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May 18, 2005

ESPN Fantasy Column

Kenny’s Magical Mystery Tour
KENNY ROGERS has extended his scoreless inning streak to thirty with his fourth-consecutive stellar outing. How is this possible, in light of his miniscule strikeout rate of 3.6 per nine and his good-but-not-supernatural 1.20 WHIP? Is it the steady stream of weak-hitting opponents? The .253 average on balls hit into play, when .305 or so is more likely? Those are indeed components of his astonishing 1.49 ERA, but here, fellow fantasy owners, is the money stat: Rogers’ opponents are batting .346/.402/.449 when the bases are empty and .110/.200/.121 with runners on base. I’m not permitted niceties like bolding and italics, so I’ll repeat for emphasis: .110/.200/.121! This cannot stand. Those lines with and without runners on should begin to converge very soon.

Nevertheless, I still think owning him is fine. Assuming the rotation stands pat, Rogers will face Houston (15th in the NL in runs scored), Kansas City (last in the AL), Detroit (9th, AL) , Philadelphia (12th, NL) and Florida (14th, NL) in his next five starts. Just keep in mind that you are taking a risk. A good ERA for any Arlington pitcher usually hovers in the low-four range. Also, Rogers is 40 and tailed off badly after the season’s first three months, so you’ll need to watch him carefully.

More on Ranger Starters? What A World!
Another guy receiving some mixed-league attention is CHRIS YOUNG, who sports a bright and shiny 3.18 ERA. In his favor and unlike Rogers and RYAN DRESE, Young can make hitters miss the ball. On the down side, he throws so many pitches per inning that he’s completed six innings only twice in eight starts, thus hampering his ability to earn wins. Also, he won’t maintain his current ratio of one homer allowed per 45 innings pitched. Like Rogers, he’ll face some of baseball’s weaker teams in the coming weeks, so perhaps he could offer some fantasy rewards. Based on his so-so track record and the factors outlined above, I can’t give him a blanket endorsement.

Ever-Popular Outfield Update
Some readers have asked if DAVID DELLUCCI might become an everyday player, apparently a point of concern with his potential ownership in mixed leagues. The answer is no, and for that you should be glad. Dellucci has a career line of .118/.206/.172 against lefties from 2002 to the present. Akin to Kenny Rogers, Dellucci is known to collapse after a fast start, so watch him carefully. Meanwhile, RICHARD HIDALGO is batting pretty well in May (.279-8-3-11) and could help those in 12-team mixed leagues. He’ll play almost every game, as will KEVIN MENCH. LAYNCE NIX plays only against righties and isn’t hitting enough to help any mixed leaguers. Come 2006 (or sooner), Texas may decide that Nix is unworthy of a starting role.

For AL-Only Fans Only
Though PEDRO ASTACIO pitched poorly in his last outing, AAA’s RICARDO RODRIGUEZ pitched just as badly, making an imminent jump to the Majors highly unlikely. Texas signed STEVE KARSAY to a minor-league deal and assigned him to AA Frisco. Expect him to join the Rangers unless he proves unable to retire Texas League opponents. He’s a potentially useful middle reliever in larger leagues. In case you just got back from Guam, FRANK FRANCISCO and CARLOS ALMANZAR are done for the year. ANDRES TORRES will start against lefties while GARY MATTHEWS rests his hammy. I wouldn’t bother with him.

Posted by Lucas at May 18, 2005 10:18 AM