'Yovani Gallardo' photo (c) 2009, Steven Paluch - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Fantasy baseball revolves around two key things – hitting and pitching (a genius statement I know). Today I'll break down some of the arms on the hill. Which underperformering arms should you be looking at? What will the Cubs and D'backs do in the 9th inning? I know, riveting ain't it?

Yovani Gallardo is always up and down. It's been more down than up though this season, and that is causing concern. He does have a win in three of four outings, and he's walked two or fewer batters in six of seven outings. The K's haven't been there, just 26 in 42 innings, and his velocity is down 1.5 mph from his career mark, but I'd bet on the K's increasing as the innings pile up. He, Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander are the only three hurlers with 200 Ks each of the past four years.

To see how others are evaluating Gallardo, don’t forget to go to Fleaflicker.com where you can check out the owned percentages of all your favorite players.

Dale Sveum, the manager of the Cubs, said that Kevin Gregg will remain the Cubs' closer even when Kuji Fujikawa returns from injury. That is a horrible decision. Gregg went for at least 22 saves from 2007-11, but he was never good. I mean they 'he's done it before' argument is just a horrible one to hang your hat on Mr. Sveum. Oh, and the 'he's been great this year” argument is horrible as well. You can't say that 7.1 scoreless innings matters much in the grand scheme. Here are the facts. (1) Gregg has an ERA under 4.37 in one of the past four years. (2) The last time he had a WHIP under 1.30 was 2008. (3) The last three years his K/BB ratio has been under 2.00. (4) His 0.97 career GB/FB ratio is poor. It might look good now, but the Cubs will eventually rue this decision – or maybe their bullpen is just that bad.

Just cause. The lovely Kate Beckinsale.

Ubaldo Jimenez has a 6.37 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. He's struck out 27 batters in 29.2 innings, and batters are hitting .219 against him. He's also allowed two runs over his last two outings, both victories. It's also nice to see his GB/FB ratio back in the 1.40 range after dipping all the way down to 1.00 last year. He's still getting pounded deep, his 1.52 HR/9 mark is literally double his 0.74 career mark, but that should come back to earth, at least a little bit. He'll never be the arm he once was but maybe he'll end up being a solid AL-only arm before it's all said and done (how scary is it to read his velocity number the last four years – 96.1, 93.5, 92.5 and 91.6 mph?).

Scott Kazmir has made three starts with a 6.28 ERA and 1.67 WHIP for the Indians. Consider me shocked (not really). He has struck out more than a batter per inning for those looking for a positive and his fastball has been sitting at 91 mph, not bad for a guy who couldn't crack 88 mph in 2011. Still, please tell me you aren't holding out hope of a return to prominence.

J.J. Putz has a forearm issue, and it sounds like there is a chance he could end up on the DL. Who takes over if that happens? It seems like the only question I get on a daily basis – who is working the 9th inning? OK, it's not the only question, but it is literally something like a third of the questions I receive – the bullpen one. Anyway, here are the three options for the Diamondbacks if Putz is down and out.

Heath Bell saved at least 40 games from 2009-11. He sucked eggs last year (5.09 ERA, 1.55 WHIP). He's been better this year but that's not saying much (4.73 ERA, 1.43 WHIP). Bell has punched out 19 batters while walking only three over 13.1 innings, so he's actually pitched decently despite the ratios.

David Hernandez has struck out 16 batters in 15.2 innings. However, he's also seen a big increase in his walk rate, up from 2.90 per nine last year to 4.60 per nine this year. He should see that number come down a bit. Also, like so many others who are struggling, he's been the victim of the long ball. In 2011 Hernandez allowed four homers in 69.1 innings. Last year he allowed four homers in 68.1 innings. This season he's allowed four homers in 15.2 innings. I'll leave it to you to delineate the outlier.

Matt Reynolds has made 17 appearances this season without allowing a run. That's pretty good. He's also walked only one batter while striking out 14 in 16.1 innings. He's rocking and rolling. He's also left-handed and has only two saves in 182 career outings.

Hernandez is the guy I would roll the dice on, though late word is that it is Bell who will be installed as the closer if Putz hits the DL as expected.

It's Ryan Vogelsong week if judged by my email box. Everyone is wondering what is wrong with the Giants' righty with the 7.20 ERA and 1.66 WHIP. My thoughts. (1) His 7.71 K/9 mark would be a career best. (2) His 2.50 K/BB ratio is better than his 2.28 mark of two years ago and just under his 2.55 mark from last year. (3) His BABIP is .352. That mark has been in the .280's the past two years. (4) His 1.14 GB/FB ratio is an exact match for last year. (5) His 4.27 xFIP is barely off last years 4.15 mark. (6) His HR/9 mark is 2.06. If you add his mark the past two years you get – 1.56. That's right, he's currently allowing homers at double his career rate. That has to normalize at some point. By Ray Flowers


Leave a Comment

About Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.

Ray Flowers on Twitter