Saturday, August 23, 2014

What is Jeremy Guthrie?

Most of you know that I pick baseball games every day. It's part of my shtick. And one thing that happens every fifth day is not knowing what to do with Jeremy Guthrie when his turn comes up. You could say that Guthrie has been successful with the Royals. His record in two and a half years there is 29-25. He takes the ball every fifth day and is durable. But, gosh, he just doesn't seem to be very good.
The Royals gave him a nice contract of $25 million for 2013, 2014 and 2015. He has an option for 2016. That is some pretty good coin for a guy I regularly call a "journeyman" pitcher. Obviously, the Royals know what he has, what his stuff is and what it is worth to them to have a guy eat six innings of a game 32 times a year and reasonably succeed half of the time. I do not know how much a role stat-crunchers play in the Royals' decision-making process. But the Royals thought this was a reasonable deal. Can we argue with them?
If you look around the Majors and teams that consistently lose starters to the disabled list, is their "stuff" worth the down time? Here we have a pitcher without much "stuff" but who is dependable and reliable. That has a value and part of his overall value equation is his innings pitched and his steady amount of starts.
And that is a good thing for Guthrie as the rest of his peripherals do not bring him much value. Guthrie currently ranks 88th of 96 qualifying pitchers in FIP at 4.55. His ERA isn't much prettier at 4.48. If you go by ERA+, he sits at 90 when 100 is average. He is 82nd of 96 pitchers in strikeout percentage with a 15.4%. His home run to nine inning rate is 86th of 96 qualifying pitchers. He led the American League in hits allowed last year and is ninth in all of baseball this year. So you get my quandary here.
It really doesn't help that the statistic sites have different ways of valuating players. The disconnect is sharp when it comes to pitchers. For example, gives Guthrie 19.5 rWAR for his career, 1.1 rWAR for last year and 0.5 so far this year. gives him 13.7 fWAR for his career, 1.0 fWAR for last year and lo and behold, 0.8 this year. Whuh?
In 2013, the first year of Guthrie's contract, the 1.0 fWAR valuation came to $4.8 million, which isn't bad since he was paid only $5 million. Each year, the value of a win increases and so, if you go by Fangraphs, Guthrie has been worth $4.6 million so far this year. He will probably end up worth around $5 million this year. The problem is that he now makes $8 million and will make $9 million next year.
The question for the Royals is: If the Royals make the playoffs and they get to a short series, do you start Jeremy Guthrie?
I have a hard time gaining perspective on the career of a guy like Jeremy Guthrie. I appreciate that he eats innings and gives you 30 starts a year and averages more than six innings a start. I can see the value of that to a pitching staff. But I also see that his closest career comps are Kris Benson and Paul Maholm.
In an era of the strikeout, Guthrie is not that guy. Of all his pitches, only his change-up has a positive value. His OPS against is .753 when the league average among all batters is .710. He has led the league once in hits allowed and once in homers allowed and twice in losses in a season (granted, for some awful Oriole teams).
Jeremy Guthrie is a journeyman pitcher with three of his last four seasons being less than league average. The fourth was exactly league average. But he takes the ball every fifth day and holds a pitching staff together. That doesn't quite seem worth the money he is making, but it does have its value. If you look at him like a fourth or fifth starter who wins half of his decisions, then you cannot make fun of that, can you? Maybe I should stop doing so.

