Tulo Hitting Too Low (and other notes from 5/14/15)

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Heading into each and every fantasy year is an adventure with Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.  He is like that super hot, yet somehow kind of trashy, girl you meet at the bar that is all over you and you so badly want to take her back to her home (because hey, you don’t want her knowing where you live, right?) to have some silly bedtime fun with, but you know that maybe you shouldn’t because she might be carrying three different kinds of STI’s (yes, STI is the more proper abbreviation/term than STD with the “I” standing for infection — cue the jingle ***The more you know).  When pondering on whether or not to draft Tulo, even if he falls to you at a value spot, you know that he will provide some great production (the amazing bedtime fun), but later on down the road he is going to hit the DL with some season-ending injury (the discovery of the contraction of multiple STI’s).

This season though, Tulo is not even providing that instant gratification.  On the bright side of things though, he isn’t giving anyone any STI’s either.  He’s just vomiting all over you after having one too many cosmos.  After Thursday night’s ugly 0 for 5 with 3 K performance, he is hitting .289 with 2 HR, 11 RBI, 16 R, and 0 SB through 31 games played.  And there were rumblings of Tulo wanting to request a trade, but if you are the brave soul who took a chance on this super hot yet kind of trashy player, you don’t want him to get traded.  You want him to stay where the air is thin in Colorado as he has a career home line of .322/.395/.563 versus a career road line of .275/.347/.468.  Thankfully, Tulo shut down those rumors by saying he is not demanding a trade at this time.  However, that does not mean he will not demand one later this season.

But what is going on with the All-Star shortstop?  How come Tulo is hitting too low?  Well for starters, that abysmal strikeout to walk ratio of 28 K/2 BB is doing him no favors.  Tulo is a hitter that has displayed above average walk rates in his career with a career walk rate of 9.9%, and even more so in recent years with 11.1% and 13.3% in 2013-14.  But he appears to be jumping out of his cleats to swing at the ball, and when he is swinging at the ball he is failing to make contact like he has in the past.  Additionally, he is pulling the ball a lot more than usual at 52.3% versus 41.2% career rate, instead of using all parts of the field.

So in a nutshell, Tulo is being overly aggressive at the plate, which is putting himself into some poor hitter’s counts that he is failing to do anything with.  In terms of AVG and lack of HR, Tulo has endured poor streaks like this before, but he’s never had such a stretch where his strikeout and walk rates have been so bad, and that is what worries me the most about Tulo going forward.  The Rockies do have an 8-game homestand hosting the Phillies and Giants beginning next week, so if he cannot get things going by the end of that then it’ll be even more troubling.  Own him in fantasy at your own risk.

Now let’s take a look at other action from Thursday.

Michael Brantley – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R.  Brantley is now hitting .330 with 4 HR, 18 RBI, 17 R,  and 5 SB through 27 games played.  He had a monster breakout season last year and some regression was believed to be in his future, but could it be possible that he is even better this year?  He might be slightly off pace to match last year’s stats, but that’s because he missed a 6 games in the first couple weeks of the season with a minor injury.  But he has a ridiculous strikeout to walk ratio of 5 K/12 BB while flashing the same power, speed, and batting average.  Studly.

Trevor Bauer – 7.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 10 K.  Yet another double digit strikeout performance from an Indians pitcher.  That marks their 3rd in the last 4 games, and the quartet of Bauer, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Danny Salazar collectively have posted 10.95 K/9.  Unfortunately that has come with just a combined 4.05 ERA.  These guys all have great arms and the Indians deserve a better fate than the 2nd worst record in the AL.  As for Bauer as an individual, he’s showing his Bauer Power arm with 9.50 K/9, but he’s getting himself into trouble by allowing free passes at a rate of 4.10 BB/9.  But his 3.67 ERA and 1.22 WHIP are respectable, he just loses command of his pitches at times from what I’ve seen and then loses his composure.

Matt Carpenter – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 3 K.  The HR was his 6th on the year.  With Carpenter, I’m getting the feeling that he’s in for another magical season like he had in 2013 when he led the world in runs (126) and doubles (55).  He’s hitting .322 with a .999 OPS, and his 26 runs rank in the top 10 in the Majors and he is tied for the Major League lead in doubles with 15.

