Let me first start by congratulating Andrew Cashner on a ridiculously awesome mullet. It suits him well. I’ve been known to grow out my hair pretty long in a mullet type fashion in the back, but I could never in my wildest dreams make it look as stylishly good as his.
Ever since Cashner came over to the Padres and became a full-time starting pitcher, he has to be one of the unluckiest pitchers when it comes to wins and losses, if not the unluckiest. In 2013 Cashner squeaked over the .500 mark with a 10-9 record off of a 3.09 ERA in 31 games (26 starts), and last year he went just 5-7 in 19 starts despite having a superb 2.55 ERA. Those seasons of mediocre win/loss records despite the sparkling ERA’s were surely attributed to pitching for a Padres team that had the 24th worst run scoring offense in the Majors in 2013 and the absolute worst in 2014.
On Friday night against the Dodgers, Cashner pitched 6 innings of quality baseball where he gave up one unearned run on 5 hits and 1 walk while striking out 3. However, he was once again unable to come away with one for the W column and was handed a no-decision. Cashner’s ERA improved to 2.89 and his WHIP to 1.27, but his record of 1-7 definitely does not reflect anything resembling what it should for a pitcher with his stats.
But what happened? The Padres offense was supposed to be vastly improved by adding guys in the off-season like Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Derek Norris, and Will Middlebrooks, so they must all be flaming out as disappointments, right? Well, not exactly actually. Upton, Myers, and Norris have all been enjoying good seasons, and the Padres are actually 11th in the Majors in run scored and have been the beneficiaries of their home field Petco Park turning into a launching pad of sorts.
When Cashner has taken the hill, his offense has only averaged 2.00 runs per game, and in 6 of his 9 starts, the offense has scored 2 runs or less. For comparison, his teammate James Shields has received at least 3 runs of support in all of his starts for 5.33 runs on average, and other teammate Tyson Ross has received 4.33 runs of support in his starts. So it’s not that he has been pitching for a team with a horrendous offense like in years past, he has just had the misfortune of his offense being powerless specifically in the games that he has started. He has been matched up versus the likes of Max Scherzer, Dallas Keuchel, Jon Lester, and Zack Greinke (twice), but he’s also opposed Brandon McCarthy, Ryan Vogelsong, Rubby De La Rosa, and Daniel Hudson. So the 2.00 runs of support per game are hardly excusable.
With an increase in slider usage from 15.9% last year to 19.9% this year, Cashner is striking out a lot more batters this season with nearly a +2.00 K/9 bump up to 8.68 K/9. The swinging strike rate that Cashner is inducing supports the increase in strikeouts as well, as it is up from 8.0% last year to 9.9% this year, and a large portion of that is from the slider. However, he has been a victim of the weird, inexplicable transformation of Petco Park into a more hitter friendly park that I alluded to earlier. He is allowing 1.29 HR/9 on a 14.3% HR/fly ball rate. That’s not something that is likely to continue as he has been very good at limiting the long ball regardless of where he has pitched (0.75 HR/9 on the road in 2013-14).
I think that Cashner is a good candidate that you may want to try and buy and cash in with him. By all metric systems, Cashner is pitching the best that he ever has since becoming a full-time starting pitcher and the win/loss record is a fluke that the Cashner owner in your league may not realize or just something they are getting tired of dealing with. It’s a very optimistic sign that he is striking out more batters, and with a legitimate reason that he is doing so (the slider). Things will turn around for him soon.
Let’s dive into Friday’s other games in action.
Gregory Polanco – 1 for 3, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 SB. The good news: Polanco returned to the lineup after a day of rest/mind clearing on Thursday, and he busted his 0 for 19 slump. The bad news: As I predicted, he got bumped toward the bottom of the order to 7th while Josh Harrison continued to leadoff. If he gets on a hot streak then he probably will be bumped back up to 1st or 2nd in the lineup regularly. He is 5th in the Majors in SB with 12.
Gerrit Cole – 8.1 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 K with the W. This is Gerrit Cole transforming into an ace. He’s been outstanding this season as he has made improvements in nearly everything from strikeout rate, to walk rate, to HR allowed rate, to ground ball rate. His slider usage is up a 9.3% this season according to PITCHf/x, which has given him that extra boost in strikeouts. His slider is almost nearly as valuable as it was last year in terms of PITCHf/x pitch values, and we are only one and a half months into the season. He is now 6-2 with a 2.05 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 63 K/14 BB in 57 IP.
