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Chat: Zach Crizer

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday April 10, 2019 9:00 PM ET chat session with Zach Crizer.


Zach Crizer is a senior writer at Baseball Prospectus.

Zach Crizer: Heyo, it's time. Let's get started.

Vic (Baltimore): What's the best case scenario for Jose Quintana? I have been burned by him and Yu. However, each year, I draft Quintana later in hopes I finally can recoup previous year's losses. This year I chose him over Chris Paddack thinking for 2019 it was the right decision.

Zach Crizer: Got a couple of Jose Quintana-related questions here. I think the most likely scenario for him this year is a return to 2017-ish levels. That's still probably a 4.00 ERA or so, but with a strikeout rate that's a little more commensurate with his late White Sox days. It will be interesting to see if he leans on his curveball any more in the coming games/years. He's fastball heavy (with both a four-seam and a sinker), without crazy loud stuff, and that just isn't a spectacular profile these days unless there's something to play off of it. His curve has good tunneling numbers with his four-seam. Probably needs to move toward that to get more whiffs and fulfill more of what the Cubs wanted when they traded for him.

rjblakel (Melbourne): In a non-keeper points league, where Wins and QS are heavily weighted, how do you rank these players ROS? J Quintana, N Eovaldi, M Strahm, K Gausman, M Shoemaker, M Fried, B Woodruff, T Skaggs, S Matz, J Teheran, J Urias

Zach Crizer: OK, so I can provide fantasy opinions, just be warned they won't be super informed on the nitty-gritty fantasy strategy. On that list, I'd separate your options into 3 groups:

Known quantities (for better or worse): This would be Quintana, Shoemaker and Teheran. They're going to pitch as long as they're healthy. And they're going to go 6 or so innings if performance allows for it at all. There's just some chance you're going to have a lot of 3-5 run starts without great K numbers, and maybe not even many wins.

Traditionally used starters with some upside: Skaggs, Gausman, Matz and Eovaldi. They will have the opportunity to go 6 or 7, but they're still figuring things out. It could go great! But it might occasionally go poorly. I like Skaggs and Matz from this group if you're looking for QS and some modicum of safety.

The others are upside plays only. You have no idea if they'll start, or if they'll go more than 4 innings when they do. That's just the reality of it. Of the bunch, the one who feels most likely to me to accumulate QS and wins THIS season is Brandon Woodruff, but Urias will have the best ratios by far.

darielsantana (santo domingo): Do you believe Moncada's early hot start?

Zach Crizer: OK, fun players! Boy, I really want to, and I think I mostly do. One of the weird things about his 2018 was the number of times he was taking called strikes. A lot of times we think of plate discipline as "patience" or not swinging at bad pitches. But it's also about leaping at the chance to hit good pitches -- a trademark of Joey Votto is also a HIGH rate of swings on pitches in the strike zone. Long story short, Moncada isn't chasing any more than he was, but he's swinging at more strikes, and that aggression has come with good results so far, obviously. He's an electrifying player. I wouldn't be surprised if he popped a 125 DRC+ with good baserunning, let's call it 4 WARP?

Dusty (Colorado): Thoughts on Wander Javier, what's his upside?

Zach Crizer: Hello Dusty. I haven't the foggiest.

easterbrook (ontario canada): with the emergence of top rookies such as Jimenez, Alonso, lowe etc who else do you expect to make the jump next. thanks

Zach Crizer: If you mean someone already in the majors, I'm all about Victor Robles. I think he'll eventually move up into a more prominent role in the Nats lineup and keep showing off a pretty absurd power/speed combo with great defense in center. I'm also in the tank for Chris Paddack, the Padres rookie starter.

In terms of players who haven't debuted: Vlad Jr. (duh). Beyond him, I could see Austin Riley's power playing pretty quickly if an opportunity were to arise in Atlanta.

Yandy Diaz (St. Pete): Am I really improved?

Zach Crizer: While we're on the topic of breakouts (or potential breakouts), I have to say Yandy that I'm not as sold as much of the baseball interwebz. There are a lot of smart people who are excited about the Rays acquisition's potential to overcome a ground-ball tendency and put upper-tier exit velocity to work. I need to see a bit more before pronouncing you on the right track, though. The ground-ball rate is still up over 50 percent this season, you've just managed to muscle a few of your relatively rare line drives and fly balls out of the park. It's possible to be quite useful without lifting the ball regularly, and maybe you'll do it, but to justify the online hype, there needs to be more of a change.

boatman44 (Liverpool): How long will Wilmer Defoe hold down the shortstop position over Carter Kieboom? Until Turner comes back,3 days or 2 weeks?

Zach Crizer: Barring a setback of some sort for Turner, I think you're mostly dealing with Difo holding down the fort. The Nats have publicly said they want Kieboom to get reps at second base and be comfortable at both middle infield spots before he comes up -- a matter of making sure he's ready to contribute in this year's race and in the longer term.

glworld (Hawaii): much has been said bout Ohtani's pitching and hitting skills. what bout his fielding? i know he played RF in Japan. I know they would never put him in the field this year cuz of his arm but what's the possibility in the future? On days that he's not pitching and angels are visiting NL park, why can't he play in the OF since he can't DH and his bat is valuable?

