Friday, August 26, 2011

COSFBA Closes Up Shop

There comes a time when the effort you put into something isn't equal to the satisfaction you receive back from doing so. That time has come for me with COSFBA.

COSFBA was never meant to become anything other than a place for me to talk about fantasy baseball, mostly to myself. If you're not familiar with the history of this site, I dedicated an entire page to it called, "What is COSFBA?".

I never really put much thought into the name of this site but I honestly wish I had because getting people to notice my work was even harder with a name most never took time to remember.

I wanted to take a moment to thank all of the guest writers and contributors who shared their work on COSFBA. I'll honestly admit most were very successful but some were not. Live and learn, I guess. I promise you I won't make those same mistakes next time. That's time.

I'm shutting down COSFBA to focus on creating "COSFBA 2.0" (if only the name was that easy). I know I can be successful in the fantasy baseball blogging game but I can't keep battling against a bad blog name. Oh, and the overall focus of version two will be baseball...everything and anything...with my personal focus on the fantasy side of the game I've spent the majority of my adult life obsessing over.

So this should not be considered a "goodbye" by any means. Consider it a "see you soon". And don't worry. It will be easy to recognize me. I'll be the one dominating plenty of fantasy baseball leagues in 2012 and beyond.

Peace out!
Daniel aka the Colorado Springs Fantasy Baseball Addict

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In The Sabermetric Spotlight: Desmond Jennings

Desmond Jennings, OF Tampa Bay Rays

This week we look to the future, at one of the games highly touted prospects. Desmond Jennings has appeared on Baseball America's Top 100 Prospect list for 4 straight years, reaching as high as #6 in 2010. Despite his 5-tool potential, the Rays waited 4 months into 2011 to call him up. So far, it's fairly safe to say the wait was worth it, and many are left to wonder why it took so long to call him up in the first place.

Jennings stats don't look like someone that is having a hard time adjusting to big league pitchers. His line, thus far (8/22/11), is below.

It's remarkable that with this kind of production, right out of the gate, Jennings was held in AAA so long. Many scouts have long proclaimed that Jennings bat was pro-ready for about the year, so why the wait in bringin him up? His main competition, who himself was involved in numerous trade rumors (related to Jennings future with the team?), is B.J. Upton. In the last 30 days, take a look at the comparison of their production.

It seems as though if Desmond Jennings isn't "pro-ready" then his fellow 24-year old outfielder Upton certainly is not. Jennings has outperformed Upton in every category, fantasy or otherwise. If this doesn't give the Rays incentive to shop Upton in the off-season, I'm not sure what does.

So, with the potential that Jennings will be a full-time outfielder for the Rays next season, what can we expect from him next season, and for years to come? It's obvious that his speed is elite, and his bat appears to be ready for the battering ram that is major league pitching. Perhaps his minor league stats will give us a glimpse into the future.

Jennings most coveted skill should help you immediately, and the others wont necessarily hurt you either. Even his power, which is theoretically the least developed of his skills, has shown some exciting potential. Doubt his power potential? I submit to you exhibit A, B and C.

I realize there is no way to quantify a pretty swing, but Jennings is smooth and fluid, exactly what you like to see in a hitter.

It's hard to predict his future numbers, as he's already 24 years old. When you hear highly touted prospect, most people think of someone who is nearly half a decade younger, and will need some time to adjust and mature. This isn't necessarily the case for Jennings, as he's already the same age as Upton, who's been a mainstay in the Rays outfield for the last 5 years.

So lets quickly analyze each of his counting stats, and where we can realistically expect them to be in the near future.

R: His speed definitely helps here, as does playing for the Rays, a team that regardless of highly paid players or all-world talent, always seem to compete (at least under Joe Madden). Looking at his minor league numbers doesn't really help here, so lets simply compare it to another player in the same system with elite speed. Upton has averaged about 85 runs a year in the previous 4 seasons, so this is a reasonable expectation should Jennings be given a full time gig.

HR: This might be the toughest of the bunch to predict. It's obvious that he will never be an elite power hitter, but his bat does have some pop (See exhibit A, B and C again if need be). Jennings current numbers translated into a full season, would make him a 28 HR hitter. I don't think you can expect him to ever eclipse that total, but 20 HR in a season, perhaps even 25 could be obtainable. Realistically, I think he could be a mid-teen HR threat for the majority of his career, occasionally touching the 20 HR mark. This type of production isn't something you would expect from a Jose Bautista type, but it certainly isn't going to lose you any points in the standings either.

RBI: Jennings past performance doesn't bode well for great RBI production, only eclipsing 39 RBI in a season once. But do you really expect more than 70 RBI from a leadoff hitter, which is what many project Jennings to be? I think that 65 RBI a season is a decent expectation, and again, it's not going to hurt you.

SB: This is where the future shines just a little brighter. Any time you can legitimately expect 50 SB from a player in a full season, roto combatants salivate. With the elite speed he has, and the tendency of Joe Madden teams to play small ball and run, 50+ SB in a season is not only reasonable, I dare say expected.

AVG: Another category he won't kill you in, but your not necessarily drafting him for upside. Despite his torrid pace this season, I think he projects as a .275 career hitter, possibly posting the occasional .300+ season (but also the inevitable sub .250 season). It's going to be hit or miss, and I expect a great deal of regression next season in his average. Near future, I think he's a .250-.260 hitter (still better than Upton).

So, lets put that all together and see what we get. In the hypothetical full season, possibly a year or two down the road, we're looking at 85 R, 15 HR, 65 RBI, 50 SB and a .275 average. Using last years ESPN Player Rater, Desmond would have ranked as the 18th best player overall, and the 9th best OF. How's that for potential? Keeper and Dynasty leagues beware.

Have a question or comment? Want to suggest the next player featured In The Sabermetric Spotlight? Leave a comment below or drop me a line on Twitter @SillyLittleGame.

Friday, August 19, 2011

COSFBA Goes Home

I pride myself on being a daily blogger. It's more about the commitment to myself than others. But sometimes life gets in the way of a hobby or passion. I'll be spending a few days back in the New Jersey/New York area with family and friends celebrating my parent's 50th wedding anniversary. Quite the milestone and a worthy excuse to skip a few days of fantasy baseball coverage.

