This is the first installment of what will become a regular weekly series here at Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks. Each week readers, tweeters and Facebook users will send in their list of fringe-fantasy-roster type guys and then we will pick four and attempt to make sense of them below and determine whether or not “I’d Roster That”. Pretty simple.
–First up is Josh Beckett (33 years old, right handed starting pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers). Going into his start on Wednesday night Beckett was 0-3 with a 4.75 ERA and 30.1 innings pitched through his first five starts. His 25 strike outs in those first five starts were good for a 19.1 K%, which is a few ticks below the strike out percentages he put up his last few years in Boston (which might be because his velocity is down across the board, but at age 33, father time is hard to keep at bay).
Beckett hasn’t pitched as poorly as his 0-3 record and 4.75 ERA suggest, as he did have a nice 8.1 inning 1 run start he lost 0-1 and outside of one really poor performance in Baltimore he hasn’t given up more than three runs in a start (though he hasn’t made it through the sixth inning in either of his last two starts).
Having said all of that, Beckett should be a league average pitcher going forward, with a chance to still reach double digit wins if the Dodgers can jump-start their offense. I’d Roster That.
–Next, let’s look at Trevor Cahill (25, right handed starting pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks). Cahill is just 1-3 through his first six starts despite averaging more than six innings per start and sporting a shiny 2.61 ERA through his first 38 innings. That ERA looks even more impressive when you consider that five of his six starts came at home in the hitter friendly Chase Field and his lone road start was at altitude in Denver.
The Diamondbacks have a chance to be sneaky-good out in the NL West, and Cahill should have the opportunity to pitch a few games in the pitcher friendly parks in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, so I wouldn’t expect him to be depreciably worse on the road this year. Cahill’s strike out rate is up to over 20% this year, the fourth consecutive year that has seen a rise in that number.
Cahill looks like a great add or trade target to me. I’d Roster That.
–Let’s break from pitchers and look at our one position player today: Lorenzo Cain (27, right handed hitting center fielder, Kansas City Royals). Part of the Zack Greinke trade in 2010, Cain was fresh off of a rookie campaign that saw him hit .306/.348/.415 in 158 plate appearances and play a strong center field for the Brewers.
Cain has never really played a full season of games, though played everyday in 2012 (when he wasn’t injured) and amassed a career high 244 plate appearances and surprised with seven home runs. But he missed significant time in 2012 with a groin and thigh strain and never really got on track.
So far in 2013 Cain is showing himself to be an improved version of the player the Royals thought they were getting in 2010, hitting .325/.382/.442 through the first month of the season. His walk and strike out rates are both heading in the right direction and while he’s riding the wave of a .369 BABIP, that isn’t so far above his career numbers that you’d expect him to stink again in the near future. If his 2012 power was for real, he’s a nice little player who should steal some bases.
I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I’d Roster That.
–Finally, let’s look at Andrew Cashner (26, right handed reliever/starting pitcher, San Diego Padres). It is tough to know exactly what to do with Cashner, especially as his usage has jumped between starting and relieving roles. It sounds like Cashner has finally found a spot in the Padres rotation and should remain there for the rest of the year, so that gives him some extra fantasy value.
He has a big mid-90s fastball that should allow him to continue to strike hitters out, but his secondary pitches need work, especially his slider. His strike zone contact percentages are up in the early going this year, but I’m not yet sold on that as anything other than small sample size noise at this point in the year, especially since going into Wednesday’s game, he still hadn’t thrown 20 innings.
Cashner should still be available in most leagues (just 32% owned in Yahoo!), so I think you can wait a little big longer before adding him to your squad. Don’t Roster That.
As stated before, this is going to be a weekly installment here. So, if you have anyone you’d like to get a second opinion on, feel free to reach out in any way you know how. Our Twitter and Facebook pages, the Twitter pages of myself, Clave, Dixon, or Nash, as well as any of the email addresses listed.