FanGraphs Chat – 4/24/13

12:00 Dave Cameron:
Also, friendly reminder that I’m not a fantasy guy, but Eno is, and he’ll be here tomorrow.

12:00 Comment From Guest
Travis Hafner…career resurgance in the park or will he seem his broke down self soon enough?

12:00 Dave Cameron:
Hafner was one of my favorite value free agents this winter. Yes, he’s going to break eventually, but 300 to 400 useful plate appearances for $1 million? That’s a great deal for NYY.

12:01 Comment From Zachary
Who would you see as the single most valuable player in baseball right now with a 10 year commitment (salary remaining constant between players)?

12:01 Dave Cameron:
Bryce Harper.

12:01 Comment From Mike
How awesome is Adam Wainwright?

12:01 Dave Cameron:
Really great. He’s the ace that no one talks about being an ace.

12:01 Comment From Joe
Did the Braves use the DL to get Heyward some minor league time to sort out his swing? (Obviously wish him a full and speedy recovery and all)

12:01 Dave Cameron:
No, I’m pretty sure they didn’t have him fake an apendectomy.

12:01 Comment From JEB
Justin Upton is tearing it up. Can we expect this all year from him or is he going to cool off a little?

12:02 Dave Cameron:
If he kept this up all year, it’d be one of the greatest seasons in baseball history. So, yeah, expect regression.

12:02 Comment From Erik
Is Coco Crisp for real? His BABIP isn’t out of this world. The big differences in his peripherals are shifts in his K and BB rates, and a less noticable change in his GB/FB rates. Could either of these simply be the results of an adjustment? Or is this just early season noise?

12:02 Dave Cameron:
Every statistic has to be regressed for sample size, not just the ones that have more variance than others.

12:02 Comment From Sam
Corbin getting lucky or the real deal?

12:03 Dave Cameron:
Steamer projections for him were very good before the season began, so maybe he’s just been underrated.

12:03 Comment From JEB
Whats the deal with the Nats? I know its still early, should I be worried? Watching LaRoach K last night as the bases were loaded was depressing.

12:04 Dave Cameron:
There’s nothing wrong. They’ll be fine. I do think it will be interesting to see whether Zimmerman forces them into a tough decision with LaRoche if his throwing woes continue.

12:04 Comment From JohnnyU
Cingrani still in the rotation after Cueto gets healthy? Leake the odd man out?

12:04 Dave Cameron:
Depends on how he does these next few starts. Maybe.

12:04 Comment From JEB
Should I be concerned about Salvador Perez? Or it still too early to worry about his hitting?

12:05 Dave Cameron:
The answer to almost any “should I be worried” question is to look at his rest-of-season projections from ZIPS and Steamer. They reflect recent performance, so if it’s been bad enough to severely degrade the player’s preseason projection, you’ll see it there. If it hasn’t changed much, you have your answer. (Injuries are an exception to this rule.)

12:05 Comment From Timmy
If the Rays could afford 25m a year for David Price, should they extend him, or trade him for prospects and spend the 25m on other things?

12:06 Dave Cameron:
Depends on how they’re “affording” him.

12:06 Comment From Billy
Dave, at times, pitchers are left in to “take one for the team” – say in a blowout or extra-inning game. Doesn’t this tend to cause us to understate their true talent level? What’s more, might it have ripple effects to diminish their effectiveness in subsequent outings?

12:06 Dave Cameron:
This happens pretty infrequently, and actually, most of the data suggests that poor early performances aren’t that predictive, so leaving a guy who gave up 6 runs in the first inning in to keep pitching isn’t likely to result in him getting torched the entire game.

12:07 Comment From Greg
C.J. Wilson…alarmed by his high number of walks so far??

12:07 Dave Cameron:
He’s always walked a lot of guys. That’s not new.

12:07 Comment From tylersnotes
is there any reason to think there’s an issue with the way Baltimore handles pitching prospects, or are they victims of ‘no such thing as a pitching prospect’?

12:08 Dave Cameron:
It’s one of those things that’s basically impossible to answer. Pitching prospects have high failure rates, so even if you have several good ones, you run a risk of having them all bust. But that doesn’t mean that Baltimore isn’t doing something wrong. We just don’t know.

