Zack Greinke pitched on Saturday night versus the Rockies and he finished the game going 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K with the loss. It is a tough luck loss for Greinke, but he is looking like a nice sell candidate for any Greinke owners out there. He is 5-1 with a 1.52 ERA and 0.88 WHIP and he pitches in front of an offense that can score with the best of them, so the opportunities to log a lot of wins will be there. And his strikeout to walk ratio of 44 K/11 BB is very solid. So what’s not to like?
According to PITCHf/x data, Greinke’s fastball velocity for the most part has progressively gotten worse every season since 2009 from 93.7 MPH to 90.6 MPH this year. Greinke is dealing with a 1.2 MPH decline in his fastball velocity from last year to this year, which would qualify as the largest drop in a single season during the time frame from 2009-present. Though he has maintained his excellent control, his strikeout rate is down from 9.21 K/9 last year to a current season mark of 7.42 K/9 with the likely culprit being the aforementioned velocity loss.
From when Greinke first entered the Majors in 2007 all the way through 2012, the slider pitch was his bread and butter and he used it anywhere from 15.1% to 19.2% of the time during those years. But a strange thing happened in 2013 after he signed a 6-year/$148 million contract with the Dodgers. His slider usage that year mysteriously dropped to 5.4%. The reasoning behind it though was that Greinke understood that the slider is known to be the most stressful pitch on the arm/elbow, so he intentionally used it less that year an in effort to preserve his health for the long term and for the duration of his newly minted deal. However, that slider had been his most effective pitch over the course of his career, so subtracting it from his arsenal (or using it more seldom) had an adverse effect. Greinke’s strikeout rate was at just 7.50 K/9 in that season, which was one of the lowest marks that he had ever since having a breakthrough season in 2008. Perhaps it was a coincidence, but I see it more as a causal relationship because in the following 2014 season, Greinke apparently had a change of heart and ramped back up his slider usage to 17.5% and finished the season with a healthy 9.21 K/9.
So with his slider usage back up last year and currently at an all-time high this year, could it be that it has had adverse effects to be the cause to his diminished velocity? There is no actual way of knowing, but I believe it to be a valid theory. Furthermore on Greinke and being a sell candidate, his SIERA currently sits about 2 full runs higher than his actual ERA, he is stranding base runners at a high mark over 85%, and his .217 BABIP is super low. He has only once posted a BABIP under .300, and that was way back in his rookie season.
With the name value, the stunning stats on the surface, and playing for a good team, you should be able to get a good return on the Greinkster. I envision him to be more of a 3.50 ERA, 1.20 WHIP type of pitcher while maintaining strikeout and walk rates near his current marks. That’s not terrible, and at least the great win potential is still there, but there’s someone out there who will look at his current stats and erroneously think that he is a fantasy ace.
Keep on reading to see what else happened for Saturday’s baseball action.
Giancarlo Stanton – 1 for 5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Mike drop. This one went ever further than the one he hit on Friday night. 11 HR on the year.
Mat Latos – 3 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K with the L. Latos left the game after being hit with a comeback line drive on the shin. The Marlins were better off without him in the game anyway. Latos is a gas can for the Braves to kick around every time. He is another pitcher that I would not have touched this year.
Steve Cishek – 2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K. Cishek got some work in with his team down 3 runs and they were clean innings, but A.J. Ramos is going to have to fall flat on his face for Cishek to reclaim the closer’s role in Miami. I just don’t see that happening.
Jace Peterson – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Peterson hit a grand slam off Mat Latos and has been the leadoff hitter for the Braves the last couple of games with the lineup shuffle after Kelly Johnson‘s injury. It was Peterson’s first career HR and he has a considerable bump in value as the leadoff hitter. He can perform adequately in the role with a strong walk rate and he has 30 SB potential, though he has yet to show it this year with only 3 SB. He’s not someone that I would go racing to the waiver wire for except in the deepest of leagues, but he could make decent contributions for as long as he is leading off.
Todd Cunningham – 3 for 4, 1 R. With Kelly Johnson hitting the DL for the Braves, Cunningham was called up and he has now posted back to back 3 for 4 games. It’s a good couple of games, but he isn’t anyone special and should be left on the waiver wire.
Alex Wood – 7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K with the W. The win and all is nice, but where are all the strikeouts? Check out my post “Brave-ing Through It With Julio Teheran and Alex Wood” for further analysis.
