My new job is cutting into my free time to write lately, but here are my thoughts on what I saw in last night's roto action.
Clayton Kershaw is on his way to another MVP award
There has been some talk recently on whether Dodgers ace is the greatest pitcher of all time. I don't think he has pitched long enough to be in the conversation, but in the years that he has pitched, we know there isn't anyone better at the moment. On Tuesday night, he gave up a first inning run vs the Angels, and finished giving up hit that one run on 4 hits, no walks and 11 strikeouts in 8 innings of work in the Dodgers 4-1 win.
Kershaw is now 6-1 with a 1.67 ERA, 1.37 FIP, a 0.70 WHIP and a ridiculous 88-4 strikeout to walk rate in 70 innings of work. His 22.0 K/BB rate is insane. How insane? Here is Yahoo's Jeff Passan:
Best K-to-BB ratio ever: Phil Hughes' 11.63-to-1 in 2014. Best for 200+ Ks: Curt Schilling, 9.58-to-1. Clayton Kershaw in 2016 is 21-to-1.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 18, 2016
Yeah. That insane. He has made nine starts this season and his fWAR is an amazing 3.4, which is better than the best hitter according to fWAR, Jose Altuve, who owns a 2.6 fWAR right now, and he plays every day.
So, how many of you still won't draft Kershaw in the first round? I have already written about how power, and the home run ball, is trending positively this season, so the dominance we are seeing from Kershaw could lead to his second MVP award.
As a fantasy baseball writer, I wasn't sure what to expect from Athletics starter Rich Hill this season. He was pretty dominant in his few appearances last season, but I wasn't ready to rank him highly in my offseason starting pitcher rankings. Heck prior to last season, he hadn't pitched more than 60 innings in a season since 2007. Yeah, allmost ten years ago. That uncertainty allowed me to draft Hill for a buck in my AL only keeper league auction at the end of March. Yesterday, Hill dominated the Rangers lineup, giving up just one run on 3 hits, a walk and 6 strikeouts in 6 innings in the A's 8-1 win. Hill is now 6-3 with a 2.54 ERA, 2.95 FIP, 1.13 WHIP and an excellent 59-21 strikeout to walk rate in 49.2 innings. In a season where the A's have disappointed as a team, Hill has been one of the few bright spots. With teammate Sonny Gray struggling, Hill could be the A's most tradable starter come mid-July.
Braves starter Julio Teheran was another polarizing starter to rank in the offseason, as he was coming off the worst season of his career. Heading into this season, one had to wonder if his 2015 oerformance was a one year aberration or not. After his performance on the mound last night, it appears that 2015 was a fluke year for him. Teheran shut out the Pirates on 5 hits, no walks and 3 strikeouts in 7.2 innings in the Braves 3-1 win. The win was his first of the season vs four losses, with a 2.73 ERA, 3.72 FIP a 1.11 WHIP and a stellar 47-17 strikeout to walk rate in 56 innings. After giving up 12 runs in his first three starts of the season, Teheran has been cruising of late, giving up just 5 earned runs in his last six outings.
Both Hill and Teheran are available in more than 30% of ESPN leagues right now and I am quite surprised. That said, both have something else in common. Both could be trade bait in July and could be pitching elsewhere in the last two months of the season.
Orioles outfielder /DH Mark Trumbo is having himself a very strong first seven weeks of the season. On Wednesday night, Trumbo went 2-4 with a home run, 2 runs scored and an RBI in the Orioles 5-2 win over the Mariners. Trumbo seems to like hitting at Orioles Park at Camden Yards. When did they change the name on us? Trumbo is now hitting .304-.356-.595 with 12 home runs, 23 runs scored and 29 RBI. He is on pace to hit 51 home runs and drive in 124 runs at this point, but we all know how likely that is. He has already struck out 40 time this season, but he is making more hard contact this season, so a 35 home run season appears likely. And that might prove to be conservative.
One pitcher who has been ever so perplexing this season has been Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright, Coming into his start on Wednesday night, Wainwright had given up three or more runs in each of his eight starts, including three disaster starts. Last night, he pitched his best game of the season, shutting out a hot Rockies lineup on 6 hits, a walk and 5 strikeouts in 6.2 innings, his longest start of the season. He left the game with the Cardinals leading 2-0. Assuming the Cardinals held on, the win moved his record to 4-3 with a 5.92 ERA, a 4.04 FIP, a 1.53 WHIP and an uncharacteristic 31-14 strikeout to walk rate in 51.2 innings. Fantasy owners want to now know whether he is over his sluggish start to the 2016 season. I would want to see a few more starts like this, or at least a few more quality starts, before I looked to trade for him.