Jason Heyward – 0 for 4, 1 K.  Long term, Heyward still has great potential considering that he will only be 26 years old in August.  But every year besides 2012, he’s letting you down somehow.  He’ll go from no speed one year to no power the next.  He began the season as the #2 hitter for the Cardinals after they traded Shelby Miller for him, but now he is stuck near the bottom since he can’t seem to make his way on base.  His walks are down, his strikeouts are up.  He’s becoming one of the most annoying players to own, especially if you have had him in a keeper league since his call up way back in 2010.

Michael Wacha – 5 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K.  Wacha came into his Thursday start with a 5-0 record, 2.09 ERA, and 1.03 WHIP.  I imagine Cardinals/Fox Baseball broadcast announcer/all-time goober saying, “Wow, give him the Cy Young Award already!”  Well, not so fast there, Tim.  He also came into the start with an incredibly low strikeout rate of 4.42 K/9, an xFIP of 4.12, and SIERA of 4.25.  But it was a refreshing sight to see Wacha get those strikeouts back up Thursday against the Indians, and I would think that number will continue to rise for him since his velocity is still there.  Yeah, he probably won’t be striking out a batter per inning, but something in the area of 7.50 K/9 isn’t bad.  His problem this year is that he just isn’t getting as many swings and misses on his fastball despite similar velocity and movement to last year.  Something that should kind of correct itself as the year goes on.  I just hope Wacha’s mysterious shoulder injury that sidelined him last year does not show up again.

Trevor Rosenthal – 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 B, 3 K with the SV.  Despite 45 saves last season, Rosenthal danced on thin ice all year and it seemed like at times Ken Rosenthal and his bow tie could have done better than him.  Okay, maybe that is a stretch.  But Trevor has his control more in check this year, which is yielding him greater results.  He’s 11 for 12 in save chances with a 1.06 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 22 K/6 BB in 17 IP.

Freddy Galvis – 3 for 3, 2 R, 1 SB, 1 BB.  I am just shocked that there is a Philly hitting over .300, and well above it at .353.  However, never having once before hitting for a .300 AVG in a single professional season since becoming a pro in 2007, chances are not great for Galvis to complete the feat.

Jonathan Papelbon – 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K with the SV.  Papelbon continues to pitch at a solid level despite his fastball velocity being down 4 MPH from where it was 4 years ago.  If you own Papelbon, it is a must to own Ken Giles as well (if available) as the Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would be crazy to not trade his 34-year old closer making $13 million for a last place team.  Well, I suppose Amaro Jr. has done crazier things.  Anyway, Giles is the heir apparent, though he comes with flaws of his own (diminished velocity, loss of control).

Josh Harrison – 3 for 4, 1 R.  Harrison knocked 3 singles hitting 2nd in the order on Thursday.  I know I said that when he hit leadoff on Wednesday not to get too excited about it since he was filling in for Gregory Polanco who was getting a day off.  Well, this time he was hitting 2nd because Andrew McCutchen had the day off.  I have always been a believer in Harrison since he came on hot last season, and I think that he will continue to bounce back as he receives some better BABIP luck.  With 2B/3B/OF eligiblity in Yahoo, you’re probably going to want to own him for when he heats up.

Mike Pelfrey – 4.2 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K with the L.  It was Pelfrey’s first loss of the season.  And here I thought Pelfrey was on his way to an 18-0 season!  Man, it sucks to be wrong!

Anthony Gose – 4 for 5, 2 R, 1 BB.  Gose is now hitting .348 on the season with an absolutely, extraordinary, out of this world, going to flip your lid BABIP of .500!  Gose is hitting the ball “soft” 25% of the time, yet he is getting on base 50% of the time that he hits it?  He must be taking his at-bats in bizarro world.  Obviously that doesn’t add up and he is in for a tremendous amount of regression with his AVG, but he does have wheels (not actual wheels, that would be weird) so that could help him post a high BABIP.  Just not as high as .500, or .400 for that matter.