Brian Dozier – 1 for 2, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 2 BB. Take me to church! Back to back days with a HR for Dozier.
Eduardo Escobar – 4 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 R. Proof that any player can have a perfect day at the plate on any given day.
Ian Kinsler – 3 for 5, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 SB. Kinsler has yet to homer this year, but the walk rate is back up this year so he is getting on base a lot to score runs. I was worried about him going into the year because of the extremely low and uncharacteristic 4.0% walk rate that he had last year, but he’s not done quite yet.
Miguel Cabrera – 1 for 5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 2 K. M-Cab’s 400th career HR and his third straight game going deep. I was asked if I think Cabrera would break the all-time HR record, and I quickly said no. Cabrera has 8 guaranteed years left on his contract, which would take him through his age 40 season. Say he hits 25 more HR this year and averages 30 HR a season through the end of his contract (saying 30 HR might be a tad generous), then that would put him at 665 HR for his career. Obviously still a great total, but nearly 100 HR shy of Barroid Bonds 762.
Joakim Soria – 1 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K with the SV. Just think of where the Tigers would be if Joe Nathan didn’t get injured. They definitely wouldn’t be in first place right now, as Nathan surely would have blown a few. Soria has been awesome for the Tigers and should continue to be a solid option. The .171 BABIP is not believable, so he will be regressing soon, but for now he is a perfect 12 for 12 in save opportunities.
Jung Ho Kang – 3 for 4, 1 SB. Kang had been quiet for a few days, but he knocked a couple singles and a double while also swiping a bag. Meanwhile, Jordy Mercer struck out as a pinch hitter. Kang should continue to distance himself from Mercer as the team’s starting shortstop as I eluded to last week. The Pirates might be able to tap 20 HR out of Kang, and hey that would be pretty useful out of a shortstop in fantasy. You know what to do roto players.
Gerrit Cole – 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K with the L. Though he was the loser on Saturday, Cole is really blossoming and coming into his own this season. He is 5-2 with a 2.40 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 53 K/13 BB in 48.2 IP. He is approaching ace-dom as a 24-year old.
Anthony Rizzo – 2 for 3, 1 RBI, 1 SB. A to the Rizzo is now up to 8 SB on the season as Joe Maddon is doing wonders for all the Cubs players SB totals. Fantasy owners across the globe thank you kindly, Mr. Maddon.
Jon Lester – 7 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K with the W. Lester’s numbers are beginning to look much better now that his BABIP is regressing downward toward normal levels. Expect more improvements to continue.
Travis Wood – 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K. Wood was removed from the rotation after he got shelled in his start two days prior, but he was put in to finish off the game in this one with Hector Rondon having pitched in three days in a row. I can’t imagine that Wood will be seeing many more, if any more, save chances, but I’ve seen Joe Maddon do some weird things with his bullpens. So never say never I guess!
Steve Pearce – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R. It’s just Pearce’s 3rd HR of the year and he’s still hitting below .200. But remember, he has been playing 2B and now should have eligibility there in a lot of fantasy leagues. If he can get hot, then there aren’t many other 2B with his power potential. Just something to keep an eye on.
Ubaldo Jimenez – 7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K with the L. Ubaldo followed up his great start last week versus the Blue Jays with another good one against the Angels. Those are a couple pretty good offenses that he was able to hold in check and while he won’t continue to have an ERA under 3.00 and a WHIP around 1.00, it might be time to take him seriously as a bounce back candidate this year as he continues to grow more comfortable with pitching with less velocity.
Mike Trout – 3 for 5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Trout had hit a mini slump, but the big day has his AVG back at .300 and he now has 10 HR. He also has been able to trim his strikeout rate this year as he has become more disciplined in laying off pitches up in the zone, given that every team in baseball knew that was his one weakness.
Matt Shoemaker – 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K with the W. A nice game from Shoemaker and he really needed this one as he had not had a game allowing less than 3 ER all season long. Shoe’s strong ratio of 38 K/7 BB in 38.1 IP would suggest that he should be in line for some big positive adjustments to his 5.63 ERA. The longball is what has killed him this season, as he’s issued 11 HR in 7 starts and has somehow managed to go from a neutral pitcher to ground balls/fly balls to an extreme fly ball pitcher. With a high usage of a split-fingered fastball that should induce a decent amount of ground balls, I would expect the fly ball trend to reverse soon. I could get down on Shoemaker being a buy candidate, though the 1.4 MPH loss in fastball velocity could give me some pause.
