Friday, May 25, 2012

A.L. Gearing Up: May 28-June 3

Rising Up
P.J. Walters (2% owned last week/8% this week) @CLE
A one-time Cardinals farmhand, Walters was tossed into the Edwin Jackson/Colby Rasmus deal last year. He was cut by the Blue Jays over the winter and signed by the Twins. Walters earned his shot with six decent starts in the minors, but is more of a non-prospect/organizational depth type than someone who will run with an opportunity. On the other hand, his strikeout rates are decent and he pitches in a terrific park. His G/F rate is also up this year; Walters will need to generate a lot of grounders to even survive as a fifth starter. Walters is a fringy option even in A.L.-only, but if you need to take chances he's a match-up play at home.

Kevin Millwood (3%/8%) @TEX, @CHW
On the morning of May 6, 2000 the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' Steve Trachsel had a lifetime 4.40 ERA and a 6.15 ERA on the season. That afternoon, he outdueled Pedro Martinez in a 1-0 shutout of the Red Sox at Fenway, putting up 11 strikeouts and allowing six base runners. Five days later, Trachsel tossed seven shutout innings against the New York Yankees in another 1-0 win, only striking out five. This wasn't part of some grand, mid-career turnaround. Trachsel finished his career with 4.39 ERA.

Kevin Millwood now is what Steve Trachsel was then: a serviceable Major League pitcher. Serviceable Major League pitchers will have games - or even multiple games - where they seemingly defy logic by beating superior line-ups or winning in tough venues. It's certainly unusual. But it's not unprecedented. Millwood deserves more respect in A.L.-only than he currently gets. He's typically a free agent even in A.L.-only and should probably always be on someone's roster or reserve list. But no one should be having a eureka moment. Millwood is going to have some good stretches and he's going to have some bad ones. And he's going to have games like he had against the Rockies and Rangers. Those games are the outliers, though, not the norm.

Scott Feldman (1%/4%) SEA
Six hundred and twenty-three innings into this career of his and I don't know what to make of Feldman. Everything you know about him is wrong. You'd assume that he'd be better in the bullpen...but his career numbers are slightly better as a starter. You'd think he's a victim of Arlington...but no, his home ERA is significantly better than his road ERA. Why do I even care about a pitcher with a career 6.3 fWAR? When Feldman's on, I get sucked in, thinking that he could be better than he is and maybe put up a 3.50 ERA and be Mike Maddux's next successful project. Years ago, I would have had my heart broken by Feldman - picking him up and dropping him, buying him at auction and FAABing him - for years and years and years until several seasons of ERA and WHIP - along with my hopes for a title - were dashed. Years of hard experience in the mid 90s taught me to stop getting sucked in and going with my gut and using the numbers instead. Feldman is the latest in a lone line of Ranger pitchers who'll kill you even if it's not because of the park or the role. He's standing in for the ghosts of Ryan DreseRoger Pavlik and many others that I'm too tired to remember or go to Baseball Reference to look up. Maybe he'll be adequate, but it's more likely he'll screw with your season and break your spirit in the process. Leave him on the waiver wire. Leave him on the waiver wire.

In the Minors
Wil Myers' promotion got more of the headlines among Royals' farm watchers, but it's possible that Odorizzi is the guy who makes more of a fantasy impact this year. John Sickels' write-up in early May mirrors what I've read elsewhere: good 90-94 MPH fastball with good movement, and improved secondary pitches that Odorizzi can throw for strikes. Odorizzi sounds like he's a future #3-4 starter if everything breaks right. With guys like Will Smith trotting out to the bump for the Royals, it's only a matter of time before Odorizzi takes the hill for Kansas City. There are no guarantees for '12, but you should at least monitor.

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