I figured it’s time to bring it over to the blog: The Mapes Fantasy Special. It’s for fantasy baseball players in daily leagues that are looking for a starting pitcher to pick up that is widely available. The standard for me is the pitcher must be available in at least 50% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues. It all started with Orioles “ace” Jason Hammel (49% owned) picking up a quality start against the Twins with 6 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, and getting a win. Nothing too great, but you’ll take the WHIP and a win any day.
And then good things started to happen.
— Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes) April 3, 2013
Milone’s line: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, Win
He settled down after giving up two early runs and was great. I love Milone and a lot of the Athletics when they pitch at home.
— Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes) April 4, 2013
Guthrie’s line: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, Win
This was my pick of the week; he was available in 99% of leagues! Guthrie has since been bumped up to 13% owned in Yahoo! leagues, but his dominance over the White Sox continues. He’s going to be a future pick I’m sure, especially when facing Chicago.
— Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes) April 5, 2013
Straily’s line: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 11 K, Win
I like Straily and his make-up. It’s why he was my American League Rookie of the Year pick. He sadly got sent down to the minors after this start due to Oakland’s current six-man rotation, but man, was he fantastic blowing away Astros hitters. I’m in the court of starting any pretty good pitcher against Houston this year.
— Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes) April 5, 2013
Colon’s line: 6 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, Win
Do I feel bad picking on Astros again? Yep. Do I feel good picking a 97% available pitcher for a win and quality start? Yep.
This is where I started realizing things are going quite well, but there weren’t a lot of options for Sunday and went with a guy who was facing off against the American League Cy Young winner.
— Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes) April 7, 2013
Masterson’s line: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, Win
Sometimes the Rays offense is non-existent and Sunday was one of those days. Masterson was the best pitching surprise of week one, going 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA and 13 K in 13 IP. Even more impressive, he picked up wins while squaring off against each of last year’s Cy Young winners.
For Monday, I’m going with a pitcher I feel won’t be under the 50% threshold for much longer in Paul Maholm. The Marlins offense is pretty weak and Marlins Park is a pitcher’s park.
— Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes) April 7, 2013
The final lines on Mapes Fantasy Special for the week. 38.2 IP, 27 H, 11 ER, 6 BB, 36 K, 6-0 W-L, 6 Quality starts, with 2.56 ERA, 0.85 WHIP. Not bad at all for guys available in at least half of leagues. Hopefully I can keep it going for all of 2013.
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The offseason is upon us! We’ve already seen a few trades, like Ervin Santana heading to the Royals and Mike Aviles being dealt more than hands at a poker table. The meat that cooks deliciously on the hot stove in the offseason is free agency. Here’s the first part of what we can see cooking this winter.
The Big Catch
Zack Greinke is the best pitcher available on the free agent market after being acquired by the Angels at the trade deadline. Greinke may never reach his 2009 Cy Young form again, but he is still in his prime at 29 years old. Matt Cain’s recent extension might be the benchmark for what Greinke is looking for on the open market. Who will pay that price though? I can see the Rangers being involved, especially with Greinke’s somewhat success in the AL West the second half of 2012. They need the big name pitcher to anchor the rotation with Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, and Alexi Ogando. He could stay put in Anaheim, where the Angels have gone from a plethora of starting pitching to a need for it with Ervin Santana in Kansas City and Dan Haren’s option declined after rumors of being dealt to the Cubs. I would not sleep on the other team in Los Angeles making a play on Greinke to pair at the top of the rotation with Clayton Kershaw; that new ownership is ready and willing to spend money.
The We Wish You Were Zack Greinke, But You’re Still Really Good Tier
Hiroki Kuroda was given a qualifying offer by the Yankees, so he might not be on this list for very long. I think a better one-year offer, or even a two-year deal might be enough to pull him away from the Bronx. Would a team go to two years on a starter that will be 38 years old on Opening Day? I think so after he quelled the fears that his numbers were skewed by the NL West and finished with a 3.32 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with the Yankees playing the AL East. In the end, I think he stays with the Yankees.
Anibal Sanchez appeared to be a bust after going 3-6 with a 4.55 ERA in his first ten starts in a Tigers uniform. But something finally clicked on September 25th with a 10-strikeout, shutout performance against the Royals. Sanchez used that momentum into the playoffs making himself a ton of money, having a 1.77 ERA in three starts. He doesn’t have #1 starter potential, but could make for a great 2/3 for a team. Early rumors have him sticking around in Motown, but I’m sure there will be other teams offering up a deal.
The only other pitcher with the potential to be a staff ace on the free agent market is Dan Haren. Haren had a rough 2012, with his worst ERA and WHIP since 2004. Haren also landed on the disabled list for the 1st time in his career. The Angels bought him out instead of picking up his $15.5 million option. Unlike Greinke, don’t expect him back with the Halos. Like Greinke, I could see the Dodgers interested in bringing Haren back to the NL West where he was an ace for the Diamondbacks. I see the Cubs, who tried to deal for Haren, making a play for him. And there are even rumors of another NL West team, the Padres, making a play for Haren’s services.
What Pitcher are we Getting Tier?
