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2012 Fantasy Baseball Projections: How Good Is Giants’ Madison Bumgarner?

With his five-hit complete game against the Washington Nationals Tuesday night, Madison Bumgarner extended his quality starts streak to seven. In 16 of his 24 starts this season he’s allowed two runs or less. And here’s another mind-bender: He’s walked more than two batters in an outing just once all year.

This is the kind of consistency that warrants ace status. And whether or not Bumgarner gets the credit he deserves, he’s already at that level.

Since his major-league debut in 2009 (he logged only 10 innings with the Giants that year), Bumgarner has the 11th-best ERA (3.05) and 10th-best FIP (3.17) among qualified starters. Of the pitchers ahead of him on those lists, the only walk-rate better than Bumgarner’s (1.97) is that of Roy Halladay (1.27), and the only strikeout rates better than Bumgarner’s (8.04) are those of Clayton Kershaw (9.36), Justin Verlander (9.21), Josh Johnson (8.43) and Adam Wainwright (8.31).

Since 2010, Bumgarner’s WAR (10.5) is better than that of Yovani Gallardo (9.7), Johnny Cueto (9.7), James Shields (9.4) and Matt Latos (9.1).

Bumgarner’s 2011 season (5.5 WAR) was the sixth-best by a 21-22 year-old EVER. Only Mark Prior (2003, 7.6 WAR), Frank Tanana (1975, 7.2), Brett Saberhagen (1985, 6.8), Fernando Valenzuela (1982, 6.5) and Frank Tanana (1976, 6.1) were better at the same age.

This season, Bumgarner’s WAR (3.2) tops that of Jered Weaver (3.0), Matt Cain (2.9) and Cliff Lee (2.6).

A legitimate case can be made for Bumgarner being a top 10-15 fantasy starter. And he just turned 23.

Take a minute to let that settle.

One of MadBum’s keys to success has been his first-pitch strike rate, which has risen from 57.5 percent in 2009 to 60.2 (’10), to 62.6 (’11) to 64.2 this season (17th-best among qualified starters).

There is one thing that scares me about Bumgarner, however, and it’s a doozy. He’s throwing his slider at a rate of 38 percent, second most in the majors. And if you’ve read this, you know why that’s a very bad thing.

Bumgarner’s velocity hasn’t taken a nosedive yet, but when it does you’ll want to start shopping him. In fact, I wouldn’t hesitate to move him now. This isn’t to say he can’t maintain his current value, but—and this is just a personal preference—I simply don’t trust pitchers who use their slider as much as Bumgarner does.

Chris Sale—who I wrote about earlier this week—is similar to Bumgarner in that they both are 23, they’re both pitching lights-out and they both throw their slider way too often.I’d rather have Bumgarner, given that he pitches in a more friendly home park and league.

But again, these are all just personal preferences. I don’t expect many to believe trading a 23-year-old southpaw with Bumgarner’s (or Sale’s) resume is a good idea. But if I owned either one, I’d be looking to maximize their value right now—before they fall victim to a major injury.


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2011 Fantasy Baseball Projections: What’s Wrong with Cubs’ Ryan Dempster?

Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster allowed seven earned runs for the second consecutive start on Thursday, recording just one out before being yanked. Along the way he walked four, hit a batter and yielded four hits, including a grand slam to Stephen Drew.

Through six starts, the usually reliable Dempster now sports an unsightly 9.58 ERA and 1.87 WHIP. Given his steady production over the last three seasons (3.49 ERA, 8.20 K/9, 3.28 BB/9), one can’t help but wonder: What’s wrong with Ryan Dempster?

Scouts noted Dempster’s dip in velocity Thursday night, clocking him in the 85 to 90 mph range. For the season, Dempster’s average fastball velocity is 90.3 mph, not far off of his 2010 mark of 91.0 mph.

Cubs manager Mike Quade recently had this to say about Dempster’s ineffectiveness:

“He’s just not executing his pitches. I think it’s that simple…That slider that’s so good for him (hasn’t been) on a regular basis.”

That slider has been Dempster’s bread-and-butter pitch ever since he made the switch from reliever to starter after the 2007 season. In fact, over the last three years, Dempster’s slider has been a combined 52.0 runs above average, ranking as the major’s third-best during that time.

This season, Dempster’s slider has been 4.9 runs below average.