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: August 23, 2014

I knew I was in trouble yesterday after the first couple of games and as the night progressed, it was just one of those horror shows that happen from time to time. I'm sure the Tigers understand what I'm talking about. Ahem.
And the Nationals' winning streak is over. Ten games. I should have learned my lesson from the rest of the season. Ten games is the longest a win streak or losing streak will go. To think the streak would go longer was pushing the envelope (cliche alert!) and I pushed it and got sticky envelop glue all over me.
Oh well, we'll call yesterday a market correction and hope for a better day today. Saturday's picks:
  • The Yankees over the White Sox: Once upon a time, picking Hiroki Kuroda at home during a day game was a lock. But Kuroda is never a lock these days. The question then becomes whether the Yankees can score more than four runs against Scott Carroll. Stranger things have happened.
  • The Tigers over the Twins: Even though the Twins totally blew out the Tigers yesterday, both teams emptied their bullpens, which is not good because they play two games today. And both starting pitchers in this one don't look good to go deep in the game. Yohan Pino has been awful and Buck Farmer at least has a chance to pitch well.
  • The Mariners over the Red Sox: I was stunned that Koji Uehara gave up five runs yesterday. But watching the replays, there was only one hard-hit ball. The rest were lucky bloops. But that is the way the Red Sox season is going. I never picked Chris Young on the road until he started making me look stupid for not doing so. Brandon Workman goes for the Red Sox.
  • The Orioles over the Cubs: The Cubs pulled off a major surprise yesterday by beating the O's. Some of it is not surprising at the O's depend quite a bit on the DH for offense and Machado out is hurting them. Still, Bud Norris has been really good and should counteract the good, young Kyle Hendricks.
  • The Nationals over the Giants: The winning streak is over, so I can relax and pick the team I think will win. Clue: It's not the one starting Tim LincecumJordan Zimmermann is still my guy. Seems like the Nats have been home for a month.
  • The Indians over the Astros: The Astros are playing well and I really like Collin McHugh. He has pitched four games in a row giving up only a run and he has a wonderful strikeout pace going. My sticking point on picking them is that Danny Salazar is a totally different pitcher at home and tough to beat there.
  • The Cardinals over the Phillies: I have given up trying to figure out what the Cardinals will do. What a roller coaster ride they have been this season. I have slightly more confidence in Shelby Miller than in David Buchanan.
  • The Braves over the Reds: Here we go again with win/loss streak implications. The Braves are on a winning one and the Reds on a long losing one. Ervin Santana has been very good but I have a sneaking feeling that Mike Leake will have a good day. Ugh.
  • The Brewers over the Pirates: Does the casual fan know that Wily Peralta has won fifteen games? I know about it and still find it amazing. Why not sixteen today? Heck, he is at home. Edinson Volquez will try to prevent it.
  • The Rangers over the Royals: I find it amazing that Jeremy Guthrie has made $31 million in his career. He is the journey in journeyman. And he hasn't pitched well in Arlington during his career. Nick Tepesch, on the other hand, has strung together four good outings in a row.
  • The Tigers over the TwinsTrevor May has allowed 26 base runners in his nine innings of work covering three games this season. He has a four to thirteen strikeout to walk ratio. Of course, today, he will pitch brilliantly. Justin Verlander is just as much of a concern with his health.
  • The Marlins over the Rockies: Picking a winner at Coors is like buying scratch tickets. Tom Koehler and Jordan Lyles are pitching. I have no idea which one will succeed more.
  • The Diamondbacks over the PadresVidal Nuno hasn't pitched badly for the D-backs. He just hasn't won games. His being a lefty takes guys like Seth Smith out of the lineup. I have no idea how Andrew Cashner will pitch coming back from the DL.
  • The Athletics over the Angels: Until the Angels can beat the A's in Oakland, I will have my doubts about their ability to win the division. Jon Lester seems like a better pick than C.J. Wilson.
  • The Dodgers over the MetsJacob deGrom is off the disabled list and I like him a lot. But I don't know how he will do. Zack Greinke has scuffled and has health concerns himself. But all things being equal, Greinke is more dependable.
And the Game of the Day
Yesterday: 5-10, August: 169-127, Games of the Day: 79-55 (+6), Season: 1063-876

Friday, August 22, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Friday: August 22, 2014

