Two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum reached his lowest point last season, being pulled from the rotation in August and making only one relief appearance during the playoffs. He had to battle for a rotation spot this spring, which certainly wasn’t a sure thing after posting a 4.74 ERA last season.
Through five starts, Lincecum is showing promise once again. He threw eight scoreless innings against the Angels on Sunday, picking up his second win. Lincecum also lowered his ERA to 2.40, and has made three quality starts this season.
Before breaking the bank to acquire Lincecum in mixed leagues, keep in mind that his 6.0 K/9 is far from his prime. Further red flags include an average fastball of 87 mph, which is nearly seven mph off his average fastball when he arrived to the majors in 2008. Lincecum’s decline in recent seasons has directly correlated was his falling velocity, which is at its lowest point of his career so far this season.
Lincecum was overused early in his career, throwing 225-plus innings in his first two full seasons. Whether we can blame his velocity decline directly on that overuse is debatable, but the lack of velocity and strikeouts still show this as a pitcher fantasy owners should sell high and/or avoid.
The End for Weaver?
Speaking of velocity loss, Jered Weaver was pummeled by the Giants on Sunday. His record fell to 0-4 after allowing five runs on 10 hits in five innings. Weaver now has a 6.29 ERA through six starts, with 45 hits and eight homers allowed in 34.1 innings.
Weaver’s velocity has declined consistently in recent seasons, but he’s incredibly averaged 83 mph on his fastball this year. That’s after averaging just over 86 mph last season. The results show with his pitiful 15 strikeouts in 34.1 innings. While Weaver has avoided walks, his sudden loss of velocity could be an indication of an injury.
The warning signs of a decline were apparent for fantasy owners coming into this season, with Weaver posting poor ERA indicators last season (4.19 FIP, 4.18 SIERA), but no one could have seen this coming. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Angels took more drastic measures and placed Weaver on the DL, as they could certainly find someone in the minors capable of at least matching what Weaver’s done to this point. Until Weaver’s velocity returns, fantasy owners are advised to leave him benched.
Stephen Vogt Red Hot
Oakland catcher Stephen Vogt ranks as the top fantasy earner at the position after launching two more home runs on Sunday. He’s been the A’s clear MVP, hitting .356-6-20 with a 13/10 BB/K ratio early on.
Vogt had a surprise breakout after joining Oakland last season, but also showed streakiness. He hit .351-5-23 through June and July, but declined to hit only .186-4-12 the rest of the way. The improvement still convinced the A’s to trade Derek Norris in the offseason, and Vogt did produce a strong .833 OPS during his minor league career.
That streakiness we saw last season would lead one to believe that tougher days are ahead, but Vogt looks like a legitimate No. 1 catcher for mixed leagues with what he’s done since last season. Vogt is now a .267-17-67 hitter through 499 major league at-bats for his career, and that estimate is a safe, conservative bet for his final numbers this season while hitting in the middle of Oakland’s batting order. Given how hot (and cold) he performed last season, this isn’t a bad time to sell high if someone is willing to pay for the price of an elite catcher.
American League Quick Hits: Former Jays closer Miguel Castro has been optioned to Triple-A Buffalo. Castro lost the closer role to Brett Cecil last week ... Royals closer Greg Holland (pectoral) is expected to be activated from the DL on Tuesday. Wade Davis has been handling closer duties while Holland has been out … Desmond Jennings was officially put on the 15-day DL with left knee bursitis. The transaction is retroactive to April 26, so he could be back soon … Austin Jackson left Sunday’s game with ankle injury, but he thinks that he will avoid the DL. Justin Ruggiano should see some starts in center field until Jackson returns … Jose Iglesias left Sunday’s game with a groin injury, but is hopeful that he can return on Tuesday … J.J. Hardy (shoulder) will start a rehab assignment on Monday, with the hope of finally coming off the DL on Friday. Ryan Flaherty (groin) will also begin a rehab assignment on Monday. In less positive news for the O’s, Matt Wieters still feels occasional soreness in his surgically repaired elbow and is unlikely to return until at least the end of May … Nick Franklin (oblique) will begin a rehab assignment Monday … Carlos Rodon could join the White Sox rotation on May 10 with Jeff Samardzija and Chris Sale possibly dropping the appeal of their suspensions, according to the Chicago Sun-Times … Lorenzo Cain began serving his two-game suspension on Sunday after dropping his appeal … Coco Crisp went 1-for-3 in a rehab game at High-A Stockton on Sunday. He could return next week … Evan Gattis is breaking out of his April slump, as he launched two homers on Sunday for the red-hot Astros … Oakland released Cody Ross. It’s the second time the veteran outfielder has been released this season, and could mark the end of his playing career … Jeremy Guthrie struggled again on Sunday, allowing six runs in six innings. His ERA stands at 6.52, and one has to wonder if the Royals will consider replacing him in the rotation with Chris Young soon … Shane Victorino (hamstring) isn’t expected to come off the DL until May 11 … Steve Pearce left Sunday’s game with a stomach illness … Wesley Wright (shoulder) will appear in an extended spring training game on May 19 … Ryan Hanigan has already been transferred to the 60-day DL after surgery to repair a fractured hand. He will be out until the All-Star break … Josh Hamilton (shoulder) will begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A this week, with the hope of returning at the end of May. Ryan Rua (foot) will undergo a scan on Friday to see how his injury has progressed. Rua won’t regain a starting job when he returns if Hamilton is healthy.
National League Quick Hits: The Brewers fired manager Ron Roenicke on Sunday night, and will announce his replacement at 10:30 a.m. on Monday … Yasiel Puig (hamstring) performed running drills for the second straight day on Sunday. He could be headed for a rehab assignment, and is eligible to return on May 10 … Zack Cozart left Sunday with a right index finger injury, but X-rays were negative. The hot-hitting shortstop is considered day-to-day … Jean Segura’s status is up in the air after being hit in the helmet by a pitch on Sunday. He tried to stay in the game, but is expected to undergo concussion tests early this week … Joel Peralta (neck) has yet to resume throwing, while Brandon League (shoulder) threw a bullpen session on Sunday. Neither pitcher has a clear timetable to return … The Dodgers plan to designate Scott Baker for assignment, according to the Orange County Register. It remains to be seen who will replace him in the rotation. Starter Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder) is making progress, and will throw batting practice this week … Joaquin Benoit is going through a dead arm, and could go on the DL … Mat Latos (hamstring) has been cleared to start on Tuesday after leaving his last outing … Tyler Lyons will make a spot start for the Cardinals on Tuesday. He could keep the rotation spot if he pitches well … Jordan Walden was placed on the DL by St. Louis with biceps inflammation … Severino Gonzalez was demoted to Triple-A with Chad Billingsley set to come off the DL Tuesday … Justin Grimm (forearm) is set to begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Iowa … Charlie Morton (hip) is working his way through extended spring training, but isn’t expected back until late May or early June … Matt Carpenter was removed from Sunday’s game due to lightheadedness. It doesn’t sound like something that will keep him out for long … Sean O’Sullivan (knee) will start a rehab assignment on Thursday, and could reclaim a rotation spot for the Phils when he returns.