Fantasy Baseball: NL Central Velocity Check

Fantasy Baseball: NL Central Velocity Check

Thursday, March 24, 2011
Posted: 9:44 a.m.

By Hamilton Bolduc
CSNChicago.com Contributor

The division features some top, former American League arms that will look to take advantage of the NL tailwind.

Cubs

Starter Matt Garza (93.3): Garza is one of a few arms looking to get the NL bump in stats. No one has ever questioned Garzas stuff, but its been his consistency that needs to improve. In the NL Central, hell feast on the weaker teams like the Pirates, Astros, Padres and Nationals. Expect his K9 to get back to his 2009 total (150 in 189 innings) while he eclipses the 200-inning mark for a third season.

Reliever Carlos Marmol (94.1): Marmol had a breakout season as the Cubs closer and was rewarded with a three-year extension last month. In terms of velocity, his fastball was at its best while he still relied on his slider to rack up a phenomenal 15.99 K9. Lets just say we can expect more where that came from.

Reds

Starter Edinson Volquez (93.6): 2008 is long gone, but there are signs he could be on the rebound. While he struggled as a .500 pitcher with an inflated 4-plus ERA, Volquez posted his career-best K9 with 9.62.

Reliever Aroldis Chapman (99.6): Chapman exploded on the scene at the end of 2010 and figures to be one of the toughest relievers for years to come. Dont be shocked if he unseats Francisco Cordero as closer by the All-Star Break.

Astros

Starter Bud Norris (93.6): The Baby Stros are going to need major contributions from Norris. Unfortunately hes been a little too erratic to count on. Norris could become a waiver wire steal if he can better capitalize on his impressive K9.

Reliever Brandon Lyon (91.6): Lyon is far from a sure thing at the closer position given this average (at best) velocity.

Brewers

Starter Zach Greinke (93.5): Greinke wont be taking the hill until the end of April for his new team. It will be a shock if he didnt take advantage of the NL on his way to one his best seasons, perhaps on par with his Cy Young 2009.
Reliever John Axford (94.9): Axford will be one of baseballs top closers and figures to get plenty of opportunities with one of baseballs best rotations providing additional wins.

Pirates
Starter James McDonald (92.4): McDonald is a possible waiver wire pickup to help bridge when one of your top arms ends up on the disabled list, but nothing more.

Reliever Joel Hanrahan (96.0): Perhaps the best pitcher on the team. Hanrahan will make the most of his closing opportunities, but he wont have many. He's also had a rough spring, which may keep his draft-day price lower than it should be.

Cards
Starter Chris Carpenter (91.4): Carpenter has been elite when healthy. But he's at an age when the injuries start to pile up. It's already taken a toll on his once-better velocity.

Reliever Mitchell Boggs (96.1): Boggs will be one of the Cardinals top arms out of the pen, but he figures to be third in line at best to close out games. The value will be low here unless things make a drastic change for the worse. Monitor his progress, but grab Ryan Franklin or Jason Motte before you consider Boggs.

WATCH: Blackhawks play Blues in NHL 17 ahead of Winter Classic showdown

WATCH: Blackhawks play Blues in NHL 17 ahead of Winter Classic showdown

For the third time since the event was created, the Blackhawks will participate in the Winter Classic, facing the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 2, 2017.

To build some hype for the Central Division showdown, which will feature two teams that find themselves battling for the top seed in the Western Conference, Ryan Hartman and Trevor van Riemsdyk of the Blackhawks squared off with Joel Edmundson and Robby Fabbri of the Blues in EA Sports' NHL 17.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Edmunson and Fabbri jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, but the finish would be determined in 3-on-3 overtime.

Check out who came out on top in the video below:

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces for Cubs’ offseason puzzle

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AP

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces for Cubs’ offseason puzzle

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces of the offseason puzzle as the Cubs try to defend their World Series title while still planning for the future.

The Cubs left this week’s winter meetings in Maryland still involved in the Ross talks, sources said, monitoring an intriguing pitcher they had targeted before the 2015 trade deadline.

The San Diego Padres didn’t really buy or sell during that pennant race and made another curious decision last week when they didn’t offer Ross a contract for 2017. MLB Trade Rumors projected Ross would have made $9.6 million during his final year in the arbitration system.

After issues involving his right shoulder wiped out almost his entire season, Ross underwent surgery in October to address thoracic outlet syndrome.

Ross was San Diego’s Opening Day starter during a 15-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but didn’t pitch again, clouding a future that once had him looking like a trade-deadline chip and one of the best pitchers in the free-agent class after the 2017 season.

That’s when Jake Arrieta will be looking for his megadeal and John Lackey might be in retirement and Jon Lester will be turning 34. That’s why the Cubs are so focused on pitching this winter and trying to balance out an organization tilted toward hitters.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your World Series champions gear right here]

Kyle Hendricks proved he will be a pitcher to build around – and the Cubs believe Mike Montgomery can evolve from a swingman into a fifth starter and maybe something far more valuable – but depth is a real issue.

Ross made 30-plus starts in 2014 and 2015, when he earned an All-Star selection and accounted for almost 400 innings combined. He will turn 30 in April and is seen as a positive force within the clubhouse. He has a 6-foot-6 frame, a second-round-pick pedigree and a Cal-Berkeley education.

Reports have already linked the Texas Rangers and Pittsburgh Pirates to Ross and not completely ruled out a return to San Diego. During an offseason where the free-agent market is essentially devoid of reliable frontline starters, there could be sticker shock, even with a rehabbing pitcher.

Trading for Wade Davis meant the Cubs were out of the bidding for Greg Holland, another All-Star closer who helped turn the Kansas City Royals into World Series champions. Holland spent this year recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, but he will still be in position to capitalize after Mark Melancon, Aroldis Chapman and eventually Kenley Jansen reset the market for closers.

With Ross, the Cubs will have to get a better sense of the medical picture and the price for all that upside.

Beyond a winning culture, the Cubs can sell the pitching infrastructure that helped turn Arrieta into a Cy Young Award winner and transform Hendricks into an ERA leader and keep the rotation remarkably healthy.

“Those really talented pitchers are going to be in demand, even those that are coming off an injury,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said this week at National Harbor. “We’ll stay engaged on some of those guys, but they’ll have to be just the right talent.

“We’ll have to feel good about the medical and the return to play. And the fit on the club would have to be right, too. But the true elite guys have a real market, even if they’re coming off down seasons.”