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“So, deuces wild… two balls, two strikes, two out, two on, in a 2-2 ballgame…” – Vin Scully
Another week of the Fantasy Baseball campaign is here, which means it’s time for another educational serving of starting pitcher analysis. Hello all and welcome back to the column that could. I am your columnist Matt Zylbert, and this is Deuces Wild, the weekly feature that strives in taking you outside the box. Last week was a good showing, as I hopefully successfully took you on a path towards Chris Young and Kyle Gibson last week. At the same time, my rare analysis on a hitter, Carlos Peguero, did not turn out as successful, but that’s why starting pitching is far and away my expertise. Now let’s see what we have this week.
Tsuyoshi Wada – Chicago Cubs (Trending UP)
With left-hander Travis Wood recently being demoted to the Cubs’ bullpen from the starting rotation, it could only mean one thing that I’ve been waiting for since Cactus League play: Tsuyoshi Wada is ready to finally make his triumphant return to the big leagues. And after a successful stint last year as a more-than-serviceable 33-year-old rookie, he could end up being quite useful as it pertains to Fantasy success.
You may recall, if you read my extensive starting pitcher sleepers article in the Xclusive Edge Draft Package, Wada was actually one of my picks. First off, as mentioned, he’s awfully old for someone embarking on only their sophomore campaign in the Majors, but that’s because he enjoyed a lengthy stint pitching in Japan, where he also racked up some big-game experience on their national team in the Olympics and World Baseball Classic. Then he made his big league debut in ’14, and proceeded to go 4-4 in 13 starts with a 3.25 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, while registering a modest 57:19 K:BB ratio in 69.2 innings.
Perhaps most impressive of all, Wada was consistent, surrendering less than three runs in ten of his starts, and he yielded more than four only once. Furthermore, he went at least five innings in just about all of them. He was effective enough that he most likely would have cracked camp with the Cubs on Opening Day if not for a groin injury that he was in the process of rehabbing from. Fortunately, it appears he’s picked up where he left off, at least as far as his Triple-A numbers are concerned, as in six starts, he was 1-3 with a 2.86 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and a 29:10 K:BB ratio in 34.2 innings for the Iowa Cubs. He’s also only served up two home runs.
The main indicator that might allow Wada to succeed in his second go-around at the big league level is that he was a little unlucky last year. While his .251 BAA from a season ago is perfectly acceptable, it would have been even lower if there wasn’t a .296 average on balls put in play (BABIP) attached to it. That number figures to go down at least a little bit, which should help aid Wada in his quest to carve out a useful niche at the bottom of Chicago’s pitching staff. I think he’ll surprise once again in 2015, when he’s summoned for the first time, and you’ll want to reap the benefits of that before anyone else in your league makes the move for him. Go pick him up, as he absolutely commands a speculative add at the very least. He ultimately might develop into a full-time member of your Fantasy rotation.
Erasmo Ramirez – Tampa Bay Rays (Trending DOWN)
I can’t put it any more bluntly. Do not buy into the mirage that is Erasmo Ramirez. Yes, he’s coming off a rare sparkling outing in which he shut out the Yankees over five innings and limited them to just three baserunners (one hit, two walks), but I assure you, it’s not going to lead to anything. And besides, what obscure pitcher doesn’t shut down the Yankees when opposing them for the first time? That’s seemingly an annual tradition.
Ramirez is a 25-year-old right-hander in his fourth major league season. There’s plenty of supporting evidence why he hasn’t solidified himself yet, as he’s failed opportunity after opportunity after opportunity, at least during his previous three seasons in Seattle. In fact, he’s only getting a chance to make some starts because of Tampa Bay’s numerous injuries to their pitching staff, otherwise he’d be the definition of a garbage-time long reliever. He just can’t be counted on.
Entering 2015, Ramirez had appeared in 47 games (35 starts), and pulled out a grand total of seven wins over that span. Through ten more games and three more starts this season, his career ERA now sits at 4.83, with a 1.36 career WHIP. He’s not a standout strikeout pitcher (185 Ks in 231 IP for his career), and while he doesn’t issue too many free passes, it doesn’t help that he can be a very hittable hurler when he’s locating his pitches.
I’ve seen enough of Ramirez over the years to confidently steer you away from the righty, as I can assure you he will offer you nothing positive in the long run. Tampa Bay has been a good spot for starting pitchers (on a side note, they actually have the best record for under bets in baseball this year, mostly thanks to the work of their starters), but if you really want one of their newest additions to the rotation, I’d much rather recommend Alex Colome over this guy. Ramirez is not even worth being monitored. Just look at his name on the waiver wire and carry on.
It’s rare that I cover a bat in Deuces Wild but I’m doing it for the second week in a row because there’s someone out there worth covering: Cory Spangenberg. While most still aren’t familiar yet with the scrappy infielder, I can assure you the former first-round pick (10th overall, to be specific) is worth your attention. In fact, not only do I feel you should pick him up right away, but if you’re in a deep league with various starting spots, I’d even say to plug him the first chance you get.
You might be a little cautious, as Spangenberg comes into the new week mired in an 0-for-11 slump, but prior to that, he proved to be plenty useful, producing three multi-hit games in an eight-game stretch, including a two-homer performance on May 14. Most important of all, he just looks like a very live player, and batting him in the No. 1 or 2-hole (he’s been batting leadoff with Wil Myers out) can only be beneficial for your Fantasy team if you choose to roll with him. As a general strategy, much like how you’d want to employ someone from a premium spot in the Rockies’ lineup, Spangenberg offers the same justification, as he’s started 13 straight games while frequently hitting second in a lineup that has been scoring a lot. With the likes of Matt Kemp and Justin Upton hitting directly behind him, Spangenberg potentially could provide you with a solid number of runs, not to mention stolen bases, as he has four steals this month in five tries.