12:08 Comment From Jaack
Yesterday, Sullivan alluded to a super secret Fangraphs staff conference call that happens weekly and isn’t that secret. Who all gets invited to this big event?

12:08 Dave Cameron:
The full time employees. We generally just make fun of Eno.

12:09 Comment From Larry
Where can I find in the stats pages the amount of pitches per PA for each hitter?

12:09 Dave Cameron:
You can just create a custom leaderboard with both pitches and PAs, and then divide.

12:09 Dave Cameron:
Or just look at swing% – guys with really low swing% have really high P/PA, and it’s basically just a better measure of what P/PA is a proxy for.

12:10 Comment From JEB
How do you feel about Jose Valverde being named the Tigers closer again? Wasn’t the committee doing fine until Rondon is ready?

12:10 Dave Cameron:
This was the most predictable thing in the world. Jim Leyland loves proven closers. He’ll be good against righties and bad against lefties, as always.

12:10 Comment From Matt
Safe to say Adam Wainwright is back? That K/BB ratio is impressive.

12:11 Dave Cameron:
Over the past calendar year, he’s second in the majors in pitching WAR to only Justin Verlander. Forget being “back” – he’s been great for a while now.

12:11 Comment From JCA
JCA – is there a correlation between low contact % hitters decreasing their strike out rate and decreasing their BABIP? Danny Espinosa has dropped his K rate in half but his BABIP is off 100 points. Small sample size, but perhaps guys like these who do drop K rates have to do so by being more aggressive early and generating weaker contact through less selectivity.

12:12 Dave Cameron:
There’s so much noise in BABIP that it would be tough to find a direct causation between those two things, but theoretically yes, if a hitter is making more contact on balls out of the strike zone, his K% would go down and so would his BABIP.

12:12 Comment From Grant
Are there any players or teams whose performance thus far has changed your outlook on them for the rest of the season?

12:12 Dave Cameron:
Not in a meaningful way, no.

12:12 Comment From AJT
How much are the Reds hurting without Ludwick? Are the injuries they have suffered thus far(Ludwick, Cueto, Marshall, etc) too crippling, or are they not severe enough to significantly hurt the team.

12:13 Dave Cameron:
The Reds are doing just fine.

12:13 Comment From Yer my boy Blue
What do you make of the Dodgers 5th SP situation if/when Fife proves incompetent?

12:13 Dave Cameron:
Capuano should be back soon.

12:13 Comment From NJQ
Can someone tell Stanton to take more pitches.

12:13 Dave Cameron:
I’d imagine he’s in a frustrating position, as Jeff wrote about yesterday.

12:14 Comment From Aera
Will Jesus Montero figure it all out? Move to 1st base in future?

12:14 Dave Cameron:
No, and probably DH. Whether it’s the Mariners or not, someone will eventually just see if he can be Billy Butler. I still think he tops out as Carlos Lee, with a strong possibility that he’s Delmon Young.

12:15 Comment From Barry
Baseball’s climbing K rate is a growing epidemic. Is the lowering of the mound a realistic change in the next few years? Any other possible suggestions?

12:15 Dave Cameron:
I’d go with adjusting the called strike zone first. Specifically, I’d work with umpires to eliminate the “lefty strike”.

12:16 Comment From Harry
Percent chance we see some Biogenesis suspensions handed out this season?

12:16 Dave Cameron:
I’d say 80%.

12:16 Comment From Yer my boy Blue
What has Dee Gordon done to get into D. Baseball’s doghouse? Will it take a trade for the kid to get another shot? With Cruz slow out of the gate and Han Ram back soon, any chance we see Gordon with some SS time with Han Ram sliding back over?

12:16 Dave Cameron:
Dee Gordon is terrible.

12:16 Comment From Jack
You buying the SP Andrew Cashner this year?

12:16 Dave Cameron:
Key is health. When he’s not injured, he’s very good.

12:16 Comment From Moses
Has the combination of Zunino’s excellent play and Montero’s… less excellent play pushed Zunino’s ETA up to the Super 2 deadline?

12:17 Dave Cameron:
Zunino is making contact about 70% of the time against Triple-A pitching. He’s not ready.

12:17 Comment From Merkwurdigliebe
So even if Adam Dunn switches back to his patient batting style, are you concerned that this early attempt to become more aggressive will have a lasting negative effect?

