It’s the MLB Game Day Recap Day 13, that means it’s time to talk about the complete game. It’s a dying stat, a relic to a bygone era, a stat not meant for modern baseball. In 2020, there were 29 in total across a 60 game season, about 1.0 per team. In 2019, there were 45 in total across a 162 game season, about 1.5 per team. For 2021, nearly all pitchers are removed prior to facing a lineup for a third time. Whether they are a multi-time Cy Young winner like Jacob deGrom or a back end innings eater like Madison Bumgarner, they don’t go the distance. Groupthink from your front office says that the math tells them it’s the right move. There’s one franchise that disagrees, and it’s on the shores of Lake Erie. The CG should not be obsolete, it should be celebrated. Celebrate it.
Since Opening Day Jack Flaherty has allowed one run. That run was given up tonight when the best hitter in the National League, Juan Soto, hit an RBI double. Jack’s overall numbers look mediocre due to his Game 1 implosion. Since then, 2 starts, 2 wins, 11.0 innings, 12 K’s, 4 hits, 4 walks. The average Flaherty manager is well aware that Opening Day was the exception and not the rule, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and go buy him. Early season ugly numbers help tell poor stories, and even in more advanced leagues managers can fall victim to them. Make a good offer today for Flaherty and you might be able to steal him. He was my pick for NL Cy Young, and it’s still happening folks.
Blake Snell was the most recent victim of a suddenly hot and performing Pirates offense. Jayce Tingler pulled Snell before completing the first, but he had only given up 3 runs. Snell was unhappy when he was prematurely removed in the World Series, and he was unhappy after being removed in the first inning tonight after giving up 3 runs. The general consensus among fantasy experts was Snell’s departure from Tampa Bay would lead to longer in game leashes. The execution so far has been 4.2, 5.0 and 0.2 innings pitched across 3 starts. That type of length does not give you elite results. It will be hard to sell Snell after tonight’s outing, but selling him in general is not a bad decision.
Shane Bieber is an absolute star. The reigning Cy Young winner went 9.0 innings striking out 11 while allowing 3 singles and 1 walk. He now ties the record he set last year for the 3rd most strikeouts to start a season in MLB history with 35. Bieber’s had 8+ K’s in 15 straight starts. The absolute floor right now is an excellent strikeout game and length while giving up a handful of runs. It’s extremely weird saying there is a pitcher in baseball who is clearly better than Jacob deGrom, but here we are. It goes without saying that if you can find a way to roster Bieber in your fantasy league, get it done.
Max Fried followed up Wednesday’s 2.0 inning, 5 run performance with a 4.0 inning, 8 run outing. After the game it was revealed Fried may have tweaked his hamstring running the bases and could need an IL stint. He definitely needs an IL stint, but the reasoning is “very bad at pitching”. The Braves are going to do what they can to get him right, but this has been a horrific start that’s not improving anytime soon. Entering the season I’ve been buying essentially all NL East pitchers and I want to press pause on Max Fried. Atlanta has done this before. We’ve seen Mike Foltynewicz. We’ve seen Sean Newcomb. Are we seeing Max Fried?
The Emilio Bonifacio Award
Charlie Culberson is a Bonifacio’s Bonifacio. The 32 year old has logged 150+ plate appearances twice in his career. He entered Spring Training a long shot for the Rangers roster. Today the 1B, SS, and OF eligible [yes, there is a player who qualifies at those 3 and 3 alone], Culberson went 3 for 4 with a RBI double and 3 run dinger along with a stolen base. Charlie has now sneakily performed in 2 of his 4 starts gathering multi-hit games. By no means is he on the radar in standard mixed leagues, but in deep bench leagues? Consider him. The positional eligibility mixed with success when starting makes him a tempting low-ish floor player when he starts.
The James Shields Award
Shane Bieber, Dylan Bundy, Kyle Gibson, Lucas Giolito, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Matthew Boyd and Trevor Bauer all went 6+ tonight. I’m gushing about Bieber all article long, so let’s discuss his former teammate Trevor Bauer. Outside of his 7th inning blowup in Colorado on Opening Day, he has looked every bit of the Cy Young winner he was last year. There hasn’t been a clear heir to Max Scherzer’s throne as an intense psycho who is also an excellent pitcher, but Bauer’s trajectory in LA certainly looks like he might inherit the crown. Giolito, Bundy and Ryu are all solid established as “good”, but I also want to mention Matthew Boyd has looked great in 3 straight starts and Kyle Gibson in 2 straight. Both of these are quiet buys as sustained length + success is a rare combination.
The Brad Lidge Award
Hector Neris is still Hector Neris. After 5.0 innings to start the year where he looked elite, and the addition of Archie Bradley to the IL, the buy now signs were firmly planted in Neris’ front yard. Naturally, he blew up in New York today. The extremely weird [and objectively terrible] extra innings appearance in the 8th inning, Neris allowed the dumb ghost runner to score along with an additional game winning run on 3 hits and 1 walk over 0.1 innings. Neris is just never going to be a guy who avoids these type of outings. He’s a completely fine roto play, but he can kill you when these blows are even worse in Head-to-Head formats. Neris will never be the clear guy in the 9th because he can’t stop blowing up. He’s a very good pitcher, but one with too much variance for my liking.
The MLB Game Day Recap is all about baseball. The complete game is as old as the first Major League Baseball game. While modern baseball has changed dramatically since 1871, some things do in fact look familiar. Pitching an entire ball game isn’t something math actually says should never be done, or only in rain shortened games. It’s just something that should never be done by marginal players. Elite pitchers know how to pitch and have the ability to pitch against the same players 3+ times per game. Cleveland knows this, and has routinely bucked the trend of pulling starters early. Shane Bieber knows this too, and you should too. The complete game helps fantasy teams, and it helps gain new viewers to the product. The complete games should only be obsolete for the marginal pitcher, not the elite one.