Fantasy baseball news: Is Justin Verlander still an ace?
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.
Something is seriously wrong with Justin Verlander. On Wednesday, the White Sox drilled him for seven runs in 5 2/3 innings, and in his previous start, he allowed five earned runs to the Blue Jays. The former AL MVP has a sub-par 4.61 ERA and 1.51 WHIP so far this season, and hasn't reached double-digit strikeouts in a game once. To top it off, he's lower on the Player Rater than Tim Lincecum.
It isn't just that he's been hit around a lot. Even when he's produced quality starts, Verlander hasn't at all looked like an ace pitcher. He's allowed at least two runs in all but one start this season, and even in that exception -- a five-inning night against the Indians -- Verlander threw 113 pitches. And then there's his strikeout total -- with only 67 strikeouts in 91.2 innings, this will be the first time since 2008 (when he had a 4.84 ERA) that he won't approach matching a strikeout for each inning pitched, which is a benchmark for being an elite pitcher.
Verlander fell off significantly last season and is now a liability in fantasy leagues. It's a shock to the senses; Verlander was supposed to be a beast. But this, like the increased injury rate among pitchers, is something of a trend. Like Lincecum and Roy Halladay before him, Verlander -- who's 31 -- already has a ton of mileage on his throwing arm, and it's not inconceivable that his glory days are behind him, considering the sheer volume of pitches that have come out of him already in his career.
So what should his owners do with him? After all, he's given up at least five runs in five of his last six starts, which is unacceptable for any pitcher -- let alone one who was pretty expensive in fantasy drafts. There's always the chance he could turn things around and be great again, and for what it's worth, he did turn in a fantastic postseason last year, despite his inconsistent regular season play. Still, there's something off with his numbers, and if Verlander can come away from his next outing with the Royals unscathed, his owners might want to leverage that and aim at finding him a new home, while his name still carries a certain amount of weight.
For your consideration
• Edinson Volquez sliced and diced the Chicago Cubs, limiting them to no runs and seven hits over seven innings to pick up the W. Volquez has pitched much better lately, but the biggest takeaway is that the Cubs are probably the best team to stream pitchers against right now. Pittsburgh's Volquez, Brandon Cumpton and Charlie Morton all scored wins against them, which is a strong indication as to how weak the Cubs lineup is. Any pitcher going against them should be considered as a stream option from here on out.
• Chase Whitley had another strong showing, this time holding the Mariners to two runs over 7 2/3 innings. Through six starts, Whitley's ERA is 2.41, and the Yankees rookie has an impressive 24:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio and hasn't allowed a walk in 24 innings. The problem with these numbers are two-fold: A.) as good as his control has been, he's hardly striking anybody out, and B.) the six teams he's pitched against have featured mostly horrendous offenses: the Mets, the Cubs, Minnesota, Kansas City, Seattle and St. Louis. And so even though he's pitching well, he's yet to show that it's sustainable against tougher opponents. If he can come away from his matchup with the Blue Jays next week without being torn to shreds, we may have a viable standard league pitcher on our hands. Until then, he's strictly a stream option for certain matchups.
• Josh Tomlin took home a loss against the Red Sox, but he at least kept his dignity, allowing three earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. Tomlin, who had a strong first half to the 2011 season before trailing off, has gone against some legitimate offenses lately and hasn't allowed more than three runs against any of them; his last six appearances have come against Boston, Texas, Colorado, the White Sox, Detroit and Oakland. Given that he shortly imploded the last time he was pitching this well, he's probably not going to be a fixture on anyone's fantasy team. Still, he's pitching well enough to be rostered right now.
• Kevin Gausman did good work against the Blue Jays, allowing one run in six innings and securing his second win of the season. The 23-year-old is one of the top-ranked pitching prospects in baseball and has been significantly better since his first start, when he gave up five runs to the Tigers. Gausman's numbers don't jump off the page at all: a 3.71 ERA with an 11:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. But given his growth potential, he's a nice player to take a flier on after back-to-back solid quality starts.