Tim Lincecum: Closer?
Over the weekend, the Giants announced that they were moving Tim Lincecum out of their rotation and into their bullpen. As soon as they made that decision, my first thoughts were that it is just a matter of time before he is pitching in the ninth inning. He wouldn't be the first ace who turned to closing at the end of their career. John Smoltz and Dennis Eckersley are two of the big time ace starters who made the switch.
No decision has been made about moving him into the closer role, but you have to imagine the Giants will want to put him in a high leverage role since they are paying him $18 million next season. They are smart enough to know that it makes little sense to pay him that much and use him in a long relief role. He has proven this season that his days as a starter may be over. On the season, he is 10-9 with a 4.64 ERA, a 1.41 WHIP, a declining strikeout rate and a walks per nine approaching 4.00.
The decline in velocity is one of the reasons for his poor performance as a starter over the last few seasons, and he has become more hittable, and has been terrible with runners on base. FanGraph's Dave Cameron outlined how bad he has been with runners on base in this piece yesterday. His performance this season has been a roller coaster ride. Here is a quick glance at his monthly ERA this season:
Yep. That's a roller coaster ride. There is a chance he returns to the Giants rotation, but with Sergio Romo struggling losing his closer job earlier this season, Lincecum could see some time in the ninth inning as soon as this season.
I picked up Lincecum for $5 FAAB last night in one of my NL only keeper leagues, so I am willing to see how the Giants handle Lincecum in their bullpen this season, and maybe next.
For more on Lincecum and the Giants, make sure you check out McCovey Chronicles, SB Nation's Giants fan site.
Cubs call up Jorge Soler
Yesterday, the Cubs announced they will call up outfield prospect Jorge Soler later today, so if you are in need of power, make sure you go out an grab him. I doubt he is available in any keeper or dynasty leagues, but I am sure he is available in most mixed leagues right now. I picked him up in the 15 team Tout Wars experts mixed league last week, with the hope he can hit for some power in the last month of the season.
Soler has dominated at two levels of the minors this season, hitting a combined .340-.432-.700 with 15 home runs, 42 runs scored, 57 RBI and a solid 48-33 strikeout to walk rate of 48-33 in 236 plate appearances.
The Cubs now have called up four prospects this season, including Arismendy Alcantara, Matt Szczur, Javier Baez and now Soler. Come 2015, Kris Bryant and Addison Russell should see regular playing time on the right side of the Cubs infield. For that to happen, the Cubs will have to deal one of Starlin Castro or Javier Baez this offseason, in an effort to shore up their starting rotation, which actually happens to be pretty good this season. But, adding an ace or near ace at the top of their rotation will speed up their rebuild process and possibly improve their chances at a .500 season in 2015.
For more on the Soler call up, make sure you check out Bleed Cubbie Blue, SB Nation's Cubs fan site.
Pirates starter Gerrit Cole has been a bit of a disappointment coming off all the preseason hype I, and others, put on him coming into the 2014 season. Cole has missed time due to a strained right lat muscle, but has pitched well since coming off the disabled list recently. Last night, Cole limited the Cardinals to 2 runs on 3 hits, a walk and 9 strikeouts in the Pirates 5-2 win. Cole left with the lead, and two runners on base, but his bullpen allowed both runners to score, so he did not earn the decision despite pitching well. On the season, Cole is 7-4 with a 3.65 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and a 93-34 strikeout to walk rate in 98.2 innings.
After a disappointing 2013 season, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins saw his draft day ranking drop in our consensus shortstop rankings in the offseason. But, for those owners who drafted him, he has provided plenty of value in 2014, despite a low batting average. After going 0-4 last night, Rollins is hitting .239-.319-.384 with 16 home runs, 70 runs scored, 52 RBI and 27 stolen bases in 33 attempts. Among his shortstop brethren, Rollins ranks 3rd in home runs, 2nd in runs scored, 7th in RBI and 1st in stolen bases....all at the age of 35. Pretty impressive.
Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez, like Rollins, was undervalued on draft day due to his age and his propensity to land on the disabled list. But owners who were lucky enough to draft him have reaped the rewards as ARam has quietly had a solid season at the plate. On Monday night, Ramirez went 3-5 with a home run and 3 RBI in the Brewers 10-1 win over the Padres, raising his slash line to .307-.352-.469 with 14 home runs, 45 runs scored and 61 RBI in just over 400 plate appearances. When he is healthy, he hits, but he has trouble staying healthy, so he will continue to be a risk on draft day.
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