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For me personally, as an Angels fan, I grew to hate current Mariners closer Fernando Rodney because of his erratic control and inability to close out games cleanly as he converted just 17 of 28 save opportunities with a 4.32 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, and 79 K/63 BB in 100 IP with the Angels from 2010-11. So naturally, when he went on to have one of the greatest seasons ever by a closer with the Rays the year after leaving the Angels (0.60 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 76 K/15 BB in 74.2 IP, 48 for 50 in save opportunities), I despised him even more.
Rodney also seems to be the type of player that has surely made many enemies throughout the league, whether it is his thug-like appearance by wearing his hat intentionally crooked to the side, or his arrogant signature post-save routine that he does by pretending to grab an arrow and shooting it into the sky. I know that he has at least ruffled the feathers on the Angel wings of Albert Pujols and Mike Trout as evidenced by each of them performing the same “shoot the arrow” action toward Rodney when getting a big hit and run in the 9th inning off of him in a game last year, after Rodney did a premature arrow celebration at the end of the 8th inning. What a great moment in sports.
So after Rodney’s historic 2012 season, he went on to still be a quality closer with the Rays again in 2013 and then with the Mariners in 2014. But one had to wonder just how long this would last given his 2002-11 track record of being a below average relief pitcher and as his age got into the upper 30’s. Judging by the looks of things so far this season, his time as a quality Major League closer might be up. Rodney may not be on the hot seat quite yet, but I’m sure he is feeling a little bit of a burning sensation on those glutes of his.
Even though Rodney has converted 12 of 13 save opportunities this year, he has hardly been sharp in doing so, especially as of late as he has been scored upon in 4 out of his last 5 save chances to close out a game, but he luckily escaped without a blown save in any of those games. Overall, Rodney owns a 6.23 ERA and 1.62 WHIP, and both of his strikeout and walk rates are trending in the opposite directions of the past few years. Continue reading
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In the pre-season, I highlighted Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock to be “This Year’s Michael Brantley.” So follow the link for a more in-depth analysis on Pollock as not much has changed my views on him since then. But let’s talk about what he has done so far this season to paint a new picture in the lineup for the Diamondbacks.
There were a lot of fantasy baseball people who liked Pollock for 2015, but I think that I liked him a bit more than most so I drafted him (or paid) a bit earlier (or more $) than I would have liked because I did not want to miss out on his predicted breakout season. So far he has not let me down and I am not minding the the earlier picks (extra $) that I spent on him as I am enjoying the season that he is having. Pollock hit a game-winning pinch-hit HR this past Tuesday and then on Wednesday he made the baseball diamond his canvas and turned in quite the masterpiece as he went 3 for 4 with a walk, leading to 4 runs scored and 3 stolen bases. The strong game brought his season line up to a .298 AVG, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 27 R, and 9 SB — he is doing a little bit of everything.
While he is not likely to have a huge breakout in the same statistical way that Michael Brantley had in 2014, Pollock is on pace for a great season. One thing that is different than I anticipated is that Pollock has gotten the majority of his at-bats in the 2-hole with the emergence of Ender Inciarte as a viable leadoff option. I like the 2-hole more for Pollock as it gives him a little bit more RBI opportunity without changing his upside in any other aspect. He is still getting some time in as the leadoff hitter, and actually is also occasionally in the lineup as the cleanup hitter versus lefties because he has great splits against them southpaws. Pollock is getting rested more than I would like to see due to the Diamondbacks having a crowded outfield situation, but he usually does find his way into the game as a pinch-hitter if he wasn’t in the starting lineup and this perhaps can actually aid him in staying more fresh and healthy. What prevented Pollock from a true breakout season last year was his health, but with good health on his side and being protected by Paul Goldschmidt in the lineup, the outlook for him can be amazing. For the rest of the season, I’ll give him: .290 AVG, 10 HR, 48 RBI, 63 R, 23 SB
Now on to the rest of the Wednesday daily report.
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***I apologize for the delay in these notes from Sunday 5/17/15. I had jury duty all day Monday! But I am catching up.
Noah Syndergaard of the New York Mets is commonly known as “Thor” amongst his teammates and soon the whole baseball community will be calling him that and will understand the power he wields. After watching him pitch on Sunday versus the Brewers, I see why he has that moniker, with his big frame and flowing locks of blond hair. He even has “Thor” embroidered on his glove so obviously it is something that he embraces, but who wouldn’t? Whether it’s the Norse mythological god or the Marvel superhero character that he is being likened to (though essentially it is the same thing since the Marvel character is based off Norse mythology), it must be nice to be seen in the same light as someone so mighty.
Syndergaard shut down the Brewers on Sunday, going 6 IP allowing 1 ER on on 3 H and 1 BB while logging 5 K on his way to his first Major League victory. After his first Major League start last week versus the Cubs at Wrigley Field, I said that his mediocre start went as I would have expected out of him in his debut, as he had some command and control issues but was able to miss some bats to get the strikeouts. Well, before his second Major League start with the Brewers, I told a friend that this matchup was much more favorable for Syndergaard and I expected him to come out and show an ace type of line. The reasons that I told my friend that I believed this were because this was his first start in front of his home crowd that he would be pumped up for and he already got the big league jitters out at Chicago, and that the Brewers are not a patient hitting team as they ranked third to last in walk rate, which would help Syndergaard have better results in the end. I watched this whole start and I loved what I saw from Syndergaard. I know that I said after his first start that he’s not a must own in redraft leagues, but I am going to say that he is very close to a must own (if not one) after seeing him with my own eyes. I don’t think that he will be as dominant as Matt Harvey was in his first full season, as he will likely experience some growing pains and some control issues every now and again, but in the right matchups he is going to be a very good play.
So with Syndergaard, the Mets have Thor who wields a mighty hammer (his devastating curveball) that only he has the strength and power of picking up. Mets’ incumbent ace who has returned from Tommy John surgery, Matt Harvey, has earned the nickname of “The Dark Knight” for being the hero that the borough of Queens in New York City had been waiting for to come and save them to instill hope within the Mets organization that they could rise again soon. So what other superheroes do the mets have on their pitching staff? Jacob deGrom is a really skinny guy as in his 6’4″ frame he only weights 180 lbs. and he looks like he is going to break whenever he is up to bat. He also was a relative unknown before his 2014 breakout rookie campaign. So for these reasons I will deem him as Steve Rogers, a frail young man who was enhanced to perfection to become Captain America. Jon Niese can be Hawkeye just for the mere fact that he is a lefty and the Jeremy Renner portrayal of Hawkeye in The Avengers films is also left-handed (though in the Marvel comics he was right-handed). And Bartolo Colon can be Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy for reasons that may or may not have to do with the attraction (or lack thereof) of each of their faces.
Let’s go ahead now and recap the Sunday fun day action.