Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market: Anibal Sanchez, Miguel Gonzalez, Hisashi Iwakuma

by Nicholas Minnix on July 6, 2012 @ 14:25:28 PDT's Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market gives you candid reviews and ratings of fantasy baseball players making MLB news in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball leagues. Are they trade bait or worth your FAAB dollars in your fantasy baseball games?

Anibal Sanchez, SP, Miami Marlins

At the end of May, Sanchez's ERA stood at 2.56. June (7.06 ERA, 6.16 K/9, 3.99 BB/9) took the wind out of his sails, however, and July is off to a bad start because of his five-inning, 11-hit, five-run dud on Tuesday against the Milwaukee Brewers.

What gives? This past spring, Sanchez, 28, looked like a fantastic value pick, and he delivered like one initially. Sanchez has made great strides in the past few seasons because he's been able to remain healthy, of course, and because he's cut down on walks. A cut fastball has really helped him there, likely along with a change of his release point.

His June BB/9 was an ingredient to make disaster. But it was really only three starts in the month in which his pitch efficiency was significantly worse (57 percent) than his rate for the season (65 percent), which includes those three outings. In his last two starts, Sanchez has walked three in 12 stanzas and has fanned nine.

Sanchez's pitch data at Brooks Baseball doesn't seem to indicate that there's anything wrong with his stuff or thrust up a flag that he may be injured. No news from Miami suggests such, either. Perhaps conditioning is a problem, but, in fact, his average velocity continues to rise, which would seem to eliminate fatigue as a cause.

His grounder rate for the past month has been about 10 points lower than it was in the first two months of the season, too. He was actually producing them more than 50 percent of the time, which is more often than he has in any full season. Other than a more dangerous liner rate against him, however, nothing about his batted-ball data should spark panic.

This may just be a case in which the right-hander has temporarily lost his focus on pinpoint control. He went through it at times last year, when his velocity continued to creep upward, too. A slip in his control was at the root of a poor post-break stretch.

Although his second half last year was rocky, it wasn't without good outings, and he showed signs that he was beginning to recover before the campaign ended. Perhaps the occurrence of Sanchez's rough patch a little earlier in the season will allow him to get to the other side with a little more time to spare, too.

A lot of Sanchez's indicators for the season look similar to those of his 2010, which was a strong one as well. It wasn't quite as good as his 2011, but it was more than roto useful. Keep an eye out for news related to his struggles and an eye on his rate of K's and walks.

Although his results have been discouraging lately, Sanchez is more than capable of putting together numbers in the second half similar to those of April and May 2012. He looks like a good bet to turn things around, making this a poor time to sell or dump.

Miguel Gonzalez, P, Baltimore Orioles

Jake Arrieta threw a wrap around the wound when he made a fill-in start for Brian Matusz a few weeks ago, but he hasn't staunched the bleeding. The O's optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk and will replace him with Miguel Gonzalez, another right-hander.

Gonzalez spent some time in the club's bullpen earlier this season. In 11 2/3 frames (three games - all long-relief stints, obviously), he allowed 10 hits, three earned runs and five walks, with 12 K's. For the Norfolk Tides, he had a 1.61 ERA, a 10.68 K/9 and a 2.01 BB/9 in 14 games (six starts, 44 2/3 stanzas).

The intent when B'more sent Gonzalez down in early June was to stretch him out for a possible starting gig, but the organization has doubts about how well he'll handle the role. He has a good fastball, but there seems to be some question about his secondary stuff.

That stuff has continued to be good enough for the former Rule 5 pick to retire hitters consistently this year. We know that he can strike them out. Buck Showalter will permit Gonzalez to go somewhat deep into his first start if he's effective.

Gonzalez is an experiment of sorts; some observers do believe that he can start in the bigs. Because of the success he's already had, it won't be surprising if he pitches well, at least initially, as a starter. Before long, we'll learn how good his slider and changeup are (and how important they are to his success).

10-tm mixed: Pass
12-tm mixed:
15-tm mixed:

Hisashi Iwakuma, P, Seattle Mariners

Iwakuma is Hector Noesi's replacement in the rotation. The question: How long will that last? Like the Orioles do regarding Gonzalez, Seattle has reservations about how effective Iwakuma will be in the rotation.

The Mariners' concerns seem to be more justified. Iswakuma has not fared well in the control department (4.58 BB/9) and, despite a grounder rate of 50-plus, has surrendered 1.78 homers per nine innings. One might forecast some improvement in that figure, but judging from the beat, he makes mistakes too often in crucial counts. His control rate isn't an indication that he'll avoid those situations regularly in the future.

In his first MLB start, on Monday, the Asian southpaw went five frames, giving up three hits, three runs and three walks, with three strikeouts, against Baltimore. He surrendered one bomb, and almost another.

Iwakuma has posted a 4.84 ERA this season, and he may improve that figure a bit despite a move to the rotation. But there doesn't seem to be much upside here.

As Tim noted then, the long-term play here is Danny Hultzen. Although the left-handed prospect has been fast-tracked, the M's probably won't promote him just because he has a few good outings at the Class AAA level, however. There might be a bit of a wait, like until sometime in August or September.

Just be prepared for that. Seattle acquired Noesi along with Jesus Montero in the trade for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. The club dealt for the right-hander because it had some belief that he could be an effective starter, and that probably hasn't changed. The Mariners will hope for a turnaround at Triple-A Tacoma and may also consider him for a second-half promotion.

10-tm mixed: Pass
12-tm mixed:
15-tm mixed:

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About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.

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