After kicking my own butt a couple of weeks ago in my AL West column, I thought it would be fun (for me, obviously) to gloat a little bit about a player who I touted as the greatest hit since Hanson’s “Mmm Bopp” overwhelmed the airwaves in the later part of the curious decade that was the ’90s.
Of course, this leads me to the second greatest redemption story of the 2015 baseball season, the first being A-Rod, obviously. On May 24th, through nine starts, there was an American league pitcher being trotted out to the mound every fifth game sporting a 7.33 ERA. This pitcher was so terrible, that he only went 6+ IP twice. As a matter of fact, he didn’t go over 4 IP in four of his nine starts. That’s almost 50%! He had given up 8 HR and surrendered 23 BB in just 43 IP. He was unrosterable for fantasy teams and it was speculated that he might end up unrosterable for the Mariners.
If you have not figured it out, I am talking about my “favorite son” (quoting The Zen Master Phil Jackson) Taijuan Walker. Heading into the season, I had his name scribbled all over my Trapper Keeper in hearts. He broke mine through April and May. Like the man who can’t admit his woman is cheating on him, I stood by my man. I never crumbled under the ridicule, lashings, and “I told you sos” on Sports Palooza Radio.
Walker has been Texas Ranger dominant in his last six starts since May 24th, delivering roundhouses and hadoukens to opposing lineups. Through those 6 starts, he has pitched 42.1 IP with a 43-to-3 K/BB ratio. He is 5-1, having lost 3-1 in an 8 IP performance vs the Yankees. Over a K per inning and less than .5 BB per game is a recipe for success. His ERA in the month of June sits at 2.36 with a 1.02 WHIP. He is still giving up the long ball, but Leo Mazzoni, possibly the greatest pitching coach of all-time, always preached, “The solo home run won’t beat you.” Cutting down on the walks is reason number 1,2, and 3 that Walker is succeeding. He is doing it home and away with three starts apiece in his last six, so start him with confidence.
As long as Walker keeps trusting his natural stuff and hitting the strike zone, he should be able to remain dominant the rest of the way. If he is on a waiver wire somewhere, grab him now! My never wavering devotion is making me anxious for my next Sports Palooza Radio appearance. Not so I can say, “I told you so.” But rather, to proclaim my allegiance to Taijuan Walker in redraft, keeper, and dynasty leagues.
Waiver Wire Rescue
Josh Hamilton, OF, TEX – Here we go again… Hamilton is being activated from the DL and might be a free agent in the league you play in. If he is, scoop him up. He was hitting before he hurt his hamstring and will hit when he comes back. The only question is for how long? As long as he is healthy, he will hit. So pick him up. If he gets hurt, drop him. I guarantee he is better than anything else sitting on your waiver wire.
Delino DeShields, 2B/OF, TEX – Almost back from the DL, he is a SB special. If you are an owner desperate for steals or a 2B, grab him and see how his playing time shakes out upon his return. He could emerge as the guy who rounds out your roster.
Yovani Gallardo, SP, TEX – Simply put, he is pitching the best baseball of his career and is still a free agent in many leagues. A 2.72 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and .229 BAA are all career bests. I am certain that he will revert to his norm of 3.63 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and .245 BAA, but you can “ride the wave” while it lasts. Just be careful. Pitching in Arlington, that 2 IP, 8 R effort is just around the corner.
Rougned Odor, 2B, TEX – Now batting #2 in front of Prince Fielder and his career year, the talented young second baseman has come on after a horrendous start and a demotion. In 11 games since being called back up, he has hit .405 with 2 HR, 9 RBI, and 4 SB. Talent on the wire is hard to come by, so grab him and see how long the hot streak can last.
Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, SEA – Is a .227 BA, 10 HR, and 28 RBI at two deep positions on a terrible offensive team, in a terrible offensive park, in a terrible offensive division, helping your fantasy team? I didn’t think so! You know what to do…
Nick Martinez, SP, TEX – Cindarella didn’t lose her glass slipper running away from the ball, it broke and left shards of glass in her foot and achilles! 9 ER and 7 ER in two of his last five outings. Thats all you need to know to cut loose this limited talent SP, before he destroys your fantasy team.
Chad Qualls, RP, HOU – Anyone using him for holds can drop him. He isn’t good enough to wait on and there are plenty of holds guys on the wire. As a matter of fact, there is probably a better holds guy in your league on the wire.
“And Boggs Never Walked Again”
Jed Lowrie, SS, HOU – Thumb, expected return after the All-Star break.
Jake Marisnick, OF, HOU – Hamstring, no timetable for return.
Chad Qualls, RP, HOU – Pinched nerve, expected return early July.
Colby Rasmus, OF, HOU – Infection, day-to-day.
Scott Feldman, SP, HOU – Knee, expected return mid July.
Jered Weaver, SP, LAA – Hip, expected return mid July.
Neftali Feliz, RP, TEX – Abscess, June 19th.
Adrian Beltre, 3B, TEX – Thumb, no timetable for return.
Delino DeShields, 2B/OF, TEX – Hamstring, expected return early July.
Derek Holland, SP, TEX – Shoulder, expected return early July.
Yu Darvish, SP, TEX – Tommy John Surgery, out for the season.
Jurickson Profar, 2B, TEX – Shoulder surgery, out for the season.
Sean Doolittle, RP, OAK – Shoulder, expected to miss the season.
Coco Crisp, OF, OAK – Neck, no timetable for return.
Jarrod Parker, SP, OAK – Broken elbow, expected to miss entire season.
Hisashi Iwakuma, SP, SEA – Lat strain, expected return early July.
James Paxton, SP, SEA – Finger, no timetable for return.
Should I trade David Price for Sonny Gray? – Cory Logan, FL
That is and interesting one. There stats are fairly equal, but Gray is better at the moment. It would be easy to go with the proven Price on one hand, or to the better stats of Gray on the other hand. I will go with Gray for one simple reason, BAA. His BAA is .205 while Price sits at .245. Price has a career .235 BAA, so he is basically doing what he does with a little room for improvement. Gray’s .205 BAA is better than his .222 career mark, but this is his second full season and he is still improving, so the .205 is likely sustainable. I’ll go with the guy does not get hit.
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I will begin covering the NL West next week, there will be no AL West. I am going to be alternating weeks as MLFS transitions into cultism…um, I mean football season.
*Not a fan of the movie. Overrated and not funny.