Monday, August 3, 2015


New York Mets top pitching prospect Steven Matz is set to resume his throwing program from the lat injury that has kept him on the disabled list for the last three weeks.  The plan is to slowly build Matz back up with the idea of making a late August return where he could help ease the innings burden on Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom, and Noah Syndegaard.

Analysis:  Good news here but Matz is not going to be back for another three weeks or so.  He has all the talent in the world and is on part with his rotation mates in terms of having ace ability.  Boy are the Mets stacked. 



Pittsburgh Pirates SP A.J. Burnett is to miss the next four weeks after he was diagnosed with a right flexor strain in his pitching elbow.  No ligament damage was found in the elbow but Burnett is still not going to pitch until September at the earliest after the diagnosis. 

Analysis:  This is a real shame as you don't want to see Burnett go out like this in his final MLB seasons.  Here is hoping Burnett can get back for a few starts to put a cap on what has been a very solid MLB career. 


Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is in the lineup Monday after injuring his head/neck in Sunday's game.  Bryant did not suffer a concussion in the collision and thus was set to return Monday. 

Analysis:  Big sigh of relief as any injury to Bryant is a big deal.  The sky is the limit when it comes to Bryant who looks fully capable of being the next Bryce Harper in terms of monster power with a high average and some steals thrown in for good measure. 




When discussion turn to the top wide receivers when it comes to 2015 fantasy football drafts, one name that seems to be somewhat forgotten among that group is Green Bay Packers WR Jordy Nelson.  While no one doubts Nelson's ability to anchor your fantasy football wide receiver corps, most usually mention the Dez Bryants, the Demaryuis Thomas',and the Calvin Johnson's of the world first.  Nelson is absolutely worthy of being mentioned in that group however and the numbers certainly back him up.  Now entering into his 8th season in the NFL, Nelson is primed to once again serve as the number 1 wideout in arguably the most explosive passing offense in the league. 

Having turned 30 in May, Nelson is now firmly in his prime years but he still wound up putting together a career-season in 2014 at 29 when he passed the 90-catch mark for the first time in his career with 98 for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns.  While Nelson has always been a monster yardage and touchdown guy, his previous high in receptions was 85 and that as the only time in his first 7 NFL seasons where he even passed the 70-catch mark.  With Nelson now firmly at the head of the receiving tree in Green Bay with the best QB in the league in Aaron Rodgers looking his way, it was all there for Nelson to produce a monster season in 2014 which he more than accomplished. 

Now in looking ahead to 2015, more of the same should be expected out of Nelson.  In fact we think a near carbon copy of his 2014 numbers sounds about right as again Nelson is in his prime and operating in a major passing offense.  Outside of Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson, Nelson also has been the best TD producer as a wideout over the last four seasons as well which is a major part of his game.  Count on another double-digit TD campaign to go along with around 90 receptions for over 1,400 yards if he can stay healthy.  While Nelson has been durable, the fact he is now 30 means that there is more of a chance for injury on his aging body.  Still that worry is miniscule and Nelson should be right there with all the other ace wide receivers in fantasy football during this season.  In fact compared to the very high cost of the Bryant's and Thomas', Nelson could surely be the best value among all the top receivers and who could be had in the middle of the second round. 

2015 PROJECTION:  92 receptions 1,426 yards 12 TD



It is Monday which means another edition of Closing Time is on tap where we look at all of the news items coming out of the world of the ninth inning.  With the trade deadline having come and gone, here is how some of the closer situations were impacted.

1.  Jonathan Papelbon heads to Washington to take closer role from Drew Storen:  The most impactful move came in the Northeast where the Philadelphia Phillies finally unloaded disgruntled closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Washington Nationals prior to Friday's trade deadline.  The fallout was immense as Papelbon pushed out Drew Storen for the Washington closer role, pretty much destroying any fantasy baseball value the latter had and taking away a top performing stopper from his owners.  Storen seriously got a raw deal as he has been terrific all season in posting a 1.64 ERA and tiny 0.97 WHIP while nailing down 29 saves in 31 tries.  Papelbon was not going to come over to Washington though without the assurance of being the closer.  The move doesn't change Papelbon's value in any way as he has been monstrous all season with a 1.55 ERA, while also re-discovering some of the lost strikeouts by punching out 41 batters in 40.2 IP.  Either way Storen is screwed and I wouldn't blame any of his owners for cutting bait despite the fact that his ratios could help. 

