Saturday, April 19, 2008

At a loss for velocity

When I drafted Chad Cordero in the pre-season, my main hope was that he'd just stay healthy and not cause any major problems for my team.

So you can imagine my frustration when I was listening to the 9th inning of the Braves-Nationals game on Opening Day and, despite it being a save situation, Cordero didn't even take the mound. The announcer said something along the lines of, "No word yet on whether Cordero is injured," and I said something along the lines of, "Oh crap."

I did manage to add the next in line for that closer role, Jon Rauch; and since Cordero went on the DL, I was able to free up a roster spot so overall it wasn't a big deal.

However, the bigger problem (for my fantasy team) started when Cordero came off the DL. In Yahoo leagues, you can't keep a player on the DL if he isn't on the DL in real life. So when I took Cordero off my DL, both he and Rauch were taking up roster spots without me knowing who would be the closer.

As it turned out, the Nationals wanted to give the closing job back to Cordero, but he wasn't able to do it. And while his previous outing (April 16 vs. the Mets) was a shutout inning, he never threw a pitch faster than 82 mph. This is odd for a guy who normally is 88 to 91 mph with his fastball. What was more troubling was the fact that the Nationals' trainer went out to the mound to check on him during that inning.

For Cordero's part, he insists that he will be fine. Although others aren't so sure. For my part, it was a great mystery, but one I needed to solve in order for my team to go forward. In the end, I took a page from Warren Buffett's playbook which I like to apply to fantasy baseball: If you don't understand something, then don't invest in it.

So last Wednesday I dropped Chad Cordero and picked up Skip Schumaker. I would have been happy to put Cordero on my DL, but the Nationals don't have him on the DL so that wasn't an option for me.

But this whole drop-in-velocity thing isn't limited to just Chad Cordero. I also drafted Ted Lilly, and he's dealing with a lowered velocity as well. Here's what Cubs' pitching coach Larry Rothschild said last week after Lilly fell to 0-3 on the year:
"The difference I see is when he needs a pitch to reach back for, he's reaching back and it's not quite the same," Rothschild said. "He's always been real good in key situations. Right now, it's just not the same. Part of it is location, but the arm strength just isn't quite the same right now, and I think that plays into the location and everything else."
There's nothing physically wrong with the left-hander, Rothschild said.
"That's what's a little mysterious, obviously," Rothschild said.
Hmm... there's that word "mysterious" again that I don't like.

Even though Larry Rothschild and Lou Piniella kept saying that Lilly will be fine, I went ahead and dropped him last week (before his latest debacle against Cincy) in favor of Wandy Rodriguez (whom I will only be starting at home since he tends to pitch much better there).

I don't know what's going on with Lilly and Cordero, but right now their velocity problems are too mysterious for me to risk.


Greg said...

One thing I should add is that Yahoo says Lilly's velocity is indeed increasing:

Lilly gave up five runs on six hits and three walks in six innings Thursday, the Cubs' web site reports. He struck out six, and the radar gun showed Lilly was hitting the low 90s on his fastball.

Recommendation: Lilly should bounce back from his rough start, as he's reportedly healthy, and Thursday's velocity and six strikeouts are a sign that his arm strength is coming around.

While this is an encouraging sign, I'll have to see more before I consider re-acquiring him.

Chairman said...

Yeah. There's still a human element that you just can't predict with the numbers. You never quite know when people are going to make "The Leap," or have a career year, etc., and you just hope that you're lucky enough to have them on your roster when they do.

Greg said...

Chairman, I see that you've picked up Cordero. His fastball is back up to 87 mph, so that's a good sign. Although, Rauch did have a better WHIP last season. Let's see if Rauch can get on a roll...