If patience is the support of weakness, impatience is indeed the ruin of strength.
By this time, the southpaw was supposed to be on a fast track to superstardom. His mystifying hook and subversive fastball combination were expected to make adoring fans weep, opponents spiteful. But after two-plus seasons in The Show, the Justin Bieber of Fantasyland has yet to conjure a fevered pitch.
In his last start, Kershaw was rocked/shelled/face-punched by a marauding group of tubed meat enthusiasts (Milwaukee). The Brewers, who had been shut out in three of their previous four contests, massacred the Dodgers' "ace." Over a mere 1.1 innings, he surrendered seven runs, walking two with three strikeouts, a wretched effort which instantly shot his ERA into the Peavian Galaxy (3.07 to 4.99). Looks of astonishment and dismay were commonplace.
After the game, Joe Torre chalked up Kershaw's soul-crushing performance as nothing more than a one-time incident. However, he repeatedly reminded everyone of the kid's tender age. From the LA Daily News:
"He just couldn't throw the ball where we wanted to. His stuff is always good but it's just very frustrating. I think we all have to keep in mind how young he is and what limited experience he has and to understand this is going to happen..."
"(Kershaw) is so good about bouncing back," Torre said. "He has great makeup. We have to keep reminding ourselves how young he is. I said it in the spring, it's unfair for him to lead a pitching staff even though he's not afraid to take on that responsibility.
"We'll have to understand he's still growing into his ability right now."
The highly-skilled lefty has fought through adversity before. In post-implosion efforts (at least five ER or more), he's shined brightly several times. For example, last year after getting waxed in Colorado on April 26 (4.2 IP, 9 ER), he responded with a four-hit gem against the Padres (7 IP, 0 ER, 3 K). It's very possible he'll rebound brilliantly against -- coincidentally enough -- the Rockies in his next rotation turn on Sunday.
Still, there are several worrisome signs the 95-percent owned dreamboat may slam into a few more icebergs.
Peering under the hood, a number of leaky valves are present. Leaning more heavily on his slider and less on his famous curve, he's surrendered more fly-balls and, thusly, homers. First-pitch strikes have also become less common.
Though the above concerns are moderately disturbing, Kershaw's epic wildness is not. His 10.57 K/9 is manhood moving, but his deplorable 7.04 BB/9 makes Rich Harden(notes) look like Roy Halladay(notes). Yes, the lefty's .331 BABIP suggests he's been unlucky, but an increase in walks combined with more fly-balls is a lethal concoction. Every fifth day he's dancing with the devil. Only Satanists have stomached his outings.
Kershaw is an incredible talent who will eventually reach puberty. But until he limits the free passes, inconsistency may reign supreme. Since he's likely to command brand name dollars, impatient owners may want to follow the impetus to trade.
Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 146.1 IP, 8 W, 4.18 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 151 K
Vampiristic commodity sucking the life out of your team owned in more than 75 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Grady Sizemore(notes), Cle, OF (95-percent owned): The bane of many an owner's existence, Sizemore is simply not the same 30/30 beast he was a mere two seasons ago. On a Dead Ball Era pace, he's failed to homer in 110 at-bats and has stolen just two bases. Walking less, striking out more and driving the ball with the authority of Juan Pierre(notes), he's shaping up to be a monumental disappointment yet again. Mechanical adjustments in his swing in an attempt to alleviate elbow stress explain the massive downturn. It's senseless to short sale Grady on a bear market, but until he shows signs of life widely available outfielders Jose Bautista(notes), Will Venable(notes) and, of all people, Austin Kearns(notes) may need to be employed.
Widely owned starter who could soon maim an innocent Gatorade cooler
Josh Beckett(notes), Bos (5/7 vs. NYY, 96-percent owned): Currently checking in at No. 1,450 in Yahoo! overall rank, Beckett has been a complete disaster. Command has often eluded him, evident in his dramatic decline in K/9 and rise in BB/9. Hitters have also teed off on him, making harder contact (25.0 LD%), particularly on outside offerings. Historically, Beckett has been battered and bruised by his most hated rival. In 18 starts, he's posted a 5.51 ERA and 1.48 WHIP versus the Yankees, including a forgettable five earned run outing opening night. Listen to the trends.
Uncovering fantasy's lucky bastards one decimal place at a time
James Loney(notes), LAD, 1B (68-percent owned): Unsustainable anomalies are everywhere this time each year. Loney's incredibly abnormal line-drive rate is a prime example. A popular mid-to-late round sleeper pick a few weeks ago, the lefty-swinger has exploded out of the gates, notching a .339 BA with two homers, 18 RBIs and 17 runs. However, a regression to the mean is on the horizon. His 34.8 LD percentage combined with 0.30 BB/K rate are strong indicators a batting average correction is imminent. Loney will continue to be a reliable corner infielder in deeper formats, but for those riding the crest of his early season success, now is the time to seek a profit.
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