This has led to a severe case of gopheritis, as the 33-year-old (he’ll turn 34 on Tuesday) has allowed nine bombs thus far in 31 innings, equating to a 2.61 HR/9, which is more than two-and-a-half times his career mark of 1.00.

Despite his early-season struggles, there are reasons for optimism.

Throughout his nightmarish April, Dempster has maintained his high strikeout rate (8.42). His batted ball rates are comparable to his 2010 totals, and his BABIP (.344) and LOB rate (53.9) are likely to regress to the mean.

Dempster’s alarming home run rate should stabilize, as his 4.26 xFIP suggests.

His contact rate (79.8 percent), while still below the major league average of 80.6, is as high as its ever been (career 75.1 percent). Yet he’s still throwing strikes (50.9 percent of his pitches have been in the zone, MLB average is 47.3), perhaps they’re just catching too much of the plate.

Bottom line: Dempster shouldn’t be trusted at this point, but he’s still worth holding onto. Monitor his next two starts (home against St. Louis and San Francisco) and go from there. Assuming he can lower his near-double-digit ERA (or at the very least, turn in what would be his first quality start of the season), Dempster may finally be worth starting very soon.

But whatever you do, don’t drop him. His sub-4.00 ERA and suburb strikeout potential from here on out make him a valuable fantasy commodity. In fact, if you have the audacity to believe in him, Dempster is a good buy-low candidate.


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2011 Rankings: C / 1B / 2B / 3B / SS / OF / SP / Top 100 / All-Breakout Team

Buy or Sell?: Chris Coghlan / Starlin Castro  / Bruce Chen / Chris Narveson

Top RookiesJerry Sands / Michael Pineda / Zach Britton / Brandon Belt / Mike Minor

Closer’s Corner: Who Will Replace Broxton?

Keeper Conundrum: Brett Anderson or Trevor Cahill? / Bryce Harper or Mike Trout?

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2011 Fantasy Baseball Projections: How Good Is Seattle Mariners’ Michael Pineda?

Through three starts (19 1/3 innings) in 2011, Seattle Mariners’ rookie Michael Pineda has certainly turned some heads. The 21-year-old boasts a 2.33 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 16/7 K/BB ratio, which includes a start at Texas.

This begs the question: How good is Michael Pineda?

Baseball America ranked Pineda—who stands 6′7″ and weighs 260 pounds—behind Dustin Ackley as the Mariners’ No. 2 prospect this spring, and noted the following:

Pineda has the size, stuff and control to pitch at the top of a rotation. He throws a crisp fastball that sits at 93-97 mph and gets as high as 101 with explosive life and occasional heavy sink. He tightened and added more tilt to his quality slider this year, though he can still get under it occasionally, causing it to flatten out. He also did a better job of selling his upper-80s changeup with the same arm speed as his fastball, keeping it down and getting hitters to chase it. Pineda throws all three pitches from the same three-quarter arm slot.

Pineda had very little trouble in the minors, posting a 2.49 ERA in 404 IP over five seasons while totalling elite strikeout (8.8 K/9) and walk (2.1 BB/9) ratios.

Everyone, myself included, expected him to become a very good major league pitcher—just not this soon.

As I noted in this article—The Top 10 Rookies in 2011—Pineda is likely to experience many ups and downs this season.

Despite his ridiculous success thus far (72.9 percent contact rate, 39.1 percent o-swing rate), and his average fastball velocity of 96.1 mph, I still believe Pineda will send fantasy managers on a roller coaster ride this season.

Will he maintain his current 2.33 ERA? Of course not. Can he finish the season with a sub-4.00 ERA? Given his surroundings at Safeco Field, I’d say it’s likely.

Yet, somehow, Pineda is owned in just 56 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

He’s undoubtedly worth an add in any 12-team mixed league. You may have to monitor his matchups, but he certainly has a lot to offer. His next two starts (home vs. Oakland and at Detroit) work in his favor.


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2011 Position Rankings: C / 1B / 2B / 3B / SS / OF / SP / Top 100

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2011 Fantasy Baseball Projections: Is Royals’ Bruce Chen Worth a Waiver Flier?

Kansas City Royals’ pitcher Bruce Chen tossed his third consecutive quality start on Tuesday, limiting the Indians to just two runs on six hits in seven innings. He also walked three and struck out five.

Through 26 innings (four starts) this season, the 33-year-old southpaw is 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA and 1.15 WHIP to go along with 16 strikeouts and seven walks.

This begs the question: Is Bruce Chen worth a waiver wire flier?