12:17 Dave Cameron:
I’m not sure he’s useful no matter what. At this point, he’s a DH with questionable offensive abilities.

12:17 Comment From jim
Is Kevin Gregg really going to be the cubs closer?

12:18 Dave Cameron:
I’d imagine Fujikawa ends up with the role once he gets healthy.

12:18 Comment From Milk Stout
Bundy to see the good doctor (Andrews) about his elbow… seems like a good time to get this surgery out of the way!

12:18 Dave Cameron:
Occasionally Andrews does tell people they don’t need surgery.

12:19 Comment From Kevin
Patrick Corbin appreciation?

12:19 Dave Cameron:
This is apparently the week to ask Patrick Corbin questions. I’m not sure exactly what you guys want to hear. He pitched well last night, he’s off to a good start, and the projections like him.

12:19 Comment From zack
Do the Yankees have more luck with supposedly broken down veterans or is it a combination of sample size an the fact that their the yankees and thus have everything magnified?

12:20 Dave Cameron:
The Yankees understand that teams are discounting older injury prone players too much and they’re getting good value for these types of players.

12:21 Comment From GSon
Bauer/Stubbs/Albers/Shaw for Choo for Didi/Sipp.. who’s happiest in the early going?

12:21 Dave Cameron:
Has to be the Reds.

12:21 Comment From Ray
Time for the Cards and Rangers to start seriously considering a Profar-for Taveras swap? Kozma with a .294 wOBA, the Rangers OF still looking as average as it did to start the year.

12:22 Dave Cameron:
Had lunch with a baseball friend the other day who feels like Profar is overrated and that you can’t give up Taveras for a guy like that. Interesting to hear the other perspective.

12:23 Comment From Who is John Galt
Now that the Cubs have Borbon, do you see them dealing DeJesus or Soriano?

12:23 Dave Cameron:
Julio Borbon is bad.

12:23 Comment From Monty
What are your expectations for Vernon wells after this hot start? Is he going to go back to being terrible, or have a 3 WAR season?

12:23 Dave Cameron:
Again, just look at his ROS projections. You’re not going to get a better forecast at this point.

12:23 Comment From zack
Who has more k’s today: Latos or Samarzdija?

12:24 Dave Cameron:
Latos is facing the Cubs, so Latos.

12:24 Comment From Ray
How difficult do you think this Pujols situation is for the Angels? He’s clearly hurting, but he’s also producing and they need that bat while they sort out their pitching.

12:24 Dave Cameron:
Not sure what’s so difficult about asking him to play through it until it starts affecting his performance or he can’t handle the pain.

12:24 Comment From Mike
With a five game lead, are the Braves a slight favorite in the east now?

12:25 Dave Cameron:
Probably, yeah.

12:25 Comment From Drunk Uncle
After the small sample size has been wiped away, what can Brewers fans expect from Segura for this year, and the future?

12:25 Dave Cameron:
Solid player, above average shortstop, defensive questions.

12:26 Comment From Tim
Thoughts on Robbie Grossman sticking in Houston? Good OBP numbers but had something like 27 hits in AAA with only 1 extra base coming on a double.

12:26 Dave Cameron:
It’s not like he’s displacing anyone else who is good.

12:27 Comment From Anon21
Braves can keep up about this level of offense for the rest of the year, right? The way I see it, the power is going to tail off, but the overall scoring will be sustained as Heyward and B. Upton start getting on base more.

12:27 Dave Cameron:
This is the trap of the fan – thinking that the guys going good are for real and the guys going bad are going to get better.

12:27 Comment From John
Most entertaining thing that’s happened this season so far?

12:27 Dave Cameron:
Has to be Segura stealing first base, no?

12:27 Comment From Andrew
Is it crazy to think the Orioles might actually be the best team in the AL East?

12:28 Dave Cameron:

12:28 Comment From AFan
Which team has surprised you the most so far? Angels? Nationals? or Braves? or someone else?

12:28 Dave Cameron:
The Twins. That roster is dreadful.

12:28 Comment From Adam
Dustin Ackley, Brett Lawrie, Eric Hosmer, and Jason Kipnis are all struggling mightily this season. Which of these 4 players are more likely break out and be a productive every day player?

12:28 Dave Cameron:
Of those four, I’d bet on Lawrie.

