Preps Talk

Fantasy baseball pitchers stock

Fantasy baseball pitchers stock

By David Ferris
CSNChicago.com

Buy

Scott Diamond, SP, Twins: He doesn't throw hard enough to wake the baby, but Diamond has been effective nonetheless (five wins, 1.61 ERA) because he's an extreme strike-thrower with a dominant ground-ball rate. You worry about the league catching up to Diamond when he gets around the AL once or twice, but we love him with the inter-league slate at play. Use the lefty with confidence at home against Philadelphia and at Pittsburgh, favorable matchups in mistake-forgiving parks.
Ryan Cook, RP, Athletics: We can't guarantee the A's will let skills lead to the ninth inning - in a perfect world, they'd like to find a taker for veterans Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour, and a shiny save total can sometimes aid in that pursuit. But Cook was the man in the ninth at Colorado on Tuesday, earning his first save, and his 2012 numbers make a strong statement (0.67 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 27 Ks, just eight hits allowed). Don't overreact to the 15 walks Cook has issued - three of them were intentional, so he's on the fringe of having acceptable control. As much as the A's want to think about their future with roster and game management, they also have to be accountable to the clubhouse and the fan base. With that in mind, Cook is the best saves play here.
Kevin Millwood, SP, Mariners: In shallow mixers you don't have to bother with Millwood, but he still has a whiff of value in deeper pools and AL-only groups (3.57 ERA, 1.29 WHIP). Millwood's always been able to induce ground balls, and he's still getting some swings and misses (52 strikeouts) and keeping the ball in the park (three homers allowed over 12 appearances). A home date against San Francisco this weekend looks unthreatening enough; so long as you work the schedule with Millwood, you should be fine.

Sell

Johnny Cueto, SP, Reds: To be honest, he could be in any of our headings this week: buy, sell, or hold. It really depends on your league environment and the people you're competing against. Cueto's seven wins and 2.46 ERA play in any format, and while he's not a big strikeout guy (just 69), he's walking less than two batters per nine. A heavy ground-ball bias helps keep the ball in the park, though Cueto has also been fortunate when batters do elevate one of his pitches (6.3 percent HRFB).

Most of the peripherally-suggested ERAs say that Cueto is smoke, someone who is destined to blow up when his luck runs out, but maybe Cueto is a pitcher who's capable of consistently beating the secondary stats - perhaps this is another Matt Cain type, a pitcher statheads are destined to underrate. Ultimately Cueto gets the sell tag here because we've seen some strong hauls come back in recent deals: he's been moved (1-for-1) for Carlos Santana, Edwin Encarnacion and Cliff Lee in some public leagues. Your mileage will vary. You know your league mates better than we do. In some other formats, the play on Cueto is to hold, sit back, and enjoy the ride.

Max Scherzer, SP, Tigers: The zippy strikeout rate gets everyone excited, especially when he runs into a hack-first opponent like Pittsburgh (recall the 15-whiff parade a few weeks back). But Scherzer struggles with loud and inconsistent mechanics, not to mention efficiency of pitches - he only has 41 wins over 123 MLB games, largely due to his difficulty working deep in ballgames. And for all the glove-popping of his fastball, batters seem to square it up plenty: Scherzer has allowed 13 homers this year, and lefties are batting .340 against him. Another one for the tease file. The 5.76 ERA is probably a fluke, sure, but remember he was a 4.43 man last year.

Hold

Matt Garza, SP, Cubs: The 3.99 ERA is his highest mark since 2006, but he's also fashioning a 1.12 WHIP, the lowest of his career. The KBB numbers are in a good spot, three whiffs for every walk. The two wins in 11 starts? That's Chicago's ineptitude talking. Garza's affordable contract makes him a strong candidate to be moved in July - even more so than walk-year Ryan Dempster - and any contending club would have to support the righty better than the Cubs currently are. Be patient, ride it out.

A.J. Burnett, SP, Pirates: The 12-run meltdown in St. Louis left a mark, sure, though that day also told us something about Clint Hurdle, clueless manager (no rotation staple should be hung out to dry like this). Burnett has been money in his other nine starts, allowing just 13 earned runs over 59.2 innings of work. The pitcher-friendly environment of the NL (and PNC Park) is doing wonders for the talented but enigmatic righty. It's real.

