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The Proof Is In The Peripherals: April 17-23

"Things might not look good on the surface, but they could be on the upswing if you look closer."  That isn't just the opening line of my online dating profile, but also the mantra of The Proof Is In The Peripherals, which takes a weekly look at the players who are playing better than their 5x5 stats may show, or the players whose numbers look good now but are really just smoke and mirrors.  This week we'll take a look at...

Don't Believe It: Ross Detwiler.  It's still early enough in the season that you're bound to see some very hilarious advanced metrics, and exhibit A is @NationalDet (sadly, clever Twitter handles aren't a countable stat in most fantasy leagues).  Detwiler has a cool 0.69 ERA through his first two starts but his FIP is 4.26, his xFIP is 4.87 and his SIERA is 4.68.  Detwiler's career ERA significantly outperforms his career peripherals so this is no surprise, merely the most glaring example yet.  With only a career 5.5 K/9 (including a 4.2 K/9 this year), Detwiler provides little for you in the strikeout category, and if you're taking a semi-flier on the fifth spot in your fantasy rotation, you should be aiming for more than a groundball specialist.

The Nationals have so many elite young stars that, in the spirit of "the cook is a Navy SEAL?!" from Under Siege, Detwiler is kind of an afterthought despite being the sixth overall pick of the 2007 draft and he has a 3.63 ERA through 349 2/3 career innings.  A 27-year-old southpaw with this kind of pedigree would carry a much higher profile on most teams but in Washington, he's just a back-of-the-rotation guy.  As such, Detwiler carried a bit of under-the-radar fantasy buzz this year as someone who might be primed for a breakout and (just like his bigger-name rotation mates) would benefit from pitching at Nationals Park and having that loaded lineup give him plenty of run support.  I'm not saying Detwiler won't evolve into a better pitcher down the road or even later in the year, but don't over-react at that tiny ERA and jump at him on your waiver wire just yet.  Maybe let another owner take him now and then, after Detwiler comes back to earth in a couple of starts and the other owner releases him in disgust, pick up Ross The Boss on the rebound as his performances get back to normal.

Believe It: Jarrod Parker.  Permit me to pat myself on the back a la Barry Horowitz here for a moment.  Last October, I threw up a warning sign about Parker's 2013 prospects given that he had a big jump in innings from 2011 to 2012, including pitching into October when the A's made the playoffs.  Thus far, I have been proven right Right RIGHT, as Parker has a 10.80 ERA through three starts and hasn't pitched more than 3 1/3 innings in either of his last two outings. 

Parker's FIP/xFIP/SIERA numbers are "only" 7.14/7.30/6.49 but the big concern is his K/BB rate.  Parker owned an 8.5 K/9 and 2.61 K/BB in his minor league career but those strikeouts didn't really carry over to his first full Major League season in 2012 as he only posted a 6.9 K/9.  If he's having trouble finding the strike zone and is losing his control to boot, then there isn't much to like here, especially since Parker also pitched badly during Spring Training.  I'm guessing Parker is at most a fourth starter on your fantasy staff (if he's any higher, you have my apologies) so you're not losing much by outright dropping him and trying another long-term starter on the waiver wire or just streaming pitchers for a while.

Don't Stop Believing: Jason Heyward.  Now, I'll be honest, I dealt Heyward in one of my leagues this past week, though that was part of a trade package that involved me getting David Price.  So I still more or less got fair value for Heyward --- I certainly didn't give up on him, which you might be tempted to do given his utterly atrocious start.  Heyward was hitting just .103/.286/.205 heading into Tuesday's game against the Royals, and while Heyward went yard in that game, he was hitless in his other three plate appearances. 

Now, there's plenty of good news and bad news about Heyward.  The good news is that his strikeout rate is 14.6% (which is actually well down from his 21.3% career average), his walk rate is a bit higher than usual and his line drive rate is only slighter below his career norms.  He's hitting a lot of balls in the air and they're simply not getting out of the park or dropping, given that his BABIP is a rock-bottom .097.  So don't worry too much about Heyward everything is more or less in line with his career averages and he's bound to even things out with the BABIP gods sooner or later.  The bad news?  Well, this is only bad news if you're not a Braves fan, but man, Atlanta is still this good despite Heyward, B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla all hitting like garbage?  Yikes.



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