Noah Syndergaard – 6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K with the L. It was a quality start for Thor, but he was up against Gerrit Cole’s dominance tonight. It was very encouraging to see Syndergaard not issue a walk. He’s never had bad control issues in the Minors, which separates him from other youngsters that are supposed to make an impact like Carlos Rodon and Archie Bradley. I would take Syndergaard over those guys for sure. Thor is now 1-2 with a 3.63 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 16 K/5 BB in 17.1 IP.
Bryce Harper – 1 for 2, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB. It was Harper’s 16th HR of the season as he once again tied Nelson Cruz for a hot minute before Cruz decided to hit one of his own. Something I discovered today though was that Harper does have weaknesses at the plate, and they are versus power pitchers and ground ball pitchers. This season he is only hitting .156 versus power pitchers and .056 versus ground ball pitchers. But he destroys finesse pitchers as 14 of his 16 HR have come off those classified as such. Just some info to store in the ol’ noggin.
Max Scherzer – 8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K with the W. Scherzer continued his assault on the National League. Hey, I think this guy is pretty good.
Tanner Roark – On the surface, Roark had a breakout season last year, but he was the odd man out when the Nationals signed Scherzer to the mega deal. But Roark is going to make his return to the rotation next week with Doug Fister on the DL. I surely wouldn’t get excited over Roark though. Last season his SIERA was 1.08 higher than his ERA and this season he has been striking out virtually no one working as a reliever, which is a situation you would expect a pitcher would be able to have a higher strikeout rate. He could be decent in ERA and WHIP, but I generally stay away from starting pitchers with no strikeout appeal.
Michael Pineda – 6 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K with the L. Pineda was the victim of some bad defense and the wind blowing out at Yankee Stadium. It’s been a couple rough starts for Pineda after his 16 K performance, but the rest of season outlook for him still remains nice. This might be a great opportunity to put in an offer for Pineda after these last two duds. I know I am going to submit an offer to the Pineda owner in one of my leagues.
Delino DeShields – 1 for 5, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. DeShields made his 11th consecutive start on Friday and this one was in the leadoff spot. If he can stick there then that obviously will be huge for his fantasy value, but remember the impending return of Josh Hamilton will at the very least cut into his playing time, if not send him to the bench altogether. As I’ve been saying though, the Rangers should really try DeShields out at second base to keep his speed in the lineup. He’s deserved that opportunity. Kudos to you if you’ve been reading The Backwards K and picked him up during this good streak.
Prince Fielder – 2 for 5, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R. Prince is coming on real strong and is looking like the Prince of old. I am impressed. His quietly good season that he was having is not so quiet anymore.
Mitch Moreland – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB. Moreland is now 12 for 35 (.342 AVG) with 3 HR and 6 RBI in 9 games since returning from the DL. He’s hot right now and probably should be owned in roto leagues during this hot stretch.
Kyle Blanks – Blanks hit the DL with a cyst. So as Moreland returns, Blanks hits the DL a bit after. With Moreland back, Blanks was losing some playing time, but hitting the DL is nothing new for Blanks. I said that he could be productive if he avoid injuries to his lower body, something that he has been susceptible to. Unfortunately, he could not avoid it as the cyst is located on/near his tailbone.
Ross Ohlendorf – 1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K with the SV. Wow, Ross Ohlendorf doing something of fantasy relevancy? It’s been a while. But with Shawn Tolleson working the last two days and needing a rest, the Rangers had to call on somebody to close out the game. However, what is weird is that recently dethroned Neftali Feliz wasn’t called upon to close it out. He must really be in the dog house. Don’t expect Ohlendorf to do anything else of value this season.
Nelson Cruz – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R. As mentioned, Cruz couldn’t let Harper take the HR lead. Nelson is on Cruz control with a .354 AVG, 17 HR, and 34 RBI.
Felix Hernandez – 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K with the W. Felix is back on track to run his win total up to 7 and is the current favorite for the AL Cy Young.
