Eno Sarris

Baseball Daily Dose

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He Was No Bumgarner

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Pitching, pitching, pitching. We have to wait five days between each start, and it seems like we spend that time wondering if our fringe pitcher is worth hanging on to. It's maddening.

For example, what to do with Madison Bumgarner? He'd shown promise last year but lost control of his stuff this year, walking more than he'd struck out so far. He reversed course Wednesday night against the Pirates with seven strikeouts and one walk in six innings. If someone dropped him, make sure to pick him up. Mat Latos has similarly failed to follow up on his freshman effort. He struck out five and only walked one; his defense did him in, though, and he's an excellent buy-low. Yovani Gallardo? He's anyone's guess. he allowed six runs over five innings against the Reds, but there's not really any underlying cause that's obvious. His strikeout rate (and swinging strike rate) are both down, but his velocity is still there and he's showing good control. He's probably a buy-low, but not as safe as Latos.

Though Wade Davis pitched well opposite an alarming Francisco Liriano, he's a little risky going forward. He did get five strikeouts in his 6 2/3 innings Wednesday, but he's not really getting them in general. He's exhibiting great control, but has a poor groundball rate. It's not all systems go for Davis. It is, however, looking like all systems reverse for his opponent. Liriano has lost his velocity and is now getting battered around the park. He's a poison pill right now - not a buy-low, he's got no trade value and yet his upside is too great to drop him on the wire in all but the shallowest leagues. Jeremy Guthrie doesn't strike people out and is a flyballer in a tough division, but has a knack for games like his six scoreless innings against Boston. He seems like a fringe guy, but while he's going well maybe he should be owned in most leagues.

Erik Bedard plays in a great park, and has been showing a decent strikeout rate even through a poor beginning to the season. Wednesday night, he won his matchup against Justin Verlander by striking out three and walking none. If he's truly finding his control, he might at least be a pitcher you can start in Seattle and against poorer offenses. Another blast from the past, Bartolo Colon, now has 20 strikeouts in 18 innings and looks rejuvenated. Still, his swinging strike rate is unchanged, and per-pitch values are more reliable right now than per-at-bat numbers. He's most likely a pumpkin and midnight is approaching.

* It's a tough position, but second base got a little better off Wednesday. Ben Zobrist is heating up - he tripled off of Liriano - but the best sign is that his power seems to be back. He has five home runs on the year, and the extra base hits are there too. If the power is really there, then expect his batting average to fall somewhere between his 2008 and 2009 seasons. He doesn't strike out enough, generally, to finish up below .240 again. He's a great buy-low right now. Daniel Murphy homered in the eighth and doubled home two more in the ninth, and is looking pretty good. He doesn't quite play every day, and entered the game as a pinch-hitter, but he plays regularly enough to help in deep leagues.

* Even though a couple of pitchers garnered their first saves Wednesday night, it's unclear if they really represent a changing of the guard. Eduardo Sanchez gave up three hits and two runs before recording his first save, and he did keep his beautiful 14/1 K/BB ratio intact, but he might have only been in the game because Mitchell Boggs tired himself out blowing the save Tuesday night. And yes, Vincente Padilla sweated his way through a save in Florida, but after the game Don Mattingly said that Jonathan Broxton merely had a sore elbow. Hong-Chih Kuo is on the way back but didn't perform well in his first rehab stint. Don't drop the incumbents just yet. Darren Oliver got the save in Texas - it wasn't quite smooth sailing with two hits allowed - but Neftali Feliz also threw without discomfort.

* Normally you want power from your first baseman, but you also have a utility spot, and there are some hitters that might help there. Mitch Moreland hit a game-breaking home run Wednesday night and is a great bench pickup in most leagues, even if he's better against righties than lefties. Justin Smoak may not have all the power he's showing so far this season (he hit his fourth home run Wednesday) but he's looking great at the plate, walking almost as much as he's striking out. That should bode well for his batting average. Brett Wallace is finally showing the plate discipline he had in the minor leagues, and he collected three hits Wednesday night, but he's got the least power of this group. As always, I'll answer any questions on twitter any time!

