ace for the Giants. Wednesday night was simply a celebration of that as he was not only perfect, but the accompanying 14 strikeouts tells you that he struck out the majority of the batters he faced. Best of all, his past tells us that Cain usually gets better in the second half of the season.
Carlos Beltran, OF, Cardinals
Year after year we see veteran players find their second winds in St. Louis. Well, you can add Carlos Beltran to the list that already includes such names as Larry Walker, Will Clark, Jim Edmonds, and more recently Lance Berkman. Beltran offered three hits on Wednesday including a solo shot, which would end up being the only run of the game.
His average is now at .298, which is not the biggest surprise, but the shock comes with the 19 home runs. The 35-year-old is on pace for a career high in home runs, perhaps up to 45. However, his pace is probably not sustainable because of the biggest threat of all: injuries.
Lance Lynn, SP, Cardinals
Not many people have heard of Lance Lynn, but he is the lone reason that the Cardinals are competing despite the slow start from Adam Wainwright, who is rebounding from a missed season, plus the loss of Chris Carpenter due to an injury of his own. Lynn is a former first-round pick who showed some life in the bullpen a season ago, but no one predicted his performance this season. He is now 10-2 with a 2.42 ERA and has 23 strikeouts over the last two starts. Will he keep it up? The odds are against him. He is approaching 82 innings of work, which is a big boost from a season in which his innings were limited.
Trevor Plouffe, OF, Twins
In his first two seasons, Trevor Plouffe was a disappointment with the Twins, but now he’s one of the hottest sluggers in baseball. Plouffe blasted his 11th home run on Wednesday, which was his sixth over the last 10 games. His average remains low, less than .240, but his power has more than made up for that. So is it sustainble? Probably not. We have never seen this type of power in the minor leagues and there isn’t really much else that he offers to fantasy managers.
R.A. Dickey, SP, Mets
The Mets have protested the official scoring of Dickey’s start on Wednesday night against the Rays with hopes that the one hit he surrendered will be called an error on David Wright. While it was Johan Santana who picked up the no-no a little while ago, the ace on this team is very much R.A. Dickey. Not only is he incredibly durable, which is often the case for knuckleballers, but he is also changing speeds from the 50s to the 80s and throwing strikes with his knuckleball, which is very rarely seen.
The big story this season is that Dickey has recently turned into a strikeout artist, and he did so again on Wednesday with 12 K’s. He is now 10-1 with a 2.20 ERA and 0.94 WHIP, and is looking like Roy Halladay at his best with the numbers that he’s posting. So is he really this good? Yes, he is very good and I do think he may be a top-five pitcher for the remainder of the season. His ERA has always been splendid with the Mets, as in sub-3, and now with the run support, he’s getting the much deserved wins. The only question is whether he will keep racking up the K’s, and so far, so good!
For more fantasy 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.