I know, I know. ¬†I promised everyone Dallas Keuchel, but he’s pitching tonight! ¬†His last start was so long ago that Jose Abreu still seemed like a good guy to trade for if someone wasn’t selling too high (ack!). ¬†So long ago that Jay Z seemed to still love his little sister-in-law!
But do not fret, I promise unless there’s a Noah-type monsoon that floods out four games, that Keuchel will be next week on his weekend start.
So in my despair when I saw Keuchel was tonight and not yesterday, I went to Twitter for some ideas and got a great one for Ryan Vogelsong. ¬†I gotta admit – I love Vogelsong. ¬†Helped carry me to titles in both 2011 and 2012 where he stayed undervalued for an entire 2-year stretch. ¬†Pretty hard to do. ¬†But 2013 was a disaster with hitters bashing him at a .299 clip, suffered a 5.73 ERA, and I guess the more appropriate adjective use of “suffer” would be for his broken hand on a comebacker. ¬†It was in a 5-inning scoreless game too! ¬†Talk about the worst timing, right whence he was turning it around.
In 2012, everyone ignored Vogelsong because he started the year on the DL and I think he missed all of one start. ¬†Noobs! ¬†To ignore him (like I obviously did) based on a terrible 2013 for a 36-year-old pitcher I think is more logical. ¬†But he’s got his velocity back up to 2012 levels, dropped the line drive rate, and has four gems in his last five starts. ¬†Indeed, it felt only logical to break down his start yesterday against the Marlins, and if he can indeed make another under-the-radar lasting impact on fantasy teams in 2014:
First Inning:¬†Vogey’s first pitch to Adeiny Hechavarria is a fastball in there for strike one, a little cutter at 88 dips low, a huge curveball way outside makes it 2-1, a good two-seamer at 91 gets a foul, a really good sinking fastball is barely inside and low – that looked like a great pitch – then a fastball fouled back, followed by a¬†second payoff pitch, a fastball, inside-outed to right for a single. ¬†Not a great start and Hechavarria got a lot of pitches out of him to start the game. First-pitch curveball to Derek Dietrich bends low – that was a really good one for a putaway pitch – a nasty 80 MPH change-up flutters into the zone with great run on it 1-1,
two-seamer hits the inside corner with some good run as well, then a cutter on the outside corner nips the black for a K looking. ¬†Definitely looking like the Vogelsong of old. ¬†Fastball to Christian Yelich is tipped foul, Hechavarria is almost picked off at first – nice pickoff move there – then that nasty curveball gets swung through 0-2,
then a well-timed pitchout catches Hechavarria on the move and Buster Posey throws him out at second. ¬†Great move. ¬†All the sudden it’s two outs and 1-2, and Vogelsong barely misses high with the two-seamer, then is low with a fastball and Yelich takes off his shin pad and throws the bat – butttttt it’s a full count. ¬†Embarrassing! ¬†Then that curveball, and a nassssty one gets Yelich to swing-and-miss for his second K. ¬†Man after that leadoff at-bat, Vogelsong looked awesome.
Second Inning:¬†After picking up three runs of support, Vogelsong starts Casey McGehee with a fastball on the outside black, a nasty change-up that runs back on the outside corner to make it 0-2 (looked a tad outside, but gets the call), misses outside, then another change gets a groundout to short. ¬†Curveball drops in for a strike on Garrett Jones, cutter is inside then way inside, 2-1, four-seamer at 91 gets fouled back, change outside, then his bread-and-butter right now – the curveball – gets a weak pop to right, two down. ¬†Cutter on the outside corner gets him up 0-1 on Ed Lucas, fastball fouled, fastball high, outside fastball laced foul, then a 1-2 change-up is squared up pretty well, but it’s right to Hunter Pence¬†in right for a 1-2-3 inning.
