Luis Castillo has an ugly ERA, currently sitting at 6.51 through 5 starts in his second Major League season with the Cincinnati Reds. He has an ugly everything when compared to last year’s fantasy stats.
Don’t give up on him – yet. His velocity on his four seam is down a tick, but still at a very respectable 96.1 mph. His swinging strike rate is up from last year and his contact rate is down.
Castillo seems to be playing around with his pitch usage throwing his four seamer 17 percent less frequently and increasing the use of his sinker. I think Castillo’s early struggles have more to do with adjusting to new pitching coach Danny Darwin. I see Castillo as a pitcher with strong raw stuff who is learning to make adjustments in his second year.
Fantasy Advice – Buy
Buy while his price is very low. Pitchers with Top 30 potential will rarely be this cheap.
Brandon Belt has broken my heart before, and after last year I thought I was done with him forever. But here he is moving up the San Francisco Giants batting order and bringing some nice returns for fantasy owners.
Two numbers stand out to me – his strike out rate is at 27.1 percent, while his wOBA is .409. I don’t think these are sustainable together, and I suspect the strike out rate is more telling of his future. I do like Belt and am cheering for him, but am very cognizant that Belt has the potential to disappoint.
Fantasy Advice – Sell
If he is available on your waiver wire grab him and ride this success for as long as you can, but if you own him and get a half decent offer then trade him away.
Yu Darvish looked excellent through 4.2 innings Saturday in Colorado. Then the wheels fell off. Darvish walked pitcher Tyler Anderson putting batters at first and second and didn’t make another out.
Unfortunately there isn’t a stat for a pitcher’s psychological breaking point. I wish there were a way to quantify what happens to Darvish when a call doesn’t go his way and he loses it. The closest thing we have is Fangraph’s clutch stat – and Darvish is experiencing cataclysmic failure in high leverage situations.
Still, Darvish’s velocity looks good and reports are he isn’t tipping his pitches. Darvish is playing for his third team in less than a year. I can’t imagine what kind of stress that is for an athlete whose success is dependent on routine.
Fantasy Advice – Hold
Hold Darvish for now because he has an extremely high ceiling and plays for an excellent team. I think Darvish rights the ship sooner or later.
Last but certainly not least, it is time to discuss the MVP of fantasy baseball through the first three weeks of the 2018 season – Jed Lowrie.
It is so easy to buy into a player doing what Lowrie is doing in April. We waited months for baseball to get here, and the early storylines suck us in. Also, Lowrie’s success isn’t coming out of nowhere, as 2017 was his best season in four years.
Here is the thing to know about Lowrie though – his balls are barely leaving the park (baseballs that is – not to imply he rarely leaves the stadium putting in extra work). According to Statcast his average home run distance is 385.32 feet, well below the league average of 398.53 feet. The Oakland Coliseum doesn’t like to give up home runs and Lowrie’s would only leave his home park if hit down the right field line.
Four of his six home runs have come while on the road. Lowrie gets his power as a pull hitter against right handed pitchers. He may continue to improve on last year’s success, but he won’t be this player for too much longer.
Fantasy Advice – Sell
Pitchers will adjust and Lowrie will revert to a league average player. Sell while you can.