Want to know what's going to happen before it happens? Then the Fantasy Oracle is for you.
Before I begin this week, I want to extend my sympathies to the family of Nick Adenhart (SP, LAA). The thoughts and prayers of everyone at RotoExperts is with them at this time.
Some people may say that I am taking the Miss Cleo approach to fantasy baseball. I prefer to think of this weekly exercise more along the vein of “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Baseball is a stats game. Players and managers play the percentages more often than not to get an edge.
As a fantasy baseball manager, you should follow the same process. If a batter has faced a pitcher 50 times, and has gotten a hit 25 times, that’s a trend you need to consider. Keep sending in those player requests, several of the guys profiled this week were sent in by readers. So if there’s a player you’d like me to profile in a future column, shoot me an e-mail at wirkiowski@RotoExperts.com
Tip of the week: Want to get more out of your lineup each week without having to look up specific batter/pitcher matchups? Simply set up your bench to have player who hit from the opposite side of the plate as your starter for that position. Generally, left-handed batters hit right-handed pitchers better than left-handed pitchers, and vice-versa for right-handed batters.
This week, we’ve got a mixed bag of eight players to profile, so grab a cold beverage, and be prepared to be dazzled by the Oracle. Once again, we’ll start our column behind the plate and work our way around the diamond.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (C, TEX)
Saltalamacchia torched the Indians in the first two games of the series, getting three hits in seven at bats with one home run and three RBI. However, Taylor Teagarden (C, TEX) got the start in game three of the series, and if this platoon continues, Saltalamacchia’s value will be slightly depressed. In Week Two, the Rangers have six home games, with three against Baltimore and three against Kansas City. So Oracle, how do things look for Saltalamacchia even if he plays in only four of those six games?
The Oracle says… In 29 career at-bats against the Orioles, Saltalamacchia is hitting .345 with two home runs and nine RBI. Against the Royals, he is a .290 hitter in 31 at-bats with one home run and three RBI. Saltalamacchia has no career at bats against the scheduled Baltimore starters, except Mark Hendrickson (SP/RP, BAL), against whom he has no hits in two at-bats.
Against the three projected Royals starters of Horacio Ramirez (RP, KC), Gil Meche (SP, KC), and Zack Greinke (SP, KC), Saltalamacchia is a combined zero-for-seven. While the past results don’t show much, the sample size is extremely limited, and he is swinging a hot bat. Keep him in your lineup in all formats.
Chad Tracy (1B, ARI)
Tracy also had a nice opening series, pounding out four hits in nine at-bats, with one home run and two RBI. In Week Two, Tracy starts with a three-game series at home against the Cardinals. The good news is that Tracy is a career .305 hitter at home. The bad news is that he is a career .231 hitter against the Cardinals in 78 at-bats. Tracy finishes the week with three at San Francisco.
At AT&T Park, Tracy is a career .266 hitter in 124 at-bats. Hey Oracle, can you sort through this mess?
The Oracle says… Tracy should face Todd Wellemeyer (SP, STL), Chris Carpenter (SP, STL), and Joel Piniero (SP, STL) in the first series, and then face likely starters Jonathan Sanchez (SP, SFO), Tim Lincecum (SP, SFO), and Randy Johnson (SP, SFO).
Tracy has had success against Wellemeyer in limited at-bats, popping three hits in five at-bats with one home run. Tracy is zero-for-four against Carpenter and hasn’t faced Piniero. It’s basically the same story against the Giants. Tracy has only two at-bats against Sanchez and none against Johnson. He is a pitiful one-for-10 against Lincecum, however. In daily leagues, definitely start Tracy against Wellemeyer, and bench him against Lincecum. In weekly leagues, you are probably better off keeping Tracy on your bench for the week.
Robinson Cano (2B, NYY)
Cano is looking to rebound after a tough 2008. Through the first three games, Cano is hitting .545 with one home run and three RBI. In Week Two, the Yankees travel to Tampa Bay for three games, before returning home for four games against the Indians. Cano has had success in Tampa Bay, as he has more home runs at Tropicana Field than any other road stadium. Against the Indians, Cano has a career average of .291 in 86 at bats.
The Oracle says… In weekly leagues, you may want to bench Cano. He is two-for-17 in his career against Scott Kazmir (SP, TB) and zero-for-nine against Andy Sonnanstine (SP, TB). Cano hasn’t had much luck against Cliff Lee (SP, CLE) either, managing just two hits in 13 at-bats. For those of you in daily leagues, Cano has five hits in 11 at-bats against Matt Garza (SP, TB) and three hits in nine at-bats against Fausto Carmona (SP, CLE)
Miguel Tejada (SS, HOU)
Tejada has had a tough run the past few years, with arising steroid allegations and questions about his true age. However, Tejada has started strong in 2009, with five hits in his first 11 at-bats. In Week Two, Tejada goes to Pittsburgh for three games, before returning home for four games against the Reds. Unfortunately, PNC Park has not been friendly to Tejada, who sports a .218 average in 55 career at-bats. He has had much better success against the Reds, compiling a .345 batting average in 87 at-bats. So wise Oracle, what do you see?