Zach Crizer: I think you hit on the main thing: They don't want to jeopardize his health. Last year it was because he was under strain as a 2-way player. This year it will be because of Tommy John recovery. As long as there is that intention to play two ways, there will be reluctance to add fielding to his plate. That said, there are some videos out there of throws from right in high school. The arm plays. Based on his speed and general athleticism, I think it's safe to say he could hold his own, but you probably won't see it a ton unless they ditch pitching and make him a hitter.

Foghorn Leghorn (Cartoonville): What are your thoughts on Trevor Rosenthal?

Zach Crizer: I, uh, think he's having a bad time. There's some reason to think he could reset and simplify things, though: To wit, his first two outings this year obviously didn't go well, but it was more a matter of bad placement on or around the plate. Then, whether because of an adjustment gone awry or a dearth of confidence in his stuff or something else, it all went sideways and he started missing by a mile. Relievers have come back from worse, so I'll hope he figures it out.

boatman44 (Liverpool): Would you agree with Larry Dierker that wanagers are worth 2 games WAR either way , depending on how good they are ?

Zach Crizer: I think that sounds like a very reasonable average. However, like players, I think the swings in any given year could vastly outstrip that in either direction. Some teams -- those with delicate bullpen situations, those in need of clubhouse personality management, etc. -- are going to be more volatile and more dependent on manager performance. Others will hum along as 90 or 60 win teams no matter who's at the helm. Ultimately, it's probably better to think of the manager in terms of people, and keeping them happy and motivated, than in terms of wins. One often leads to the other, but you can't really reverse engineer it.

wrburgess (KC): Is Nate Lowe more like CJ Cron or the next Goldy?

Zach Crizer: Hah, if you're going to force me to pick one of those options ... Rays fans will not like the answer. BUT: I think his power and plate discipline numbers in the minors are extremely impressive and point toward success. Goldy is such a lofty name because of his all-around game. I'm not a scout, don't know Lowe well enough to tell you a whole lot about his defense or baserunning, but I still feel FAIRLY confident saying they won't be Goldy level. I do think he'll hit better and more consistently than Cron. How about recent vintage Justin Smoak? That seems like a realistic, but very positive outcome.

Buddy (Peoria, IL): You gotta love April baseball...Cubs fans and Red Sox fans are panicking. Mariners fans are thinking playoffs. Shane Greene is on pace for 100 saves. Can't wait to see what comes from the next 10 days!

Zach Crizer: You aren't kidding, Buddy. I think Cubs fans ... should maybe panic a little, and I'm not just saying that because of PECOTA. That division is rough and their pitching staff has neither reinforcements on the way, nor a magical reverse aging potion (to my knowledge). The Red Sox should be worried about Chris Sale, but there isn't a whole lot else that has happened that a larger sample can't cure. Unfortunately, the same might be said for the Mariners and their current obliviousness to the step-back year that was planned.

The Yeehaw Agenda (The Wild West): If you had to pick four MLB players to fight your way out of a zombie-infested warehouse who you picking?

Zach Crizer: So one obvious answer is Yasiel Puig. Most likely to take on 7 zombies by himself, for sure.

Next up: Give me Aaron Judge because just the prospect of him entering a fray carries serious gravity.

Madison Bumgarner because if you told me he had done this before I wouldn't be THAT shocked.

And finally, Mookie Betts, because we have yet to see something he isn't good at. I don't know how that would manifest in a zombie warehouse. Maybe he would just distract them and dazzle them with some heretofore unknown talent until everyone escaped.

boatman44 (Liverpool): How cold is it in Chicago tonight, Looks like two teams of MOUNTAINEERS are playing at Wrigley field.Tito Francona is worth 5 WAR by the way :}

Zach Crizer: It is apparently 39 degrees, very distinctly not baseball weather. Among the many small requests we might make of baseball after it figures out the whole paying young players and minor leaguers proper amounts of money is skewing the early season schedule away from more nights like this up north.

stei1446 (Minneapolis): Is the Brewers bullpen good enough for them to win the NL Central with Hader being the only elite arm? Besides Hader it is hard to see much lock down talent in the bullpen that would be needed with such a lackluster starting rotation. Jeffress was elite for most of the part last year, but during the playoffs he was rough and isn't starting this season off good with being on a rehab assignment.

Zach Crizer: I like how the Brewers have built their team -- and think the rotation may have more punch than it gets credit for as young players find their footing -- but injuries have certainly sapped some of what made that bullpen so great last year. The lineup is so good that they can probably stay at or near the front of the division for the first couple months and assess what they need. A move for a starter like Keuchel or Bumgarner could allow Burnes or Peralta to play up in the bullpen, or they could just go find a reliever to add to the mix if necessary. Said another way: I think they have enough overall pitching firepower on the roster currently to compete in the division, yes, and I'd expect them to add more in July. (I picked them to win the division in the preseason, and I guess I'm sticking with it.)

Zach Crizer: OK everyone, thanks for swinging by. We'll do it again sometime soon.

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