A commentary about sports, media, and interpersonal relationships encountered throughout everyday life.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Fantasy Pitchers (Not Named Kershaw) to Consider

So Clayton Kershaw's first start went pretty damn well, as Life of Brian regular Mike Plugh pointed out on the comments page of last week's feature on the Dodgers' young starter. However, for those of us not looking to pick up the next big thing (cough-David Price-cough), I have looked through the ownership percentage page at CBS Sports and found a few guys that should definitely be considered for a roster spot in the upcoming weeks:

Jake Westbrook, CLE:  He went down with a rib cage injury after only 4 starts and was promptly dropped in a large percentage of fantasy league with little to now bench depth.  He's one of those guys that are good... but not good enough for a DL slot on a fantasy roster.  His ownership, at its peak, in Week 4 was 76% of CBS Sports leagues.  Today it sits at a lackluster 47%.  Again, he's not going to single-handedly carry your pitching staff, but for weeks like next week, when he's a two-start pitcher, he is a more than serviceable option in the deepest of fantasy leagues.  Just take a look at his first four starts:

April 3: 7.1 
IP, 6 hits, 2 ER, 1 BB, and 3 K's
April 8: 9.0 IP, 7 hits, 3 ER, 0 BB, and 4 K's
April 14: 6.1 IP, 7 hits, 1 ER, 3 BB, and 5 K's
April 19: 7.0 IP, 8 hits, 3 ER, 1 BB, and 4 K's

Now, after looking at those numbers take a gander at these:

May 8: 6.0 IP, 9 hits, 5 ER, 1 BB, and 5 K's
May 14: 6.0 IP, 6 hits, 2 ER, 3 BB, and 3 K's
May 20: 6.0 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 1 BB, and 7 K's
May 25: 7.0 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER, 4 BB, and 3 K's

The stats I places above are of a pitcher who, as of right now, is owned in 97% of CBS leagues.  Other than the 5/20 strikeout spike for our mystery pitcher, Westbrook looks like a pretty damn good option.  For those of you who are sitting on the edge of you seat wondering who this mystery pitcher is... it's none other than the Tigers' extremely underwhelming ace, Justin Verlander.

Jesse Litsch, TOR: His ownership exploded this week to a whopping 59%, despite only 29% of leagues starting him.  For that minority, Litsch has done nothing but pitch brilliantly.  Of his last six starts*, Litsch has failed to go 7 innings once (5.2 @ Minnesota).  During this span he sports and ERA of 2.08 and a .90 WHIP, which is insane.  I don't know how anyone is looking at these numbers and passing on this kid.  He doesn't strike anyone out (2:1 IP-K ratio), but he doesn't walk anyone either (9 walks in 69 IP...crazy).  Other than all of that... these numbers are in line with everything he's done throughout his career, so there's no fine print or "but" after his stat line.  Take a look at what I mean:

2006: 158.2 IP, 1.25 WHIP
2007: 187.1 IP, 1.25 WHIP
2008 (so far): 65 IP, 1.15 WHIP
2008 (on pace): 192 IP, 1.15 WHIP, and 3.15 ERA

That projection, to me, is a bit off.  I can't see a guy whose career WHIP is 1.25 shaving it down
 that much out of no where.  Nonetheless, those numbers indicate that Litsch is on pace to fall somewhere in between the 2007 numbers of Greg Maddux and Chien Ming Wang.  Wang's ERA is very low and Maddux's is high... but either way, these indicators are telling you to buy Litsch... and soon.

Jose Contreras, ChW:  Wait... let me make sure I want to do
 this...  Hmmm... 42.2 IP, 2.11 ERA, 0.84 WHIP in his last six?  Okay.  I'll endorse Jose Contreras as an undervalued commodity (as of now).  I mean, look at those numbers, that's absolutely filthy!  Obviously any fantasy veteran knows that he's not going to keep this streak up.  He's too old and been around the block too many times, plus he's a head-case.  However, don't let someone else in your league pick him up and use him against you (don't you hate when that happen?).  He's a decent start for next week and maybe the week after that... but don't ride him until he dies, because it could be swift and painful for both you and him.  I wouldn't put him in the same category as the two guys listed above, but he's definitely worth picking up if you have the available roster space.