No starting pitcher made themselves more money in 2012 than Kyle Lohse. He went out to prove he was a top of the rotation pitcher, but I would rather take my chances on Haren returning to ace form, than Lohse staying there. Has he learned how to pitch and has full control of his pitches now? Or is he going to return to the terrible form he just had in 2009-10? Someone is going to pay to find out. The Cardinals made a qualifying offer to Lohse, but I think at his age, he is looking to cash in on a long-term deal at big money coming off a career year.
Full disclosure: Brandon McCarthy is one of my favorite players in the league. From his hilarious Twitter account to his great production on the mound and even his value in fantasy baseball leagues, I just plain like the guy. The questions do arise from his recovery after sadly being hit in the head with a line drive this season. It might be that injury though, that gets a team a discount on a solid pitcher that has #2 starter potential. I think the Athletics would like to bring him back at the right price, but if they see the value, I’m sure other teams will too.
What to do with Ryan Dempster? Are you getting the pitcher that led the National League in ERA for the 1st half of 2012? Are you getting the pitcher that had an ERA north of five for the Rangers in their 2nd half collapse? There’s not a doubt in my mind that Dempster has eyes on a return to the National League. Going back to the Cubs is a real possibility, especially if he has his killer Harry Caray impersonation still in his repertoire.
Will Edwin Jackson land on his 8th different team, all while still being under 30 years old? He’s nothing spectacular overall, but does have his flashes of brilliance. I could see a playoff potential team like Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, maybe even Boston taking a chance on Jackson. We’ll see if he gets more than a one-year deal, but he will end up getting around and probably more than the $11 million he made in 2012.
No pitcher had a more Jekyll and Hyde season than Jeremy Guthrie. He was unable to adjust to pitching in Colorado (6.35 ERA/1.69 WHIP), but was a great pickup for the Royals (3.16 ERA/1.13 WHIP), who dumped Jonathan Sanchez. If teams believe in the sea level Guthrie, he could be a solid pickup for an American League team, where he seems comfortable between his time in Kansas City and Baltimore. Based on his dominance of the White Sox, giving up just one earned run over 29.2 innings in 2012, I could see the entire AL Central having interest.
The Wild Cards
Scott Baker’s $9.25 million option was declined by the Twins after he had Tommy John surgery. He could stay in Minnesota as one of the best pitchers in that rotation, but there are contenders that could take the chance on him regaining his form to be a middle of the rotation starter.
This years “coming to America” sweepstakes? Hyun-Jin Ryu of South Korea. Ryu has a career 2.80 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in his career in Korea with the Hanwha Eagles of the KBO. He’s not as sought after as Darvish a year ago, but he could be a solid middle of the rotation starter for a team willing to put up the posting fee for the 25-year old.
The Aren’t You Retired? Tier
I’m pretty sure that Andy Pettitte and Roy Oswalt have retired a combined 435 times, but there they are in the free agent pool. I can’t see Pettitte going anywhere besides the Yankees and we’ll see if Oswalt decides to pick and choose his spot once the season starts. Kevin Millwood was a servicable starter for the Mariners, but those numbers may be skewed by Safeco Field. Derek Lowe was seemingly out of baseball after being released by the Indians, but was solid with the Yankees in a mop-up reliever role. Ben Sheets showed some magic for a stretch with the Braves, oh wait he actually did retire. Good for him.
Which starters do you think are the most important of this year’s free agent crop? Let us know in the comments or let me know on Twitter!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Wei-Yin Chen gave us his 2nd consecutive successful #MapesFantasySpecial last night, despite not getting a win. Mets Matt Harvey had his start pushed back due to rain, so we’ll see how that plays out tonight. I’m not sure he can get a win against Cole Hamels, but hopefully the peripherals and strikeouts will be there. Here’s what I like for Thursday, September 20th that’s available in more than half of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie was featured on this week’s podcast as a 3UP player and I really like him at home against the White Sox. Guthrie shut down the White Sox just a week and a half ago, tossing eight shutout innings. Even more impressive, Guthrie has had three starts against the White Sox since coming to Kansas City, would you like to guess how many runs he’s given up in 23.2 innings? That’s right, zero! I’ll trust him one more time to get solid numbers, he’s owned in just 15% of fantasy leagues.
If You’re Desperate: Cardinals Jaime Garcia (49% owned) takes on the Astros in a solid matchup, but has been so terribly up and down since returning from injury he might no be worth the chance. Brewers rookie Michael Fiers (45% owned) had 10 strikeouts, last time he faced the Pirates, but has a 5.40 ERA in two starts against Pittsburgh this year. A’s Tommy Milone (44% owned) hasn’t been good on the road this season and takes on Detroit at Comerica. No thanks. Nationals Ross Detwiler (35% owned) has been good this season and could help your WHIP, but don’t expect a ton of strikeouts. If you need strikeouts and can afford the ERA/WHIP hit, Francisco Liriano (35% owned) could get you some strikeouts, but got lit up last time out against KC. Lastly, Giants Barry Zito (21% owned) got beat up by Colorado last time at home, 4ER over 5.1 IP, but is 6-2 in his career with a 2.59 ERA and 1.09 WHIP against the Rockies. The Rockies do have trouble scoring runs on the road, except against Andrew Cashner of course.