Let’s rewind.

Chen pitched just 10 innings for the Rangers in 2007 before undergoing Tommy John surgery, which effectively wiped out his entire 2007 and 2008 seasons.

He returned in 2009 with the Royals, pitching in 17 games (nine starts) with a 5.78 ERA and 1.59 WHIP. His FIP (5.55) and xFIP (5.22) agreed with his ineffectiveness. However, this was in just 62 1/3 innings—a very small sample size.

In 2010, Chen pitched both as a starter and out of the bullpen.

In 33 games (23 starts), he amassed 140 1/3 innings, recording a 4.17 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. Not great, but certainly worthy of a spot start here or there, given a favorable matchup. His strikeout and walk ratios (6.29 and 3.66, respectively) were both below the MLB average.

All told, Chen has pitched 228 2/3 big league innings since his Tommy John surgery, totalling a 4.40 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 6.26 K/9 and 3.50 BB/9.

Ideal? Absolutely not.

Useful? Not even close.

Yet, somehow, Chen has produced very good numbers thus far.

His mid-80’s fastball/mid-70’s changeup combo generally makes up about 75 percent of the pitches he throws. Thus far, they’ve been average pitches.

Chen generally pitches to contact, and the Royals defense has aided his performance thus far. His advanced stats, however, suggest what we already know—he’s a below-average pitcher.

It’s difficult to urge against him given the results thus far. His next scheduled start will be at Texas, however, in a matchup that nobody in their right mind would favor Chen in.

The bottom line is that Chen might be a decent spot starter here or there, but he’s not going to be a reliable option all season.

If you’re part of the nine percent of Yahoo! users that own him, it would be wise to seek a trade. However, if your fellow league members are at least as smart as a rock, they’ll likely pass.


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2011 Fantasy Baseball Closers Corner Week 3: Matt Thornton, Ryan Franklin & More

The start of the 2011 season has been filled with surprises, particularly in terms of blown saves. The Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals’ bullpens have been especially unpredictable recently. Here’s the latest:

White Sox

The White Sox’s bullpen is a mess. Matt Thornton has blown all four of his save opportunities thus far, and has allowed 11 runs (five earned) on 12 hits in 5.2 innings.

Chris Sale has the team’s only save, but when given the chance to close the door last Wednesday, he allowed three runs on three hits without recording an out. He hasn’t pitched since.

Jesse Crain could be a ninth inning option, having allowed just two runs in 8.1 innings thus far with a 10/2 K/BB ratio.

The best pitcher in Chicago’s pen, however, has been 27-year-old Sergio Santos. The former first round pick has recorded 8.2 scoreless innings in six appearances this season, striking out 11 while walking four. He probably isn’t the best long term option, but if the White Sox were presented with a save opportunity tonight, he’d likely get the nod. He’s currently owned in just 18 percent of Yahoo! leagues.


Ryan Franklin blew his fourth save opportunity in five tries on Sunday, and now sports an 11.57 ERA through six appearances (4.2 innings).

Tony La Rusa will almost certainly give someone else a chance to close games for now. Mitchell Boggs (nine innings, two runs, 12/3 K/BB, 13 percent owned) and Jason Motte (seven innings, two runs, 3/4 K/BB ratio, 12 percent owned) are the most likely replacements.


Jordan Walden has converted two save opportunities since being named the Angels’ closer last week. Through 8.1 scoreless innings this season, Walden has allowed just three hits. He’s struck out 10 and walked four. He’s currently owned in 74 percent of Yahoo! leagues.


After blowing two consecutive save opportunities, Joe Nathan was removed from the Twins’ ninth-inning role. Despite converting his first three saves, Nathan’s velocity is down (average fastball of 93.6 mph in 2009, 91.2 mph in 2011). Likewise, he’s issued five free passes in 5.1 innings.

Matt Capps has converted the last two save opportunities for the Twins, but he hasn’t exactly been perfect. Through 10 innings, Capps has allowed five runs on eight hits. He has yet to walk a batter, however. Capps has closer experience (111 career saves), but one would think it’s only a matter of time before Nathan is pitching in the ninth again.