Rajai Davis – 3 for 5, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 K.  He didn’t log an SB on Thursday, but do you realize that Davis has averaged 38 SB a season since he became a Major Leaguer in 2007?  And he hasn’t had an SB total lower than 34 since 2008.  Despite not ever really being a legitimate full-time player, I feel he’s been under appreciated in the fantasy world in his career.

Miguel Cabrera – 3 for 5, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R.  .328 AVG, 8 HR, 26 RBI, 20 R, 1 SB, 23 K, 24 BB, 1.005 OPS.  As he gives the middle finger to Albert Pujols and says, “What early 30’s decline?!”

Anibal Sanchez – 8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K with the W.  Quite a gem from Anibal, but the Twins offense has been in a big funk versus right-handed pitching the last 10 days or so (crushing lefties though).  He’s better than the 4.76 ERA, but still not a favorite of mine.

Josh Hamilton – Hamilton could join the Rangers sometime next weekend if he progresses well.  I assume the Rangers traded for him with the intention of starting him in left field, so that means Carlos Peguero, who had some nice moments but was overall a dud, will likely be losing his roster spot.  This also could have some effect on Kyle Blanks, who is already back on the bench versus righties with the return of Mitch Moreland.

Shin-Soo Choo – 3 for 4, 1 BB.  Three days in a row in the daily notes?!  I choo-choo-choose you, Shin-Soo!  Actually not really, I don’t want you on any of my teams, but that’s just a personal preference.  I’m sure somebody out there is a proud Choo owner.  But congratulations on the 14-game hitting streak with a .345 AVG, 4 HR, 11 RBI, and 7 R during that span.  Could do without the 20 K’s during that span though.

Delino DeShields – 1 for 2, 1 RBI 1 R, 2 BB.  DeShields in here again too?!  No SB again this time, but still getting on base in the 9-hole for Choo to drive in.  Now Shin-Soo, send your homey Delino a thank you card.  Pick him up while he’s hot.  But definitely monitor the situation in Texas as the impending return of Hamilton could trickle down to affect DeShields’ playing time.  It really shouldn’t though, as I feel DeShields, if bumped from outfield playing time, should be given the chance to become the team’s starting second baseman with the way that he has performed.

Alcides Escobar – 3 for 5, 3 RBI, 2 R.  Solid day at the plate for Alcides, but where are all the SB?  He is only 2 for 4 in SB on the season, which puts him on pace for about 10 SB for the season.  He battled a strained knee a month ago when Brett Lawrie infamously slid hard into him at second base, so maybe he just doesn’t feel right to be stealing bases yet.  I am sure he will get it going on the base paths, but if he doesn’t then he might as well change his name to Adeiny Hechavarria.

Eric Hosmer – 3 for 5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R.  That Hoz, so hot right now.

Anthony Recker – 2 for 4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 K.  He came in like a … RECKING BALL!  #nailedit.  But seriously, Recker is a backup catcher 4 LiFE.  Nothing to see here.

Dexter Fowler – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB.  Dexter is contributing nicely for the Cubs this season with a .271 AVG, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 23 R, 8 SB.  He hasn’t stolen 20 bases in a year since his 2009 rookie season, but on a Joe Maddon managed team, you can bet your sweet behind he will get 20 this year if he avoids the DL.

Alex Rodriguez – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 K.  A-Rod continues his somewhat improbable return to MLB by slugging his 9th HR of the year.  He has the 2nd best hard hit rate in the Majors behind Paul Goldschmidt, so that .256 BABIP of his actually could be in for an increase.  And with that great hard hit rate, the HR could still be coming.  Anyone who took a flier on him in drafts has to love what they are seeing out of him.

Chase Whitley – 1.2 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 0 K with the L.  Whitley left the game in the 2nd inning with an injury.  Coming into the game he was on a nice little 3 start run, but he couldn’t have been expected to keep it up and the injury will certainly put a cloud over him.

Erasmo Ramirez – 5 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 B, 4 K with the W.  Not quite sure where this outing came from, but word on the street is that Ramirez scrapped his slider, a pitch that has had a lot of negative value in his career.  So checking MLB Gameday data, out of his 68 pitches, he threw 2 curveballs, 0 sliders, and the rest were fastballs and changeups.  Maybe he’s on to something here, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.  Let’s see what he does next time out.

