Each Wednesday I'll answer your questions which you can send to me at @BaseballGuys on Twitter. Is Verlander washed up? How good is Francisco? What about that Rizzo kid? Should we be worried about Ventura? What should we make of free agent Morales? All that and more.
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Verlander is a mess, something I've been noting on Twitter. Over his last 44 starts his WHIP is worse than the league average (it's 1.42 this year). His K/9 rate is a batter and three quarters below his career level, and his current 6.68 mark is worse than the league average. His walk rate is a six year high, a batter above his career level, and half a batter worse than the league average at 3.68. There's no way he's going to continue along with a 0.27 HR/9 mark that is a third of his career average either. The truth of the matter is that his 3.55 ERA could be a run higher than it is (SIERA of 4.53 and an xFIP of 4.54). He's lost, completely. He's not even league average right now.
Lohse is somewhat boring because of his lack of strikeouts, but he's a darn good pitcher. Honestly though, how shocking is this, his K/9 rate of 6.98 is better than Verlander. He's got a 1.13 WHIP which would be a fourth straight year under 1.18. Everything pretty much looks the same as always – and that makes him a very solid depth arm.
I'm not going to say Bauer is equal to Verlander, that would be nuts, but that doesn't mean that Bauer can't match the performance of Verlander. In fact, I would expect Bauer to better Verlander's current level. He'll get more Ks and likely can't have a worse WHIP, so then it comes down to wins. The duo is a lot closer than you might think at first glance.
Street can't pitch any better. He's got 13 saves in 13 chances, has a 0.50 ERA and 21 Ks in 18 innings. Barring injury, something that is always an issue with him, there's no reason to think he can't end the year as a top-10 closer.
In the end if you own the Verlander side you need to get more. I know he's down, and I'm not a fan, but given his track record of success, and the uncertainty with Bauer, I'd be looking at more of a sure thing if I was dealing the Tigers former star.
Francisco is not a .292 hitter. That's impossible given his 35 percent K-rate and .391 BABIP mark. Impossible (he's a career .248 hitter in 798 at-bats). The batting average is going to tank – he's got too many holes in his swing. He does have a power bat, but again, there is no way he's going to be able to maintain a 36 percent HR/F ratio. Not happening. It will recede by 50 percent.
Rizzo is a building block of the Cubs. He will play every day. If he slumps he sticks in the lineup. If Francisco slumps he goes to the bench. Rizzo has jacked up his walk rate while dropping his K-rate. Love to see that (he has 32 walks and 30 Ks). The results is that his average has rebounded to .273 after falling to .233 last year. His OBP is an impressive .400. He's on pace for 25+ homers. Finally, Rizzo's talent is just superior to that of Francisco.
Rizzo all day.
– Should I worry about Yordano Ventura at all after last night?
Concerned? Maybe. Worried? Nah. What happened last night wasn't anything other than a blah start (6 IP, 4 R, 3 Ks). It happens. I think the answer to this question comes down to expectations. Through nine stars Ventura has been wildly successful with a 2.80 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 9.22 K/9 and 3.50 K/BB ratio. That's elite pitching... from a rookie. Elite. Are there going to be bumps in the road? Of course there will be. There are for every hurler. My real concern is his workload. I know the team continues to say that they don't have a hard and fast innings pitched count for Yordano this season, but let's be honest. There has to be one, right? Here are his innings pitched totals over the years.
2010: 64.1 innings
2011: 84.1 innings
2012: 109 innings
2013: 150 innings
Given his importance to the franchise, I'm seeing a 180 innings pitched limit. Again that's not official, but it makes tons of sense to me.
Richards and Cole both have four wins.
They are a third of an inning apart.
They are two Ks apart.
They are four walks apart.
Lots of similarity there.
I'd still turn to Cole over Richards.
Upton has three homers, six RBIs and four runs the past three games. We know who he is – he's about as streaky as any guy in the game. You just have to ride it out. Just the way it is. If you have how could you be disappointed? Upton is hitting .288, is on pace for about 40 homers, 100 RBIs and 100 runs scored. Yep, he's good.
Gomez has missed time with suspension, flu, an a back issue. He's also seen his average dip to .277 in the month of May. It could fall farther too (his approach still isn't good). Still, this guy has nine homers, seven steals and is on pace for a 30/25 type of season. That gives him tons of value in the fantasy game (duh).
I would go with the Gomez/Cole side. Richards is the 4th guy on this list for me, so I'm going with the second duo.
Bourn has been awful. He's hitting .261 with a .295 OBP. That's simply not going to get it done. Even worse, the one thing you really drafted him for, his speed, has been non existent. He has three steals and has been caught three times. He's pretty useless right now.
Cain is the best talent of this group. Through 86 at-bats he's hitting .314, has a solid .368 OBP, and has stolen five bags. He's a 15/20 type of talent if everything plays out to specs. Not saying he gets to either number this year, just tossing it out there as a guide. Health is his bugaboo, not talent.
Viciedo was incredibly hot in April hitting .348 with a .938 OPS. May has been a totally different story. His average has plummeted to .229 and his OPS is .680 in May. Overall though, who can complain with a guy who is hitting .296 with a .826 OPS and a near 20 homer pace? That's especially accurate when it comes to the fact that Viciedo was a waiver-wire add in mixed leagues.
I would take a shot on Cain. He's got the most upside of the group and is clearly performing at a higher level at the moment than the other two outfielder.
– Is it time to pick up Kendrys Morales?
Why would you want to add him? He's not likely to sign until after June 5th (the MLB Draft). He'll likely need a couple of weeks to get in game shape. That means we aren't likely to see him until mid-June. Where will he sign? What will his role be? Will he play daily or will he play 2/3 of the time? Finally, I think everyone has greatly overestimated what he is. The last two seasons his average has been a .275-23-77-63 line. Not exactly very exciting, is it?