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FANTASY BASEBALL – Matt Shoemaker’s Splits + June 25-27 Stream Ranks


It was just a matter of time before people started to pick up on the recent string of success Matt Shoemaker has been having. He plays in a huge market, he’s put up more than impressive strikeout totals, and, above all else, his teammates think he looks like the late Billy Mays – who, for the record, is vastly superior to Vince the ShamWow guy. It’s not even really a contest. The point is Shoemaker had been tearing it up long before out-dueling Yu Darvish on national TV two nights ago, but exposure never hurts. Neither does the endorsement of universally respected ESPN analyst John Kruk. Combine these factors, and the 7% rise in ownership the Angel has seen over the past 24 hours makes perfect sense, unlike his recent results. Shoemaker was never a terrible pitcher in the minors, though a 5.14 ERA in two full AAA seasons isn’t exactly enticing, but it’s undeniable that he’s taken a massive and unsustainable leap in 2014. He’s won 71% of his starts, he’s stranded base runners at a 77.2% clip, and his 9.18 K/9 is the highest he’s accumulated at any professional level. Still, there’s value to be mined from Shoemaker. Have we probably already viewed his best? Yes. However, when put in the right opportunities to thrive, he will – “right” being the operative word.

If there are two things you need to know to understand Matt Shoemaker the first, and most obvious, is the relative disgustingness of his split-change. It’s pure filth. Consider that while Shoemaker is inducing swings outside of the zone at an above average, but not jaw-dropping 31.9% rate on the season. It’s his elite ability to make those swings count that separates the pitcher. Of that 31.9% of pitches that opposing batters chase, they only actually make contact 54% of the time – a Top 10 mark in the American League. This gives Shoemaker the opportunity to generally stay in the zone and not have to waste multiple pitches fishing, giving credence to his near-pristine 1.98 BB/9. Even when batters do make contact with the split, it’s not like much is happening. Opponents have only managed a microscopic .035 ISO against the pitch. It’s good. It’s very good. In which case, Shoemaker should maybe employ it more often against left-handed hitters, because the second important factoid about the Angels’ rookie is that lefties hit him – hard. So far this season LHH have maintained a .281 average and a monstrous .358 wOBA when facing Shoemaker, compared to righties who are below the Mendoza Line at .192. This trend is in line with Shoemaker’s minor league numbers as well. Last year, in 364 plate appearances, left-handed batters hit .309 off Shoemaker, compiling an .880 OPS in the process – so it’s a good thing Los Angeles play in the AL West where left-handed power is relatively non existent. Not taking into account the Angels own roster, there are only 16 lefty hitters in the division with more than 150 at bats in 2014 against RHP. Of those 16, only two have an All-Star appearance (Robinson Cano and Jason Castro) and just three currently maintain an ISO above .160 (Brandon Moss, John Jaso, and Kyle Seager). In fact, aside from Oakland, who rank a still less than impressive 19th, the Mariners, Rangers, and Astros all sit in the lower third of baseball in left-handed line drive percentage when facing a righty.

In a shallower, 10 to 12 team leagues, it’s hard for me to endorse owning Shoemaker, who really shouldn’t continue to be THIS good throughout the season – still, that doesn’t mean ignore him. A 3.01 xFIP suggests he’s been slightly unlucky, apparent in a 14.6% HR/FB ratio, and with his plus control Shoemaker has a Waylon Smithers-like affection for WHIP – which could prove useful when his strikeout rate begins to fall. The risk is low, so don’t get too carried away with expectations. Matt Shoemaker won’t save your team, but, if used properly, he’ll definitely improve it.


  1. Collin McHugh (37%) vs. ATL
  2. Henderson Alvarez (36%) @PHI
  3. Charlie Morton (17%) @TB
  4. Brandon Workman (5%) @SEA
  5. Chase Anderson (15%) vs. CLE
  6. Drew Hutchison (24%) vs. NYY
  7. Brad Mills (0%) @NYM
  8. Edwin Jackson (3%) vs. CIN
  9. Ubaldo Jimenez (31%) vs. CWS
  10. Christian Bergman (0%) vs. STL