Marlon Byrd – 2 for 2, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 2 BB.  Byrd now is hitting .226 with 8 HR, 22 RBI, 14 R, and 1 SB.  His transformation in 2013 as a 35-year old player all of a sudden becoming a power threat for 25 HR a season is an interesting one to me.  With his strikeout rate going way up at the same time that his HR output boomed, it’s pretty clear that he has been making a conscious effort to swing for the fences since that season.  Eno Sarris of FanGraphs can explain the mechanics of it better than me, check it out here.

Raisel Iglesias – After his strong start yesterday, the Cuban rookie is actually going to stick around in the Reds bullpen rather than go back to AAA.  That means Anthony DeSclafani is going to have someone lurking over his shoulder if he puts up a dud in his next start.  Iglesias could have some fantasy value if he ever gets an extended look in the rotation.

Tim Lincecum – 4.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 4 K.  That 2.43 ERA that Lincecum had coming into his Thursday start?  Fool’s gold.  His velocity and subsequently his strikeout rate are down a lot.  Consider this:  Lincecum’s average fastball velocity when he won his first NL Cy Young Award in 2008 was 94.1 MPH.  This year so far he is sitting at 87.5 MPH with his fastball.  That is quite the dramatic decline!  And I watched some of Lincecum’s start on Thursday at Cincinnati — it was not pretty.  He was consistently being clocked at 86 MPH on the gun with his fastball, and his control was nowhere to be found.  Any hope of Lincecum bouncing back should be thrown in the garbage.  Yes, he will have his time in the sun every now and again, but he really is just not that good anymore.

Drew Hutchison – 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K.  That’s back-to-back solid outings from Hutchison, so perhaps he’s over the early season struggles that left him with a 7.47 ERA after 6 starts.  There are worse pitchers to pick up from waivers if Hutchison is available.

Jose Bautista – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB.  Joey Bats destroyed a Roberto Hernandez pitch for his first HR since April 28 to end a 14-game homerless streak.  He can get hot with the best of them, so let’s hope this is the start of something good.

Edwin Encarnacion – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R.  That’s now Encar’s 4th HR in his last 6 games and he has 7 more HR to hit before the end of the month to prove me right!

Jose Altuve – 2 for 3, 2 R, 2 SB, 1 BB.  He had a 3-game mini drought, but there’s no slowing down Mighty Mouse for an extended period.  He’s up to 13 SB on the season to go with his .333 AVG and 4 HR.

Jake Marisnick – 0 for 5, 4 K.  Hitting out of the leadoff spot again, Marisnick took a beating.  This experiment should be over I would think, he just doesn’t appear to be comfortable in that leadoff role.

Chad Qualls – 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, with the SV.  Qualls got the call to close out the Blue Jays on Thursday and handled it easily.  Luke Gregerson was not with the team on Thursday as he still has a personal family issue that is affecting him, but it is clear that Qualls is next in line as this was his 4th save of the year.

Hanley Ramirez – 4 for 5.  Hanley followed up his 2 for 4 effort Wednesday with a 4 for 5 game on Thursday, and that included a double — his first extra base hit this season that is not a home run!  Looks like his bat is going again after that shoulder injury he suffered when colliding with the wall.

Blake Swihart – 0 for 2.  One of the top catcher prospects in the game, Swihart was called up a couple weeks ago when Ryan Hanigan went down with an injury for the Red Sox.  Swihart’s call up was much earlier than the Red Sox had planned for him, and he is showing through his inefficiencies with the bat that he isn’t ready for the bigs quite yet.  He is now just 4 for 32 (.125 AVG) with 12 K/1 BB.  He figures to have a decent if not good future down the road, but rarely do catcher prospects get called up and take the world by storm on the offensive side of things.

Joc Pederson – 0 for 5.  A game in which Pederson did not homer, walk, or strikeout!  That’s only the second time that has happened this year (in games that he started).

