Fantasy Baseball: Pulling Out Your Haren

Nationals’ starter Dan Haren was medcocre once-again, he allowed three runs on six hits and three walks over 5.0 innings, but was lucky to escape with limited damage. Haren left with he bases loaded in the top of the sixth and was fortunate to have Craig Stammen come in and clean up his mess. Haren’s ineffectiveness is wearing thin on the patience of many owners and already he’s becoming a popular player to dump. Haren is amongst the top-10 players dropped in Yahoo standard league with his ownership slipping down to just 71%.

Over his first couple of starts Haren’s velocity has been right around what we saw over the past few years, but his signature control disappeared on Monday as he tossed just 57 of 98 pitches for strikes and he is just giving up way too many home runs. Even without allowing a long ball in his most recent game, Haren has allowed 5 round-trippers through four starts and has been entirely too hittable. We will point to a sky-high .420 BABIP and a painfully low 62.5 LOB% as signs of some poor luck, but we are going to need to see more, and quick.

So what to do with Danny Haren? You invested in this guy on draft day, but he’s done nothing but hurt you since. The skills still appear to be where they were last season, but his strikeout rate has been dipping since his last elite season. In 2011, Haren struck out 20.2% of the batters he faced. That number dropped down to 19.0% last season and is sitting at just 16.0% so far this year. His walk rate is still low, however, and we will note that he was looking solid in his April 16 start before a Ryan Zimmerman error seemed to open the floodgates.

Obviously, Haren does not belong in your lineup right now as he is phenomenally hittable. But, unless we get some indication that his back issues are acting up again, we must believe there are better says ahead. On the positive side, Haren has a very strong offense to supports him, coupled with a solid defensive squad backing him in the field. If you are tight on bench space because you are waiting on an injured Zack Greinke or Jered Weaver, we don’t have and issue cutting ties with the struggling Haren. Still, if at all possible, we want to give Haren another start or two (on your bench!) to let him get straightened out. Four starts, do not a season make and while we sit a week away from the start of May 1, I’m hanging on the the vast majority of my starters at least until that date. Overall, we’d try and hang on just a little bit longer if your roster allows it and give him one or two more starts to turn things around, but there’s no way you can trust Haren in your starting lineup at this point.

Around the League

  • Braves slugger Jason Heyward required an emergency appendectomy on Monday and will be sidelined for at least a week. It’s unclear whether he’ll require a DL stint, but fantasy owners need to make other plans in the short term. Among outfielder who are available in more than 40% of Yahoo standard leagues, we like Garret Jones (33%), Justin Ruggiano (27%) and Cody Ross (19%) to provide you with some Heyward-like production over the next couple of weeks.
  • Mike Napoli drove in five runs-including a grand slam home run–during a 2-for-5 effort to lead the Red Sox to a win and all of the sudden has an AL-leading 25 RBI on the year. Just yesterday, I noted that you should hold steady on Napoli in a piece at and he just continues to get it done. The hip is no longer and issue, he’s hitting for average, he’s hitting for power and it is absolutely for real. Over his past two games, Napoli is 5-for-9 with two home runs, three runs scored and seven RBI and you can expect more productivity to come from the slugger.
  • Athletics’ starter A.J. Griffin got whomped on Monday, yielding nine runs (eight earned  over 4.0 innings pitched. He watched his ERA skyrocket to 4.50 on the season and leaving owners with a bitter taste in thier mouth. Unlike many of the Athletics’ starter, Griffin has actually performed better on the road than at home over his brief career, so there was reason to be optimistic about this start, but it just wasn’t working ot theref or the 25-year-old hurler. We’ll give him a bit of a pass however as he’s allowed more than three earned runs just three times over his entire career (19 starts). Still, Griffin remains the N0. 1 dropped player on Yahoo as of this morning and that sounds a bit harsh for a guy who has been a quality start machine and piches in one of the best home parks in the majors. NOt only should you hang tight with Griffin, but it’s time to check your wire and see if an impatient owner cut the young hurler after his poor outing.
  • Phillies’ shortstop Jimmy Rollins drove in a pair of runs while going 2-for-3 on the day to help rookie John Pettibone to capture his first major league win. J-Roll has three multi-hit efforts in four game since retaking his spot atop the Phillies lineup.
  • Edward Mujica collected his second save of the season, with a clean ninth. He locked up Shelby Miler‘s third win of the the season and the former-top prospect is making serious waves early in the 2013 season, He hurled 6.2 strong innings pitched with juts two earned runs allowed. He struck out eight against two walks and for the season boasts a 26:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 25 innings so far.
  • Reds’ slugger Jay Bruce cranked his first home run of the season, driving in three during a 2-for-5 effort. Bruce also doubled on the day but, pushing his season RBI total to 11. The solid walk rate remains, and we expect a nice run out of the streaky Bruce sooner than later.
  • Matt Moore spun a gem Monday  striking out nine over eight innings of one-run ball. He did walk three, which remains a concern, but it’s tough to complain about a spotless 4-0 record to go along with a 1.04 ERA to start the year.
  • Ryan Roberts slugged a pair of home runs but remains in a timeshare with Kelly Johnson, negating and snifter of hope that perspective wners may have had that Roberts would become usable in mixed formats.
  • Indians’ shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (wrist) returned to the lineup and drove in a pair of runs while picking up a steal. Double play partner Jason Kipnis swiped his second base of the year despite an 0-for-3 effort. The pair is batting .163 and .156, respectively , but we’d be buying on both if anyone if selling at a discount.
  • Justin Masterson was quality in a winning effort, but walked five batters on the day. We told to you to sell and perhaps your window of opportunity remains open to recoup something, anything for Masterson. His platoon splits are damning (.223 BAA vs. RHB, .290 BAA vs. LHB) and the control is also shaky (career 3.6 BB/9), it’s time to jump ship while his numbers still look solid.
  • Kendrys Morales and Kyle Seager each homered for the Mariners and Felix Hernandez struck out nine over 6.0 strong  innings. King Felix notched the 100th win of his career and remains a fantasy beast. We made the bold prediction this year that the Mariners would out-homer their division foes in Texas, and while the M’s are trailing by 3 long balls in the early going, the boy’s in Seattle have flexed their power stroke so far with 20 home runs in their first 21 games.
  • Ryan Braun led the red-hot Brewers pas the Padres, driving in three runs with two runs scored in a 2-for-3 effort. Braun also slugged his sixth home run of the, showing once again why he’s the best player in baseball.
  • Giant’s catcher Buster Poser slugged a game-tying home run and Brandon Belt took care of the rest as the defending champ rallied late to snatch a victory. Posey finished the day 2-for-4 with a double, a home run and three RBI and is now working a four-game hitting streak following a sluggish start to the year.

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