Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Top Pickups On the Mound: Week 5

SP- Jonathan O. Sanchez- 36Ks in 28 innings will catch anyone's attention. Add to that a 1.18WHIP, and an ERA in the mid threes and people really will start buying in. The most impressive stat of all perhaps goes well beyond that. It's his 2-1 record on the putrid San Francisco Giants team, that has scored the 3rd least amount of runs in the majors this season, that is really the most telling, eye catching statistic Sanchez has this season. The numbers thus far are very good, and his ERA comes in as a bit inflated because of a 4inning 7run outing he had in his first outing.

His minor league numbers show similar dominance, and K rate as he is showing in the majors, so it is not like he is a fluke call up, who has had a few lucky starts. This guy is legit, and if he's still available in your league, go out and grab him.

A few draw backs I see are that since he strikes a lot of guys out, he throws a lot of pitches, and doesn't last very long into ball games, which could cost him wins. Of his 5 starts this year, 3 have been of 5 or less innings. I can also see the occasional rough outing, as he is still a young pitcher learning how to be a starting pitcher in the major leagues. And of course, the Giants awful offense could also cost him a few wins with their terrible run support.

All of that being said, I really do like Sanchez to continue his success. I think he can put up numbers similar to what Oliver Perez did for the Pirates in 2004. 12-10, with 200+Ks, 2.98ERA and a WHIP of 1.15.

SP- Chad Gaudin- Gaudin started off hot last season for Oakland, but tailed off as the season went along and ended up post rather mediocre stats. Well, this season he has started off similar to last season, with Gaudin pitching very well and becoming a hot fantasy add. Last season however, Gaudin was apparently pitching with a bad hip which required off season surgery that he had in December. Some would point to that as an explanation for why he pitched so poorly as the season wore on.

I recently added Gaudin to one of my fantasy teams, because my pitching isn't great and I feel he is the type of guy who could be lightning in a bottle. I remember ESPN's Buster Olney talking about how much his ball moves naturally, and when he struggles its because he can't a feel for where the movement is taking the pitch. If he struggles for 3-4 starts in a row I'll dump him fast, as it would show he is regressing like he was last season and isn't worth a roster spot.

If you are in need of pitching, Guadin is a fine, serviceable addition to your fantasy team, at least for the short term. For the long term I would be more skeptical, because he showed last season the wear and tear of a long major league season gets to him.

SP- John Lannan- In limited experience last season for the Nationals Lannan pitched with mediocre results that are typical of that of a rookie pitcher. This season the results have been much different. Lannan has posted a quality start in 4 of the 5 games he has thrown this year. The highlight being a 6inning, 11strikeout performance Lannan tossed against the Mets.

Lannan is posting numbers like he did in the minor leagues and generally that is the best indicator in being able to predict if a player is for real or not at the major league level. Similar to the aforementioned Jonathan Sanchez, I expect him have the occasional rough outing, and lose some close games because of his team's poor offense. Unlike Sanchez, I don't think he has the potential for many more huge strikeout games, or the same potential to dominate a game.

If your team needs the pitching, go out and grab Lannan. If he is still pitching well in August, sell high trade him before your league's trade deadline. Young pitchers will often be shut down when they reach a certain innings limit, and since it's doubtful the Nats will have nothing to play for, there will be no reason for them to keep trotting him out to the mound where he cna over tax his young arm.

SP- Daniel Cabrera- This old gag. Easy to fall in love with his stuff and strikeout rate. Easy to hate, with his WHIP and ERA make. Easy to hate the high WHIP, ERA and walk rate. Cabrera has been a guy who has been on the fantasy brink for a few years now, and every season he has a 3-4 start stretch that makes fantasy owners salivate and grab him before anyone else does. He has had that stretch this season, and while he has been very effective his last 4 starts, his last start raises those classic Daniel Cabrera Red Flags.

He had cut down on his walk ratefrom his first start when he walked one and progressively lowered the rate till his 4/23 start against Seattle when he walked none. In his next start however, we saw the old Daniel Cabrera. He walked 7 and allowed 4 hits in 6 1/3 innings, as he walked the tight rope and managed to avoid the big one for one night at least, while sporting a game WHIP of close to 2.oo. It may have been a fluke and perhaps Cabrera really has found himself and established a firm grip on his mechanics and what it takes to get hitters out. Or maybe he is back to his wild, walking ways, and the improvement he has shown this season was the real fluke.

Cabrera is a very good short term add. Grab him and stash him on your bench for a start or two, to see what he can do. He will have to dominate some games to earn wins because the Orioles offense will be inconsistent and struggle to score runs at times. His next start will come Saturday against Anahiem, a pesky team that can beat you with many different approaches, so if Cabrera can show something there it will be a very good indicator of the direction his season is going in. Personally I would hold off and let someone else take a flier on him, he has just shown so many flashes of brilliance, only to disappoint in the past, to get overly excited about what he has done on the season so far.

SP- Max Scherzer- Young pitcher for the D-backs was so impressive in his debut out of the bullpen that the team has already scheduled him for his first start on Monday against the Phillies. His line from that game, 4.1IP, 7K, 0R, 0.00WHIP. He has dazzling stuff and a fastball that routinely hits 98MPH on the radar gun. He is a great short term add, but with barely over a season at the minor league level, I worry about the D-backs shutting him down later in the season so they can save his arm.

A good idea here is to grab him QUICK, soak up some of his nasty stats for a few months then sell high in July and get what you can for him. He won't be of much use to you if he is shut down or sent to the bullpen to limit his innings. I am not saying that is definitely going to happen, but it's a strong hunch and is often done with young pitchers.

RP- Santiago Casilla- Has 17Ks in 13.1IP for Oakland this season, and if that wasn't good enough take a look at his 0.00ERA and .80WHIP. Cassila might be worth a good add in your league to help keep your ERA and WHIP down a bit, and will even gather up a decent amount of Ks for a set up man. If Oakland winds up trading Houston Street some where you can rest assured Casilla will probably get first crack at closing.

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