Here are the latest injury updates:

  • David Aardsma is expected to begin a rehab assignment tonight at Triple-A. He will be asked to make three or four appearances, meaning he could return to Seattle by the end of the month.
  • The Blue Jays activated Frank Francisco from the DL on Tuesday. Jon Rauch has done an admirable job in Francisco’s absence (6.2 innings, two runs, two walks, five strikeouts, three saves), but will likely relinquish the ninth inning duties soon.
  • Andrew Bailey continues to progress towards a rehab assignment, but the A’s have not yet released a timetable for his return. It’s possible he could be back by late-April or early-May, but Brian Fuentes will continue to close games until then.

Here’s a full closer/setup man list. The most fluid situations worthy of a close eye are highlighted in bold.

  • Arizona Diamondbacks: J.J. Putz (David Hernandez/Juan Gutierrez)
  • Atlanta Braves: Craig Kimbrel (Jonny Venters)
  • Baltimore Orioles: Kevin Gregg (Koji Uehara)
  • Boston Red Sox: Jonathan Papelbon (Daniel Bard)
  • Chicago Cubs: Carlos Marmol (Sean Marshall)
  • Chicago White Sox: Sergio Santos/Matt Thornton/Jesse Crain/Chris Sale
  • Cincinnati Reds: Francisco Cordero (Aroldis Chapman)
  • Cleveland Indians: Chris Perez (Rafael Perez/Jensen Lewis)
  • Colorado Rockies: Huston Street (Matt Lindstrom)
  • Detroit Tigers: Jose Valverde (Joaquin Benoit/Ryan Perry)
  • Florida Marlins: Leo Nunez (Clay Hensley)
  • Houston Astros: Brandon Lyon (Jeff Fulchino)
  • Kansas City Royals: Joakim Soria (Robinson Tejada)
  • Los Angeles Angels: Jordan Walden (Fernando Rodney)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: Jonathan Broxton (Matt Guerrier)
  • Milwaukee Brewers: John Axford (Takashi Saito)
  • Minnesota Twins: Matt Capps (Joe Nathan)
  • New York Mets: Francisco Rodriguez (Bobby Parnell)
  • New York Yankees: Mariano Rivera (Rafael Soriano)
  • Oakland Athletics: Andrew Bailey-DL (Brian Fuentes)
  • Philadelphia Phillies: Brad Lidge-DL (Jose Contreras)
  • Pittsburgh Pirates: Joel Hanrahan (Evan Meek)
  • San Diego Padres: Heath Bell (Luke Gregerson)
  • San Francisco Giants: Brian Wilson (Sergio Romo)
  • Seattle Mariners: David Aardsma-DL (Brandon League)
  • St. Louis Cardinals: Ryan Franklin (Jason Motte)
  • Tampa Bay Rays: Kyle Farnsworth (Jake McGee)
  • Texas Rangers: Neftali Feliz (Darren O’Day)
  • Toronto Blue Jays: Frank Francisco-DL (Jon Rauch)
  • Washington Nationals: Sean Burnett (Drew Storen)


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MLB Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Fliers: Finding Steals To Replace Rajai Davis

The Toronto Blue Jays placed outfielder Rajai Davis on the 15-day DL on Monday with a right ankle injury.

The 30-year-old speedster has stolen 92 bases since 2009, so he presence in fantasy lineups won’t be easy to replace. Fortunately, there are a few short-term options that can offer cheap steals.

Willie Bloomquist
(3B, SS, OF—Ari)

Bloomquist filled in for the injured Stephen Drew at shortstop to start the season, posting surprising results. Through eight games this season, the 33-year-old is batting .368 (14-for-38), and is second in all of baseball with six steals.

Since Drew has returned to the lineup, the Diamondbacks have found room for Bloomquist in left field. The career .266 hitter might be this year’s Emilio Bonifacio, but his hot streak is worth riding while it lasts.

Currently owned in just 66 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Sam Fuld

Fuld went 4-for-6 on Monday against the Red Sox, raising his season average to .321 (9-for-28) with five steals. Given the current state of Tampa Bay’s lineup, Fuld should continue to see time in left and right field. In six minor league seasons, the 29-year-old hit .285 and stole 44 bases over the last two seasons at Triple-A.

Currently owned in just four percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Coco Crisp

The oft-injured Crisp is hitting just .236 (9-for-38) thus far, but he’s stolen four bases in as many attempts. Despite missing an average of 51 games per season since 2004, the 31-year-old center fielder has averaged 21 steals a year during that time frame.

