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Reality Check: Solving the Timmy, Roy riddle

Senior Fantasy Writer
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It seemed like such a good idea at the time, drafting Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum on the cheap, hoping they could deliver ace numbers for a fraction of the price.

But how soon you wanted out of it.

You didn't necessarily want to purge them from your roster, locking in your bad decision by swapping out a ninth-, 10th- or 11th-round pick for waiver fodder. You just didn't want to be the one to take the chance on them anymore.

But neither did anyone else.

That's not true for every pitcher off to a slow start, of course. Matt Cain fetches as much as ever on the trade market even though he has a 7.15 ERA through four starts.

The difference for Halladay and Lincecum is that their poor starts only reinforced what perception had already decided: With their velocities down and their walk rates up, they're no longer the pitchers they used to be.

So what are they? It's a guessing game at this point, which is sort of the problem. Having seen their spring struggles carry over to the regular season, most Fantasy owners assumed the worst. Only the dimwits who drafted them continued to see the upside in them.

I consider myself one of those dimwits.

I understand the concerns. I understand a drop in velocity gives a pitcher less margin for error, but Halladay never relied on pure power to put hitters away. He's a control artist with a varied enough arsenal that, provided he overcomes the mechanical flaws that developed when he tried to pitch through a strained muscle in his upper back last season, can still be a consistent winner for the Phillies.

Mechanical flaws, you say?

"Today was as close as I've felt to where I want to be," Halladay said after his start against the Cardinals Friday, when he allowed two runs on two hits with two walks and six strikeouts in seven innings. "When I stay within myself and execute the mechanics the way they should be done, I feel good where I'm at."

I also understand a loss of control leads to an increase in baserunners, both because of walks and because the pitcher constantly puts himself in hitter's counts, but it's not like this latest rendition of Lincecum is incapable of throwing strikes. He threw them in the postseason last year, issuing just five walks in 17 2/3 innings, and the result was a 2.55 ERA and 0.79 WHIP, not to mention a World Series championship for the Giants. If he can regain the focus he had during that high-pressure situation and translate it to regular-season games, his reduced stuff should more than hold up, as his strikeout rate also shows.

Regain the focus, you say?

"I just went out there today with purpose and knowing that every pitch has got a meaning to it," Lincecum said after his start against the Padres Saturday, when he allowed no runs on four hits with two walks and eight strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. "When I can go out there and do that and you can stick to your game plan and know that it's going to work, it gives you something like a springboard to jump off of, instead of kind of going out there aimlessly."

True, it's just one isolated start for Halladay and one isolated start for Lincecum, but if you buy into arguments that aren't entirely numbers-based -- since pitchers are people, after all, and not machines -- then each did in his one start exactly what he needs to do to make the most of what he has left. And the results speak for themselves.

Most Traded Players (as of 4/23)
Player Name # of trades
1. Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers 178
2. Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants 148
3. Zack Greinke, SP, Dodgers 147
4. Mark Trumbo, OF, Angels 146
5. Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies 146
6. CC Sabathia, SP, Yankees 143
7. Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees 139
8. Jered Weaver, SP, Angels 137
9. B.J. Upton, OF, Braves 136
10. Josh Johnson, SP, Blue Jays 134

More importantly, though, Halladay's and Lincecum's best starts were their last starts, which means, for the time being, they've regained some small sliver of the value they lost in between Draft Day and their first starts. Once again, Fantasy owners have reason to question if Halladay and Lincecum are really washed up. Perception has changed, if only slightly, making these two-time Cy Young winners potentially tradable again.

And if you genuinely believe Halladay and Lincecum are toast, the time to trade them is now, before they remind everyone how bad they are.

Understand I'm not saying they're toast -- not this dimwit -- but plenty of people believe they are. And if you consider yourself among that group, now is your golden opportunity to get something more in return than whatever retread or shot in the dark you could pluck off the waiver wire.

Of course, shopping them isn't such a bad course of action for the dimwits either. Hoping to provide some context for when they should and shouldn't pull the trigger, I petitioned my Twitter (@CBSScottWhite) followers to send examples of trades involving Halladay or Lincecum -- ones they were considering or had already made.

Let's take a look.

I got Asdrubal Cabrera straight-up for Lincecum. I needed a shortstop. -- @xVITALOGYx

That works for me. Both were drafted in about the ninth or 10th round in Fantasy. If that one good start was enough to get Lincecum's value back to where it started, you should probably capitalize, especially if it fills a need.

I offered Halladay for Wilin Rosario. Still waiting to hear back. -- @natzingg

Same situation as the first one, except with Halladay. In leagues where each team starts only one catcher, the position is deep enough that I wouldn't be in a rush to make this deal, but if I had been trying to get by with some Jason Castro type, I'd probably pull the trigger.

