Fantasy Baseball: What You Missed | What’s Wrong With Kenley Jansen?
As we dive into this week's "what you missed in Fantasy Baseball," we’ll look at what's wrong with Kenley Jansen, a surprise hitter blasting bombs and a long-awaited prospect finally producing. Then we close things out with two pitchers that might not be worth your time despite their torrid starts.
Fantasy Baseball Week 3: What You Missed
Kenley Jansen Stinks
Jansen blew his second save on Tuesday, one more than he did all of 2017. After finishing 41-for-42 with a 1.32 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and 109 strikeouts in 68.1 innings last season, Jansen has an 8.10 ERA, 1.65 WHIP and just seven Ks through 6.2 IP (seven appearances). Is it time to panic? Heck yea it is!
Surprisingly, Jansen's FIP is 8.15 because he's actually been a bit lucky in BABIP (.278). His xFIP is much lower at 4.58, thanks to an absurd 4.1 HR/9 (30.0 HR/FB). While home run rates normalize, it's not going to come down much if Jansen doesn't get right. His metrics are down across the board. Jansen's fastball has lost 2 mph, the SwStr% is down to 15.5 (lowest since 2013, and it was 18.2 last year), F-Strike% down, Zone% down (worst ever by far), Z-Contact% up, Swing% down, Z-Contact% up and walks way up! Additionally, Jansen's K% is just 22.6, and he's never dipped under 37 percent for his career, even the minors. The walk rate is up to 9.7 percent and 4.1 BB/9, giving him a miserable 12.9 SOBB. Jansen even has three outings without recording a strikeout. You get the picture… something is wrong.
Does your brain hurt from the stats? It certainly does if you own Jansen. You can't trade him for scraps, but if you can get near his draft value, I'd sell. If It's doubtful that Jansen his the career wall, especially to this degree, so it's possible that he's hiding an injury. No matter what, we could be looking at a Craig Kimbrel-like 2016 season. While Kimbrel gives us hope in that he bounce back for a phenomenal 2017 season, it wasn’t the same year in which he was off his form.
Christian Villanueva Keeps Hitting
Villanueva is one of the most asked about and searched players in Fantasy Baseball right now. It's not surprising given the fact that he has six home runs through just 15 games. Villanueva was a solid prospect early on but faltered for a while and then looked to be a Quad-A player that could be useful off the bench. He does have power, and he's focused on doing nothing more. After all, Villanueva has a 53.3 FB% and an unsustainable 37.5 HR/FB. Is he worth your time? Certainly, but keep your expectations in check.
Villanueva is not going to hit .300, or even close to it. He strikes out way too much (33.3 K%) thanks to his aggressive approach (17.5 SwStr%) and struggles with off-speed pitches, especially curveballs. He's Pedro Cerrano.
While he has the power to near 30 home runs, Villanueva's average will fall into the mid-low .200 range as pitchers throw him more junk. He could also fall into an extended slump as a result, and if Chase Headley ever hits again, find himself on the bench.
Mallex Smith, Too
Smith is now hitting .373 with six Runs, three RBIs and three SBs. That's actually quite impressive considering he started 3-for-19 (.188) through April 8 and wasn't seeing regular playing time. Injuries and a hot bat have changed that, and now those that hoped Smith could be a cheap source of steals are grinning ear to ear. Are the smiles warranted? Simply put, yes.
Now, Smith is not going to hit over .350 or even .300. We don't need him to though, as we just want Smith on base enough to swipe 30-plus bags. The good news is that Smith has cut down his K% and is showing a better eye at the plate. His walks haven’t increased, but the rate is decent around eight percent. But back to his eye, or eyes, Smith has cut his SwStr% down to 8.4 after 11.9 and 13.2 in previous season. His Contact% is over 10 percentage points higher at 82.5, and he's swinging at pitching in the zone at a similar increase over last season (76.7, 66.6 in 2017). It appears things have finally clicked for Smith. If someone thinks they are selling high (granted, he's still just an OF4), I'd buy. If you own Smith, I'd happily hold given the lack of players that steal 30-plus bases these days.
Jarlin Garcia Stifles the Yankees
After shutting out the Yankees for five innings… in Yankee Stadium, no less… Garcia now has three outings without allowing a run, one hit in two of those and none in the other. In the one start with runs allowed, Garcia had 4.0 IP with four hits and two earned runs. Unfortunately, Garcia also only has 13 strikeouts to his 11 walks in 21 IP. Can you see the concern already? Added to that, Garcia's FIP and xFIP sit at 4.00 and 4.76, respectively. It's easy to see why when Garcia's BABIP is .096, his LOB% 96.2 and SOBB 2.6. Luck is an understatement.
It's exciting to see a potential breakout pitcher surprise the Fantasy world, but Garcia is not going to be a game changer. Even if he could manage a sub-4.00 ERA (hasn't done so in any significant work above High-A), the strikeout rate is way too low to provide secondary value or make up for a subpar ERA. Course correction is coming, and when it hits, you don't want to be holding the bag. Get out while you can and sell high… for anything… if you happened to pick him up and luck into a nice start or two.
Reynaldo Lopez is 0-3
Normally, we wouldn't cover a pitcher sitting at 0-3 unless it was a star that has struggled. With Lopez, he hasn't struggled at all. His offense has simply struggled to support him. Lopez has a 1.42 ERA with one, zero and two earned runs in his starts. Lopez also has a nice 1.00 WHIP and 28.4 K%, but there is reason for concern as well.
Lopez has an unsustainable 92.6 strand rate and .150 BABIP. It's nice to see the strikeouts and his 11.8 SwStr%, but Lopez has a 13.5 SOBB thanks to the walks (14.9 BB%, 5.2 BB/9). The good side of Lopez is that there is room to improve as he continues to redefine his approach. He used to be a fastball-changeup pitcher but is now a fastball-slider pitcher with the changeup mixed in. Lopez's changeup was hammered last year, but it's actually been slightly above average this season as the fastball-slider mix has kept batters more off balance. Nevertheless, Lopez has still been lucky so far and is more of a 4.00-ERA type pitcher with good strikeout totals. I'd play the matchups with him, knowing that the luck will swing soon.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Slocum
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