MLB Real Talk: 4/17/12

Everybody chill the fuck out. He’s got this.
Photo Credit: SD Dirk

We’re talking starting pitchers again here on MLB Real Talk as a lot of popular names on draft day are suffering through slumps. Tim Lincecum, Matt Moore, Dan Haren, Yu Darvish… lots of dudes are getting lit up, and fantasy owners want answers. Worry not, your boy No-Star-Damus is here with his platinum-plated crystal ball.

More after the jump:

-Step away from the ledge Tim Lincecum owners, everything will be just fine. That may be hard to believe since homeboy is rocking a 10.54 ERA over three starts, but Lincecum is not your average MLB pitcher. First off, the dude is a notorious “tweaker.” If you look at Lincecum’s pitch profile since the start of his career, you’ll notice that he has undergone pretty major transformations every season in terms of his repertoire. He’s a serious student of the game who has spent his entire life building his freaky delivery (you know, the one that was “supposed” to lead to all these injuries people have been expecting for years) and working on ways to make himself a better pitcher. Lincecum has hit bumps in the road before, only to figure things out and remain one of the most dominant pitchers in the game. This year, Lincecum’s latest arsenal adjustment included a decision to feature the slider less (in an effort to avoid injury, something the slider is known for inducing) and leaning on the changeup more than ever. The slider was a pretty devastating pitch for him in 2011, but the changeup was by far his best offering, so deciding to make that his bread-and-butter pitch seems like a pretty sound decision.

What’s that you say? You want to know why Linecum is showing diminished velocity? Frankly… who gives a shit. It wouldn’t be the first time a major league pitcher’s velo was low to start off the season, and Lincecum’s velocity (aside from last season) had been on a steady decline since his rookie year. I’m convinced Lincecum could pump 95 mph fastballs all day if he wanted to, but he doesn’t. Like I said, this is a pitcher who is constantly evolving. He doesn’t need to throw mid-90s cheese to be a dominant pitcher; he’s proven that time and time again. In fact, behind the relatively low velocity and high ERA stand an impressive 4.0 K/BB and plenty of missed bats. So he’s doing something right. It may take him a few more starts to find his groove and settle into the 2012 version of Tim Lincecum, but if history has taught us anything, this “new” Lincecum should finish as one of the best starting pitchers in fantasy. Believe that.

-Your boy Dudley Do Work was crazy high on Matt Moore (among other things) coming into the season, but he’s been wild so far (nine walks in 13 innings). He simply hasn’t looked as sharp as evident by the lower number of swings-and-misses he’s induced compared to his minor league profile. It’s obviously too early to panic, but the fact that he’s already surrendered three HRs is unnerving (he was tremendous at limiting the long ball in the minors). There’s nothing Moore owners can really do other than sit tight and hope he turns it around. The talent is definitely there for Moore to be among the league leaders in strikeouts and he did pitch his first two games on the road against two great lineups (Boston and Detroit). Still, I was expecting Moore to easily perform as a top 15 pitcher this season, so for me personally, his start has been particularly disappointing.

-I can’t say I’m shocked that Dan Haren is off to such a rough start. For the past two years, Haren has looked both untouchable and… um, touchable (pause). His fastball has been below average the last two seasons, which is not surprising considering his velocity has been on a steady decline. The good news with Haren is that his secondary pitches still generate a generous amount of swings-and-misses, which should still put him comfortably in the 7.2-8.3 K/9 territory. Couple that with his great control (1.89 BB/9 career) and you have a pretty solid fantasy arm. That said, he can be very hittable at times and I expect the HRs to go up in 2012, which could mean an ERA in the high 3.00s (or worse if things really get out of hand). Haren isn’t a droppable player obviously, but it’s hard to imagine him living up to his draft/auction day price by season’s end. He seems like a good player to sell once he breaks off a couple of good starts because his name value can still fetch a nice return.

Last week, we talked about Yu Darvish and explained that while I wasn’t a huge fan of his coming into the season, I still believed he had the swing-and-miss potential to be an SP2 or SP3. Now, the pessimism is starting to creep in. Darvish still looks like he can miss his fair share of bats (think: seven-plus K/9), but the lack of movement on his fastball and his propensity to nibble around the strike zone look like the calling cards of a pretty mediocre fantasy pitcher. Oh yeah, he also plays in Texas, which can be a sucky place to call home when you are struggling to find the strike zone and are forced to groove pitches over the plate after falling behind in the count. You can’t drop Darvish, but I would be trying to sell hard if he rattles off a couple of nice starts. Barring a dramatic change in approach, he will be one of the more frustrating players to own in fantasy this season (mostly because of the price some fantasy owners paid to roster him).



About Starbonell

Starbonell is the co-founder of Sons of Roto and one of the most insightful and colorful fantasy analysts in the game. Mixing intelligent and well-researched advice with an entertaining style of writing that is easy to digest, Starbonell is the king of info-tainment.