Fantasy Baseball: Pitcher stock watch

Fantasy Baseball: Pitcher stock watch


Kris Medlen, SP, Braves: While there was nothing wrong with his relief work this year, Medlen has specifically taken off as a starter, giving us five dominant turns (4-0, five walks, 29 strikeouts, 0.83 ERA). No one can be expected to keep that sort of KBB ratio, but Medlen doesn't sweat contact either, given that he induces a ground ball 52 percent of the time. Get in on this story now if you can, especially with the Padres (in Petco) waiting for next week.

John Axford, RP, Brewers: The Milwaukee bullpen has been a carnival ride all year, but Axford seems to have righted the ship of late: he's recorded two saves this week and regained the endorsement of manager Ron Roenicke. And there's nothing special chasing Axford: Jim Henderson is a career minor leaguer with no pedigree, and Francisco Rodriguez hasn't fooled in 2012. By default, it looks like the club will sink or swim with Axford the rest of the way. How badly did you say you needed saves?

Jaime Garcia, SP, Cardinals: No one expected immediate miracles when Garcia returned to action last week - he missed a couple of months with a shoulder problem - but a 10-strikeout performance against Pittsburgh immediately pushes Garcia back into our plans. The NL Central is a nifty place for a pitcher, where you see a bunch of exploitable opponents (Houston, Chicago, even Milwaukee), and the Cardinals also offer the deepest lineup in the Junior Circuit. Look for a strong finishing kick over the next six weeks.

Jeremy Guthrie, SP, Royals: The thin air of Colorado didn't permanently break his spirit - Guthrie has been sharp in six AL turns (3.23 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, KBB ratio just under four). The Royals aren't giving him much help with offense or bullpen, but you take what you can get. Guthrie posted a sneaky 3.83 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with the Orioles back in 2010, and the AL Central isn't nearly as demanding. There's an underrated arm here.


C.J. Wilson, SP, Angels: It's been a mess for most of the big-name LA pitchers, with Wilson a notable crash over the last two months. He hasn't won a game since late June, posting a 6.09 ERA over 11 starts. The strikeout clip is still good for Wilson, but when you allow 31 walks and nine homers over 65 innings, you're not going to be successful. Batters are also squaring up Wilson with little trouble, producing a line drive 21 percent of the time. In mixed leagues, you need to do better. This game is about the numbers, not the names.


Daniel Straily, SP, Athletics: He didn't look out of place during his three-game trial in Oakland (3.12 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 12 strikeouts, four walks), and he figures to have a rotation spot for good now that Bartolo Colon has been suspended. Straily won't come back to the majors for one more turn - he needs to spend 10 days in the minors unless an injury creates an opening - but he's mixed-league worthy for September, especially in Oakland's roomy home park.

Casey Janssen, RP, Blue Jays: His ordinary save total (just 16 handshakes) is tied to how Toronto's season has gone - the Jays are a losing team to begin with, but a lot of their victories have been lopsided ones. Janssen's 2.22 ERA and 0.80 WHIP get your attention, and he validates the love with his strikeoutwalk rate (50 punchouts, just eight free passes). As volatile as the closer market can be, we expect Janssen to be a safe stopper into 2013.

Quick Links

We have ourselves a goalie rotation in Washington


We have ourselves a goalie rotation in Washington

It’s happened. The Caps no longer seem to have a No. 1 goalie anymore, they have a No. 1 and 1a.

That’s right, we have a goalie rotation in Washington.

“There's no sense riding one,” Barry Trotz said after practice on Monday. “[Braden Holtby] is coming back and looking better every game and [Philipp Grubauer] played pretty well for a long stretch so why not have both of them going?”

Grubauer got the start Sunday in Philadelphia and Holtby is slated to get the start Tuesday against the Dallas Stars. After that we will have to wait and see.


Trotz has no layout for which goalie he wants to start and when in the remaining ten games. He is not thinking about each goalie splitting five games or which one he wants to use more.

Nope. Trotz has just one thing on his mind. It is all about who starts the next game, that’s it.

“I think you just go with a guy that's hot at the time and your team feels comfortable with and go from there,” Trotz said.

So where does this leave the goaltending situation when it comes to the playoffs? A goalie rotation is all well and good in the regular season, but he has to have one starter for the postseason, right?

