Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sit or Start: Jonathan Sanchez vs Los Angeles Dodgers 4/13/2011

In the 3rd start of the young 2011 season (4/13/2011, 10:15 ET), Jonathan Sanchez draws the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 2nd time, looking to avenge the loss he took at Dodger Stadium on his own turf, at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Jonathan Sanchez vs Dodgers
Historically, Sanchez owns a very flawed set of numbers against the Dodgers, but he went 2-0 in his last 2 starts against the hated rivals in 2010 allowing just 7 hits, 1 walk, and 1 earned run on a solo home run, while striking out a total of 21 batters in 14 innings. Including the first start of the 2011 season, Sanchez owns a 2-1 record with 14 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 1 HR, and 29 K in 19 2/3 IP.

Jonathan Sanchez vs Dodgers Batters
3 of the 8 Dodgers regulars have a better than .300 AVG in at least 10 AB against Sanchez (Jamey Carroll, Rod Barajas, and Matt Kemp) while the rest of the bats are batting no better than .167 with significant number of ABs.

Trends and Injuries
The Giants have lost 4 out of 6 games against Dodgers in the 2011 season, dropping 3 out of 4 in the first series and splitting the first 2 games of the current 3-game series.

Despite giving up just 2 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings during his first match up (4/1/2011) against the Dodgers, Sanchez took the loss as the Giants defense committed 2 crucial errors (including his own) and offense generated just 3 runs against Chad Billingsley and the Dodgers bullpen.

Sanchez did give up 7 hits and issued 3 bases on balls, but he limited the earned runs allowed by dialing up 8 strikeouts, picking off Rafael Furcal, and inducing a double play while allowing base runners in all but one of the frames he pitched in.

Carroll will continue to step in for the injured (broken thumb) Furcal for the Dodgers, probably improving both the Dodgers' offense and defense.

Opposing Pitcher
Ted Lilly gets his 3rd start of the season for the Dodgers and will try to complete 5 innings for the first time in 2011. In his last start against the Giants, Lily gave up 4 ER on 6 H in just 4 2/3 IP and took the loss.

The Call: Start
Sanchez's recent numbers against the Dodgers and utter domination of 66% of the Dodgers starting lineup during his career begs for the start despite the ugly career numbers.

Prediction: W, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 10 K.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Start or Sit: C.J. Wilson at Tigers 4/12/2011

C.J. Wilson vs Tigers
In his seventh year as a Texas Ranger pitcher - second as a starting pitcher - C.J. Wilson has only faced the Detroit Tigers on just 6 relief occasions, for no more than a single inning at a time. In 4.2 IP, Wilson has compiled a horrific 5.79 ERA 1.71 WHIP off .263 BAA along with 1 HR 3 BB and an impressive 7 K.

Looking closer into the numbers, all 3 earned runs came in a single disastrous inning in 2009 where Wilson was only able to record 2 outs while giving up 6 runs total on 4 H, 1 IBB where the Tigers batted around the order, aided by 2 Rangers' errors. Of the 7 batters faced 3 are still in Tigers uniform with Brandon Inge being the only one to do real damage (solo HR).

In the rest of 4 IP outside of the nightmarish inning, Wilson has compiled 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, while notching a save and hold.

C.J. Wilson vs Tigers Batters
Outside of Victor Martinez (.188 AVG .263 OBP .250 SLG in 16 AB) and Jhonny Peralta (.077/.077/.154 in 13 AB), Wilson has faced just three others Tigers regulars in Brandon Inge, Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez (combined 1 for 5 with 1 BB, 1 HR, and 2 K).

Trends and Injuries
The Texas Rangers, coming off last year's World Series appearance where they only notched a single win against the Champion San Francisco Giants, are on serious winning streak, winning 9 of 10 games, while getting it done with both offense and pitching.