12:29 Comment From _David_
If MLB has to do something about the rise in strikeouts, wouldn’t enforcing pitcher pace be enough? Personally I think strikeouts are more interesting than most balls in play, and the deeper counts are the only viewing drawback.

12:29 Dave Cameron:
What would pitcher pace have to do with strikeout rate?

12:29 Comment From Tim
is there any reason to think there’s an issue with they way the Royals handle hitting prospects?

12:30 Dave Cameron:
Same deal as with Baltimore and pitchers, Seattle and hitters, etc… we just can’t know if it’s bad scouting, bad development, or bad luck. It’s probably a combination, but to what degree, who knows?

12:30 Comment From Billy
Following up to the question about taking one for the team… Are you suggesting that a pitcher who’s been conditioned to throw 20 pitches a night every other day shouldn’t be expected to see a decline in performance beyond pitch 20 if left in for 40 pitches one night?

12:30 Dave Cameron:
No, that’s not at all what I’m saying.

12:31 Comment From Guest
If the Nationals decide to deal LaRoche, who is a taker? Toronto? There wouldn’t be much return, but it may be the move.

12:31 Dave Cameron:
Texas, maybe.

12:31 Comment From Matt
What do you think Harper’s WAR will be at season’s end?

12:31 Dave Cameron:

12:31 Comment From LaLoosh
the A’s going to move another OFer next? Casper certainly makes a Young move more possible. Reds make some sense.

12:31 Dave Cameron:
Casper’s a temporarily solution, most likely. He shouldn’t get comfortable in Oakland.

12:32 Comment From _David_
Dave, what do you estimate as the danger zone regarding the Mariners 2013 win total and the front office’s job security?

12:33 Dave Cameron:
I think this is exactly the kind of start that Jack Z had to avoid. This roster is an embarrassment, the result of bad planning and bad theories about baseball. I’d say the team has something like 4-6 weeks to have a major turnaround or everyone’s getting fired at the end of the year.

12:33 Comment From Drunk Uncle
Are Michael Wacha’s lack of K’s worrisome?

12:33 Dave Cameron:
A year ago, we were all concerned about Shelby Miller looking broken.

12:33 Comment From Isaac
Is there a way to get rolling 162 game numbers?

12:33 Dave Cameron:
If you go to the leaderboards, one of the drop down splits is “past calendar year”. It’s not 162 games, but it’s a rolling yearly leaderboard.

12:34 Comment From Brad
Is there some benefit to teams to place someone on the 60 day DL rather than the 15 day DL?

12:34 Dave Cameron:
Players on the 60 day DL don’t require a 40 man roster spot.

12:35 Comment From Alaska
% chance either Marlins or Astros challenge 2003 Tigers?

12:35 Dave Cameron:
Not that high.

12:35 Comment From Dodgerblues
Over/Under 40 on Justin Upton home runs this year.

12:35 Dave Cameron:

12:35 Comment From jesse
Victor Martinez; power way down, flyballs way up killing babaip- the projects aren’t entirely rosy; how long does he get to be an average hitter taking up a DH spot?

12:35 Dave Cameron:
Yeah, he’s one that Detroit might want to legitimately be worried with. Catcher, bad knees, missed a year, wrong side of 30…

12:36 Comment From person hscer
How bad would all the other hitters in a lineup have to be for intentionally walking a star player every time to be a good decision? “Junior college replacement level”?

12:36 Dave Cameron:
Maybe not that low. Maybe small NCAA team?

12:37 Comment From Tom
With Jon Jay’s offensive and defensive troubles, how long before the Cards call up Oscar Taveras to play CF?

12:37 Dave Cameron:
Jay is a good player. You don’t give up on good players after one month slumps.

12:37 Comment From Kevin
Dave, now that catcher framing has been come a hot topic, is it possible that the success of someone like Tom Glavine who lived on the corners was due in part to the fact that Javy Lopez may have been an amazing framer?

12:38 Dave Cameron:
Didn’t pitchers hate throwing to Javy Lopez? I remember Maddux wouldn’t pitch to him, so they had to carry Charlie O’Brien as his personal catcher.

12:38 Comment From Oliver
If health is a skill, is Troy Tulowitzski still an elite player?

