April 2008

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Matchups For Saturday

Here we go...

Ronny Cedeno vs. Tom Gorzelanny: 4 for 8, 2B
Geovany Soto vs. Tom Gorzelanny: 5 for 7, 2B
Matt Stairs vs. Jeremy Bonderman: 12 for 24, 3 2B, 3 HR
Shannon Stewart vs. Jeremy Bonderman: 8 for 20, 2 2B, HR
Scott Hatteberg vs. Jeff Suppan: 6 for 15, 2 2B, HR (Votto has also hit him well; who starts?)
Andruw Jones vs. Tom Glavine: 16 for 43, 4 2B, 4 HR
Carlos Delgado vs. Jamie Moyer: 30 for 68, 7 2B, 8 HR (owned)
Sean Casey vs. Jason Jennings: 7 for 17, HR
Mark Loretta vs. Aaron Cook: 12 for 26, 2 2B
Stephen Drew vs. Chris Young: 4 for 6, 2 2B
Garret Anderson vs. Jarrod Washburn: 8 for 18, HR
Robb Quinlan vs. Jarrod Washburn: 7 for 18, 2B, HR
Brad Wilkerson vs. Ervin Santana: 4 for 15, 2B, 3 HR


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A Look At C.C. Sabathia's Poor Start

Josh Kalk has been doing great work studying PITCHf/x data.  Check out his blog here and Hardball Times contributions here.  This guy's going to get hired by a team!  Josh kindly agreed to examine C.C. Sabathia's poor start in a guest post for RotoAuthority.com.  His post follows.

C.C. Sabathia has been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball for many years now.  Despite being around since 2001 Sabathia is still just 27 years old and should be entering the prime of his career.  Combine that with the incredible 2007 season he had and he was probably one of the first few pitchers to come off the board in your fantasy draft.  Unfortunately, Sabathia has had a very poor start to the season.  Let's examine why.

The real culprit here is lack of command, specifically with his fastball.  Sabathia only walked 37 batters in 241.3 innings in 2007 but has already walked 14 in just 18 innings.  That 241.3 innings doesn't count the extra 15.3 innings he threw in post season play which represents a large increase in his workload over previous years (210 innings was his previous high).  Could Sabathia be worn down?  Is there something mechanically wrong?

Sabathia says no, and indeed if we look at his PITCHf/x numbers they seem to back that up.  His fastball is averaging a tick over 94 mph, almost exactly what it was last year.  His slider still has a lot of bite and his changeup is still excellent (he is still exclusively throwing the change to righthanded batters).  So what has changed?  If he is still throwing the same fastball why can't he seem to find the strike zone with it?  Well, if we dig a little deeper there might be an explanation in the data.  Here is a plot with Sabathia's release point for his fastball in 2007 and again for 2008:

Sabathia4_3

While the data looks similar it does appear that Sabathia's release point has dropped.  In fact, on average, Sabathia's release point has dropped two and a half inches.  I should now point out that while the 2007 data has gone through rigorous corrections we don't have enough 2008 data to determine if corrections will be needed so this shouldn't be considered definitive.  Still, if the data is correct this drop in release point appears to be the only difference between last year and this year for Sabathia.  Is two and a half inches enough to be causing him to be erratic?  I can't say for certain but it certainly is something to pay attention to as the year goes on. 


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Eyeing Max Scherzer

Alright, it's officially time to get excited about Max Scherzer as the "next big thing."  Here are the numbers on the 23 year-old starter:

3 starts (Triple A)
17 innings
0.00 ERA
0.59 WHIP
15.35 K/9
1.59 BB/9
3.71 H/9
0.00 HR/9
2.00 Groundball/flyball ratio

Those are video game numbers.  Admittedly it's just three starts, but this reminds me of the way Tim Lincecum kicked off his '07 season.  Actually, Scherzer's been better.

I was recently asked which waiver wire pickups could net decent strikeouts for your team.  Scherzer is officially #1 on that list, when he comes up.  At this rate he could force his way into the picture before June.  There are many scenarios I can envision where Arizona needs a starter.

Some scouts see Scherzer as a future closer rather than a starter, just like many folks thought Lincecum was better suited for the pen.  Scherzer is best known for his high-velocity heater with sinking action, followed by a pretty good slider.


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Bailey May Be Up Soon

Would the Reds dare add a third young pitcher to their rotation?  Why not?  Josh Fogg seems to be on his way outMatt Belisle may be the first choice to replace him, but the Reds have other options.  One of them is post-hype sleeper Homer Bailey.

Bailey wasn't amazing last year, but he was a 21 year-old in Triple A and the Majors.  His nasty #1 starter repertoire didn't go anywhere.  The only question is the strikeouts - he didn't rack 'em up in '07 and he's not this year either.

Bailey has shown much-improved command in his three Triple A starts in '08, with a 4.3 K/BB ratio.  He remains very tough to hit; there might be fantasy value here even without huge Cueto-like K numbers.


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Matchups For Friday

Sorry for missing a day on these...right now I'm just doing them when I can.

Carlos Delgado vs. Cole Hamels: 4 for 9, 2B, HR
Frank Thomas vs. Kenny Rogers: 21 for 61, 4 2B, 6 HR
Gregg Zaun vs. Kenny Rogers: 8 for 16, 4 2B, HR
John McDonald vs. Kenny Rogers: 5 for 10, 2B
Wes Helms vs. Tim Redding: 6 for 19, 2 HR
Garret Anderson vs. R.A. Dickey: 8 for 18, 2 2B, HR


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Breaking: Brocail Gets Save Opp

Quick note, Doug Brocail is getting the save chance for the Astros tonight.  They may just characterize it as a break for Jose Valverde.  People will pick up Brocail in droves regardless.


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Starter Pickups

A couple of decent starting pitcher pickups on my radar:

Scott Olsen gets the Nationals on Sunday.  Unlike last year, he's finding the strike zone.  His K rate has been weak, but his control has been good.  Olsen is definitely one to keep an eye on...he'll be picked up en masse if he has a strong start on Sunday.

Shawn Hill is expected to make his season debut Saturday against Florida.  Last year Hill was always on when he was healthy.  I don't expect him to make 25 starts this year though.


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Dissecting Oswalt's Struggles

Awesome post by David Golebiewski of The Transaction Guy.  He uses Pitch F/X data to figure out why Roy Oswalt has been struggling so far.

Golebiewski notes that Oswalt lost a little over one mile per hour off his fastball while also hanging his breaking stuff.  To me, the data is actually encouraging.  He might recover a little velocity, but he can probably be effective at 92 mph.  And I imagine he can get the breaking stuff sorted out if he's healthy.

I wonder if David takes requests!  Or maybe we can learn his Pitch F/X data methods.  Which pitchers need to be examined?


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Matchups For Wednesday

Tomorrow's matchups.

Randy Winn vs. Brandon Webb: 12 for 28, 2B, 2 3B
Chris Snyder vs. Barry Zito: 5 for 7, 2B
Lyle Overbay vs. Adam Loewen: 5 for 8
Pedro Feliz vs. Roy Oswalt: 12 for 25, 3 2B, 3B, 2 HR
Aubrey Huff vs. Jesse Litsch: 4 for 7, 2B, 3B
Ron Belliard vs. John Maine: 7 for 10, HR


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Moylan Down, Acosta Is Next

Manny Acosta is next in the closing pecking order for Atlanta - Pete Moylan just hit the DL.  Go get Acosta if he's still out there.

I should add that Blaine Boyer could easily sneak into the closer role.  Consider him the consolation prize.  Even Will Ohman could get chances in lefty-heavy ninth innings.


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