Welcome back Self! If you didn’t realize it (admit that you noticed immediately that my highly informative and entertaining posts were suddenly missing from your life), I have been away on vacation for the last 2 weeks. And yes, it was a great time, thanks for asking. Anyway, due to the wonders of the iPhone, I was actually able to keep up with all the baseball happenings for the first time on a vacation. Joining the 21st century is a nice thing. As a result, I found two free agent gems for you deep leaguers!
Juan Oviedo | RP FLA | CBS 7% Owned
For those thinking who the $%&* is Juan Oviedo, this is the artist formerly known as Leo Nunez. Recently, Ozzie Guillen stated that when Oviedo returns in a couple of weeks, he would share the closer role with Heath Bell. Well, Bell then proceeded to allow 3 runs in 0.2 innings after having a strong June for a change, posting a 2.54 xFIP. Aside from those 9.1 innings, Bell has been awful and as long as the Marlins remain reasonably in the playoff hunt, you have to think they will do what’s best for the club to win games. That may not include Bell in the 9th.
That brings us back to Oviedo who saved 92 games for the fish from 2009-2011. Though the ERAs weren’t real pretty, he has shown strong skills at times and would have a reasonable chance of holding down the job. During his best season in 2010, he threw his fastball less and change-up more, which may have led to his best ground ball rate. Every other year he had been an extreme fly ball pitcher, and although his SwStk% rates have always suggested strong K/9 marks, he typically hasn’t posted those. So the fly balls are going to hurt. If he can get back to what he was doing that year, he can be a pretty solid closer. If he hasn’t been scooped up yet in your league, now would be the time since he hasn’t yet returned from his suspension.
Chris Tillman | SP BAL | 15% Owned
I could talk all about Tillman’s historical performance and a look at his first game back in the bigs, but Jack Moore has already done that quite well. There is really one number that makes me most excited about his chances of finally reaching the potential we once thought he had: 94.9. That number is his average fastball velocity during his 2012 Orioles debut and is significantly higher than the velocities he had posted in previous years. That would tie him for third with Jeff Samardzija in average fastball velocity among all starters. The added zip led to a fantastic swinging strike rate, which was double what he averaged in previous years. Of course, this was the Mariners he was facing, who rank ninth to last in K%, and just one start, but obviously that has no bearing on Tillman’s velocity.
Pitching in a tough division and calling a hitter’s ball park home obviously makes life more difficult. However, I cannot stress enough how exciting that velocity is, and if he can sustain even just a 94.0 mile per hour average, then a breakout is looming and he may even enjoy some mixed league value.