If You’re Desperate Rankings: Fiers, Zito, Detwiler, Garcia, Liriano, Milone
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
It’s Saturday, only two days left that can make or break your week and advance you into the next round of your fantasy playoffs. If you’re losing it’s desperation time. You have to do whatever it takes to get over the hump. Here’s who I like for Saturday that’s owned less that 50% of leagues.
There hasn’t been a hotter team right now than the Philies and they partly have Kyle Kendrick to thank for that. The 40% owned starter has a 5-1 record with a 1.49 ERA and 0.80 WHIP over his last six starts. He was even our 3UP player on the podcast this week. This start may be on the road, but the Astros are the worst team in the league, just ask former #MapesFantasySpecial Travis Wood. Kendrick is a must pick-up if you need pitching help.
If You’re Desperate: A’s Jarrod Parker (40% owned) has been solid this season, especially at home with a 2.48 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. However, Parker got tagged for 6 earned runs in five innings last time he faced the Orioles. Parker faces Zach Britton (26% owned) who was brilliant before getting rocked by the Yankees in his last start. Britton, like Parker, got rocked in his previous start against his opponent, giving up 6ER in 5.2 IP last time against the Athletics. Yankees Ivan Nova (also 40% owned) returns for New York at home and has a quality start all three times he has faced Tampa Bay this year. You’re playing with fire with a player that’s returning from injury. 14% owned Jeremy Guthrie of the Royals has a 4-0 record and 1.70 ERA over his last seven starts and has 2ER or less in 6 of the 7 starts. Guthrie takes on the Angels at home, not exactly a team you want to face if you’re hunting for wins.
Good luck in your fantasy leagues!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Opening Day Thursday is almost in the books. I sit here watching the Dodgers and Padres with the masterful Vin Scully calling the game taking in all that we already saw. Great pitching matchups in the afternoon games, a walk-off win for the Detroit Tigers after Jose Valverde blew the save after not messing up a chance in all of 2011, and the longest game in Opening Day history with the Blue Jays and Indians going SIXTEEN innings after Chris Perez coughed up a three-run lead for Cleveland in the top of the 9th. It’s gonna be hard for Friday’s matchups to top all of that. Let’s see what we have on tap.
White Sox at Rangers 2:05 ET
The Rangers begin their march for a 3rd straight AL pennant, something that hasn’t been done since the 1998-2001 New York Yankees. Important for John Danks to get through the 1st inning unscathed as the Rangers top 4 hitters in the lineup all hit .350 or better off of Danks in their career.
Twins at Orioles 3:05 ET
Possibly the worst opening day pitching matchup between Carl Pavano and Jake Arietta. Twins fans will just be excited to have their M&M boys (Mauer and Morneau) back in the lineup together after they missed a combined 173 games for Minnesota in 2011.
Yankees at Rays 3:10 ET
New York and Tampa Bay start off the 2012 regular season the same way the 2011 one ended at Tropicana Field. If the drama for this game is anything like game #162, we’re in for a treat. My AL MVP prediction Robinson Cano hits .386 lifetime against James Shields and makes for a solid Beat the Streak pick on MLB.com
Cardinals at Brewers 4:10 ET
Ryan Braun doesn’t have to face the road crowd after a tumultuous offseason. The real story here though is Yovani Gallardo, who sports a 1-7 record with a 5.66 ERA in his career against rival St. Louis. A stat that will not make my co-host Kurt Peter very happy at all.
Rockies at Astros 7:05 ET
Jeremy Guthrie gets the Opening Day nod for Colorado after being traded for in the offseason. Guthrie was solid in spring training and is the Mapes Special for fantasy streaming pitcher of the day (owned in just 5% of Yahoo! leagues). Rules for the Mapes Special are they must be available in more than half of leagues, I’ll have another one coming up.
Giants at Diamondbacks 7:10 ET
Two Cy Young candidates on the hill in Tim Lincecum and Ian Kennedy, so expect a pitcher’s duel like we saw in many games Thursday. The big story though, is the return of catcher Buster Posey to the Giants lineup after a devastating ankle injury last season. If Posey is 100% he makes the Giants lineup average instead of subpar.
Dodgers at Padres 10:05 ET
The only two teams that play both Thursday and Friday. For those of you that get to listen to Vin Scully again, I’m deeply jealous. Cory Luebke and Chad Billingsley make for an interesting pitching matchup in Petco Park has both have had success against their opponent.
Royals at Angels 10:05 ET
Alright, I guess you should be watching Albert Pujols debut for the Halos. I’m not going to get cute on this one.
Mariners at Athletics 10:05 ET
Welcome back to America. Not a rematch that we saw in Japan as Brandon McCarthy will take on Jason Vargas instead of Felix Hernandez. Both McCarthy and Vargas were impressive in their 2012 debuts in Japan, with the Athletics ballpark coming into play Jason Vargas (7% owned) is the 2nd Mapes Special of the day!
Enjoy opening day #4!