Keeping the faith
Right about now is the time of year that truly tests the patience of impetuous owners with players who have stumbled badly out of the gate. It’s hard not to take it personally when someone you showed faith in early in the draft single-handedly ruins your team’s ERA or batting average. While the temptation may be there to deal or dump these guys, there are certain players who you’d be wise to grant an extra-long leash. And if you can sense intolerance amongst other owners of these players, a nice opportunity presents itself to buy low.
After getting shellacked for seven runs in six innings by the Rays on Sunday, Jon Lester is now 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA and 1.88 WHIP through three starts. This has to have owners pulling their hair out after they probably drafted the 26-year-old southpaw somewhere in the top four or five rounds.
What you may not know, however, is that Lester is a consistently bad early-season performer. Last year Lester gave up 11 earned runs over his first two starts, compiled a 5.40 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in April, and a 5.86 ERA and 1.56 WHIP in May. In 2008, he gave up four earned runs in four of his first six outings to the tune of a 5.40 ERA and 1.77 WHIP. He eventually worked things out and went on to post elite fantasy starting numbers in both seasons. Unfortunately, Lester is such a slow beginner that he could experience a few more ugly starts before really turning it on. Be patient if you own him, and if you don’t, see if you can fleece someone before he starts mowing ’em down.
White Sox starter Gavin Floyd destroyed the weekly ERAs and WHIPs for a lot of owners Sunday, after the Indians put a seven spot on him before he could retire a batter in the second inning. This came on the heels of a shaky outing against the Blue Jays, making Floyd 0-2 and the proud owner of a 9.00 ERA and 2.23 WHIP. Owners may be feeling resentful of the right-hander after Sunday, but maintain control of your mouse. The 27-year-old has managed 14 Ks through 13 innings, and his velocity has been reaching the 92-93 mph range per usual.
A dissection of Floyd’s 2009 season shows there’s truly no reason to fret. After eight starts last year, he had an astoundingly bad 7.71 ERA and 1.87 WHIP, allowing at least six runs in five separate appearances. After being banished to the waiver wire in almost every league, Floyd promptly went 4-1 with a 1.39 ERA and 0.90 WHIP over his next eight outings. While another incredible stretch like that isn’t very likely, expect him to turn things around soon.
Carlos Lee’s .104 average through 12 games is flat out scary. He is without an extra-base hit or an RBI, with 11 strikeouts and just one walk. Whispers are starting to fly that the 33-year-old is on the decline, but you won’t want to believe them just yet. Lee has a lifetime .259 batting average and .795 OPS in April, which are 31 points and 51 points below his respective career numbers. In 2009 he was hitting .189 with one long ball through 10 games, and then went on to a .300-26-102 season.
El Caballo has been just as the nickname suggests throughout his career, posting seven straight seasons of at least 26 homers and 99 RBIs, while hitting .300 or better in each of the last four. Guys that consistent don’t just fall off a cliff. It’s very likely that Lee is pressing with fellow basher Lance Berkman out, stuck in an otherwise anemic Astros lineup. With Berkman likely returning this week, it’s safe to expect Lee to once again begin performing with equinity.