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Opening Time: Recalibrating Homer Bailey

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade

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The Reds celebrate Bailey's new Shuffle Up ranking (AP)

So, Homer Bailey threw another no-hitter. You probably watched it. We tweeted about it. We should talk about it.

Bailey's 2013 season had a sneaky, under-the-radar quality to it - but the cat is out of the bag now. It took a while for the buzzy prospect to fully arrive as a legitimate pitching star, but we can't deny that label any longer. It's all happening at age 27.

The old-school rotoheads might blanche at a mere five wins and a good-not-great ERA of 3.57, but the secondary Bailey numbers leap to his defense. A 1.06 WHIP is terrific, obviously. He's pushed his strikeout rate up to one per inning, while trimming his walk rate to a microscopic 2.11/9. His ground-ball rate has nudged up to 48.6 percent. If you take any stock in the component estimators, note that FIP and xFIP both say Bailey deserves an ERA under 3.

Bailey's step forward in 2012 was mostly about pitching well away from Cincinnati - if you grade all starting pitchers last year on their road stats only, Bailey comes out on top, numero uno. Alas, his ratios were a mess at Great American Ball Park (5.16/1.50). The trend has flipped this time around: he's been terrific at home (2.85/0.95) and spotty - perhaps unlucky - on the road (4.41, but with an acceptable 1.20 WHIP). Maybe the takeaway is this: if Bailey had any hangups about his hitter-friendly home park, they're ancient history now.

You can't pick up Bailey today, but we should take a second to consider where he slots on the current pitching landscape. With that in mind, here's a Shuffle Up Jr. (it won't go as deep as a normal one) in honor of Bailey's second no-no, a back-of-envelope rank of the starting pitchers. Have some fun with it, and share your take in the comments.

I'm cutting this Shuffle off at eight bucks, and I'm not ranking the hurt guys or the percolating-in-the-minors guys (waving at you, Erasmo). Those are the Shuffle Up Jr. rules. The next Shuffle Up proper will be the middle infielders, later this week.

$32 Clayton Kershaw
$31 Adam Wainwright
$30 Yu Darvish
$28 Chris Sale
$27 Matt Harvey
$26 Felix Hernandez
$25 Justin Verlander
$25 Max Scherzer
$24 Hisashi Iwakuma
$23 Cliff Lee
$23 Stephen Strasburg
$23 Madison Bumgarner
$21 Jordan Zimmermann
$21 Matt Cain
$21 Mat Latos
$20 Shelby Miller
$18 Gio Gonzalez
$18 Lance Lynn
$18 Homer Bailey
$18 Francisco Liriano
$17 David Price
$17 James Shields
$16 Jered Weaver
$16 Zack Greinke
$16 Cole Hamels
$16 Mike Minor
$16 Derek Holland
$16 John Lackey
$14 Matt Moore
$14 Jeff Samardzija
$14 Hyun-Jin Ryu
$14 Julio Teheran
$13 CC Sabathia
$13 R.A. Dickey
$13 Bartolo Colon
$13 Ervin Santana
$13 Jose Fernandez
$13 Matt Garza
$12 Kris Medlen
$12 Patrick Corbin
$12 Hiroki Kuroda
$12 Justin Masterson
$12 Travis Wood
$11 Jon Lester
$11 Doug Fister
$11 Jarrod Parker
$10 C.J. Wilson
$10 Jeff Locke
$10 Mike Leake
$10 Gerrit Cole
$10 Chris Tillman
$10 Jeremy Hellickson
$10 Scott Feldman
$10 Andrew Cashner
$10 Corey Kluber
$9 Paul Maholm
$9 Jorge De La Rosa
$9 Eric Stults
$9 Ricky Nolasco
$8 A.J. Griffin
$8 Kyle Lohse
$8 Tommy Milone
$8 Tony Cingrani
$8 Bronson Arroyo

As for the rest of MLB, here are some bullets.

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You can touch this (USAT)

Roy Oswalt is still owned in six percent of Yahoo! leagues. My job is to get that number down to zero.

Why does Oswalt keep signing with teams in hitter-favoring parks? And why do those clubs keep taking a leap of faith on the aging right-hander? Oswalt was a disaster in his Texas stint last year (5.80/1.53) and he's throwing batting practice in three Colorado games (7.88/1.81). The Dodgers collected nine hits and five runs against Oswalt in Tuesday's rout.

Here's a good example of how K/BB ratio doesn't tell a complete story. Oswalt has 21 punchouts against just two walks this year, and his K/BB numbers last year were very good (59 whiffs, 11 walks). But when batters do make contact, it's often loud contact: note the bloated line-drive rates of the last two seasons (23.5 percent, 27.5 percent). Oswalt also had a gopher problem in Arlington last season, to no one's surprise. Don't be cute and try to talk yourself into this story - it's not destined for a happy ending. The Diamondbacks welcome Oswalt's hittable offerings for a Sunday matinee.

Nothing much went right for the Diamondbacks in a 9-1 wipeout at New York, but let's acknowledge the snappy game Martin Prado had: single, double, homer. Prado's been a persona non grata to many fantasy owners in 2013, but it's a good time to try to buy low on the handy Diamondback.

Prado's .252 average really doesn't make sense when you consider his elite line-drive and contact rates. His current .259 BABIP is 51 points below his career mark. There's nothing fluky with his ground-ball or infield-fly numbers. Sometimes a crummy hit rate is driven by a player who can't drive the ball, but that isn't the case here. Prado also carries four juicy positions of Yahoo! eligibility, something that's always worth an extra buck or two in our world.

The earth didn't shift off its axis when the Orioles acquired Scott Feldman on Tuesday, but there's a little roto spin to be considered here, so let's have a look.

Feldman's overall stock takes a clear hit, exchanging the NL Central for the AL East. Goodbye flailing pitchers and liberal bunts. The supporting cast of the Orioles gives him a better shot at wins, obviously, but that's a stat tied to all sorts of fluky things. Anyone who owned Feldman had to be hoping for a cushy NL landing spot. (Please don't be this cruel with Matt Garza, Cubbies).

The Cubs picked up Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop in the deal, two arms that might be of use to us down the line. Perhaps Arrieta can play his way into the post-hype sleeper file in a year or two. Strop doesn't have great control, but he's another arm to consider if and when the Cubs move Kevin Gregg. I still prefer Blake Parker as hedge No. 1, but Dale Sveum has somewhat of a roaming eye in the ninth inning.

Speed Round: The Diamondbacks are going back to Heath Bell at closer, at least for now. I don't have confidence in him taking the job and running with it (or running, period), but apparently the Snakes don't feel good about J.J. Putz at the moment . . . Tom Wilhelmsen has been sharp in recent outings (three bagels, four strikeouts) and is expected to get a shot in the ninth inning soon . . . Hiroki Kuroda is battling a sore hip and won't make his Friday start . . . Mark Teixeira had successful wrist surgery, because apparently surgeons bat 1.000 when it comes to fixing up athletes . . . Chris Perez worked around two baserunners and one deep fly in Tuesday's save at Kansas City. Please don't watch him pitch. Better yet, try to shop him now . . . The intriguing Miguel Gonzalez stream start at Chicago is now a start Friday at Yankee Stadium - the Feldman trade resulted in the Orioles reshuffling their rotation. Win some, lose some . . . The Rockies finally placed Dexter Fowler (wrist) on the disabled list . . . Forget all logic, just enjoy Raul Ibanez and his 20 homers. He cranked another one Tuesday at Arlington, while Kendrys Morales hit a pair. Lefty hacks in the Texas summer heat; good work if you can get it.

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