April 19, 2009
Known as the Sacagawea of fantasy primers, the Weekly Rundown guides head-to-head owners through a forest of obscure stats and exploitable matchups in an attempt to help solve lineup conundrums. While reading, keep in mind matchups are subject to change due to managerial moves, unforeseen injuries and Mother Nature's influences.
Another quality start for Toronto's Ricky Romero and deep-thinking fantasy owners will no longer be able to refuse thy name.
The former Cal-Fullerton standout, who was selected sixth overall (sandwiched between Ryan Braun and Troy Tulowitzki) in the 2005 draft, is finally starting to live up to expectation. Maybe J.P. Riccardi is on the verge of vindication after all. Ok, that's an ambitious statement. The brainless comments about Adam Dunn last season will forever taint his image...
In Romero's four-year professional career, the 24-year-old has battled through injuries and inconsistencies. His uneventful career in the minors -- 416 IP, 4.33 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 7.01 K/9 and 3.79 BB/9 -- is why many insiders have already labeled him a multi-million dollar flop. But, as Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg remarked to MLB.com earlier this month, the former top prospect underwent a massive mechanical and mental overhaul this spring in an attempt to unlock his potential:
"I talked to him (Romero) a lot about the courage and the confidence and the poise," Arnsberg said. "You've got the blend of a mechanical thing boosting the confidence thing. I said, 'When you walk out there on that mound, you've got to feel like you're a bad dude. This is my day. I've waited five days to do this."
So far, Romero's transformation has indeed yielded badass results.
Equipped with a 90-94 mph fastball, slider, hard-breaking curve and plus change, the southpaw's variable arsenal and altered approach has occasionally miffed batters. In his first two major league starts he's amassed a 2.57 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 1.29 BB/9 and a very impressive 1.50 GB/FB ratio in 14 innings pitched.
Although his punchout numbers will be unremarkable, Romero's quality starts upside tags him a player of interest in deep mixed leagues (14-teams-plus). His long-term projection is a dependable mid-rotation starter, which isn't spectacular, but he's worth a trial run for those already drowning in ERA. If he can continue to coax groundballs and keep his stuff down in the zone, a breakthrough season is certainly possible, especially with the Jays offense flourishing.
The 26-percent owned hurler toes the rubber today against the torpid A's.
• Rangers' reigning Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Derek Holland, was recalled from Triple-A on Saturday. He is expected to bolster a bullpen in dire need of a power-armed lefty. The 22-year-old southpaw, who was featured in "Farm Aid" earlier this spring, went 13-1 with a 2.27 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 9.18 K/9 last season.
With unexciting hurlers Matt Harrison and Kris Benson in the rotation, the youngster could eventually supplant either veteran. Texas GM Jon Daniels hinted Holland's bullpen role may only be temporary:
"As we looked at it, Derek was the best option for our bullpen. It's something we discussed in spring training, breaking camp in this role. We feel he's a strike thrower with the stuff and the maturity to handle it. He'll be used initially in the bullpen.
"Obviously, we see him as a starter down the line, but right now he'll be in the bullpen."
For now, Holland should only be rostered in deep AL-only formats, but given his dynamite skill set and ability to coax numerous groundballs, he could develop into an impact backend fantasy starter later this season. Watch his performances closely.
• In other Rangers news, lightly owned outfielder Marlon Byrd (11 percent-owned) continues to punish the baseball. Although the 31-year-old hasn't officially leapfrogged David Murphy on the depth chart, he's slapped a hit in six of seven contests, posting a .344 BA with nine RBIs and five runs.
Last week, Ron Washington stressed Murphy will play, but if Byrd can continue to wield a fiery stick those opportunities will be limited. He won't carry virtual teams in any single category, but his all-around contributions are useful for deep-thinking owners (14-teams-plus) with underachieving utility options. Assuming he accumulates 420-plus at-bats, a final tally in the ballpark of .285-14-70-65-8 should be expected.
• Battered, bruised or should not be used: Vladimir Guerrero (torn pectoral, out at least one month), Alex Gordon (hip surgery, out 10-12 weeks), Cristian Guzman (hamstring, on 15-day DL), Huston Street (well-deserved demotion), Stephen Drew (being a brittle Drew, hamstring), Milton Bradley (groin strain, fiery temper, day-to-day), Chipper Jones (thumb, day-to-day), David Ortiz (.158 BA, Manny separation anxiety)
For stream conscious owners who want to push the innings-pitched envelope this is the list for you. Run support, ballpark factors, historical and recent trends, opposing offenses, opposing SPs, managerial tendencies and meteorological influences are painstakingly taken into account to give you the top double dippers of each week.
FEAST OR FAMINE?
Torn between two stat-similar infielders this week? Use the pitching and hitting staff sorters below to help you decide whether or not Adam LaRoche or Scott Olsen is fantasy feast or famine. Stats are for games played through April 17:
Image courtesy of Getty