SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

August 3, 2013

Fantasy Forecast: Change of scenery could be good for Kennedy

Fantasy Forecast
Andy Silva

---- — The MLB trade deadline came and went on Wednesday and it was rather anticlimatic. There were few trades and even fewer big names being thrown around.

There was little fantasy impact as well, but one player who I think was affected by his trade to a new team is Ian Kennedy.

Kennedy has struggled this season to the tune of 3-8, 5.23 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and a .268 batting average against. Looking at his numbers over the last few seasons, he has been absolutely moving in the wrong direction since his breakout season in 2011 in which he went 21-4 with 198 strikeouts with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. His walks per nine (3.48) and homers per nine (1.31) are at a career-high rate and his strikeout percentage has decreased each of the last two seasons.

However, let’s not forget that he’s been pitching at a hitter’s haven in Arizona. Chase Field has perhaps scarred him a little. His pitch velocity hasn’t really changed, although he has moved away from his slider in the last few years and this year in particular has added a cutter.

Moving to Petco should help him seeing as how he has a flyball percentage of 39.1 percent this year and a home run to flyball ratio of 12.5 percent (a career-high). He is 7-2 in 13 career starts at Petco with a 3.05 ERA. Perhaps working with new manager Bud Black, a former pitching coach, could help as well. Kennedy is owned in 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so he’s readily available. Even if you don’t want to rush out to add him, at least keep an eye on him for improvement.

It’s hard to believe that a guy who is still under 30 and was a 21-game winner two seasons ago with nearly 200 strikeouts and has been fairly healthy is broken beyond repair. That’s why I’m bullish on Kennedy after this trade to San Diego.

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Zach Wheeler has been flashing the promise that has the Mets feeling like they have two future aces.

Wheeler carried a no-hitter into the seventh against the Marlins this week, winding up with a no-decision after giving up two runs on three hits with 5 strikeouts and 3 walks. For the most part, Wheeler has been fairly good for a rookie thus far. The main concern has been his control, with the former first round pick giving up two or more walks in all eight of his starts this season. But, for the most part he has been limiting the damage, giving up three runs or fewer in six of his eight starts this season. And he has given up two or fewer in four of his last five starts. Overall, he is 4-1 with 36 strikeouts, a 3.55 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP.

Wheeler is owned in just 41 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so I think he makes for an excellent spot starter. His control issues makes it hard to recommend him to be owned in 10-team mixed leagues, but if he can begin to tone down the wildness he could move into that discussion very quickly (at least until the Mets begin to restrain him to keep his innings count down).

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It was feared that Angels first baseman Albert Pujols would need season-ending surgery due to a partial tear of his left plantar fascia. But, Pujols said on Thursday night that doesn’t think he’ll need surgery and that he’ll be in a walking boot for the next three weeks and then hopes to begin to work his way back into the Angels lineup.

Pujols has no doubt been a bust this season, but even with that as a given Pujols still has 17 home runs and 64 RBI albeit with a very unAlbert-like .258 average. Given that even with his declining skills Pujols was, on average, a top 10 fantasy pick and the first first baseman off the board, fantasy owners need him to get back on the field. So, despite his struggles and the fact he is most definitely on the downslide this is definitely good news for Pujols owners.

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If you find yourself in need of a catcher fill-in with Cardinals’ all-star Yadier Molina on the DL with a sprained right knee take a look at A.J. Pierzynski.

The Rangers backstop has hit .276 over the last 30 days (although slightly lower over the last two weeks) with five homers and 14 RBI. Throw in the fact that he plays in Arlington, a place where the ball flies out of the park with ease during the summer months, and Pierzynski is a fairly decent replacement option. He is also probably the catcher with the most steady playing time on the wire and is only owned in 63 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

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Andy Silva’s Fantasy Forecast appears in The Salem News on Saturday. You can follow him on Twitter @SN_FantasySport.