See you all next week.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Line of the Day: Nick Hundley: August 16th, 2011

Catcher Nick Hundley went 3-for-4 with two triples, an RBI and two runs scored in the San Diego Padres 6-1 victory over the New York Mets. He became the 14th player in Padres history to hit two triples in a game and the first catcher to do so since Fred Kendall in 1973. (video recap)

Line: 4 AB | 2 R | 3 H | 1 RBI; 2 3B

My fantasy perspective: The 2011 season was supposed to be the year Hundley went from a backup/part-time catcher to the starter/primary catcher for the Padres but a couple of injuries have caused him to miss over two months of playing time.

Since returning from his latest DL stint (elbow surgery), Hundley has been absolutely on fire. In four games, he's gone 9-for-16 (.563 BA) with a double, two triples and a home run. If your team is in need of help at the catcher position, he's only owned in 3% of ESPN, 6% of Yahoo! and 15% of CBS leagues.

Agree? Disagree? Check out ESPN's formula for determining the best daily performances and nominate your own Line of the Day player using the comments section or hitting me up on Twitter.

Be sure to check out the past winners of COSFBA's Line of the Day awards and subscribe to its feed, too.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

In The Sabermetric Spotlight: Cameron Maybin

After spending nearly a week and a half fine-tuning the Spotlight in an attempt to harness it's power, a ray of hope has made an appearance. Not only is Curtis Granderson still healthy *knocks on wood* but he homered again the day after the article was posted. It's an ongoing process but we're starting to head in the right direction.

You live by the longball, you die by the longball. This is essentially the strategy of powerhouse teams such as the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees. Does anyone remember the phrase "Speed Kills"? That sounds a lot more reassuring to me.

So why do so many fantasy owners ignore the SB category? Maybe it's because they're Head-2-Head owners who are sacrificing one category in the hopes that they can win the other four. Whatever the reasoning, I simply do not understand it. I personally feel that speed is just as entertaining as power...fireworks aside. Want proof? Look here.

With that being said, it's no surprise that this week, we shine The Sabermetric Spotlight on...

Cameron Maybin, OF San Diego Padres

Like I said before, I see the merit of sacrificing one category to load up on others in Head-2-Head leagues. Maybe it's because power is easier to predict but would it be crazy to load up on speed and sacrifice power? If you could predict it properly, wouldn't you end up in a similar place? And what about Roto leagues, where all categories are accounted for? Certainly you need to pay attention to speed, then?

Before anyone gets all up in arms, I understand that a HR also equals a R and a RBI, as well as a small boost in AVG. Is it crazy to think that a SB also means an increase in R, as well as AVG (gotta love those infield hits)? I also understand that SB's are cheap and far easier to come by. On a slightly related side note, this fascinating article details just how rare and expensive power/speed combo's are, while speed itself is rather cheap.

Perhaps the biggest surprise, as far as speed outbursts in 2011, has been Cameron Maybin. As of this articles posting, Maybin has swiped 31 bases in 34 attempts. That is not a typo. Maybin has always been considered an extremely gifted athlete and a five-tool prospect but, to this point, hasn't really met the lofty expectations placed on him. Perhaps his performance this season is a sign of better things to come and the beginnings of a fantasy baseball superstar. Let us remember, the kid is only 24 years old. He's not even in his prime yet.

Where is all this speed coming from? Some would argue it's been there all along and that he's never been given the chance to showcase it. I tend to find myself agreeing that that crowd, as his numbers are hard to ignore. Take a look at the chart below.

There is definitely a big spike in SB's in the last month or so. How can we explain this? On June 1st, the Padres placed Maybin on the DL (retroactive to May 28th) with a knee injury. The MRI showed no signs of structural damage but the Padres said that Maybin had been playing through it for the previous two weeks. Anyone who has ever had a knee injury knows that walking, let alone running, is difficult. Perhaps this is the biggest reason why Maybin only stole two bases from April 21st through June 24th. FanGraphs ranks Maybin with the second highest Speed Score (Spd) in the league, behind only Jose Reyes. That's pretty remarkable, considering the guys he appears ahead of. Maybin's current Spd of 8.5 is identical to the leader last season, Carl Crawford. Spd is not the most useful statistic in the world, but I bring it up to point out that I'm not the only one who's noticed Maybin's speed of late.

Ok, he's posted good SB numbers. So what? One category alone will hardly help anyone win a Head-2-Head match-up or a Roto championship, for that matter. What do his other numbers look like and what do they mean for his future production?

If you take away the SB category, you basically have a glorified Ben Revere. He has 31 RBI on the season (that's right, the same number as his SB total) to go along with 63 R, 7 HR and an acceptable AVG of .276. These numbers aren't anything special, but they certainly won't hurt you either.

What about his future, though? What type of player does Maybin project to be? Honestly, it's hard to say. He's been one of the top prospects in baseball for the last half decade or so, and he's yet to pan out, while the two high school outfielders who were taken the picks immediately after him have flourished in the majors. Can you name them? Try Andrew McCutchen and Jay Bruce.

It might sound crazy, but I would actually like to compare Maybin to Justin Upton and Crawford. They all have extremely similar heights and weights, were highly touted prospects brought into the show at an early age and have had their doubters. Upton has gone on to explode into one of the game's best, while Crawford has taken a giant step backwards so far here in 2011. Comparing Maybin and Crawford's numbers side by side might surprise you.

Guess who's having the better season? Obviously it's Maybin, nearly across the board. If I may, I'd like to make a bold prediction here:

Rest of their career, better 5x5 value: Maybin or Crawford. I'm going with Maybin.

The reasoning behind it is peppered in the article above. There is so much potential there and he's also six years younger than Crawford.

Perhaps Maybin's biggest critics are asking, "But what about the power? And the ballpark?" It's true. PETCO isn't exactly what you want when you are attempting to develop your power stroke. However, Adrian Gonzalez (who was featured last month in his own Sabermetric Spotlight) seemed to fair pretty well. I think there is also something to be said about being given the chance to develop as a player on a team that itself is rebuilding. I found this quote from an article by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN very enlightening:
"This is the first time in two or three seasons where I've felt comfortable," Maybin said. "I'm not worried about the consequences of going out there and trying to get a hit every night. Even if I have a bad week or a bad month, I feel like these guys are still with me."
"In past situations, I've always felt like I had to be perfect or I might get sent down a month or two into the season. Now I'm able to relax and make the adjustments I need to make. I'm just believing in myself a little more."
The potential is all there AND you can get him on the cheap. In 2011 drafts, Maybin wasn't even drafted in the Top 260 players and those who drafted him in deeper leagues or in the late rounds are feeling pretty smart now. I think Maybin's value is highest in Roto Keeper and Dynasty Leagues, and he should be targeted if you can get him for the right price.