Thursday kept the ball rolling for this old game picker as the eight games finished at 6-2. What is amazing is that five of the eight games resulted in shutouts. Holy smokes! One of the incorrect picks involved David Price against his old team. He was so fantastic. Alex Cobb (who has been amazing) was even more fantastic.
The other incorrect pick was Phil Hughes and the Minnesota Twins. He is 14-8 now. Wow! And good for him. He even beat Corey Kluber. A very nice story there.
Friday's picks:
  • The Orioles over the Cubs: This is the Friday, day game at Wrigley kind of day except that the Cubs are facing a tough Orioles team. I would think that Jake Arrieta gentille Arrieta would be pumped facing his old team. But Kevin Gausman will best him.
  • The Yankees over the White SoxJohn Danks has not pitched as well as his 9-8 record indicates. His ERA is close to five and his WHIP is close to 1.5. But the one time he did face the Yankees this season, he shut them out for eight innings. The Yankees get revenge and Shane Greene has been very steady.
  • The Indians over the AstrosCarlos Carrasco has not given up a run in his last two outings. Really. Brad Peacock is still Brad Peacock. The Indians are home where good things happen to them.
  • The Nationals over the Giants: This is a dangerous pick. Just about every winning streak this season has ended at ten games. But it's Doug Fister and I can't pick against him! Tim Hudson hasn't shut anyone down in a long, long time.
  • The Cardinals over the Phillies: I am a little worried about the Cardinals bumping Adam Wainwright up a start. Giving your big guy rest when possible seems like a better plan. Kyle Kendrick keeps plugging along for the Phillies.
  • The Blue Jays over the RaysDrew Smyly, the Emoticon, faces tough right-handed bats in Toronto. The pick all depends on how strong Marcus Stroman is in this start. The Jays win this renewed battle of the 'Ays.
  • The Braves over the Reds: This pick befuddles me a bit. Mat Latos is good...very good, but not great. Mike Minor has been pretty terrible all year, but not lately. Good golly, I have no idea.
  • The Rangers over the Royals: This is an upset pick. I think the heat and the Rangers will get to Yordano Ventura. Of course, Colby Lewis can stink up the joint with the best of them. He has to be good for this pick to work.
  • The Tigers over the TwinsTommy Milone got raked his last time out and the Tigers only got one hit yesterday. The kitties will be out for blood. Robbie Ray hasn't been as good as I expected him to be.
  • The Brewers over the Pirates: The Pirates finally got a win yesterday. With McCutchen back, does that signal good things? We'll see. Jeff Locke goes for them. Yovani Gallardo pitches at home where he is usually very good.
  • The Rockies over the Marlins: I hate picking games at Coors Field. Whatever team slugs the most wins. The Marlins could have Stanton go crazy. Or not. Franklin Morales over Henderson Alvarez. I would pick Alvarez anywhere but here.
  • The Padres over the Diamondbacks: I don't know about Odrisamer Despaigne. He looks great as often as he looks awful. He has beaten the D-backs once before this season. Josh Collmenter worries me. I'm not sure he's healthy.
  • The Athletics over the Angels: In a big series, Sonny Gray starts it off well for the A's and Hector Santiago is due to give up some runs after not giving up any in his last two outings.
  • The Dodgers over the MetsDan Haren's pitching has been an oft-discussed topic of Dodger fans. But he should be okay over the Mets who haven't hit thta much lately. Jon Niese is nice, but the Dodgers have plenty of right-hand bats.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Mariners over the Red SoxFelix Hernandez was human in his last start. He can't do that with Ortiz and the boyz. Joe Kelly has good games and bad and it's hard to predict when each will occur.
Yesterday: 6-2, August, 164-117, Games of the Day: 78-55 (+5), Season: 1058-866

Thursday, August 21, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: August 21, 2014

Wednesday was another positive day. I seem to be in a nice groove lately with only the occasional misadventure. I was surprised that the Rangers won, but not particularly surprised the Yankees lost. I was wrong big time on Rick Porcello. And I think Eric Stults is just playing with me.
Picking the Rockies to win was quite good as was picking Cole Hamels to beat the Mariners. So, yeah, things have been pretty groovy.
Teams seem to be getting more days off lately. Oh! Before I forget, one of my correct picks from the other day is in jeopardy now that MLB has upheld the Giants' protest of the rain shortened game with the Cubs the other day. That game will be resumed today with the Cubs holding a 2-0 lead. If the Giants come back and win the game, then I'll lose a win and gain a loss.
Thursday's picks:
  • The Yankees over the Astros: I beyond the point of no return now. Like some kind of mad scientist, I keep picking the Yankees while they keep losing. Sooner or later it has to be correct. Brandon McCarthy over Dallas Keuchel.
  • The Indians over the TwinsPhil Hughes has been terrific. But he goes up against Corey Kluber. If the starting pitchers even each other out, you go with the better offense. The better offense here is Cleveland.
  • The Tigers over the Rays: Wow, this game is going to be packed with emotion and energy. David Price comes back to his old team as a Tiger. The very hot Alex Cobb faces him. Which will be more stoked? Which will win? Do you have a coin I can toss?
  • The Nationals over the Diamondbacks: The Nats are going for ten in a row today. If it was eleven, I might consider not picking them. But ten seems to be this year's number for winning and losing streaks. Gio Gonzalez over Wade Miley.
  • The Angels over the Red Sox: I have to keep going with what has been working and I have picked the Angels this whole series. Matt Shoemaker has been the sole of this team. Oh, sorry about that. How about: Matt Shoemaker will lace them up against...No? Uhh...How about that he will just win over Rubby De La Rosa. Sorry those jokes Rubbyed you the wrong way.
  • The Braves over the Reds: Sometimes team decisions just make you shake your head. For example, David Holmberg is starting for the Reds. I get that he is a second round draft choice (2009). But he has made two MLB starts and has been awful. Well, maybe he was pitching well in the minors? Uh, no. He is 1-6 there with a high ERA and a WHIP of 1.600. I don't get it. Julio Teheran with the win.
  • The Dodgers over the PadresClayton Kershaw showed a little humanity in his last outing. But he's still a stud. Tyson Ross is good. But not as good as Kershaw.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Giants over the Cubs: After the teams finish the disputed game, they play their regularly scheduled one and I like the match-up of Madison Bumgarner against Travis Wood.
Yesterday: 9-6, August: 158-115, Games of the Day: 77-55 (+4), Season: 1052-864