Currently owned in just 43 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Cameron Maybin

The 24-year-old Maybin appears to be benefiting from a change of scenery this season, batting .258 (8-for-31) with two homers and three steals through nine games. The former Detroit and Florida farmhand was originally thought to possess 30/30 potential. He’s still too young and plays in too large of a park to produce that kind of power output, but 20-30 steals isn’t out of the question this season.

Currently owned in just 17 percent of Yahoo! leagues.


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2011 Fantasy Baseball Projections: Is Brewers Chris Narveson Worth a Wire Flier?

Milwaukee Brewers’ pitcher Chris Narveson tossed seven shutout innings against the Cubs Saturday night, allowing just six hits and one walk while striking out nine.

Through two starts (13 innings) thus far, Narveson has yet to allow a run and boasts a 1.00 WHIP and 14/4 K/BB ratio. The 29-year-old journeyman is currently owned in just 16 percent of Yahoo! leagues, which begs the question: Is he worth a waiver wire flier?

Narveson has endured a long, winding road which has led him to where he is now. Originally drafted as a second-rounder by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2000, he underwent reconstructive elbow surgery in 2002. Two years later, he was one of the players to be named later in the Larry Walker trade, landing him in the Rockies’ system. In 2005, Narveson was sent to Boston in exchange for Byung-Hyun Kim before being claimed on waivers later that season by St Louis, the team that drafted him.

The well-traveled Narveson signed with Milwaukee as a free agent after 2007. He pitched in 52 games at Triple-A as a starter and reliever in 2008 and 2009. In 10 minor league seasons, Narveson logged the following totals:

  • 1,010 1/3 innings (205 games, 177 starts), 3.89 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, 3.3 BB/9

Narveson cracked the Brewers’ Opening Day roster in 2010, posting a 4.99 ERA in 167 2/3 innings (37 games, 28 starts). His strikeout rate (7.35) and walk rate (3.17) were respectable, while his FIP (4.22) and xFIP (4.15) suggest he was a bit better than his near-five ERA indicated.

Now installed as the Brewers’ No. 5 starter, Narveson mixes a less-than-overpowering four-pitch arsenal. His fastball sits in the high-80s, complimenting his 80 mph changeup. He also throws a slider and slow-rolling curve, which was his most effective pitch last season (7.5 runs above average).

If he can throw his four-pitch mix for strikes (44.5 percent strikes in 2010, MLB average 46.5), and keep his walk rate in the low threes, Narveson could offer decent value in mixed leagues. Given 28 to 30 starts on a Milwaukee team that is likely to contend for a division title, he could chip in 12 wins with an ERA in the 4.00-4.25 range.

His next two starts are likely to come at Pittsburgh and at Philadelphia. Monitor his performance before plugging him into your fantasy team’s starting rotation.

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2011 Fantasy Baseball Projections: Why Angels’ Jered Weaver Is a Top 10 Pitcher

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s Jered Weaver pitched an absolute gem on Sunday, limiting a potent Blue Jays lineup to just one run on four hits in 7.6 innings. Weaver walked four and fanned a career-high 15.

The first pitcher to three wins this season, Weaver now boasts a 0.87 ERA and WHIP, with 27 strikeouts and nine walks in 20.6 innings.

The 28-year-old is making a strong case to be considered as a top-10 starting pitcher, and here’s why:

After establishing himself as a first-half pitcher in each of his first four major league seasons, Jered Weaver dominated all of 2010, posting career-best totals in innings (224.3), K/9 (9.35) and BB/9 (2.17).

In fact, the advanced stats suggest Weaver was a completely different pitcher in 2010. Consider the following:

Strikeout Rate

  • 2008: 7.74
  • 2009: 7.42
  • 2010: 9.35

Walk Rate

  • 2008: 2.75
  • 2009: 2.82
  • 2010: 2.17


  • 2008: 4.33
  • 2009: 3.75
  • 2010: 3.01


  • 2008: 1.28
  • 2009: 1.24
  • 2010: 1.07

Batting Average Against

  • 2008: .253
  • 2009: .241
  • 2010: .220

So what was the difference between last year compared to ‘08 and ‘09? Was it luck? 


  • 2010 BABIP: .276 (career .283)
  • 2010 LOB rate: 75.7 percent (career .75.5 percent)
  • 2010 HR/FB rate: 7.8 percent (career 7.9 percent)

Heck, even Weaver’s FIP (3.06) and xFIP (3.51) suggest his 2010 campaign was legit.