Curtis Granderson – 3 for 5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R. Granderson is not really a prime example anymore of what a leadoff hitter should be, but he actually walks a lot to make up for his poor AVG. Would I want to own him in fantasy? Never. But there are certainly worse options.
Wilmer Flores – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R. I liked Flores coming into the season as a very deep sleeper at middle infield for his ability to make contact and possible power potential. Flores came on last season to hit 6 HR in 78 games with the Mets, but he had 13 HR in just 55 games at AAA. So far this year, he now has 6 HR in 32 games and though his .250 AVG is mediocre, he does have some upside there with a decent 15.4% strikeout rate that has the potential to get even lower. He’s J.J. Hardy-esque .
Kevin Plawecki – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Plawecki was called up to be the starting catcher for the Mets when Travis d’Arnaud went down with a broken finger. Plawecki is a good catching prospect in his own regard, but with a 20.9% strikeout rate in his time in the Majors, he is not displaying the greatest strength that he has at the plate, which is his good hitter’s eye as seen by his 10.1% career strikeout rate in the Minors. Nonetheless, he did have a nice game by swatting his 2nd HR of the season on Saturday, but when d’Arnaud comes back in a couple weeks, Plawecki should be ticketed back to AAA.
Jacob deGrom – 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K with the W. After deGrom got bombed at Wrigley Field last week, I showed how he is a much better pitcher at home than on the road. So this strong game back at home comes as no surprise, and he even went 3 for 3 at the dish to boot. If you own him, you may want to seriously consider benching him for his road starts unless it’s against a very weak offense. deGrom improved to 4-4 with a 3.21 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and 43 K/13 BB in 47.2 IP.
Matt Garza – 3.1 IP, 10 H, 10 ER, 3 BB, 2 K with the L. Well, this is just about the polar opposite of his gem last week versus the Cubs. Garza dominates the Cubs, but gets shellacked by the Mets? Totally makes sense. But speaking of home/road splits, Garza also has shown some significant differences in that regard. He has a career 3.32 ERA at home, but it balloons to a 4.46 ERA on the road.
Alex Rodriguez – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K. HR number 10 for A-Rod. I told you about that hard hit rate of his and that the power is going to keep on coming.
C.C. Sabathia – 7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K with the W. Sabathia has actually pitched pretty decently this season and deserves better than a 2-5 record, 4.67 ERA, and 1.35 WHIP. But he is now on a 2-game win streak and getting his numbers to positively regress towards the 3.69 SIERA that he came into Saturday with. Like a true professional, Sabathia is learning to adjust to being a pitcher that tops out at 91 MPH on the gun after years of being able to touch 95-96 MPH. I’m not necessarily saying to go trade for him, but he’s better than the numbers suggest.
Dellin Betances/Andrew Miller – 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K. In Spring Training, I was very concerned with Betances and his loss of velocity and he was not someone that I would have felt comfortable drafting with Andrew Miller joining the Yankees pen. But while his velocity has been down slightly from last year, Betances is squashing any ill thoughts. However, it is Miller who is the one racking up all the saves. But combined, these two guys have been lights out. They both pitched scoreless innings on Saturday and collectively they have a 0.00 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, and 61 K/17 BB in 38.2 IP, and Betances has racked up 4 relief wins while Miller is 13 for 13 in save opportunities. If you drafted Betances and then grabbed Miller as a handcuff, you have earned your pinstripes.
Mike Leake – 5 IP, 11 H, 9 ER, 1 BB, 2 K. Leake was playing a game with Garza on who could have the worse game. Garza takes the cake narrowly. Leake was way overdue for a clunker and is someone to avoid for the most part in fantasy.
Buster Posey – 2 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 R. Must I say it again? Posey can get hot with the best of them.
Brandon Belt – 3 for 5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. That’s back to back games with a HR for his first 2 of the season. After his first HR, I said that Belt could see an uptick in production with Posey getting hot and the return of Hunter Pence. I am pretty sure this qualifies as that uptick. Pick him up. Now he only needs 25 more HR and 20 more SB to be “This Year’s Todd Frazier…”
Hunter Pence – 2 for 3, 3 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Welcome back, Hunter. The Giants offense just got a lot more potent with the return of Pence, and with Posey and Belt producing.
