Bullpen Report: August 27, 2014

- One night after suffering a nightmare inning against the Red Sox, Casey Janssen got a breather and lefty Brett Cecil was tasked with finishing off a Marcus Stroman win. The goggled reliever was up to the challenge, finishing the eighth and tossing a scoreless ninth (with three strikeouts). The wheels have really come off Janssen after the break, as he now sports a 7.36 ERA and 4.89 xFIP. There are multiple concerns; his strikeout rate has plummeted this year (24% to 15%) and his normally stellar control seems to have evaporated over the last few months after he looked elite in that area earlier this season. His SwStr% is only down a hair in 2014, but his fastball is getting raked to the tune of a 30% LD% (historically, he has been closer to 20% via PitchF/X). His pitch movement looks fine, outside of a little less drop on his changeup, so it seems like Janssen is just struggling to get a feel for where his pitches are going (hence the loud contact and increased walk rates). Regardless, he still has leash in the Toronto bullpen, but a few more bad outings could cause the desperate Jays to turn to Cecil (2.67 xFIP). Roster him if you want to speculate (or handcuff Janssen).

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First Five Disappointments: The Early Busts

It’s late August. Real life baseball enters into pennant races and playoff chases. Fantasy baseball is filled with stark reality. I’ll challenge in one league, I’ll flirt with prize money in a couple others. I got killed in a few. I’m sure that sounds familiar. But around this point in the season, I start to look back and marvel at the picks which were clearly steals and the picks that almost singularly destroyed title dreams.

Nobody expects every pick to work out. Injuries are practically unavoidable, and certainly we’ve seen the name Tommy John tossed around aplenty this season. But what confounds me are the players who aren’t obviously hurt — at least inasmuch as their team putting them on the disabled list. And perhaps this is more of a venting of sorts, a cathartic calling-out of players who didn’t miss much time this season and just failed to live up to any reasonable expectation. And for our purposes today, I’m just going to focus on offensive players who were slotted to go in the first five rounds of a standard 12 team snake draft.

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Are We Putting Too Much Stock In Matchups?

No matter your league’s settings for starting pitchers, you’re forced to make decisions about whether to start or bench pitchers each time their turn in the rotation comes up. If you’re in a league with an innings or games started cap, you have to try to maximize the limited opportunities you have to start a pitcher. If you play in a league with no such limitations, the natural friction between the counting categories and the ratio categories forces you to make similar decisions. Sure, you can start Jake Odorizzi and take advantage of the tenth best strikeout rate among qualified starters. But his 4.23 ERA and 1.31 WHIP count, too.

The number one factor I consider when making such a decision is who the pitcher is facing that day. The strength of the other team’s offense against pitchers of my starter’s handedness usually determines whether I start or bench a pitcher I’m on the fence about. Matchup is probably the biggest factor for most fantasy owners when it’s not a must-start pitcher. I asked Twitter where the cutoff is for must-start guys. I got answers ranging from only Felix and Kershaw all the way to the top 25-30 starters.

Top 30 was sort of the number I had in my head. I recently wrote a fantasy football piece in which I examined how matchups affected fantasy production for the top 25 wide receivers last year. I just tested the correlation between a player’s weekly production and the strength of the opposing defense measured by pass defense DVOA from Football Outsiders. Some interesting results came from that exercise, but one thing that wasn’t a surprise was the lack of correlation between production and matchup for the top receivers. To amass enough points to finish the season among the best, a receiver has to accumulate points each week regardless of the opponent. Likewise, I thought the top starting pitchers would be matchup proof with the correlation growing stronger as we moved away from the elite guys. Read the rest of this entry »

Relative Waiver Wire: Steve Pearce, Jacob Turner

There comes a time in a season when you’re willing to give run to some players whom you wouldn’t, ordinarily. This is probably that time. You take a stab at help in a category in which a couple of them might make a world of difference. You pick up a player who has had a negative fantasy impact since he made his debut. Either of those kinds of plays isn’t your first choice, but it doesn’t make it a bad choice. You’re just open to ideas and possibilities, and you’ll take a win however you can get it. Read the rest of this entry »

The Daily Grind: 8-27-14 – Presented by FanDuel


  1. Fun With 2015 Projections
  2. Daily DFS
  3. Thin Thursday
  4. Table

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The Growth of Anthony Rendon

It’s been a big sophomore season for Anthony Rendon. After a passable, but somewhat underwhelming, rookie year, Rendon has emerged as one of the Washington Nationals best players. By WAR, Rendon has been the Nats best position players this season. But if you’re skeptical of defensive numbers, he’s rated as the third best hitter on the team this season, behind Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche. Rendon’s improvement shouldn’t come as a major surprise. Yes, Rendon’s improvement has been large, but he was a top draft pick and came with a strong pedigree. With the season entering its final month, it’s time to wonder whether there’s more room for improvement in Rendon’s bat.

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Carlos Sanchez & Marcus Semien: Deep League Wire

The White Sox finally saw enough of second basemen Gordon Beckham and traded him away last Thursday. That opened up a gaping hole at the position, which is the theme of this week’s wire.

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Roto Riteup — Presented by DraftKings: August 27, 2014

Wednesday is not my favorite day, but I bring you the Roto Riteup anyway.

On today’s agenda:
1. Hyun-Jin Ryu may return Saturday
2. Erasmo Ramirez to start today
3. Yordano Ventura scratched today
4. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to debut in September
5. Matt Garza to return soon
6. The Frontiersman’s Five

Want to win $10,000 playing Opening Day fantasy baseball? All first time depositors get a free entry into this contest by clicking the link!

