Behind the Plate: A Fantasy Baseball Primer for Week Four

Grant Correspondent IApril 27, 2009

First Pitch: Two-Start Bargain of the Week

In Week Four, a plethora of aces take the mound twice.

Thus, finding a bargain El Guapo who will maximize every pitch of his fantasy double-dip was slightly more difficult for the upcoming scoring period.

Usually, a certain number jumps off the stat page, predicting an advisable plug-and-play at pitcher. This time around, an amalgamation of factors forecast Randy Wolf as the best widely available option for Week Four.

The veteran Dodger southpaw first toes the rubber at AT&T Park, facing a Giants team to which he has not lost in two years.

Starting opposite Wolf will be fantasy succubus Barry Zito. Once dominant when he played across the bay in Oakland, Zito has accrued a horrific 8-17 record while pitching at home in San Francisco.

Wolf's second start of the week will be at home in Chavez Ravine, when the surprising Padres come to town. I say "at home" in the literal sense—Wolf is a native of the nearby San Fernando Valley.

Although the lefty has a lifetime 6.09 ERA versus San Diego, Wolf strikes out 8.36 Padres per nine innings.

That bodes well for a pitcher with 23 strikeouts in 25.1 innings thus far this year.

Furthermore, if Wolf happens to throw a subpar game, he has the No. 3 highest-scoring offense in the majors backing him up.

For these reasons, Jules and Vincent Vega can put their brain-splattered fears to rest: The Wolf is on his way in Week Four.


Princes of Thieves: Last Week's Easily Accessible Base-Stealers

3 SB: Dexter Fowler, Nyjer Morgan, Josh Anderson, Michael Bourn

2 SB: Emmanuel Burris, Chris Getz, Cesar Izturis


Power Rangers: Budget Bombers of the Past Seven Days

3 HR: Melky Cabrera

2 HR: Rod Barajas, Craig Monroe, Lyle Overbay, David DeJesus, Edgar Renteria, Jeremy Hermida


Lineup Addenda: Week Four Pick-Ups

Nyjer Morgan, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

Almost a month into the season, Morgan remains widely available and waiting to contribute, but a majority of fantasy owners refuse to ask him to dance. 


Is it the .319 batting average? The six stolen bases? Maybe it's the nine ribbies coupled with 10 runs scored. 

Or is his unbelievable .373 BABIP with no moonshots turning off prospective suitors?

A-ha. I think we're on to something.

Such a high statistic suggests a lucky streak ready to fall back to earth. But leading off in front of a reinvented Freddy Sanchez will allow Morgan to continue to contribute fantasy-worthy numbers, especially now that fellow Pirates outfielder Nate McLouth has a slight oblique strain.

If only Morgan could improve his 2:5 BB/K ratio, though...


Scott Downs, RP, Toronto Blue Jays

Hopefully you made a preemptive strike to shock and awe all in your league by adding  Downs earlier this week.

If not, Downs warrants an immediate pick-up, with troubled closer B.J. Ryan heading to the disabled list.

So far this season, Downs has 14 strikeouts in only 9.2 innings of work. He converted his first save opportunity since assuming the new role.

There are rumors flying about the YYZ that Downs could continue to close even after Ryan returns, so make a Neil Peart-like rush to cage this Blue Jay before it's too late.


Ben Zobrist, SS/OF, Tampa Bay Rays

For those participating in Mariana Trench-deep or AL-only leagues, Zobrist soon will be eligible as a shortstop and an outfielder.

Last week Zobrist started in right field three straight games. However, Tampa Bay skipper Joe Maddon has maintained that Zobrist, for the time being, will not be an everyday player.

But with three home runs, nine RBI, a .286 batting average, and multi-position qualifications, Zobrist is the perfect pick-up for the above mentioned formats.

John Baker, C, Florida Marlins

Baker has made contact with 88 percent of the pitches he has seen in 2009 en route to a healthy .295 batting average.

Although lucky in the early going (.364 BABIP), who wouldn't want a catcher who bats second in a potent Marlins lineup in front of Hanley Ramirez?

Apparently a lot of fantasy owners don't, because Baker is still swimming in an obscene number of free-agent pools.

With many other catchers around the league succumbing to a rash of injuries, Baker is not only a fantastic stopgap solution, but also is poised to join the upper echelon of the squatting half of the battery ranks.


Seventh Inning Stretch

I know popular opinion insists Led Zeppelin's greatest album is either Led Zeppelin IV or Houses of the Holy, but pound for pound, Physical Graffiti is the best Mighty Zep has to offer.

No arguments to the contrary can be made. Case closed.


Notes from the Infirmary: Recent Disabled List Additions

Brian McCann, C, Atlanta Braves

When the Braves front office learned McCann was having trouble seeing out of his left eye, they immediately resolved to have said eye replaced with a Six Million Dollar Man-like bionic version.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, such technology has yet to be perfected. Until an alternative can be found, McCann will be on the 15-day DL.


Chien-Ming Wang, SP, New York Yankees

For the lack of a better option, the Yankees have banished struggling starter Chien-Ming Wang to the DL.

The ailment officially has been labeled as "weakness in the abductor muscles." If Wang has any problems with his hips, it's because they are weighed down by a 34.50 ERA.

Ryan Doumit, C, Pittsburgh Pirates

As if the fantasy situation in Pittsburgh wasn't bleak enough, Bucs backstop Doumit recently underwent surgery to repair a broken right wrist. 

Rehab from the procedure is expected to keep Doumit out for the next two months.

Let backup catcher Jason Jaramillo's reign of terror begin.


Two Outs in the Ninth: Streaming Pitcher Candidates for Week Four

Max Scherzer, Arizona Diamondbacks

Although young Mizzou alum Max Scherzer has yet to win a major league game, next Thursday could be his first victory of many when he gets the nod in Milwaukee.

Scherzer has accumulated 30 strikeouts in 29.2 innings versus NL Central squads, and is averaging 11 K/9 on the road.


Matt Garza, Tampa Bay Rays

In seven career starts against the Red Sox, Matt Garza has an impressive 4-1 record. He also has limited the Beantown bats to a .227 BA.

Moreover, Garza has never lost to Boston at Tropicana Field, the site of next week's contest.


Chris Volstad, Florida Marlins

While Volstad's 3.44 ERA and 1.41 WHIP at home are nothing spectacular, the numbers should be enough for a waiver-wire streaming win.

The Marlins host the Cubbies next weekend, a team on which a large contingent of the roster is nursing various injuries.

Volstad will take the mound opposite the equally green starter Sean Marshall. Marshall has a career 9.72 ERA at Dolphin Stadium.


Good luck next week. Always remember, you are playing the numbers and the matchup, not the player.

All statistics are compiled through April 24.


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