Texas's hot start can partially attributed to C.J. Wilson as after 2 starts, he's 1-0 in 12.2 IP and have only given up 2 ER in each game. Slightly concerning is the 2 K effort against the light-hitting Seattle Mariners, but also encouraging is the quality start against Boston Red Sox in his first start of the young season - although Boston bats did start the year off very cold.

The Tigers, on the other hand, are staring at a 4-game losing streak after alternating between a win and a loss to begin their 2011 campaign. Against the up-start Rangers rookie Alexi Ogando along with 3 IP of strong bullpen yesterday, the Tigers failed to put a score up on the board behind a 2 ER complete game by their ace, Justin Verlander.

Casper Wells will fill-in for the ailing Ordonez, who looked horrible in right field (the ankle issue added to his usual immobility, I'm sure), allowing 2 flyballs to go over his head and hit the wall for doubles during Verlander's outing yesterday.

Opposing Pitcher
Brad Penny gets the call as the Tigers host the Rangers at Comerica Park in an afternoon game, and I am highly confident that the Rangers are going to continue to hit Penny as hard as they have in the previous years, and for Penny to continue to get hit as hard as he has thus far in the 2011 season (11.17/2.07/.317 in 9.2 IP).

The Call: Start
It's a must start for C.J. Wilson against the scuffling Detroit Tigers, especially with the backing of the Rangers potent offense against BP-throwing Penny, and strong 'pen.

Prediction: W, 7 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 HR, 2 BB, 5 K.

Start or Sit: Chad Billingsley at Giants 4/12/2011

Chad Billingsley vs Giants
In the current infant stage of the 2011 MLB season, Chad Billingsley already has a record against the intrastate and divisional foes, the San Francisco Giants, having won the first start of the season at Chavez Ravine.

Since his debut as a Dodger, Billingsley boasts 7 wins in 16 starts vs the Giants, sporting numbers (2.73 ERA 1.26 WHIP .258 BAA) mostly better than his career averages (3.60/1.36/.248) in 108.2 IP.

Last year he absolutely dominated the Giants both at home and away, not allowing more than 2 ER in 5 starts, completely shutting them out in 3 of those outings.

Chad Billingsley vs Giants Batters
For the 2011 campaign the Giants not only went out and acquired a bat, but also called up one of the more intriguing prospects to bolster their offensive lineup - which teetered towards being weak despite the World Series win last year - in Miguel Tejada and Brandon Belt, respectively.

Clearly pleased with themselves after the veteran signings of Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff of the previous year, the Giants are hoping that Tejada will make enough of an impact, and even though he went 0/2 against Billingsley in the first game, he sports a lifetime numbers of .350 AVG .409 OBP .550 SLG.

As for Belt, even though his first taste of the majors thus far has been, well, brutal (.161/.257/.290 in 31 AB), the lone bright spot is the 3-run HR off Billingsley that accounts for 75% of his RBI this year.

As you may guess from Billingsley's career numbers against the Giants, the rest of the Giants regulars sport mostly anemic numbers against the young Dodger right-hander, except for Aaron Rowand and Buster Posey.

On the bench, Mike Fontenot and Nate Schierholtz boast good numbers against Billingsley, but it remains to be seen (will update when the lineups are posted) whether they will get the starting nods.

Trends and Injuries
The Giants have already lost 4 out of 5 games against the Dodgers this year, stymied by Clayton Kershaw twice and unable to generate enough offense in 2 close games (one involving a duel between Billingsley and Jonathan Sanchez).

Billingsley, after notching the win against the Giants in the first start of the season where he really made one mistake to Belt on the 3-run HR, got rocked at Coors Field (oh, the trend continues) for 5 ER in just 3 IP.

On the injury-front, Rafael Furcal's seemingly never-ending love affair with the DL continues in 2011 with news that he has now broken his thumb and is considering retirement. Furcal was hardly getting on base anyway this year, so this could actually be a good thing for Dodgers, given that Jamey Carroll is not only playing good defense, but also getting hits.

