First To 10
It’s a five-horse race. Three pitching thoroughbreds from the National League and two from the American League are each looking to become the first ten-win starter of the 2013 season. Going into the season, three of these guys were top-flight pitchers with lofty expectations. Adam Wainwright (9-3), Jordan Zimmermann (9-3) and Max Scherzer (9-0) were all drafted in the top 100. Clay Buchholz had seen his fantasy stock drop over the past three seasons as his ERA rose each year. In standard leagues, he was picked in roughly the 22nd round. His perfect start (9-0) has definitely paid dividends for those who took the mid-round flyer.
In every race there is a dark horse, and coming to fantasy starting gates late in this one was Patrick Corbin. His average draft position this year was 260 and beyond, a late-rounder to say the least. The youngest of these five at 23 years old, not much was expected of the former Los Angeles Angel who was dealt to Arizona in the Dan Haren trade. ZiPS 2013 projections, for example, had Corbin at 6-6 with a 4.09 ERA. MLB Player Preview had Corbin projected for 8-8 with a 4.10 ERA. Don’t you just love the experts?
Corbin pitched a stellar game against the Giants last week and nearly made history by becoming only the third player in the last 25 years to win his first ten decisions of the season. A guy by the name of Roger Clemens was the last to accomplish that feat in 1997 when he started 11-0! What’s amazing about Corbin is that he pitches out of trouble like a wily veteran. On June 2, he survived a nightmare first inning as he hit two Chicago batters and walked two in a 33-pitch first inning. He went on to earn his ninth win in that game. Nevertheless, on Wednesday night in Los Angeles with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth, Corbin was pulled for a pinch hitter. He had only thrown 65 pitches, but a rough fifth inning sent him to the showers early. He'll have to wait until next Monday for that elusive 10th Win when he faces the Miami Marlins.
Fantasy personalities and bloggers have been crying regression for Corbin since late April, but it hasn’t yet come to pass. Nor do I expect that it necessarily will. Does he win 20 games in 2013? Unlikely. But will he be in the conversation for Cy Young at the end of the year? I believe so. Still, if you can find someone looking to sell high on Corbin, don’t be afraid to go for it. The D-backs have a great offense behind him, and although his ballpark is a little intimidating, the division is not. On the flipside, as a Corbin owner I’m betting to Win. There's no chance that I am trading him until he gives me a reason to. And as a fantasy owner looking at the race to ten wins, you really can’t go wrong with any of these fabulous five.
This Little Puigy
Over in Hollywood (err... that is, in Los Angeles), there is a sensational story coming out of Chavez Ravine. Yasiel Puig has taken over the hearts and minds of Dodgers fans everywhere. Some writers are already naming him Rookie of the Year. I’ve even seen MVP commentary. I mean, really?! Let’s reel it in just a bit. Sure, he has had an amazing start to his big league career. But what happens if he becomes a utility player brought in on double switches or for defense? What will his fantasy value be then? Granted, the Dodgers may never have their Opening Day outfield healthy again this season, so Puig may be the lucky winner in the Hamstrung Sweepstakes. But upon further review, I’m not sure he’s all that just yet. No steals in nine games. No bases on balls yet (one intentional walk.) And a BABIP of .500 is due to crash at any moment. I would have loved to add this kid as a free agent, but I’m not trading for him. Not now, not until the showroom shine dulls a bit and we know what the real Puig is all about.
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