Have a question or comment? Want to suggest the next player featured In The Sabermetric Spotlight? Leave a comment below or drop me a line on Twitter @SillyLittleGame.

Line of the Day: Jim Thome: 600th Home Run Edition

Jim Thome became the eighth member of the exclusive 600-Home Run Club in explosive fashion, homering twice and driving in five runs to lead the Minnesota Twins to a 9-6 victory over the Detroit Tigers. It was the 48th multi-homer game of his career. (video recap)

Line: 4 AB | 2 R | 3 H | 5 RBI; 2 HR

My fantasy perspective: Thome hasn't been fantasy relevant in 2011 and really only has value while he's on a hot streak as a short term fix. But none of the matters when it comes to a career milestone such as hitting 600 career home runs. Congratulations to one of the truly good guys in the game of baseball.

Question: Will Thome be a "first ballot" Hall of Famer?

Agree? Disagree? Check out ESPN's formula for determining the best daily performances and nominate your own Line of the Day player using the comments section or hitting me up on Twitter.

Be sure to check out the past winners of COSFBA's Line of the Day awards and subscribe to its feed, too.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Line of the Day: Brandon Belt: August 14th, 2011

Brandon Belt homered twice and drove in two runs to help lead the San Francisco Giants to a 5-2 win over the Florida Marlins. It was the first multi-homer game of his young career and should be a sign of good things to come for the rookie first baseman. (video recap)

Line: 4 AB | 2 R | 2 H | 2 RBI; 2 HR

My fantasy perspective: Belt's numbers haven't been pretty (.232/.330/.415) but neither have Aubrey Huff's (.249/.303/.381) and he's been given a ton more at bats. This situation is worth monitoring closely until it becomes clearer how Belt and Huff will be used at first base and whether either/both will also see some time in the outfield.

Belt has to be considered the future at first base for the Giants but his fantasy baseball value may not be realized until the 2012 season. NL-only, dynasty and deep keeper leaguers should be most interested in his usage and performance over the next seven-plus weeks. New leaguers or redrafters should target Belt in the late rounds next season and see how things play out in Spring Training.

Question: Should Belt be the Giants' everyday first baseman going forward or should he be stuck in a platoon with Huff?

Agree? Disagree? Check out ESPN's formula for determining the best daily performances and nominate your own Line of the Day player using the comments section or hitting me up on Twitter.

Be sure to check out the past winners of COSFBA's Line of the Day awards and subscribe to its feed, too.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Line of the Day: Tim Lincecum: August 13th, 2011

Tim Lincecum allowed two hit, three walks, hit a batter and struck out 10 over seven scoreless innings to lead the San Francisco Giants to a 3-0 win over the Florida Marlins. It was the 31st double-digit strikeout game of his career. He also lowered his road ERA to a major league-leading 2.08. (video recap)

Line: 7 IP | 2 H | 0 ER | 3 BB | 10 K; W | QS

My fantasy perspective: Lincecum is currently the 11th-ranked starting pitcher in fantasy baseball with his 11 wins, 2.58 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 175 strikeouts. With a 2.81 FIP, a 3.07 xFIP and a .277 BABIP against (via FanGraphs), you can expect more of the same from him over the rest of the way.

He has a chance to win 15 or more games this season with well over 200 strikeouts and an ERA and WHIP near career lows yet won't be in the running for another Cy Young Award, unless he goes on an incredible run to end the season. That's okay, though, for his fantasy owners who continue to benefit from owning one of the most dominant starting pitchers in the game.

Agree? Disagree? Check out ESPN's formula for determining the best daily performances and nominate your own Line of the Day player using the comments section or hitting me up on Twitter.

Be sure to check out the past winners of COSFBA's Line of the Day awards and subscribe to its feed, too.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Line of the Day: Dan Uggla: August 12th, 2011

Dan Uggla went 3-for-3 with two home runs to lead the Atlanta Braves to a 10-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs. His first hit, a home run to lead off the second inning, extended his hitting streak to a franchise record 32 games. (video recap)

Line: 3 AB | 3 R | 3 H | 2 RBI; 2 HR | HBP

My fantasy perspective: Uggla's season has definitely been a tale of two halves. His hitting streak actually started prior to the All-Star break, but the numbers are still fascinating. In 92 games prior, he hit .185 with 15 home runs, 34 RBI and a .621 OPS. In 26 games since, he's hitting .371 with 11 home runs, 26 RBI and a 1.122 OPS.

Over the entire span of the streak
, Uggla is batting .370 (47-for-127) with a .379 BABIP, .426 OBP and a .740 SLG. The Braves have gone 19-13 and have a six-game lead in the NL Wild Card standings.

Question: Anyone missing Omar Infante and Mike Dunn now?

Agree? Disagree? Check out ESPN's formula for determining the best daily performances and nominate your own Line of the Day player using the comments section or hitting me up on Twitter.

Be sure to check out the past winners of COSFBA's Line of the Day awards and subscribe to its feed, too.

Friday, August 12, 2011

In The Sabermetric Spotlight: Curtis Granderson

The Power of the Spotlight is @COSFBA points out "Five SABR reports; 2 DL stints. I'll be sure not to suggest you write about any of my studs."

So...40% of the Sabermetric Spotlight articles have ended in a DL stint? This is what I get when I return from vacation? Yikes... Well, at any rate, back to baseball...

There are very few sportscasters that I can stand listening too these days. Either they speak in monotone or they are such big homers it's impossible to listen and enjoy at the same time. I can't even stand listening to my own hometown broadcasters, Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven. Two sportscasters that really stick out as exceptionally annoying in my mind are John Sterling and Ken "Hawk" Harrelson. The reason I bring this up, is because a lot people have been singing praises about this week's Sabermetric Spotlight candidate. Even though I'm not a fan of John Sterling, the guy knows how to turn a home run or great catch into a phrase that will stick with a player for the rest of his career. The Grandy Man Can...and thats why this week we shine the Sabermetric Spotlight on....