The Oracle says… Against the six starters he’s projected to face in Week Two, Tejada has never had more than 10 at-bats against any of them. His best matchup is Ross Ohlendorf (SP, PIT) against whom Tejada has five hits in eight at-bats. Against the other five projected starters, Tejada is a combined six-for-29. In weekly leagues, bench Tejada if you have better options. In daily leagues, certainly avoid Aaron Harang (SP, CIN) and Edinson Volquez (SP, CIN).
Scott Rolen (3B, TOR)
Rolen had a forgettable first season in Toronto in 2008, but has stormed out of the gate in 2009, batting .364 with one home run and two RBI in his first three games. The Blue Jays begin Week Two with four games at Minnesota, then return home for three against Oakland. Rolen has three hits in 13 career at-bats in the Metrodome, while his success against the A’s is even worse: just seven hits in 38 career at-bats against the Athletics.
Hey Oracle, will Rolen be able to sustain his hot start and reverse his fortunes against the Twins and A’s?
The Oracle says… Rolen is not looking forward to this week with one exception. Against R.A. Dickey (SP/RP, MIN), Rolen has five hits in seven at-bats. Against the rest of the Twins projected starters, he has two hits in 13 at-bats; however he has never faced Francisco Liriano (SP, MIN). Rolen has a total of four at-bats against the Oakland projected starters of Dallas Braden (SP/RP, OAK), Trevor Cahill (SP, OAK), and Dana Eveland (SP, OAK). However, Rolen is only a .259 hitter at the Rogers Centre, so don’t expect much. In daily leagues, start Rolen against Dickey, and pick your spots the rest of the week, while in weekly leagues, look for a better option.
Randy Winn (OF, ARI)
Winn is one of those players who fly under the radar among fantasy baseball owners. He is remarkably consistent year-after-year, and while none of his numbers are sexy, they do help fantasy owners who have to fill five outfield spots and a utility position. In Week Two, the Giants face the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine for three games, before heading home to face Arizona for three games. Winn is a career .298 hitter at Dodger Stadium in 121 at-bats, and a career .309 hitter at AT&T Park. So it certainly looks good for Winn in Week Two.
Oracle, is that what you are seeing?
The Oracle says… Winn will have a big week. He has seven hits in 14 at-bats against Chad Billingsley (SP, LAD), and 13 hits in 34 at-bats against Doug Davis (SP, ARI). He hasn’t faced James McDonald (RP, LAD) or Clayton Kershaw (SP, LAD). The only hiccup in Week Two for Winn is Dan Haren (SP, ARI). Against Haren, Winn has but six hits in 35 at-bats. In daily leagues, bench Winn against Haren, and in weekly leagues, start him and accept the doughnut you’ll get against Haren, because Winn will make up for it the rest of the week.
Chris Carpenter (SP, STL)
Entering 2009, Carpenter had pitched a grand total of 21.1 innings the past two seasons. It certainly looked like Carpenter would never regain his previous ace form. But he pitched a gem in his first start, and is scheduled to pitch again on April 14th against the Diamondbacks. So what can we expect from Carpenter in start number two? Let’s consult with the Oracle.
The Oracle says… In his career, Carpenter is 3-0 in three career starts at Chase Field with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.15 ERA. He has also struck out 12 batters in 20.0 innings. Carpenter will build on his last start, and pitch another great game. Get him into your lineup.
Octavio Dotel (RP, CHW)
Dotel is the primary setup man for the White Sox, and has been outstanding so far, striking out all six batters he's faced this year. So, is Bobby Jenks’ (RP, CHW) job on the line? No, but if Jenks falters, the job will be Dotel’s. Should you be eyeing Dotel as a future closer, or until he closes, will he continue to give you quality innings? Let’s get with the Oracle one last time this week and see…
The Oracle says… The White Sox start the week with three games against the Tigers. Dotel has pitched well against Detroit, in 10.2 innings he has a 3.38 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP with 17 strikeouts. Things aren’t quite as sunny against the Rays, though. In 14.0 innings, Dotel has a 7.07 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP with 16 strikeouts. In daily leagues, I’d keep Dotel active for the games against Detroit and bench him for the games against the Rays. In weekly leagues, he should be benched.
When Matt isn’t crunching numbers for The Fantasy Oracle, you can find him at the ballpark, if you do – buy him a beer, he probably could use one. Got a question, comment or complaint? E-mail Matt at Wirkiowski@RotoExperts.com