Mike Plugh said...

Well, Kershaw's roller coaster has started. Great debut followed by a shit sophomore effort. Them's the break with the young guys.

I'm not 100% sold on Westbrook, but he's not awful. I wouldn't touch Contreras with a million foot pole. The reason, he's had his run. His recent stat lines have been so dominant, and such a gigantic departure from his norm that you have to believe that anyone who hasn't already ridden him this far would be playing Russian roulette to go for him on June 1st.

Contreras usually has this kind of 5-6 start run and then collapses like a wet paper bag. He may get 10 great starts in a row, but that would be pushing it. He's already passed the apex of that run by now. I say no way.

One personal note...well, two. First, David Price is so good that anyone who misses out on him will be kicking themselves for 10 years in a keeper league. He will be in the Johan Santana/Pedro Martinez league by the time it's all said and done. If you miss out on him before he's called up for bullpen duty in August, you might as well start drinking now. Second, Jay Bruce struggled in his 3rd professional game (relatively) but he still walked. In his 4th game, he's in extra innings with a 3/4 day, including a double, a run, and an RBI. Cincinnati only scored two runs, so he drove one in and scored the other.

Kershaw will be a very very good MLB pitcher, but you see I didn't immediately assign him keeper status. Bruce and Price are now in my clutches and ready to kick everyone's ass for a decade....

Mike Plugh said...

Whoops. Jay Bruce just led off the bottom of the 12th inning with a single to go 4/5. He represents the game winning run now. Will he steal with Griffey up? More coming, you can be sure...

Mike Plugh said...

Griffey and Phillips followed with singles, so Bruce scored the winning run. 2 runs scored, 1 run batted in, 4/5, and the walk off touch of home plate. Are you a believer yet?

Mike Plugh said...

Next day update:

Jay Bruce followed up his walk-off run with a 3/5 day, including a walk, 3 runs, an RBI, and his first Big League homer.

This is a beautiful day...

bfadds said...

Hahaha, Mike you really love the Bruce. I'll give you two things:

First, he's taken the league by storm in this first week.

Second, he has combated my concern for the slight disparity between his BA and OBP.

However... I, for the sake of playing the antagonist and defending my article, will take this first week as exactly what I wrote about earlier this week: Bruce is a young hitter... I want to see the walks continue in on a regular basis before I really admit defeat on this.

Mike Plugh said...

I hear you. Today's update:

2/3 with a walk, a home run (#2), 2 runs, 2 RBI, 1 CS. Pffff....whatta bum. He made an out and he got caught stealing. It's over. ;)

This guy is sick. I have a knack for picking these kind of guys. Hitters more than pitchers, but I have had a good run with young pitchers in recent years. My nose for them is catching up to my nose for the big time hitters. I also have an uncanny nose for point guards. Ask any of my sports buddies.

Last season I had an uncharacteristically poor showing by banking on Alex Gordon. I thought he'd do this last year. Howie Kendrick is my big project. I think he can be another Tony Gwynn if he can ever stay healthy.

Mike Plugh said...

Another day...

...another home run. So far, through 6, Bruce is 2/3 with 2 runs and an RBI to go with his 3rd homer in 3 days. More of this game left to be played.

Probably not available in your league anymore, eh?

Don't miss out on David Price like you missed out on Jay Bruce, bro. Trust me.

Mike Plugh said...

By the way...to follow up on Price.

He pitched 7 innings today, giving up 3 hits, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts.

Just sayin'.

bfadds said...

An aside:

Matthew Berry is on my side. I don't know if he's the best ally since he's made a career of being wrong... but I'll take anyone at this point.

Mike, I still have Liriano on my roster, the only reason Price isn't there right now is because of him. He's clogging my roster from guys like this.

On another aside:

I hope no one took Jake Westbrook. What a freak injury... I can't help but feel bad for this former baby bomber.