Curtis Granderson, OF New York Yankees

I don't think anyone doubted Granderson's potential or skillset. He was a 30/20 guy in 2009 with the Detroit Tigers and he was headed to the powerhouse Yankees. Everyone in pinstripes seems to increase their HR numbers. So what happened to Granderson in 2010? He posted career lows in AVG and OBP, and his lowest RBI and SB numbers since 2008. What gives? Wasn't Granderson supposed to hit the ground running in the Big Apple and become one of the games elite 5-tool players?

There was probably a lot of factors that lead to Grandersons disappointing 2010 campaign. Exactly a year ago, Granderson was on the bench (he was benched 8/10/10 and 8/10/11) and was in danger of becoming part of a platoon with Marcus Thames. Maybe it was the fact that he was thrust into the spotlight in New York, and he wasn't ready for it? Maybe pitchers picked up on a hole in his swing and were exploiting him. What a world of difference one year makes. Granderson is hotter than Waco, TX!

It's clear that Granderson's approach at the plate is the cause for the new found success. Granderson is all but officially a pull-hitter now. Don't believe me? Take a look at the below spray charts, courtesy of Texas Leaguers. The top one is Granderson in 2010 and the bottom is this season so far.

It's pretty obvious that over half of Grandersons hits are coming down the right field line, and a good portion of them are clearing the fence. Grandersons ground-outs are nearly identical between 2010 and 2011, and the vast majority of them are going to somewhere between 1st and 2nd base. Don't think this looks like the typical pull hitters spray chart? Do me a favor, and look up Jim Thome's spray chart, or Mark Teixeira from the left side of the plate.

So Granderson likes to pull the ball. Pitchers should pitch outside with off speed stuff to keep him off balance and prevent him from turning on the ball right? Well, maybe they are, but Granderson is hitting them just the same. Take a look at the heat chart from Fox Sports. I'm no expert, but it looks to me like Granderson is actually hitting pitches middle-away better than inside pitchs. This allows him to extend his arms and get more force into the ball.

Ok, it's reasonable to assume that Granderson has changed his approach at the plate, but that doesn't always translate into success, so what do his peripherals tell us? Maybe Granderson is just having one of those years, and is getting lucky? It wouldn't be the craziest thing that's ever happened *cough - Brady Anderson - cough*.

You might be surprised to find out that Granderson's BABIP isn't all that high. Sure, it's about 20 points higher than his career average (.308 in 2011, .286 over career), but if you were to take out 2009 and 2010 (.275 in 2009, .277 in 2010), it's actually the lowest of his career. Grandersons K% is also at a career high, and his IFH% (Infield Hit Percentage) is the second lowest it's ever been. This doesn't sound like someone who is getting lucky to me, it sounds like someone who is hitting the ball with authority and pitchers haven't adjusted well to his new approach.

Another interesting data set is Grandersons career trends for GB%, FB% and how they relate to his ISO. It appears as though these numbers have been trending, pretty steadily and consistently, over the course of his career.
It's hard to say what Granderson's true value is. In the future, should we expect similar numbers to what he posted last season, or is he closer to the player that he's been this season? I think that his value is somewhere in between, but closer to how he is performing now. Granderson is 30, so it's not as if he's just entering the prime of his career now, so you should temper your expectations for the coming year. I do however, expect him to be a solid keeper or dynasty pick next season.

But wait, what should I do with him if I have him on my roster?

I'm glad you asked! If I were you, I would sell like I've never sold before. I would be willing to bet that by seasons end, Granderson will post his best career numbers. Not to date, rather the best he will post in his entire career. I don't see Granderson ever hitting 40 HR after this season. His counting stats are through the roof, and I've heard of people offering trades including everything but the kitchen sink to get Granderson. If you can get 1st round value for him, now is the time to make that deal. If your in a single season, non-keeper leauge, you might want to ride him out, as I said, he's having the best year of his career.

Have a question or comment? Want to suggest the next player featured In The Sabermetric Spotlight? Leave a comment below or drop me a line on Twitter @SillyLittleGame.

Line of the Day: Albert Pujols: August 11th, 2011

Albert Pujols went 4-for-4 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 5-2 victory over the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers. The homer was his 28th of the season and tied him with fellow Cardinal Lance Berkman for the NL lead. (video recap)

Line: 4 AB | 2 R | 4 H | 2 RBI; HR

My fantasy perspective: Pujols is having the worst offensive season of his entire 11 year career. He's on pace for only 38 home runs, 99 RBI and 107 runs scored with a .284 batting average. ONLY! His current numbers (.284/78/28/72/6) are enough to rank him as the third-best first baseman in fantasy baseball behind only Adrian Gonzalez (1st) and Prince Fielder (2nd) but ahead of Joey Votto (4th).

A deeper look into his numbers show his BB% of 8.5% is well below his career rate of 13.2% and his current BABIP of .256 is also well below his career .311 mark. He's also hitting less line drives, more ground balls and fewer fly balls this season than compared to his career norms.

Be careful when referring to Pujols as having a "down year" without putting it into the context of what a "down year" means for him. Most players will never have a "career year" as good as Albert's worst season.

Question: Which team "breaks the bank" to sign Pujols this offseason?

Agree? Disagree? Check out ESPN's formula for determining the best daily performances and nominate your own Line of the Day player using the comments section or hitting me up on Twitter.

Be sure to check out the past winners of COSFBA's Line of the Day awards and subscribe to its feed, too.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Line of the Day: Jason Kipnis: August 10th, 2011

Jason Kipnis went 5-for-5 with a double, a home run, three RBI and four runs scored to power the Cleveland Indians to a 10-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Ubaldo Jimenez's home debut. Kipnis now has six home runs, the first six of his career, over his last 10 games. (video recap)

Line: 5 AB | 4 R | 5 H | 3 RBI; 2B | HR

My fantasy perspective: Kipnis started slow (2-for-17 in his first six games) but has been on fire over his last 10 games. He's gone 16-for-44 (.364 BA) with three doubles, six home runs, 10 RBI and 13 runs scored and a .417 OBP and a .841 SLG. Those numbers are good enough to rank him second overall for fantasy second basemen over the last 15 days behind only Dan Uggla, who's currently riding a 31-game hitting streak.

You'd better move quickly to the waiver wire if you need second base or middle infielder help because his ownership numbers are on the rise! He's now owned in 58.6% of ESPN leagues, 27% of Yahoo! leagues and 56% of CBS leagues.

