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Fantasy Baseball Insiders Tonight 5/12: How Good Is Rangers’ Pitcher Derek Holland?

Thu, May 13, 2010

Insiders Tonight

Photo: Chris Creamer, Sportslogos.net

Miss any of Wednesday night’s action? Don’t fret. Fantasy Baseball Insiders Tonight is here to recap all things fantasy relevant, starting with game No. 23 on our summer-long journey…

Game No. 23 – New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers

The first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader was quick and painless, thanks to fantastic pitching performances from Rick Porcello and Javier Vazquez.

Porcello loaded the bases via two singles and a walk in the second, but escaped the inning without any further damage. It was smooth sailing after that, as Porcello dazzled the Yankees with his sinking fastball and slider. He even mixed in an occasional curve, a pitch the Tigers have tried to limit in previous starts.

The 21-year-old shutout the Yankees in seven innings, allowing four hits and three walks while fanning two. His ERA and WHIP now stand at 6.08 and 1.70, respectively. Porcello is still learning to pitch, so it’s any one’s guess as to what you’ll get out of him each time he toes the rubber. In keeper/dynasty leagues he’s a hot commodity, but in one-year leagues, he’s not yet a safe play.

Javier Vazquez turned in his first quality start of the season on Wednesday, allowing just two runs on five hits and a pair of walks in seven innings. He also struck out seven, while lowering his ERA to 8.10.

Vazquez has suffered from a slightly elevated BABIP (.335) and an unusually low strand rate (63.9 percent) this season. His walk rate is a sky-high 5.10 (2.38 BB/9 career), and his fastball velocity is way down. This is concerning, but expected from a 33-year-old pitcher.

Now might be a good time to buy low on Vazquez, but don’t expect an ERA anywhere close to the 2.87 mark he posted last year in Atlanta.

Brennan Boesch had one of the two RBI in Wednesday’s game, as the 25-year-old went 1-for-3 in the doubleheader’s first game. He added two more hits in the night cap, raising his batting average to .352 with two HRs and 15 RBI in 15 games with the Tigers this season. (For more on Boesch, click here.)

Other notes from around the league:

HITTERS

Hitter of the day: Miguel Olivo (5-for-5, R, HR, RBI)

• Miguel Olivo busted out of his 2-for-28 slump Wednesday, going 5-for-5 with a walk-off solo homer in the tenth inning to beat the Phillies. Olivo’s five-hit game raised his average to .274. The 31-year-old backstop also has six homers and 14 RBI in 23 games this season.

• Mark Teixeira went 2-for-9 in Wednesday’s doubleheader with a run scored and three RBI. After a horrific April, the notorious slow starting Teixeira has rebounded in May, batting .319 with with four homers and 16 RBI through 11 games.

• Nationals’ right fielder Roger Bernadina went 3-for-5 with two homers (the first two of his career) and three RBI Wednesday. Despite this mini power surge, the 25-year-old has average power at best. According to Baseball America, “his best tool is his plus-plus speed,” which allowed him to steal 188 bases in nine minor-league seasons.

Through 13 games, Bernadina is batting .263 with two steals. While he’s not likely to maintain a high average, BA compares him to teammate Nyjer Morgan. He’s worth a look in deep leagues, as he could end up being a cheap source for steals.

• Brooks Conrad went 2-for-5 with a HR and four RBI filling in for Chipper Jones on Wednesday. The late-inning defensive sub is batting .250 in 24 at-bats (22 games) this season. Despite his heroic efforts, he has no fantasy value.  

• In his second game batting third in the Braves’ lineup, rookie sensation Jason Heyward went 1-for-3 with two walks, three runs, an RBI and a stolen base. Through 30 games, the 20-year-old is batting .301/.431/.613 with 20 runs, eight homers and 28 RBI.

Call me crazy, but Heyward looks capable of a Pujols-like rookie season on his way to top-25 status. If you landed the phenom in your draft, congratulations. To everyone else: good luck trying to trade for him.