Fernando Rodney – 1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K with the SV. Rodney got the save but it wasn’t pretty. Blow-pen report coming up.
Edwin Encarnacion – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. Encar’s 11th HR of the season, 7th of the month, and he needs just 4 more by the end of May to prove this prediction of mine right. You can do it, Edwin!
Chris Colabello – 3 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R. Can’t this guy just go away? He’ll hit a slump soon eonugh.
J.D. Martinez – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Martinez wasn’t going to be able to sustain the .389 BABIP from last year, so unsurprisingly, his AVG is down nearly 50 points from last year. But he is capable of getting it back up a little more if he can trim his strikeouts a little bit.
James McCann – 2 for 4, 2 RBI. James McCann, no relation to Brian, has been performing pretty admirably ever since Alex Avila hit the DL. He is batting .407 (11 for 27) in the last week and makes for a fine option currently for two catcher leagues. Over the course of a full season he’s got .275 AVG and 10 HR/5 SB potential.
Alfredo Simon – 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K with the W. I like to think this is the conversation that Alfredo Simon has with the batters when he’s on the mound: Simon says “hit it right at someone.” Simon says “swing and miss.” Now “hit a home run.” Oops, I didn’t say “Simon says!” No home runs for you!
Jose Altuve – 0 for 4. The 0 for 4 night means that Altuve is now hitting .299, marking the first time since April 22 that his AVG has been below .300. It’s just been a gruesome couple weeks for Altuve as he is just 8 for his last 48. He’ll get it going soon, unless he’s playing through some sort of injury.
Jimmy Paredes – 3 for 5, 1 RBI, 1 K. The hit parades for Paredes just keep on coming. I don’t know how much love I can show for this guy, he has been awesome.
Ubaldo Jimenez – 4 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. This was an oops start for Jimenez in what has been mostly a bounceback season.
Dee Gordon – 2 for 5, 1 R, 4 SB, 1 K. 4 SB in one game?! Dee-licious! That brings his total up to 16 on the season and he’s still raking at .386.
Justin Bour – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. The left-handed hitting Bour has been stealing time away at first base for the Marlins from the right-handed Mike Morse. Bour has 25 HR type of power if he can full into more of a full-time gig. Keep an eye on him as the Marlins new manager might look to get Bour’s bat in the game more.
Henderson Alvarez – 5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 2 K with the L. Alvarez made his second start since returning from the DL, threw a stinker, and then went back on the DL with shoulder inflammation. It was also revealed that Alvarez has been pitching with a 90% tear in his UCL of his pitching arm. Well, that sounds ominous. I mentioned him as a pitcher who could potentially make decent contributions in ERA and WHIP with a little BABIP luck, but now I wouldn’t go near him even when he does return from the DL. Sounds like it’s a ticking time bomb before that arm of his explodes.
Mat Latos – Latos also hit the DL for the Marlins. Good timing for the Marlins to fire their manager, hire their general manager (with no previous professional coaching or playing experience) to be manager, lose 5 straight games since the new manager took over, and then have 2/5 of the rotation hit the DL on the same day. The Marlins are such a good organization — said nobody.
Jason Kipnis – 3 for 4, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB. I present to you Kipnis! The man on fire! (As opposed to Katniss, the girl on fire — just a little Hunger Games play on words there).
Carlos Carrasco – 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K with the W. The BABIP gods were a bit more kind to Carrasco on Friday, but we are still waiting for that big breakout game like teammate Corey Kluber had. June 7 versus the Orioles seems like a good matchup for him to have the big breakout and that’s when I’ll call it for, though I hope it’s sooner. Carrasco has a 4.74 ERA despite a 2.77 SIERA. We just have to be patient.
Zack Cozart – 0 for 4, 2 K. Cozart has gone gold and is now hitting .278 on the season. However, a couple weeks ago I said this is the range that I said that I could see him settling in. He still makes for a viable shortstop option with his power/speed combo that not many other shortstops can have.
Albert Pujols – 2 for 6, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R. Pujols showing no ill effects from a hand injury that he suffered on an HBP in Toronto. Pujols is hitting .235 with 8 HR, 16 RBI, 19 R, and 1 SB. Although the low AVG is the result of an ugly .221 BABIP, Pujols is creating his own poor BABIP by hitting less line drives, more fly balls, and more specifically, more infield fly balls. Pujols should be able to get his AVG up to around .250, but you really can’t expect anything more than .265 at this point.