Agree? Disagree? Check out ESPN's formula for determining the best daily performances and nominate your own Line of the Day player using the comments section or hitting me up on Twitter.

Be sure to check out the past winners of COSFBA's Line of the Day awards and subscribe to its feed, too.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Line of the Day: James Shields: August 9th, 2011

James Shields allowed six hits and struck out eight, leading the Tampa Bay Rays to a 4-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals. It was his major league-leading eighth complete games and fourth shutout this season. (video recap)

Line: 9 IP | 6 H | 0 ER | 3 BB | 8 K; W | QS | CG | SHO

My fantasy perspective: Shields looks to be on pace for a 15-win season with a sub-3.00 ERA and a WHIP near 1.10 with well over 200 strikeouts. What more could you ask for from a guy with an ADP over 200 in ESPN and Yahoo! leagues?

A deeper look into his numbers show an ERA of 2.80, a FIP of 3.34 and an xFIP of 3.17 with a BABIP against of .265. An elevated K% (24.1% 2011; 20.1% career) is a positive sign but he also has an elevated BB% (6.9% 2011; 5.5% career) which hasn't hurt him much since he's allowing a career-low 7.1 H/9.

Check out this Plate Discipline chart from FanGraphs. Not much is different from prior years.

Question: What factors have lead to Shields becoming such a dominate starting pitcher in 2011?

Agree? Disagree? Check out ESPN's formula for determining the best daily performances and nominate your own Line of the Day player using the comments section or hitting me up on Twitter.

Be sure to check out the past winners of COSFBA's Line of the Day awards and subscribe to its feed, too.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Line of the Day: David Ortiz: August 8th, 2011

David Ortiz went 4-for-5 with a double, home run and go-ahead single with two outs in the ninth inning to lead the Boston Red Sox to an 8-6 victory over the Minnesota Twins. In 42 career games against the Twins, he's hitting .327 with 11 homers and 31 RBI. (video recap)

Line: 5 AB | 3 R | 4 H | 3 RBI; 2B | HR

My fantasy perspective: Ortiz has put up a standard 5x5 line of .295/62/22/74/1 and is on pace for a .295/88/31/105/1 season. Not bad for a player drafted, on average, 135th in ESPN leagues, 156th in Yahoo! leagues and 127th in CBS leagues. He's currently ranked 43rd overall according to ESPN's Player Rater tool.

At 35 years of age, it's amazing to see his K% drop to a career-low of 12.9%. To put that in perspective, his K% in 1997 was 37.3% and 48% in 1999 (small sample size). He's still striking out much lass than his 18.4% career rate.

Question: Do the Red Sox owe it to "Big Papi" to reward him with the two-year contract he's seeking after this season or do they simply let him walk away as a free agent?

Agree? Disagree? Check out ESPN's formula for determining the best daily performances and nominate your own Line of the Day player using the comments section or hitting me up on Twitter.

Be sure to check out the past winners of COSFBA's Line of the Day awards and subscribe to its feed, too.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Line of the Day: Jake Peavy: August 7th, 2011

Jake Peavy allowed just three hits, no walks and struck out six in eight scoreless innings to lead the Chicago White Sox to a 7-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins. It was his longest outing since May 18th. (video recap)

Line: 8 IP | 3 H | 0 ER | 0 BB | 6 K; W | QS

My fantasy perspective: Owned in just 32% of ESPN and 39% of Yahoo! leagues, most fantasy owners have  given up on Peavy in 2011. He's only recorded a Quality Start in five of 13 starts and would be best used as a spot starter. Good luck catching lightning in a bottle. The odds aren't in your favor.

Question: Are Peavy's best years behind him or can he return to a Cy Young-caliber pitcher again?

Agree? Disagree? Check out ESPN's formula for determining the best daily performances and nominate your own Line of the Day player using the comments section or hitting me up on Twitter.

Be sure to check out the past winners of COSFBA's Line of the Day awards and subscribe to its feed, too.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Line of the Day: Cole Hamels: August 6th, 2011

Cole Hamels allowed seven hits, one run and struck out five to earn his second complete game of the season in leading the Philadelphia Phillies to a 2-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants. He had pitched 8 2/3 shutout innings before allowing a home run to Pablo Sandoval(video recap)

Line: 9 IP | 7 H | 1 ER | 0 BB | 5 K; W | QS | CG

My fantasy perspective: Hamels raised his record to 13-6 and lowered his ERA to 2.53 (with a 2.62 FIP and a 2.85 xFIP). His 0.96 WHIP is now fourth-best in the majors and leads the National League, too.

A deeper look into his numbers on FanGraphs show his K% of 23% is right in line with his career percentage of 23.1% but his BB% of 4.8% is well below his career percentage of 6.2%, leading to a career-best K/BB ratio of 4.84.

Statement of fact: Cole Hamels is having a better year, statistically speaking, than Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.

Agree? Disagree? Check out ESPN's formula for determining the best daily performances and nominate your own Line of the Day player using the comments section or hitting me up on Twitter.

Be sure to check out the past winners of COSFBA's Line of the Day awards and subscribe to its feed, too.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Line of the Day: Jered Weaver: August 5th, 2011

Jered Weaver pitched nine scoreless innings, giving up seven hits while striking out eight and walking just one, receiving a no-decision in the Los Angeles Angels' 1-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners in 10 innings. It was the second time this season he's pitched nine scoreless innings and received a no-decision. (video recap)

Line: 9 IP | 7 H | 0 ER | 1 BB | 8 K; QS | ND

My fantasy perspective: Weaver lowered his ERA to a major league-best 1.78 but has a FIP of 2.57 and a nearly-doubled xFIP of 3.54. I'm sorry but I just don't see ANY regression coming. Since losing four straight starts in May, he's gone 8-1 in 14 starts with a 1.35 ERA with an 85/24 K/BB ratio. Over that span, batters are hitting .198 with a .244 OBP and a .282 SLG against him.

In standard fantasy baseball leagues, Wins, ERA, WHIP and Strikeouts all what matter and Weaver is getting it done in each of those categories. He's tied for third in wins (14), first in ERA (1.78), third in WHIP (0.94) and tied for seventh-most strikeouts (150).

Weaver is currently the second-ranked fantasy starting pitcher, according to ESPN's Player Rater, behind only Justin Verlander and the sixth-ranked player overall.

