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.

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

The two fastballs that soared to the backstop on Wednesday night should give you a strong indication that Carlos Rodon was far from perfect.

But in making his first start of the 2017 season, the White Sox pitcher also offered his team plenty of signals that his health isn’t going to be an issue.

Rodon returned to the mound for the first time since last September and brought the goods that made him one of baseball’s top pitching prospects several years ago. Given he’d missed three months with bursitis in the left shoulder and the potential value he offers to a franchise only half a season into its first rebuild in 20 years, that was plenty for the White Sox to overlook the rust Rodon showed in a 12-3 White Sox loss to the New York Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“He started a little rough early obviously, got some high pitch counts,” manager Rick Renteria said. “And then he kind of settled down.

“Having him back in the rotation and getting him back out there on the big league field, coming out of there feeling good, healthy. I'm sure he will continue to get better as he continues to get out there and move forward.”

Renteria said he wasn’t surprised that Rodon struggled with his command as much as he did against the Yankees. The issues the pitcher displayed in uncorking a pair of wild pitches, walking six batters and throwing strikes on only 41 of 94 pitches were also present during Rodon’s four rehab starts in the minors.

But as long as the stuff was there, the White Sox would be OK with any issues that accompanied the performance. Rodon began to alleviate those concerns immediately when he earned a called strike on the game’s first pitch with a 93-mph fastball to Brett Gardner. Featuring a four-seamer with an absurd amount of movement and a nasty slider he struggled to control, Rodon checked all the boxes the White Sox hoped for from a pitcher they believe will be a frontline starter for years to come. Rodon also was pleased by how he felt before, during and after the contest.

“I was pretty excited,” Rodon said. “I was going a little fast in the first. But it was good to be out there. Next time out, it’ll hopefully be a little better. Arm feels good, body feels good, all you can ask for.”

Well, it’s not ALL you can ask for, but it’s pretty damn good out of the gate given how slow Rodon’s return took. His four-seam fastball averaged 94.9 mph according to BrooksBaseball.Net and touched 97 mph. His two-seamer averaged 94.4 mph and touched 95. And his slider, though he couldn’t control it, nor locate it for a strike, averaged 86 mph.

“You could see (Omar Narvaez) going over to try to catch some balls that were having tremendous run,” Renteria said. “That's (Rodon). He's got some tremendous life, he's just trying to harness it the best that he can and being able to execute where he wants to get as many strikes as possible.”

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The strikes were about the only thing Rodon didn’t bring with him. He walked Gardner to start the game and issued two more free passes after a Tim Anderson error allowed a run to score and extended the first inning. Rodon threw 37 pitches in the first, only 15 for strikes.

He also reached a full count to each of the batters he faced in the second inning. Rodon walked two more with two outs in the third inning after he’d retired six batters in a row.

And there were those pesky first-inning wild pitches that resembled something out of ‘Bull Durham.’

But all in all, Rodon and the White Sox ultimately saw enough in the first outing to be pleased.

“Great stuff, great life, but the goal is to put it in the zone and let them swing it to get guys out early,” Rodon said. “That’s not what happened. I’ll get back to that.”

“It’s a tough loss, but it’s better to be with the guys out on the field grinding than sitting on the couch and watching, for sure.”

Preview: White Sox host Yankees tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox host Yankees tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the New York Yankees tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: James Shields (1-1, 4.26 ERA) vs. Luis Cessa (0-2, 6.57 ERA)

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