I have no doubt in my mind that Brandon Workman will return to the Red Sox bullpen at some point this season. It’s not that Workman hasn’t pitched well, or that Boston really has many better options, but he’s just far more suited for relief work. Workman essentially takes the mound with two pitches: a fastball that he has the ability to cut and a curveball. So while yes, he has had some serious success in five starts in 2014 – that can mainly be attributed to Workman not being able to go deep enough into games to have his limited and predictable repertoire get him in trouble. That and luck. Lots and lots of luck. His .223 BABIP is the 4th lowest among starters who have thrown at least 30 innings and a HR/FB ratio of 5.9% that is the main reason his 3.87 xFIP is almost a full run higher than his ERA. Not to mention he walks far too many opponents to continue escaping unscathed when balls begin to find some holes, or worse, leave the park. Now, Workman has shown some value in strikeouts. He’s racked up 7.58 per nine over eight starts the past two seasons, but again, that number shrinks when not coming out of the pen. All that said, he’s got a great matchup this week in Seattle who still rank in the lower third of the league in ISO, average, and wOBA. Ride Workman this week as he’ll at least be well rested after serving a six game suspension, but be careful if he remains in the rotation. Regression is coming and making half your starts in Fenway certainly won’t help.


  1. Mike Leake (34%) @SF
  2. Jarred Cosart (8%) vs. ATL
  3. Ryan Vogelsong (19%) vs. CIN
  4. Travis Wood (34%) vs. WSH
  5. Tom Koehler (18%) @PHI
  6. Daisuke Matsuzaka (8%) @PIT
  7. Vance Worley (3%) vs. NYM
  8. J.A. Happ (3%) vs. CWS
  9. Ricky Nolasco (17%) @LAA
  10. Andre Rienzo (1%) @TOR

Okay, here’s something I never thought I’d have to do again. Please, please, please try to avoid streaming Vance Worley on Thursday. It really just isn’t worth the stress. I’m well aware that his two starts with Pittsburgh this season have been nice. I know that the Mets are the Mets and when all else fails streaming pitchers against them has proven productive time and time again, but as we’ve been over several times stats lie – fourfty percent of people know that. Obviously, Worley’s suppressed .220 BABIP is concerning, as is an 83.3% strand rate and a xFIP nearly two runs higher than his all-too inviting 1.98 ERA, but the scariest stuff crops up when digging deeper. A 5% HR/FB ratio is bad enough on its own, mix a miniscule mark with a career-low 34.1% groundball rate and you’re really asking for trouble. Seemingly, the problem stems from Worley’s persistence to continue to work off his fastball, which has dropped 2mph in velocity since he first arrived in the majors in 2010. While opposing batters hit just .248 against the pitch during his 11-3 breakout 2011 season, that figure ballooned to .408 over 48.2 innings last year in Minnesota and is still sitting at .333 even with his success the past couple of weeks – which, if you weren’t paying attention, came versus the light-hitting Marlins and Cubs. Worley has appeared to figure out his control issues, as he’s surrendered just five walks across 59.2 frames (46 in AAA), but don’t risk your ratio categories on such a small sample size. Don’t rush to grab Worley, even with a decent start against New York he’ll be there waiting on your waiver wire. Trust me.


  1. Kevin Gausman (17%) vs. TB
  2. Trevor Bauer (18%) @SEA
  3. Matt Shoemaker (15%) @KC
  4. Bud Norris (9%) vs. TB
  5. Jason Vargas (42%) vs. LAA
  6. Jake Odorizzi (13%) @BAL
  7. Chris Young (8%) vs. CLE
  8. Brandon Cumpton (2%) vs. NYM
  9. Josh Collmenter (5%) @SD
  10. John Danks (9%) @TOR

There are multiple things that can make for a good stream day, but I’m hard pressed to think of one better than the Rays playing a double header. Tampa Bay just can’t hit. They’ve been slightly better since the return of Ben Zobrist, however, at the end of the day, their best player still goes home looking like Wesley Snipes in Demolition Man. Though his Playboy model wife lives there with him, so, you know… Do you, Evan. The point is, streaming against Tampa is a good idea – especially when you have the option of Kevin Gausman. The former top prospect has allowed just two earned runs over his past 19 innings, the most recent and scoreless six coming versus these same Rays. The strange part of Gausman’s success is that it’s come with the diminished strikeout results. The Oriole has fanned only 6.26 opponents per nine through four starts, thankfully more a component of improved control than loss of stuff. Gausman has reduced his BB/9 by a full free pass between AAA and the majors in 2014 by simply pitching far closer and far more consistently in the zone – apparent in opposing hitters increasing their zone swing rate by over 8% since last season. In fact, Gausman’s swinging strike rate still sits at a respectable 9%, leaving me to believe the whiffs will come in due time. The 4.2% HR/FB ratio is worrisome, but with a career fly ball rate of 33.7%, even when the long balls do appear they won’t be an oft occurrence. Stream Gausman. Heck, stream Bud Norris if the opportunity presents itself.

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