Garrett Richards – 6 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K with the W. He was good enough to get the win, but he really didn’t deserve it. It was a pretty ugly start for Richards. Expect better from him next time out.
Hanley Ramirez – 0 for 1, 1 R. Hanley got hit by a pitch on the hand and later was removed from the game. The move was most likely precautionary since his team was getting blown out anyway. However, it has been a rough patch for Hanley and the Red Sox offense as a whole. So it would be nice if they turned it around in a hurry.
Rusney Castillo – 1 for 4, 1 R. The Cuban sensation was called up by the Red Sox on Friday and was immediately inserted into the starting lineup, hitting 8th in the order. We got a glimpse of Castillo late last season and he was pretty impressive. He is an obvious must own in basically all league formats due to his blend of power and speed, with more emphasis on the speed. He has the ability to be an impact player right away, but expectations do need to be kept in check.
Rick Porcello – 4.1 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 4 K with the L. When Porcello came up with the Tigers, it was believed that the strikeouts were something that he would eventually develop, but that never really came to fruition. However this season, he is on pace for a career high strikeout rate (7.85 K/9). Unfortunately, he’s also on pace for career worsts in mostly every other category. Porcello is far from ideal to own in fantasy and I was shocked beyond belief when the Red Sox handed him a 4-year/$82.5 million contract that begins next year. At the time of the signing, Porcello had a career 4.30 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, and 5.49 K/9. What on earth did the Red Sox see to think that Porcello was deserving of more than $20 million per year? So disgusting.
Steven Souza – 1 for 2, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 SB, 1 BB, 1 K. Souza now has 7 HR and 7 SB on the year, on his way to a 20/20 season, but that 38.0% strikeout rate is outrageous. I said before that he was on pace to shatter the single season strikeout record and that still holds true.
Evan Longoria – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 SB, 1 BB. Home runs and stolen bases are becoming rare things for Longoria these days, so for him to get one of each in the same game is a near milestone. Longoria continues to be overrated every year at draft time as nobody can ever seem to forget the monster 2009 season he had when he hit 33 HR with 113 RBI. This season he is now hitting .282 with 5 HR, 21 RBI, 24 R, and 1 SB.
Chris Archer – 5.1 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 8 K with the W. It was another win for Archer with a lot of strikeouts, but he struggled with his control in this one. Control was an issue for Archer his whole Minor League career and he’s been average at best in that area ever since becoming a Major League pitcher. I don’t anticipate it becoming a big issue this season, but he’s likely to have the occasional start where he just walks a bunch of guys. I still expect some regression, but for now Archer is 5-4 with a 2.40 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 70 K/20 BB in 60 IP.
Brad Boxberger – 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K with the SV. Just another save for Boxberger to make it 13 for 13. I will repeat, he is locked in and I believe he should and will receive the majority of save opportunities from here on out despite the return of Jake McGee.
Cameron Maybin – 1 for 3, 1 SB, 1 BB. I mentioned Maybin in Thursday’s notes as a potential guy to target for speed, and he stole another one in this game to give him 6 on the year.
Ryan Braun – 3 for 3, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB. There’s just no slowing down Braun right now.
Jeff Samardzija – 8 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K with the W. I actually saw a start like this coming from Samardzija against a Twins team that struggles versus power righties. He improved to 4-2 with a 4.28 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 49 K/12 BB in 61 IP. However, I still contend that he is not going to be the pitcher the White Sox envisioned him to be. I feel it is reasonable to expect an ERA in the high 3’s, a WHIP from 1.20-1.25, and a strikeout rate around 7.50 K/9.
Wilin Rosario – 3 for 5, 1 RBI, 1 R. Rosario has been seeing some regular playing time with Justin Morneau on the 7-day concussion DL and he’s been making the most of it by hitting .319 this month, as he makes a case to enter a possible platoon with Morneau once he returns. Rosario starts at home versus lefties = fantasy goodness.