Opposing Pitcher
Tim Lincecum. Need I say more? OK, I should write just a sentences on Lincecum, at least to say that he's pitching very well this year and he thoroughly dominates the Dodgers' lineup.

The Call: SIT
Despite dominating most of the SF bats, Billingsley just doesn't fair well-enough at AT&T Park for some reason. Perhaps it's the Giants pitching, but in 3 starts alone last year at AT&T, Billingsley has a 0-1 record along with 1.37/0.97/.194 15 K in 19 IP, and just 2 wins in 54 IP (the last and lone win as a starter back in 7/13/2007).

The slight upgrade to the Giants offense - that's already tainted Billingsley's numbers this year - in addition to Billingsley's lack of win success at AT&T and the Dodger's unlikelihood of hitting Lincecum, I'll be showing Billingsley the bench on this start.

Prediction: L, 6 1/3 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 5 K.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Start or Sit: Justin Verlander vs Texas Rangers

Justin Verlander in April?

Hmmm, if you've paid even a moderately decent amount of attention to Fantasy Baseball in the past handful of years, you know that one of many yearly April ritual is to bench Verlander in April, right?


But then again, what of all this talk about how Verlander changed the way he approached this year's Spring Training and how he totally dominated in March?

Two words: Spring Mofo'ing Training.

Yeah . . . but . . .

Back in 2007 Verlander had a great April, to a tune of 2.79 ERA 1.24 WHIP .208 BAA in 29 IP, and 3.52/1.11/.211 in 30.2 IP the year before that, in his first season as a full-time major leaguer. So can we be so sure that Verlander's horrific April numbers in the past three years will continue this year?

Roll the dice. Despite an ugly 5.53/1.45 /.264 in 27.2 IP April last year, he ended the season at 3.37/1.16/.228.

But against the hot-hitting Texas Rangers?

Check out the career pitcher vs batter numbers. Only a single Ranger (Josh Hamilton) regular has an above-.300 AVG against Verlander and just three with an above-.300 OBP.

Despite the fact that Alexi Ogando looked great in his first-ever major league start, let's keep in mind that it was against the AAA bats of my Seattle Mariners.

The Call: Start
This is the year Verlander gets his April numbers straightened out.
Prediction: W 7IP 5H 2ER 1HR 3BB 8K

Monday, May 17, 2010

Start or Sit Tracker

Season Record: 6-2

5/11/10: Jeff Niemann at Angels: Sit: W, 7 1/3 IP, 6H, 2 ER, 0 HR, 2 BB, 4 K
5/8/10: Justin Verlander at Indians: Start: W, 6 IP, 4H, 3 ER, 0 HR, 4 BB, 9 K
5/7/10: Yovani Gallardo at Diamondbacks: Start: W, 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 10 K
5/6/10: Jeff Niemann at Mariners: Start: W, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
5/5/10: Chad Billingsley vs Brewers: Sit: L, 6 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
5/4/10: Ricky Romero at Indians: Sit: W, 6 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 9 K
5/1/10: Matt Cain vs Rockies: Start : W, 8 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 K
4/30/10: Clif Lee vs Rangers: Sit: ND, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Start or Sit: Jeff Niemann at Angels

Jeff Niemann vs Angels
In 2 career starts against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Tampa Bay right-hander Jeff Neimann has not fared well, losing both of the 2009 home and away games in his first year in the major league.

On 6/10/09, after dominating the Kansas City Royals for 9 full innings in a 2 hits, 1 walk, and 9 strikeout gem on 100 pitches, Niemann only lasted 3 2/3 frames as the Halos got to him early in Tampa Bay, to a tune of 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, and 3 K.

In his away start against the Angels on 8/12/09, Niemann pitched better, but not quite well enough and was pulled after logging 5 1/3 innings, as the Angels were once again able to produce, putting up 4 ER on 7 H and 3 BB, while striking out 4 times.

