Cactus League Update for March 7th
Trevor Cahill vs. Sonny Gray: I went back to Salt River Fields again yesterday to see the Diamondbacks for the second straight afternoon. This time they hosted the Oakland A's. I looked forward to a solid matchup between Trevor Cahill and Sonny Gray. As it turned out, both starters got shelled. I really don't pay too much attention to pitching lines in the early Spring. Some pitchers are just working on specific pitches or locations, trying out new things, etc. In short, guys are not necessarily pitching with the ultimate goal of putting up gaudy stats or even to win the game. There is a bigger picture to look at.
That said, both Cahill and Gray looked terrible. Cahill ended up allowing six runs over four innings, including two home runs (Sam Fuld and Brandon Moss). Gray only tossed one inning and allowed four runs as he got singled to death in the first.
My fantasy thoughts on these two guys:
CAHILL: I see him as a league-average starter. He had a really nice year for the A's in 2010 (18-8, 2.97 ERA, 1.11 WHIP), but has not been able to replicate that performance in Arizona's hitter-friendly environment. He's wild - with 4.0 BB/9 in 2013 and a league-leading 17 wild pitches - so he won't do your team's WHIP any favors. He also doesn't strike enough people out to be considered for fantasy purposes. He will eat innings for his Major League team, but they probably won't be good innings for a competitive fantasy team.
GRAY: Sonny Gray made a name for himself in the ALDS last year when he held his own in two duels against the Tigers' Justin Verlander. As a result of those performances, I suspect, he's gotten a lot of love in the fantasy drafts I've participated in so far. Everybody loves that breakthrough rookie performance. Everybody wants to see what that guy can do over 200 innings. Gray had a very nice 64-inning Major League Debut last year (67 K's, 1.11 WHIP, 2.67 ERA), but the fact remains that he has never put up anything like these sorts of numbers at any other level of pro ball. In three minor league seasons, he compiled a 3.66 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. I wouldn't be surprised if that's where his numbers will settle in over a full season in the MLB. Let someone else take an early chance on him based on last year's small sample.
OTHER NOTES FROM THE GAME: Oakland shortstop prospect Addison Russell looked great with a double and triple, both to the opposite field. There are a lot of shortstop prospects to be excited about. . . Speaking of shortstops, Chris Owings had a few wild throws from the position. I think the edge to win the starting job belongs to Didi Gregorius. . . Gerardo Parra looks good at the plate. Though he may platoon with A.J. Pollack in center, he has some upside with his bat and stolen base ability.
Today I will be out in Surprise, Arizona to see the Giants take on the K.C. Royals - and will get my first glimpse at Yordano Ventura and his 100-mph fastball.
Stay tuned for more daily updates from Arizona as RotoBaller Scott Slezak provides your daily Cactus League fantasy baseball analysis.