Twitter has got fantasy questions, we've got answers. Hot starts, cold starts, bullpens in flux, trade scenarios, a top 10 that'll start 30,000 fights, and much more, all covered in this edition of the Roster Doctor.
Stick with Wade Davis and Jon Niese? Or ditch ’em for likes of Vance Worley, Ryan Vogelsong, Joe Blanton?
What the hell do I do with Jarrod Parker (10-team mixed league)?
The answer to these two questions is none of the above. In standard mixed leagues, there's no reason to stick with any these guys. Parker might've had a nice year in 2012, Vogelsong might've had a couple of good years, and Niese might've come into 2013 as a trendy sleeper. But these are all pitchers you should stream, and nothing more. Even in 14- or 16-team mixed leagues, I'd feel no obligation to own Parker, for instance. Sure he's been marginally better in his past three starts than he was at the beginning of the year. But even if Parker bounces back, you'd have a shot at comparable production by slotting the right Scott Feldman types into the right matchups on a weekly basis. It's more work to study schedules every weekend, scan the waiver wire, and find the perfect plug-and-plays. But fantasy baseball isn't an idle pursuit based almost entirely on luck the way, say, fantasy football is. You want to win your league? Gotta work for it.
In case you were out looking at buffalo and thanking the heavens that you never had to actually traverse the Oregon Trail by wagon, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
Paul George and the Indiana Pacers remained red hot at home as they pushed the New York Knicks to the brink of elimination with a 93-82 win. This battle of the second- and third-best teams in the Eastern Conference has now tilted firmly in favor of Indiana, which has New York residents stunned. "This was our year," said Daniel Czaplinski of Woodside. "We at least had to make it to the Heat. The Pacers? Gimme a break. Who the heck are they?" When asked if he had seen the Pacers play at all this season, Czaplinski said, "Yeah, they had that Zeller kid, and Oladipo. Not sure what happened to them, but Melo shouldn't be letting this George Paul guy take over. This is an abomination and all these bums should be fired."
The Spurs grabbed a pivotal Game 5 win in the friendly confines of San Antonio, beating the Golden State Warriors, 109-91, behind 25 points and 10 assists from Tony Parker. Parker, a noted French person from Belgium, was quietly finishing off a pack of Gauloises after the game before he mused about the idea of a falcon he had in his mind. "You know, bird that does not exist, your ability to fly is less impressive to some because of your lack of corporeal form. But to me, nonexistent falcon I just named Tweet-Tweet, you are more impressive, as you at least know you do not exist, where as real falcons contend daily with the illusion of reality." After a brief pause when Tweet-Tweet likely asked Parker for his last Gauloise, as Parker dropped one onto the ground next to him, Parker added, "And that is how I defeat the Warriors. They expect me to move at speeds, or to distribute the basketball. But that's all the secondary creative act. The original creative act was forgetting my own creation. Here, let me imagine a treatise for you to read." Unfortunately, Tweet-Tweet does not read French, and used Parker's imaginary philosophical text as bedding for his imaginary nest.
A couple weeks ago, I posted a starting lineup of the most entertaining players in baseball, and Jonah Keri objected to my including only one pitcher, Yu Darvish. Of course, you can have only one pitcher in a starting lineup at a time. That’s how baseball works. But because I crave Jonah’s approval as if he were an aloof and uninterested father figure, I put together what would be the most entertaining pitching staff in baseball: Yu Darvish, plus …
Felix Hernandez, RHP, Seattle Mariners
Please, Hernandez’s elbow, don’t blow up. Just please don’t blow up. I’m a sucker for a good sinker. Back in the day, one of my favorite things about baseball was that, once a week, it gave me the opportunity to watch Brandon Webb dive-bomb hitters for seven or eight innings. After the tragic passing of Roy Halladay, King Felix might now be the archetypal no. 1 starter — an enormous dude with a strong fastball, great command, and a long and distinguished list of off-speed and breaking pitches. Not only does the archetypal no. 1 starter have to throw good innings, he has to throw lots of them, consistently. It’s hard to just go out there and carpet-bomb hitters start after start for 220 innings a year. At the moment, it might be down to Hernandez and the next guy.
Justin Verlander, RHP, Detroit Tigers
I’ve been writing about baseball for five seasons now. Whenever preseason prediction time comes around, I pick Justin Verlander to win the Cy Young every time. I have literally never picked another pitcher. I almost didn’t add him because his brilliance is really perfunctory at this point. On Sunday, Verlander took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and I even didn’t turn the game on because it seems like he does that twice a month. “Oh, did Verlander just throw eight innings, strike out 10, walk one, and give up four hits and one earned run? Fascinating. Let me do the Aubrey Plaza eye roll.”
