MLB fantasy mailbag: Carpenter not worth risk, Cueto-Medlen, more

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I'm Ray Flowers, co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Each week I'll be answering questions that have been sent to me at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account in my never-ending attempt to replace myself by explaining to everyone how I evaluate players, thereby making myself obsolete.

Would you start Chris Carpenter on Friday or wait and see?-- @lxvythrs

Chris Carpenter (thoracic outlet syndrome) last tossed a pitch of significance in October of 2011. That's 11 months ago, folks. I know he is set to pitch Friday against the Cubs, but you have to be pretty desperate in my opinion to turn to Carpenter at this point of the fantasy season (obviously in H2H setups he might hold a bit more value as a streaming option depending on your league rules). Beyond the obvious, that he hasn't tossed a single pitch of significance in 2012, we have the following:

(1) Do you know how many pitches he has thrown in the minor leagues this season? Don't bother looking it up. The answer is zero.

(2) All he has done is throw simulated games. The last time he did so was last Saturday as he tossed a 95-pitch simulated game.

Playing that out, it would seem logical to think that, even in a best case scenario, he will throw at most six innings and that likely is asking too much. Could Carpenter toss a gem Friday? He certainly could. But given he has been out of action for nearly a calendar year I'm not ready to throw him out there at such an important time of the year in the fantasy game unless I'm one of those people who doesn't mind taking risks like diving with sharks, skydiving or going out to a restaurant to eat dinner by yourself (apparently going to dinner without a companion is risky behavior according to some).

Better keeper for next year -- Johnny Cueto or Kris Medlen?-- @KRubes

Medlen has been the best pitcher in baseball in the second half. He's undefeated at 8-0. Moreover, the Braves have won each of Medlen's last 21 starts, the longest streak in baseball since Whitey Ford's Yankees won 22-straight starts in the early 1950's. Medlen has posted an ERA of 0.77. He has a WHIP of 0.84. He's struck out 83 in 82.1 innings while walking only 13. That's as good a pitching line as you will likely ever see over a span of 82.1 innings. I hope we can all agree the prospects of Medlen being that pitcher over the course of 180+ innings next year is infinitesimally minute, so the question is how much will his performance pull back in 2013? In order to try and get a feel for the answer to that question, let's compare Medlen's career numbers, over just slightly more than 300 innings, to those of Cueto.

Medlen: 7.88 K/9, 2.17 BB/9, 3.63 K/BB, 1.42 GB/FBCueto: 7.01 K/9, 2.81 BB/9, 2.50 K/BB, 1.24 GB/FB

Medlen has the slight advantage across the board, but the numbers are close. There is obviously the additional factor that Cueto has been a starting pitcher who has thrown more than 170 effective innings innings in four of his five seasons in the big leagues. There's also this. Since the start of last season, here are the numbers for Cueto, who has been no slouch in his own right:

26-14, 2.65 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 6.65 K/9, 2.87 K/BB

Neither player is a bad pitcher to hold of course, but I'm leaning to the history of Cueto in this matchup. Medlen might have slightly better skills than Cueto, but without even a full season of innings under his belt as a starter I will cast my lot into the corner of the Reds' hurler.

Manny Machado vs. Elvis Andrus in 2013?-- @ghostyoda

Tough one here.

Machado is one of the elite prospects in the game, period. He's performed admirably this season hitting .264 with four homers, 17 RBIs and 17 runs scored in 38 games with the Orioles in his first taste of big-league pitching. At the same time, he's walked just three times in 148 at-bats, and that makes me very nervous with a young player. As a result of his lack of patience, he's currently been able to get on base at a mere .276 rate, an awful number. Machado has also struck out 30 times leading to a sickening 0.10 BB/K mark. This shouldn't be surprising though considering that Machado had only 109 games of Double-A ball under his belt and not a single game at the Triple-A level when he made his Orioles debut. Not just that, but Machado really wasn't producing that well in the minor leagues either. In his 109 games at Double-A this season he was hitting a mere .266 with 11 homers. In time Machado, the 3rd overall pick in the 2010 Entry Draft, will likely be a borderline elite fantasy performer. He's big (6-foot-3, 185 pounds), athletic, has 20 homer power and should also be able to steal 15 or so bases a year. Notice I said in time.

Andrus is already an elite level performer at shortstop, albeit without a hint of the power of Machado. To counterbalance that is the fact Andrus is an impressive base-stealing option. Andrus has stolen 20 bases this year, the fourth straight season he has reached that mark (in fact, it's his four-year low as he had hit 30 steals in each of his first three seasons). Andrus is also batting .291 this season, the best mark of his young career, as is his .353 OBP and .388 SLG. Andrus has also recorded at least 80 runs scored in each of his last three seasons.

At this point I'd go with Andrus. Machado may be the upside play, and perhaps in a few years he will eclipse Andrus in terms of his fantasy value, but for now the 20 year old Machado is simply too raw an inexperienced to take over a player who has been an impressive fantasy option for each of the last four years.

How many beers will it take to get over blowing a 40-point July lead in my 7x7 roto league?-- @mdbaumer

I'd say it would at least be a pony keg's worth. Might want to add something a bit stronger, perhaps a lot stronger, something like a Lemon Drop maybe?

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 at 7 PM EDT, Monday through Thursday, and Friday's from 9-12 PM EDT. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.