Archive for April 15th, 2011

Friday: 04.15.2011

Trolling the Wire: The Weekend

Wrapping up the week on Spot Starters, here is who I like today and through the weekend:

FRIDAY:

Chris Narveson (MIL v. Washington)Narveson has been brilliant this year striking out more than a batter per inning and toting a 0.00 ERA through his first two starts.  He can’t really be any better, but I see no reason he can’t continue to excel matching legitimate skills with a favorable matchup in Washington.  With his first two starts, his ownership rate is definitely on the rise, but some leagues still aren’t hot to this hidden gem.

Kyle Lohse (STL v. Los Angeles) – Lohse is well on his way to recapturing the magic of 2008 when he went 15-6 with a 3.78 ERA in 200 innings having netted a 3.00 ERA over 15 innings in his first two starts amassing 10 strikeouts with just a single walk.  Even more importantly, he has a ridiculously strong 58% groundball rate which could be the driving force to a resurgent season.  Today he draws the lowly Dodgers who you may think are doing well enough because of Matt Kemp’s excellent start and their passable 6-7 record, but even with Kemp they have a paltry .679 team OPS.

SATURDAY:

Scott Baker (MIN v. Tampa Bay) – He has some interesting numbers in his stat line so far this year.  He has an uncharacteristically high 4.9 BB/9 (well away from his 2.1 career mark), an 82% LOB% which is about 10% above league average and generally helps a guy’s ERA, but not when you have a 3.3 HR/9 rate!!!  That is just absurd, even for Baker who struggles with the long ball.  Exactly 1/3rd of his flyballs are leaving the yard at this point.  I’m willing to bet all three of those numbers will come down and while the LOB% dropping isn’t necessarily helpful, the evening out of the other two will hack several runs off of his 6.55 ERA.  The best remedy for a rough start is drawing the Longoria-less Rays.

Jeff Niemann (TB v. Minnesota) – Like his opponent, Niemann has some odd figures through two starts with a similar 3.1 HR/9 rate matched with an ugly BABIP (.344) and LOB% (55%).  His strikeout-to-walk rate of 1.7 is less than impressive as his strikeout rate of 5.2 sits well below his 6.5 career mark.  An even better remedy than Niemann facing his own team is facing the now Mauer-less Twins.  They weren’t any good with him and without him they can’t possibly be better.  It’s odd to favor both guys in a matchup since at best you can only get one win, but I don’t chase wins.  Plus not everyone plays BOTH guys I recommend, so pick your favorite between (I’d lean Baker) the two and enjoy.

SUNDAY:

Jeff Francis (KC v. Seattle)With a groundball rate even better than Lohse’s (57%), Francis is off to a great start through three starts in his first tour of the American League.  He doesn’t offer overwhelming strikeout totals as his 5.7 K/9 is about what you should expect across a full season, but he could receive a boost facing the Mariners, who strikeout 3rd-most in the American League.

That’s it for Sunday.  I don’t want to recommend someone I don’t really believe in just to have 2 guys.

I should have the full week 3 spot starters out this weekend.

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Friday: 04.15.2011

Cliff Lee’s Amazing Game

I don’t think even the most over-reactionary of fantasy owners had any major concerns about Cliff Lee after his second start where he managed just 3.3 innings allowing six runs on 10 hits and a walk in Atlanta.  Seeing that line for your ace is never fun, but every pitcher takes some beatings over the course of 32 starts.  Even Lee’s teammate Roy Halladay gave up six runs in two separate outings last year.

Just in case anyone was worried about Lee in the slightest, his performance on Thursday alleviated any and all fears a million fold.  He put together an effort so ridiculous that it has only been done 11 times (2 of which were no-no’s) in baseball history (or at least the history tracked by Baseball-Reference).  A complete game 3-hit effort with 12 strikeouts and a walk is excellent enough as is, but when you factor in that Lee performed the feat in just 99 pitches, it’s kind of mind-blowing.

Lee’s control has never been in doubt and it was hyperactive last night with 74 strikes out of the 99 pitches.  He just dismantled the Nationals, that’s all there is to it.  He induced four or more swinging strikes on four of his five offerings (two & four seam fastballs, cutter and curveball) with the curveball generating five swings and misses on just seven thrown!

He had three single digit pitch innings (2nd, 4th and 6th) and topped 12 just twice (3rd w/15 and 8th w/16).  It probably won’t get the fanfare it deserves because it’s not a perfect game or a no-hitter, but it’s a brilliant effort without question.  As I mentioned before, Lee’s sub-100 pitch complete game with 10+ strikeouts has happened just 10 other times and only one other matched his 12 strikeouts (Sandy Koufax, 1964).  Lee’s 74 strikes were 2nd to Terry Mullholland’s 76 which came in one fewer pitch during his 98-pitch gem back in 1991.

Here is the list in full thanks to Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index (sorted newest to oldest):

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit Strks GmSc
1 Cliff Lee 4/14/2011 PHI WSN W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9 3 0 0 1 12 0 99 74 92
2 Chris Carpenter 9/7/2009 STL MIL W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9 1 0 0 2 10 0 99 64 93
3 Chris Carpenter 6/14/2005 STL TOR W 7-0 SHO9 ,W 9 1 0 0 1 10 0 95 68 94
4 Roy Halladay 5/29/2005 TOR MIN W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9 2 0 0 0 10 0 99 72 93
5 Roy Oswalt 4/16/2004 HOU MIL W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9 3 0 0 0 10 0 94 66 91
6 Mike Mussina 5/1/2001 NYY MIN W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9 3 0 0 0 10 0 99 69 91
7 Curt Schilling 4/10/2001 ARI LAD W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9 2 0 0 0 10 0 93 73 93
8 David Cone 7/18/1999 NYY MON W 6-0 SHO9 ,W 9 0 0 0 0 10 0 88 68 97
9 Terry Mulholland 9/18/1991 PHI MON W 1-0 SHO9 ,W 9 2 0 0 0 10 0 98 76 93
10 Tim Belcher 8/30/1991 LAD CHC W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9 4 0 0 0 10 0 99 70 89
11 Sandy Koufax 6/4/1964 LAD PHI W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9 0 0 0 1 12 0 97 68 98