12:38 Dave Cameron:
Yep. Even with the injuries, he’s the best SS in baseball, and it isn’t close.

12:38 Comment From Bob Loblaw
Why is it so hard for people to understand that Dee Gordon is terrible?

12:38 Dave Cameron:
Because national writers keep talking about how he’s fast?

12:39 Comment From Dustin
Can you help me dispose of Rickie Weeks body?

12:39 Dave Cameron:
He did this last year too. He’ll be okay.

12:39 Comment From Guest
What pitcher in baseball history threw the single best pitch?

12:39 Dave Cameron:
Has to be Rivera’s cutter.

12:39 Comment From Billy
As a spectator, it seems like baseball has become more about working the count to get the right pitch to hit than about the action on the field. They’re both interesting, but in very different ways. Has the game changed, or has my perception of it changed as I’ve grown older?

12:40 Dave Cameron:
There are definitely fewer balls in play now than there used to be.

12:40 Comment From AFan
Was baseball equally worried when HR numbers were climbing? I honestly don’t get why we have to modify the game so that hitters don’t strike out so much. How about working on better approaches at the plate instead?

12:41 Dave Cameron:
The league has to care about the aesthetic value to the fans. There’s a point at which strikeout rate is too high for the overall entertainment level to be maximized. The question is just where that point is.

12:41 Comment From TA
Most likely scenario for Ellsbury if he stays healthy and keeps producing at his current pace: plays out the season gets qualifying offer and the sox take the picks when he goes elsewhere, or mid-season trade for prospect package? OR door #3

12:42 Dave Cameron:
If the Red Sox were going to trade him, they’d have done it last winter when a ton of teams were shopping for center fielders/leadoff hitters.

12:42 Comment From Angry Marlins Fan
Anything MLB can do to force Loria to sell the team?

12:43 Dave Cameron:
They basically forced McCourt out when his divorce started making things public that they didn’t want public, so yes. But Loria apparently hasn’t gotten on Bud’s bad side yet.

12:43 Comment From Aaron
Question about WAR calculation: Why does the formula use Runs Above Average rather than Runs Above Replacement?

12:44 Dave Cameron:
The replacement level adjustment is in there too.

12:44 Comment From Paul
Hey Dave, did you see this Grantland piece by Shane Ryan on the absurd MLB blackout in North Carolina. You’ve talked about it before a lot, but it’s a good read.

12:44 Dave Cameron:
I haven’t, but glad to see I’m not the only one carrying this torch.

12:45 Comment From Merkwurdigliebe
what kind of stats do you look for (and about how far into the season) for evidence that a strong start predicts a breakout season?

12:45 Dave Cameron:
For pitchers: velocity uptick. For hitters: Drastic change in swing/contact numbers.

12:45 Comment From person hscer
Under what circumstances would you direct someone to Baseball Reference over Fangraphs? One thing that comes to mind, I don’t know though, is 19th century stats

12:46 Dave Cameron:
They have some stuff we don’t have, and we have some stuff that they don’t have. I use B-R regularly, and it’s a great site.

12:46 Comment From Nick
How long will the Angels’ farm system take to recover given its current awfulness?

12:46 Dave Cameron:

12:46 Comment From Tom
Thoughts on the Brewers? Are they contenders?

12:46 Dave Cameron:
I don’t like the pitching enough.

12:47 Comment From Oberon
Can you remind me of the number of games, IPs or PAs needed until we can start safely viewing rates as they are, rather than SSS noise?

12:47 Dave Cameron:
You should never view “rates as they are”. You regress even large samples. The only question is how much you regress. This number is constantly decreasing as samples get larger. There is no magic point at which you no longer regress.

12:48 Comment From Alaska
What is the “lefty strike?”

12:48 Dave Cameron:
The strike zone for left-handed batters is shifted to include a couple of inches off the plate (outside), so even though these pitches are technically balls, they are called strikes more often than not.

12:49 Comment From ALE
Carlos Martinez…even though he is in AA right now, could his stuff work as a closer at the MLB level?

12:50 Dave Cameron:
Just wait until Trevor Rosenthal’s BABIP regresses and then magically, the Cardinals will have an elite closer.

12:50 Comment From Greg
Is it crazy to think that Boston might actually be the best team in the AL East? Very strong start for the rotation, killer bullpen, what should be a decent offense and lots of depth in the upper minors.

