Results tagged ‘ fantasy ’

The enigma that is Bronson Arroyo

You should have known what you were getting yourself into with Bronson Arroyo.  Having him on your fantasy team can be gut-wrenching.  He can carry your pitching staff or he can utterly destroy you.  For your viewing pleasure, the essence of Arroyo’s wicked volatility has already been fully captured in the early stages of 2010, leaving many owners an emotionally-drained wreck.

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At the end of each season, like clockwork, the 33-year-old right-hander will put up numbers you’d sign up for in a New York minute.  Arroyo has been a 14-game winner four times over the last five seasons, has thrown an average of 209 innings while compiling a palatable 4.08 ERA from 2004-2009, and is usually good for around 150 strikeouts. 

At this point, you might ask yourself what the big deal is in all of this.  Well, what seems like a model of consistency from year to year is nothing but a facade once you delve within each individual season.  In an impressive 2008 campaign, Arroyo compiled a stellar 15-11 record with 163 K’s and a 3.47 post All-Star break ERA.  However, a quick glance at his game log reveals that he permitted five earned runs (or more) a ridiculous 11 times, equating to an astonishing 32 percent of his starts. 

Furthermore, the Cincinnati hurler finished 2009 at 15-13 with a very solid 3.84 ERA and 1.27 WHIP, but was hit up for at least five earned runs 10 more times. That included two nine-run shellackings within a three-start span, one of them in just one inning of work. How many 15-game winners ever get hit that hard on such a regular basis?

In the fantasy world, catastrophic starts like these will single-handedly lose you the ERA and WHIP categories before the week even gets going.  But the thing with Arroyo is, he’ll leave you battered and bruised and ready to cut bait only to then run off a string of starts like he did at the end of 2009, when he went 5-3 over his last 12 starts with a sparkling 1.90 ERA and 0.95 WHIP.

When he began this season with eight stellar innings of one-run ball, owners were once again reeled in.  Then came the sobering reminder of Arroyo’s dark side, when he was roughed up in three straight starts, culminating in an eight-run romping over three innings by the Padres.  Of course, he followed that up with two wins and a 3.05 ERA over his next three outings, highlighted by a seven-inning gem against the Pirates this past Monday. 

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Going through the game logs over the last few seasons, there are absolutely no patterns or trends to be found that offer evidence of what makes Arroyo fall apart.  Last year, his five-run shellings were split evenly between The Great American Ballpark and the road.  They happened against the 65-win Royals, 70-win Mets, 75-win Blue Jays and twice against the 70-win Diamondbacks.  He was hit hard twice by the Cards, only to dominate them in a near complete-game gem to end the season.  In similarly peculiar fashion this year, he was roughed up by the sub-.500 Marlins and Pirates, while hurling his best outing against the first-place Cardinals.   

This all must be a lot to digest, but one thing you can conclude is that owning Bronson Arroyo on your fantasy team is going to be a wild rollercoaster ride.  Clearly most people are too squeamish to stomach it, as Arroyo is currently forsaken in 68 percent of Yahoo! leagues.  But if you’re capable of being tossed around without losing your lunch, and have a resilient heart, the ride will likely be well worth it in the end.

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. 

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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-lee1.jpgCarlos 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.