In addition to what is going on now in Washington, Ken Giles now steps up to be the new closer in Philly which was an anointment that was expected going back to 2014.  Giles has the look of a future closing star as he has the classic high strikeout stuff to be tremendous.  A 1.36 WHIP is troubling though, mainly a product of a very high walk rate that needs to be worked out by Giles.  Still I am very high on Giles moving forward and those who were patiently keeping him on their rosters for his turn to close are now being rewarded. 

2.  Tyler Clippard moved to the New York Mets to set up closer Jeurys Familia and it even looked like he might end up closing there when his new bullpen mate blew three straight saves.  Familia turned down the heat though on Saturday when he pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to save out a one-run game for the Mets over the Nationals which means for now Clippard stays as a setup man.  This was a scenario I warned all Clippard owners about going back to April when the A's quickly fell out of contention.  Hopefully you sold him high before the trade. 

As far as the replacement, veteran retread Edward Mujica is the very shaky selection to close.  Mujica was cut loose by the Red Sox earlier this season due to ongoing struggles and he has not been terrific with the A's either.  However he is a veteran who was an All-Star closer as recently as 2013 with the St. Louis Cardinals so there is that.  Mujica has already given up 1 run in two innings since Clippard was dealt with zero saves and his FIP ERA is over 5.00 which means things could get real ugly quickly.  Fernando Rodriguez would likely be next in line so add him to your watch lists. 

3.  Joakim Soria was moved to the Pittsburgh Pirates where he will set up dominant closer Mark Melancon the rest of the season.  Soria had struggled lately after a very good first two months but either way Melancon is the guy for the Pirates.  Meanwhile there was a lot of guessing about who would close for Detroit with Soria sent packing, with the best bet being Al Alburquerque.  However it was Alex Wilson getting the 1.2 inning save last Thursday and he should be the guy to own going forward.  Wilson has been good with a 1.79 ERA but the K rate is not ideal for someone to pitch the ninth inning.  Still we saw how effective Zach Britton has been for the Baltimore Orioles without the heater and Wilson was good in 2014 as well with a 1.91 ERA in 28.1 innings pitched.  Own Wilson for now and see if he gets the chance to run with it.

-Moving past the trades, the Colorado Rockies removed veteran John Axford from the closer role this past week.  It was only a matter of time really as Axford has been simply miserable over the last month with an ERA over 6.00.  The fallout there was that either Rafael Betancourt or Tommy Kahnle would be the replacement.  It was Kahnle though who pitched the ninth in the team's 6-2 victory on Saturday which is typically a closer spot to throw.  Kahnle has been good with a 2.81 ERA but his 1.40 WHIP is very scary and could portend major trouble the rest of the season. 

There you have it.  As always let us hear what you think.  Post your comments in the space below. 



Ubaldo Jimenez:  6 ER in 4.2 IP with an ERA of 4.04.  Anyone who owned Jimenez in the first half of the season should have just cut him at the All-Star Break.  I mean we all knew he couldn't keep up that up and now look.  Jimenez has been a complete abomination and I would advise not even looking in the same area code of this guy the rest of the way.

Daniel Norris:  7.1 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.23.  A not enough mentioned part of the trade deadline was Norris moving from Toronto to Detroit where he gets a tremendous ballpark improvement.  Remember that Norris was a top 20 prospect before the season and that status didn't change with his initial Toronto foray which was decent despite shoddy control.  Pick up where available as Norris has a potent arm that can net a decent haul of K's. 

Chris Davis:  1/2 with his 26th HR while hitting .245.  No let up in sight for Davis and his power surge.  While he has not been Lucas Duda the last month, he has been Albert Pujols which is quite impressive in its own right. 

J.D. Martinez:  2/4 with his 29th HR while hitting .288.  Turns out there were no injury worries here as Martinez went right back into the lineup after his Saturday scare and did what he does best.  That means hit home runs as he closes in on his first 30-bomb campaign.  With two months to go might I add.

Ben Zobrist:  1/3 with his 9th HR while hitting .272.  Third home run in the last week for Zobrist, all with his new team in K.C.  Typical new home burst here but Zobrist is also 100 percent healthy for one of the only times this season so that is part of the deal as well. 

