Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Waiver Wire Cage Match: Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Justin Turner

Daisuke Matsuzaka:

Matsuzaka has been getting picked up in a lot of fantasy leagues as the Mets are giving him a start tomorrow against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. On the bright side, he is getting at least one opportunity to succeed as he gets to face a weak Cubs line up.

However, it would be extremely shocking if he managed to maintain his strong performance (2.45 ERA) over the entire season. He simply is pitching a bit over his head. He isn't exactly keeping batters off the base paths (6.14 BB/9) and has been the beneficiary of good luck (.186 BABIP/3.6% HR to Fly Ball Ratio--compared to 8.5% for his career). If not when this number regressions, he's likely to see his numbers go up by a lot.

More likely than not, his numbers are going to regress to something very mediocre. In looking at the data on Fangraphs, one thing he appears to be doing this year is throwing less Fastballs (42% in 2014/52% career) and throwing more cutters (28% in 2014/16% career). In looking at the pitch values data, it appears that in his career and in 2014, Matsuzaka's cutter has been more effective than his fastball.

While the argument for Matsuzaka mysteriously reviving his career is extremely weak, it is slightly stronger than expected. If you want to pick him up for a spot start against the Cubs, that's one thing since the Cubs are sort of terrible but relying on him to improve by throwing even more cutters and assuming the league wouldn't adjust appears to be a dangerous assumption.

Justin Turner:

The how to guide on being a trendy fantasy baseball add despite a career wRC+ of 94. It appears to consist of an opportunity to fill in on for an injured player on a major market team (Dodgers), drive in runs in three consecutive games (and throw in a stolen base in the process) and be eligible at all four infield positions.

So the question is has this player who has primarily been a utility player finally turned the corner during his age 29 season. While he has a little bit more pop in his bat (.144 ISO 2014/.106 ISO career), he has been striking out more often this year (20.5% 2014--14.1% career) without a corresponding improvement in walk rate which is bound to catch up to him sooner rather than later. Another red flag is that his homer/fly ball ratio (10.7%) is significantly higher than his 4.7% career total. Basically, even the modest power numbers he's put up this year (three homers) is him playing over his head.

Verdict:

If you are picking up either of these players in fantasy, you most likely are not doing yourself any favors. Maybe (but don't count on) Matsuzaka sustaining some level of success by relying more on his cutter. With Turner, I just don't see any way that he sustains this year's performance (which isn't that strong to begin. with). Still, somebody has to win.

Winner:

Daisuke Matsuzaka