I didnít aggressively pursue Chad Billingsley in drafts this year because I felt his command left him still a ways off from dominance, but after another 3.5 months of seasoning, itís time to start treating him as an elite starter. His control still comes and goes, but Billingsleyís 9.81 K/9 IP mark is the best in baseball. Over his last five starts, he has a 2.45 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP with a 38:11 K:BB ratio. Heís going to win a Cy Young someday.
Ian Stewart isnít a bad pickup in medium-deeper sized leagues. Heís currently hitting toward the bottom of the Rockiesí lineup, but he should see significant playing time with Todd Helton sidelined, and it sounds like that could be for a while. Still just 23 years old, Stewart had 19 homers and slugged .607 in Triple-A this season, and he obviously has the benefit of Coors Field on his side. Heís even eligible at second base in some leagues (Yahoo).
Josh Johnson is going to be inconsistent during his first season back from Tommy John surgery, but heís a must-add in most leagues anyway. Showing terrific promise before getting injured during his rookie season, Johnson is now reaching 96-97 mph on the radar gun. Itís not that the actual Tommy John procedure adds to your fastball, itís just that pitchers returning from it are finally throwing at 100 percent, and even though he wasnít considered injured during the first part of that 2006 season, like all pitchers, his arm had some wear and tear. Now, itís back to being fresh. The added velocity makes Johnson someone to watch moving forward.
Speaking of injured arms, Iím curious to see if the time off did Ian Snell any good. His numbers havenít shown any improvement during three starts since coming off the DL, but he claims heís feeling the best he has all season. His .367 BABIP is the second highest mark in all of baseball, so maybe some correction is due. However, his 5.20 BB/9 IP mark is the very worst in baseball, so heíll need to also drastically improve his command for it to happen. Snellís probably more hurt than heís letting on.
Free Dallas McPherson! The guy leads professional baseball with 32 homers, and heís also chipped in 12 steals as well. He has a career .972 OPS in 2,139 minor league at-bats. Jorge Cantu obviously deserves to stay in Floridaís lineup, but the Marlins should be selling Mike Jacobs, or some other team should be after McPherson. Of course, the Giants could have had him for free before the season started but instead elected for Jose Castillo, whose defense might actually be worse than his career .300 OBP.
Speaking of the Giants and ineptitude, Bruce Bochyís recent handling of Tim Lincecum was beyond deplorable. Making his first start after being hospitalized, Bochy brought Lincecum back out for the seventh inning Sunday even though he was approaching 110 pitches already and left him in to rack up a total of 121 Ė the second most of his career. This wouldnít even make sense in a pennant race, but given the fact SF is rebuilding, this decision was as insane as Scientology.
Last Giants rant Ė I promise. Over 157 at-bats this season, Omar Vizquel has four extra-base hits. Four! His .191 slugging percentage is dead last in major league baseball by a mile.
How good is Scott Baker? Over his last four starts, heís posted a 24:3 K:BB ratio and nearly hurled a perfect game. His 5.07:1 K:BB ratio is the third best mark in the game.
Imagine how bad Homer Bailey would be if he wasnít so lucky. He has a 6.29 ERA yet a .260 BABIP in the bigs this season. Since heís also struggled in the minors all year, itís long past time to start seriously worrying about his future. The loss in velocity is a big deal, evidenced by his 3.33 K/9 IP mark. Heís also done his first name proud, serving up 2.96 HR/9 IP.
Itís too late (or improbable) to sell Todd Wellemeyer in most leagues, but he might cease being useful even in NL-only versions soon enough. One of baseballís best surprises over the first two months, Wellemeyer simply wore down, as he had never thrown even 90 innings in a season before this year. He hasnít struck out more than three batters in any of his past six outings and is throwing less and less in between starts, as his arm gets increasingly sore. Soon, heís not going to throw any side sessions at all. Heís not lasting the season.
Despite a career 2.86 ERA, Huston Street has converted 78 percent of his save opportunities. To put that in perspective, Brian Wilson currently sports a 4.93 ERA but has successfully converted 93 percent of his save chances. Closers are a weird beast.