MLB Real Talk (5/13/11)

Just call him “EV Pass.”
Photo Credit: Wknight94

As recently as two weeks ago on Starbonell Station, I believed in Edinson Volquez. Now I don’t believe in nothing no more. Yeah he’s getting a lot more grounders (56.9 GB%), inducing weak contact (14.7 LD% and 28.4 FB%), and missing bats (11.0 Swinging Strike%), but when you throw up a damn 7.02 BB/9, bad things happen. Making matters worse are his issues with the long ball, as he’s surrendered seven HRs to date and is posting a Pujols-esque 21.2 HR/FB. Sure that number figures to correct itself, but it is hard to be optimistic about Volquez. It’s a shame too, if homeboy could just figure out how to cut the BB/9 to four, he’d be a hell of a lot more useful to us. Unfortunately, his game is like riding your mom’s cooch: everyone gets a free pass.

James “Dollar Menu” McDonald was a semi-popular sleeper pick late in fantasy drafts this offseason. He started off the season terribly, but has twirled good numbers in his last two starts (12 IP, 2 ERs, 8 Hs, 3 BBs, 13 Ks). So is it time to buy in? Put it this way, I’d rather wolf down a Filet-O-Fish than fuck with McDonald. For starters, his “turnaround” has come against the Astros and Padres, two of the worst offenses in baseball. Yeah he seemed like a reasonable last-round pick based on his 8.54 K/9 and 3.64 BB/9 from last year, but he’s looked terrible from a peripheral standpoint. His 6.3 SwStr% is in John Lackey territory and his BB/9 is sitting at an uncomfortable 4.66 mark. He’s regressed as a pitcher as he is throwing his breaking stuff less than he did last year, relying on a fastball that is worth -3.1 wins per Fangraphs. Hmmm, more contact, more walks, and fewer strikeouts? Yeah, do not trust this McScrub.

Everyone loves to dump on Francisco Liriano. It’s hard to come up with another no-hitter that was as derided and mocked as the Cisco Kid’s effort. Yeah he walked six and struck out just two, but the fact remains that he was unhittable. Last I checked, that was a pretty awesome trait to have in a fantasy pitcher. The fact that he’s coming off a three-inning, four-run performance (he was lifted due to illness) just makes his stock even lower. People forget that Liriano led all SPs in SwStr% last year (minimum 150 IP) and is putting more distance between himself and the Tommy John Surgery he had in November 2006. Yes his SwStr% has dropped to more human levels (9.8 percent), but his stuff is still plenty nasty. His ground ball tendencies have continued from last season (51.8 GB%) and he actually leads all SPs in LD% (9.8). Once the weather heats up, Liriano will follow suit and I fully expect him to pitch like an SP1 in the coming weeks.

While people are throwing dirt on the Cisco Kid, they are heaping praise on the overrated Yovani Gallardo. I know what you are thinking, “S-S-Starbonell! Y-Yovani had a 9.73 K/9 last year and is considered one of the better young pitchers in baseball! How can he be overrated!” Like Joey Crack once said, “It’s simple mathematics.” Yes his K/9 over the past couple of years has been among the league’s best, but what’s curious is that his SwStr% numbers are, well, not so elite. He posted an 8.4 mark last year, which is solid, but hardly the mark of a truly dominant whiffer. He was actually pretty hittable when batters made contact, posting a 24.0 LD% last year. What Gallardo made strides in during the 2010 campaign was getting ahead of hitters by throwing up a 61.8 First Pitch Strike Percentage (F-Strike%). This year? He’s flashing a modest 51.2 F-Strike%. Control has always been a bit of an issue for Gallardo, as his career 1.34 WHIP can attest. So if he isn’t striking out a lot of batters and is giving up a ton of screamers… well, let’s just say that isn’t a recipe for fantasy success. Look, I ain’t knocking the strikeout potential Gallardo has shown in the past, but without pure bat-missing stuff, he is not a lock to post a bloated K/9. Couple that with his control issues and tendencies to get his pitches smoked, and you have yourself a certifiably overrated fantasy asset. He’s obviously not as bad as his current numbers suggest (5.11 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 6.57 K/9), but I would look to sell once he turns in a couple of good outings. There are plenty of owners out there willing to give up great value in order to land Gallardo, so take advantage of their stupidity.


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.