Mostly MLB Notes: Talking Andrew Cashner, Homer Bailey and a look around the league

Dalton Del Don

Despite averaging 94.5 mph with his fastball while posting a 3.09 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, Andrew Cashner recorded just 128 strikeouts over 175.0 innings last season after finally becoming a full-time starter. The K rate improved after the All-Star break, when he produced a 2.14 ERA and 0.95 WHIP with a 61:19 K:BB ratio over 75.2 innings. The hope was that his impressive stuff would lead to more missed bats, and if Cashner’s first three starts are any indication, it’s going to come to fruition in 2014. He’s allowed just three runs over 21.0 innings, fanning 22 batters over that span. Cashner’s last outing was especially dominant, as he tossed a shutout against the Tigers, striking out 11 and yielding one lone hit (a single). Ironically, his SwStr% (7.1) is easily a career low, while his K% (27.5) is a career high. As any pitcher with a 1.29 ERA, Cashner has experienced some good fortune in the early going, as his .196 BABIP is especially crazy considering he also has a 2.50 GB/FB ratio. But all those groundballs should lead to few home runs allowed, and he also hasn’t given up many line drives (16.0%). PETCO Park has increased strikeouts by nine percent over the past three years, which is the most in baseball, so Cashner has that going for him as well. Part of the reason the Cubs traded him was because they didn’t think Cashner could ever be a 200-inning workhorse, but assuming he can stay healthy, he has all the makings of being a top-15 fantasy starter

Here’s a pretty funny prank played on Jeff Francoeur.

Jose Abreu literally destroyed a baseball.

Here’s David Ortiz setting the record for the slowest home run trot of all time.

Homer Bailey is off to a horrible start, sporting an ugly 8.16 ERA and 2.02 WHIP. His last outing was especially odd, as he posted a 9:0 K:BB ratio over 5.0 innings, but that was accompanied by him serving up four homers. Bailey has already given up six home runs this season, and while I’m not of the belief pitchers have no control over how many long balls they allow, it’s safe to say he’s been a bit unlucky with 60.0% of his fly balls having left the yard so far in 2014 (his current FIP is 7.25, while his xFIP is 2.80, which is the 14th best in MLB). Bailey’s career HR/FB% is a perfectly acceptable 11.2, and that’s while calling Great American Ballpark home, a place that has increased home runs by an MLB-high 30 percent over the past three seasons. Bailey’s average fastball velocity has been 94.1 mph, which is exactly the same as last year. Meanwhile, his GB% (51.1), K% (24.3) and SwStr% (10.8) are all career highs. In other words, there’s nothing to worry about here. Go ahead and try to “buy low” if that opportunity presents itself in your league.

Here’s the worst "Wheel Of Fortune" contestant of all time.

Here’s a Land Rover debuting invisible car augmented technology.

Here’s an eating junk food at the gym prank.

Headlines of the Week: Bronx Gym Teacher Was Fired After Refusing To Have Threesome With Her Tenured Boss And Her Boyfriend...Irwindale Council Declares Sriracha Smell A Public Nuisance...Wife Dies, Husband Wins Lottery Next Day...Atheist Calls For Godless Attorney After Butter-Knife Attack On Roomie Mistaken For Jesus...Schoolboy In Coma After Lunch Time Testicle Squeeze Prank...Glow-In-The-Dark Roads Make Debut In Netherlands...Norway Man Finds Adult Toy In Cod’s Stomach...Flight From Chicago Diverted After Man Attempts Mid-Air Exit...Pastafarian Politician Takes Oath Of Office Wearing Colander On His Head...Jar Of Fresh Air From France Sold For $860 At Chinese Auction...Bolivian Villagers Use Venomous Ants To Torture Alleged Thieves...Missing Boy Found Inside Claw Machine...Sex-Crazed Romanian Angelina Jolie Lookalike Forced Taxi Driver Into Sex Twice, Stabbed Him When He Couldn’t Manage Third Time.

Quick Hits: Any questions about how Masahiro Tanaka’s splitter would fare in the majors has quickly been answered, as he’s posted an 18:1 K:BB ratio over 14.0 innings. It’s a small sample, but Tanaka’s 17.2 SwStr% reveals he has the upside to be a top-15 fantasy pitcher in 2014. Through his first two starts, he produced more swings and misses than any pitcher in baseball…Danny Salazar had one of the crazier outings you’ll ever see Thursday, when he became the first pitcher in the modern era to record 10 strikeouts in fewer than four innings. He faced 18 batters and not one of them resulted in an out on a ball in play (the only non-K out came on the basepaths). Salazar had a 9.82 ERA and a 0.48 xFIP for the game. It hasn’t been a great start to 2014, but Salazar now owns a 31.1 K% over the first 61.1 innings of his career. For reference, Randy Johnson had a 28.6 K% for his career, while Pedro Martinez’s was 27.7%...Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly unlikely Mat Latos will be contributing to your fantasy team anytime soon, if at all this season…Andrelton Simmons has homered in back-to-back games and is hitting .341/.356/.610 on the year to go along with his usual terrific defense. He also somehow hasn’t struck out a single time so far this year, so it should only be a matter of time before he moves up from the eighth spot in the order (ideally to No. 2, where B.J. Upton continues to languish)…Since the start of last season, Adam Lind quietly has the 25th best OPS (.861) in all of baseball (and that includes a .708 OPS in April of last season). That ranks ahead of Giancarlo Stanton, Justin Upton, Evan Longoria, Jay Bruce, Adam Jones and Prince Fielder. Lind has more walks than strikeouts this year and somehow has a modest six RBI despite hitting .571/.700/1.143 with RISP while batting predominantly fifth. There’s a good chance Lind is a lot more valuable moving forward than most view him as of now (assuming his recent back injury isn't serious).

