23 May MLB Mail Bag: Week 8
By: Lou Landers – @RealSportsCrew
1. How good the Milwaukee Brewers have been:
For this Brewers team, it starts with their offense and they’re also currently thriving at the back end of games with their bullpen. Aside from Neftali Feliz, this bullpen has been lights out this season and Corey Knebel appears to be taking off with the closers role.
The offense is loaded and has a tremendous amount of young talent with the likes of Keon Broxton, Jonathan Villar, Hernan Perez, Orlando Arcia and Domingo Santana. Of course free agent signing Eric Thames has been terrific along with Travis Shaw who was acquired from the Red Sox this past offseason for RP Tyler Thornburg.
While the above is positive, where I expect the Brewers to have issues when the season enters the dog days of summer is in their rotation. There are a few interesting arms in Zach Davies, Jimmy Nelson and Chase Anderson, however none of which are better than a #3 pitcher or low end #2 pitcher and I’m being generous on both accounts.
This is a team that could make a move a for a SP come the deadline, yet the smart decision is to stay put. They should continue to grow their farm system and let their players develop.
2. What do you attribute to the rise in home runs over the last 2 season?
Two things come to mind the most with this question.
The first is that hitters are younger, stronger than ever before and have the mentality of trying to hit home runs. Guys are content with striking out as long as they can hit for power. 20 HR seasons aren’t even as a big a deal anymore. I think in today’s game, it’s harder to hit for a .300 batting average than it is to hit 20 HR. This was not always the case.
Then on the mound, pitchers mostly rely on fastballs, most of whom rely on velocity rather than movement or precision. This leads to more hittable pitches for the hitters, especially when they’re swinging for the fences. Many pitchers today are wild inside of the strike zone which leads to hitters getting the barrel on the ball more frequently because they’re seeing more hittable pitches in the zone.
Personally I think the rise in home runs is simply due to there being more good hitters than there are good pitchers. If we only saw a teams 1 and 2 starters and their best 2 RP, homers would be down, not up. The pitchers should also be trying to adjust to the aggressive swings and approaches by these young hitters. The hitters go up there sitting dead red on a fastball first pitch and put a good swing on it because they guess right so often. Pitchers should start mixing in more breaking balls early in counts, that way the hitters won’t be able to jump all over the fastball early in count anymore.
3. Will the Texas Rangers keep up their winning ways once they play better teams?
Yes! Entering 2017 this Rangers ball club expected to be a playoff contender. I expected the Astros to compete with them and for both teams to be playing in the post season. Texas got off to a slow start without their heart and soul in Adrian Beltre, not to mention slow starts from Napoli, Lucroy and Odor. The loss of Cole Hamels to the DL didn’t help their cause, especially with the back end of the bullpen struggling in April. Closer Sam Dyson couldn’t seem to get anyone out, creating a problem for manager Jeff Bannister.
Since the first week of May, the Rangers have been one of baseball’s hottest teams and it should continue for the remainder of the season. Unlike the Blue Jays who also got off to a horrid start and play in the highly competitive AL East, Texas plays in a weak division and should be able to beat up on teams like the Athletics, Mariners and Angels as the season progresses. They have all the talent necessary to compete with the elite teams in the American League as well . Ace Yu Darvish is starting to look better and Cole Hamels should be back by mid-late June. This Texas ball club will be right in the thick of things come September’s postseason push, especially now that their offense has come alive and they’ve figured things out in the bullpen.
4. How Fantasy Baseball has changed due to the rise of players on the DL:
I am going to approach this question in two ways. The first will be from a general MLB standpoint and the second will be from a Fantasy baseball standpoint as the question states. The 10 Day DL is what plays a major factor in both cases.
General MLB: Teams are feeling more secure now than ever to place a guy on the DL knowing that they will not be without him for as long as 15 days anymore. We have seen a huge uptick on players being placed on the DL for that reason, but also for precautionary purposes as well. If a player is day to day with a minor injury, a team can still feel comfortable placing him on the DL, giving him extra rest and time to heal, while also giving an opportunity to a bench player or a prospect in the minors. This is even more prevalent now with starting pitchers who only pitch once every 5-6 days anyways. The latest example is early Cy Young award candidate Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros. Following Keuchel’s latest outing, he was placed on the 10 day DL with minor neck pain. He will miss only one start due to when he was placed on the DL, rather than 2 or more starts if there was still a 15 day DL.
Fantasy Baseball: The impact that this new rule change in MLB is having on the fantasy baseball industry is even larger than that of the impact in MLB. Owners/managers are being forced to either drop quality players due to a lack of DL spots or shorten their bench by keeping a DL’ed player on it, rather than have an active player who can produce for them. The way I believe this can be avoided is for league commissioners to either add more DL spots or make it so that there is an unlimited amount of DL spots. This season I have seen and heard of way to many owners having to drop great players because they simply don’t have a roster spot for them. This is unfair not only for the owner who is forced to drop a player, but also for the rest of the league. When that player is dropped, it allows for another owner with less injuries to pick that player up, free of charge in most cases and improve their team while everyone else is stuck with a crowded disabled list and a bench full of un usable players. Commissioners have to adapt to the new rule change and do whats best for the integrity of their leagues.
5. Is The NL East really that bad? Or is Washington just that good?
The simple answer to both these questions is YES. The NL East is garbage this season, easily the worst division in baseball and Washington is one of the most talented and best teams in baseball. The only real threat to the Nationals coming into the season was the Mets, however due to a number of key injuries to their lineup, rotation and bullpen, the Mets are underachieving and find themselves well under the .500 mark on the season. The Phillies and Braves have some exciting young players but are a few years away from being good ball clubs again and the Marlins could and should be the next team to blow up their roster and start a rebuild.
As far as 2017 goes, expect Washington to run away with this division. The only question that remains is if they can finally win a playoff series and shake the chokers title they currently have.