I'm thinking about offering Ross Detwiler for Lincecum. -- @Hjalmar02

And I'm thinking you just fell off the turnip truck. Wasn't Detwiler on the waiver wire just last week? Why not just drop Lincecum for the next flavor of the week instead of gift-wrapping him for someone else? Unless you're the world's biggest Detwiler believer -- and if you were, you would have claimed him first -- I don't see how you can justify this deal.

I was offered Lincecum and Will Middlebrooks for Alex Cobb. -- ‏@TylerHuck

Whoa. If someone else is willing to sell low on two early-season underachievers, don't try to talk him out of it. Personally, I feel like Middlebrooks alone is too much for Cobb, and I'm a proponent of Cobb.

In a keeper league, I offered Halladay for Marco Estrada. --@gabeisaacson

I'm also a believer in Estrada, so I hesitate here. I'm tempted to do it just to make the headache someone else's, but I feel like Estrada has peaked as a middle-of-the-rotation option at age 29, and Halladay still has a chance for more than that.

Hypothetically, I think I could see Lincecum for Jayson Werth. Or Halladay for Michael Bourn if someone wants to deal for a DL guy. -- @PeteSmick

I like those hypotheticals. I'd probably agree to both unless I was loaded in the outfield.

I got offered Josh Johnson for Lincecum. -- @DanMitchell23

Take it. No concerns over Johnson's velocity (apart from that 35-degree affair in Detroit).

I've been offered Lincecum for Jason Heyward. -- @BrettHensley1

Just because Lincecum was the first to put up usable numbers? Come on. Heyward's concerns still pale in comparison.

Halladay and Jedd Gyorko for Michael Young and A.J. Griffin. -- ‏@KJDiorio

The infielders more or less cancel each other out. Griffin, hot start at all, still doesn't measure up to Halladay in terms of upside.

Got offered Angel Pagan for Lincecum. I declined. Also got offered Yoenis Cespedes for Lincecum and Desmond Jennings. Declined as well. -- @aka_MR_FANTASY

Good call on the first one. You might regret the second one if Cespedes ends up doing what everyone thinks he can do, but if you're lacking in pitching depth and consider Jennings a breakout candidate (like I do), passing on it is defensible.

I traded Halladay straight-up for Mark Reynolds in a 14-team mixed league. -- ‏@joshilles

Then you fell right into your opponent's trap. I think we all know where Reynolds will end up. Even with power numbers in shorter supply these days, I'd rather take my chances with a declining Halladay than a one-trick pony.

As you can probably tell by some of my responses, I'm a little more open to trading Lincecum than Halladay. Halladay is coming off two good starts as opposed to one, had an actual injury to blame for his struggles last year and wasn't terrible even then. Plus, his velocity seems to be trending upward ever so slightly.

But the bottom line is I'm encouraged enough by both that I'm not looking to dump either at my first opportunity to do so. If someone else is willing to take on more risk than I am or offers to fill an obvious need, I'll surely listen, but considering I still rank Halladay 34th at starting pitcher and Lincecum 38th, I'll likely stick with them for now and hope I don't look back at this date as a missed opportunity.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Braves' Shelby Miller strikes out six in win vs. Blue Jays
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3:52 pm ET) Braves pitcher Shelby Miller earned a win Sunday, allowing two earned runs on five hits and three walks in six innings while striking out six in his team's 5-2 victory over the Blue Jays.

Miller (2-0) cruised through five innings before running into trouble with two outs in the sixth, when he put two men on base with a walk and a single before watching both score on a double.

It was the first quality start of the season for Miller, who lasted just five innings in each of his first two starts but allowing just one run combined in those two games. He has posted a 1.69 ERA and 11:7 K:BB ratio in 16 innings heading into Saturday's matchup with the Phillies.


Dodgers' Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder) remains without timetable
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3:43 pm ET) Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder) continued his throwing program Sunday, throwing for a third straight day from about 90 feet, but he remains without a timetable to get back on the mound, TrueBlueLA.com reports.

"I don't know when I'll be able to throw a bullpen. I've just been throwing outside on the field," Ryu said Sunday through an interpreter. "So far it's just making sure I have no pain. At this condition I probably could [throw a bullpen session] but I haven't thrown long toss yet."

Ryu hasn't pitched since March 17 due to a shoulder impingement, but he isn't focusing on a specific timetable at this point.

"I haven't thought about a timetable," Ryu said. "I'm just doing what they tell me."

Ryu did say that he's not feeling any pain in his shoulder while throwing.