• Juan Pierre went 2-for-4 on Wednesday with a run a two steals. The 32-year-old has a four-game multi-hit streak, which has raised his average to .252. If he can maintain a .280 average this season, Pierre appears primed to swipe at least 40 bases for the ninth time in the last ten years.

• Starlin Castro hit second in the Cubs’ lineup for the first time on Wednesday. He responded with two hits and a run, raising his average through six games to .364. (For more on Castro, click here.)

PITCHERS

Pitcher of the day: Homer Bailey (W, CG, 4 H, 0 BB, 6 K)

• One day after teammate Johnny Cueto one-hit the Pirates, Reds’ pitcher Homer Bailey tossed a four-hit shutout, striking out six and walking none.

Despite a 5.66 ERA through seven starts, there is still hope for the recently-turned 24-year-old. Bailey’s strikeout rate is slightly up from last year, while his walk rate is down. He’s also throwing first-pitch strikes at an encouraging rate. In addition to this, Bailey’s xFIP is more than a full run lower than his ERA, suggesting good things to come.

He’s not yet reliable in most leagues, but Bailey warrants “watch” status for now.

• Phil Hughes continued his early-season dominance Wednesday night, as the Yankees’ young hurler pitched seven shutout innings in the second game of the doubleheader, allowing five hits and one walk while fanning eight.

It’s easy to get excited over Hughes’ start, as the 23-year-old boasts a 1.38 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 9.00 K/9 and 3.23 BB/9 through 39 innings thus far. Don’t, however, ignore his ridiculously low BABIP (.228) and unsustainable strand rate (86.7 percent). Hughes may be on the verge of fantasy stardom, but he’s not this good. Not yet, at least…

• Carl Pavano continued his impressive start Wednesday, yielding two runs on six hits and a walk in seven innings against the White Sox. He also struck out four while picking up his fourth win in seven starts.

Pavano’s 3.30 ERA and 1.10 WHIP are impressive enough, but if you toss out his lone beat down against Kansas City on April 18, his ERA would be a sparkling 2.09. The 34-year-old is pounding the strike zone with a 69.6 first-strike rate, while his xFIP (3.61) and BABIP (.298) support his dazzling numbers thus far. Perhaps what’s most impressive is Pavano’s 1.76 walk rate (seven walks in 46 1/3 innings).

His stellar start is no joke; Pavano should be owned in all leagues.

• Like Pavano, Shaun Marcum has been surprisingly good thus far. The 28-year-old shutout the Red Sox on Wednesday, allowing just two hits and one walk in seven innings while fanning six. Through eight starts (55 innings), Marcum is 2-1 with a 2.78 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and an impressive 42/12 K/BB ratio.

Unlike Pavano, however, Marcum’s .241 BABIP and 3.79 xFIP suggest he’s probably not quite this good. Marcum proved to be effective in 2008, and his Tommy John surgery later that year appears to have made him better. For this reason, he’s not necessarily a sell-high option; just don’t expect a sub-3.00 ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP all year.

• David Price won his fifth game of the season Wednesday night against the Angels, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits and three walks. He also struck out six. With a 2.03 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 39/17 K/BB ratio in 48 2/3 innings thus far, Price appears primed to join Phil Hughes and Clay Buchholz in the A.L. East’s new era of dominant pitching.

Like Hughes, however, note Price’s low BABIP (.251) and concerning xFIP (3.88). He’s going to be very good, but don’t expect this kind of production all season.

• Derek Holland made his 2010 debut Wednesday night, shutting out Oakland on five hits and a walk in six innings. The 23-year-old southpaw also struck out seven. Holland possesses front line starter potential, but probably won’t be as good as the aforementioned Hughes and Price this season. He’s worth a look in 12-team leagues, however, and he is probably already owned in keeper/dynasty formats.

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