Chris Colabello:  1/3 with his 10th HR while hitting .315.  Lost amid all of the powerful sluggers in the Toronto lineup is the very solid value season put forth by this guy.  While the home runs have not gone out at a high clip, Colabello seemingly has had two hits in almost every game he has started.  Basically the free agent version of Eric Hosmer. 

R.A. Dickey:  7 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.06.  The knuckler has been doing its thing over the last month as Dickey has dramatically lowered his ratios and is looking like he is having a pretty nice season.  Could pitch to 50 with that arsenal but I can't find any comfort in owning Dickey in any one start at any point in the season despite the recent good run.

Adeiny Hechavarria:  2/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .279.  Hechevarria is pretty much an empty average but shortstop is so pathetic this season that anyone who can bat around .280 has some value.  Ridiculous. 

Jose Fernandez:  6 IP 4 H 0 ER 2 BB 10 K with an ERA of 2.13.  Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Chris Sale, Max Scherzer......Jose Fernandez.  Yup they all go together. 

James Shields:  6 IP 5 H 2 ER 2 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.74.  No one wanted any part of the declining Shields and his three remaining years on his contract.  The Padres better hope they get solid but not great outings like this or the next three years are going to be Justin Verlander painful.  I also like to refresh your memories that at this time last season, I wrote a Crisis Point on Shields in saying he could be 2015's version of Verlander or C.C. Sabbathia due to the leaking velocity and arm going shot after such heavy usage in his career.  While he has not been that bad, the trends are still pointing in that direction. 

Neil Walker:  1/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .272. Walker should finish with around 15 home runs.  Which is pretty much around his total  for every season of his career, no matter how meandering the route to get there. 

Charlie Morton:  7 IP 5 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.19.  Morton has had his moments but SP 5 in non-innings capped leagues is his locked-in status. 

Jace Peterson:  3/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .245.  Boy had Peterson seen his average plummet which ruined pretty much any usage he might have had.  If Peterson is not stealing 25 bases, you can't stomach anything under a .260 batting average. 

Julio Teheran:  7 IP 8 H 2 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.59.  Just a horrendous season from Teheran that even a decent enough start like this looks fantastic by his awful standards in 2015. 

Randal Grichuk:  2/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .288.  With Matt Holliday on the DL for maybe then rest of the season and John Jay not a factor, Grichuk should start the rest of the way.  Reminds me of Mike Morse a few years ago before he became a washed up veteran in his ability to hit for power and bat for a good average. 

Jaime Garcia:  5 IP 2 H 1 ER 4 BB 4 K with an ERA of 1.98.  It is very simple with Garcia really:  when he is healthy, he pitches very well.  Yes you pick him up like you always do when he comes off the DL and hope he lasts three weeks.

Yohan Flande:  5 IP 4 H 2 ER 0 BB 3 K with an ERA of 3.67.  Flade has pitched well in both of his starts since moving into the rotation but he can't go more than 5 innings due to how long he has been in the bullpen previously.  A classic stopgap guy, Flande shouldn't be owned in even NL-only formats. 

Josh Hamilton:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .245.  When Hamilton got dealt back to Texas, I told you to feel free and pick him up as there was pure magic when the slugger resides there.  Of course this is a more striped down version of Hamilton but the ballpark has not changed since he first left. 

Mike Leake:  6.1 IP 8 H 2 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.52.  Leake's WHIP is 1.17 and his ERA should lower now that he traded Cincy's ballpark for San Fran's.  While you always want more strikeouts from the guy, Leake is as good an SP 5 as there is. 

Martin Perez:  8.1 IP 2 H 1 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 6.64.  Baseball is a funny game.  You have a guy here in Perez who went from throwing one of the worst starts in all of baseball to one of the better ones.  I don't trust him despite some glimpses of decent ability in the past.  Maybe in the NL that thought would change but in Texas no thank you. 

Evan Gattis:  1/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .247.  Enjoy Gattis now as no one will want him a year from now when he no longer carries catcher eligibility.  That's how it goes right Mike Napoli? 

Colin McHugh:  7 IP 8 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.27.  Very rough season at times for McHugh who is showing that 2014 was an outlier compared to his career rates.  Even when he keeps the runs down, McHugh is putting a lot of guys on base which stresses your WHIP number.  Back to firm SP 5 status. 

