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Friday, June 22, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: ELOY JIMENEZ OUTFIELDER CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Already front-and-center in the consciousness of the fantasy baseball prospect hounds, there was another rush of excitement when it came to Chicago White Sox 21-year-old outfield gem Eloy Jimenez as he was promoted to Triple-A Thursday.  That means Jimenez is just one tantalizing step away from reaching the major leagues where he is universally considered to be a major star-in-the-making given the vast talent he brings to the table.  Jimenez has certainly shown that talent this season at Double-A where he smacked 10 home runs, scored 36, drove in 42, and batted .317.  With Jimenez putting forth very good strikeout rates for a young hitter (17.1 K/9) and drawing enough walks to help further with the average (7.9 BB/9), the kid looks ready NOW to be a help both to the White Sox and his fantasy baseball owners.  As far as the potential timeline for when he could debut, it is likely we are looking at an August 1st scenario like with what the New York Mets did with their top shortstop prospect Amed Rosario a year ago.  The White Sox will likely be dumping a lot of player at or before the July 31 trade deadline and that alone should open up a spot for Jimenez.  Add in the fact the Washington Nationals are already getting a major boost from 19-year-old outfielder Juan Soto and there should be no hesitation for the White Sox to give him a look at some point.  All in all, Jimenez should be owned in all competitive fantasy baseball leagues and held as long as it gets for his arrival which hopefully will be soon enough.


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

Kyle Seager:  2/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .228.  There is hope here in terms of the average as Seager has made a career out of upping his offensive numbers as the season goes on but even .270 could be to achieve at this juncture.

Miguel Andujar:  1/3 with his 10th HR while hitting .290.  Do yourself a favor and check out the uncanny smooth swing Andujar has which is doubly impressive given his age. 

Aaron Judge:  1/3 with his 19th HR while hitting .281.  With average not holding Judge back to this point, it is now obvious it was he and not Giancarlo Stanton who should have gone first among the Yankees outfielders in Round 1 of drafts this past March.

Luis Severino:  5.2 IP 8 H 3 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.24.  Severino was ragged but has been otherwise dominant all season.  I will be watching closely though to see if fatigue becomes an issue in August with back-to-back heavy workloads at a young age.

Todd Frazier:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .225.  This was a crucial season for Frazier to how that he had not completely fallen into the all-or-nothing slugger he looked like a year ago.  Failure on that front. 

Nolan Arenado:  2/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .317.  Always a thing of beauty to see a top slugger combine that with such a lofty average. 

Steven Matz:  5 ER in 5.2 IP with an ERA of 3.68.  Given that Mets pitchers get no support and that this was in Coors Field, shame on any Matz owners who started him. 

Mookie Betts:  3/6 with his 19th HR while hitting .344.  You can stare at the beauty that is Betts' offensive numbers this season for hours and never grow tired of it.

Andrew Benintendi:  2/6 with his 13th HR while hitting .292.  I want Benintendi on all of my teams next season and the season after that as well. 

Rick Porcello:  7 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.44.  I got to stop hating on this guy. 

Matt Harvey:  6 IP 5 H 2 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 5.66.  It's over.  Move on. 

Mark Trumbo:  1/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .262.  Give me your password so I can pick up Trumbo for you.  It feels like all 6 of his home runs have come in the last week. 

Anthony Rendon:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .282.  Starting to earn a Justin Upton at third base reputation in terms of wild swings of production but I think Rendon is in line for a huge second half.

Max Scherzer:  7 IP 5 H 2 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.09.  It is a major accomplishment for a team to get two earned runs off of this guy. 

Matt Carpenter:  1/3 with his 13th HR while hitting .238.  Few are hotter in MLB right now in terms of the home run swing.

Domingo Santana:  0/2 while hitting .249.  Dust off Santana as a hamstring issue for Lorenzo Cain could open up daily chances to play for a bit. 

Carlos Martinez:  5 ER in 4 IP with an ERA of 3.24. This is why I can't stand Martinez.  Everyone got on me for hating on Martinez when he was absolutely dealing early on in the season but as they say, the season is a marathon and not a spring.  This applies to numbers and issues for a given player as well and in terms of Martinez, he always finds trouble along the way in terms of getting hurt and having his supposed ace ERA shoot up into the mid-3.00 range.  This is not an ace pitcher folks.

Madison Bumgarner:  8 IP 3 H 0 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.20.  Nice to see this from Bumgarner after the injuries and early inconsistency off the DL.  Yes it was the Padres but Bumgarner had bite and movement on his stuff he hasn't had yet this season. 




Thursday, June 21, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: MICHAEL WACHA SP ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Anyone who has been a religious follower of this space over the last few seasons would know I have no love for St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha.  While I was originally a big fan of Wacha when he first came up as a top prospect for the team and through his excellent initial foray into the majors, the giant red flag that is shoulder trouble for a pitcher showed up for the guy in late 2015.  I know for myself personally, any pitcher who comes down with shoulder trouble at a young age becomes persona non grata to me as I watched similarly skilled guys like Josh Johnson and the late Tommy Hanson have their careers ruined through the same ailment.  It certainly did look like Wacha was headed down the same path as he pitched to a horrid 5.09 ERA in 2016 and then a 4.13 mark a year ago.  With that said, Wacha began the 2018 season on a nice run and he took that into May and June as well as shown by the following numbers:

