Francisco Liriano looked good during his outing in Milwaukee on Wednesday, but he has yet to win a game this year and has a 4.25 ERA with a 1.38 WHIP. This might be attributed to decreased velocity, as his average fastball has fallen from 93.0 mph last year to 92.0 this season, while his slider has seen an even bigger decline (86.9 vs. 84.7, which is a career low, and make no mistake, this is Liriano’s most important pitch). Despite the decreased velo, Liriano’s 22.2 K% isn’t that far off his mark last year (24.5) or for his career (23.6). Moreover, he currently sports a highly impressive 13.4 SwStr% that ranks fourth best in all of baseball. The three above him are Ervin Santana, Masahiro Tanaka and Jose Fernandez. The six behind him to round out the top-10 in the category are Michael Wacha, Stephen Strasburg, Tyson Ross, Felix Hernandez, Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke. In other words, this stat is a pretty good indicator for those who rank highly in it should have a low ERA, with Liriano being the clear outlier. Maybe it’s been all a product of bad luck, but Liriano’s .296 BABIP is actually lower than his career mark (.304), and his LOB% isn’t far off either (70.5 vs. 70.9). The big difference has been a bunch more of his fly balls have gone for homers, and while this very well may be a small sample fluke, he’s hardly the only pitcher who’s lost velocity, kept an impressive K% and seen their ERA skyrocket.
David Price currently has a mind-boggling 70:6 K:BB ratio with a 4.02 ERA (his worst since his rookie season). Price’s average fastball velocity of 92.3 mph is a career low, and his 13.8 HR/FB% is a career high. CC Sabathia’s velocity (88.8 mph) is also a career low by far, yet his 4.8 K/BB ratio is elite. He has a career worst 5.28 ERA thanks mostly to an insane 23.3 HR/FB%. Since 2012, Tim Lincecum has a 23.1 K% that ranks 18th best in all of baseball. However, his 4.76 ERA over that stretch ranks sixth worst among all starters. Here are his average FB velocities from 2011-2014, respectively: 92.3, 90.4, 90.2, 89.7. You can probably guess what’s coming next, but after Timmy averaged a minuscule 7.4 HR/FB% over his first five seasons in the league, it’s spiked to 13.7% since then (this is the sixth highest mark over that span, and remember Lincecum remained pitching in a home park that has decreased homers by 24% over the past three seasons) while his velocity dropped. Maybe I’m cherry picking here, but there’s also quite possibly something to this (then again, you don’t want to throw TOO hard, or you’re increasingly likely to end up on a surgeon’s table).
Speaking of Posey, it’s pretty funny baseball made an entirely new rule when it comes to home plate collisions based on his injury, and yet he still remains as tentative as ever (not that I blame him, his injury was obviously brutal, but this was actually the second time this week he’s done this).
Quick Hits: It took one inning for Aroldis Chapman to throw the most 100 mph pitches this season. While that’s impressive, it’s becoming increasingly clear this may not actually be a good thing. The latest hard thrower to go down is Jose Fernandez. Arguably the best pitcher in baseball this season, Fernandez sported the lowest FIP (2.14) in the National League and a 14.2 SwStr%. The 21-year-old owns a career 2.25 ERA and 0.97 WHIP but is now looking at Tommy John surgery, which is just plain sad. Good thing I own him in 60% of the fantasy leagues I’m in this year…Tim Hudson will soon turn 39 years old and has a 5.67 K/9 rate yet currently possesses a 2.09 ERA and 0.81 WHIP, which rank seventh and second among all starters in baseball, respectively. He’s obviously had some luck (as any pitcher with such a low ERA will), but Hudson also has an MLB-best 1.8 BB% to go along with a 2.64 GB/FB ratio and a 10.5 SwStr%. While more balls in play will turn into hits, Hudson’s 9.50 K/BB ratio is the second best in all of baseball. He’s been a huge steal for fantasy owners…Alejandro De Aza has a .054/.125/.081 line against lefties this season (h/t Chris Liss). That’s not very good.
I obviously link to a lot of things in this column, but I want to be clear when it comes to products, it’s only ones I believe strongly in, and this “Second Hand Stink” is one of them.
