It's early, and I know everyone wants to dump their guys if they are hitting .100 or if they have an ERA of 9.57, but stay the course. If there was ever a game where patience is a virtue, it's fantasy baseball. If a player has an established track record, you hold on to him. Don't deal Albert Pujols and his .222 for .90 cents on the dollar. Don't deal Francisco Liriano and his 10.00 ERA for .50 cents on the dollar (.70 cents might get it done though). Make sure you allow the players ample time to have their performance even out over the course of enough at-bats, or innings pitched, so that you don’t go making some rash decision that will come back to bite you in the end. So ends my editorial. Now back to your regularly scheduled program.
Stephen Drew (ankle) is still working his way back to full health, but it looks like his recovery is going well at the moment. Drew played in an extended spring training game Thursday and he'll do so again over the weekend. It's still not certain when he will be back, but he only played two innings in the field in his first game so it sounds like he could still be multiple weeks away from returning to the D'backs. In the meantime, Willie Bloomquist has started five games at shortstop and he has performed very well offensively hitting .364 with two steals. A strong NL-only option because of the fact that he can play multiple positions as well as for his base stealing prowess: Fast Willie has stolen 22 bags in 102 games with the Diamondbacks, though his 11 caught stealing total is terrible.
Hiroki Kuroda had the splitter working Friday as he held the Angels scoreless over eight innings. He allowed five hits while showing his trademark pitch location walking only two batters. Kuroda also struck out six batters in the outing. Despite his domination Friday, Kuroda will still have a tougher go this year than in years past now that he is in the American League and pitching in a ballpark that so heavily tilts in the direction of batters.
Sergio Santos will miss a few days to be with his wife for the birth of their child. Meanwhile, Francisco Cordero will be called on if any save chances present themselves. Should you roster Cordero given the early season struggles of Santos (12.00 ERA, 2.33 WHIP in three innings)? First, I think Santos has a fairly long leash after the Blue Jays traded to bring him into the fold. Second, Santos has had two strong outings and two terrible ones. At the same time we're only talking about three innings overall, so remain patient (remember the warning at the beginning of the piece). Third, Cordero has seen his performance dip as his age climbs. Cordero has saved at least 34 games each of the past five years, he's the only man who can claim to have done that, but the dip in his K/9 rate has reached alarming levels. After posting a 12.22 K/9 mark in 2007, Cordero has seen that mark dip in each successive season since including a 5.43 mark last season. Not only is that 5.43 mark more than three full batters below his career mark, it's also more than a batter and a half below the big league average. He did offset some of that loss last season by inducing 50 percent of the batted balls to be grounders, but can he hold on to that number given that his career rate is 43.3 percent? Even if he does once again generate that many grounders, he's simply not in possession of a skill set that allows him to dominate hitters any longer. Cordero is a speculative add in deep leagues, but as I noted when I started this discussion, I believe Santos should be fine.
BY THE NUMBERS
.244: The batting average of Brett Lawrie over his last 86 at-bats dating back to last season. That's some type of number for a superstar (insert snicker). Lawrie also has eight Ks in just 25 at-bats this season and 39 in 175 at-bats for his career, a pace that would equate to more than 120 over a 550 at-bat campaign.
.370: The batting average of Reds shortstop in his first 27 at-bats this season. Did you know that it's only .100 points better than his career minor league mark? I'm not exaggerating for effect either. In 1,940 at-bats as a minor leaguer, spread over five years, Cozart has hit .270. Just keep that in mind if you are considering going all-in with the youngster this season.
.563: The league leading BABIP mark of Austin Jackson. The Tigers center fielder led baseball with an unsustainable mark of .396 as a rookie, so it was hardly a shock that the number regressed to .340 last season. Clearly what he has done in his 23 at-bats this season is phenomenal, but expect the bottom to fall out soon.
.732: The career OPS of Jed Lowrie of the Astros. I bring this up to make a point – Lowrie simply isn't as good a hitter as many believe he is. Since he became a big leaguer his slash line is .252/.324/.408. How does that compare to a league average hitter? Poorly. The average hitter in the American League the past four years has posted a slash line of .263/.330/.415. That's right, not only has Lowrie not been a good hitter, he hasn't even been an average performer. Moreover, he's stolen only three bases in his career and has an insignificant total of 19 homers in 808 at-bats. Hate to tell you, but he's simply not that good, so start him at your own peril in a mixed league (he was activated from the DL today after missing time with a thumb injury).
4: The number of consecutive games in which the Giants supposed phenom, Brandon Belt, has not been in the starting lineup. Hitting just .091 through 11 at-bats this season, Belt continues his limp performance at the big league level. In 67 games covering 198 at-bats, Belt has hit .217 with a .696 OPS, nine homers, and 19 RBI. You can certainly blame part of that on the Giants lack of clarity over Belt's role, but at the same time it's not like he has done a lot to force himself into the lineup either.
14.00: The ERA of Zack Greinke in two career starts at Wrigley Field (16 runs, 14 earned, in just nine innings). Somehow though, Greinke has actually put up some solid total in his nine innings of work in Wrigley as he's walked only three batters while striking out 15. It's pretty impossible to have a 15.00 K/9 mark, let alone a 15.00 K/9 mark and a 14.00 ERA.
27: The number of steals that Jordan Schafer has in his career that encompasses 138 games and 492 at-bats. He's been able to post that solid total even though his career OBP is just .316. If he plays full time, and gets on base at a wee better clip, he could be a cheap source of 30 steals this season. Of course, he needs to stay healthy, and that's always been an issue.
88.5: The percentage of pitches that have been a fastball for Bartolo Colon over his two starts that covered 12.1 innings. Colon has always relied on the fastball with 78.5 percent of his pitches being the heater, and that number has been at least 80 percent in each of his previous three seasons.
108: The pitch total of Stephen Strasburg in his second outing this season. What makes that not so surprising is the fact that it marked the only time, in 19 career starts, that he has reached triple digits in pitches in an outing. As talented as he is, if he isn't allowed to go deeper into games his W-L record could be adversely affected.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 5-8 PM EDT, Monday through Friday. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.