National League Quick Hits: Cole Hamels held the Diamondbacks to three runs in seven innings with eight strikeouts, but you knew he was good … Roy Oswalt left the team to care for his home and family in storm-torn Mississippi … Corey Hart (sunglasses at night) is back - he started Wednesday … R.A. Dickey pitched well (eight hits, two runs in 6 2/3) but knuckleballers are risky … Tom Gorzelanny gave up one run opposite him, his control is what makes him risky … Anibal Sanchez allowed three runs in five innings but his peripherals are the best so far of his young career … Aroldis Chapman pitched 1 2/3 innings, struck out two, and got the win; he's a sneaky play for strikeouts and vulture wins at the very least … James McDonald struck out three in six scoreless against the Giants but he's got fewer strikeouts then walks and is best left on the wire for now … Johan Santana (shoulder) might not be back until August hears Buster Olney … Chris Coghlan, a decent pickup because he's been getting hot at the plate, left Wednesday's game with shoulder soreness … Domonic Brown (hand) hit a home run in Single-A and could be back in mid-May … Raul Ibanez sat Wednesday and John Mayberry Jr. may start stealing more at-bats against lefties … Old man Casey Blake (elbow) should be out four weeks … Ian Desmond will be back Thursday after the birth of his child … Ryan Theriot (ribcage) is day-to-day … Carlos Ruiz (back) is worried about his injury and may be headed to the DL … Jon Lucroy had two hits Wednesday and is actually a pretty good catcher if you're in a two-catcher league or hurting at the position … Wilson Ramos got a hit Wednesday night, but more remarkable was the fact that he was starting his third-straight game … Joe Saunders gave up six runs and ten hits to the Phillies Wednesday and is really un-ownable in all leagues … Melvin Mora got a start and collected two doubles, but Ryan Roberts is too hot to sit (he played left field) … Will Venable is striking out too often to have a nice batting average, but he stole two bases Wednesday, has plenty of tools, and is an okay play on the road against right-handers … Mark DeRosa (wrist) hit the DL but wasn't playing enough to really matter.

American League Quick Hits: Josh Beckett got tagged for two home runs in six innings of a loss against the Orioles, but he's still an excellent play this year … Mark Teixeira left the game after hurting his right shoulder, but his manager said that no tests were planned … Adam Jones collected a hit and a home run and is heating up … Kevin Youkilis hit a three-run homer off Koji Uehara and looks healthy; your time to buy-low may be up … Delmon Young (ribcage) is on the DL and Rene Tosoni is up, but Jason Kubel will get the time … Juan Rivera collected three hits against the Rangers but his path to playing time is littered with obstacles … For example, Rajai Davis (ankle) should rejoin the Jays Friday … Too bad, but Phil Hughes might have a circulatory problem, but his doctors are still searching … Don't worry holds-leaguers, manager Joe Girardi said that he won't take Rafael Soriano out of the setup role yet … Joel Pineiro (shoulder) will be activated Saturday … Derek Holland has plenty of promise, but he got roughed up by the Blue Jays Wednesday night (11 hits, five runs, three strikeouts in five innings) … J.J. Hardy (oblique) is still a week away … Carlos Carrasco hit the DL with his elbow issue … Josh Willingham (back) and Coco Crisp (quad) were both day-to-day scratches against the Angels; It looks like Conor Jackson and Ryan Sweeney will get some at-bats here and there … Edwin Encarnacion (wrist) returned and collected a hit in five at-bats … Josh Tomlin pitched well against the Royals (two runs on five hits in six innings) but doesn't have the underlying skills to deserve his pristine ERA … Jeff Francis showed why he shouldn't be owned in mixed leagues b giving up five earned in three innings against the Indians … Fellow Jeff, Jeff Francouer, is raking (a double and a homer Wednesday) but is still the same guy he always was; he'll be dropped by most shortly.


Eno Sarris is an editor and writer at FanGraphs.com. You can find his work gathered in one place at and enosarris.com. Follow his misadventures in writing on Twitter as well.
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