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Fantasy Baseball Insiders Tonight 5/16: What’s Wrong With Diamondbacks’ Pitcher Dan Haren?

Mon, May 17, 2010

Insiders Tonight

Image courtesy of: Adam Fagen

Game No. 24 on the Fantasy Baseball Insiders Tonight trail featured a four-hit, two-homer game from an unsuspecting second baseman, and a rough outing from a usually dominant starter.

Game No. 24 – Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Atlanta Braves

• Dan Haren was tagged for seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings Sunday, marking the fourth time he’s given up four runs or more in a start this season. After nine starts, the 29-year-old has an uncharacteristic 4.83 ERA and 1.37 WHIP.

Despite his early struggles, there’s reason to buy low on the Diamondbacks’ ace. Haren’s strikeouts are actually up (9.35 K/9 this year, 7.68 career), though his walks are up just a bit as well (2.26 BB/9 in ’10, 1.99 career). His current BABIP (.357) is the 15th highest among starters, and Haren’s left on-base rate (66.9 percent) is well-below his career mark of 73.1 percent.

Perhaps most encouraging is Haren’s o-swing rate, which calculates the percentage of pitches an opposing batter swings at outside of the strike zone. Haren leads the league in this category, coaxing foolish swings on 36.2 percent of his pitches outside of the zone. Bottom line: his stuff is still among the nastiest in baseball.

• Tim Hudson opposed Haren on Sunday, pitching eight sparkling innings while allowing just one run on three hits and one walk. Through eight starts, Hudson boasts an impressive 4-1 record with a 2.41 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. His .224 BABIP, 84.8 percent LOB rate and 4.38 xFIP, however, suggests the 34-year-old Tommy John survivor is an excellent sell-high option.

•Batting leadoff for the Braves, Martin Prado went 4-for-6 on Sunday with two runs, two homers and three RBI. Prado’s pace has slowed a bit after a hot April (in which he hit .356), but the 26-year-old second baseman maintains a .323 batting average and has at least two hits in five of his last seven games. Capable of batting .300 with 15 homers and 90 runs, Prado is pushing for a top-10 spot among players at his position.

Other notes from around the league:

HITTERS

Hitter of the day: Martin Prado (4-for-6, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI)

• Jose Bautista continues to rake, as he went 1-for-2 with a walk, two runs and a solo homer on Sunday. The 29-year-old is batting .288 with six homers and 13 RBI in in 15 games this month. His season average (.241), however, puts a cap on his potential value.

The former Oriole, Devil Ray, Royal and Pirate has never topped 16 homers in a single season, but already has 10 through 39 games thanks to a FB rate and HR/FB rate well above his career averages. The plethora of long balls explains his low BABIP, suggesting the power will subside as this number evens out.

• Chris Coghlan whacked a three-run pinch-hit homer on Sunday, his second in three games. The struggling left fielder now has a hit in 9 of his last 11 games, raising his batting average from .183 to .214 during that span. As Coghlan’s low BABIP evens out, his strikeouts should decline and the reigning N.L. Rookie of the Year will be on his way to living up to his .300 average, double-digit steals and homers hype.

• Scott Rolen hasn’t topped 20 homers in a season since 2006, but appears to be well on his away after hitting his seventh in 33 games on Sunday. His current HR/FB rate of 17.1 percent, however, is unsustainable given his career mark of 11.2 percent. He’s worth an add in 14-team leagues given his home ballpark and the lineup he’s in, but is almost certain to hit the DL at some point this season.

• Russell Branyan went 1-for-4 with a homer on Sunday, his fourth in five games. His game is no secret; bunches of homers with a gut-wrenching average. If your team can withstand the ladder, he’s worth a look.

• Luke Scott went 3-for-4 with a solo homer on Sunday as he continues to be one of the hottest hitters in baseball since the end of April. In 10 games this month, the 31-year-old is batting .333 with five homers and 10 RBI. His average should continue to rise with his low BABIP, but will eventually top out in the .260 range. He’s worth owning in all formats, at least until he cools off. 

PITCHERS

Pitcher of the day: Joel Pineiro (W, CG, 4 H, 0 ER, BB, 5 K)

• Joel Pineiro threw a complete game shutout against the Athletics on Sunday, yielding just four hits and a walk. Excluding his two horrific starts against New York and Detroit, the 31-year-old owns a 1.29 ERA in 41 2/3 innings. Despite this, he’s owned in only one-third of Yahoo! leagues. If the Angels’ starter is available in yours, he’s worth the add.

• Jake Westbrook picked up his second consecutive win on Sunday, tossing a complete game against Baltimore while allowing just one run. The 32-year-old scattered nine hits and walked only one while fanning eight.

Westbrook missed most of 2008 and all of 2009 following Tommy John surgery, but appears to be working his way back to fantasy relevance. Through eight starts this year, he has a 4.13 xFIP. Like most Tommy John survivors, his control will come with time, meaning his current walk rate of 3.88 could drop closer to his career mark of 2.80, making him usable in fantasy leagues once again.

• Cliff Lee dazzled the Rays on Sunday, allowing two runs on five hits in eight innings. He also fanned 10. Seattle’s stagnant offense, however, stuck Lee with the tough-luck loss. Through four starts (30 1/3 innings) this season, the 31-year-old southpaw owns a stellar 2.08 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and a ridiculous 25/1 K/BB ratio.

RELIEVERS

• Manuel Corpas picked up his second save in as many days against the Nationals on Sunday. Despite his struggles earlier this month, Corpas is the ninth-inning favorite for the next few weeks until Huston Street returns from the DL.

• J.C. Romero worked a perfect ninth to record his first save of the season for the Phillies on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. The reigning N.L. Champs rested Contreras after pitching two consecutive days, but he (not Romero) remains the favorite for save until further notice.

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