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Bullpen Report: August 26, 2014

• Up 4-3 heading into the ninth, Jonathan Papelbon was called on for the save tonight and he converted it for his 33rd of the year. However, of more interest as this point is setup man Ken Giles, who struck out three in a perfect frame while earning a win in the process. On the year Giles has 47 strikeouts in 32.2 innings pitched with a 1.38/1.48/2.00 ERA/FIP/xFIP. Regardless if Papelbon remains in Philadelphia this year and next, Giles is worth owning and he’s certainly worth noting for next year as he’ll be one of the top non-save relievers in the league who could even see some saves if a few things shake out in his favor.

Jenrry Mejia has battled various ailments and some sub par performances recently, but he threw a scoreless inning tonight allowing one hit and recording a strikeout for his 19th save of the year. There has been some chatter about Mejia being shutdown at some point this season, and it’s not completely misguided given his injury history and his hernia that will require offseason surgery, but nothing has come from the Mets camp so I’d continue to expect Mejia to close from here on out. Of course, with that said Jeurys Familia remains a necessary handicap for Mejia owners.

• Nothing comes easy for Joe Nathan these days but he was able the throw a perfect ninth tonight for his 28th save. Joakim Soria isn’t due back immediately but he should return soon from his oblique injury and when he returns, Nathan will have to have a few more outings like tonight to avoid losing his hold on the ninth inning.

• No save situation for the Royals, but Wade Davis got his seventh win and with an ERA well under one (0.78) and 86 strikeouts, Davis is making the James Shields trade somewhat palatable right now for Royals fans. Davis was able to get the win because Glen Perkins blew the save for the Twins in the ninth, his fifth of the season after a two-run homer from Alex Gordon.

• Rough night for Casey Janssen as he allowed four runs against the Red Sox. He actually threw a scoreless 10th inning but fell apart in the top of the 11th. Janssen had a 1.23 ERA in 22 innings over the first half of the season but since then has been very hittable. In 14.2 innings in the second half thus far, Janssen has allowed 20 hits and 14 runs. I wouldn’t say his job is in danger over the final month for the Jays, but if his struggles persist, the Jays could look to shut his season down given his injury history as well.

• Quick Hits: Mark Melancon notched his 23rd save for the Pirates tonight, putting up zeros against the Cardinals. Zach Britton threw a perfect ninth for his 28th save lowering his ERA under two to 1.98. Hector Rondon recorded save number 22 for the Cubs and overall has had a nice season for them. With the young cavalry coming for the Cubs and the potential for them to open up their wallets this offseason, Rondon should be a solid closing option again next year with a likely more formidable team around him. There have been some Chad Qualls trade rumors floating around, but right now he’s still on the Astros and got his 15th save for them this evening against the A’s, after Luke Gregerson blew the lead in the eighth.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Addison Reed Brad Ziegler Oliver Perez
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden David Carpenter Shae Simmons
Baltimore Zach Britton Tommy Hunter Andrew Miller
Boston Koji Uehara Edward Mujica Junichi Tazawa
CHI (NL) Hector Rondon Neil Ramirez Kyuji Fujikawa
CHI (AL) Jacob Petricka Zach Putnam Matt Lindstom
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jonathan Broxton Sam LeCure Sean Marshall
Cleveland Cody Allen Bryan Shaw Scott Atchison
Colorado LaTroy Hawkins Adam Ottavino Rex Brothers
Detroit Joe Nathan Joba Chamberlain Al Alburquerque Joakim Soria
Houston Chad Qualls Tony Sipp Josh Fields
KC Greg Holland Wade Davis Jason Frasor
LAA Huston Street Joe Smith Jason Grilli
LAD Kenley Jansen Brian Wilson Brandon League
Miami Steve Cishek Bryan Morris A.J. Ramos
Milwaukee Francisco Rodriguez Will Smith Brandon Kintzler Jim Henderson
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) Jenrry Mejia Jeurys Familia Vic Black Bobby Parnell
NY (AL) David Robertson Dellin Betances Adam Warren
Oakland Eric O’Flaherty Luke Gregerson Dan Otero Sean Doolittle
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Ken Giles Jake Diekman Mike Adams
Pittsburgh Mark Melancon Tony Watson Jared Hughes
St. Louis Trevor Rosenthal Pat Neshek Seth Maness Jason Motte
SD Joaquin Benoit Kevin Quackenbush Dale Thayer
SF Santiago Casilla Jeremy Affeldt Sergio Romo
Seattle Fernando Rodney Danny Farquhar Dominic Leone
TB Jake McGee Brad Boxberger Grant Balfour
Texas Neftali Feliz Neal Cotts Shawn Tolleson
Toronto Casey Janssen Aaron Loup Brett Cecil
Wash. Rafael Soriano Tyler Clippard Drew Storen

[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]

RotoGraphs Audio: The Sleeper and the Bust 08/26/2014

Episode 159

The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is now live!

Eno Sarris and Nicholas Minnix discuss, among other items, the exciting arrival of Kiley McDaniel to FanGraphs; Jorge Soler; David Wright; Gregory Polanco; Oscar Taveras; Eric O’Flaherty as Sean Doolittle’s replacement; the what-ifs of a Chad Qualls trade to the Detroit Tigers; Koji Uehara; Derek Holland; and, by request, some thoughts on evaluations of “power outages” of players like Yasiel Puig, along with how to play matchups for stolen bases.

As usual, don’t hesitate to tweet us or comment with fantasy questions so that we may answer them on our next episode. Read the rest of this entry »