Third Inning:¬†First-pitch cutter to Marcell Ozuna breaks the end of his bat, but it drops in right for a leadoff single. ¬†That maybe got too much of the plate, but was a lucky bloop hit. ¬†He again goes to the cutter on Jeff Mathis and dots the outside lower corner, fastball low and outside, fastball outside, then a great cutter at 87 gets a swing-and-miss 2-2.
Vogelsong follows it up with¬†a perfect change-up at 81 gets Mathis out in front for a big swing-and-miss K. ¬†That change started at the same spot as that cutter, but dove down and into the plate at 6 MPH slower. ¬†Great pitching. ¬†First pitch to opposing starter Jacob Turner is bunted and Vogelsong makes the easy play at first on the sacrifice. ¬†So runner at second, two down, and a curve hits the outside corner to Hechavarria, 0-1. ¬†Another curve in the dirt almost induces a swing but not called one on the appeal, then a fastball is hit pretty hard on the ground, but it’s right to second for an easy play, inning over.
Fourth Inning:¬†Dietrich fouls off the first-pitch change-up, then a cutter is too far inside and hits him. ¬†So Vogelsong lets the leadoff hitter on in back-to-back (and 3 out of 4) innings, and from the stretch starts Yelich with a change-up outside, curveball drops in the top of the zone, a cutter gets nipped foul, then another cutter on 1-2 on the outside corner gets grounded to short, and it’s a double-play. ¬†Great pitching there, sticking with that cutter to try and get a groundball and does. ¬†Impressive [Darth Vader voice]. ¬†Cutter gets the top of the zone on McGehee, then another on the outside black gets tapped foul, then Vogelsong climbs the ladder with the heater, 1-2. ¬†A great cutter bends just too low and outside at 88, nice looking pitch there – good eye from McGehee – a change-up dips too low, then a fastball on the outside corner gets blasted to right for a single. ¬†I don’t like that pitch there, he gave in with the fastball on 3-2 and paid for it. ¬†I would’ve liked to see the curve. ¬†So again runner on first and Jones takes a low cutter for a strike not liking the call, change-up is low, then a 77 MPH curveball gets tapped very weakly to first and it ends the inning. ¬†See! ¬†Vogelsong should’ve gone curve to McGehee too…
Fifth Inning:¬†First-pitch curveball to Lucas gets the call on the outside corner – even the announcer called it a ball but it got the call – then is low, then a cutter gets hit hard to second, but the throw is on a tough in-between hop and Michael Morse¬†(aka Javier Bardem)¬†can’t dig it out. ¬†Wow, they give Lucas the base hit – I guess since Brandon Hicks made a pretty good play to range to it. ¬†Either way, that’s now 4 of 5 innings with the leadoff hitter on (given two have been on lucky hits), and curveball for strike one to Ozuna. ¬†That curve is owning. ¬†Curveball is barely outside, a great running change-up on the hands gets popped foul and almost caught but drops, then the 1-2 fastball is hit weakly to center for the first out. ¬†First-pitch fastball to Mathis is yanked between short and third for a solid single. ¬†Runners at first and second, one out, and most trouble Vogelsong has been in all day. ¬†Turner immediately shows bunt. and Vogelsong’s curveball is bunted extremely well, and Pablo Sandoval has to make a great play on it to throw him out at first. ¬†Man, that easily could’ve been an infield single. ¬†Runners 2nd and 3rd, and the first one to Hechavarria is a cutter down the middle that’s hit hard, but Brandon Crawford dives for it, makes the snag, and throws out the speedy shortstop by over a step. ¬†Great plays from Vogelsong’s infield (well, after one bad play, so sorta evens out) and it keeps his ER total empty.