There real difference appears to be in the evolution of his fastball and curveball, checking in at 13.0 and 9.7 runs above average, respectively. When combined with his above-average slider (3.1 runs above average) and changeup (8.4 runs above average), Weaver’s pitching repertoire is one of the most dynamic  in the majors.

This, in turn, led to elite totals in the ‘that’s nasty’ pitching categories:

  • Contact rate: 75.4 percent (6th)
  • Zone contact rate: 79.2 percent (1st)
  • Swinging strike rate: 11.2 percent (4th)
  • O-swing rate: 33.5 percent (7th)

Expect the Angels ace to continue his dominance on his way to solidifying his status as a top-10 pitcher.

2010 stats 224.1 13 9.35 2.17 3.01 1.07
3-year average 201 13 8.22 2.56 3.65 1.19
2011 FBI Forecast 221 15 8.8 2.35 3.3 1.13



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2011 Fantasy Baseball Prospect Report: Angels’ Tyler Chatwood To Make MLB Debut

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitching prospect Tyler Chatwood has been promoted from Triple-A Salt Lake and will make his major league debut Monday against the streaking Indians.

Though he’s made just two starts above Double-A, the Angels believe the 21-year-old is MLB ready. In his first start of the season at Triple-A, Chatwood was yanked after just one inning, fueling speculation that he would soon get the call.

Chatwood, a right-hander, was drafted out of high school in the second round of the 2008 draft. His size (6’0″, 185 pounds) won’t intimidate hitters, but his stuff will.

Chatwood features a mid-90s four-seam fastball and a mid-70s, knee-buckling curveball. When he’s at his best, he keeps the fastball down in the zone, generating plenty of groundouts. He also added a low-90s two-seamer to his repertoire last season and has improved his changeup to be an average pitch.

Chatwood has frontline starter potential, but his poor command could eventually relegate him to the bullpen in the long term. While he has improved his horrific walk rate in his three pro seasons, his strikeout rate has suffered.

  • 2008 (Arizona Rookie League): 38 IP, 3.08 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 11.4 K/9, 8.5 BB/9
  • 2009 (Single-A): 116 1/3 IP, 4.02 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, 5.1 BB/9
  • 2010 (High-A, Double-A, Triple-A): 155 1/3 IP, 2.84 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 6.3 K/9, 3.7 BB/9

Baseball Ameirca ranked Chatwood the 76th best prospect in baseball over the winter, ahead of Brent Morel (No. 85) and Craig Kimbrel (No. 86), both of whom are already contributing at the big league level.

Given Scott Kazmir’s “injury”, Chatwood could stick in the Angels rotation if he proves to be an effective starter. His control issues are likely to send his value on a roller coaster-like ride, however, so he should be avoided in fantasy leagues until he proves his worth. His value is much higher in deep dynasty/keeper leagues.


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Fantasy Baseball Closer’s Corner: Angels’ Fernando Rodney out, Jordan Walden in

In Monday’s Closer’s Corner, I singled out the Angels bullpen and suggested Fernando Rodney’s struggles could soon lead to a change.

On Tuesday, Mike Scioscia stripped Rodney of his ninth inning duties until “he gets back in touch with some things.”

Given Rodney’s sub-par performance in recent seasons (three-year averages: 4.45 ERA, 7.97 K/9, 5.18 BB/9), the 34-year-old’s days as a closer may finally be over.

Enter Jordan Walden.

Walden was a 12th round pick out of high school in 2006. The 6-foot-5, 240 pound right-hander was developed as a starter, posting a 3.37 ERA, 8.37 K/9 and 3.27 BB/9 in three seasons between the Pioneer League, Low-A, High-A and Double-A.

After straining a elbow ligament in 2009, the Angels moved him to the bullpen the following year. By the end of the season, he had established himself as the team’s top set-up man in the majors, posting a 2.35 ERA, 13.50 K/9 and 4.11 WHIP in just 15.1 innings.

Walden throws mostly four-seam fastballs that sit at 94-97 MPH, “but the pitch features sinking, two-seam action when he pitches to his arm side,” according to Baseball America.

His low-80s slider is average and his changeup “unrefined.” While his control is below-average, hitters have struggled to lift Walden’s pitches, as he’s allowed only 17 home runs in 346 professional innings.

Walden doesn’t have the upside of fellow up-and-coming closers such as Craig Kimbrel, but on an Angels team that figures to compete this season, he has value.

The 23-year-old should be added in all formats, though he’s currently owned in just 21 percent of Yahoo! leagues.


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