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: August 20, 2014

Let's recap the bad picks from last night: The Yankees are terrible and cannot do anything right. The Rays and Tigers went back and forth all night, went into extra innings with the Tigers coming out on top. The one time I actually pick Kyle Gibson, he cannot hold a five-run lead. And Kevin Correia was predictably bad like always, but Ian Kennedy and the Padres' defense were even more bad and the Dodgers won. And...and...that's it.
All eleven of the other games were correct. Not a bad night of picking.
Wednesday's picks:
  • The Marlins over the Rangers: The Marlins hung tough last night and came from behind to win after blowing a lead. I think the win tonight will be easier. Nathan Eovaldi faces Nick Martinez.
  • The Phillies over the Mariners: The only reason I am picking this for the Phillies is Cole Hamels. The Phillies are going to struggle against James Paxton too, but Hamels at home is too tough for me to pick against.
  • The Brewers over the Blue Jays: The Blue Jays, like the Yankees, are sinking and R.A. Dickey will give up three or four runs at least. Jimmy Nelson will hold the Blue Jays to less than that and the Brewers win yet another game at home.
  • The Mets over the Athletics: This is a tough one. Zack Wheeler has been outstanding. He has given up two runs or less in eight of his last nine starts and in the other won, just gave up three. The only caveat is whether the Mets can score against Jeff Samardzija. Hmm...this could go wrong for me in a heartbeat.
  • The Nationals over the Diamondbacks: Imagine Kirk Gibson right now after Tony La Russa contradicted a report that said that Gibson was safe for next year. Gulp. This series isn't helping as the Nats are red hot and the D-backs are flat. Tanner Roark over Trevor Cahill.
  • The Braves over the Pirates: It's nice to see Gerrit Cole back, but it won't help. He will pitch well but not last long enough in his first start back from the DL. Alex Wood has had a good season considering he wasn't supposed to be in the rotation.
  • The Yankees over the Astros: Sigh. Yeah. I know. But Michael Pineda is pitching. That might be enough to make a difference. Scott Feldman pitches like Tom Seaver against the Yankees though. But then the Yankees' offense makes every pitcher look like Tom Seaver.
  • The Angels over the Red Sox: I never know what to do when a pitcher pitches against a team for the second time in a row over a two week span. The batters know what to expect. With Garrett Richards, can the Red Sox hit what they expect? And what of Clay Buchholz, who has really had a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde season?
  • The Rays over the Tigers: Let's try this again. Rick Porcello is on a losing streak and hasn't seemed as sharp. Jake Odorizzi has been buried a lot in my column, but gets his share of wins despite my facetiousness.  The Trop is so depressing.
  • The Cardinals over the Reds: Normally, I would always pick Johnny Cueto. However, first off, Lance Lynn has been great for the Cardinals and secondly, the Reds are now 10-21 since the All Star Break.
  • The Giants over the Cubs: The Giants have to be pretty upset the way the field was handled during that rain delay yesterday. That is the second time that has happened in baseball this season where a ground crew could not get the field covered for a rain storm. Jake Peavy got off the schnide last time out and won a game. So we'll go with that over Edwin Jackson.
  • The Indians over the TwinsRicky Nolasco has a 5.99 ERA for the Twins this season and a 1.60 WHIP. Whoa, that's bad! He has given up five or more runs in each of his last two starts. Those are enough reasons to pick the Indians even if T.J. House starts for the Indians.
  • The Rockies over the Royals: I am going to go against the grain here with this pick. Danny Duffy has been good, but Coors Field will flatten out his great off-speed stuff. Jorge De La Rosa is used to Coors and keeps the Rockies in the game enough to win this one.
  • The Dodgers over the Padres: Okay, I picked the Padres yesterday and got burnt. I picked Eric Stults the last time he pitched and got burnt. Like a dog, I learn by pain sometimes. Roberto Hernandez goes for the Dodgers.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Orioles over the White SoxHector Noesi has been surprisingly serviceable for the White Sox this season. But he is facing the Orioles, who are going to win the AL East. And Wei-Yin Chen is a big reason why.
Yesterday: 11-4, August: 149-109, Games of the Day: 76-55 (+3), Season: 1043-858

