Fantasy baseball: Velocity check AL Central

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Fantasy baseball: Velocity check AL Central

Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011
Posted: 8:50 p.m.

By Hamilton Bolduc
CSNChicago.com

Thanks to our friends at Fangraphs.com we have the statistical analysis to delve into the value of baseballs hardest throwers. This week were checking out the AL Central.

The division is home to the ALs hardest throwing starter and reliever. The AL Central also sports some of the biggest uncertainties in fantasy baseball and offers two bad hitting teams to boost pitching stats in intradivisional matchups. You'll want your pitchers this year to get as many meetings against the Royals and Indians as possible.

Twins

Starter Francisco Liriano (93.7): Lirianos velocity has steadily climbed since having Tommy John surgery, leading to an increase in his K9 to 9.44 from 7.93 pre-surgery. This season he looks to clear another hurdle the 200-inning mark. He may never be 2006 filthy again, but hell still be a top starter in the AL.

Reliever Matt Capps (94.0): Capps enters the season as the leading candidate to close for the Twins, but much depends on the health of long-time closer Joe Nathan (Tommy John surgery). A healthy Nathan likely makes Capps the setup guy.

TigersStarter Justin Verlander (95.4): Verlanders heat knows no limits. Hes been known to touch the high 90s late into games and is by far the divisions, and baseballs, hardest throwing starter. Verlander has started at least 30 games each year of his career and has topped 200 innings without fail since 2007. Last seasons average velocity and innings pitched were the second highest of his career.

Reliever Joel Zumaya (99.3): None throw harder than Zumaya, but few are as fragile. His rookie season 62 games, 83.1 IP, 6-3, 1 SV, 1.94 ERA, 97 K positioned him to for a meteoric ascension to closer stardom. Last season looked like Zumayas bounce-back year until the horrific fractured right elbow. He may throw too hard for his own good.

White SoxStarter Gavin Floyd (92.4): Hes not overpowering, but he sometimes show 2008 form (17-8, 3.84 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 206.1 IP), though it consistency alludes him. His K-rate trails his velocity.

Reliever Matt Thornton (96.1): After years of toying with idea of replacing Bobby Jenks, the White Sox brass has finally red-lighted the Matt Thornton Era. Last season was as good as a reliever can be and well finally get to see Thorton have a chance to become a top closer.

RoyalsStarter Kyle Davies (92.6): Kansas Citys acquisition of Jeff Francis means that Davies wont be expected to be the ace of the Royals new staff. But expect Davies to pile up the innings to take the stress of the bullpen. So 200-innings isnt out of the question (183.1 IP was his previous high), but they're unlikely to be of high quality

Reliever Blake Wood (95.4): In Woods first campaign in the majors, he struggled on the road (1.004 OPS allowed). If you cant get Soria, you best stay away from Royals relievers this season.

IndiansStarter Fausto Carmona (92.6): Many believe he peaked in 2007, but last season was his strongest since (13-14, 3.77 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 210.1 IP). It may not mean much if the Indians do little to support their ace. A fantasy owners best hope is that Cleveland keeps the fire sale going and ships Carmona to a contender.

Reliever Chris Perez (94.6): Perez had an outstanding season as a closer (2-2, 23 SV, 1.71 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) and that figures to continue. Of course the concern with playing on a sub-.500 team is the lack of opportunities. But there's a poor correlation between team wins and save opportunities, so Perez can easily out-perform his price as a second- or third-tier closer.

David Robertson, Nate Jones return to White Sox after WBC victory

David Robertson, Nate Jones return to White Sox after WBC victory

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Having experienced a playoff-like atmosphere at the World Baseball Classic, David Robertson and Nate Jones already feel prepared for the regular season. 

The two relievers returned to White Sox camp on Friday morning bearing gold medals from a Team USA WBC title run that concluded on Wednesday night with an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Robertson, who recorded the final three outs of the clinching victory, said he's glad to be back and won't need much of a tune-up to be ready for the April 3 season opener.

"Back up to speed?" Robertson said. "More like slow down and get ready for the season. I'll probably play catch (Friday). I didn't throw (Thursday), I spent the day traveling. Probably play catch today, and be ready to throw (Saturday). If I needed to throw today, I could. I feel like I'm season ready right now."

"It feels good to be back. It's been a long trip doing this WBC, so it's good to be back and relax a little bit. Have a couple days before we start the season."

