July 02, 2008
Ridiculously extolled rookie Clayton Kershaw was optioned back to Double-A Jacksonville earlier this evening. Caught off guard by the demotion, the 20-year-old future phenom wasn't pleased with the news. Per the LA Times:
"I'm disappointed," said Kershaw, who said the move caught him by surprise. "But I understand it's a business."
Kershaw's dismayed reaction isn't a surprise considering Joe Torre gave him a vote of confidence just six days ago.
But it was the right move.
The hammer-throwing southpaw was more Rich Hill than Sandy Koufax in his eight big league starts. In those outings he walked a ghastly 5.59 batters per nine, which directly impacted his 1.63 WHIP and 4.42 ERA.
As with any major leaguer not old enough to legally consume alcohol, adjustment phases are the norm, not the exception. The Kerry Woods of the world are incredibly rare. Because fantasy owners/writers set unattainable expectations on top prospects, their initial value is greatly skewed. Hey, our numerous Billy Butler exaltations prove exactly that.
Kershaw's ability to coax abundant groundballs (50.5 GB%) coupled with his otherworldly stuff - knee-snapping curve, 92-95 mph fastball, deceptive change - will make him a rotation topper one day. But given his shoddy command, he's probably at least 2-3 years away from making a significant fantasy impact. Believe it not. We accurately projected Kershaw's struggles May 25.
For Eric Stults (11.1 percent owned) and Chan Ho Park (2.1 percent), Kershaw's minor league banishment opens the door for one or both of them to remain in the LA rotation. Even with Hiroki Kuroda back (7 IP, 0 ER, 1 K, W vs. Hou tonight) and Brad Penny expected to be activated later this week, Torre has toyed with the idea of employing a six-man rotation through the All-Star break. Ultimately, whoever performs best during that span will cement his spot in the rotation.
Bank on Chan
Blow Ho to emerge the winner.
Stults sparkled in his first two stats but his alarming 46.0 FB% and unexciting 4.87 K/9 are indications he could get tattooed away from Chavez Ravine.
As for Park his encouraging 48.2 GB% on the year, 8.40 K/9 in three starts and substantial boost in velocity (92.4 mph fastball average, up from 88.4 in '07) arrows to continued success.
• As we reported earlier - kudos to Grizzly Behrens for his lightning quick analysis - Pittsburgh
linebacker closer Matt Capps will miss the next eight weeks with shoulder bursitis.
We believe 1.2 percent owned Damaso Marte, who has 31 career saves and a 9.74 K/9 this season, will receive the bulk of the opportunities, although Tyler Yates could be leaned on occasionally. In a non-save situation, Yates shut the door on the Cincinnati Reds, yielding one hit with one strikeout in a scoreless inning of work.
• With Capps shelved, Buccos lumberjack Steven Pearce was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis to fill the open void. He went 0-for-1 in his debut.
Pearce, who jacked 11 bombs and drove in 54 runs in 347 at-bats with the Indians, has prodigious power. Although his stay is expected to be temporary, he'll likely earn a permanent promotion when Xavier Nady is dealt later this month. He's warrants immediate consideration in NL-only formats once he clears waivers. Meanwhile, those in shallower leagues should keep an eye on him.
For more information on Pearce's already legendary swing, we strongly encourage you to read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette feature on the young slugger from March 2.
• Including this afternoon's dazzling effort against Washington, Ricky Nolasco is 8-1 with a 3.55 ERA and 7.33 K/9 since May 1. It's utterly mind-boggling he's still available in over 65 percent of Y! leagues.
• Moving up into the sixth spot in the order, "Crush" Davis (Chris Davis) cracked his third homer in six games. The 22-year-old masher now has 7 RBIs in 19 at-bats, Frank Catalanotto 10 in 172 at-bats. If Davis is optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City when Hank Blalock returns riots spurred by his fantasy owners will overrun the streets of Arlington. We predict he'll receive everyday work splitting time between first and DH when Hank "The Stank" is activated. Davis shouldn't be doing backstrokes in 12-team mixed league free agent pools.
• Dan "18" Wheeler earned the save tonight for Tampa after Grant Balfour slammed the door the past two nights. Joe Maddon will continue to use a committee approach in the ninth. As he remarked in the Y! Inside Pitch:
"It's just the way it is, and we just have to try to make it work somehow," manager Joe Maddon said. "But I do have a lot of confidence in a lot of different guys to get the last out."
Our angle: both are rosterable, but because of Balfour's mid-90s heater and absurd 13.50 K/9, he will probably net the bulk of the opportunities. Balfour is Australian for "saves."
• Evidently, Nick Blackburn also loves to "Slow" jam. The 5.3 percent owned Twinkie tossed his third quality start in his past four games. Similar to teammate Kevin Slowey, Blackburn is a contact pitcher whose success is dependent upon consistent location. With the Twins scorching, he should be a staple streamer in 12-team mixed leagues.
• Two noteworthy injury imp victims: Jeff Francis was placed on the 15-day DL with shoulder inflammation and, presumably, a bruised frontal lobe. Michael Young left tonight's game against the Yankees with a mild left groin strain. He's listed as day-to-day.