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MLB Notes
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 5/15/2008 6:54:00 PM
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I expect John Smoltz to return to the mound within three weeks and be a top-five closer over the course of the season. Considering his age and balky shoulder, he’s certainly not without risk, but his stuff was about as good as ever before going on the DL. He knows how his arm responds best, so I trust his decision to move to the pen will result in better health, even if it comes down to him pitching through some soreness. If you’re looking for saves, might as well see how worried his owner is by making an offer.

Ted Lilly is officially back. A terrible start has left his ERA still sitting at 5.33, but his WHIP is 1.28, and his 8.8 K/9 IP mark is 12th best in major league baseball. Over his last four starts, he has a sparkling 32:6 K:BB ratio. His velocity has returned, and the Cubs field a terrific offense with a solid back-end to the bullpen. Lilly has never been the most durable pitcher, but he needs to be treated like a top-25 starter right now.

Ian Snell, conversely, is someone to worry about. Snell’s inability to come up with a third pitch has really hindered his development, and all those sliders are taking a toll on his arm. He’s still young enough to turn it around, but after last year’s second half (4.83 ERA, 1.53 WHIP), this season’s 5.05 ERA is disconcerting. The sinking K rate and rising BB rate are particularly discouraging.

For a game that’s played on the same exact dimensions everywhere, it’s pretty crazy just how important homecourt advantage is in NBA basketball.

Nick Johnson’s trip to the disabled list was about as surprising as someone from ESPN using the phrase “by the way.” Cal Ripken Jr. can now rest easy. Johnson was playing much better than his .220 average indicated too. The worst part is the nature of the injury, as there’s no guarantee his wrist won’t be a major problem even when he’s able to return to the field.

Song of the week: “Time to Pretend” by MGMT.

Curtis Granderson is hitless during four at-bats against left-handers this season, one year after batting .160/.225/.269 versus southpaws in 2007. He’s the rare superstar who can be benched at times in daily formats. Staying with the Tigers, Justin Verlander has been one of the five most disappointing players in baseball so far. His 6.05 ERA is accompanied by a .291 BABIP, which is right in line with his career mark, so that can’t be blamed. His .59 strand rate is sure to improve, but the fact his walks are up and his Ks are so down isn’t a great sign at all. After nine starts, his season-high for strikeouts in a game is six. Dating back to last year, he’s now served up 13 homers over his past 12 starts, which isn’t going to cut it. He’s also hit seven batters this season, which is worst in the league. I wouldn’t necessarily be trying to sell Verlander, but I also wouldn’t be aggressively trying to buy-low either.

Fun stats: Ryan Theriot’s seven caught stealings are by far the most in baseball. David Ortiz has grounded into the most double plays (10) in the league. Albert Pujols has been intentionally walked 12 times, which is almost twice the amount of anyone else. Bengie Molina has been the toughest player to strike out this year, fanning just once every 26 at-bats. Dustin Pedroia and Ryan Zimmerman have recorded the most outs in all of baseball.

Brett Myers’ loss in velocity can help explain his league-leading 15 home runs allowed, but that he’s also maintained an 8.1 K/9 IP mark is a little strange. Maybe the jumping back-and-forth between the rotation, bullpen and then rotation again wasn’t such a great idea after all. There’s pretty good reason for concern here.

Daniel Cabrera’s 3.58 ERA and 1.23 WHIP are great, and so is the fact he’s walked just one batter over the past two starts (16 innings). His newfound ability to induce a bunch of groundballs is another encouraging sign. Still, for someone with his stuff, Cabrera’s K rate (5.5 K/9 IP) is beyond disappointing, and his .240 BABIP suggests he’s been quite lucky. There’s no doubt he’s improving as a pitcher, but as much as I want to believe he’s truly turned the corner, it’s best to remain skeptical.

Chris Duncan is batting just .258 with three homers on the year, but he can be quite useful in daily formats. Injuries curtailed what was looking like a big season last year, and he’s really improved his walk rate in 2008, which could lead to him consistently hitting high in St. Louis’ order. He’s unusable versus left-handers, but Duncan has hit 20 homers in 295 career at-bats against righties, so he’s a fine option against them. However, hopefully he limits his smoking to just photo day and not game days.


No mention of Dempster after his 12 Ks and 26 in his last three outings? Man, I shudder to think where my Staff League team would be had I not picked up Cliff Lee and Dempster in the reserve rounds... As one of my regular XM guest said, "The road to hell is paved with owning Daniel Cabrera". But it looks like he's dialed it down a bit to salvage the control - hence the loss in Ks. But maybe once he gets comfortable he can gradually pick it up again - like when you slow down to learn something, and then speed it up when you've got it. I'd be buying... And who really platoons hitters in daily formats? It's a nice thought, but unless you had just one very competitive big money league, who has time for that?
Posted by cliss at 5/16/2008 2:06:00 AM
Amen on Snell my man.... Amen on Snell... he's driving my NL only home league team into the ground every 5 days with his underachieving lack of confidence in his stuff. At least we signed him to a 3 year extension prior to his complete inability to pitch.
Posted by billgoofnow at 5/16/2008 5:54:00 AM
Liss - That's an interesting point about Cabrera...About platooning in daily leagues, Yahoo has a feature called "opponents" that tells you every SP matchup for that day, including if they are a lefty or righty, so it literally takes less than two minutes to accomplish this. More like 30 seconds.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 5/16/2008 7:14:00 AM
Should I be worried that I have every hitter in your fun stats section except for the ones that are there for good reasons?
Posted by donkeypuncher at 5/16/2008 9:25:00 AM
The Cubs highlight film should be called "Forgetting Sean Marshall."

I hate to see the NBA slip into ridiculous home-court dominance patterns. Remember the 10 or so years that went by with *no road team* winning a Game 7, from the early 80s to early 90s?
Posted by spianow at 5/16/2008 11:30:00 AM
donkeypuncher - Funny coincidence. Obviously, those stats aren't too worrisome long-term.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 5/16/2008 2:54:00 PM
Pianow - Nice work with the Sean Marshall line. So true...The NBA playoffs have been a massive letdown so far.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 5/16/2008 2:55:00 PM

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