Orioles Can’t Make Pineda Their Piñata (and other notes from 5/10/15)

Michael Pineda painted an absolute masterpiece on Sunday as Orioles hitters could not figure out his breakaway slider.  Pineda ended up lasting 7 innings while allowing 1 run on 6 hits while striking out 16 (!) and walking none.  If I am Buck Showalter, I am reviewing the footage of the game to make sure Pineda didn’t have any pine tar hidden somewhere on his body!  More like Michael Pinetarda, am I right?!  But the truth is Pineda was just flat out dominant and while he’s not going to have many more games like this one, he is still a heck of a pitcher with a bright future if he can avoid the arm/shoulder issues that he has dealt with early in his Major League career.  Pineda now owns a 5-0 record with a 2.72 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 54 K/3 BB in 46.1 IP and he is absolutely the real deal, but unfortunately if you do not own him in fantasy then it will be very difficult to trade for him as outings like this one drive up the asking price three fold.  Remember last year when it was impossible to take a walk against Phil Hughes and he went on to post the best single season K/BB ratio of all time?  If anyone this year has a shot at surpassing that mark it is Pineda.  Since last year when he returned to the Majors for the first time since the end of the 2011 season due to injuries, Pineda has 113 K/10 BB in 122.2 IP to go along with a shiny 2.20 ERA and 0.90 WHIP.

Not to be outdone, except he was, Danny Salazar spun a gem of his own on Sunday that might go under the radar (to anyone who doesn’t own Salazar) due to Pineda’s 16 K effort.  Salazar began his start by giving up a leadoff home run to Brian Dozier, but then went on to retire the next 21 batters in order while whiffing 11.  Salazar was supposed to have his breakout last year but instead was cast off to AAA after a showing a gross lack of command.  Salazar even began this season in AAA, but was recalled when the Indians needed another starting pitcher.  The Indians broadcast team said how Salazar dedicated himself in the off-season to doing whatever it took to get himself ready to be a full-time Major Leaguer as he did not want to ever go back to Columbus, the Indians AAA affiliate.  If you were lucky enough to spend a late round draft pick on Salazar (and subsequently hold on to him despite being sent down to AAA to begin the year) or pick him up off waivers early in the year, then you have gold on your hands and should not let him go.  Salazar has insane strikeout upside that can be paired with well above average control when he is on point.  On the year, Salazar is 4-1 with a 3.27 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and 48 K/5 BB in 33 IP.  So for the mathematically handicapped out there, that is a strikeout rate of 13.09 K/9.  O to the M to the G.  Going into the 2014 season, I tagged Salazar as “This Year’s Jose Fernandez.”  Well, I was a year premature on that.  Like Pineda though, Salazar does come with an injury history as he is a Tommy John surgery survivor, but he has shown good health since returning from the procedure in 2011.  A couple weeks ago I spent 1/4 of my FAAB budget on Salazar in one league and he’s going to be worth every penny.

Let’s see what else of importance happened on Sunday’s full baseball slate…

Brett Gardner – Gardner recorded his 10th stolen base of the season and is loving life in his role as the Yankees #2 hitter.  Gardner’s SB totals over the last three years are 21, 24, and 2 (injury shortened season).  It’s looking more and more like he is going to get back to the 40 SB plateau and he’s going to end up being a great mid-round value pick when it’s all said and done.

Jason Kipnis – Kipnis fell a HR short of the cycle on Sunday while chipping in 2 runs, 2 RBI, and 1 SB.  Terry Francona figured out that Michael Bourn, for lack of a better word, sucks.  So Bourn got bumped down toward the bottom of the order with Kipnis moving up to the leadoff spot.  What’s Kipnis done as the leadoff hitter so far?  How about a .333 AVG, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 12 R, and 3 SB in 68 AB.  The Kipnis revival is happening and it’s for real.

Adrian Beltre – Beltre went 2 for 4 with 1 HR and 2 RBI.  Just letting you know that yes, he is alive.

Jake Odorizzi – 6.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K.  Odorizzi was actually scheduled to pitch Saturday but had his start pushed back a day due to illness.  It was an impressive outing for Jake as he looked completely gassed and on the verge of vomiting throughout the game.  I feel the need to give him his own special post soon…Stay tuned.

Jordan Zimmermann – 6 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K.  Another dud for Jay-Z.  I hopped off the Zimmermann train when he showed diminished velocity in Spring Training.  So far this regular season, his average fastball is sitting at 92.1 MPH.  Whereas in each of the previous three seasons he was averaging just a tad under 94 MPH.  That’s no coincidence that his strikeout rate is down from 8.20 K/9 last year to 5.31 K/9 this year.  Yes, it’s true that Zimmermann also got off to a rocky start last year when he had a 4.07 ERA and 1.46 WHIP by the end of May.  But that was a case of BABIP bad luck that corrected itself over the course of the rest of the season.  This year his poor performance is directly tied to the loss in velocity that he may not get back.  There’s just something not right with the big righty, and I would sell him if possible as he is just a glorified Doug Fister if he has no velocity.

