Pitcher Stock Watch

Pitcher Stock Watch

By David Ferris
CSNChicago.com Contributor

Buy

Wilton Lopez, RP, Astros: The ratios grab your attention first: 52 strikeouts against just seven walks, a 1.06 WHIP, tidy 2.24 ERA. And although Lopez is the closer for the worst team in MLB (by far), he still has a win and five saves over the last month. His handshakes are as good as anyone else's.

Jake Odorizzi, SP, Royals: The highly-touted KC prospect fashioned a 3.03 ERA and 130 strikeouts over 145 innings in the minors, covering two levels. The club wants to give him a cup of coffee in the show, so Odorizzi will get a shot against Cleveland on Sunday. That's a streamable turn to be sure, and Odorizzi might draw the same scuffling Indians the following week.

Andrew Werner, SP, Padres: He's been sharp in four of his first five turns, putting up three strikeouts for every walk and an acceptable 3.68 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. Most of the starts have come in offense-blunting Petco Park, but there's nothing wrong with trying Werner in San Francisco this weekend. The Giants hitters haven't seen him yet, either - advantage, Werner.

Martin Perez, SP, Rangers: He's one of the jewels of the Texas farm system, and he's getting a much-coveted start at Safeco Field this weekend. The Mariners couldn't touch Perez in a relief stint last week (4.1 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 5 K); look for more of the same here.

Drew Smyly, SP, Tigers: Heads up if you need a Sunday fill-in - Max Scherzer (shoulder) might not be able to go, leaving Smyly as the Plan B. The opponent plays nice in this case: Minnesota is in town, with unheralded P.J. Walters throwing. Smile, you're at Mr. Smyly's.

Sell

Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers: It's no sure thing he'll be able to start again this year - the team is being careful with Kershaw's sore hip - and even if the lefty does take to the mound, how confident can we be in his effectiveness? Roster spots have a currency at this time of year; if you need immediate reinforcements, you have our permission to drop Kershaw.

Tommy Hanson, SP, Braves: His walk and homer rates are heading in the wrong direction, and obviously a 4.33 ERA and 1.45 WHIP don't help anyone. Even with the best defensive outfield working behind him, Hanson can't keep the ball out of the gap (or in the park) consistently in 2012. He's been an overrated brand-name for years.  

Hold

Phil Hughes, SP, Yankees: He finally conquered his Fenway Park phobia - perhaps someone gave him a good look at the current lineup card in the Back Bay - and the Blue Jays and Rays are also putting out skeleton lineups at this time of year. For once, we can chase after non-elite AL East pitchers and not feel guilty about it.

Edwin Jackson, SP, Nationals: A bloated ERA over the last month might have some gamers off the scent, but Jackson still offers an acceptable WHIP (1.31) and 35 strikeouts over 29.2 innings. Don't sweat the unlucky hit rate of late; stay the course with this underrated righty. We'll use Jackson through the end of the year, even in shallow mixers.

How Ozzie Guillen's harsh honesty resonated with Avisail Garcia

How Ozzie Guillen's harsh honesty resonated with Avisail Garcia

Ozzie Guillen delivered Avisail Garcia some tough love last winter that he figured the White Sox outfielder needed to hear.

They encountered each other during the Venezuelan Winter League season when Garcia played for the Tigres de Aragua and Guillen managed for the Tiburones de La Guaria. Guillen was so taken aback to find Garcia hitting low in the Tigres’ lineup that he offered an assessment on the spot.

For any number of reasons, Garcia has responded with a career season that has him on the verge of his first All-Star assignment. The right fielder is fifth in the American League fan vote as of Monday with 1,292,694 votes.

“About time,” Guillen said. “We've been waiting for this moment. A lot of people bet he would have failed. I know because at work, every week I talk about him. People keep waiting on him to be what he was. I think right now he has more experience. He doesn't live in the past, like 'oh it's the next Miguel Cabrera' or 'he's this guy, he's the best we've ever had.' That's why he got better. It's about time this kid. What he's doing right now I think it's fun. He's showing his potential. I see a lot of players with potential who never make it. I think it started getting too late for him, now he's back on the map.”

Garcia entered Monday hitting .331/.372/.532 with 11 home runs and 51 RBIs in 296 plate appearances. While he didn’t remember the specifics of their conversation, Garcia knows Guillen’s main intent was to help him forward. He’s encouraged that his fellow countryman has confidence in his abilities.

“He’s a great human and everything he said to me is going to work for me,” Garcia said. “I just listened. Always listen. I appreciated what he said. He gave me a lot of advice.

“He’s a great person. People that really know, know he is and we appreciate everything he does and that’s it.”

Guillen appreciates what Garcia has done this season after several years of middling play amongst high expectations. Through 72 games, Garcia has produced 2.3 f-Wins Above Replacement, giving him a career mark of 0.9.

Acquired in July 2013 from Detroit in a three-team deal that sent Jake Peavy to Boston, Garcia arrived with high expectations that he hadn’t been able to live up to thus far. Garcia has had those expectations since he first reached the majors when scouts nicknamed him ‘Mini Miggy’ after Cabrera. Guillen is glad to see Garcia has started to play up to his potential, especially after he was aghast to find him hitting in the bottom third of Aragua’s lineup.

“I saw him batting seventh and I was all over him,” Guillen said. “I said 'You should be embarrassed you're batting seventh in winter league, you have to be third, or fourth. This is winter league.' When you go to there and you play in the big leagues, it makes it easier. Now he's picked it up. Hopefully he will keep it up. Hopefully he'll keep it up and make some money. That's what we want. Some cash. Take it home.”

Cubs manager Joe Maddon working on another potential White House visit

Cubs manager Joe Maddon working on another potential White House visit

WASHINGTON – Less than six months after the Cubs toured the White House as one of the final stops on their World Series victory tour, manager Joe Maddon is angling for another visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Maddon’s childhood friend from Hazleton, Congressman Lou Barletta, is working to arrange a private tour this week while the Cubs are in Washington for a four-game showdown against the first-place Nationals.

“I’m staying in touch with my boy Louie,” Maddon said Monday. “Who knows? We might end up going over there again.”

This wouldn’t be the East Room spectacle the Cubs enjoyed in January, when President Barack Obama’s final official White House event became a kind of farewell gift to his staffers with Chicago connections.

Barletta, a Pennsylvania Republican who made immigration a central part of his platform as Hazleton mayor, declined a position in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet. Barletta asked Maddon, who stays involved with his hometown through his Hazleton Integration Project, to attend a luncheon on Wednesday for young Republicans.

“And then maybe something else will be in the making after that,” Maddon said. “But for right now, the one thing I got in my back pocket is Louie.”