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Mostly MLB Notes: Talking Stephen Strasburg, David Price and a look around the league

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Stephen Strasburg has been getting terrible run support (USAT)

Stephen Strasburg feels like a disappointment this season, but the main reason he hasn’t lived up to his fantasy ADP is his six wins (something out of his control). His K% has dropped from 30.2 last season to 26.2, but with a 2.83 ERA and 1.04 WHIP, it’s hard to really complain about Strasburg’s 2013 performance. After working seven innings (and never more) in just seven of his 45 career starts entering the year, he’s reached that mark in 14 of his 23 outings this season, going deeper four times, including his first career shutout Sunday. Since the All-Star Break, Strasburg has a 2.37 ERA and 0.79 WHIP with a 44:6 K:BB ratio over 38.0 innings. He has an elite 10.9 SwStr% and among the 11 starters who have a higher mark in 2013, only Felix Hernandez has a higher GB/FB ratio than Strasburg’s 1.59. Of course, you don’t need me to tell you Strasburg is a really good pitcher, but he ranks barely as a top-20 fantasy pitcher in Yahoo! this season, with four relievers ahead of him. The reason being him receiving the second-worst run support in all of baseball, with only Chris Sale more unfortunate. In fact, Strasburg has more outings in which he's pitched at least seven innings while allowing one run or fewer than he does wins this season. His .264 BABIP appears lucky considering his high GB rate and the fact the Nationals have the 23rd worse UZR in MLB, but it’s also a testament to how filthy his stuff is (only Matt Harvey has averaged a higher fastball velocity than Strasburg’s 95.4 mph). Clayton Kershaw has separated himself as baseball’s best pitcher, but Strasburg will definitely be in the mix among the next group at fantasy draft tables next year (Strasburg vs. Harvey is going to be a fascinating debate moving forward).

Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart” interrupts J.J. Putz.

Batter Gets Hit By Pitch, Throws Bat at Pitcher.

Here’s Bruce Rondon throwing a baseball 103 mph.

David Price was clearly unlucky based on his peripherals before going on the disabled list and those who bought low have to be extremely happy, but he’s been quite a different pitcher since returning from the DL. Price has a 1.40 ERA and 0.73 WHIP over 64.1 innings after coming back from a triceps strain. During those eight starts, half of them consisted of facing the White Sox, Astros and Giants, but the other half were road starts against the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Dodgers, so it’s been a mix when it comes to schedule. But the real interesting thing is how Price has been dominating of late, as he’s combined incredible control (two walks over those 64.1 innings) with a decreased K rate (6.2). Price’s velocity has picked up since returning from the disabled list, but he’s still lost an average of nearly two mph compared to last year (95.5 vs. 93.6). Here are Price’s SwStr% rates throughout his career, respectively: 12.3, 7.5, 9.8, 8.4, 8.3 and 8.1. That is quite clearly trending in the wrong direction, but he was able to win the Cy Young award last season with a good-not-great SwStr% of 8.3 that ranked 56th among starting pitchers. In other words, Price has proven he can be highly successful even without an elite ability to induce swing and misses, and if his newfound superb control is here to stay, Price could easily go back to contending for Cy Young awards moving forward, even if he does so through a different path.

A Dying Child, a Distraught Father and a Tattooed Stranger.

Here’s a prank gone wrong involving a Taxi Driver with a Body in a Trunk.

Here’s someone bathing in a tub of Pepsi.

Super Glued Bottle Prank.

Michael Cuddyer is having quite a fascinating season when you compare it to last year’s. He’s improved his batting average by nearly 70 points (.328 vs. .260) while seeing similar gains in OBP (.392 vs. .317) and slugging percentage (.545 vs. .489). Put differently, Cuddyer’s current .938 OPS ranks seventh-best in all of baseball. Last year, his .806 OPS would’ve ranked outside the top-55, had he qualified. However, despite this, his counting stats this year (57-17-66-8) are nearly identical to last (53-16-58-8), which is pretty remarkable considering it’s occurred in a similar number of at-bats. Want to get even crazier? This hasn’t even been a sequencing issue, as Cuddyer has actually hit much better with RISP this season (.314/.441/.473) compared to last (.247/.325/.412) and again in a similar number of ABs. Obviously, the big improvement in BA has helped his 2013 fantasy value, but other than that, he’s been the exact same asset as last year despite being the much superior real life player (at least at the plate. His defense has actually been the opposite. Go figure.). It’s a statistical oddity that’s not easy to explain, especially since the Rockies have scored the ninth-most runs in MLB this year (after scoring the sixth-most last season).