Jeff Niemann vs Angels Batters
Despite the fact that some of the damage during the two 2009 starts against the Angels were done by former-Halos (Chone Figgins, Vladimir Guerrero, and Gary Matthews Jr.), the current regular bats of Anaheim, except for Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui, and Kendry Morales hit at least .333 or better for a collective BA of .300 in 30 plate appearances.

Trends and Injuries
Niemann has made 5 consecutive quality starts after his injury shortened season debut, with his latest accomplishment being the win at Seattle where he not only dominated the Mariners, but also overcame a near-epic proportion meltdown in which he threw 11 consecutive balls to walk the bases loaded.

The Angels have won 3 of the last 4 games after a 7-game slide, posting an 11-inning victory on a Juan Rivera sacrifice fly against the Rays last night.

Napoli blasted his 2nd home run of the season, going deep twice in the last 4 games, showing signs of life after a personal late spring training - all thanks to Mike Scioscia's mancrush on Jeff Mathis - but the rest of the Angels are batting a pultry .199 in the last 7 games as a group.

Opposing Pitcher
Scott Kazmir faces his former team for the first time with perhaps something to prove, having started this season off to a 7.11 ERA and just one quality starts in 5 attempts. Of the handful of Tampa Bay regulars Kazmir has faced, only Justin Bartlett has an average of over .111, as Gabe Kapler and Carlos Pena have gone a combined 1 for 12.

Kazmir won both of his 2 home starts in 2010, holding the opponents to a .220 BAA and 1.18 WHIP, but the 2 HR in 11 IP were opportune shots yielding 6 ER.

The Call: Sit
I'm going with the wait-and-see approach on this one, being cautious with the trigger on Jeff Niemann's road start against the Angels. In a small sample of 2 games, half the Halos lineup have hit Niemann pretty well and Scioscia will surely try to pull all sorts of small-ball stunts to disrupt the rhythm of Niemann. Prediction: ND, 6 1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB, 7 K.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Start or Sit: Justin Verlander vs Indians

If you have owned Justin Verlander at any point since his breakout season with the Detroit Tigers in 2006, you know both the pain and the pleasure, the seemingly bottomless depths of utter ineffectiveness and the soaring heights (and the tease) of near perfection.

It's very tempting to just plug and play Verlander given his track record, but that would be lazy, not to mention uninteresting, so let's take a look at the numbers and trends.

Justin Verlander vs Cleveland Indians Batters
A cursory glance at the pitcher vs batters numbers indicates a green light for starting Verlander against the Indians. The collective batting average against Verlander is .226, the on-base percentage .314, and the Indians are averaging a homer per every 40 at-bats, a span of a 13 1/3 innings.

Grady Sizemore, Jhonny Peralta, and Travis Hafner have, naturally, done most of the damage, combining to go 34 for 133 with 5 home runs and 16 bases on balls while striking out 36 times, to a tune of .255 batting average. The three bat 2 through 5 in the Indians lineup with Shin-Soo Choo squeezing in between Sizemore and Peralta, and the key to Verlander's success will depend on avoiding the big meltdown innings, especially against the bigger bats.

Justin Verlander vs Cleveland Indians
Verlander's historically had trouble with the division rival Indians, as he has gone 8-10 in 20 career starts, logging 121 IP, 114 H, 73 ER, 15 HR, 48 BB, 131 K, 5.43 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, and .246 BAA. But in 4 starts last year, Verlander won all games, completely dominating the Indians for 30 IP, 16 H, 3 ER, 0 HR, 10 BB, 41 K, 0.90 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and .157 BAA. Verlander's 2009 numbers against the Indians was an absolute turn around from his marks in 2008 and 2007, when he went a combined 2-8 in 11 starts giving up 50 earned runs in 62 innings for a 7.25 ERA.

The below is a scoring log of Verlander's 11 starts from 2007 and 2008 seasons against the Indians.