Brandon Crawford – 3 for 5, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. Oh, and let’s not forget about Crawford producing for the G-Men. He’s up to 6 HR and 24 RBI on the season with a pretty decent .277 AVG. Could Crawford be tapping into some unknown power potential in his age 28 season? I would be relatively shocked if he gets to 20 HR, but 15 could be within reach.
Scott Feldman – 6.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 10 K with the W. 10 K’s for Feldman? Must be a blue moon out tonight. I would have thought the only way he would pull a double digit strikeout game out of his hat was if he was pitching to his own lineup. Leave him on the wire, nothing to see here.
Luke Gregerson – 1 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K with the SV. Gregerson returned to the team after another absence away for a personal family matter. It could have gone better had he not served up a HR to the man below, but at least he still came away with the save.
Edwin Encarnacion – 1 for 1, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R. Encar in a pinch-hit role absolutely demolished a hanging slider from Luke Gregerson. It was a blast that even Giancarlo Stanton would have to applaud. That’s his 5th HR in the last 8 games, and he now only needs 6 more HR before the end of May to make my prediction come true.
Shin-Soo Choo – 3 for 5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R. One night after his 0-fer he is back at getting base knocks. I am getting kind of tired of him appearing here every day.
Delino DeShields – 0 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Leonys Martin made his return to the lineup, so DeShields was pushed from CF to LF, but he got bumped up to the 2-hole in the lineup. Naturally, with the bump up the lineup that I have been predicting and calling for, he did little with the opportunity. But remember that he has the speed to do some nice things.
Colby Lewis – 5 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 7 K. Finally a dud game for Colby. I no longer wanted to live in a world where Colby Lewis had an ERA under 3.00. While he has done well so far this year, he’s due to get obliterated harder.
Neftali Feliz – 1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 0 K with the BS and L. The ol’ Cishek Special, BS-L. Rough go for Feliz who is not pitching very well this season and now has a 5.51 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, and is 6 for 9 in save opportunities. It’s probably not quite time for a change in the Rangers bullpen yet, but one more game like this could do the trick. The candidates to take over would be Shawn Tolleson and Keone Kela. Tolleson has been working the 8th inning in front of Feliz, and although his 3.86 ERA isn’t great, his 22 K/3 BB in 16.1 IP is dazzling. The 22-year old rookie Kela owns a 2.55 ERA and has been working the 7th inning and is considered the closer of the future, but he had a fart of a game himself. I would put Tolleson ahead of Kela for next in line due to Tolleson’s superb K/BB ratio and because of Kela’s lack of experience in the Majors. I give permission to stash Tolleson right meow.
Jason Kipnis – 3 for 6, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. I suppose it bears repeating again: Kipnis enjoys being back in the leadoff spot. He hit the go-ahead HR off Feliz and is just on a pure roll right now. I don’t think that he has been conscious since the calendar turned over to May, he has gone Frank the Tank on us. In this month he is batting .519 with 2 HR, 7 RBI, 15 R, and 3 SB in 14 games, raising his season AVG from .218 to .340. If there was a buy low period for Kipnis, there sure is not one anymore.
Danny Salazar – 4.2 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. The Rangers offense that Salazar faced on Saturday is just an offense that’s on a roll right now, and it was a game in Arlington where there’s this weird wind thing that happens. When the wind is blowing in from the direction of right-center field at Arlington, it creates this wind tunnel that launches balls out. So I am going to give Salazar a pass on this one, but the good thing is that all of you non-Salazar owners now have 5 days to possibly use this stinker of a game as leverage to pry Salazar away from his current owner. Salazar’s ERA is at 4.06 now, and you’d be amazed at what an ERA on the wrong side of 4.00 could make fantasy managers do. I would buy him all over the place if I could.
Cody Allen – 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K with the SV. Allen has now turned in 3 scoreless and near perfect innings after a very bumpy start. It seems like he’s settling down, but I won’t call him completely out of the woods until he has a few more like this. He has a 7.07 ERA, 1.86 WHIP, and 20 K/10 BB in 14 IP while converting 6 of 7 save opportunities.