Pirates SS Jordy Mercer exits Sunday after hit in chest with pitch
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(3:38 pm ET) Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer left Sunday's game against the Brewers after getting hit with a pitch from Matt Garza in the chest while attempting to bunt, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Jung Ho Kang replaced Mercer in the game.

Mets' Jerry Blevins suffers fractured forearm Sunday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3:35 pm ET) Mets pitcher Jerry Blevins suffered a fractured left forearm after being hit by a line drive in Sunday's game against the Marlins, the team announced.

Blevins was injured on his fourth pitch of the day, though the Mets were able to record an out on the play. He's tossed five perfect innings over seven appearances, racking up one win and four strikeouts. The southpaw is now facing an extended absence.


Mets' Travis d'Arnaud hit by pitch, fractures hand
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3:30 pm ET) Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud was removed from Sunday's game against the Marlins after being hit by a pitch. He was then diagnosed with a fractured right hand after being examined, WOR 710 AM reports.

d'Arnaud was struck on the hand, and after being checked out by the trainer, he came out of the game. The catcher went 2 for 3 with an RBI before being replaced. He has hit .317/.356/.537 with two home runs and 10 RBI in 41 at-bats.

d'Arnaud was replaced by Anthony Recker after suffering the injury. Recker could be in for extended playing time while d'Arnaud is on the shelf, or the team could promote Kevin Plawecki to serve as the team's regular catcher and keep Recker in a reserve role.


Padres' Jedd Gyorko may be close to breaking out of slump
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(3:20 pm ET) Despite his struggles at the plate this season, which includes an 0 for 5 on Saturday, Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko's may be close to finding his swing, according to UTSanDiego.com.

Two of Gyorko's five outs on Saturday were drives to the warning track in center field with the wind blowing in at Wrigley Field.

"Obviously, you want the hits to start falling, but we’re not out chasing a hit," Gyorko said. "It’s a process that we started, and I think it’s starting to come out a little bit."

Coming into Sunday, Gyorko's batting average is .121 -- the lowest among the team's regulars.

"Any other given day, Jedd probably has two or three home runs here," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He seems to be laying off a little bit of the ball down and away, laying off the high fastball. Didn’t result in any hits [Saturday], but the quality of the at-bats seem to be better."


Padres want Wil Myers to stay aggressive in leadoff spot
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3:17 pm ET) Padres center fielder Wil Myers has yet to take a walk and has seen the fifth fewest pitches per plate appearance among leadoff hitters in the National League, but the Padres like what he brings to the table batting leadoff and want him to stay aggressive, MLB.com reports.

"Everyone has their own style of how they play, and Wil, being the prototypical leadoff hitter isn't who he is," manager Bud Black said. "[We want him to] be aggressive and do what he does. Ultimately, down the road, we'll see where he sets up in the batting order. But for now, and with this group, it makes sense for him to lead off."

Hitting coach Mark Kotsay indicated the team doesn't want Myers to change his approach in his new role as a leadoff hitter.

"I think in terms of growth and development, we've seen him swing early, we've seen him take pitches. He's done a good job adjusting to the role," Kotsay said. " … But by no means do we expect him to be a prototypical leadoff hitter who is strictly an on-base guy. We don't have the expectation for him to see a lot of pitches. The competitiveness of the at-bat and quality of the plate appearance, at this point, he's done a good job of it."

Myers has hit .300/.314/.460 with one home run, seven RBI and two stolen bases in 50 at-bats.


Astros' Josh Fields to pitch longer outing on injury rehab
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3:13 pm ET) Astros pitcher Josh Fields has made four appearances for Triple-A Fresno as he works through a minor league injury rehab assignment. 

Fields is on the 15-day disabled list with a groin injury. 

The Astros are ready to stretch out Fields. He will make his first multi-inning appearance for Fresno on Monday, per the Houston Chronicle


Rockies P John Axford moved to restricted list, now day to day
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(3:04 pm ET) With Rockies pitcher John Axford's family medical emergency leave expiring on Sunday, the team has moved him to the restricted list, reports the Denver Post.

The move allows the Rockies to bring Axford back any day.

Axford has pitched in one inning so far this season.


Slow start doesn't have Rangers' Adrian Beltre worried
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3:04 pm ET) Adrian Beltre endured a recent 0-for-14 slump and is hitting .140 on the season for the Rangers. 

The 36-year-old doesn't seem concerned, however. "I’ve been through this several times," he said, per the Star Telegram. "I’m confident. I’m confident in what I can do. I feel good. I’m healthy. It’s a six-month season, not a two-week season."

"I could get four hits today and three hits tomorrow, and then where am I?" he added. "All the worrying is just a waste of time."


 
 
 
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