12:50 Dave Cameron:
Preseason projections had BOS/NYY/TB/TOR all basically tied. So, yeah, their strong start might push them slightly ahead at this point.

12:51 Comment From Guest
So many “Unkown” pitch classifications showing up for the Fangraphs Pitch Types thus far – is there an early season calibration that happens? Or are these new pitches?

12:52 Dave Cameron:
We have two different pitch type classifications. The PITCHF/x ones are based on an algortihm and are updated nightly, so they reflect the previous nights games. The BIS ones are calculated manually, which takes time to do, so they don’t show up until two days after a pitcher’s most recent start. Unknown BIS pitch types just mean that they haven’t yet been categorized.

12:52 Comment From Gabe
If Harvey pitches another gem tonight, does he have a legitimate claim to being the best pitcher in baseball?

12:52 Dave Cameron:
Please be joking.

12:53 Comment From Paul
I know WAR is a counting stat, but it can go backwards right? Like for instance, once Justin Upton gets to 1.9, if he has a horrible next month, he could sit somewhere like 1.0 for the season on May 31st, right? Or am I wrong?

12:53 Dave Cameron:
Yes, you can post negative WARs, eroding your previous totals.

12:54 Comment From _David_
Pitcher pace wouldn’t affect strikeouts, but it would counteract the slowing effect the rise in strikeouts has on the game, with deeper counts. Maybe I’m wrong but I thought the game length was what supposedly made strikeouts bad. Personally a strikeout seems more interesting from a viewing/analysis standpoint than a routine flyball/grounder.

12:54 Dave Cameron:
But that’s not the trade-off. It’s strikeouts versus balls in play, and balls in play can become hits. Or diving catches. Or bang bang plays at first.

12:55 Comment From person
When a player sits on the 15-DL for months and months but never moves to the 40-DL, does that generally mean that the club doesn’t want to expose someone to waivers when the injured guy does come back? Or does a drop from the 40-man accompanying a DL transaction not go through waivers?

12:55 Dave Cameron:
Their 40 man roster might not be full. You can’t put a guy on the 60 day DL if you have less than 40 players on the roster (or you would if you put him on the 60 day DL). You can only use it if you need it, in other words.

12:56 Comment From chuckb
What’s the likelihood that Billy Hamilton is Dee Gordon 2.0?

12:57 Dave Cameron:
He actually has a decent approach at the plate, so he should be better than that.

12:58 Comment From Matt
Pitch framing has been gaining popularity with the notion that some catchers are really good at saving their teams runs by pulling in extra strikes, but at the same time catcher ERA has been roundly dismissed. Is this just a case of the framing runs being swallowed by the noise in ERA? Seems like catcher ERA would have some level of validity if pitch framing was as big of a skill as it appears it might be.

12:58 Dave Cameron:
Right, this is my biggest problem with the run values that people are associating with framing runs. If Jose Molina were a +50 run framer, it would show up his pitcher’s runs allowed. It does not, really.

12:59 Dave Cameron:
That doesn’t mean framing isn’t a thing, or doesn’t have value. But I think the impact is being overstated.

12:59 Comment From LaLoosh
speaking of Ellsbury, what contract do you see him getting next winter? 6/$85M ?

1:00 Dave Cameron:
If he stays healthy and has a decent season, I’d guess more.

1:00 Comment From Billy
Is it fair to say that the shift from balls in play and toward the batter/pitcher confrontation has made baseball a “less athletic” sport? Should we expect baseball to become more of a thinker’s game, while more athletically gifted players tend to favor basketball and football more?

1:01 Dave Cameron:
Yeah, the fewer number of balls in play, the less speed matters.

1:01 Comment From Joe
How can I find defense-less WAR on Fangraphs? Or should I just use FIP/wRC or wOBA?

1:01 Dave Cameron:
Just go to the value section and set the fielding to 0.

1:02 Comment From Jeff
Can you please make Eric Wedge go away now?

1:02 Dave Cameron:
He’s doing a fine job of that himself.

1:03 Dave Cameron:
Okay, I’m off to work. Thanks for hanging out, everyone.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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Thoughts on Andrew Cashner’s chances as a SP?

Brazen Reader

I think Andrew Cashner has a chance as an SP.