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Monday, April 24, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: COLE HAMELS SP TEXAS RANGERS

It wouldn't be April in fantasy baseball is Cole Hamels of the Texas Rangers wasn't struggling.  Whether it was during his terrific tenure with the Philadelphia Phillies or his more recent stint with the Rangers, Hamels and April just have never jived with one another.  Consider that for his career, Hamels' 3.74 ERA is by far the highest of any month and from that point onward, the lefty always gets stronger.  Also for his career, Hamels' first-half ERA is 3.51 and after the break it goes down to a dominant 3.05.  So again here we are in late April of 2017 and Hamels is causing stress to his owners as he sits with a........2.77 ERA?  And 1.04 WHIP?  Ummmm come again?  Is this the same Hamels we have always known?  Doesn't he know what month it is?  Apparently not as Hamels has pitched quite well for the Rangers so far this season but his owners still are unhappy.  How are they unhappy?  Well let's get into it.

Part of the allure of owning Hamels in yearly fantasy baseball leagues is the fact that he is a 4-time 200-K ace who achieved the feat last season with the Rangers with 200.  Strikeouts are part of the package with Hamels and it is what has made him a fantasy baseball ace for years.  Of course a full season in the AL and in a launching pad park in Texas last season caused Hamels' WHIP to spike to a shaky 1.31 and without some BABIP luck, his ERA of 3.32 was closer to 4.00 when adjusted.  Now while the ratios are splendid so far, Hamels is not striking guys out as he has just 14 in 26 innings.  The velocity?  Down by enough to worry.  Unfortunately what we COULD be seeing now is all the massive amount of innings Hamels has had on his arm over the years are beginning to take a toll on his stuff.  In 2015 Hamels' K/9 was 9.11 and last year it dropped to 8.87 which is not a shock in moving to the AL and not facing pitchers.  However so far this year Hamels is at a pathetic 4.85 in that category and if not for a ridiculously lucky .203 BABIP., his adjusted FIP ERA would be 4.82 and his XFIP ERA would be even worse at 5.01.  Disturbing numbers all the way around.  So while we always have correctly said to buy low on Hamels in April, that may not be the case this time around.  Even last year when Hamels posted a 2.52 ERA in April, he struck out 23 batters in 25 innings.  He is not missing bats this time around and when combined with the league and offensive ballpark, Hamels is starting to concern me some.

Now of course Hamels could turn things around and get stronger as the season goes on and the weather heats up.  Still he is an old 33 given all the innings and so Hamels may be tipping over the edge past ace status.


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