Uh Oh, The Brett Anderson Tease is Upon Us Again

I have been a Brett Anderson fan since his early minor league days. A pitcher with an extreme ground ball tendency that also has above average strikeout ability and possesses excellent control is a pitcher that will always excite me. Furthermore, that pitcher also made his home in an excellent environment, with his pitcher friendly home park and good defense behind him. Unfortunately, pitching for the Athletics and displaying an intriguing set of skills mattered little when he simply couldn’t stay on the field.

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MASH Report (12/15/14)

• Some different takes exist on Garrett Richards return from knee surgery. They range from opening day to the mid-May.

Garrett Richards, who underwent surgery in August for a torn tendon in his left knee, was cleared by doctors Monday to begin throwing, and his agent said the right-hander was “on track” to be ready by the 2015 season opener.
….
“I don’t think we’re going to see Garrett on opening day, but I think the prognosis of having him back somewhere in the first month to six weeks of the season looks very good,” Scioscia said at the winter meetings. “We’ll see. It’s not something we can rush.”
….
“Mike is preparing for the worst-case scenario, which is more his nature,” Dipoto said. “We understood it would be a six- to nine-month [recovery]. Mike sleeps better at night planning for it to be the latter of the two. We believe Garrett will be back if not on opening day, then at some point in the not-too-distant future.”

I bet the Angels are making plans in case Richards is not ready, Scioscia let the info out of the bag and Dipoto is doing some damage control. Right now, I would side with Scioscia and be on the conservative side.

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Let’s Look at Jake Arrieta and Collin McHugh and Then Let’s Look at Their Elbows

First you establish that Jake Arrieta and Collin McHugh both soared to new heights due to throwing their breaking balls much more than they ever had before. Then you worry about their elbows.

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Ottoneu Strategy: Going For Broke

A couple weeks ago, I covered the ever-fascinating topic of rebuilding. The crux of my rebuild strategy is to target valuable major league talent rather than a boatload of prospects. Your season will be more fun, and you can trade your talent for the best building blocks during the season. Now it’s time to look at the opposite perspective of the rebuild – going for broke.

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Jordan Zimmermann, Now With Strikeouts

Despite possessing above average fastball velocity, Jordan Zimmermann has generally posted strikeout rates right around the league average. Part of the reason for the disappointing strikeout totals is because he throws his fastball quite frequently. From 2011 to 2013, his fastball usage ranked 29th among 125 qualified starters. We know that the fastball easily sports the lowest SwStk% among all pitch types. So throwing the pitch often is naturally going to result in fewer swings and misses on average.

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Quick Looks: Miley, Bassitt and Happ

J.A. Happ

Why I watched: Just traded to Seattle and had a decent 2014.

Game(s) Watched: 9/27/14 vs Orioles

Game Thoughts

• He threw his fastballs between 92-95 mph. He had a two and four-seamer. They looked to almost be identical, but the 2-seamer drops just a bit at the last moment. Neither pitch is really special, but they are serviceable. He decreased the usage of the four seamer from 54% to 48% from April to September while increasing his sinker usage from 15% to 22%. Additionally, the lefty pounded the outside of the plate against righties.

• He threw a 78-81 mph curve. It was only a chase pitch as he couldn’t throw it for strikes. A couple of times he hung the pitch.

• His change was at 86 mph and was straight with some late sink.

• Finally, I saw a couple sliders at 86 mph with some glove side run.

• Nothing stood out … maybe the sinker. He is a 4-5 starter.

Final thoughts: I think the sum is better than the parts, but the parts aren’t really that great. It would be interesting if he swapped the usage of the two and four-seamer. I will take him in AL-only leagues, but that is it. Just not enough wow to consider elsewhere.

 

Wade Miley

Why I watched: Just traded to the Red Rox

Game(s) Watched: 9/27/14 vs Cardinals

Game Thoughts

• The lefty works fast. He is ready to pitch as soon as he gets the ball back from the catcher.

• All of 28-year-old’s pitches traveled in from  10:30 to 4:30. Each is just at a little different speed and little different break.

• He pounded the 1B part of the plate to both LH and RH hitters.

• His two-seamer was between 89-91 mph with some sink. It is a plus pitch with an above average rate of grounders and swinging strikes. His four-seamer, which was around 92-93, just didn’t have the sink. It was tough at times to tell the difference between the two. The one issue he has had with the two-seamer is throwing it for strikes. Only a 40% Zone% on the 2014 season, so if hitters don’t chase it, he can run up his pitch count and is then force to use the 4-seamer (53% Zone%).