Both Jones and Robertson appeared four times each for Team USA with similar results. Each allowed a solo home run but nothing else. Jones said he brought his gold medal back to camp because he isn't yet ready to put it in his safety deposit box. His favorite moments of the tournament were brought on by raucous crowds.

"Once you get a crowd chanting USA that was a pretty cool moment," Jones said. "You're proud of representing your country, and once they did that, it all kind of set in, like, ‘Wow, this is happening.'

"It's just pure excitement, everybody going crazy."

Jones and Robertson said they're pleased to have returned to the relative tranquility of White Sox camp after they lived out of a suitcase for the previous 18 days. Both were set to meet with pitching coach Don Cooper and manager Rick Renteria to discuss their upcoming schedule. Jones said he expected to throw a side session on Friday in front of Cooper to have his mechanics reviewed. Robertson last pitched on Wednesday and didn't know when he'd throw again.

"They've been busy, obviously, with Robbie finishing up the last game," Renteria said. "We'll see how the schedule lines up in terms of their usage for the remaining 9-10 days."

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Robertson is pretty sure he won't need much work. Whereas the team's closer normally waits until the first week of March to appear in a game, Robertson has pitched in plenty this spring. Each of the last four has had a ton more intensity than any normal Cactus League work.

"It felt like playoff baseball really early in the year," Robertson said. "Just coming from Miami, trying to win a couple days in there was really hard. Fans were really loud. That place was a very intense environment, and it didn't feel like you were the home team at all.

"It felt like (a home game) when we were in San Diego We were the home team there, and when we got to L.A., same thing. Although, I will say that when we were playing the Japanese, it erupted a couple times when they had some big moments in their game. It was just a lot of fun to play in this whole event. It was definitely more than I expected."

Jose Quintana gets the Opening Day start for White Sox

Jose Quintana gets the Opening Day start for White Sox

 

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jose Quintana has been named the Opening Day starter — for the White Sox.

While many are surprised he still hasn't been traded, few should be shocked by the news manager Rick Renteria delivered on Friday, when he announced Quintana would pitch the April 3 opener.

With Chris Sale gone to Boston, Quintana, a first-time All-Star in 2016, has been the odds-on favorite to take over as the team's ace. The only question seemed to be whether or not he'd still be in a White Sox uniform when the season began. But the club made it clear Friday that Quintana is their guy and he'll face the Detroit Tigers in the first game of 2017. The only one who seemed a little taken aback about the news is Quintana.

"I was surprised," Quintana said. "I knew I may get the ball for that day, but they didn't say nothing, so you didn't know. I just kept going and doing my workouts and all my stuff. I'm really, really happy with this opportunity. It's huge for me. I can't wait for that day to come.

"I'm excited to have this opportunity. It's a huge honor for me to have the ball for Opening Day the first time in my life. And I think it's a once-in-a-life opportunity."

Asked about the announcement earlier in the week, Renteria said he needed more time. Many speculated that it meant the White Sox were continuing to listen to offers for Quintana, who has drawn constant interest since the team began its rebuild in December.

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Quintana, who went 13-12 with a 3.20 ERA and 181 strikeouts in 208 innings last season, has looked fantastic all spring. Pitching in front of more than a dozen scouts on Thursday, Quintana made his first Cactus League appearance in a month and allowed two hits over seven scoreless innings. The left-hander also put on a brilliant performance for Colombia in the World Baseball Classic on March 10 as he retired the first 17 Team USA hitters he faced before allowing a hit.

"He's very happy about it," Renteria said. "He has obviously earned it.

"I don't know if he was surprised as much as he was elated and proud to be given the opportunity to be the Opening Day starter. It's a privilege."

Quintana's resume of consistency made him a clear-cut choice for the nod. He heads into 2017 having pitched at least 200 innings in each of the past four seasons. In that span, he's produced a 3.32 ERA and 18.1 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com. That figure represents the seventh-highest WAR total among all big league pitchers in that span.

Even though he's viewed as the staff ace, Quintana — who potentially has four years and $36.85 million left on his current contract — said he was surprised by the news because the club hadn't yet informed him of the honor.

"It means a lot for me, especially after last year when you make the All-Star team and this year the opportunity to play in the WBC and now you have the opportunity to pitch on Opening Day," Quintana said. "That's a lot of things happening for me now and I'm happy. And really blessed. You just try to do all my things every time.

"Maybe they don't know what it means for me, but it's a big thing."