2012 Fantasy Baseball Round-Up: Justin Verlander, Daniel Bard, Matt Moore and More

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Justin Verlander got rocked, a pitcher let up 5 earned runs on one hit, a different pitcher hit a game-winning homer, and the Orioles finally fell out of first place in July. I guess this is a good time to recommend the @CantPredictBall twitter feed.

The aforementioned Justin Verlander had what was probably his worst start of the season, yet he only earned 3 runs in six and a third innings. Simply put, Verlander faced a good lineup and had some of that good luck in his BABIP turn to bad luck. He’s still an ace, and there is no reason to be the slightest bit worried about him.

As a Red Sox fan, I attempted to watch Daniel Bard ‘pitch’ today, but instead I found myself watching him throw erratically, and had to turn it off half way through the first inning out of frustration and disgust. I’ve watched Bard many times, and I just don’t think he’ll succeed as a starter; he’s just not consistent enough. A positive in the bullpen is better than a negative in the starter’s role, and I’m guessing they’ll move him back to the ‘pen after the All-Star break. At least I hope they will.

Matt Moore is putting together a nice string of good statistical starts here, although control-wise he still doesn’t look as dominant as fantasy owners expected. He’s not controlling his changeup as well as he did in the minors, and that’s leading to a lot more walks and hittable pitches being thrown to lefties (Left Handed Batters have a .468 on base percentage against him this season, compared to only a .305 on base against Right Handed Batters.) Long-term, I think the Rays will be able to fix this slight issue and he’ll still be a superstar, but for this season, Moore might not have it all figured out just yet.

I watched nearly the entire Mets vs Cardinals game, so I feel obligated to write about it. Jon Neise should be in line for some positive regression in the near future and appears to be a nice buy-low candidate. When his stuff is on and he’s controlling it, Niese is a great pitcher. However, another pitcher, a Cardinals reliever named Maikel Cleto, really stole the show in the little I watched of him. He was sitting over 97 with his fastball, touching triple digits, and throwing a nice looking 86 MPH slider to pair with it. It’s a small sample, but it really looked like Cleto has closer stuff in the long run. If nothing else, he’s an interesting guy to watch.

Andrew McCutchen obviously heard that he inexplicably slipped down to no. 16 in ESPN’s Franchise Player Draft, so he decided to prove that he’s blatantly a top 10 franchise player in baseball by hitting another homer tonight, giving him 9 on the season to go along with his .337 average and 10 steals. If McCutchen played a full season, he’d be on pace to go over 30-30 with that absurd average; there’s nothing more to say, this guy is just a flat-out beast.

In that same game, James McDonald continued his absurdly dominant season, earning just one run in six innings with 8 strikeouts and only 1 walk against the Brewers. I can’t get into enough depth here, but McDonald has made a ton of incremental upgrades this season, which has led to him becoming approximately a no. 2 fantasy starter. For more details, check out my player profile on him.

There were some nice bombs today, not the least of which was Nelson Cruz’s 484 foot homer, which checks in as the longest of the season. Cruz’s average is all the way back up to .270, and I think people were a little hasty in calling him ‘done’ after such a small sample. He’s still a really, really good hitter, if an injury prone one.

Against Daniel Bard (so it probably shouldn’t count), Jose Bautista jacked his 14th homer of the season, as he continues his resurgence, and Eric Hosmer got his 7th. Hosmer’s home run helped to raise his unsustainably low HR/FB rate, and with it, slowly but surely, his lowly BABIP will follow suit, making him live up to his preseason hype.

Additionally, a lot of the league’s most famous players, like Jeter, A-Rod, Prince, and of course, Harper, also jacked impressive bombs on Sunday night. All of MLB’s most famous players can be recognized by just one name, it’s amazing that Harper and Trout are already in that hemisphere.

Matchup of the Day: I have been a big Vance Worley believer this year, and this week is no exception. I know he’s coming off of the DL because of a bone chip in his right elbow, but this is one of the rare cases that I’d start a non-elite player regardless. This week, Worley not only gets to start Monday against the putrid Dodgers offense, sans-Matt Kemp, in his home ballpark, but he also could garner another start later in the week. For a pitcher, that’s really as good as it gets.

Link of the Day: There are a few interesting baseball birthdays on Sunday June 3rd, but I want to focus on one of the most underrated players in baseball who turned 37 last night, Jose Molina. Despite his age, Molina is still arguably the best defensive catcher in the majors. Mike Fast, currently a statistical analyst for the Houston Astros, wrote a fantastic piece on Baseball Prospectus (subscription required) last year about how we incorrectly value catcher defense, and how valuable Jose Molina is as a major leaguer because of his unique ability to get more strikes called around the corners than the average catcher. It’s a good reason to believe in the Rays pitching staff to sustain their ridiculously low BABIP’s, and well worth a read.

By Moe Koltun, exclusively for Read more of Moe's excellent fantasy insight over at Have a fantasy related question? You can follow the site on Twitter @RotoAnalysis or Moe on twitter@moeproblems.

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