Question: Weaver finished fifth in the 2010 AL Cy Young Award voting. Where does he finish in 2011?

Agree? Disagree? Check out ESPN's formula for determining the best daily performances and nominate your own Line of the Day player using the comments section or hitting me up on Twitter.

Be sure to check out the past winners of COSFBA's Line of the Day awards and subscribe to its feed, too.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Warming In The 'Pen: NL Edition: August 5th, 2011

Welcome back! Apologies for the lateness of the article... Things outside of COSFBA have been a little hectic lately and I've been somewhat under the weather myself (damn heat wave). I'll endeavor to keep things as close to normal as possible here, though likely shorter.

There's been very little movement Waiver Wire-wise with the back end of the 'pens since the first of the month. The Mike Adams trade was the biggest one and it did shake up the Padres' bullpen.  However, who knows what the next few weeks will hold.

Let's have a review of last week's names:
  • Brian Wilson only appeared in two games over the last week, due to blow-outs both by and against the Giants. He picked up a save and a loss in 1.1 innings, giving up a run on three hits while walking one and striking out two. Friday's game was the first game he allowed a run since before the All-Star Break, so we shouldn't read anything more into it than a closer having an off night.
  • Adams was shuttled off from the San Diego Padres to the Texas Rangers. While it's hard to judge a trade this early, especially across leagues, here's the splits: in his last appearance with the Padres, he pitched an inning allowing a hit and a strikeout. He got the hold in that game. In his first appearance with the Rangers, he pitched an inning allowing a run and two hits, getting a punchout and allowing a walk. Like with the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, it's going to be hard to see immediate impact when coming from the opposite league. Once he has time to adjust (3-to-4 weeks, in my opinion), he should be back to near-dominance.
  • Antonio Bastardo wound up in four games in the last week, winning two and picking up two holds. He only gave up a run on three hits in 3.1 innings, fanning four. He did allow a longball in last night's 8-6 win over Colorado, but such a thing is a rarity this season (he's only allowed three on the season). His and Ryan Madson's work are pivotal to keep Philly atop the NL East.
  • Henry Rodriguez worked in a little longer relief last week, logging 4.1 innings in two games. He gave up a run on a hit, walking one and striking out five. There haven't been any clear or consistent signs of his performances improving; flashes here and there. There might be continued hope for him, but right now all signs point to not much improvement.
 Now, let's get some names out there for this week:
  • "Doing Work" - J.J. Putz (ARI): J.J. has been having a solid season as the D-Backs closer, helping keep them within a game of the Division-leading (and World Champion) Giants. His last week reads dominantly: 2.2 innings pitched in three appearances, zero runs on three hits with a walk. He grabbed three saves, running his season total to 25. He is coming off the DL after to a right elbow injury, and isn't showing any ill-effects aside from a slight drop in fastball velocity (1 MPH) which right now could be contributed to 'rust'. The D-Backs had no problems throwing him in three straight games, but will likely rest him for a bit and let Arizona's solid set-up man David Hernandez close as needed. Expect that trend to continue for likely the next month as Putz works his arm (and elbow) back to shape and normal routine. J.J. will still be good for late innings, and will be relied upon for the high-leverage situations as the hunt for the Playoffs builds to a climax.
  • "Unsung Hero" - Heath Bell (SD): While the Padres are pretty well out of the hunt for the Playoffs this year, you wouldn't know it looking at Heath. 30+ saves with a sub-2.50 ERA, hitters batting .210 against him. Last week's line reads brilliantly as well: three games, three innings, no runs, one hit, three punchouts. Most of this with the trade winds swirling around him and Mike Adams (who was the eventual 'odd man out'), and in the midst of a relatively dreadful San Diego season. The Padres have been playing a little better lately than their record indicates, and Buddy Black is not a manager to "mail-in" a season, so expect Heath to get plenty of work in for the rest of the year. He'll make it all count, even though it may be way too late to bail out the leaky boat of the '11 San Diego Padres season.
  • "Heart-Attack Award" - Jason Isringhausen (NYM): Izzy got roughed up over his last week. He appeared in four games, four innings pitched. He allowed six runs on six hits, one walk, five strikeouts, and saved two games. He's up to 298 saves on his career, and I will stand behind him getting #300 on a Mets uniform (there were some trade winds swirling for him, and some still say he might still move over the Waiver Wire). However, he isn't a spring chicken anymore. New York is still on the outside edge of a Wild-Card spot, and will be playing like it. Izzy's in line to log more innings in a season than he has since his '07 Cardinals campaign, and it's going to wear on his arm pretty good at this point. The Mets seem to be riding Izzy for all he's worth, and I'm looking to see a fade within the next month and a half. Whether they stick it out with Izzy, or use a fresher (and younger) Bobby Parnell for the stretch run, will be decided by the standings.
  • "ZOMBIE!" - Rex Brothers (COL):The Colorado Rockies setup man has been having a first year in the Big Leagues to... well... remember, but probably not for the reasons he'd want to. Up until the last week, he was running along pretty well. But then this happened: four appearances, three innings, six runs, five hits, two walks, six Ks. That equals out to two losses and a blown save. While there's pretty much nothing to go on (3 years of Minors work), Rex is next-in-line for the closer role, apparently by his merits. He's on-pace to pitch more innings than he has in pretty much any level of the Minors. Brothers could either be reduced in workload, or shut down completely because of it. It's extremely difficult to predict future performance on a rookie, so I would have to say that Rex is a "wait til next year" candidate and find your holds elsewhere.
Here's hoping for a return to normal next week!

Line of the Day: Cliff Lee: August 4th, 2011

Cliff Lee threw a seven-hit shutout, striking out eight and not allowing a walk, in a 3-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants. It was his fifth complete game of the season and his major league-leading fifth shutout. (video recap)

Line: 9 IP | 7 H | 0 ER | 0 BB | 8 K; W | QS | CG | SHO

My fantasy perspective: According to FanGraphs' leaderboards, Lee is tied for the sixth-highest K% (Strikeouts/Total Batters Faced) in the majors at 25.3%. Of those six players, he has the lowest BB% at 4.8%. That rate ties him for the sixth-lowest BB% in the majors, too. So it should be no surprised that he has the third-best K/BB ratio in the majors at 5.22 behind Roy Halladay (7.95) and Dan Haren (5.67).