Quick Hits Part Deux: Jake Peavy is typically either hurt or effective when on the mound, so it’s been surprising to see him post the worst WHIP (1.46) of his career so far. It could actually be worse, as he has a low .265 BABIP, but then again, that’s partly because he’s already served up eight homers over 48.0 innings. Forget any of the luck factors, Peavy has walked 27 batters, which is highly uncharacteristic (his 13.0 BB% is a career high by a wide margin and also the second highest mark among all starters this season, behind only Shelby Miller). Peavy doesn’t resemble the pitcher he once was right now…Tommy Hunter has ceded an earned run in each of his past four appearances, a span that’s included eight earned runs allowed over 3.1 innings. There were questions about how Hunter would fare in the closer’s role since he’s historically struggled against left-handers, and while he’s held up his end of the bargain there (.345 BAA), he’s actually been hit even harder by righties (.382). Hunter is tied for the AL lead with 11 saves, but it would be surprising if he gets another save opportunity anytime soon. Darren O’Day and Zach Britton have alternated as setup guys, but the former has his own issues retiring left-handers. Britton, meanwhile, has seen his velocity spike (93.8 mph) with the full-time move to the pen, and he currently sports a silly 12.25 GB/FB ratio that’s more than twice as high as the next closest pitcher in baseball. He’s worth stashing in fantasy leagues right now…Something is clearly not right with Brian Wilson, and I’m not just talking about his neighbor. He’s yielded three homers and walked 11 batters over 11.1 innings. Wilson’s average fastball velocity (92.5 mph) and SwStr% (6.7) are both career lows. Don’t be surprised if a DL stint is forthcoming.
Headlines of the Week: College Students Order A Hit On Themselves To Avoid Finals…Man Killed Wife, Parrot Because They Talked Too Much...Turkish Man Who Killed Two Wives Seeks New Partner On TV Show…‘Fake’ Mandela Sign Language Interpreter Pulled Out Of Psych Hospital To Shoot Commercial…Philadelphians Fume After Concertgoers Treat Neighborhood Like Giant Toilet, Have Public Sex…The FCC Can’t Handle All The Net Neutrality Calls It’s Getting, Urges People To Write E-Mails Instead…Caught On Camera: Man Repeatedly Going To The Bathroom In People’s Yards…Man Froze Mother’s Body For 3 Years To Collect Her Retirement Checks…Science, American Legal System Confirm Barefoot Shoes Are Bulls**t…A Man Claims The Zodiac Killer Is His Father In A New Book That’s Been Kept Secret For Months...Brain Injury Turns Man Into Math Genius.
Quick Hits Part Tres: After leading major league baseball with an 87.0 SB% success rate last season, the Red Sox are dead last by a wide margin this year at 50.0%....Dan Uggla is the only second baseman to hit at least 30 home runs in four consecutive seasons in MLB history, but I’m beginning to think he might be overpaid. Here are his OPS marks since the season before he joined the Braves and every that’s followed, respectively: .877, .764, .732, .671, .520. I’m not great at math, but this seems bad. Uggla hasn’t started a game in more than a week, as people named Ramiro Pena and Tyler Pastornicky are starting at 2B. Uggla’s fall has been epic. At this point, he’s unlikely to even be in the league next season. Get ready for the Tommy La Stella era…Will Venable went 22/22 last season, but he’s batting .188 this year with one home run and has been caught on all three of his steal attempts. PETCO Park played like Coors Field for left-handed batters after moving the fences in last season, and Venable entered 2014 with a career SB success rate of 81.8. Predicting baseball performances is hard…There’s little question Dee Gordon is playing over his head, but he’s off to such a terrific start there’s no longer a threat of him losing his job to Alexander Guerrero anytime soon. He currently has 25 stolen bases, and no one else in baseball has more than 15. Gordon has carried fantasy teams to date...Angel Pagan is batting .322 thanks to a healthy 27.8 LD% that ranks in the top-10 in MLB. He’s on pace to finish with 12 homers and 32 steals. After an injury-plagued 2013, Pagan has been a bargain for fantasy owners who were able to grab him late in drafts…If you disregard one of his last five starts, Corey Kluber has a 42:3 K:BB ratio over his other four outings, which isn’t exactly bad (although admittedly the other start does count). Apparently he should focus on throwing his cutter more than his fastball.
Police Blotter: 77-Year-Old Florida Man Tasered After Trying To Escape Alleged Bank Robbery With Walker…Couple Slated To Be On ‘Maury Show’ Arrested For Domestic Violence...Elderly Man Beheaded, Wife May Have Been Kidnapped…Woman, 93, Killed By Police After Failing Driving Test...Masked Burglar Sinks Self With Pre-Crime Selfie…‘Don’t Scream When You’re Being Robbed,’ Brazil Police Tell World Cup Fans…Woman Calls 911 After Pizza Made Wrong…School Counselor Faces DUI Charges When Stopped On Way To Work…Bank Robbery Suspect Busted Despite Shaving In Getaway Taxi To Try To Alter Appearance.
