November 30, 2012 @ 16:52:39 PDT
With the likely viewpoint that their chances of re-signing Zack Greinke and desire to bring back Dan Haren are waning, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim acquired starting pitcher Tommy Hanson from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for reliever Jordan Walden.
Hanson still has elite promise, and on the surface, his peripherals (8.30 K/9, 3.66 BB/9) from last year say he's a top-notch arm. However, in each of the last two seasons, his HR/FB percentage has jumped to 12.5 and 13.5, respectively.
Dodgy mechanics, velocity, sequencing, and health in his shoulder and back create a package you should be afraid to open unless he cheaply falls into your late-rounds lap in a deep mixed league. His stuff can be filthy at times, but the bobbing and weaving he often performs around the strike zone cancels that out.
His efforts last year made it seem like he was pitching scared - that he didn't trust what was coming out of his hand. Hard for a power pitcher who's lost steam and confidence to assert himself while working off his breaking stuff.
His new home park is similarly beneficial to his old stomping grounds, and half of the four other AL West ambiences shade towards mound dwellers. Still, he'll now face the designated hitter in the more dangerous league switch, and despite his indicators, it's a leap of faith thinking he'll soundly overcome his new hurdle based on his showing last year.
Maybe his confidence will grow with a positive spring, though, and he'll let loose again. He'll be just 27 in August, after all - seems older, right? He has plenty of room to grow as a pitcher if he must rely less on his raw ability, and you should blame a bruised body more than burnout up until now. A smooth offseason, better location and firmer trust of his pitches may lead to fewer taters.
All things equal, he's worth a shot if he's your fifth mixed SP, so it won't be painful to take a shot unless hype builds to monumental levels, which is unlikely to happen. Maybe we were a year early on the bounce-back. Thanks to his relatively favorable digs, loss of luster in fanalytic circles, and the Junior Circuit jinx, oddly enough, his stock is more profitable.
Walden, meanwhile, will serve as the Bravos' top righty setup arm, and in essence their understudy for saves. Kimbrel is the unlikeliest fireman to lose his job via performance, so Walden's value in most dual-universe games depends on injury or him finally taming his control and becoming a valuable non-closer RP, like a Sergio Romo or Tyler Clippard. It's possible, but unless it's a holds-leaning league, Walden shouldn't be drafted outside of NL-only spectrums.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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