When Jonathon Niese started to mow down the Cardinals lineup, I was crushed that I was going to have to hype another Mets pitcher and talk about how the defending World Champs were bested for three straight games and mustered not a single run. Well, considering he only went six innings, he’ll get an honorable mention because taking the place of Mets pitchers for today, will be Phil Hughes, Chris Sale and Trevor Cahill. Not one, not two, but three complete games on Sunday marking yet another Year of the Pitcher it seems. Each one put forth an incredible effort on Sunday, boosting fantasy teams with their pitching lines.
But as I was going through the boxscores, it got me to thinking about draft strategy again. As I said in a piece earlier this season…and you’d probably have to go back to early April to find it…with the depth of starting pitching, you don’t need an ace on your roster to form a championship team. You need decent pitching, for sure, but while others are wasting their second and third round draft choices on guys like Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum, you could be picking up killer offensive players and then build your rotation, a very successful rotation, in the middle rounds of your draft. Yes, you need to do your homework and scout properly so that when you lose a sleeper like Cory Luebke or suffer from the home ERA of Juan Nicasio or find yourself agonizing over the performances of Mike Minor, you’re still covered with quality arms, but knowing that it is still possible to succeed even though you failed to draft a starter until the sixth round will be huge for you in the grand scheme of things.
As the season moves along, we’ll start recapping different draft strategies and analyze how they worked for people. No sense in doing an “I told you so” piece during the first week of June when there will be plenty of time for that, come September. So for now, let’s just hit the highlights…
With three complete games, all of which were first-rate performances, how does one decide who gets the top billing here? Well, I factor in a few things – straight numbers from the day, difficulty of opponent and value based on cost. While Cahill had the better ERA, Sale and Hughes had the better WHIP and more strikeouts. While Sale was mowing down Mariners and Cahill was dismissing the Padres, Hughes faced a Tigers lineup that is considered one of the strongest in the American league with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Then I go to the players’ ADP just prior to the start of the season: Cahill – 169.50; Sale – 248.00; Hughes – undrafted in most 12-team leagues according to Mock Draft Central.
So let’s see….toughest opponent, lowest draft position and great WHIP and strikeouts? Pretty simple here…
|Phil Hughes, SP NYY||9.0||4||1||1||2||8||1||1.00||0.78|
While, overall, Hughes might not be the best of the three, he was on Sunday and paid the highest dividends of them all. Continuing forward with this momentum is yet to be seen, but he’s definitely been one to watch lately. He’s given up two runs or fewer in four of his last five starts and has shown some resilience when it comes to rebounding after a bad outing. Keep an eye on Hughes as the season continues. He might not be someone tat you leave in for each and every start, but he could be a fantastic streaming option the rest of the way.
|Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF NYM||3-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI|
|Eric Hosmer, 1B KC||2-3, R, HR, RBI, SB|
|Matt Wieters, C BAL||3-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB|
|Chris Sale, SP CHW||W, CG, 2.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 8 K|
|Trevor Cahill, SP ARI||W, CG, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 5 K|
Well here’s the official nod to both Sale and Cahill. While they didn’t get the top billing today, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I would take each one of them over Hughes if I had my choice. Sale is primed to become an elite commodity for the long-run and Cahill’s move to the NL, while slightly rocky at home at times, has proven positive and should continue down that path the further we move into the season.
The Mets get a nod here on the offensive front with Kirk Nieuwenhuis who had himself a solid day against the Cardinals. But not only that, Nieuwenhuis has been a solid waiver pick-up and fill-in for most of the season here with Jason Bay landing on the DL back at the end of April. His power and speed might be average, at best, but he’s batting .301 over 173 at-bats and plays a mean defensive game. But what do the Mets do when Bay returns this week? The Mets outfield will be healthy for the first time since roughly Opening Day with Bay in left, Andres Torres in center and Lucas Duda over in right. Does Terry Collins rotate Nieuwenhuis in? Does he get the nod over Torres who has been a veritable disappointment this year? Does Bay have to earn a starting spot again? All yet to be determined, but if I’m a betting man, I think Torres ultimately ends up as the odd man out. It might not start off that way, but it certainly will finish up that way.
Nice to see Matt Wieters wake up from his month of May nap and look who finally decided to join the party….it’s K.C.’s finest, Eric Hosmer. I can’t even begin to discuss the levels of disappointment that Hosmer has reached here in just his second season, but I get more emails about whether or not to cut bait with him than I do any other player lately. My general feeling is that if it’s a re-draft lead, there’s probably someone will to pay for expected performance and pay well. If it’s a keeper league, then you bite the bullet for now because over the next few seasons, he should develop into one of the game’s elite.
|Freddie Freeman, 1B ATL||0-5, 3 K|
|Fernando Martinez, OF HOU||0-4, 3 K|
|Michael Morse, 1B WAS||0-4, 3 K|
|Hector Sanchez, C SF||0-3, 2 K|
|Daniel Bard, SP/RP BOS||L, 27.00 ERA, 4.20 WHIP, 2 K|
Boys will be boys and just because you got new glasses (Freddie) or you’re just working yourself back into game-shape (Michael) doesn’t mean that you’re not going to struggle at times too. I’m fairly confident that we won’t be seeing these guys too often as the season progresses. Ok, maybe Martinez, but not the other three hitters.
As for Daniel Bard, what can you do but throw your hands up in the air and long to smack Bobby Valentine in the head for being such a buffoon. The guy [Bard] should have been closing from day one and now that he’s proven ineffective as a starter, they’re getting ready to bump him out of the rotation and move him back to the pen. How much more of this can a guy’s arm take? Did no one learn anything from the Yankees mismanagement of Joba Chamberlain? Neftali Feliz? How do teams not see the potential for disaster here? The arm can only take so much stretching and power throwing and switching gears from starter to reliever. It needs to stop or Bard is next in line at Dr. James Andrews’ office.
J.J. Putz, RP ARI – illness (questionable)
Brian McCann, C ATL – knee (questionable)
Wilson Betemit, 3B BAL – illness (doubtful)
Adam Jones, OF BAL – wrist (questionable)
Dustin Pedroia, 2B BOS – thumb (questionable)
Alejandro De Aza, OF CHW – illness (questionable)
Juan Nicasio, Sp COL – knee (15-day DL)
Alex Avila, C DET – head (questionable)
Aramis Ramirez, 3B MIL – quad (questionable)
Ryan Braun, OF MIL – hip/Achilles (questionable)
Joe Mauer, C MIN – thumb (questionable)
Jemile Weeks, 2B OAK – hip (questionable)
Santiago Casilla, RP SF – knee (questionable)
Hector Sanchez, C SF – knee (questionable)
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B TOR – wrist (questionable)
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over ten years on a variety of web sites including his own, The Fantasy Baseball Buzz. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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