Coors Field is the most extreme baseball park for our fake-baseball consumption. The ball flies in the thin air, the runs flow, the keg is tapped. Most of the time, we run from the starting pitchers who toil there on a regular basis. That all said, is it time to stop worrying and learn to love Tyler Chatwood?
Chatwood had a Friday assignment against the Brewers and came through with flying colors, posting seven dynamite innings (6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 11 K) and cruising to his seventh victory. A 2.48 ERA plays in any format, obviously.
To be fair, the strikeout count came as a surprise. Chatwood's K/9 rate sits at a modest 6.37/9 - most of his success is tied to a dreamy ground-ball rate (58.2 percent) and a favorable HR/FB clip (5.8 percent). Chatwood also took advantage of a patchwork Milwaukee lineup: no Braun, no Ramirez, no Lucroy. Good work if you can get it.
No one expects a 2.48 ERA to continue, of course. Chatwood's 1.30 WHIP isn't in line with that tidy number, and the ERA estimators have a different view of how well he's pitching. FIP crunches out to 3.14, while xFIP sits at 3.55. SIERA sits at 3.76, tERA at 4.40. Pick out your favorite flavor of alphabet soup and take it for what you like.
Chatwood is more trustable outside of Coors, as you'd expect (1.23 ERA, 0.95 WHIP). The 3.47 ERA at home is tied to a messy 1.56 WHIP - there's good fortune there. For the time being, Chatwood looks like someone you employ on the road and someone you carefully consider at home. Sooner or later, someone throws a jagged number at you in the thin air.
Chatwood's next two turns come at standard elevation, at Atlanta and at the Mets. Those are reasonable assignments for anyone in a medium and deep mixed league. The Pirates pay a visit to Coors Field after that, probably a start to avoid. If I were shuffling up the starting pitchers right this moment, I'd probably have Chatwood in the $8-10 range.
• The AL East remains the toughest division in baseball for any pitcher, something CC Sabathia is all too aware of. Sabathia allowed seven runs to the Rays on Friday, his second straight disaster outing (the Red Sox dialed seven against CC last weekend). These two opponents are the ones wrecking Sabathia's season; consider his composite line against Tampa and Boston over seven starts (43.1 IP, 53 H, 36 ER, 14 BB, 41 K, 7.48 ERA, 1.55 WHIP).
Yankee Stadium isn't really the bad guy in Sabathia's messy season - he's carrying a 5.32 ERA on the road. The lowest strand rate of his career isn't helping, along with the highest HR/FB rate of his career. But perhaps these are residuals from Sabathia's disappearing fastball - he's clocking in at 90.7 on the heater for 2013, a notable dip from previous seasons.
Fantasy owners don't have a lot of options with Sabathia right now - he's probably untradable in most leagues at the moment, and based on back class you probably don't want to drop him. At minimum, we should see what he does with two cushy upcoming assignments (at San Diego, then at the slumping White Sox). If Sabathia can't right the ship in those spots, then it's time for another conversation.
• Has the other cleat finally dropped on Albert Pujols? He's been a notable disappointment through the opening four months, in part because he's hobbling around the field like Fred G. Sanford. Pujols reinjured his left foot in Friday's loss to Bartolo Colon and the A's, and he's scheduled to be reevaluated by team doctors Saturday. Forget about him for this weekend, and a DL stint is starting to look imminent.
Pujols has gallantly played through many injuries in his career, but it might not be worth it this time around. The Angels open the day with a 49-53 record, 11 games off the pace in the AL West. Even the wild card seems hopeless to them, 8.5 games back and behind six teams. If the team isn't contending through the dog days of August and into September, an early shutdown of Pujols is probably the prudent move.
Speed Round: Highly-regarded Cuban starting pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez signed on with the Phillies, getting a six-year package worth $50 million. Gonzalez, 26, isn't expected to need much time in the minors; Yahoo's Jeff Passan figures the Phillies will bring Gonzalez to The Show at some point in late August . . . With Matt Holliday (hamstring) back in the lineup Saturday, our Matt Adams fun is shelved for a while. It would be a perfect time for temporary DH work to come into play, but the Cardinals don't have any AL road games remaining on the schedule . . . Derek Jeter (quad) appears in line for a Sunday return to the Yankees . . . Cliff Lee (neck) won't pitch in Detroit this weekend, and it's possible he might be done as a member of the Phillies. Several contenders are looking at the veteran left-hander, and obviously Philadelphia has a major roster rebuild on its hands . . . Minnesota scratched out a 13-inning victory at Seattle despite the absence of Joe Mauer (paternity leave). The sweet-swinging catcher should be back Tuesday against Kansas City.