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The Proof Is In The Peripherals: August 22-28

So when you make a franchise-altering fantasy deal to acquire Mike Trout (for Clayton Kershaw and Austin Jackson, no less) in the last few weeks before your league's deadline, the last thing you want to see is a nagging hamstring injury.  Oof.  There's another helpful tip for late-season trading: it's dangerous to acquire players on struggling teams, since any sort of lingering injury might well cause them to be shut down for the entire rest of the season.  Let's hope it doesn't come to this with Trout, since otherwise I'll be one unhappy camper.  Seriously, I'll leave town and just live in a tent out in the middle of a remote forest for a month, staring forlornly at a Mike Trout baseball card.

Onto this week's advanced metrics...

* The Hurt Locker  I warned everyone about Jeff Locke back in May, and now it looks like I was right all along.  Sure, Locke continued to pitch well for two months after that but, uh, still, moral victory for the Markster!  Locke benefited from great peripheral luck for much of the season but the Locke Regress Monster has emerged over his last four starts.  Even if you chalk up his last start (8 ER in 2 2/3 IP against the Diamondbacks on Saturday) as just a random stinker, Locke also posted a 4.70 ERA over his previous three outings.

If you're a Jeff Locke owner, you have to think about cutting your losses and moving on.  Sure, Locke has been a nice boon to your rotation all year long, but given the southpaw's peripherals, you've been playing with fire all season long.  Time to drop the match before you really get burned heading into your postseason.  You might give Locke one more start (he's facing the Giants next, who couldn't hit my grandma's offspeed stuff) and then hope he pitches well enough to boost his trade value so you can pawn him off on another owner in a deadline deal.  If he can't handle San Francisco, however, then it's time to sock the Locke.

* Yeah, I Chacin Her.  That Is To Say, I Chasaw Her.  His 5.6 K/9 over the last two seasons won't impress anyone, but you can still make the case that Jhoulys Chacin is one of the more underrated fantasy pitching options around.  Part of it comes from that low strikeout rate, and part comes from the dreaded "Rockies Starter" stigma, but otherwise, Chacin has been pretty stellar.  He has a 2.23 ERA over his last 13 starts and for the season he's been getting only a smidge of BABIP (.291) and strand rate (72.4%) luck. 

As you might guess given that he's pitched well in a Rockies uniform, Chacin isn't giving up many homers.  His 4.3% HR/FB rate is the lowest of any qualified starter in the majors, and it's a sharp drop from his 9.2% career rate.  It's mildly concerning that Chacin's fly ball rate is only slightly below his career average, but by this point in the season, you have to acknowledge that Chacin has made a solid adjustment to keep his flies from leaving the yard.

If I can put the peripherals aside for a second, I'll note that the Rockies have a tough remaining schedule.  Twenty-one of Colorado's final 27 games are against big-hitting clubs like the Dodgers, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Reds, so if you pick up Chacin for your stretch drive, you'll be doing so in the face of stiff competition.  That said, Chacin has pitched well all season long and there's enough evidence for me to believe that he isn't a fluke.  I guess you could say that Cha-seeing (puts sunglasses on) is Chac-believing.  YEAHHHHHHH

* Werthwhile  You may have missed this in the wake of the Nationals' ultra-disappointing season but 34-year-old Jayson Werth has been having one of the best seasons of his 11-year career.  Werth missed a month on the DL but is otherwise hitting .330/.403/.524 with 17 homers, 53 RBI and 61 runs through 375 PA and just for kicks, he's even 7-for-8 in stolen base attempts.  "Wow, signing Werth to that seven-year, $126MM contract was a great move for the Nationals after all!" said nobody, but even still, for all that's gone wrong for the Nats in 2013, Werth has been a nice bright spot.  Of course you could argue that since the club wasted this great year from a 34-year-old thought to be on the decline, it just makes the season even more depressing, but...uh, sorry Washington fans.

Werth hasn't carried the Nationals this year, but can he at least carry your fantasy team to glory?  I'd doubt it.  While Werth has indeed been hitting the ball with more authority, posting his highest line drive rate (24.8%) since 2007 and his highest HR/FB rate (18.5%) since 2009, he's also been finding a lot of holes with those hard-hit balls.  The veteran outfielder has a .382 BABIP for the season and a league-leading .452 BABIP since the All-Star break.  That latter stat is bound to regress as we head into September and Werth might be one of those "guys who get a nagging injury and are shut down since their teams are out of it" that I noted earlier, especially given Werth's age and injury history.  There's no reason Werth can't be a contributor to your fantasy playoff run but if you get a late chance to sell high for a more reliable hitter, it wouldn't be a bad move.




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