Kris Medlen reaching his potential highlights this week’s addition.
Before jumping into the baseball news, I just wanted to make sure you all know that Colton and the Wolfman has changed timeslots. We are now on Tuesdays from 10pm-1am ET on SiriusXM (Sirius 210, XM 87). This week we do a mock draft to prepare for next week’s Colton and the Wolfman listener league draft on August 28. Ok, now back to business . . . .
Kris Medlen: Kris Medlen showed exactly why I and many others have argued both that he should be a starter and a very good one if given the chance. Thursday, Medlen spun a complete game shutout gem against the Padres. Through his first four starts, Medlen is 3-0 with a miniscule 1.05 ERA and picturesque 22/4 K/BB ratio. Medlen has been held back by injury and then by the Braves stubborn insistence that they start pitchers without Medlen’s ability. That has changed. Get on the bus before it pulls away. This guy is for real. [Note -- the signs were there if you looked. K/BB ratio in 09-10 before the injury -- 155/51; 2008 in AAA 120/27 -- strong!]
Dan Haren: Dan Haren’s nightmare season continues. The Angles announced that he will skip his next start Tuesday and return to the rotation next weekend against Detroit. Bad and worse -- bad that he misses a start, worse that he comes back to face the big bats of Miggy, Prince and co. Strategy point: Haren’s 2012 is a text book example of why pundits say pitching is so unpredictable and not worth big investments. Before this year, he posted 5 straight years of sub 4.00 ERA, sub 1.30 WHIP, 190+ Ks and over 200 IP. This year, DL stints, 4.90 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. Will he bounce back? Probably not this year. I don’t start him against Detroit. Do I invest next year? Only if I get a bargain price.
Ian Desmond: In a move that caused cheers throughout the DC area and many an NL only roto leaguer, the Nats activated Ian Desmond from the DL. Hopefully, Desmond will continue his breakout year -- .286, 17 homers and 15 steals. The roto lesson here is that people get too high on rookies, too low on young players who have not lived up to the rookie hype right away and forget to watch for the real breakout at the expected time. Take Desmond for example. He had decent numbers but looked undisciplined in years one and two. Then, in year 3 in his age 26 season, he posts the big jump in production. Look for those players when you do your research next spring.
Tommy Hanson: The Braves got pitching richer yesterday by activating Tommy Hanson from DL. The good news is that Hanson proceeded to go out and toss 6.2 solid innings. The bad news is that Hanson has not come near his pre-2012 performance. In other words, he has been ok but not great with a 4.29 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. I fear that he will continue to perform well below his potential unless and until he solves the shoulder issues. Before this year, Hanson had three years of 1.10 level WHIPs and ERAs 3.60 or lower. Bottom line: When I read about an arm injury to a pitcher that is going to be rehabbed, I worry about underperformance or worse. Remember that in the spring.
Kevin Frandsen: Kevin Frandsen seems to have found a home in Philly. Thursday, Frandsen went 3-5 with a double and three RBI. Frandsen is a guy I always liked and thought was undervalued. Thus far this year, Frandsen is hitting a cool .328 and has struck out only four times in 67 AB. Despite hitting .290+ at every minor league stop, Frandsen never got a real chance to play every day in the show. He is getting that chance and making the most of it in Philly. For those of you in NL only leagues, you could do a lot worse. [Note, Rick Wolf and I picked up Frandsen in LABR NL and are quite happy we did].
Cliff Lee: Cliff Lee must have walked under a ladder while a black cat with the number 13 on it crossed his path. Thursday, Lee mowed down 12 Brewers but still got a no decision. A pitcher with a 3.83 ERA and 142/24 K/BB ratio in a hitter's haven should have more than 2 wins. Just bad luck! Remember these facts next year because his paltry win total will drive his price 5-8 dollars below real value and provide a major buying opportunity. You heard it here.
Michael Cuddyer: Michael Cuddyer returned from the DL with a bang, blasting a two-run homer. Thus far this year, Cuddyer has been good -- .259 with 16 HR and 58 RBI. However, he has not lived up the hype he generated when signing a big deal to move from the cavernous Target Field to the launching pad at Coors. Cuddyer is a good player but not a roto superstar. Those who invested on the come assuming a big jump in a new home forgot two rules -- one, players do not get more talent in a new stadium; and two, players who sign big contracts press at the beginning and end up with yearlong totals below what is forecast. Next year, adjust your bids accordingly for new home, big contract players.
Dan Straily: Dan Straily looked good -- real good -- Thursday tossing 6.1 shutout innings to earn his first big league win. Since his promotion, Straily has a 3.18 ERA and 12/4 K/BB ratio. Of course, he is a must start against the Twins Tuesday. However, that leaves the question about what to expect down the stretch. There is a risk that Brett Anderson comes back and takes his spot. However, this is a kid who posted a gaudy 1.36 ERA and 0.77 WHIP in the hitter friendly PCL over 53 innings (with 67K). He is for real. Those in both keeper and redraft leagues should take notice.
Moises Sierra: Moises Sierra had a big game Thursday with a two run dinger. Thus far, Sierra has been a nice surprise for the Jays, hitting .333 with 2 HR, and 5 runs and 5 RBI in just 42 AB. At 23, he has room to grow. His 17 HR in 377 AB in AAA with a .360 OBP say this is a player to stash in keeper leagues and one who could help right now in deep AL-only leagues.
Chipper Jones: Chipper Jones is on fire! Thursday, “Larry” went yard twice with three RBI. Last night, Chipper went yard again to boost his season totals to .313 with 13 HR and 54 RBI in just 275 at-bats. I don’t know if he will stick with his retirement plans -- he needs 300 hits for 3000 and 34 HR for 500 -- but he is hot and motivated now and should continue to produce right through the end of the season. Buy if you are in it this year.
And last and but not least, this from the Baron of the Bottom of the Page -- Schultz says: “The debate over whether the Washington Nationals are going to or even should shut down Stephen Strasburg at some point this season is one of the more perplexing conundrums to face a real life team in many years. The ethical issue of whether it's fair to push a 24-year-old pitcher not that far divorced from the surgical reconstruction of his elbow past the point where his doctors feel is safe so that a team and city can win their first World Series title isn't that easily resolved. In roto-terms, Strasburg has surely carried his roto-owners towards the top of the standings and should the Nats choose to act circumspectly, his loss could be catastrophic towards your roto-championship hopes. If this does happen, you really have only yourself to blame as this turn of events can hardly come as a surprise. Many have warned to have a backup option ready as the Nationals are looking at the larger picture, even if a real-life championship seems close at hand. Should the Nats choose otherwise, don't think this won't hurt Strasburg's long term value in keeper leagues.
The Strasburg situation brings to mind another adage that should be remembered for the rest of 2012. Players that don't play can't help you win championships. With the rosters expanding on September 1, this could come into play for roto-teams relying on players who are currently big fish in small ponds. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard could provide big numbers just by the sheer fact that they are who they are. Between injuries and a desire to see how some of their young talent performs, there is a lot of incentive in Philadelphia to not push either of their big men past their breaking point. On the other hand, the second wild card spot is going to keep teams like the Orioles, A’s, Diamondbacks and Pirates playing their A teams and going to give everyone on them incentive to play their hardest - which after 120-130 games isn't a given. Teams that are out of the running are going to see what some youngsters have to offer for 2013 When planning the last 6 weeks of your roto-season, make sure you are relying on players that will be taking the field.”
Response: More great stuff from Schultz. However, he does leave one question unanswered -- are his beloved Indians in the nothing to play for group yet? 9.5 games out of the second wildcard seems too steep of a hill to climb, no?