Not necessarily.


When Trotz was asked if he philosophically believed in having one starter for the playoffs, Trotz initially said he would not answer, but then said, “Why don't you ask Mike Sullivan what he thinks.”

Sullivan, of course, is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins who has led his team to a Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons despite turning to both goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray in both seasons.

While Pittsburgh’s goalie rotation was largely based on injury, however, it still provides an example of how using both goalies can work in the playoffs and that seems to be the path the Caps are headed on at the moment.

Said Trotz, “You just have to go with your gut who you think is going to get the job done.”

UMBC's NCAA Tournament hopes end vs. Kansas State, but its Cinderella run was unforgettable


UMBC's NCAA Tournament hopes end vs. Kansas State, but its Cinderella run was unforgettable

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — UMBC's improbable run through the NCAA Tournament was brief. The statement the Retrievers made and their place in history is forever.

For one weekend in March, the tiny commuter school from Baltimore known for its academics and championship-winning chess team captured the hearts of the college basketball world and beyond. UMBC became the first No. 16 seed to knock off a No. 1 in March Madness, a victory over Virginia that made the Retrievers the ultimate Cinderella.

The fairytale came to an end Sunday night in a 50-43 loss to No. 9 Kansas State -- heartbreaking because it was a game UMBC could have won, but still satisfying because the Retrievers touched so many people by accomplishing what many thought was impossible.

"We put our name on the map. We gave hope to teams that come to the tournament with lower seeds," said senior guard K.J. Maura. "I think we gave hope to guys that are not even that tall like me. People that feel like they are underdogs in their life, I think we gave hope to everything they want to do in life."


Stephen Curry noticed the team and sent UMBC the sneakers the team wore against Kansas State. The Golden State Warriors had his Curry 5s, which are in limited release, and other swag sent to the team. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams declared the Retrievers "Surgeon General approved" and posted a photo of himself on Facebook wearing a sweatshirt from his alma mater.

NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers tweeted to UMBC guard Joe Sherburne, who claims to be Rodgers' biggest fan. And for a team addicted to the video game "Fortnite," their dreams were made when Ninja, a popular gamer who recently played against rapper Drake and JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers, FaceTimed with the team early Sunday.

"They play with passion, they play with heart, they play together," coach Ryan Odom said. "We do things together for one another, and obviously when you have a big win like that (over Virginia) and it's so shocking, you know, people love to see that. They love to see the upset.

"And our guys handled it with grace and understood the circumstances. They weren't pounding their chests or anything. They expected to be here and expected to compete."

When UMBC returned to the locker room following its ouster, Odom had written just one word on the whiteboard. The Retrievers needed a buzzer-beating 3 against Vermont to win their conference title and make the NCAA Tournament, but they showed up believing they could beat Virginia, and the same about Kansas State.


So Odom simply penned "Proud" on the board for his players.

"Just very proud of these kids and what they've been able to do as the representatives that they are for our university," Odom said. "Just captured our country and beyond, to be honest, from a sporting perspective and it's really, really neat to see."

Sherburne said Odom relayed stories from friends who had texted or called from outside the country to rave about UMBC. Near tears after an 0-for-9 shooting night, Sherburne found consolation in the joy UMBC brought to so many.

"From when we beat Vermont until the last two hours were the greatest time of my life," Sherburne said. "What we did, everyone in here, it's the greatest time of our lives."

Odom arrived at UMBC two years ago and inherited a team accustomed to losing. He told them he was going to get them to .500 that first year; they thought he was joking. But slowly the culture changed and the Retrievers did everything Odom told them they could accomplish.

And then some.

"When I got here, first we were a four-win team that year, and then the next year we went on to win seven games," said graduate student Jairus Lyles. "Then Coach Odom and his staff came in, we won 21 games and this year we had a tremendous season."

Odom doesn't know how far the UMBC program can grow. Those four letters are now synonymous with the biggest upset in college basketball history, but it's a long way from becoming a basketball school.

"UMBC is a unique place -- lot of high achieving kids on campus," Odom said. "We want guys that want to be great from a basketball perspective and want to play after college. But, at the same time, we want folks that are highly motivated academically that want to do great things past basketball. Because the air goes out of the ball at some point for everybody."