In case you were busy because no one at the game of Celebrity you were playing could get Lark Voorhies, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
Chris Paul scored his team's last eight points, including an acrobatic runner with 0.1 seconds remaining, as the Los Angeles Clippers edged the Memphis Grizzlies, 93-91, to take a 2-0 lead in their playoff series. "I don't know how he does it," Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said after the game. "Seriously. He seems to have a really good understanding of floor spacing and leadership. Is there like, a book he read? Because if so, could anyone tell me the name of it so I can throw it on my Kindle? It would be greatly appreciated."
The Chicago Bulls evened up their series with the Brooklyn Nets with a 90-82 win at the Barclays Center. The Barclays Center is not to be confused with Bar Clay Centre, also located in Brooklyn, which allows patron to both paint their own pottery and sample delicious Belgian ales. Team officials denied rumors that Nets guard Deron Williams, who went 1-for-9 in the loss, mixed the two up before the game. But afterward, there were a suspicious number of shoddily constructed clay trophies strewn about the Nets locker room with "Wurlds #1 PG," and "Chris My Paul," scrawled on them.
In case you were busy dancing like no one was watching, despite the fact many, many people were watching, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
Clayton Kershaw pitched a shutout and hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants, 4-0 to open their 2013 season. "I've been playing at such a high level for a number of years, and now it's time for me to make an impact at every level of the franchise," Kershaw said after the game, while directing traffic in Dodger Stadium's serpentine parking lot, adeptly moving those headed to the 110 away from those headed toward the 101. Kershaw reportedly spent the remainder of his evening helping the grounds crew reseed the playing surface, before finally heading to the locker room to do the team's laundry.
Mike Conley and the Memphis Grizzlies sent the Spurs to their second consecutive defeat, winning in Memphis, 92-90. Conley hit the game-winning shot with six-tenths of a second left on the clock, but was also held without a steal for the first time in 64 games. "I'm out of the game," Conley said after the win. "I've been taking things my whole life, but I'm done. I've got a wife now, and I think a more stable life is what we need." Despite these comments, Conley was, admittedly, "intrigued" by a plan that Marc Gasol was putting together for "one last big score," but at press time had still refused to commit to any more steals in a potential first-round matchup with the Denver Nuggets.
The baseball analytics revolution has helped us answer many questions that might have seemed unknowable before. We can now measure not only a pitcher's velocity but also the exact horizontal and vertical break on his pitches, the precise coordinates of his arm slot, and dozens of other variables. We can calculate the worth of catchers who excel at framing pitches. We can even take the sum of a player's contributions and find a reasonable estimate of his overall value.
Lovely pursuits, all. But mere trivialities next to the most pressing baseball question the world has ever had to face: If Mr. Burns had to re-staff the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team with a lineup full of present-day players, who should he choose?
In case you were busy watching the test signal on the NFL RedZone channel and holding back the tears, here's what you missed in sports last weekend.
Notre Dame outlasted Louisville, 104-101, in a five-overtime thriller in South Bend. Now, I just looked at the box score for this game, and I saw something a bit suspicious. The score was the same at the end of regulation, the first overtime, the second overtime, the third overtime, and the fourth overtime? Isn't that a little fishy? A little too fishy? See, both teams had 60 points at the end of regulation. Then they both scored eight points in the first overtime. Then seven in the second. OK, that's weird enough, but get this: In the third overtime, they both scored eight again. Too much, right? But it gets worse. In the fourth overtime, they both score 10. Perfect 10. Then, just to throw me off the trail, Louisville scores eight again, but Notre Dame, the Irish, I kid you not, scores 11. Lucky number 11. Now I don't want to accuse the good people of Notre Dame of any misconduct without proof, but it seems as if they were trying to get the same score at the end of every period, doesn't it? Until, quite naturally, they scored two different numbers. Very clever, guys. A little too clever. I'm keeping my eye on you, Notre Dame.
Wisconsin upset Michigan, 65-62, in overtime, after Badgers junior Ben Brust made an improbable half-court shot to tie the game at the end of regulation. "That's the sort of shot that needs to be immortalized with a song parody," overexcited Wisconsin junior Walker Nelson said after the game. "How does Brustified sound? Like, Justin Timberlake? But like, with Brust. We could do a whole suite of parody songs, like, 'Bringing Devin Back' in reference to [former Badgers point guard] Devin Harris. I'm totally going to get on this right away." Nelson then went back to his fraternity house, where he watched his ill-conceived ’N Sync parody from freshman year, "J.J. Watt You Back," and thought long and hard about his life choices.
