The Question of Where Cole Hamels Will Land highlights this Week’s Week That Was

Cole Hamels:   Hamels continues to outperform the rebuilding team around him.  Friday, the Phillies ace tossed 8 strong innings and struck out 9 Rockies.  Thus far on the season, Cole has a 2.91 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and has struck out more than a batter per inning.  For his troubles, he has won just 5 of his 11 starts.  Just imagine what he could do on a contender!  Imagine Hamels in pinstripes or pitching in Chavez Ravine.  It makes the fantasy owners’ mouth water doesn’t it?  I predict Hamels dons a new uniform by July.  If you can get him now, do it.  After the trade, it will be too late. 

Yovani Gallardo:   Yovani Gallardo continues to make his first year in Arlington a success.  Friday, the former Brewer tossed 6 innings of 1 run ball while striking out 5.  Thus far, Gallardo has posted a respectable 3.88 ERA.  However, the really encouraging part of his season so far is that his ground ball rate is up over 53% (huge when pitching in Texas) and his first pitch strike percentage is almost 62% (and obviously getting ahead of hitters is huge too).  If you are waiting for those 200 K years of yesteryear, you will be waiting a long time.  However, if you are looking for a solid, undervalued starter in deep AL-only leagues, you could do a lot worse.

Michael Bolsinger:  Michael Bolsinger suffered his first loss of the season Friday despite tossing 6 innings of 2 run ball.  Over his five starts, the Dodger hurler is 3-1 with a 1.15 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 25 strikeouts over 31.1 innings.  I liked Bolsinger at the start of the year but did not pull the trigger on rostering him and regret it.  Why did I like him?  Well, he had a 52% GB rate and a first pitch strike% of almost 67 (which is really good).  I thought he was undervalued because the ERA was an ugly 5+ while the xFIP was just 3.31.  Lesson to be learned:  look beyond the surface stats and gems you may find.

Just for giggles, let us take a look back at some entries from last week’s Week That Was:

Kendrys Morales:  The headline for the column was Royals DH Kendrys Morales.  We wrote: “As of Sunday (which is a little more than ¼ of the year), Morales was hitting .302 with 37 RBI and 32 runs . . .  the increased walk rate and decreased strikeout rate both support continued production from Morales so have no fear, this is not a mirage . . . . there is a big time buy high opportunity here.  Simply call the Morales owner in your league, tell him or her about the abysmal year Morales had in 2014 while conveniently leaving out the fact that his lost year was caused by missing spring training as a result of a botched free agency. . . .  Bottom line – I have put my money where my mouth is when it comes to the Royals DH.  You should too.”  What did he do?  Well, as of Friday he had hit .429 with two dingers, 5 RBI and a 1219 OPS over his last 7 games.  I hope you listened!

Justin Bour:   Last week we wrote:  “Justin Bour . . . is off to a good start to the 2015 season, hitting .375 with five runs, two home runs and five RBI in just 48 AB. Yes, this is a small sample size and of course, he will not hit .370 but there are good reasons for optimism.  First, Michael Morse is hardly the picture of health or consistency.  That means opportunity for Justin.  Second, the solid 83% contact rate says he sees the ball well in the show.  Third, his .306 with 18 HR in 385 AB in AAA last year says something clicked.  Those in NL-only leagues should make sure Bour is not sitting on the FAAB wire.  If he is, pounce.”  Bour has been anything but boring in the last week smacking three dingers.  Do we have your attention yet?

Jeff Samardzija:  Last week we wrote: “Jeff Samardzija pitched like the ace he should be going 8 innings giving up 3 hits, 2 runs and 1 walk while mowing down 9.   The buy low window is closing fast.  On the year, the White Sox righty has a pedestrian 4.28 ERA and equally uninspiring 7.2 K rate (the K rate is not terrible but you paid for better).  However, over his last two starts, Samardzija has gone 16 innings with a sweet 16/4 K/BB ratio.  Given that the velocity is still at 94mph on average and the strand rate of 68 shows some bad luck, the reasons for optimism outweigh the rest.  I believed at the start of the year and I still do.”  Well, I would call that 3 for 3 as the Shark went out and tossed 7 innings giving up no earned runs, no walks and striking out 5.  I will take that outing any day of the week!

R.A. DickeyContinuing with the hey, look at us approach to this column, last week we wrote:  “R.A. Dickey pitched reasonably well Friday, going the distance while giving up four runs and 5 hits while walking 2.   Sell!  Sell I say.  Do it now!  The 40 year old knuckleballer has a 5+ ERA, a woeful strikeout rate of about 4.5 per 9 innings, has given up 11 dingers in his 9 starts, has lost even more velocity and is walking more hitters despite his reduced K rate.  Dickey was a great story and reinventing himself the way he did was incredible.  However, good stories do not win fantasy leagues – performance does.  Get value for Dickey while you still can!”  I hate to revel in a bad performance but I will throw out a tiny “told ya so” here.  This week, Dickey made us look smart going 5 innings and giving five hits and nine baserunners.  [ps – Just to be fair, we do have to admit that we did get it wrong on Shoemaker who ended up pitching well and going 7 innings of shutout ball while mowing down 6.  That said, we would still sell in redraft leagues!]

And now the moment you well, may or may not be waiting for, the Baron of Bottom of the Page pontificates a/k/a Schultz says: “At the beginning of the season, all re-draft leagues focused on the undisputed Kings of Roto, taking Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Cabrera and Paul Goldschmidt off the board as quickly as they could. Far from being considered as a benchmark draft pick, Nelson Cruz didn't even seem to be thought of as anyone's choice as their first outfielder. Seeing as Cruz is putting up a Triple Crown worthy .342, 18 HRs, 38 RBIs, this all seems a bit silly, doesn't it?

Cruz' recent history consists almost exclusively of defying pre-season expectations. Long thought of as a great talent that couldn't avoid the disabled list, Cruz was always a dependable source of 20+ home runs, 75+ RBIs and 5,000+ disappointed roto-owners that expected more. In 2010 and 2011, he turned into a post-season monster. However, seasoned roto-owners that have been burned by the likes of Livan Hernandez, Timo Perez and David Freese wisely knew to stay away from the post-season sensation. (They actually couldn't have burned yet by Freese, who was the 2011 St. Louis Savior, but he illustrates the point quite nicely). 

Cruz' career veered towards the bright light when he received one of the dreaded 50 game BioGenesis suspensions and had to sign a face-saving one year deal with the Baltimore Orioles. Instead of falling off the cliff or struggling with a new team, Cruz led the majors in home runs, drove in more than 100 runs and garnered serious consideration as the 2014 AL MVP. In roto-circles, this apparently impressed no one. Roto-pundits collectively proclaimed Cruz' monster year with in Baltimore to be an anomaly and brashly predicted his move to Safeco in 2015 would drastically affect his overall numbers. With Cruz, it's time to stop believing what you read and believe what you see. If he is healthy, he is one of the best hitters in baseball. Perhaps it’s worth the phone call to see if the Cruz owner in your league is a true believer. ”

Response:  Hate to say it but I would follow Schultz’s advice.  In any event, let’s all wish the Cleveland native good luck as his Cavs try to bring a title to his hometown