Quick Hits Part Four: After averaging just 13.0 homers over his last two seasons, Victor Martinez has hit nine home runs over just 36 games this year. He’s also batting a career-best .336, somehow has fewer strikeouts than homers and already recorded a career high two stolen bases…Call me stubborn, but I remain a Zack Wheeler backer. His last three starts have come on the road in Coors Field (the best hitter’s park in baseball), Marlins Park (only the Rockies have scored more runs at home than Miami this season) and Yankee Stadium (increased home runs by 25 percent over the past three seasons, which is the third most in MLB). Don’t get me wrong, Wheeler has disappointed (his 12.4 BB% is the third worst in baseball), but I fully expect him to be much better moving forward…I understand the argument this play (that ruined Yu Darvish’s perfect game) should have been ruled a hit because it’s always ruled a hit, but my counter is that it should obviously always be ruled an error regardless of game situation. Darvish has now lost a no-hitter in the ninth inning with two outs twice over the past 13 months (becoming just the third pitcher ever to do so), and both were via a groundball, with the latest being toward a shift. Oh, and the aforementioned ruling has since been changed to a hit…Domonic Brown has been unlucky, as expected regression (his 19.3 HR/FB% last year has dropped to 3.0 this year) has hit hard. But Brown has a longer track record of disappointing than living up to expectations, and he currently sports a 1.79 FB/GB ratio, so last season’s big two-month stretch looks increasingly like an outlier…It’s hardly uncommon to pitch better at home, especially when that home is PETCO Park, but Tyson Ross’s splits so far have been insane. He has a 1.59 ERA and 1.03 WHIP over 34.0 innings at home compared to a 5.94 ERA and 1.86 WHIP over 16.2 innings on the road…Stephen Strasburg has the highest BABIP in baseball (.371). Teammate Jordan Zimmermann is second (.370). This is no doubt unlucky, but it’s hard to suggest a big correction is in store considering the Nationals field such a poor defense.
Amy Schumer is funny. In fact, I’d argue her show is the funniest comedy on TV these days (I also love the fact she was greatly influenced by “The Jerky Boys.” More on that in this week’s longread)…Speaking of good comedies, it’s a shame “Legit” was cancelled, but the season premiere of “Maron” was pretty awesome.
Longread of the Week: “The Calls That Changed Comedy.”
Quick Hits Part Five: What’s up with Trevor Rosenthal? His velocity is down a bit, although the difference of mph between his heater vs. changeup is actually greater this year compared to last. Tuesday marked his first blown save of the season, but he’s now walked 11 batters over 17.1 innings, so it’s hard to call his 5.19 ERA and 1.50 WHIP unlucky, especially considering his 5.3 HR/FB%. Jason Motte or Carlos Martinez may take away St. Louis’ closing role if Rosenthal doesn’t start improving quickly…Speaking of disappointing Cardinals pitchers, Shelby Miller currently has the highest FIP (5.90) in all of baseball. And if you want to claim his 17.4 HR/FB% is unlucky, Miller’s xFIP (4.91) is the fourth-highest mark in MLB. And in case you were wondering, Jon Lester currently sports the lowest FIP (2.13), while Masahiro Tanaka has the lowest xFIP (2.18) – Jose Fernandez has the second lowest mark in both, which only increases my depression…Mike Moustakas hit .394/.429/.718 with five homers over 71 at bats in spring training in 2013. He then hit .233/.287/.364 over 472 ABs in the regular season. He batted an even more impressive .429/.522/.768 over 24 games during spring training this year, and he’s currently sporting a .147/.215/.321 line that’s about as ugly as it gets. It’s almost as if spring stats shouldn’t be taken seriously…Making his fourth start coming off a shoulder injury, Cole Hamels was somehow left in to throw a career-high 133 pitches Sunday. But then again, it’s not like babying pitchers has resulted in a big drop in injuries…I fully expected a strong season from Chris Archer, but it’s been anything but so far. Over his last six starts, he’s sporting a 6.68 ERA. Over his last three outings, he has an 11:10 K:BB ratio. We’re still dealing with a small sample, and Archer’s velocity has been fine, so I wouldn’t be dropping him in deeper leagues. The crazy thing about his .345 BABIP is that Archer has a 21.6 IFFB%, which is the highest in all of baseball. That’s pretty nuts to be allowing so many hits when more than a fifth of the balls in play have been popups.