Bartolo Colon – 6 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 6 K and the W.  Not a spectacular start from Colon, especially against a light hitting Phillies squad, but I just wanted to throw out there that Colon is now 6-1 with a 3.30 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 40 K/1 BB in 46.1 IP.  Yes, that is no typo.  The soon to be 42-year old has walked 1 batter this season.  So remember when I said if there’s any pitcher that could beat Phil Hughes’ record setting K/BB ratio from last year that it would be Michael Pineda?  Well, at 40 K/1 BB, Colon might have something to say about it.  Somehow Colon keeps pumping out quality seasons in what’s supposed to be the twilight of his career, and I do not know how he is doing it.  Oh wait, I know exactly how he’s doing it

Jeurys Familia – 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K and the SV.  If the Colon thing wasn’t weird enough, I present to you the Major League leader in saves with 13, Jeurys Familia!  Prime example of why I do not pay up for closers in drafts.

Kolten Wong – Wong slugged his 4th HR of the year on Sunday while getting another start out of the 2-hole.  Apologies to the J-Hey kid, Jason Heyward, but you’ve been Wonged and Kolten should continue to hit 2nd and go on to have a breakout year.  On the young season, Wong is hitting .336 with 4 HR, 17 RBI, 17 R, and 3 SB.  Wong, a native of Hawaii, will go on to have a season that resembles what fellow Hawaiian Shane Victorino did in his prime.

Jung Ho Kang – Kang went 2 for 4 with his 2nd HR of the year as he hit out of the 2-hole for the Pirates.  As I pointed out the other day in my shortstops post, Kang needs to be monitored as there’s going to be no mercy for Mercer as Kang usurps his role.  Also possible is that Kang steals some playing time from the struggling Josh Harrison at third base, but it is more likely that Mercer will be the real loser here.  With eligibility at both SS and 3B, Kang should be owned in deeper leagues.

Matt Garza – 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 K.  Garza will have games like this, but this is him having a little luck on his side and taking advantage of a Cubs lineup that strikes out the most in the Majors versus right-handed pitching (keep that in mind DFS-ers).

Devin Mesoraco – Mesoraco went 2 for 4 with 1 RBI and legged out a triple as the DH playing at U.S. Cellular Field.  He still has not been cleared to resume catcher duties, so this is probably going to end up as just a terrible tease, especially since it was the day before the new fantasy week starts.  Darn you, Devin!

Garrett Richards – 6.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 10 K.  Like Garza, this was Richards taking advantage of a lineup that is mostly an “all or nothing” lineup that is prone to the strikeout.  Not to say that Richards is not a good pitcher, but his current 2.27 ERA is well below his SIERA of 4.25 and his xFIP of 4.33.  One of the big reasons for his breakout season last year was his average fastball velocity climbed 1.5 MPH from the previous year, all the way to 96.3 MPH.  Currently this year, he is averaging 95.4 MPH on his fastball.  But the good news is that I think that his velocity will continue to inch its way towards last year’s mark as he continues to get more and more strength back in his knee from the season-ending injury he suffered last year.  That’s going to go a long way in determining whether or not he can come anywhere close to duplicating last year’s performance.

Ryan Vogelsong – 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K.  That’s two outstanding performances in a row from Vogelsong.  Who knew?  But I’m only mentioning this to point out the fact that Vogelsong is much more productive and comfortable pitching at home in San Francisco.  DFS-ers take note!  Since making his return to the Majors in 2011 after pitching in Japan for a while, Vogelsong has a 3.04 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.  On the road during that same time, Vogelsong has a 4.85 ERA and 1.46 WHIP.  Also note that he has extreme R/L splits as he gets absolutely demolished by lefties.  So left-handed batters facing Vogelsong away from San Francisco are where the money is at.

Steve Cishek – 0.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K with the BS and L.  Ugly outing for Cishek and you can read more on him  here.

Joc Pederson – In my outfielders post from the other day, I mentioned how Joc tends to be a three outcome hitter in the sense that he either walks, strikes out, or hits a home run.  Staying true to form on Sunday, Joc went 0 for 2 with 1 K and 3 BB.  The guy is still a stud with a bright future.  Oh and as a former supervisor of a program that provided services for children and adults with disabilities, I am a fan of Pederson and his brother Champ who has Down syndrome.

Clayton Kershaw – 5.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 5 K.  I suppose we can chalk this one up to Coors Field, but last year at Coors he gave up just 1 ER on 5 H and 0 BB while striking out 17 in 13 IP.  Despite a 4.26 ERA, Kershaw has a SIERA of 2.43 and an xFIP of 2.18 to suggest that there are much better days ahead of him.  He will turn it around soon.

Marcus Semien – 3 for 4 with 2 solo HR off Felix Hernandez.  Semien is now up to 5 HR/6 SB while hitting .307.  I loved him coming into the year and this is why.

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