Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Buzz Around The Bullpen: Who is That Masked Man in Washington?

Welcome back to another edition of the “Buzz Around the Bullpen”. In a week that concluded with the culmination of several NHL First Round playoff match-ups and the 2009 NFL Draft, it was a little tough keeping an eye on my fantasy team. For the first time this season, I neglected my team for the better part of the week. Even though I said last week that now is not the time to be pulling the trigger on a blockbuster, you should definitely be scouring your waiver wire every day or so.
For example, in case you missed it, Blue Jays closer B.J. Ryan went down and reliever Scott Downs has stepped into the closer role. Just as I thought I could capitalize on this opportunity, I realized that fellow SportsJudge columnist Mike Colligan had already swept in for the kill at least a week prior. Here's some advice to combat something similar happening to you. If your league has limits on your free agent moves, you should utilize your "scout" or "player watch" option in order to select guys to keep an eye on. I had like Downs earlier in the year but he simply fell off of my radar. Knowing that B.J. Ryan was struggling, I should have had Downs on my list and this would have given me a better opportunity to recognize his increase in innings/save opportunities right before Ryan went down.

For now, lets talk about some hits and misses for this upcoming week.

Big Hits

Jesus Flores (C, WAS): With NL catchers Brian McCann and Ryan Doumit on the disabled list and Geovany Soto continuing to struggle at the plate, Nats catcher Jesus Flores is emerging as an above average fantasy option. The good news is that Flores is starting to heat up and if you grab him now, you might be able to reap the benefits of his recent hitting streak. The bad news is that similar to other young hitters, Flores does have the tendency to strikeout a lot because his lack of discipline at the plate. However, at a weak position with three of its top stars already injured or struggling, Flores is one of the few power options behind the dish. If he can continue to get full-time at-bats, 16-20 HRs are not out of the question this season.

Josh Anderson (OF, DET): If you’re looking for some cheap speed, look no further than Detroit outfielder Josh Anderson. Through Sunday, Anderson improved his batting average to .363 over 33 at-bats and most impressively, has already swiped 6 bases. Throughout his minor league career, he has never stolen fewer than 26 bases in a season (only had 297 at-bats that year) and in 2004, he managed to steal 78 bases at the Single-A level. Anderson was acquired before the start of the season from the Atlanta Braves and it looks as though he has found a home in Detroit. Because of his ability to hit for a decent batting average (career .315 hitter), Anderson distinguishes himself from other burners like Michael Bourn. He is available in over 90% of leagues somehow so you’ll have some time to move on him. However, if you need some speed, why wait any longer?

Scott Richmond (SP, TOR): It is always a little easier to take a chance on a pitcher that has had the run support that the Blue Jays’ offense has been providing for their starting pitchers this season. However, in his two victories, Richmond has only needed 3 runs total to put his team in a position to win. As a result of his stellar pitching performances, Richmond now possesses a 2-0 record with a 3.31 ERA and 15 K’s in 16 and 1/3 innings. With fellow starter Ricky Romero on the disabled list, look for Richmond to step up and earn a couple more victories for one of baseball’s best teams in the young 2009 season. He’s only owned in a third of the leagues so you may have the luxury to watch one or two more of his starts before you decide to make a move on him.

Big Misses

Francisco Liriano (SP, MIN): If there is anyone more surprised about Liriano’s rough start than me, I’d love to meet them. I drafted Liriano on both of my teams and was certain that he would come out of the gate mowing down AL hitters at a league leading pace. Instead, Liriano has spent the majority of his April accumulating an 0-4 record with a 7.06 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. Although Liriano has been awful, now is not the time to panic and get rid of him. If you need some convincing, take a look at CC Sabathia’s numbers in the early-going of 2008.

From the limited time that I’ve seen Liriano pitch this season, it looks as though he isn’t throwing that devastating slider just yet. Hopefully it is a mechanical thing and he can fix it. However, often times when pitchers are coming off of a surgery, they become tender and sore. As a result, they “back off” of their pitches. When you “back off” of a breaking ball, your release point changes and instead of getting on top of the pitch, you get “around” the pitch. When you get “around” the pitch, your hand speed decreases and the rotation of the ball as it comes out of your hand is much looser and slower. This results in the pitch being much more flat and sloppy. And if you’re a MLB hitter, hitting a flat and sloppy breaking ball is much easier to hit than a sharp and “late” breaking ball.

As a Liriano owner myself, I’m not willing to even entertain an offer just yet. Although you may have to tough it out for a little longer, if Liriano is in fact healthy, he’ll tidy up his mechanics and he'll get himself back on track. So for right now, hang on to him and hope that he can put together 2-3 consistent starts in a row.

Mike Aviles (SS, KC): After an impressive finish to the 2008 season, I was a huge believer of Mike Aviles. Unfortunately, he’s begun the 2009 season about as cold as David Ortiz. Although, he’s recently showed signs of breaking out of his slump, now might be the time to lower your expectations for Mike Aviles. He finished 2008 hitting .325 but I look for him to come back down to earth and hit around his career average of .305. Please don’t take this as a shot at him because hitting .305 in the big leagues is pretty respectable. However, I don’t see another .320+ finish. Because of his ability to steal bases and hit with slightly above average power, Aviles is still a viable fantasy option. So although you may be down on him right now, take a look at some of the other options available and you’ll be pretty happy with Aviles.

As with any SportsJudge articles, please feel free to post any questions or comments. Until next time, keep your ears open for the Buzz Around the Bullpen.

Related Posts by Subject