Smoke and mirrors? Sleight of hand? How in the world does 49-year old Jamie Moyer, proud owner of a 78 mph fastball, hurl seven innings of two-run ball (both unearned) against a Major League ballclub? OK, in fairness it was the Padres, but still, the game was played at hitter-friendly Coors Field where even the weakest of hitters have been known to hit the long ball. Was there a wind blowing in from centerfield that we weren’t aware of? Were the balls saturated in a lead-based ointment and then left in the humidor for extra time? Or was it just that the pitcher whose name is always attached to the phrase “crafty veteran” had one of those days where even his junkiest junk was finding a way to elude hitters of all kind? Whatever the case may be, it’s time to tip your cap to Moyer who earned his first win of the 2012 season, his 25th as a professional baseball player, and became the oldest pitcher to ever win a major league contest.
But while all of these accolades are befitting of such a timeless warrior, we’re here to talk fantasy baseball, and truth be told, Moyer is far from being a recommended starter. Say what you want about an increasing ground ball rate or the fact that he posted a 3.15 K/BB ratio last season, the best he’s had since 1998. They hold almost no weight here. His current 4.55 FIP and, again, lack of velocity are much more prominent. You can only get so far in the majors solely on guile. At some point, which is likely much sooner than later, the league is going to catch on and the hitters are going to punish you; and punish you hard.
As a fantasy owner, you simply can’t take that risk. It doesn’t matter if you think your rotation is loaded with aces or if you’re just using him on a case by case basis while streaming pitchers early on. It will catch up to you soon enough and your ratios will bear the brunt of the damage. How many times have we seen a pitcher go to pot when he loses a few ticks off his fastball? And in most of those cases, we’re talking about going from 91 mph to 89. Also the fact that hitters make so much steady contact against him isn’t really helping either. The last time Moyer actually held hitters to under the league average for contact percentage was back in 2002. Lots of contact, weak pitches, it all adds up to be trouble for you in the end.
So while Moyer may be a great, feel-good story that ESPN and the MLB Network will continue to over-expose all year long, he is not long for the fantasy world. In a position so deep, there are plenty of other options out there from which to choose. Do yourself a favor and don’t get suckered in. Find help elsewhere.
Now let’s hit the highlights…
|Mike Napoli, C TEX||3-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB|
Is it considered ironic, coincidental, or just downright genius on my part that the day after I laud the catchers of MLB for their outstanding starts to the season that another one steps up to be Tuesday’s Fantasy Beast? I’m going to go with Option C here just to toot my own horn. How about that? Coming into the day, Mike Napoli was 0-for-10 against left-handed pitching and some, those that benched him (and I know quite a few), believed that he might not even get the start. But if you looked at his numbers against Jon Lester as Ron Washington did (.556 with one home run in nine at bats), you knew that, despite the small sample size, you had to take the gamble. Napoli cracked a two-run home run off Lester in his first at-bat and then drew a walk in his second. By the time it came around for him to bat again, the Rangers had already chased Lester from the game. But it didn’t even matter who was on the mound as Napoli then tacked on another base-hit and crushed another two-run homer in the ninth to give him the top honors of the day. Hopefully you were wise enough to keep him active and enjoyed the ride.
As for the rest of the highlights…
|Josh Hamilton, OF TEX||3-5, R, HR, 5 RBI|
|Mat Gamel, 1B/3B MIL||2-3, 3 R, HR, RBI, SB, BB|
|Adam Lind, 1B TOR||3-3, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB|
|Garrett Jones, OF PIT||3-4, R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI|
|Gio Gonzalez, SP WAS||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 8 K|
Josh Hamilton joined in on the hit parade for Texas as he kicked in three of the team’s 21 hits before being lifted from what turned into a real laugher. He’s off to an outstanding start to the season, but you better enjoy it now. You know there’s a stint of the DL coming soon…
It was good to see Mat Gamel get off to such a nice start – no major fanfare, steady hitting, a couple of stolen bases – but it looks even better when he shows that he can mix a little power in with that speed. Hopefully most of you that own him have him at third base as his power would be sitting at the very low end for first basemen, but as a third sacker, he certainly moves up the position tier. Now the question is, can he sustain the average he’s got right now or are we looking at a drop moving forward? His .333 BABIP is by no means out of character. He’s had strong BABIP numbers throughout this time in the minors. And his K-rate isn’t outlandish either. If he can continue reasonably close to these levels and maybe boost his walk rate a bit, he should be able to sustain the .282 average or somewhere right around it.
Sink or swim; feast or famine. That’s the way it is for Adam Lind. Good solid power, although we’ll probably never see him crack that 30-HR barrier again, with a mediocre average to go with it. Not the worst thing in the world, but like most sluggers who put up a .250 or below average, you just need to make sure you’ve got at least one high-average guy on your roster to counter him.
Garrett Jones had himself a real nice day, but there are a few concerns that go with him right now. First off, there’s playing time. He’s platooning with Casey McGehee at first and probably won’t see much time in the outfield at all. Then there are the strikeouts. His K-rate is slightly higher than where it normally is, but it’s the 15.1% swinging strike percentage coupled with the fact that he’s up there hacking right now and swinging at far too many pitches out of the zone. If he doesn’t contain himself at the plate and learn to pick and choose a little better, then his strikeouts will climb even higher and we’ll start seeing even more McGehee than we’d like.
And finally, let’s give it up for Gio Gonzalez who turned in another fantastic start and is looking like the pitcher most of us thought he would be with his move to the National League. After a bumpy first outing, Gio has now thrown 14 innings of shutout ball with a 0.43 WHIP and 15 strikeouts, and should continue down this path as the season progresses. He gets the Marlins his next time out, and while they have been playing a little stronger as of late, they are certainly prone to hacking which definitely bodes well for Gio and his owners.
|Kevin Youkilis, 3B BOS||0-4, 4 K|
|Austin Jackson, OF DET||0-4, 3 K|
|Kelly Johnson, 2B TOR||0-5, R, 3 K|
|Javy Guerra, RP LAD||L, BS, 54.00 ERA, 9.00 WHIP, K|
|Jon Lester, SP BOS||L, 31.50 ERA, 6.00 WHIP, 2 K|
Yeah, well, these things happen. Javy Guerra was bound to blow a save, Austin Jackson need to come back down to earth, Kelly Johnson is far too streaky to not put up a day like this and even Jon Lester can throw in a stinker here and there. The interesting stats line though definitely goes to Kevin Youkilis who earns the golden sombrero and then some just one day after Bobby Valentine accuses him of half-assing it. Should be interesting to see how this one plays out, but Youkilis is far too good a hitter to have too many days like this.
Justin Upton, OF ARI – thumb (questionable)
Kerry Wood, RP CHC – shoulder (out until at least April 20)
Miguel Cairo, 2B CIN – hamstring (15-day DL)
Nick Masset, RP CIN – shoulder (15-day DL)
Ramon Hernandez, C COL – hand (questionable)
Jordan Schafer, OF HOU – illness (questionable)
Luke Hochevar, SP KC – ankle (questionable for April 20 start)
Mark Teixeira, 1B NYY – illness (questionable)
Tommy Milone, SP OAK – illness (questionable for April 19 start)
Joel Hanrahan, RP PIT – hamstring (questionable)
Mitch Moreland, 1B TEX – tooth (questionable)
Michael Young, DH TEX – back (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 email@example.com.
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