Speaking of Lee's strikeouts, he's on pace for 34 starts, 239 innings and 244 strikeouts. Those numbers would tie a career-high for regular season starts, set a new career-high for innings pitched (231.2 in 2009) and SHATTER his career-high for strikeouts (185 in 2010).

Question: Is the one-two-three punch of Halladay, Lee and Cole Hamels the best in baseball?

Agree? Disagree? Check out ESPN's formula for determining the best daily performances and nominate your own Line of the Day player using the comments section or hitting me up on Twitter.

Be sure to check out the past winners of COSFBA's Line of the Day awards and subscribe to its feed, too.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Line of the Day: Casey McGehee: August 3rd, 2011

Casey McGehee homered three times off Edwin Jackson and drove in five runs to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a 10-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. It was the second multi-homer game of his career and became the 11th player in franchise history to hit three home runs in a game. (video recap)

Line: 4 AB | 3 R | 3 H | 5 RBI; 3 HR

My fantasy perspective: McGehee was the ninth third baseman drafted off the board with an ADP of 90.7 in ESPN drafts coming off a .285/23/104 season in 2010. It's safe to say he's been a huge disappointment up until this point in the season. He currently ranks 32nd of all third base eligible players with his .240/34/8/48/0 5x5 fantasy line.

He was 7-for-14 in this series against the Cardinals and hitting .300 (24-for-80) with four home runs and 15 RBI over the last 30 days.

For a position which has been decimated by injuries and under-performing players, now might be the time to pick up McGehee if he's still sitting out there on waivers. His low ownership numbers (46% ESPN; 50% Yahoo!; 66% CBS) prove owners have given up and looked elsewhere. Here's hoping he puts up numbers over the last two months of the season fantasy owners hoped for on draft day.

Agree? Disagree? Check out ESPN's formula for determining the best daily performances and nominate your own Line of the Day player using the comments section or hitting me up on Twitter.

Be sure to check out the past winners of COSFBA's Line of the Day awards and subscribe to its feed, too.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fantasy Baseball Investment Market: It's a Sellers Market!

Ubaldo Jimenez, Cleveland Indians
Why would you move your ace for prospects? Only reason it makes sense is that you are trying to sell high. I've been saying all season long that Ubaldo is not the same pitcher he was before the All-Star break last season. Yes, he has shown flashes of brilliance this season but the same can be said of any starting pitcher in the game. If you can find a manager who feels that a change of scenery is just what Jimenez needs to get back on track…take advantage. There is nothing suggesting the Ubaldo of old is coming back soon, if ever. Colorado was smart to unload him while he still held value. You'd be smart to do the same.

SELL Ubaldo has been showing signs of wear of tear since last season. His velocity has been notably down all of 2011. I still maintain there is an injury hiding somewhere. Unfortantely for Cleveland, it still hasn't presented itself.

Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
"The Freak" has traditionally had terrible Augusts but his performances leading up to the month have usually been money in the bank. This season, he's starting to show signs of weakness.

The first red flag is his walk rates have increased in each of the past three seasons:
2009 2.72 BB9 / 7.5 BB%
2010 3.22 BB9 / 8.5 BB%
2011 3.56 BB9 / 9.6 BB%

In addition, his K/9 (still at elite levels) are trending downward:
2009 10.42
2010 9.79
2011 9.64

Anytime I see pitcher with trends opposite of what I want to see, I get nervous. If I see that pitcher's bottom line being affected by the aforementioned, I start to panic. Lincecum already has nine losses this season. He had ten losses last season and only seven losses the year before. If you can unload him based on name value alone, do it. If you're in a keeper league, I still suggest the same course of action.

SELL! The leak in the hull is still small enough that many probably haven't noticed yet. This ship is going down.

Carl Crawford, Boston Red Sox
You don't need me to tell you Crawford has been a major bust this season. You don't need me to tell you that Crawford has always had trouble with left-handed pitching. Did you know: Fenway has generally provided major trouble for left-handed hitters in the past? He left his comfy situation in Tropicana for a payday with a chance at winning it all with Boston. He may get his ring but he won't be the reason why the Red Sox win one.

2009 672PA / 15HR / 60SB / .305AVG / .816OPS
2010 663PA / 19HR / 47SB / .307AVG / .851OPS
2011 338PA / 7HR / 12SB / .245AVG / .659OPS

In 2011, he's hitting .139 vs LHP / .292 vs RHP and .250 Home / .238 Away
In 2010, he hit .254 vs LHP / .329 vs RHP and .295 Home / .311 Away
In 2009, he hit .269 vs LHP / .322 vs RHP and .295 Home / .315 Away

This is a guy whose value lies not only in his speed but in his ability to hit for power. If you take away his 20 HR potential and .800+ OPS, he's merely a high priced Michael Bourn. Take away his speed and he's practically worthless in fantasy. In some circles, his name value and previous draft position may still hold weight. If this is the case and you can sell him fifty-cents on the dollar, you should do it. Yes, he was slightly injured some this season but his struggles began long before we started to hear any excuses for poor performance. This is not a player who is going to rebound anytime soon.

2011 (by month)
March/April 1 HR / 4 SB / .155 BA
May 3 HR / 3 SB / .301 BA
June 2 HR / 1 SB / .278 BA
July 0 HR / 4 SB / .250 BA
August 1 HR / 0 SB / .250 BA

SELL! A speed/power guy with limited power and no speed who can't hit lefties and plays in a lefty killing park is worth what to you? Get rid of him.

Have questions, comments or suggestions for future articles? Please use the comments section below or hit me up on Twitter @SheriffStathead.

Line of the Day: Ricky Romero: August 2nd, 2011

Ricky Romero allowed one hit, a solo home run to Desmond Jennings in the sixth inning, over eight innings while striking out seven and walking four to lead the Toronto Blue Jays to a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. It was Romero's 16th Quality Start in 22 attempts. (video recap)

Line: 8 IP | 1 H | 1 ER | 4 BB | 7 K; W | QS

My fantasy perspective: Romero continues to mature as a pitcher and his numbers are proving it. His ERA is down (2.98). His WHIP is down (1.20). His H/9 is down (7.3). His K/9 is up (7.9). And his K/BB is up (2.25). These are all positive signs of good things to come for the 26 year old left-hander.

