Fantasy Baseball 2012: Mat Latos Brings Enigmatic Flair to June 26 Revelations
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Here are a few lightning-fast, baseball-themed revelations from Monday's action—or certain news events from the weekend.
1. Mat Latos Has Achieved 'Enigma' Status in the Fantasy Realm—in a Good Way
The seasonal numbers for Latos (6-2, 4.77 ERA, 1.33 WHIP) paint the picture of an over-hyped talent who has been unreliable in his first year with the Reds.
But since his eight-run, nine-hit implosion against the Cardinals on April 18, the kid (he's only 24) has gone 12 straight outings without a loss (with six victories); and he boasts a sparkling 35/6 strikeout-to-walk ratio since May 27.
That includes a 13-strikeout, complete-game gem against the Brewers on Monday.
Bottom line: Latos is certainly not a No. 1 anchor in 12-team leagues (too many wild momentum swings). But he is certainly an attractive trade commodity from this point forward—especially with owners who aren't dependent on ERA for a rise in the standings.
His ability to carry clubs in strikeouts and wins more than justifies his standing as a No. 2 or 3 starter.
2. It Probably Doesn't Matter What Color Stirrup Kevin Youkilis Dons from this Point Forward
From a fantasy perspective, I view Youkilis (133 career homers) and Brandon Inge (146 career homers) in similar lights.
Yes, Youkilis (traded to the White Sox on Sunday) was the better source for runs, base hits and OBP in his prime, but those days are long gone. In his last three seasons, Youkilis's OBP has shrunk from .411 to .373 to .314, and in that same span, the batting average has plunged from .307 to .258 to .233.
Here's the real kicker: Of Youkilis's last 581 at-bats (covering all of 2011 and '12), he notched multiple base hits in consecutive games just nine times. He tallied multiple RBI on consecutive days only twice; and not once did he belt homers for back-to-back games during that period.
Inge, for all his fantasy faults and prolonged slumps, at least has the tantalizing ability to carry a real-world and fantasy team for a week or two.
Upon joining the Athletics earlier this spring, Inge had a five-game spurt from May 6-11 that resulted in four homers and 16 RBI (four RBI in four games)—a run of short-term statistical awesomeness that has only been trumped by Josh Hamilton (nine homers, 15 RBI from May 7-12) this season.
Verdict: I would have zero interest in owning Youkilis in 12-team leagues, even if he has a productive start with Chicago. Steady declines in batting average, OBP and power cannot be reversed by simply moving from one big market to another.
3. Flip a Coin When Deciding Between Jared Burton and Glen Perkins as Closers
With Twins closer Matt Capps headed for the disabled list (shoulder), the club must now choose between Burton (1-0, 2.90 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 29/6 K- BB, 3 saves) and Perkins (1-1, 2.84 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 41/13 K-BB, 4 saves) for the interim closer role—or just go the route of bullpen-by-committee, depending on game situations.
When studying both pitchers on MLB Extra Innings, my eyes tell me Burton (0.68 ERA since May 27) is the more skilled pitcher of the duo. He also projects as the better long-term option, should Minnesota and Capps part ways in the next season or two.
Right now, though, the closer race appears to be a dead heat, something that may not require immediate change.
Yes, Burton has posted saves in back-to-back opportunities, but with a struggling club like the Twins, what's their rush in picking a guy—even if Capps' injury, hypothetically speaking, was a season-ending occurrence?
Bottom line: If your roster can only afford either Perkins or Burton, side with the latter, but please don't get rankled if/when Perkins has a three- or four-day run as the closer. As long as the do-si-do approach works for Minnesota, the club should benefit by continually stressing competition between the bullpen marvels.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.
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