D.J. LeMahieu – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. LeMahieu is now hitting .326 with 2 HR, 20 RBI, 13, R, and 3 SB. He’s been a nice cheap option at second base so far, but he should start coming down soon. But playing at Coors Field for his home games will always make him a decent play on those days.
Brandon Belt – 3 for 5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. I told you that matchup against Clayton Kershaw on Thursday was just likely to be a bump in the road for Belt and his hot streak. The best cure for coming off a bad game versus Kershaw is a start at Coors Field versus Kyle Kendrick. Belt is now hitting .317 with 4 HR, 16 RBI, and 19 R with a good chunk of that coming within the last week. Continue to deploy the hotness of Belt.
Ryan Vogelsong – 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K with the W. What the what? A Vogelsong start on the road that did not end with him giving up a dong or two…or five? And at Coors Field nonetheless! This is nothing short of a miracle.
Kendrys Morales – 3 for 4, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R. How good has this guy been for the Royals? He now leads the American League in RBI with 37 and is hitting a healthy .305 with 6 HR after his outburst on Friday. It’s highly unlikely that he finishes the season leading the league in RBI, but he could get 100 RBI which nobody could have imagined from him this year. Great find for the Royals.
Chris Young – 6 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K with the W. Chris Young is pretty much the most extreme fly ball pitcher that we’ll ever see, and somehow he always seems to get the job done. There is definitely going to be some regression once some of those fly balls start leaving the park, but for now he is 4-0 with a 0.78 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, and 23 K/9 BB in 34.2 IP. Another good signing by the Royals, but Young has dealt with various health issues in the past, so a completely healthy season from him is not very likely.
A.J. Pollock – 4 for 6, 2 R, 1 SB. Pollock continues to paint the new picture in Arizona. Follow the link to get a more in depth scoop on the Diamondbacks center fielder.
Paul Goldschmidt – 3 for 5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 2 SB, 1 BB, 2 K. Big game for Goldie. We know that he has great SB potential for a first baseman, but he’s now up to 8 on the season to put him on pace to reach 20 SB for the first time in his career. He is a beast.
Yasmany Tomas – 1 for 6, 2 K. His streak of multi-hit games was broken, but he still managed to log a single.
Addison Reed – 0.1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K. Okay, so this would be considered a setback. I’m convinced that if he got through this outing unscathed then he would have earned his closer’s role back. But since it was very ugly, expect to see more Enrique Burgos and Brad Ziegler closing out games for Arizona for now and the foreseeable future.
Dexter Fowler – 1 for 5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 SB, 1 BB, 1 K. Fowler keeps performing well as that was his 5th HR and 10th SB of the season. I’ve said before how Joe Maddon is helping all the Cubs players stolen base totals, and Fowler is on his way of surpassing his career high of 27 from his rookie season in 2009.
Jon Lester – 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K. Lester keeps getting stronger. 3.56 ERA and 1.31 WHIP should keep coming down.
Hector Rondon – 1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K with the BS. Rondon blew his third save of the season and his ERA is now up to 3.79. Rondon’s probably got a little more leash, but Joe Maddon likes to do interesting things with his bullpen. Pedro Strop figures to be next in line should Rondon falter anymore, but Jason Motte has previous closing experience (although struggling right now), and consider Travis Wood, who was recently moved to the bullpen, a sleeper for saves.
Matt Kemp – 0 for 3, 1 BB. Kemp is hitting an unsightly .169 this month to bring his season AVG down to .255. And Kemp seems to be the only guy not hitting balls out Petco Park this year.
Joc Pederson – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R. It had been awhile since we heard from Joc on the HR front as it was his first HR in 8 games. He’s up to 11 HR on the year, and despite the low .242 AVG, he is getting on base at a very high clip of .388.
Zack Greinke – 7.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. Another solid start for Greinke, but I still have to believe it is time to sell high on him, as stated in “Getting Cranky With Greinke.”
Hyun-Jin Ryu – Ryu underwent shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder and he revealed that he had known there was a tear in his labrum for a couple years. A.) That would have been good information to know for the fantasy baseball community prior to the season — selfish Ryu… B.) How does one even pitch as effectively as he did with a torn labrum? See you next year, Ryu, though I should hadouken your butt right now for withholding that information.