Ahead of the Curve: It's OK to Think About the Standings

Sadly, this isn't even close to the worst facial hair on the Rangers.

Today now marks the one month anniversary of the Miami/St Louis game which kicked off the non-Japanese portion of the regular season. If you're like me, you've tried desperately not to look at the standings in your league so far this season. If you're like me, you've failed at that and consequently over analyzed moves that you think you need to make once you tell yourself it's OK to make those moves. Well, I'm here to tell you that it's now OK.

In my most important league, I'm in the bottom three in all pitching categories besides saves, where I'm first. My offense was designed to be a juggernaut, but is barely middle-of-the-pack mostly due to my underperforming Angels duo of Albert Pujols and Peter Bourjos. I've sat back and waited, but that time is over. If your team is struggling to stay afloat in any categories today and you're not supremely confident that a turn of luck will right the ship, make a move. You don't want to be in a situation where it's June 1 and you need to legitimately think about punting a category that you could have saved.

So look at where you are in your league. See where you're underperforming. See what you need. Get active in the trade market before other teams realize it's OK to think about the standings. And if you need individual advice, all of us at Fake Teams are here to help you out. I personally make sure to respond to every question I get on Twitter at @tfw_bret, and I know I'm not the only one.


THE POTENTIAL OUTPERFORMERS

Matt Harrison (@BAL, LAA, @HOU, @SEA, @OAK, @SF)

It's two starts, people. Two starts against the Blue Jays and Rays. If this had happened during July, it would be a much smaller blip on his seasonal stats, but instead, Harrison's gone from having a 1.66 ERA after three starts to a 5.40 ERA after five. I'm just going to state the obvious here: Harrison is not as good as his first three starts or nearly as bad as his last two. He is what he was at the beginning of the season, a solid back-end starter on a good team who will win games. Ride him during this upcoming stretch.

Anthony Bass (MIA, COL, @WSH, LAA, @NYM, @CHC, SF)

Is Anthony Bass this year's Cory Luebke? It certainly seems like it might be that way after the way his season has started, putting up a 2.30 ERA and 1.02 WHIP, along with 27 K's in 27 1/3 IP. So while his .243 BABIP against is not particularly sustainable, he does have an above average swinging strike rate (11.0%) and an above average ground ball rate (54.4%). A good stretch of Petco starts and solid road match-ups should not help temper the excitement around Bass.

More after the jump..

Josh Johnson (@SD, @HOU, PIT, @CLE, SF, WSH)

There's still a huge gap between JJ's ERA (5.34) and his FIP (2.17), which I expect to get considerably smaller (in the good way) by the time he's done with this stretch of games. He's certainly shown promising signs of late, as he's got a 17 K's vs 3 unintentional BB's in his last two starts. His 56% ground ball rate also portends good things going forward. I know the first few starts put a bit of a scare into people, but I'm back to expecting JJ-type performance from JJ until he eventually gets hurt.

Justin Verlander (@SEA, @OAK, MIN, @CLE)

This is just unfair. Isn't there something in the Geneva Conventions about this?

Doug Fister (@SEA, @OAK, PIT, @CLE)

Sticking in Detroit, this would appear to be the first four starts for Doug Fister in his return. His rehab start at Toledo was very encouraging as he threw 4 innings, striking out 5 and giving up just 2 hits and a walk (no ER), and all reports suggest that he came out feeling good. What should also make him feel pretty good is this cake schedule once he gets back to Detroit. If he was dropped in your league, go run out and stash him now for this stretch before other owners realize this.

Other Potential Outperformers:

Aaron Cook (BAL, CLE, SEA, @PHI)
Phil Humber (@CLE, KC, @CHC, MIN)
Johnny Cueto (@PIT, WSH, @NYM, ATL)
Mat Latos (@PIT, WSH, @NYM, ATL)
Drew Pomeranz (@SD, @SF, SEA, @CIN, HOU)
Dan Haren (TOR, @MIN, OAK, @SD, @SEA)
Ervin Santana (TOR, @MIN, OAK, @SD, @SEA)
Anibal Sanchez (@HOU, PIT, @CLE, SF, WSH)
Zack Greinke (@SF, CIN, @NYM, MIN)
Carl Pavano (@SEA, LAA, CLE, @MLW)
R.A. Dickey (ARZ, @MIA, CIN, @PIT, SD)
Jarrod Parker (TOR, DET, @SF, LAA, @MIN)
Cole Hamels (@WSH, SD, @CHC, WSH)
Yu Darvish (@CLE, LAA, OAK, @SEA)
Ricky Romero (@OAK, @MIN, NYM, @TB, BAL)
Ross Detwiler (@PIT, SD, BAL, @ATL, @MIA, NYM)

THE POTENTIAL UNDERPERFORMERS

Wei-Yin Chen (@BOS, TEX, NYY, @WSH)
Bruce Chen (NYY, BOS, @TEX, ARZ)

Putting this mildly, it's going to be a rough three weeks to be a "Chen". Wei-Yin is coming off a great outing against the A's, but he's going to have his mettle challenged over these next three starts. Though to be fair, he did throw fairly well against the Yankees in his first start. Bruce, meanwhile, gets to face the same three teams, just in a slightly different order. His toughest test so far this season came against Detroit and he fared pretty well in that one, giving up 2 runs in 7 innings with 7 K's. I don't expect either of these guys to come out the other side of their respective gauntlets with their ratios in tact, so we could be looking at potential buy-lows in AL-only leagues around Memorial Day.

Jeff Niemann (@NYY, @TOR, ATL, @BOS)

I've been a pretty vocal Jeff Niemann supporter, both throughout the off-season and during the first month of the year. With that said, he's about to get hit with three very tough AL East road match-ups in the next three weeks -- and I, for one, am not going to let him sniff my starting lineup in those games. Niemann's biggest issue so far this season has been his conversational skills pitch efficiency (or lack of) -- much respect to anyone who gets that reference -- and last I checked, NYY/BOS/TOR are very good at working counts.

Other Potential Underperformers:

Mike Minor (@COL, @STL, MIA, @CIN)
Brandon Beachy (@COL, @STL, MIA, @CIN)
Jason Hammel (@BOS, TB, @KC, BOS)
Barry Zito (@LAD, @ARZ, OAK, @MLW, ARZ)
Blake Beavan (DET, @NYY, @COL, TEX, @TEX)
Kevin Millwood (DET, @BOS, @COL, LAA, @TEX)

#STREAMEROFTHEDAY UPDATE

As you may know, I post a streamer of the day owned in less than 10% of leagues on a daily basis at @tfw_bret on Twitter. And as a staple of this column, I'm going to review my picks as the season goes on. Here are the final numbers for the past seven #streameroftheday picks:

4 wins, 3.27 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and 36 K's in 41 1/3 innings.

And the details:

Date Pitcher Opp IP ER H BB K ERA WHIP Dec
27-Apr Carlos Zambrano ARZ 6 3 10 2 2 4.50 2.00 L
28-Apr Wei-Yin Chen OAK 7 1 6 2 4 1.29 1.14 W
29-Apr Chris Capuano WSH 6 2/3 0 3 2 9 - 0.75 W
30-Apr Randy Wolf SD 5 3 9 3 3 5.40 2.40 W
1-May Felix Doubront OAK 4 5 6 2 8 11.25 2.00 L
2-May Carlos Zambrano SF 7 0 5 3 5 - 1.14 ND
3-May Jeff Niemann SEA 5 2/3 3 7 2 5 4.76 1.59 W
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