Sixth Inning:¬†At 67 pitches, Vogelsong is cruising and a curveball is fouled off by Dietirch, a change is low, then another change gets a lazy popup to third, one down. ¬†First-pitch curve is spiked in the dirt, then a cutter is grounded weakly to Hicks at second, two down on five pitches. ¬†Curveball hangs high to McGehee, then another curve is in there, 1-1. ¬†Great faith with the off-speed. ¬†Curve again nips the outside corner 1-2, then a change-up on the outside corner gets hit fairly well to Crawford, but he makes a pretty easy play yet botches the throw for an error. ¬†Crawford giveth and Crawford taketh away. ¬†McGehee on first on the error with two outs and Jones takes a fastball in there, then another good one just misses, then a change-up hits the same exact spot and called a ball again, 2-1. ¬†Good umping today – he’s given some off the outside corner to righties, but consistent. ¬†Fastball is definitely low, 3-1, then a two-seamer runs a good bit outside for a walk. ¬†Vogelsong’s first walk on the day, and it sucks he was close to the zone and had to fight through that at-bat off an error. ¬†Again that great curve is working the zone today and he gets the outside corner with it, then a nasty one boring low gets a huge swing-and-miss, curve again is way outside, then a great fastball that looked like it was on the inside higher corner is a good take, 2-2. ¬†Out comes Posey, and this inning that was a cruise is all the sudden a… canoe? ¬†I dunno… Anyway, another curveball is a nasty one that is off the plate and dips in the dirt at 77, and Lucas can’t help but emergency hack through it for Vogelsong’s 4th K.
Seventh Inning:¬†86 pitches now, and a good cutter is barely low to Ozuna, cutter again fouled, curveball on the outside corner gets the call, 1-2. ¬†Nice frame job by Posey, but like I said, ump calling it consistent. ¬†Fastball is outside, then a change-up at 83 is swung through, K number 5. ¬†Cutter dives low to Mathis, then a rolling curve gets the top of the zone, a pretty good change is taken barely for a ball, then change-up again at 82 gets him out in front, 2-2. ¬†Mathis must’ve been sitting heater. ¬†Then follows it up with a good fastball and blows him away at 90.
What mixing speeds does for you! ¬†Another good sequence. ¬†6 Ks for Vogey, and pinch-hitter Donovan Solano takes a strike, then Vogelsong’s final pitch is a good change-up grounded right to Crawford who makes the easy play to end the inning.
Final Line: ¬†W ¬†7 IP ¬†98 Pitches (62 Strikes) ¬†0 ER ¬†5 Hits ¬†1 Walk ¬†6 K ¬†Gamescore: 72 ¬†¬†Gamescore+: 71.4
Final Analysis:¬†Vogelsong really did look like the Vogelsong we saw a couple years ago, mixing speeds, giving up only 5 singles (with one a bloop and one could’ve been an error) and no batted balls going past the mid-outfield. ¬†Pretty impressive. ¬†His Gamescore+ came out to be about the same as his Gamescore – just all-around good pitching. ¬†Even though it was against the Marlins with no Giancarlo Stanton…
His fastball sits at 90-92, usually in the lower part of that, with both four-seam and two-seam action. ¬†The two-seamer had good tail, and when his off-speed stuff is working as good as it did yesterday, the four-seamer can work like the K in the 7th on Mathis. ¬†The cutter at 87-89 is pretty spot-on, good sink, late movement, and he was pinpoint with it. ¬†Then there’s the great off-speed, with a huge moving change-up from 80-83, and his go-to curveball from 76-78 that he was consistently able to throw for strikes – and quality strikes at that on the corners. ¬†What’s great about that curve is it’s speed – if that same speed breakdown was for a guy throwing 95, that curve would get to 83-84 at times. ¬†It’s a power pitch.
So what happened last year? ¬†Well, the fastball completely eluded him, dropping to a 89.0 average velocity after 91.4 in 2011 and 90.8 in 2012. ¬†He’s not a hard thrower by any means, but that’s a pretty brutal drop. ¬†The cutter also lost 1.5 MPH, both leading to a line drive rate that went from 20.4% in 2011/18.5% in 2012 to a whopping 27.1% last year. ¬†Batters were absolutely crushing the fastball then able to tee off on the slower stuff, contributing to a huge spike in BABIP and a career-worst HR rate. ¬†But that’s been righted for the most part this year – LD rate¬†slightly down to 25.0% (and I imagine a lot of that earlier in the year), with his velocity back up to 90.3 on the heater. ¬†The improvements have shown over the last 5, with 4 of those starts 6+ innings, 6+ Ks, and 1 run or fewer. ¬†He’s really only had one brutal start all year, and that was at Colorado. ¬†You get a little bit of a pass there.