Jacoby Ellsbury:  1/3 with his 4th HR while hitting .283.  So I am not firmly ready to state that I will never own Ellsbury again and I was someone who dealt him before he went on the DL and was at his highest value this season.  Past the age of 30 and with stolen base numbers sliding, not to mention non-existent power, Ellsbury is not worth the headache when you consider how often he gets injured.  It was a fun but sometimes frustrating ride but I am off this fantasy baseball train. 

Mark Teixeira:  1/4 with his 29th HR while hitting .266.  This is almost hard to fathom now with Teixeira considering how miserable he has been the last few seasons.  We can't chalk with renaissance completely up to good health but either way Texeira can be a firm contender for MVP the way this is going. 

Alexei Ramirez:  1/3 with his 7th HR while hitting .237.  Maybe one last gasp from Ramirez before he fades into the fantasy baseball sunset.  A bit disappointing career-wise but Ramirez was a useful player the last 7 years or so. 

Jeff Samardzjia:  9 ER in 4.2 IP with an ERA of 4.35.  This is Samardzjia mentally shutting it down after he surely was disappointed in not being dealt away at the deadline.  Surely the White Sox team brass is feeling that same sense of being letdown in not dealing him away after seeing this. 

Addison Russell:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .237.  You wonder how much more of an impact Russell would have had if he were batting at the top of the lineup where he belongs.  Either way I am very high on this kid and think 2016 will be very interesting. 

Nelson Cruz:  2/5 with his 29th HR while hitting .317.  The average has ventured up north again as Cruz is on a recent surge.  Even if the season ended today, you would be thrilled as a Cruz owner for what he has done to this point in Safeco Field. 

Brian Dozier:  1/4 with his 23rd HR while hitting .253.  Hold that .250 bro. 

Hisashi Iwakuma:  8.2 IP 3 H 1 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 4.47.  Clearly the guy is not done as Iwakuma has been terrific in almost every start since coming off the DL.  There are always sneaky strikeouts here and solid ratios all around. 

Mike Pelfrey:  8 IP 4 H 0 ER 1 BB 3 K with an ERA of 3.65.  The ultimate 2015 smoke and mirrors king. 

Lucas Duda:  2/4 with his 21st HR while hitting .249.  This can't be real.  Duda now has slammed 9 home runs in his last 8 games in redefining the phrase "locked-in."  So much for Duda not hitting 30 home runs this season.  The baseball looks like a beach ball now to Duda and it is a special thing to see. 

Curtis Granderson:  1/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .254.  Granderson put the Mets on his back even before Duda's hot stretch and is really having a fine season.  If you can firmly put his Yankee years out of your mind, you can more see how good of a year Granderson is having in hitting home runs at a very consistent rate. 

Daniel Muprhy:  2/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .269.  It has been too much of an empty average from Murphy this season as he seems like he has given up on the stolen bases after a two-year burst. 

Anthony Rendon:  3/4 with his first HR while hitting .286. Anthony Rendon's first home run came on August 2nd.  How about making that statement back in March? 

Yunel Escobar:  1/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .314.  Seems like every time I see Escobar, he is hitting ropes all over the place.  Basically he is doing what many thought Starlin Castro would do this season.

Noah Syndegaard:  8 IP 7 H 2 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.66.  The righthanded Randy Johnson continues to take no prisoners after I drooled everywhere while writing a piece on him a few days ago.  If we were doing a draft of Mets starting pitchers, this guy should hear his name first. 


Sunday, August 2, 2015


One of the bigger busts of 2014 fantasy football was Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington.  Head coach Bruce Arians had suggested last year at this same time that Ellington would dominate touches out of the Arizona backfield despite his very slight frame.  Anyone who had any clue however knew there was no way Ellington would hold up physically and that is exactly what happened as he ended the year on IR.  Still that didn't top Arians from saying publicly Sunday that he envisions Ellington getting around 20 "touches" per game but made it a point in saying that would include both running and receiving the football.  Simply put, Ellington is not able to carry the football more than 10-12 times per game or else he will get injured.  However pass receptions are a different story and it sounds like the plan is to get Ellington open in space where he can be a weapon with his breakneck speed.  Ellington has enough value in PPR to carve out a niche as a RB 2 but in standard he can be avoided as he won't likely get goal-line work or do enough running to move the fantasy football needle.