Police Blotter: A Woman In Brazil Was Robbed On Live TV While Giving An Interview About Robberies In Brazil...‘Amazing’ $15,000-a-day Shoplifting Ring Targeted CVS, Walgreens...Chinese Man Named Bai Ting Arrested For Biting Police Officer...9-Month-Old Boy Arrested In Attempted Murder No Longer Wanted By Police...Receptionist Laughs At Man’s Robbery Attempt...Montana Man Licked Cop’s Eye While Resisting Arrest...Man Sentenced To Hold ‘I Am A Bully’ Sign For 5 Hours...Tremont Man Huffed Paint, Hurled Knife, Punched Pit Bull Before SWAT Standoff.

Quick Hits Part Deux: Anthony Rendon is off to a hot start, hitting .346/.382/.635 with 12 RBI over 13 games. The former top-10 pick has quickly gone from batting at the bottom of Washington’s order to the top, which is another boost to his fantasy value. Let’s just hope his past injury problems don’t crop up again…Dee Gordon is playing over his head early on, batting .400 with a league-leading nine stolen bases. But even if he’s sure to regress soon, he’s solidifying his role as Los Angeles’ everyday second baseman, and his 6:4 K:BB ratio over 40 at bats suggests he’s made some real growth as a hitter. In fact, after posting a 19.8 K% last season in the majors, Gordon is down to 13.0% this season over 46 plate appearances. K rate stabilizes around 60 PAs, so maybe there’s something to this improvement. Even if the high BA isn’t for real, Gordon’s speed certainly is…It’s been another week of turmoil involving closers, with Jim Johnson (temporarily?) out in Oakland, and Jose Veras getting removed in Chicago. Sean Doolittle and Luke Gregerson need to be owned as a result, but Johnson has looked better of late. Veras was a candidate to be traded at the deadline, but fantasy owners were at least hoping for some saves over the first few months of the year. Instead, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon are now looking like superior alternatives. Matt Lindstrom appears to be a strong candidate to lose his job next, making Daniel Webb and Maikel Cleto worth stashing in deeper fantasy leagues. Houston’s pen remains as unclear as ever, while Ernesto Frieri is testing his owners’ (and Mike Scioscia’s) patience, having served up three homers over 5.1 innings. Gonzalez Germen could be a sleeper after Jose Valverde’s latest implosion, and we haven’t even mentioned the health scares with Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel. It’s been an especially crazy year so far when it comes to closers.

The Manny Pacquiao/Timothy Bradley fight was pretty good, as both fighters definitely went for the knockout, although neither came particularly close to it, and after an even fight over the first half, Pac Man dominated rounds 7-12. Can we please get a Pacquiao/Mayweather fight next (assuming Money May takes care of business May 3)?

I really enjoyed the season premiere of “Mad Men” as well as this week’s “Game Of Thrones” shocker, but when it comes to TV this week, I’m most distressed by a comment from “Super Dave Osborne,” otherwise known as Marty Funkhouser, who claimed “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is finished. If this is true (I’m skeptical, but he seemed like it was a done deal), it’s the worst news I’ve heard in a while. Please say it isn’t so, LD.

Longread of the Week: Shadows By The Sea.

Bonus Longread of the Week: Escape From Cuba: Yasiel Puig’s Untold Journey To The Dodgers.

Quick Hits Part Tres: Ervin Santana was supposed to get off to a slow start after not signing with Atlanta until the middle of March, but instead he’s recorded a 0.64 ERA and 0.64 WHIP over his first two starts. He’s sporting an incredible 17:2 K:BB ratio over 14.0 innings and looks like an ace now pitching in the National League. Santana has a 16.9 SwStr%, and I’d treat him like a top-25 fantasy starter right now. It’s doubtful he’s valued as such in your league, so wait for a mediocre start and try to trade for him…Carlos Gomez is batting .345 with four homers and nine RBI to start the season, justifying his high ADP. He’s been a bit lucky (30.8 HR/FB%, .405 BABIP), but he also sports a 35.0 LD% and is sure to start stealing more bases soon. He’s quite obviously become an elite fantasy player…Scott Feldman is off to something of a remarkable start, as he’s somehow allowed just one run over 20.2 innings despite walking eight batters and hitting five others. Of course, those HBP, which are an MLB-high, don’t hurt his WHIP, which is a sparkling 0.73. Feldman has managed his 0.44 ERA not only despite the high walk/HBP rates but also while striking out only seven batters. I know it’s controversial, but I’m a contrarian at heart, so I’ll go ahead and say it: I predict Feldman’s run prevention is much worse moving forward…When Omar Infante led off Tuesday’s game with a long ball, it marked just the second home run by the Royals this season. They have also struck out by far the fewest amount of times of any team in baseball. Make of that what you will…Matt Cain has been given just 2.0 RS (run support average per start), while teammate Madison Bumgarner has been given 7.33. Bumgarner, by the way, somehow has a 3.31 ERA despite an MLB-high .440 BABIP…Chase Utley currently sports a 270 wRC+. The season in which Barry Bonds hit 73 homers, his wRC+ was 235. Small samples are fun.

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