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Roto Riteup: May 10, 2013

Today’s Roto Riteup is being written while the present author enjoys the latest album from The Wonder Years named The Greatest Generation. If any reader enjoys pop punk, then adding The Wonder Years to your music library is essential.

On today’s agenda:
1. The return of Michael Bourn
2. Replacing A.J. Pierzynski
3. Surprising starts from yesterday

The return of Michael Bourn
Yesterday the Cleveland Indians announced the return of Michael Bourn from the 15-day disabled list. Now that he is back, Bourn is an automatic every day starter. He currently has just one steal but expect that to change quickly. One should feel comfortable counting on Bourn for 30 steals the rest of the way as well as a good amount of runs. The Indians offense has scored a top 10 number of runs and lead baseball with a team 121 wRC+. Despite the missed time, to see Bourn end the season with 80 runs wouldn’t be absurd.

Replacing A.J. Pierzynski
With the Texas Rangers placing Pierzynski on the 15-day disabled list with an oblique strain, many of us are searching for a temporary fix at the catcher position. Catcher isn’t an especially deep position — which is generally why the author tends to punt catcher in a draft and stream players — but there are some decent options out there, at least for a short term. Our very own Howard Bender has recently ranked the catcher position and the author urges the reader to read Howard’s fine work. The names that should be widely available that intrigue the present author the most are Jordan Pacheco or A.J. Ellis and Chris Iannetta in OBP leagues.

Surprising starts from yesterday
We are still waiting for the other shoe to drop with Jeremy Guthrie, but once again he worked his way around base runners.  He now has moved to 5-0 on the year with a 2.28 ERA. His 93.2% LOB% won’t last forever and his 4.59 and 4.23 xFIP predict that he is mostly getting the job done with smoke and mirrors. Guthrie won’t rack up the strikeouts, but in favorable match ups he is a good stream candidate. It would be hard to roster him in standard 12-team mixed leagues, but in deep leagues he may be worth a spot as his velocity is still strong and he is mixing more change-ups and sliders into his repertoire. That he is now posting the best GB% of his life may have some signal-to-noise issues, but more ground balls is a good thing.

Scott Kazmir mowed down the Oakland A’s for six innings and recorded 10 strikeouts along the way yesterday evening. He did allow a home run, but that was the only run he allowed and one of five hits — not to mention zero walks — that he surrendered. With 25 strikeouts against six walks on the season, Kazmir is looking like he deserves to be streamed in most leagues. His fastball average over 93 mph and even touched 96 several times. The A’s aren’t shy when it comes to strikeouts, but to not allow one walk to the team with the highest walk rate in baseball is encouraging. His 4.36 ERA is inflated compared to his 3.34 xFIP, and while there are concerns regarding his penchant for giving up the long ball, Kazmir appears to once again be an effective — not to mention fantasy relevant — big league pitcher. He still falls into the “stream candidate” realm, but one should feel fine streaming him in decent match ups or in pitcher friendly parks.

In one of the late games (imagine the author angrily shaking his fist for 10:05 start times), Patrick Corbin handed in 6.1 innings of one run ball. He only struck out four, but allowed just six base runners in comparison. The good news is that his 1.75 ERA is great. The bad news is that his ERA-to-xFIP difference now stands at a full 2.00 runs. Perhaps Corbin sacrificed his strikeout rate to the BABIP gods. The author last suggested to sell high on Corbin and that stance hasn’t changed. His ERA and WHIP are being suppressed by a combination of a low BABIP as well as an unsustainably low HR/FB rate.

In order of confidence for their respective rest-of-season numbers, the author prefers Kazmir, Corbin, and then Guthrie.