Rotisserie by the Numbers: Fast Starters Due to Slow Down

Craig RondinoneCorrespondent IApril 27, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 12:  Starting pitcher Jarrod Washburn #56 of the Seattle Mariners pitches during a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the game at Angel Stadium on August 12, 2008 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The first month of the baseball season cannot be taken too seriously.

We are not headed towards a San Diego Padres-Seattle Mariners World Series.

We are not going to have the new Yankee Stadium surpass Coors Field as the easiest ballpark to hit homers in.

And we will not be lucky enough to watch Zack Greinke have a 0.00 ERA for the entire season (although it would be nice since I own him in all three of my leagues).

This is why you have to be realistic with the fast starts some of fantasy baseball’s most mediocre players have shot off to.

These guys are blowing out of the blocks like Carl Lewis in the 1980 Olympics, yet they probably will finish towards the back of the pack at the fantasy finish line. So you should not get too excited about the Aprils these players are having and think about trading them while their stock is at its highest points.

Here is a look at three players who are bound to crash and burn after kicking off the season with three decent weeks of work:

Jarrod Washburn, Mariners

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Washburn has not started throwing a knuckleball, Safeco Field has not pushed its walls back 20 feet, and Seattle is not scoring 10 runs per game with Ken Griffey Jr. and Adrian Beltre batting like Buddy Biancalana with averages under .200. Yet Washburn is 3-1 with a 3.42 ERA and 1.10 WHIP after his first four games.

Washburn has already begun coming down to Earth. He got roughed up by Oakland (six earned runs in 5.1 innings) after winning his opening trio of starts, and his recent career history foreshadows more batterings on the way.

Washburn has had a 4.30 ERA or higher in five of his last six seasons. I would bet a box of Ichiro bobbleheads that Washburn’s ERA will be over 4.30 at the end of the 2009 campaign, too.

Luis Castillo, Mets

Remember how former Met Moises Alou used to urinate on his hands to toughen them up during the season?

Looks like Castillo has dipped his bat in Alou’s urine well a few times this year.

Castillo, arguably the most-overpriced second baseman in baseball ($8 million per season), has come out hitting like Ted Williams. His .365 batting average is fifth-best in the National League right now. Yes, Castillo has a higher average than Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun, and Manny Ramirez.

But the old Castillo used to steal bases. This one only steals money from the Mets and at-bats from others. His legs are shot. He hobbles to first base on ground balls, although it should be noted that nobody hobbles faster than he does.

And even with all these early-season hits Castillo still has zero homers, only five RBI and just nine runs scored.

Not only will he not keep hitting .365, he will be lucky to hit .285.

So find a sucker in your NL-only fantasy league who has a low team batting average and offer Castillo his or her way for a low-level starting pitcher, a minor-league prospect, or a pack of baseball cards.

Ryan Franklin, Cardinals

This veteran journeyman has bounced from team to team and from role to role during his 10-year career. Normally only southpaws are labeled "crafty," but Franklin graduated from the Joe Borowski School of Righthanders With Below-Average Stuff That Somehow Get Saves.

Franklin is 5-for-5 in save opportunities this season and has yet to allow a run.

We have seen Franklin in this role before. He can get you through a couple weeks with his 88-mph kinda-fastball and his array of breaking balls, especially if he enters the ninth inning with a two-to-three-run cushion, but eventually Franklin gets torched and sent back to setup duty.

Last season he did record 17 saves, but he also blew eight save chances as well.

I think one of St. Louis’ inconsistent fire-throwing youngsters—Jason Motte or Chris Perez—will end up as the Cards' closer within the next couple months, so if you could get something substantial for Franklin now while he is closing like Dan Quisenberry, by all means put him on the trading block.