• His 86-87 mph slider was a plus chase pitch. It has the same motion as his two–seamer but with more drop. This can be seen with its 60% GB% and 17% GB%.

• His change was at 82-83 mph. It came is just like his 4-seamer, but just 10 mph slower. It will either fool the hitter (14% SwStr%) with the speed difference or the hitter will tee off on it (.380 BABIP, .229 ISO).

• He surprisingly used his curve quite a bit during the game (16% vs 2% on the season). It was at 77 mph with 10-4 motion. It seemed fairly average, but was a nice change of pace considering his other pitches.

Final thoughts: I think he has the chance to be a good pitcher if he could throw strikes more. He has some good downward movement on his pitches with a good amount of swing-and-miss. His main issue will be throwing enough called strikes early in the count to use his breaking pitches.

 

Chris Bassitt

Why I watched: Just got traded from the White Sox to the A’s

Game(s) Watched: 9/28/14 vs Royals

Game Thoughts

• Tons of movement on his pitches, but he couldn’t throw any of them consistently.

• The 25-year-old righty’s sinker/two-seamer was 92-95 mph with some release side run and sometimes some late drop. The key to this pitch, and most of his others, is they get good movement at lower velocities. They straighten out as he overthrows them for higher speeds. Majors league hitters, besides B.J. Upton, can hit 95 mph straight fastballs.

• His slider was between 82-85 mph with glove side run. Like with his fastball, he overthrew it and just hung it a few times to get crushed.

• His 70-72 mph curve came in with a 12-6 motion and he could throw it for call strikes.

• He threw his slider and curve for a combined ~50% of the time (48.4%). The number is not out of line with his season combined value of 44.4%.

• Though I didn’t notice it during the game, but he is a flyball pitcher (40% GB%, bottom 3/4ths of the league). He allowed no home runs during the 2014 season and had a 0.6 HR/9 in all his minor league stops.

Final thoughts: I wasn’t impressed, but he could work out in Oakland’s large park since he is a flyball pitcher. I see a 5th starter/ longer relief future for him.


Twins Pull an Erv Swerve, and What that Means for your Weekend

Santana ranked 67th in Zach Sanders’ postseason rankings.

Ervin Santana turned 32 today, a day after he signed a four-year, $55 million deal with the Minnesota Twins. Not only will this be a piece trying to determine his fantasy value, but perhaps a bit of an introduction to him for Twins fans.

Santana is not an ace, but rather a name Twins fans have simply heard. And with the Twins’ faithful, that’s more than half the battle. Nine of Santana’s 10 big league seasons have been spent in the American League, and he’s faced the Twins 13 times in his career with rather good success — 6-3, 3.87 ERA, 7.1 K/9.

And oddly, that’s the sort of thing that sticks with Twins fans: familiar names and Twins killers. Read the rest of this entry »


Alex Wood Is for Real

When Alex Wood broke into the majors in 2013 as a member of the Braves bullpen, there were more questions than answers regarding his long-term outlook. A fastball/changeup lefty, Wood lacked the third pitch that is so crucial for sustained success in a major-league rotation. He also relied on a funky delivery to generate deception. Whether that delivery remained deceptive after hitters got used to it was one question; whether Wood could stay healthy with his high-effort delivery was another.

Tim Hudson‘s mid-season 2013 injury gave Wood a chance to show what he could do as a starter. In his 11 starts, Wood allowed plenty of baserunners (1.45 per inning), but largely mitigated that issue by allowing just 14 extra-base hits in those 11 starts. All told, his work as a starter was largely promising:

  • 3.54 ERA, 8.68 K/9, 3.54 BB/9, .273/.340/.366 opponents’ slash

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Some Words Regarding Baseball Projections

In yesterday’s Corey Kluber article, a commenter pointed out a Steamer quirk – only three starting pitchers are projected for a sub-3.00 ERA. Last season, 22 qualified pitchers finished the year under the 3.00 benchmark. If you set the threshold at 50 innings pitched, 39 starters were below a 3.00 ERA. Clearly Steamer is crazy. Right? I mean, we have to expect a lot more than three pitchers to demonstrate excellence.

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Quick Winter Meetings Winners and Losers

So many things happened. Everyone was traded. Everyone was released. And everyone was signed. It’ll fuel RotoGraphs pieces for weeks to come. You’ll see more in-depth pieces on these guys. But, with the dust settled, it seems like a good time to run all through some of the players that changed addresses, and talk a little bit about how they may have changed their fantasy outlooks for the coming season.

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