IHSA Football Playoff Pairings Show Roundup

IHSA Football Playoff Pairings Show Roundup

CLASS 1A

Revealing the Class 1A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 1A Bracket

CLASS 2A

Revealing the Class 2A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 2A Bracket

CLASS 3A

Revealing the Class 3A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 3A Bracket

CLASS 4A

Revealing the Class 4A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 4A Bracket

Predicting Class 1A-4A

CLASS 5A

Revealing the Class 5A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 5A Bracket

CLASS 6A

Revealing the Class 6A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 6A Bracket

CLASS 7A

Revealing the Class 7A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 7A Bracket

CLASS 8A

Revealing the Class 8A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 8A Bracket

Class 7A and Class 8A Predictions

 

In ugly home opener, Lauri Markkanen gives a glimmer of hope

In ugly home opener, Lauri Markkanen gives a glimmer of hope

Keeping the game simple is often a tough task for rookies entering the NBA, but it seems Lauri Markkanen has been a quick learner in that aspect.

Through two games he’s probably the lone bright spot, especially after the Bulls’ cringe-inducing 87-77 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in their home opener at the United Center.

Jumper not falling? Okay, go to the basket.

“It wasn’t falling so I tried to get to the rim a couple times,” Markkanen said. “At the end, I was like let’s do it and I connected on a 3-pointer, I felt more open just because I was at the rim. I think that helped.”

He was asked what the difference was in the second game of his career compared to the first.

“I mean the crowd was chanting for us (tonight),” Markkanen said, referring to Thursday in Toronto.

He wasn’t attempting to display any dry wit but applying common sense seems to work for him, even though he’s been thrust into a situation after an incident that doesn’t make any sense.

With Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic out for the foreseeable future, playing a game-high 37 minutes will be more common than anomaly.

“Whatever your minutes are, you gotta play them to the best of your ability,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s being allowed to play through some mistakes right now. He’s gonna play heavy minutes every night.”

He only shot five of 14 but achieved his first double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds after a 17-point, eight-rebound debut against the Raptors Thursday.

No, someone didn’t open a door for a draft to come into the United Center on that three-pointer that went wide left, but it didn’t stop him from being assertive and continuing to look for his shot.

There was plenty of muck, easy to see on the stat sheet. The 38 percent shooting overall, the lack of penetration, the 29 percent shooting from 3-point range and 20 turnovers.

It’s not hard to imagine what Markkanen will look like with competent and effective NBA players around him, along with a true facilitating point guard that will find him in this offense.

“Markkanen is a wonderful player,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s aggressive, he’s smart and obviously, he can shoot the ball. He’s just going to get better and better as he figures things out.”

He received a crash course, facing the likes of Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay Saturday night. On one instance, Gay drove baseline and made Markkanen buckle with a 3-point play.

Aldridge had 24 shots in 32 minutes as a new focal point with Kawhi Leonard out with injury.

So he’s not getting treated with kid gloves, nor is he backing down from the assignments.

“He didn’t shoot the ball well but he battled,” Hoiberg said. “He had a tough assignment with Pau, who’s gonna be in the Hall of Fame one day. Good experience. He guarded Aldridge, Rudy Gay some. He battled, he fought them.”

Even with the airball, had the moment that gives the Bulls fans hope, when he drove on Gasol, spun and hooked a lefty layup while being fouled by the veteran in the first half—giving the United Center faithful something to have faith in for a moment.

“Sometimes you get labeled as a shooter. That’s the label Lauri had,” Hoiberg said. “But he really is a complete basketball player. He’s versatile, he can put in on the deck. He slides his feet very well for a guy that’s seven feet tall, someone his age. Yeah, he’s learning on the fly. He’s gonna have ups and downs, as young as he is. He’s gonna have some struggles at times. But he’s played pretty darn well for everything he’s been through, understanding two days ago he’s gonna be in the starting lineup.”

And for all the bad air around the Bulls right now, from the on-court product to the off-court drama that seems to follow them around like Pigpen, it would be even worse if Markkanen’s first two games had him looking like a corpse, or someone who would be a couple years away from reasonably contributing to an NBA team.

“He’s good, he’s very good,” Gasol said. “I like him. I like his game.”