Yasmani Tomas – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R. It was the Cuban’s first Major League HR. The guy can definitely hit, and something that I have noticed in watching him play, as well as listening to the Diamondbacks broadcast announcers, is that he is by no means a pull hitter. They say that hitting it through the hole on the second baseman side of the field is what he does. So I checked the numbers and yes it would seem to be true. Tomas has pulled the ball only 22.9% of the time, has gone the opposite way 29.2%, and up the middle 47.9%. And wouldn’t you know it that his HR on Saturday went to right field. With this kind of spray chart, I am liking Tomas more and more. All the scouting reports on him were that he had great power, but this type of hitting approach is a refreshing and rare sight from power hitters.
Archie Bradley – 2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K with the L. In his return from the DL after getting drilled in the face by a liner, Bradley struggled against a lowly Phillies offense. Bradley comes in the mold of the high strikeout/high walk rookie pitcher that we often see. He’s not someone that I want for 2015, but might as well hold on to him for now in keeper leagues.
Addison Reed – 2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. Like Cishek, Reed made his first appearance since being removed from the closer’s role by coming into the game when his team was down. Also like Cishek, Reed pitched 2 scoreless innings of relief. Unlike Cishek though, I think that Reed will be reprising his role as closer soon. If Reed can have another relatively clean outing like he had on Saturday, I think that might be enough for manager Chip Hale to go with him in the next save opportunity. It is entirely possible that Reed reclaims the role before any other arm in the D-Backs bullpen gets an opportunity to close a game. That doesn’t mean that he will be good when he does reclaim it, but one step at a time.
Ian Desmond – 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 K. Desmond moved up to the 2-hole on Saturday due to Jayson Werth needing to sit out after being plunked on the wrist on Friday. Desmond responded by having his second multi-hit game in as many days. This could be the beginning of a little hot streak.
Max Scherzer – 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 11 K with the W. This was an incredible matchup for Scherzer on paper and he did not disappoint. 4-3 with a 1.75 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 66 K/8 BB in 56.2 IP. There is absolutely nothing at all to suggest Scherzer can’t sustain elite numbers like this. He’ll likely not have a sub-2.00 ERA by season’s end, but 2.01 is still nice.
Drew Storen – 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K with the SV. Storen with the one out save and he has been an elite option at closer. 1.17 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 18 K/3 BB in 15.1 IP, and 11 for 12 in save chances.
Doug Fister – Fister has been diagnosed with a strained flexor in his right forearm. There is no timetable for his return, but I imagine it will be a while. He was on his way to a disgraceful season anyway.
Avisail Garcia – 3 for 3, 2 RBI, 1 BB. Now hitting .336 on the season, Garcia is making some noise, but it would be nice if he made some different noises by going yard more because I don’t think that he will be a .300 hitter by the end of the season.
David Robertson – 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 B, 0 K with the SV. The new White Sox closer is enjoying an elite season with a 1.10 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, and an amazing 27 K/2 BB in 16.1 IP. He only has 8 saves on the season, but that’s what happens when you play on a team that isn’t scoring runs. But the White Sox offense is improving, so save opportunities should start becoming easier to come by.
Brad Miller – 2 for 3, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Miller continues to make the most of his opportunity since being moved up to the 2-hole versus righties for the Mariners. With the 2 dongs on Saturday, he now is up to 4 on the season and is deserving of your fantasy roster consideration at a shallow shortstop position as long as he is seeing regular time in the 2-hole.
Felix Hernandez – 6 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 5 K with the L. The Red Sox handed Felix his first loss of the season. Just a blip on the radar. It happens.
Pablo Sandoval – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R. Sandoval continues to hit well as a left-handed hitter versus righties, but as a right-handed hitter versus lefties — that’s another story. He is 2 for 38 (.053 AVG) versus lefties this season. Just some information to store in the back of your mind if you own him or are thinking about starting him in DFS.
Nolan Arenado – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Arenado has been kind of quiet lately, so it’s nice to see him get back in the HR column with his 7th of the year. He’s not melting all the snow off the Rocky Mountain peaks, but I still love his future outlook. If you’re in a league with a disappointed Arenado owner, I would try to pry him away.
Carlos Gonzalez – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. That’s 2 HR in the weekend series now for CarGo, but I still wouldn’t want him.
Jorge De La Rosa – 7.1 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K with the W. De La Rosa was facing what is probably the weakest lineup that the Dodgers have rolled out this season, so that makes his start look less appealing. I wouldn’t get that excited, especially since his ERA is still extremely high at 6.56 even though he didn’t allow a run to cross the plate on Saturday.