Hernandez would've made $39.5 million over the final two years of his existing contract, effectively making the new deal a five-year, $135.5 million extension. It's a huge gamble for a Mariners team that now figures to pay one pitcher about 30 percent of its total payroll this season. It's also a huge win for Mariners fans tired of seeing superstars leave for greener pastures.
In case you were busy deciding who to eat first in case this whole blizzard thing gets out of hand, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
The Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors are reportedly exploring a trade that would send Carlos Boozer to Toronto in exchange for Andrea Bargnani. When Bulls general manger Gar Forman came down to practice to address the exploratory trade rumors, Boozer responded, "Oh, I didn't know we were exploring trades." Boozer then brought out a pile of furs and silks, and began to barter aggressively with reserve power forward Taj Gibson. When Gibson passed on Boozer's textiles, Boozer began hawking his wares to Kirk Hinrich, using his signature catchphrase, "Can you smell the Booze stank in the room?! Because I must be drunk to have prices this low!" Boozer wound up trading three silk scarves, a knit shawl, and a beaver pelt to Bulls assistant coach Adrian Griffin in exchange for a side of goat, which Boozer then roasted for his teammates as a traditional offering to show he wasn't concerned with the rumors. The Bulls, overfull with goat, then lost to the Nuggets, 128-96, in Denver.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
Jay Cutler threw four interceptions and the Packers scored a touchdown on a fake field goal as the Packers dominated the Bears 23-10. Following the fake, Bears coach Lovie Smith repeatedly ordered his team into the field goal block defense on inappropriate downs, reasoning that if the Packers would run a normal play when they were supposed to kick, they could easily kick when they should be running a normal play. "Fool me once," he began, and then tripped over a Gatorade cooler.
Coming into Monday, David Price was the leading contender for the American League Cy Young Award. His 2.28 ERA led the major leagues among qualified starters, and he'd given up just two runs over 30 innings in August. His strikeout rate was just south of nine per nine innings, above other hopefuls like Felix Hernandez, Chris Sale, and Jered Weaver, and just below Justin Verlander. He had 16 wins, the most in the league, and for better or worse, wins matter. He'd also spearheaded Tampa's August surge up the AL East leader board, another circumstantial fact that wouldn't hurt his candidacy.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
Red-hot Mariners ace Felix Hernandez tossed a five-hit, complete game shutout as the M's squeaked by the Twins 1-0. In related news, Las Vegas is now a bankrupt ghost town after more than 100 million gamblers placed significant bets on the Mariners-Twins game ending 1-0.
The baseball season is a long and lonely road. To preserve his sanity, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter keeps a diary. These are excerpts from The Captain's private journal.
Wednesday, August 15: vs. Texas Rangers
Baseball is a sacred trust. For some people, it's almost a religion. (For the record, I was raised Catholic, but you hate to talk about your belief system publicly; your faith is a matter best kept between you, your God, and whatever Hall of Famers up in the Cooperstown section of Heaven you quietly pray to for guidance during difficult slumps. That's nobody's business but your own. And possibly St. Scooter Rizzuto's.) So to knowingly betray our great sport feels like a sin. Baseball's been around since the dawn of time, and in the early days of The Game, cheaters were punished like sinners: They were forced to wear jerseys made of sackcloth, sit in bottomless chairs in front of the local field, and be struck in the genitals with a pair of wet rosin bags tied to the end of a rope. Some might consider this barbaric, but it sent a powerful message about the importance of integrity in our sport. These days, you get a 50-game suspension the first time you're caught cheating with steroids. Is that more or less "barbaric"? I don't know, I don't feel qualified to make that call. But I will say that if you really love the game, if you've got baseball religion, losing a third of a season should give you the same kind of queasy feeling in your lower abdomen as being repeatedly racked with a torture rope. You wonder if Bud Selig was reading a lot of Torquemada when he was figuring out how to replace those old punishments with ones that would hurt as much, but not violate the CBA.
There are so many angles we can take to describe and explain Felix Hernandez's mastery of the Tampa Bay Rays during Wednesday's start, one that produced the 23rd perfect game in Major League Baseball history. Rather than neglecting salient points, let's try to cover a bunch — 27 of them, one for each out that King Felix recorded in his masterpiece.
27. Inside Edge delivered a terrific infographic showing pitch location and pitch type for all 27 batters that Felix faced. The way he mixed pitches all day was masterful. Check out his inside-outside, high-low sequence to Evan Longoria in the second inning. Or how he handled Carlos Pena in the fifth. You can count the number of mistakes Felix made in the game on one hand. You could argue that the most hittable pitch he threw was a high fastball on a 2-1 count to Sam Fuld, the first batter of the game. Fuld smoked the ball, but Eric Thames made a great running catch. Felix cruised from there.