-Matt Cassell is expected to win the QB "battle" in Buffalo which is not saying much about E.J. Manuel since all reports out there during the offseason have pointed out how badly Cassell has performed.  Be that as it may, Cassel won't make the amount of mistakes Manuel will but either way any Bills receiver is going to be adversely effected.  That means Percy Harvin and especially Sammy Watkins will be hurt severely due to the inadequacies of their passer.  Watkins could maybe do enough to be a WR 3 due to his insane athletic ability but Harvin is nothing but a gimmick player. 

-There was a report out of Dallas that the RB setup would have Joseph Randle leading the way with an average of 15 carries per game, while Darren McFadden would get about 10, followed by Lance Dunbar with 5.  Of course McFadden can't stay healthy and is already on PUP so this is kind of a foolish report.  Randle is clearly the guy to own in Dallas and with their mammoth offensive line, I can see him being a very good RB 2 in standard league formats. 

-It was surprising to hear Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger say that Marcus Wheaton and not Martavis Bryant would be the team's number 2 wideout this season and be in line for a breakout campaign.  Bryant's elbow trouble has inhibited his progress no doubt but his ADP looks a bit high when you digest this report. 

-Sam Bradford has been fully cleared to take part in all training camp activities for the Philadelphia Eagles and his very good sleeper value rests solely on his health.  We have seen way too much firepower out of Chip Kelly's offense since he arrived with the Eagles and that means anyone under center is worth paying close attention to.  Bradford has a big arm that can make all the throws and finally has some weapons to throw to unlike his St. Louis Rams tenure.  I love his potential as far as playing but the health questions mean you have to be careful not to pay too much. 



By Michael Miller

With the July 31st trade deadline beyond us now, we saw some exciting moves that could change the landscape of your style leagues. With MLB using the “team staff” pitching style, the sellers also affected many teams at the deadline. We examine here what some of the big moves did for the value of position players and staffs as a whole.

Value Up

Ben Zobrist: Eligible at 2nd base, a position where value is hard to come by, along with shortstop and the outfield, Zobrist saw his value spike for owners with his trade to Kansas City. He goes from a plummeting A’s lineup in a pitcher’s park to a potent Royals lineup with plenty of offensive spark and most importantly are in a pennant race compared to the rebuilding A’s. And, please, use him at 2nd base unless you have Cano, Altuve, or Dozier on your team.

Carlos Gomez: He goes to a Houston team that is in the thick of a pennant race and features a balanced offense of speed and power. He should be motivated again, unlike his situation with a fading Brewers team. He will have more offensive assets once slugger George Springer comes back from a wrist injury as well. Springer, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Evan Gattis, among others, have revitalized the Astros before anyone expected. The strong offense here that is an upgrade over what Gomez had in Milwaukee and should boost his numbers for his fantasy owners.

Ben Revere: He goes to a contending Toronto team that is clearly all in this year with the acquisitions of Troy Tulowitzki and David Price. In trading Jose Reyes, the Jays seemed to lack the stolen base element to balance their lineup. Revere covers that hole and re-balances a lineup that was solely power based for a few days. Already having a season in which he was started in some twelve team leagues, Revere greatly overachieved in a next to nothing Philadelphia lineup (Maikel Franco aside) that is arguably the worst team in baseball. The change in home field from Citizens Bank Park (every hitter’s dream) to Rogers Centre is a non issue here, as Revere has nearly non-existent power anyway. In fact, the larger venue could see Revere turn some singles into doubles and doubles into triples. If Revere is a free agent in your league, look into potentially picking him up with the change of scenery, as he could be a difference maker down the stretch.

Cubs: The staff should see a jump in their points with the aggressive moves by Theo Epstein at the deadline. This team had already jumped up the overall rankings in the past weeks and they should continue to climb now. Epstein acquired starter Dan Haren, and Baltimore reliever Tommy Hunter on deadline day. They briefly kicked the tires on Padres closer Craig Kimbrel, which would have been an enormous grab, but those talks fell through. Still, the Cubs now look to be a respectful playoff staff with Haren, ace Jon Lester, and Jason Hammel, among others. Still, they are nowhere near the caliber of the Dodger or Nationals staff, but owners who already had them should be pleased.