I’m kinda all-in on Vogelsong. ¬†I can’t believe I didn’t have him ranked before this week, as he snuck up on even me. ¬†I think he’s absolutely a bottom-end guy to own in 12ers. ¬†Great park, stuff is back to where it was when he was successful, and even though he’s older, he hasn’t piled up huge innings since he bloomed so extremely late. ¬†His next two starts are at home against the Twins and Cubs. ¬†Ummm, yeah I want those! ¬†Grabbing him where I can.
JB’s Updated Top 100 SP
(rankings based on 12-team Roto – green for risers, red for fallers)
Dropped Out:¬†Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins¬†(TJ – so effed up that happened…),¬†Martin Perez, Texas Rangers¬†(TJ),¬†Dillon Gee, New York Mets¬†(lat, but still sounds like it’ll be a while),¬†CC Sabathia, New York Yankees¬†(his knee is like, “told you to lose that weight earlier!”)
- My first note is just my insatiable need to mention my Top 5 sleeper pitchers¬†and¬†they’re ridiculous high ranks from my original Top 100. ¬†Of course I’ve made some bad calls, but man, it’d be hard to pick a better 5 sleepers heading into the year. ¬†I mean, Johnny Cueto may have been the best sleeper call, but camon!
- Overall, the depth of starting pitching looks thin all the sudden. ¬†After about Chris Archer, who I still believe in, it’s a frenzy of meh guys. ¬†Dr. James Andrews is going to make, like, a billion dollars this year.
- Also with all the injuries, I made a lot of tweaks this week. ¬†It looks like a friggin’ rainbow today!
- Andrew Cashner… Just a sore elbow… “Just”… Remember when Martin Perez’s MRI said he only had some fluid? ¬†Then they found the busted ligament. ¬†MRI set for today, but I’m mortified. ¬†MRIs on elbows have resulted in TJs 95% of the time lately…
- Cole Hamels with back-to-back gems. ¬†It’s too late to buy now, but I always had him ranked highly and now I’m pushing the chips all-in. ¬†*crosses fingers his shoulder doesn’t fall off*
- Corey Kluber at 28 seems wonky even for me. ¬†But I can’t pick 27 more that are better! ¬†I hope my Kluber love gave you that last mmmphf to grab him.
- Prezii – “Give it up on Porcello” Me – “NEVER!” ¬†Me now – “muahahahahaha!”
- Remember when Drew Smyly got yo-yoed in and out of the rotation and I had to really bear down to stick with him so high? ¬†That one feels good too!
- Remember when Alex Wood got the axe even though I said I wasn’t worried about it and he’ll get 190 innings? ¬†That one feels like a kick in the nutsack!
- All in on Bauer. ¬†Pretty drastic move to send down Salazar. ¬†I am keeping Salazar ranked because I see him up again sooner rather than later for someone, but huge hit. ¬†Really deep league – I’d buy Salazar low.
- My one night stand with McHugh gave me gonorrhea in that third start against the Mariners, but dude had a one-hitter through 5 before imploding against the White Sox last time out. ¬†Don’t like him against the Angels, but there’s still something there.
- Tyson Ross walks the bases loaded against the Reds in the first, then turns it around to somehow throw 7 one run innings. ¬†So inconsistent, but yet the numbers are there. ¬†Had to move him up even though I think it’s a time bomb.
Are you singing us a Vogelsong, Mr. Razzball Man (or woman!)? ¬†Want to throw tomatoes at me for these rankings? ¬†Shoot em below!