Fantasy baseball News & Notes: Are Matt Cain's best days over?
In our daily fantasy baseball news and notes column, we'll be discussing hot topics in the fantasy baseball world, as well as offering up tidbits of information to help you set your lineup. Comments are welcome below.
From 2009-'12, Matt Cain wasn't just a great pitcher; he was a consistently great pitcher, posting between a 2.79 and a 3.14 ERA all four season. But he hit a wall in 2013, posting an awful 4.00 ERA, and through five starts this year, Cain is still struggling mightily. He's 0-3 with a 4.35 ERA and a 25:10 strike-to-walk ratio, and to top it all off, he's been placed on the disabled list with a lacerated finger.
Cain's injury shouldn't affect him for very long, and while he toiled in mediocrity for most of last year, those who drafted him this year should remember that he was infinitely better over his last 10 starts of 2013, posting a 2.27 ERA. However, this injury puts his value at the crossroads once again, and Cain's owners are in something of a bind. Is Cain still a great pitcher, despite his recent subpar outings, or is the 29-year-old version of him just not as good as the Cain from 2012 and earlier?
Nowadays, Cain is having all sorts of problems putting players away. Bats aren't missing his pitches like they used to, and this can no longer be isolated as a mere drought. Take away those 10 starts from last year, and Cain has been a miserable pitcher since the start of the 2013 season. Of course, there's still the hope that he can turn it around and rekindle his old success, but his performance range from mediocre to awful so often now that he probably wouldn't be owned in a majority of leagues if his name wasn't Matt Cain.
He's worth clinging to, if only to see what he can do when he's healthy again. His owners need to have a very short leash with him, and it would be wise to package him in a trade while his name still carries a certain amount of weight. He may be making $20 million this year, but he's just a flier at this point, name and all.
For your consideration
• Curtis Granderson continues to look more and more like his old self. The Grandy Man went 1-for-4 with an RBI yesterday, giving him five straight games with a hit and three straight games with an RBI. Granderson has fantastic potential, as evidenced by his 43-homer season just two years ago, and he's steered from striking out in droves lately and looks much more composed at the plate. He's not all the way back just yet, but Granderson can be a borderline elite contributor when he's rolling, and now's the perfect time to add him if you're in one of the leagues that he was dropped in.
• Ernesto Frieri has pitched four straight scoreless outings and could soon be getting his job back as closer, according to Mike Scioscia. Joe Smith is 3-for-3 in save opportunities since Frieri was ousted, and if nothing else has proven himself to be a worthwhile possessor of the closer mantle. Scioscia looks like he's leaning towards demoting Smith at this point, but his owners should wait and see how Frieri does over the next few days/weeks. Frieri may be getting his job back, but he's no sure bet to any better with it than he has been doing over the past year and a half.
• Colby Rasmus went 3-for-4 with a grand slam yesterday, giving him seven home runs on the year and three in his last four games. Rasmus appears to have lost all interest in stealing bases (his last one came in 2012), but that's a-okay so long as he's belting out home runs at his current pace. Rasmus hit 22 home runs last year in 118 games and is primed to hit 30 for the first time in his career if he can stay healthy. There's a little bit of a trade-off with him, as he probably isn't going to hit for much of an average, or really do much of anything when he's not hitting homers, but he's a frequent-enough longball hitter that you'd be justified in owning him.
• The Chris Colabello story was fun while it lasted, but his carriage has just about turned into a pumpkin at this point. Colabello went 1-for-5 yesterday and is 4-for-35 over his last eight games, with no home runs and just one RBI. The odds of him still being useful in a month or two are exceedingly slim, so owners may want to cut their losses and look for a replacement right about now.
• Dillon Gee survived a huge test on Sunday, going six innings in Colorado and not allowing a run. Gee has given up only a pair of runs over his last 27 innings, which is great, but his low punchout rate still makes him a candidate to get blown up one of these days. He looks like a very solid stream start against the Phillies this weekend, but I'm skeptical how much longer he can be a viable option beyond that.
• With Jay Bruce sidelined for the next month with a torn meniscus, Chris Heisey is suddenly an everyday player again. With Joey Votto now batting second, Heisey will hit cleanup for the Reds for the next month or so. Heisey isn't a great hitter by any means, but the guys hitting in front of him -- Billy Hamilton, Votto and Brandon Phillips -- are on all the time, and Heisey just has to hit .250 to be a solid source of RBI. There's no longterm upside with him, but if you're in a deep league, he has just enough potential to be worth taking a flier on. Those in standard leagues should look for a hitter who doesn't have such a sudden expiration date.