Value Down

Yoenis Cespedes: This one was a tough call. The Cuban slugger goes from a Tigers team that rivaled the Blue Jays offense to a struggling Mets offense that heavily relies on their dynamic starting pitching. Typically going from a seller to a buyer would up his value, but I still feel Cespedes loses value here in a weak Mets lineup. New York certainly did enough to convince their fans they’re all in by acquiring Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson, but these are hardly moves that compare to the potent Tigers offense. Cespedes already benefited from Ian Kinsler, J.D. Martinez, and Victor Martinez in Detroit, and he showed he was hardly affected by Miggy being out of the lineup. Between getting Miggy back later this month had he stayed in Detroit and a Mets team that is still looking to ride their starting pitching into the playoffs, he loses fantasy value by being dealt here.

Tigers: What happened to the Detroit staff from 2014 to 2015? Last year they were one of the most sought after staffs to have in the league behind Los Angeles (NL) and Washington, but the loss of Max Scherzer clearly knocked them down a tier. Still, they were respectable enough to be drafted in most leagues this year. However, being sellers at the deadline should see them popping up in free agency frequently now. Trading ace David Price and closer Joakim Soria (along with Cespedes on the offensive side) clearly shows Dave Dombrowski has waived the white flag. It could have, and probably would have been, much different had Miguel Cabrera not gone down with injury a few weeks ago. Detroit is the staff that takes the biggest hit at this year’s deadline. One of the many frustrations of style fantasy play.

Remains to Be Seen

Troy Tulowitzki: The new Blue Jays shortstop is an interesting case in a trade made by Toronto that was a bit of a head scratcher. Tulo, who during his time hit over 40 points higher at his home Coors Field as opposed to the road, goes from the most hitter friendly park in baseball park in the big leagues to another offensively minded, but more notably offensive powerhouse in Toronto. If he stays healthy, I think the trade ups his value despite leaving Colorado, due to the All Star studded lineup in Bautista, Donaldson, and Encarnacion, among others. The question is: Can he stay healthy long-term on the Toronto turf that has plagued so many players in the past? The man he takes over for, Jose Reyes, comes to mind immediately. Tulo has always had trouble staying healthy to begin with, let alone now an uncertain surface. Time will tell. Tulo is certainly more of a risk now than ever before, but could have a higher ceiling now than ever as well.

Jose Reyes: The man traded for Tulo, Reyes, takes over for the old face of the franchise in Colorado. Reyes gets himself off the hard turf in Toronto and into Coors field, where the Rockies still possess a potent offense despite Tulo being shipped north of the border. The question is if Reyes will stay motivated now that he is not in a pennant race. At this point in the year, any type of injury he may occur could have the Rockies shut him down and air on the side of caution. Reyes should see his power go up slightly at Coors Field, but now does not have the big Blue Jay boppers behind him in the lineup that he previously had the luxury of. I see Reyes as the more likely candidate to lose value than Tulo, but both are risks that I would hold my breath on until the season is over.

Questions? Comments? Feel free to give me a follow and fire away at me on Twitter @mike_miller_7


At this late stage of the fantasy baseball season, 90 percent of the top pitching and hitting prospects who were deemed ready for the major leagues have already made their way onto major league rosters.  Still during the late summer, some guys who slipped through the cracks earlier wind up making it to the big leagues due to injury, trades, or poor performance by another starter.  Such is the scenario surrounding the New York Yankees promoting their number 1 pitching prospect Luis Severino Saturday in order to take the place of the injured Michael Pineda in the team's rotation.  With Pineda likely on the DL for a month due to suffering a forearm sprain, Severino has a chance to stick in the rotation and continue on with his big performance in the minors this season.  Let's take a deeper look at Severino and find out if he can be of help to his new fantasy baseball owners.

