Fantasy Baseball: Buy And Sell-Pitchers
As April begins to wind down, fantasy baseball owners may be ready to overhaul their entire roster due to poor results or are crossing their fingers that everyone stays healthy on a dominant roster. That said, these two sets of owners and everyone else in between can benefit by recognizing when to buy-low and sell-high on players.
Here is this week’s edition of “Buy And Sell” for pitchers, which can be among the more volatile positions on any roster.
Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Houston Astros- Rodriguez had a 7.31 ERA over his first three starts of the season, but allowed just one run on three hits over seven innings against the New York Mets on Tuesday night. His peripheral numbers have been strong, with 18 strikeouts and just six walks in his 23 innings this season, so continued success is entirely possible. His next start is scheduled for Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers, so things will not be quite as easy for him as they were against the Mets. If he does happen to have a mediocre or poor outing, fantasy owners may have an even better buying opportunity on Rodriguez.
James Shields, SP, Tampa Bay Rays- Shields was excellent against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night, as he threw a complete game and allowed just one run on four hits while striking out nine and walking just one. He has now allowed two earned runs or less in three out of four starts this season as he tries to put his dismal 2010 campaign (13-15, 5.18 ERA) behind him. Shields has proven durable over the past four seasons, making 30 or more starts and topping 200 innings each season. If his current owner in your league is still blinded by last season’s poor surface stats, a shrewd fantasy owner may still have a nice buying opportunity. Shields’ next start is slated for Easter Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Brian Matusz, SP, Baltimore Orioles- Matusz has yet to pitch this season due to an intercostal strain, but recent reports have suggested he is beginning to make progress toward a return. He is expected to throw a couple times over the next few days, and may begin a minor league rehab stint if he is deemed ready to do so. There is currently no timetable for Matusz to return to action, but fantasy owners may be able to make a deal with his current discouraged owner in their league if they themselves have the roster space.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, SP, Boston Red Sox- Matsuzaka had by far his best outing of the season on Monday against the Toronto Blue Jays, as he allowed just one hit over seven scoreless innings. That effort lowered his ERA to 6.43 through three starts (14 innings) this season. Inconsistency has plagued Matsuzaka throughout his time with the Red Sox, so his trade value may never be higher than it is right now. His next outing is scheduled for Saturday against the Angels, and another strong effort could make him even better trade bait if you have him on your roster. Or you could try to trade him today, and roll the “Daisuke” that Monday’s performance was an aberration and not a sign of a turnaround.
Joe Nathan, RP, Minnesota Twins- Nathan blew two saves in three days late last week, leading to him being replaced by Matt Capps as Twins’ closer. Nathan missed all of 2010 after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, and may not be quite back to 100 percent yet. In his most recent appearance, Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles, Nathan allowed a three-run homer to Vladimir Guerrero in what was essentially mop-up duty in an eventual 11-0 loss for Minnesota. What exactly Nathan’s role in the Twins’ bullpen will be for the foreseeable future is unknown at this point. That makes him a tradeable commodity if you have an owner in your league willing to speculate he will regain his pre-injury form and move back into the ninth inning at some point this season.
Ryan Franklin, RP, St. Louis Cardinals- Franklin has been removed from the closer role in St. Louis after blowing his fourth save of the season last weekend, and promptly gave up a home run earlier this week in his first opportunity in a non-save situation. He may have a long way to go to get the ninth inning back, but the other options the Cardinals have (Mitchell Boggs, Jason Motte, Miguel Batista) don’t seem that exciting. That said, Franklin will have to pitch well in his new role for Cardinals’ manager Tony La Russa to consider putting him back into the closer role. If you currently have him on your roster and have an owner in your league willing to gamble he’ll get his job back, now may be the time to deal Franklin.