Friday, July 29, 2011

Warming In The 'Pen: NL Edition

Well, well, well...Wednesday was a big day in the land of baseball. A bombshell of a deal sending Carlos Beltran to the World Champion San Francisco Giants, a massive three-way exchange involving 11 players in all. Yesterday had Kosuke Fukudome heading to Cleveland to shore up the outfield (a move on which I might have more to say). With just two days left til the Trading Deadline, there's bound to be plenty more 'shock and awe' to come. I'm sure there will be updates as we go along.

As it is, let's go over last week's names:
  • John Axford continues to impress, knocking out three saves in three games. Three innings of work saw him give up two hits, striking out three and walking no one. A very solid week for the youngster as the Brew-Crew fight off three other teams for the top spot in the NL Central.
  • Jason Isringhausen appeared in two games and saved both. He now has 296 saves on his career. He gave up a hit, a walk, and two knockouts in two innings of work. Bobby Parnell has been rocky over the past few games, so I believe that Izzy is going to be the go-to closer. That is, unless a move gets made. Beltran's already been let go by the Not-So-Mighty Mets. We won't know if they're in full fire-sale mode until Sunday.
  • Fernando Salas worked two innings this past week, allowing one hit and one walk, fanning four and notching two saves. The Cards are only a half-game out from the above-mentioned Brewers, and so long as Fernando continues his solid performances, St. Louis will be in the race for the rest of the season.
  • Carlos Marmol was seen in three games (2.2 IP), giving up three hits, one walk, and four strikeouts. Sean Marshall seems to have the lead as the "closer for the moment" on the Cubs staff, and it looks like Carlos will be in a set-up role until his mechanics are right. He could be good for a few cheap and easy holds in the interim.
With all that said and done, here's this week's award "winners":
  • "Doing Work" - Brian Wilson (SF): Since his little dugout meltdown on the 1st of the month, "The Beard" has been on a tear. In his last ten appearances (ten innings pitched) since he threw down with that Gatorade cooler, he's saved eight games, giving up two runs on seven hits in the process. He's walked four, but stuck out nine in the span. With the Giants' acquisition of Carlos Beltran, the front office is showing its seriousness and intent on thinking "repeat" this year. Contention, especially late-season, will depend on Wilson being his freaky self (all apologies to the REAL Freak, Tim Lincecum) at the back-end of the San Fran 'pen. Career-wise, Brian's heading into his best month of the season: He carries a 1.26 ERA in the month of August on his career, .555 OPS, .286 BAbip, and a strong 1.158 WHIP. This is very promising for a team that's picked up a huge bat for an offense looking desperately for help. While a boost in offense might trim down The Beard's save chances, Beltran will not solve all the Giants' O woes. Wilson will still be in the top five in saves, and likely be a catalyst to another push to the Playoffs for the City By The Bay.
  • "Unsung Hero" - Mike Adams (SD): Though the Padres are well-removed from playoff contention, but you wouldn't know it by looking at Adams. He has been having a sensational year, along the lines of Joakim Soria for the Royals on the AL side of the fence. In the last week of work, Mike didn't allow a single run, gave up two hits, and no walks. He's also notched four knockouts and two holds. Sporting a 1.15 ERA on the season, Adams deeper numbers are equally impressive: 0.723 WHIP, 5.33 K/BB ratio, a .451 OPS, and a BAbip of a microscopic .200. His FIP of 2.07, while less solid than his ERA, is still extremely sweet and indicative of a pitcher that's solid enough to not need the backing of his defense (mid-ranked in the MLB). With the trade winds swirling around San Diego closer Heath Bell (and even Adams himself), the situation in the Padres' camp is fluid. If Bell is traded, I would expect Adams to move into the closer role and be a pick-up of value in most leagues. If Adams were to get traded however, it would be to a team with an immediate need for a solid set-up man. That'd help his value in deep or 5x5/6x6 leagues. Either way, Adams is worth looking into for shoring up your fantasy staff.
  • "Heart Attack Award" - Antonio Bastardo (PHI): Yet another story about another closer in another pennant chase not exactly getting things done lately. Bastardo has slipped a bit off a solid season over the last seven days. He's only notched one save in three appearances (2.2 IP), giving up two runs on two hits and two walks. On a good note, he did fan three. Antonio has been having a career year, with an ERA of 1.38, FIP of 2.52, OPS of .422, and BAbip of .159. However, there's the case of another young arm possibly starting to fold under the pressure of a tight race. Bastardo's numbers over the last 14 days (ERA of 4.50, OPS of .568, BAbip of .286) are a little troubling. While there's not really a whole lot to go off of (he's only worked one game in August in his career), a sudden falloff during a pennant race is never a good thing. My recommendation is to hang onto Bastardo until we get an idea of how at least the first half of August goes for him.
  • "ZOMBIE!" - Henry Rodriguez (WSH): The Nats, while realistically in the Wild Card hunt, are going to have some issues while Rodriguez is in their 'pen. His last seven days read like a pitching coach's nightmare: two games, 1.1 IP, six runs on four hits (including a blast), six walks, no strikeouts. A 4.25 ERA on the year, combined with a paltry 1.32 K/BB ratio, 1.639 WHIP, and .313 BAbip are the epitome of "stay away". There are a few pluses to his game: Only one homer allowed in 36 innings, a GO/AO ratio of 1.48 is solid, he has five holds on the season, and he's only allowed 27% of his inherited runners to score (3-for-11). While those kinds of things may hold promise for future considerations (say, the next year or two), he is of no help now, and should be avoided at any and all opportunities.
That's all that's fit to print for the moment. As always, comments below, or hit me up on Twitter: @JCPronkFan48

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