At only 21-years-old, Severino is very young for a prospect to make his debut and truth be told the Yankees ideally wanted him to debut in 2016 due to his youth.  However with the Yanks trying to nail down the AL East and with Pineda injured, they had no choice but to make the move to bring up Severino.  Heading into his initial run with the Yanks, Severino has pitched to the following numbers on the farm this season:

Double-A:  2-2 3.32 ERA 11.37 K/9 IP .316 BABIP
Triple-A:  7-0 1.19 ERA 7.34 K/9 IP .237 BABIP

In looking at the numbers, one can see why the Yanks are so high on Severino in the first place.  Blessed with a four-pitch arsenal highlighted by a fastball that routinely touches between 95-97, Severino can strike you out or induce weak grounders.  The K rate fell off sharply at Triple-A but Severino also had a much lower ERA.  A .237 BABIP at Triple-A did show that Severino as a bit lucky but his FIP was still a very nice 2.53.  Either way Severino looks very polished already and that is shown even outside of the strikeouts and ERA's.  For one, Severino has yet to give up a home run at Triple-A in 61.1 innings which his a crucial skill at Yankee Stadium.  Also, Severino doesn't walk a bunch of guys either as his 2.49 BB/9 attests.  No matter how you slice it, Severino is worth adding in all formats in order to see where this goes.  While I wouldn't start him right away outside of AL-only formats, I do think he will be a nice help you can use at some point once we get a read on if he is ready.  You can never know that for sure of course which such a young kid but Severino has been a success no matter what level he is pitching at.  When it comes to track record, the kid has shown he can an impact pitcher. 


Saturday, August 1, 2015


Newly acquired New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has to being to wonder if he will ever get a chance to play a full season in an offensive park.  After beginning his career in Oakland at spacious O.Co Coliseum, Cespedes had his golden chance after being dealt to the Boston Red Sox and their offensive haven that is Fenway Park at the trade deadline in 2014.  However Cespedes threw that opportunity away due to reportedly being a major clubhouse disturbance.  That led the Red Sox to deal Cespedes back into a prime pitcher's park during the offseason, this time to Comerica Park in Detroit with the Tigers.  And finally with the Tigers out of the playoff race as the July 31 trade deadline approached, they dealt Cespedes to the New York Mets on Friday where he goes to one of the best pitcher's parks in the game.  Be that as it may, Cespedes has had his best season in 2015 since he was a rookie with the A's and he takes the following numbers to his new home with the Mets:

18 HR
61 RBI
62 R
3 SB

Despite the tough ballpark in Detroit, Cespedes big-time natural power still has allowed him to hit for very good power with the 18 homers and his runs and RBI are very solid totals at this point of the season as well.  The most impressive part about Cespedes' season is the fact he is hitting for his highest average at .293 since he hit .292 as a rookie in 2012.  Cespedes had become a major average liability over the last few seasons due to his astronomical K rate, putting up a .240 mark in 2013, followed by a .256 mark with Oakland and a .269 mark with Boston in 2014.  Finally, you can forget about stolen bases as that has not been a part of his game since he was a rookie.

No matter where Cespedes plays, he will hit for good power and contribute in four out of the five categories in a standard league which uses ROTO scoring.  While we again would love to see wha ta full season out of Cespedes would bring in an offensive park, for now we will settle for this top outfielder 2/borderline 1 bat doing his thing at Citi Field. 



Another day at NFL training camps brings another day of fantasy football-worthy news.  Let's get right to it.

-New York Giants WR Victor Cruz has been his draft ADP slide dramatically this season due to the uncertainty over his knee after it was surgically repaired following that gruesome patella injury suffered against the Philadelphia Eagles a year ago.  However Cruz spoke optimistically all offseason regarding the knee, saying that he would be 100 percent ready to go for the opener. Well Cruz is right on schedule as he was not placed on the PUP list which is a huge statement about how the knee is doing.  Cruz also was able to complete the requisite conditioning test to start camp which again speaks volumes about how he is feeling physically.  Thus at this point Cruz will be good to go for Week 1 and thus has the chance to be a significant fantasy football value is the knee injury didn't rob him of his speed.  A big play and crafty receiver who bordered on WR 1 status from 2011 through the start of 2014, Cruz can put up some big numbers out of the slot for the Giants and he and Eli Manning have a terrific chemistry.  Again there is concern about the stability of the knee long-term and if Cruz lost some speed but his very affordable draft price makes him a nice hedge play.

-The Dallas Cowboys will remain a run-dominant offense according to offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.  This despite the fact star running back DeMarco Murray is now in Philadelphia.  However Linehan was adamant that the offense will run through the team's biggest strength which is the offensive line and that means Joseph Randle could become a significant piece in fantasy football terms.  Randle is a standard play all the way due to the fact he doesn't catch the football but in that format he could be very solid. 

