(Home Runs Allowed) King James

It’s time to check in on the peasant workers of the league and those trouble making, late-inning relievers; the Ugueth Urbina Pen Pals. The only blown save we witnessed was that of Mariano Rivera. Other than the situations in Texas and Philadelphia, which we covered earlier, there isn’t much to discuss from the bullpen. Instead we delve into the world of Big Game James with a little player spotlight action. Let’s see what the HR king of pitchers (not a good thing) and the lesser owned players of the league were up to on Sunday.

What do we make of James Shields and his 0.97 WHIP and 2.35 ERA? He shutout the Blue Jays [9 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 7 K] and now has back-to-back complete games in which he’s allowed only one earned run. James Shields is officially kicking my projections ass [178 K, 1.30 WHIP, 4.31 ERA,13 W, 215 IP], even with what would be a career low K/9 (6.34). Do we just chalk this up to his numbers normalizing or do we slap the proverbial “sell high” label on Big Game James? As most people know, Shields posted the league’s worst BABIP in ’10 among all qualifiers. Even though he was hit hard by opposing batters, he did experience some bad luck. This year is different, in many ways. Shields is throwing his Curveball and Changeup more often at the expense of his fastball. This is a welcome change, these two pitches generate the most swing and misses from batsmiths. That 6.34 K/9 should improve in the near future considering his Plate Discipline statistics (Sw-Str%, Z-Contact%, F-Strike%) have never been better. The only thing I am concerned about is the .236 BABIP and 7% HR/FB%. Those are going to increase. As long as he continues to limit Line Drives, the BABIP should stay below .300. A welcome change from the past two seasons. The HR/FB%? It’s tough to say. His Curveball has improved (horizontal and vertical movement), he’s using more off speed pitches and he’s getting ahead in the count with more first pitch strikes. I’m willing to give him credit and say he’s a better pitcher than what I originally projected. I still think he’ll end up closer to my numbers than what he’s done so far so I’d sell high if I found a taker, but seeing that he’s still available in over 30% of Y! leagues it doesn’t seem the general public is very impressed. Selling high is always easier said than done. If we simply replace the .236 BABIP with a more believable mark of .288 his WHIP would be 1.12. If we bump the HR/FB% closer to his career average, the WHIP would then increase from 1.12 up to 1.17. His mdsFIP (ERA) would be 3.99. Not bad numbers at all. The death of James Shields was greatly exaggerated.

Brennan Boesch (39% owned) went 2 for 4 against the Pale Hose (Danks), raising his AVG to .348. Boesch has only one HR and two SB to his name and the .397 BABIP is completely unsustainable (18% LD%), but he is hot streaking. You don’t have to make a commitment to the player, just ride it out for a short while. It’s just strange to see a guy who is ranked No.65 among all players wading in so many free agent pools.

The Johnny Damon (24%) hit streak has reached 13 games.

Jonathan Herrera (32%) may be heating up once again. He went 1 for 3 with a RBI-double, but was caught stealing for the first time this season. He has three hits in the past two games after a short skid. His AVG is back to .327 after Sunday.

J.R. Towles (0%) hit his second HR of the season, going 1 for 3 with the solo shot today (off Randy Wolf). It’s tough to recommend him, but he is making more contact this year and he’s shooting lasers with his bat (31% LD% is crazy high). Two-catchers leagues better put him on the watch list.

Michael Brantley (10%) went 1 for 4 with a double and two RBI.

Jerry Sands (5%) made contact with a baseball on Sunday.

I refuse to talk about a guy named Darwin Barney, but let’s just say with a BABIP that is more in line with his track record, he’d be hitting .271, not .329. With minimal power and a 10 SB ceiling, only a die hard Chubby fan would be able to roster this guy.

David Murphy (40%) went 1 for 4 with a double and 3 RBI, he’s hitting .294 after Sunday.

Mike Aviles (41%) went 3 for 5 with two HR (3), four RBI and his fourth SB. I like Mike.

Alcides Escobar (18%) went 2 for 4 with two runs and a RBI. I consider 18% of the Y! community to be my brothers.

Chipper Jones (67%) must have been a fan of Ego Trip’s White Rapper Show. Chipper is experiencing some John Brown Ghetto Revival type stuff. Larry Wayne went 2 for 3 at the dish with a run scored and two RBI, he’s hitting .289. Other than the 12.7% LD% Chipper appears to be better than I had anticipated. Hallelujah holla back.

79% of Y! leagues are comprised of losers. Brandon Beachy needs to be rostered in far more leagues than his ownership percentage shows. Beachy looked great against the Giants on Sunday [6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 7 K]. The only mistake he made was serving up a two-run HR to Buster Posey. You show me a free agent SP with a 9.51 K/9 with a 2.76 BB/9 and I’ll show you a SP that I’m going to pick up in a nanosecond.

Coco Crisp (39%) went 3 for 5 with three runs and his 8th SB.

Doug Fister (3%) may be 1-3, but he has four quality starts in five games now to go along with his 1.23 WHIP and 3.19 ERA. If he can maintain the 6.39 K/9 (an improvement from his career mark of 5.17) he could actually be useful in roto leagues that use a IP cap. I tried dealing for him in my AL-only league (offering Chris Tillman), but was turned down. That was early in the season.

time for the Ugueth Urbina Pen Pals

Mitchell Boggs recorded save number three. Ryan Franklin hasn’t done anything good lately. Boggs is starting to run away with the gig.

Arthur Rhodes got a one-out save against the Royals. The American Dream came in after Brett Tomko gave up a HR to Mike Aviles and coaxed a ground out from the switch hitting Melky Cabrera.

Antonio Bastardo entered the game after Roy Halladay threw 130 pitches against the Padres and recorded a one-out save (Nick Hundley fly out). Ryan Madson figures to get most of the save opportunities for Philly.

Mark down April 24th as the day Jonny Venters recorded his first save. Craig Kimbrel pitched the past three days so he had the day off.

Trivia question: when was the last time Mariano Rivera blew two saves in a row? If you guessed Sunday, you’d be correct. Two in a row? Say it ain’t so Mo.

Drew Storen has closed out three straight wins for the Nats, the Sean Burnett era is officially over. You can safely drop him. The first save was a two inning job, the second came after Burnett pitched to better hitters in the 8th, this one just seals the deal. There are no more excuses to hold onto Burnett. I’d drop him for Antonio Bastardo at this point.