Fantasy Baseball: The State of Play (Week 4)

The State of Play – Week 4

By: Kyle Brown (@CavghtLooking)

Week 3 Report Card:

Clay Buchholz: The enigmatic Boston pitcher continued to pitch well last week. He struck out ten Astros in seven innings of work. Seeing as how the start was against the Astros it has done nothing to change my mind about Buchholz. Trade him.

Chris Johnson: Johnson started his descent back to earth last week. His average has fallen from .438 (April 18) to .367 (April 29).

Michael Cuddyer: Cuddyer continued to hit well last week and currently has a triple slash of .315/.388/.565. Sadly, he went 0-5 in the Rockies’ 12-2 annihilation of the Dodgers Monday night.

Hitter of Note:

Andrew McCutchen 2This week I want to focus on a star hitter who is mired in terrible slump. Andrew McCutchen is currently hitting .217/.284/.370 for the 1st place Pittsburgh Pirates (yes, that’s right, the Buccos are in first place and it has very little to do with Andrew’s bat). Cutch’s batted ball profile does not indicate any major changes in his approach, i.e. he isn’t chasing balls out of the zone or swinging and missing more often than any other time in his career. However, he does have a very low .230 BABIP and a career low 6.3 HR/FB%. His recent 0-17 streak (streak?) is the longest hitting drought he has ever endured. As a Pirates fan, I watch McCutchen hit a lot. His recent struggles are twofold: 1) he isn’t barreling up the ball very often and 2) when he does get good wood on a pitch he has been hitting it right at people. Given the technical information and the conclusions I can draw from watching him hit, I think it is safe to assume that the Cutch will get it going in a serious way sooner rather than later. His career triple slash for the month of April is .259/.330/.403, easily his worst statistical month. For the warm summer months of May, June, and July he has a career OPS over .900. Managers who owned him last season remember that his OPS coming out of April was a flaccid .723. The managers who were smart enough to hold onto him also remember the 22 home runs he hit from May through the end of July. My advice: relax, talk to your pet parrot, and wait for the temperature in Pittsburgh to rise a few clicks. McCutchen’s triple slash will rise along with it.

Pitchers of Note:

Let’s talk about Matt Cain. Matt Cain has been one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball since 2006. Cain was clockwork. Well, Matt Cain’s clock is currently so broken that it isn’t even right twice a day. It isn’t right once a day. It hasn’t been right all season. Cain’s ERA is a bloated 6.49 (5.56 FIP, 4.05 xFIP) and his HR-allowed total sits at 9. For a reference point, recall that Cain’s HR-allowed total in 2011 was 9. He has already allowed about half of his usual HR total for a full season (right around 20) and he has only pitched 34.2 innings. So what is wrong with him? It’s a little hard to say. His fastball velocity is down 0.5 MPH, but I am not going to blame his season so far on his April velocity being down just half a MPH. His slider% is up to 22.9 this season, the highest percentage of his career. His K% is at 21.0 and his BB% is a career low 4.8. His BABIP numbers are not particularly abnormal, although it is 22 points higher than his career average. Grand scientific conclusion based on statistical analysis: I have no idea what’s going on. The only thing that I can say is that Matt Cain might need to back off the slider a little bit and mix his pitches better. Which is basically to say that he needs to pitch better. Which is basically to say nothing at all. My advice: don’t trade for Cain. If you own him, then I would advise sitting him for his next few starts until he has a couple good outings that remind you of why you drafted him in the first place.

Quick Hits:

Dexter Fowler is still killing the ball. His triple slash is .308/.417/.637. The window to get him at a discount is shut and has been screwed down tight. Enjoy watching him from behind the glass.

Have you seen what Nate McLouth is doing? He has a better triple slash than Joey Votto and has stolen 8 bases. Looks like the Orioles’ magic reserves were not completely exhausted last season. Yep, Chris Davis is still killing it.

Yu Darvish is better than I thought. That is all.

Actually, there is something of an Asian pitcher extravaganza going on in the Majors with Hyun-Jin Ryu still pitching very well for LA and Hisashi Iwakuma absolutely dominating (37.2ip, 37K, 1.67 ERA, and a 0.69 WHIP) in Seattle.



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