-Fractured ribs will knock out New York Jets rookie deep threat Devin Smith for the rest of training camp.  The lack of reps will really hurt Smith but he was fourth on the depth chart anyways behind Eric Decker, Brandon Marshall, and Jeremy Kerley.  Nothing to see here.

-Amir Abdullah is looking more and more like he could be the biggest rookie running back contributor this season behind only Melvin Gordon as Joique Bell is still not ready to come off the PUP list and head coach Jim Caldwell was not very expansive on when that will occur.  Bell has had quite a few lower-body surgeries over the years and he is older than you think at 29.  As a result, Bell has to be downgraded quite a bit in fantasy football terms, to maybe even a RB 3.  The flip side is that Abdullah moves up to a RB 2 in all formats and he has an all-around game that could be very impressive. 

-Dorial Green-Beckham was a character issue receiver coming out of the draft and already he is earning the wrath of the Tennessee Titans coaching staff by reportedly showing up to camp at a ridiculous 246 pounds.  This after Green-Beckham missed all of the offseason program with a hamstring injury.  While Green-Beckham is an athletic freak, he won't do much of anything as a rookie if this keeps up.

-Tampa Bay Buc's head coach Lovie Smith confirmed that rookie QB Jameis Winston will start in Week 1.  Winston has impressed during the offseason workouts and early in camp and has a nice array of receiving help in Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.  However relying on rookie QB's outside of two passer formats is never a good idea. 

-It was Isaiah Crowell's turn to go with the first team on Friday as the Cleveland Browns continue to involved everyone in the running back game plan.  Still no word on who will start among Crowell, Terrance West, and Duke Johnson but this is a setup that is totally not worth investigating by any means this season. 

-Matt Cassell ran with the first team on Friday under center but there has to be injuries to every single starting quarterback in football for you to look in this direction this season. 



The New York Mets are clearly the envy of Major League Baseball when it comes to the awesome quality of their young power pitching.  Not only do the Mets have Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom, and the injured Zach Wheeler already making hay in the majors, they were reinforced by the next wave in 2015 led by Noah Syndegaard and later Steven Matz.  While Matz is on the disabled list after two terrific starts to begin his career, Syndegaard is absolutely lighting up the leagues with a fastball that right now ranks number 1 in the game in average velocity at a shade under 98.  Not that is not a misprint as Syndegaard is the total package in terms of power and strikeout ability, which he showed Tuesday night in taking a perfect game into seventh inning and ending up with 8 scoreless frames while giving up only 3 hits and no walks and striking out 9.  The main piece that came over to the Mets from Toronto in the R.A. Dickey deal, Syndegaard looks primed to become a top ten fantasy baseball pitcher right out of the gate in 2016 and be a tremendous difference-maker the rest of this season.

Overall through 14 starts with the Mets in his 2015 rookie campaign, Syndegaard has compiled the following statistics:

2.70 ERA
1.07 WHIP
91 K in 86.2 IP

These are overpowering numbers from Syndegaard and at only 22-going-on-23, the kid still has a few seasons to go before he reaches his prime.  That is a scary proposition for opposing hitters as Syndegaard is definition of an overpowering pitcher and the strikeouts will be over the 200 mark real soon when he gets to the point where innings limits won't be any longer an issue.  In digging through the numbers so far, Syndegaard is rocking a stellar 9.45 K/9 IP and also has quickly proven to be one of the toughest pitchers to hit against as he has given up only 73 hits in those 86.2 IP.  Just as impressive is the terrific 2.08 BB/9 IP that Syndegaard has accumulated thus far, which is rare control for a young power pitcher.  There was an original knock on Syndegaard regarding poor control when he was in the Toronto system and when he first came over to the Mets but that has not been the case outside of one start this season when he walked 5.  Otherwise Syndegaard has been a monster to handle for any hitter already.

When you put it all together, I am not going out on a limb in suggesting that Noah Syndegaard could very well emerge as a dominant fantasy baseball ace in 2016 and for many years into the future.  The kid is that good and that off-the-charts with his stuff.  He reminds me of a righthanded Randy Johnson which is high praise indeed.  Be sure to reserve a spot on your roster for Syndegaard for 2015 as he will be one of the best real soon.