Last year, the only type of starts and luck that Charlie Morton had was bad. Despite good stuff and pedestrian ratios (6.7 K/9, 2.9 BB/9), he put up some of the worst stats in recent history. A 7.57 ERA in 79 innings during the year of the pitcher! It was a 54 ERA+ (adjusted for park and era) which stands as the 5th worst ERA+ since 1945 for pitchers with 79+ IP. It’s hard to say how much of his .353 BABIP was because he threw down the middle or back luck but let’s just say the latter. It seemed like luck was balancing out in his first three starts this year as he went 2-0 despite throwing 6 Ks and 12 BBs in 22 innings. But excluding an ugly win in Colorado (where just about every non-ace should be benched), his last three starts – including last nights 5-hit shutout – have shown significant progress. In those 18 2/3 IP, he’s K’d 17 and walked 7. So let your league mates focus on his ghastly K:BB for the season while you get him on the cheap. I’d still bench him during bad match-ups but he looks primed to be a solid 5th/6th SP in shallow leagues.
Onto other fantasy baseball news….
Jake Peavy - A 3 hit shutout with 8 Ks against the Indians who’ve recently been scalping opposing pitchers. To quote the great Larry King, “Sorry Mr. Westbrook but the best Jake pitching today is Jake Peavy”.
Bartolo Colon- How fitting. Jake has his first great comeback start and the Fatman nearly matches him (8 innings, 0 ER, 3 hits). Now they just need to thank their doctor who I think first starred in the Six Million Dollar Man.
Pedro Alvarez – 3-run HR for Alvy. Maybe he’s finally figuring out how to get the lobster in the pot. Reminds of this old joke about two elderly Pirate fans sitting on the Roberto Clemente Bridge. One of them says, “Boy, the Pirates’ <fill in 3rd baseman> has been really terrible.” The other says, “Yeah, I know, and too few at-bats.”
Jon Niese – 7 shutout innings with 7 Ks. You made your Aunt and Uncle proud!
Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman - Yes, the Cardinals were victorious against the Astros and Bud Norris (with that last name, shouldn’t he be a Texas Ranger?) but both Holliday (quad) and Berkman (wrist) were out of the game by the 5th inning. Much like the rest of our existences, they are ‘day-to-day’. Bud Norris must’ve roundhouse kicked them with his mind.
Mark DeRosa – Left the game in the middle of an at-bat when he re-strained his wrist. That hurts more than having your wrist restrained – depending on who’s doing it. If it’s Mrs. DeRosa, I would not be check-swinging. The official announcement is ‘day-to-day’ but I’d move the versatile DeRosa to ‘Left Out’ in all but NL-only leagues (where we unfortunately have him).
Kyle Lohse – Another strong (8 innings, 1 ER, 7 baserunners) yet not dominant (3 Ks) start. He should change his last name to Wihn. He’s now 5-2 with a crazy low BABIP (somewhere in the .215 range). His ERA/WHIP might be due for regression but he’s still worth starting while he’s on this streak.
Craig Kimbrel – Okay, maybe it’s officially time to start worrying. Tonight was blown save #4 and it was an ugly one – 2 ER & 4 hits in 1/3 of an inning to spoil the Braves second straight extra inning victory. This is after Jonny Venters threw two shutout innings in the 9th and 10th. If it weren’t for the anti-lefty sentiment that fuels closer decisions and McCarthyism, Venters would be closer by now. But my guess is Kimbrel won’t be a fugitive from the closer role as he’d been dominant his previous 4 outings (4 IP, 1 hit, 9 Ks).
Mark Reynolds – 0 for 5 with 2 Ks and a BB in the Orioles 15 inning loss to the Yanks. He did manage his 2nd sB of the year but his average now stands at .184. To those of you who said he couldn’t repeat last year’s .198 AVG, well, I guess you’re still technically correct.
Julio Teheran – 4 innings, 2 ER, 8 baserunners, and 1 strikeout. This is after his first start where he threw 4 2/3 innings and managed 1 strikeout. I know it sounds pervy but I’d trade in this 20 year-old phenom for a Minor.
Yovani Gallardo – A six inning win with 2 ER and 9 Ks. That’s three straight wins for Yovani. Have we finally seen the end of his evil telenovela twin – Oyvani Goneyardo?
Trevor Plouffe – 2 for 4 with 3 RBIs. He’s shown some power in the minors (15 HRs in 445 AAA ABs last year) and a K-rate (22%) that screams .250-.260. So, best case, he’s a J.J. Hardy in hi prime type. Worst case, he’s 2011 J.J. Hardy. Either way, I don’t think anyone minds seeing Gardenhire say “See ya” to Casilla when Nishioka comes back.
Neftali Feliz – A blown save after Hosmer took him deep to star the 9th. Ron Washington was tempted to bring in Arthur Rhodes to face the lefty rookie but, when he approached him, Rhodes responded in a world-weary voice, “I’m getting too old for this s**t” and shared how he plans to spend his retirement.
Michael Dunn - Quick shoutout to the Mr. B‘s. Dunn now has 25 Ks in 19 innings this year. He can come in handy in daily leagues where you need K’s.
Clay Buchholz – Unlike Steve Howe and Dwight Gooden, Buchholz was able to go face-to-face against Coke and come out unharmed (7 shutout innings, no decision). Buchholz is pitching well of late (he’d won four of his last 5). More importantly, he’s been putting up some K’s (he’s now averaged 6 in his last 3 games). His K/9 and BB/9 ratios were very average last year (6.2 and 3.5 respectively) and they’ve been about the same this year. If he can keep K’ing guys like he has in the past 3 games, his value goes up significantly.
Danny Duffy - Making his first major league start, you can imagine the pressure Double-D must’ve felt to fit in with his Royal teammates. 4 innings and 10 baserunners (including 6 walks) later….son, you’re going to fit in just fine. Ignore for 10/12-team mixed leagues but I’d keep an eye on him for deeper leagues.