5/26/07 Home ND
- V. Martinez homered to deep right, G. Sizemore scored

5/31/07 Away L
- T. Hafner homered to deep center, C. Blake scored
- T. Hafner singled to center, C. Blake and G. Sizemore scored
- V. Martinez homered to deep right center, T. Hafner scored
After being pulled
- V. Martinez hit sacrifice fly to center, G. Sizemore scored

7/5/07 Home W
- V. Martinez homered to deep right
- R. Garko scored on wild pitch
- V. Martinez doubled to deep right, C. Blake scored

8/22/07 Home L
- V. Martinez singled to right, K. Lofton scored, C. Blake to second
- A. Cabrera singled to center, F. Gutierrez scored
- C. Blake singled to left, A. Cabrera scored, K. Lofton to second
- G. Sizemore singled to right, K. Lofton scored, C. Blake to third
- C. Blake scored, G. Sizemore to second on wild pitch
After being pulled
- F. Gutierrez homered to deep left, T. Hafner and J. Peralta scored

9/18/07 Away L
- R. Garko homered to deep center
- T. Hafner homered to deep center, G. Sizemore and A. Cabrera scored
- V. Martinez homered to deep center
- F. Gutierrez homered to deep left, K. Lofton scored

4/17/08 Away L
- J. Michaels hit sacrifice fly to right center, R. Garko scored, F. Gutierrez to third
- C. Blake doubled to right, F. Gutierrez scored
- J. Carroll singled to second, C. Blake scored
- R. Garko homered to deep left, V. Martinez scored

6/6/08 Home L
- C. Blake doubled to left, J. Peralta and R. Garko scored, D. Dellucci to third
- F. Gutierrez singled to left, D. Dellucci scored, C. Blake to third

7/8/08 Home W
- J. Peralta homered to deep left, C. Blake scored

7/31/08 Away L
- J. Peralta doubled to deep left, B. Francisco scored
- G. Sizemore homered to deep right, S. Fasano and A. Cabrera scored
- S. Fasano singled to left, S. Choo scored, R. Garko to second
After being pulled
- G. Sizemore hit by pitch, R. Garko scored, S. Fasano to third, A. Cabrera to second

8/27/09 Home L
- J. Peralta singled to left, D. Dellucci scored
- G. Sizemore singled to center, K. Shoppach and R. Garko scored
- K. Shoppach homered to deep left, R. Garko scored

9/20/08 Away L
- J. Peralta grounded out to shortstop, J. Carroll scored, S. Choo to third
- K. Shoppach scored, F. Gutierrez to second on balk
- S. Choo singled to right, R. Garko and G. Sizemore scored, J. Carroll to third
The names that did the most damage against Verlander in 2007 and 2008 (Shoppach, Gutierrez, Garko, Carroll, Fasano, Blake, Michaels, and Martinez) were no longer donning the inappropriate caricature on their hats by the 2009 season, which explains the turn-around.

Trends and Injuries
The start of Verlander's 2010 season has played out like a slightly lighter, a bit less extreme version of his 2009 season, when he gave up at least 5 earned runs in 3 of his first 4 starts, a total of 21 runs in 21 innings for a 0-2 record. In his first 4 starts this year, he's given up 17 earned runs in 22 innings, and hasn't give up more than 6 in a game while managing to go 1-0.

Last year, after the horrible first 4 games, Verlander straightened out his mechanics and control and wheeled off 9-straight quality starts, until he gave up 4 earned runs in the first inning in St. Louis on June 16th.

The Tigers are on a 4-game losing streak and the Indian shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is returning to the lineup.

Opposing Pitcher
Justin Masterson gets the nod for the Indians for the 1:05 PM showdown and in his lone career start against the Tigers in 2009, he gave up 6 earned runs in just 4 innings while serving up 2 home runs, allowing 7 hits, and issuing 3 bases on balls.

The Call: Start