There has been a lot of action over the past week with players being sent down to the minors (Max Scherzer), players hitting the DL (Brad Lidge) and players hitting big-time cold streaks (Jose Guillen). Which, if any, of these players might be worth a look for your fantasy team?
Jose Guillen -29.8 percent
I mentioned a while back
, when Guillen was red hot to start the season, that he was a very streaky hitter. Well, you got the hot streak and here’s the cold streak. Guillen is hitting only .170 this month with only one home run after hitting seven bombs in April. Two years ago, his last healthy season, Guillen hit .345 with seven home runs in June. He didn’t hit more than four in any other month. While there is still a chance that he finds another hot streak at some point this season, Guillen is not worth keeping on your roster until such a time.
Brad Lidge -25.2 percent
Lidge experienced discomfort in his throwing elbow and was sent back to Philadelphia for testing. Since then he has been placed on the DL. Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectustags Lidge with an expected return date of May 30th, but notes that such elbow discomfort is very likely to flare up once again. As long as Jose Contreras continues to shut down the oppositionthere is no reason for the Phillies to simply give Lidge his job back. If you have the DL spot, use it and wait for more information. If not, cut him lose if you’re be considering another roster addition.
Max Scherzer -18.5 percent
Browsing through Twitter this morning I noticed someone had posted a question
to MLB.com’s Fantasy 411. The question was about Max Scherzer’s demotion and if it could be compared to the demotion of Ricky Nolasco last season. Apparently that will be covered on the 411 show on MLBN this afternoon, but my initial reaction was no.
The most frustrating thing about Ricky Nolasco last season was the fact that his strikeout numbers were consistently high and walk numbers consistently low, yet despite that he allowed too many home runs and fell victim to an inflated BABIP. This is not the case with Max Scherzer. Scherzer’s strikeout rate is below league average right now (5.57 K/9) and he’s walking just as many hitters as he has in year’s past, which was about league average. His velocity is also down across the board, which has made him very hittable (83 percent contact rate against). There have been reports that Scherzer has lost his mechanics and, in particular, his arm slot. These are things that can be worked out in the minors, but there are much worse indicators at play here than there were from Ricky Nolasco last season.
Brian Matusz -18.4 percent
Matusz started out on the right track this season, posting very impressive strikeout numbers early on. Things haven’t been as impressive lately, but his six earned run outing against Minnesota was by far his worst outing of the year. When we take a step back and look at the big picture, Matusz is still posting some impressive peripheral stats. Both his 7.42 K/9 and 3.43 BB/9 are slightly better than league average and he’s been a bit unlucky given his .351 BABIP against. His FIP stands at an impressive 3.20 and there is a ton of upside in his stuff. If you are looking for a cheap free agent option and Matusz is available, he’s worth the gamble.
Jose Lopez -13.5 percent
Could history be repeating itself? Last season Jose Lopez hit .253 in April and .214 in May. He then went on to hit .329 in June and .302 in July while seeing an increase in power production for the rest of the season. Lopez is a free swinger, which can lead to some lengthy slumps, but the start of this season has been abnormally rude to his stats. Despite a line drive rate of 20.8 percent, Lopez is currently sporting an extremely low .240 BABIP. While he may not reach the level of production he did last season, now would be a great time to buy low for a little power production and infield position flexibility.
Wandy Rodriguez -9.5 percent
Owners have been worrying about Wandy-Rod for a while now and with good reason. Other than the ERA, Rodriguez has seen a drop in strikeouts and 49 hits allowed in 39.1 innings pitched. Last year Wandy posted a 5.90 ERA in June and a 4.00 ERA in August, but was lights out the rest of the time. The problem is that at no point during those rough stretches did his K/9 fall below 7.5. With a current K/9 of 5.95, one has to wonder if Wandy’s magic is gone.
Wandy is, after all, a late bloomer (31-years-old) and he did see an increase of 62.1 innings from 2008 to 2009. The problem is location right now as his strike:ball ratio is on pace to be his worst in three years. Could that be a product of the innings increase?
There is reason for hope: a current .351 BABIP against is sure to regress some. However, there isn’t a ton of run support to go around in Houston and wins may be hard to come by. If you are thinking of buying low on Wandy, be sure to get a significant discounted rate. While there is hope for improvement, there seems little chance of him reaching his 2008 or 2009 levels of value.