Brett Anderson – 5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K.  The Dodgers handing out a 1-year $10 million contract to Anderson this past off-season was one of the strangest signings.  How a starting pitcher who has not even eclipsed the 100 inning mark in 5 years due to injuries each year gets a guaranteed $10 million is just gross.  Anderson is proving to be healthy though so far and has a 3.50 ERA and 1.33 WHIP.  He’s not a big strikeout guy, but he doesn’t walk a lot of guys either, so he can be serviceable for fantasy.

Yimi Garcia – 1 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K with the BS and L.  Yimi Garcia had been the best arm in the bullpen for the Dodgers in Kenley Jansen and Joel Peralta’s absences.  But with 2 blown save clunkers in his last 2 outings, he may not be getting any more looks there anytime soon.  Especially considering that Kenley Jansen is set to return this weekend.

Carlos Gonzalez – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K.  Could be a sign of things to come from CarGo, but I still don’t want him.

Doug Fister – 2 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 1 K with the L.  I wasn’t high on Fister coming into the year, despite owning him for his brilliant season last year, and he’s just having a rough go early on this season.  He’s now 2-2 with a 4.31 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and 18 K/10 BB in 39.2 IP.  Fister’s BABIP has normalized this year after receiving some luck last year, but it’s really the extremely poor strikeout rate that is hurting him.  Fister has always been a pitch to contact type of pitcher, but when he came over to the National League in 2014, it was reasonable to expect that his strikeout rate would be respectable after marks of 7.63 and 6.86 K/9 in his last two years in Detroit.  But instead it has plummeted, as last year he was at 5.38 K/9 and this year he currently has 4.08 K/9.  While his overall numbers should improve, he’s not someone I would look to buy.

Derek Norris – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB.  A very nice game for Norris who continues to handle the bat well as we sit halfway through May.  He is now hitting .304 but I have to say that his AVG is probably due for a correction to the .275 region soon.  His not so great 15.5% line drive rate should not correlate to a .350 BABIP.

Cory Spangenberg – 2 for 5, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 K.  A day after I praise him for his speed potential and say he doesn’t hit for much power he goes and hits 2 bombs.  Naturally.  I’m not complaining though since I own him in a couple of places (and maybe you should too).  But I’ll repeat that he should definitely be given a look in 12+ team leagues.  He is a former 1st round pick with dual eligibility at 2B/3B who has ascended into a regular role with the Padres hitting 1st or 2nd when he’s in the lineup.  Since assuming more of a full-time role, he has hit .333 with 2 HR, 3 RBI, 7 R, and 4 SB in 10 games.  He’ll likely sit versus some lefties to get the right-handed bats like Jedd Gyorko and Will Middlebrooks into the lineup, but for deep leagues with daily roster changes Spangenberg is a decent pick up.

Tyson Ross – 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K with the W.  I analyzed Ross in my post “Are Tyson’s Punch Outs Enough?”  So check that out for a more detailed look at Ross, but this outing was pretty much by the book from what I said in that post.  He got the K’s, but with it came the walks and SB allowed.  I wouldn’t say to trade him if you have him or not trade for him if you want him.  I’m just saying to know what to expect from him if you do have him or you do acquire him.  Personally, I’ve been wavering on whether or not to trade Christian Yelich for Ross in a league where I could use some pitching help.

Jean Segura – Segura landed on the DL on Thursday with a fractured pinkie.  Evidently that “sore pinkie” he was scratched from the lineup with the other day was a legit reason.  My apologies, Jean!

Micah Johnson – Johnson couldn’t do much with his chance to be the White Sox starting second baseman, but the .270 AVG and 3 SB weren’t horrible.  He should be back at some point this season, but he did not quite make the impression that he would have hoped for.  Emilio Bonifacio will now handle the lion’s share of second base duties for the White Sox I imagine, making his way back to fantasy relevancy.  He and Johnson are pretty much the same player for all fantasy intents and purposes.

Justin Masterson – After Masterson got rocked by the Mariners on Wednesday, he gets placed on the DL on Thursday with “arm fatigue.”  In other words, the Red Sox don’t want him to keep pitching for them and getting clobbered, but they don’t want to eat the $9.5 million contract they handed to him so they gave him a phantom injury.


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