Romero is currently the 20th-ranked fantasy baseball starting pitcher, ahead of guys like Michael Pineda (21st), David Price (22nd), Jon Lester (23rd) and Tim Hudson (24th). Quite the output for a player with an ADP of 194.3 in ESPN leagues.

Question: What's it going to take (short-term and/or long-term) for Blue Jays to supplant the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays as roadblocks to a divisional title or wild card berth?

Agree? Disagree? Check out ESPN's formula for determining the best daily performances and nominate your own Line of the Day player using the comments section or hitting me up on Twitter.

Be sure to check out the past winners of COSFBA's Line of the Day awards and subscribe to its feed, too.

Warming In The 'Pen: AL Edition

The Trade Deadline has come and gone, and while several big moves were conspired (I'll probably write my thoughts on Ubaldo Jimenez in a future article), the back end of most 'pens stayed intact. The Rangers added major depth with Mike Adams and Koji Uehara as they try and repeat once more as the AL Champions. Brad Ziegler, former Oakland A, has been shuttled off to Arizona. Other than that, stability reigned in the AL. Certainly there's bound to be Waiver Wire activity in the coming weeks, and I'm sure we'll have more news as it comes.

But for now, let's look at last week's performers:
  • Jonathan Papelbon saw action in one game this past week, where he slammed the door on the Chicago White Sox in a perfect ninth inning. He struck out the side, and notched his 24th save of the season.
  • Grant Balfour came into three games, pitched three innings, and only allowed two hits. He also got two knockouts, but no holds or saves as the games (all wins) were already well-in-hand.
  • Andrew Bailey showed up in two games (like Balfour's games, both well-in-hand so no saves), and gave up an unearned run on two hits in two innings pitched. He fanned three in the midsts of his work.
  • Jordan Walden managed to get a save in two games, allowing two hits and getting two punch-outs. The Indians made his save very interesting (as Joakim Soria and Daniel Bard can attest to), but he managed to pull it out.
And this week's winners and losers:
  • "Doing Work" - Mariano Rivera (NYY): In an occurrence that's of no surprise to anyone (100% ownership in ESPN leagues), Mo has been putting together a season to compare with the best ones of his career. A 1.74 ERA (4th lowest in his career), a 7.40 K/BB ratio (2nd best), a 0.6% HR (2nd best), and he's averaging 14 pitches per game in relief, the best in his career. I really don't have to say much about Mo. He's 41, still dealing over 90 MPH on his heat, and his numbers over the last 4 seasons have been much better than his career averages. He does seem to be getting hit more easily (.294 BAbip this season vs. .264 career), but with a FIP this year of 1.88 (right in line with his season ERA, 0.87 better than his career average, and the best in his career), he is still an insanely effective pitcher. He has 587 saves on his career, and knowing the Yankees and their fight in the AL East, he will hit 600 before the season's end. I'm not a Yankee fan, but I do know a superstar player when I see one. Mo is one for the ages.
  • "Unsung Hero" - David Robertson (NYY): Behind every great closer, there's usually a great set-up man. In the real-life Gotham City, Mo's Batman is accompanied by 'Robin' Robertson. David has only been in the Bigs for four years, so saying a season is his best so far isn't difficult. However, the amount of improvement he's shown has been amazing. His ERA this year is 1.90 below his average, his FIP is 1.35 lower, and his WHIP (while not impressive) is 0.11 lower. His LOB % (85.5), GB % (46.0), and K/9 ratio (14.46) are all much higher than his career marks. He's picked up 2 MPH on his fastball, almost 3 MPH on his curve, and a touch over 3 MPH on his changeup. He has a wide range of speeds, and has enough control to get batters to slap ground balls down. Plus, there's the fact of him not giving up a single home run all season. He's grabbed 21 holds for the year so far, so he's definitely worth a pick-up in holds and deep leagues. He could be next in line to take over closing duties after Mo retires. If he continues on his upward trend, the drop-off after Rivera will be much, much less than I think anyone anticipates.
  • "Heart Attack Award" - Neftali Feliz (TEX): There may have been a reason behind the Rangers' acquisition of Adams and Uehara, and it might be to back Feliz up in a possible "closer-by-committee" situation if he continues to struggle. I know I've written about Feliz before. At the time, I wrote that he'd possibly be coming around. Well, so far, not so good: a loss (and a blown save in the process) and a save in his last two games. He gave up two runs on three hits in 1.1 innings pitched, with a walk and a strikeout. Yes, as I stated before, he's coming off a horrible month of June. His month of July wasn't great: 0-1 record, 5 Sv, 4.00 ERA, 9 IP in 10 G, 7 H, 4 BB, 5 Ks. While it was an improvement on June, there's still a lot of work to get back to the sub-2.00 ERAs of April and May. His last 28 days numbers (save the ERA) are trending more towards his '11 season numbers, so there is still a chance for Feliz to pull it together and end his season strong. There may be less pressure on Feliz in this pennant race now that Adams and Uehara are both Rangers, but I don't see a change in the role of closer unless Feliz completely falls on his face.
  • "ZOMBIE!" - Jon Rauch (TOR): The Blue Jays do have an outside chance at the Playoffs: only 10.5 games out of the Wild Card lead, and an above-.500 record. If they were in the AL Central, they'd be tied with the Indians at two games out of the lead. However, Jon Rauch isn't exactly helping them get there. Over his last three games (2.2 IP), he's given up two runs on three hits, only grabbing two strikeouts. With a WHIP of 1.500, an OPS of .876 and a BAbip of .357 over the last four weeks, it's really doubtful that this is just a 'phase'. With a low GB% (36.6), a high HR/9 ratio (1.62), and a FIP of almost 5 (4.82), there's something more to all of this. Rauch has lost speed on all his pitches (1.5 MPH on his fastball alone) along with an increased reliance on his changeup (10.7% this year, up from 6.2% a year ago). The problem comes into effect when you consider his average fastball is at 89.4 MPH, his average slider is 84.6 MPH, and his average changeup is 83.7 MPH. A 5.7 MPH difference between a pitcher's hard stuff and his "finesse" pitches is definitely not a good thing, and tends to get him hit hard. The unfortunate thing is that the next-in-line for the closer role, Frank Francisco, is not much better. The Jays may want to consider a Waiver Wire move for 'pen help, or any hope of Playoffs for them is moot.
 The NL will be on report on Thursday as usual. As always, comment below or hit me up on Twitter at @JCPronkFan48.