Tom Gordon finally earned his first save of the season (of course, it wasn't entirely his fault that the Phillies have been so bad early this season). The 39-year-old closer has certainly had his ups and downs, but has been able to maintain steady strikeout rates late in his career. Last season, Gordon posted a K/I of 1.15 and a K/BB of 3.1. However, there are some alarming trends in Gordon's numbers that should raise some flags for the upcoming season. His WHIP over the last three season has steadily increased from 0.80, 1.09, to 1.26 in 2006. Making the move to Philly from NY with a higher ballpark is an explanation for more HR with an increasing HR/9 rate of 0.50, 0.89, to 1.37. One last alarming indicator is BB/I increasing from 0.26, 0.36, to 0.37. This will all catch up with Gordon at some point, so you may want to assess how much risk you are willing to take with him.
The writing is on the wall for a solid year for Greg Maddux. He proved last night he still has plenty left in his Hall-of-Fame arm, going 6.0 shutout innings against the Giants, striking out 6 while not allowing a walk. He's now 1-1 to start the season. The move the NL West and to one of the best pitcher's parks in the National League can only help Maddux, but he should remain relatively consistent with his previous 3-year average in many of the performance categories. Over the last 3-years, he has averaged 216 IP per season with an improving HR/9 from 1.48 in 2004 with the Cubs to 0.86 in his mixed season between Chicago and the Dodgers. He walk total has always been low and has shown little variance in his career, holding steady at about 0.17 BB/I. If you have Maddux with the expectation of 50% QS execution combined with a 4.00 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, you won't be disappointed.
I wrote in our pre-season notes that Jamie Moyer has the potential to be a HR disaster in Philadelphia. He gave up 44 HR just two years ago in Seattle and in 8 games with the Phillies last year, he posted a HR/9 of 1.4 (6 HR at home, 2 on the road). Moyer had a solid start to the season with a win against the Marlins last week, but the Mets lineup is obviously scarier. The Mets lead the National League in runs scored (49) and are 2nd (coincidentally, behind the Phillies) in OBP. But with only 6 HR for the entire Mets team thus far this season, you have to assume some of the power-hitters are due for a power break-out and Moyer seems like a timely candidate. I'd stay away from Moyer for now.
Jorge Julio's job is looking less secure these days. In 3.2 IP and 5 appearances, Julio has two blown saves, a loss, 6 ER, 6 BB, and no strikeouts. It really can't get any worse than that. Manager Fredi Gonzalez has indicated that he will "do what's best for the team." That means its time to look for Julio's replacement. There's a long list of candidates, including Henry Owens, Lee Gardner, Randy Messenger, Matt Lindstrom and Kevin Gregg. But with Taylor Tankersley expected to come off the DL and join the team on Friday in Atlanta, I expect him to have the best shot to earn some saves for the Marlins and for fantasy teams. Only take a shot at this situation if you're desperate for saves.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. For as good as Salomon Torres was last week with four successfully converted saves, he's equally as bad this week with a blown save and a loss to his name. Yesterday, the loss came by giving up a solo HR to Chris Duncan in the 9th. This should come as no surprise - we knew he isn't the shut-down/automatic closer. But that doesn't mean he won't convert his share of saves. He'll remain the go-to guy in Pittsburgh and could convert 30-35 saves by year-end, but continue to expect inflated ERA and WHIP numbers in line with his 2006 performance of 3.29 ERA and 1.46 WHIP.
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