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Quick Hits: Sunday marked the first time in Mariano Rivera’s career he blew three straight saves. The Yankees still managed to win two of the games, and Rivera’s ERA remains a strong 2.44 on the year. But his 1.20 WHIP is the highest since his rookie season, and he’s given up more homers (three) over his past 1.1 innings than he had over his previous 77.2…If you prorated Jonathan Villar’s stats over a full season, he’d finish with 105 stolen bases…The Rays hit into six double plays (and ran into another out) during their loss to the Diamondbacks on Wednesday in a game that didn't go extra innings. Now that’s not easy to do…Josh Reddick hit as many homers Friday and Saturday (five) over eight at-bats as he had over his previous 306 at-bats…Over his last four starts, Nathan Eovaldi has a 1.04 ERA and 1.00 WHIP (one outing came in Coors Field, while another was in Atlanta against a Braves team with the best record in baseball), although to be fair his 18:11 K:BB ratio over 26.0 innings during that span hasn’t been great. Still, while Eovaldi has some further developing to do (and will struggle to get wins while pitching for Miami), he’s allowed more than three runs just once during his 10 starts this season (and that outing was also the only one in which he didn’t go at least six innings). Eovaldi’s average fastball velocity (96.2 mph) would easily be the highest among starters if he qualified.

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Quick Hits Part Deux: Gordon Beckham has just three home runs on the season, but the former top prospect has quietly hit .306/.355/.419 this season. Put differently, his .774 OPS among second basemen is just below Dustin Pedroia (.777) and above Ian Kinsler, Ben Zobrist and Brandon Phillips. His .306 BA would be second only to Matt Carpenter. It’s a small sample, but Beckham shouldn’t be unowned in deeper fantasy leagues at this point, considering his pedigree, his home hitter’s park and the dire situation when it comes to batting average these days…Since joining the rotation in the middle of June, Joe Kelly had a 1.60 ERA over 39.1 innings before Sunday’s lackluster outing at home against the Cubs. Any Cardinals pitcher who suddenly outperforms his past levels shouldn’t be ignored, but Kelly has a 26:18 K:BB ratio over 44.2 innings since becoming a starter, so he’s a longshot to keep providing fantasy value…Ryan Ludwick hit 26 homers with 80 RBI over 422 at-bats last season, finishing with an .877 OPS. He just returned from the 60-day disabled list and needs to be added in all but the shallowest of fantasy leagues. He was actually projected to hit cleanup this year before going down with the shoulder injury, and the Reds’ left field position is open to be replaced…Allen Craig is somehow on pace to finish with 15 homers and 121 RBI…Ike Davis’ power is still missing, but he’s been quite a bit better since getting recalled from the minors…Here’s the most surprising statistic of the 2013 season.

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Quick Hits Part Tres: When pitching at Minute Maid Park this season, Yu Darvish has a 0.38 WHIP and 37 strikeouts over 23.2 innings. His BAA is .066…Despite calling Petco Park home, Chris Denorfia has been a fantasy beast if you started him solely against southpaws, as he’s hit .283/.353/.536 with nine homers and three steals over just 138 at-bats. He had a .337/.390/.500 line against left-handers in 2012 and a .328/.391/.496 line against southpaws the year before that. He’s a factor in daily leagues…Here’s Jared Burton (fake) punching teammate Brian DuensingLaTroy Hawkins has a career 4.39 ERA and 1.42 WHIP over 19 seasons in major league baseball, and yet he’s somehow posted a 2.90 ERA over 142.2 innings over the past three years, during his age 38-40 seasons. Hawkins improbably has a 4.3 K:BB ratio and is a fantasy asset as someone who may pick up saves in the Mets’ depleted bullpen over the rest of the year…Since the last day of June, Jayson Werth has hit .421 with 10 homers, 30 runs scored and 29 RBI over 121 at-bats. Imagine just how bad this Washington offense would be if Werth hadn’t bounced back (.328/.401/.530) in a big way this season…Well, this minor league box score is a bit crazy…When facing the Marlins, who’ve scored by far the fewest runs in all of baseball this season, Matt Harvey and Stephen Strasburg have a combined 4.50 ERA and 1.38 WHIP over 32.0 innings. Against the rest of MLB, they have a combined 2.20 ERA and 0.89 WHIP over 274.0 innings.

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