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday: August 19, 2014

There are times when I wake up in the morning and I compare the actual results to my picks and figure I must have made a pick because the final score makes sense. Then, when I look at what I picked, it's the total opposite and I can't believe I made the pick I did. For example, the Cincinnati Reds are 10-20 since the All Star Break. These days, the odds are that they are going to lose. Yet, I have picked them three games in a row (all losses). I am indeed a slow learner.
How about Adam LaRoche giving the Nationals a third straight walk-off win? Pretty incredible. And it meant an extra-inning game went my way. Imagine that.
Tuesdays picks:
  • The Nationals over the Diamondbacks: This is nothing against Chase Anderson, who has pitched very well this season. But the Nationals are ridiculous right now. Of course, that means I have to count on Stephen Strasburg. Oy. At least he is home where he is better.
  • The Braves over the PiratesFrancisco Liriano has pitched fairly well in his last two starts and has two losses next to his name. The Pirates are a bit lost without Andrew McCutchenAaron Harang is my pick. Heaven help me with that.
  • The Yankees over the Astros: I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop (cliche alert!) on Chris Capuano. He is not as good as he is pitching for the Yankees. On the other hand, the Astros give the Yankees an advantage of sorts. Brett Oberholtzer goes for them.
  • The Mariners over the Phillies: This pick did not work out yesterday. However, Hisashi Iwakuma has been better than Elias. The on-again, off-again offense of the Mariners has to score against A.J. Burnett. The Mariners lose the DH.
  • The Angels over the Red SoxJered Weaver has no velocity and he seems to bend every game but doesn't break. He is like the non-level-headed, right-handed Buehrle. But he has thirteen wins. So argue with that. Allen Webster has not pitched well at all for the Red Sox but keeps getting gobs of run support. So who knows.
  • The Rays over the Tigers: I have a feeling about this one that Chris Archer is going to have a big night, Max Scherzer will give up three runs and the Rays will win, 3-1. The other scenario is that the Rays' bullpen outshines the Tigers and wins that way.
  • The Marlins over the Rangers: The Rangers will be highly familiar with Jarred Cosart, but the same goes for he of them. That's a big ballpark in Miami which should help him. Miles Mikolas is hanging in there.
  • The Cubs over the Giants: I'm going a little Cubs crazy the last couple of weeks. I have been right more often than not. I like what Tsuyoshi Wada is doing for them and I think the Cubs can hit Ryan Vogelsong at Wrigley.
  • The Orioles over the White Sox: I have such empathy for Jose Quintana. He gets nothing to show for quality pitching outing after outing. And then his bullpen is just awful. Chris Tillman seems like he does it with mirrors, but it works.
  • The Twins over the Indians: I have picked against Kyle Gibson all season because he doesn't strike anyone out. He has won more often than not though and I have to give him his due. Trevor Bauer still doesn't do it for me.
  • The Brewers over the Blue Jays: Should I say it? Okay: Mike Fiers is on FIRE! Heh. I kill me. Fiers at home is a good pick as long as he stays away from Bautista and Encarnacion. J.A. Happ has had a nice season and is starting to hit a bit of a wall.
  • The Cardinals over the Reds: Do not pick the Reds. Do not pick the Reds. Do not pick the Reds. Okay, I think I have it. Alfredo Simon has gone from All Star pitching over his head to Alfredo Simon of the rest of his career. John Lackey gets the ball for the Cards.
  • The Royals over the Rockies: I am a bit worried about this one and James Shields pitching at Coors Field. This could be a wild one. Tyler Matzek goes for the Rockies.
  • The Padres over the Dodgers: I can't for the life of me understand why the Dodgers picked up Kevin Correia. They must see something I don't. Ian Kennedy has had a nice season, all things considered.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Athletics over the Mets: The A's need to get back on track and so does Scott Kazmir. Both the pitcher and the team have struggled of late. The Mets should help out there as they haven't scored at all lately. Dillon Gee hasn't been the same since going on the DL.
Yesterday: 5-3, August: 138-105, Games of the Day: 75-55 (+2), Season: 1032-854