Andrew MillerFantasy Baseball

2013 Fantasy Baseball Rookie Report, Week 5: Sell High on Cingrani

Since coming up to replace Cincinnati ace Johnny Cueto a couple weeks ago Tony Cingrani has done a remarkable Cueto impersonation. The rookie lefthander has improved in each of his three outings this season, culminating with a stellar six-inning performance Sunday in Washington. He struck out 11 while walking only one and giving up two hits. He even struck out four batters in one inning. In 18 innings this season Cingrani’s struck out 28 and walked only four while allowing only three runs with a .89 WHIP. He’s been much better than I, or almost everyone, expected he’d be, and even with Cueto due back fairly soon it seems he’s secured his spot in the Reds rotation for at least the near future.

Photo credit: Doug Gray
Photo credit: Doug Gray

And now should be the time you try to remove him from your rotation. Any pitcher can have a good three-start stretch in the majors, especially when you consider different factors like the weather, opponents and plain old luck. In facing the Cubs, Nationals and Marlins, Cingrani’s pitched against the 22nd-, 28th- and 30th-ranked offenses by wRC+. If you don’t like those newfangled stats, Cingrani’s three opponents rank on average 28th in OBP, and only the Cubs rank higher than 23rd in slugging. Even against those teams Cingrani’s been very good, but as teams see more of him in the majors they should be able to adjust and begin hitting him. On the season Cingrani’s throwing his fastball 79 percent of the time, and against Washington he threw it 86 percent of the time. Those numbers will have to come down for him to continue his success. On nine of his 10 non-pitcher strikeouts against Washington Cingrani threw a fastball, as he doesn’t own a swing-and-miss pitch that he can locate in the zone more times than not. He also threw a lot of fastballs high in the zone when he was ahead in the count, and against tougher lineups those pitches will be hit hard. His fastball has very little if any late movement, as well, so it should be an easy pitch to square up. You should try to shop Cingrani as soon as possible for perhaps a player who’s gotten off to a slow start who should pick it up soon.

Dan Straily also replaced an injured starter and made his second start of the season Monday against the Angels. This one didn’t go as well as his 11-strikeout gem on April 5 against the Astros, though. He allowed two homers and six earned runs in only 4.2 innings, but he did strike out six and walked only one. He also got 15 swings-and-misses. We’re dealing with too much of a small sample size to declare mostly anything, but Straily, who’s owned in only four percent of ESPN leagues and 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues, makes for a quality streaming option in pretty much every home start and some away starts depending on the matchup.

Colorado’s Nolan Arenado made his MLB debut Sunday and hit his first big league home run Monday. The 22-year-old is a career .299/.345/.473 hitter in the minors and was off to a scorching hot start in AAA this year. He’s penciled in as the Rockies’ third baseman for what should be the rest of the season. Even though his minor league numbers are inflated by playing at altitude and in the Pacific Coast League, he’ll be playing his home games in the Mile High City and in a very hitter-friendly ballpark. So even if he struggles, which he will eventually, he’ll automatically receive a boost just by playing half his games in Denver. We saw what Wilin Rosario did last year in his rookie season, and Rosario wasn’t nearly as highly ranked a prospect as Arenado has been in recent years. While I won’t speculate to what Arenado will do for the rest of the season he’s definitely addable in leagues of more than 12 teams.

Monitoring the Minors

  • One potential mid-season call up is Baltimore’s Kevin Gausman, who’s currently pitching at Double-A Bowie. Even though his ERA is 3.77, in 28.2 innings Gausman’s struck out 29 and walked one. The O’s called up Dylan Bundy last year late in the season, and Gausman ranks right after Bundy when talking about Baltimore’s prospects. His is just a name to keep in mind for later in the season, or if you’re in a deep league you might want to pick him up a little bit sooner.
  • Oscar Taveras,’s No. 3 overall prospect, is hitting the ball well in his first taste of Triple-A action. He’s batting .299 with a .333 OBP, two home runs and three steals. He’s walked four times while striking out nine times in 21 games.
  • Nick Franklin, the Mariners’ No. 2 position prospect, is currently treating the Pacific Coast League like Barry Bonds treated MLB in the early 2000s. Franklin’s slashing .400/.524/.600 with three home runs and four steals in 18 games. He’s walked 16 times and struck out only nine times. The 22-year-old can play both middle infield positions, and with the state of the middle infield in Seattle being worse than, well, pretty much everything, Franklin’s almost assured a mid-season call up.
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