3.20 ERA
1.23 WHIP
7.58 K/9
3.84 BB/9
0.96 HR/9
.249 BABIP

On the surface the numbers look nice and tidy but my criticism of Wacha extends into this season as well due to the fact the under-the-hood indicators are not very positive.  For one thing, Wacha has pitched worse than his surface numbers show as his .249 BABIP is very lucky and when adjusted, it comes out to a FIP of .4.15 and XFIP of 4.04.  Wacha's strikeouts are also down sharply as his 8.58 mark a year ago dipped to 7.58 this season.  Add in some trouble with walks and it is likely Wacha would have faced some deep regression if he did not hit the DL Thursday with a strained oblique.  It is likely Wacha will be out 2-3 weeks due to the fickle injury but at least we are not talking about a shoulder here.  Be that as it may, try selling high on Wacha when he does return. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STTAUS REPORT: ODUBEL HERRERA OUTFIELDER PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Since the Philadelphia Phillies are off on Thursday, that is the only way these days to guarantee that outfielder Odubel Herrera won't hit a home run.  A day off certainly comes at an unwanted time for Herrera whose home runs Wednesday marked the fourth straight game he went yard and continued what has been a tremendous full breakout campaign in 2018.  I say full breakout due to the fact Herrera has been a useful OF 3 the last few seasons leading into 2018 but his big power uptick the last two-plus months have really thrust his value into the stratosphere in the fantasy baseball world.  In terms of the overall numbers, Herrera goes into his day off on Thursday with the following:

.299
12 HR
41 RBI
35 R
3 SB
19.5 K/9
7.1 BB/9
.342 BABIP

Keep in mind that Herrera at the age of 26 is just now reaching his prime and the power uptick that has come with it this season is not uncommon by any means.  As a result, there is no reason to suggest Herrera's power is anything but legit and he will pass his previous high in home runs (15) by next week at this rate.  Instead, let's look at the rest of the numbers package to assess value and on that front, there are positives elsewhere as well.  For one thing, Herrera has improved his plate approach this season by being more willing to take walks (BB/9 of 7.1 is up from 5.5 in 2017) and his strikeouts are down as well (19.5 K/9 this season, 22.4 the year prior).  That has helped boost the average some but truth be told, Herrera has always been a stable plus there in hitting .280 or better for each of his MLB seasons.  About the only knock if you will are the three steals as Herrera has very good speed and stole 25 as recently as 2016.  Like we have seen in sort of a weird trend of late, guys who come into the league stealing bases often drop that skill quickly (George Springer, Joc Pederson) and Herrera seems to be part of that group.  Yes, that is a bummer but the overall picture is terrific here and cements Herrera as a low-end OF 1 for 2018 fantasy baseball.  Enjoy the career season for those who bought low this spring in the draft. 




2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

Jeimer Candelario:  2/3 with his 11th HR while hitting .252.  While Candelario has more or less cemented his starting standing in just AL-only leagues, he has had a good breakout campaign to earn plaudits from the fantasy baseball community.

Scooter Gennett:  1/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .336.  What is funny here is that Gennett is putting up the holy grail combination of batting title average and big power but at second base when no one gave him a chance to replicate his power from a year ago. 

Eugenio Suarez:  1/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .295.  Yes, the Cincinnati Reds are in full rebuild but they need to hold onto this third base gem.

Michael Fulmer:  5.2 IP 5 H 3 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 4.17.  The K's will flow like this once out of every 7 or 8 starts from Fulmer so take what you can get there.

Tyler Mahle:  6 IP 5 H 2 ER 4 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.89.  It will only be so long for Mahle to hold off his 1.38 WHIP and the expected damage that will come to his ERA. 

Kyle Schwarber:  1/3 with his 14th HR while hitting .243.  Schwarber is that classic kind of all-or-nothing slugger that when you see he homered in a given game, you 9 times out of 10 guess correctly it was his only hit of the game.

Ross Stripling:  6 IP 8 H 3 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 1.99.  Even without his best stuff in this one, Stripling still struck out more batters than innings pitched.  And that ERA my goodness. 

Jon Lester:  7 IP 5 H 0 ER 3 BB 1 K with an ERA of 2.10.  I admit I have been completely wrong about Lester but I will also say that let's see how things look at the end of the season as the mileage on his arm will not be able to sustain a heavy workload into the fall like he always did previously.  Also, the K's are leaking in another sign of age. 

Kurt Suzuki:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .281.  I have owned Suzuki in one of my two competitive leagues all season and won't stop now. 

Kendrys Morales:  2/3 with his sixth HR while hitting .232. When you can't hit in Toronto, the fantasy baseball curtains are closing. 

J.A. Happ:  8.1 IP 6 H 4 ER 0 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.56.  Happ hung around a bit too long as the Braves got to him a bit in the ninth which is so annoying if you are his owner but the 1.01 WHIP and tidy ERA are not getting enough credit considering the division. 

Yadier Molina:  2/3 with 2 home runs (9 for season) while hitting .273.  Admit it.  Your are a guy who avoids Molina in recent years in thinking each time THIS is the year he falls off the statistical cliff. 

Odubel Herrera:  3/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .299.  I guess I should just write a general blub that talks about Herrera homering and just update the tallies each day in the WRAPUP.  Nothing is getting past Herrera at this juncture and a separate piece is on its way. 

Jake Arrieta:  6 IP 4 H 3 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.42.  Getting closer to where I said Arrieta would have an ERA over 3.75 by the end of the season. 

Jed Lowrie:  2/5 with his 11th HR while hitting .285.  The average has come down like I said it would in mid-May but Lowrie is holding steady with the power which keeps him a daily league guy for the time being. 

Matt Olson:  2/3 with his 15th HR while hitting .237.  Standard Kyle Schwarber operating procedure. 

Mark Canha:  1/5 with his 9th HR while hitting .250.  Given the good power and ugly average, Canha is made for this Oakland A's team. 

Christian Villanueva:  2/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .228.  Well it took until July 20th but this is the version of Villanueva I said you would see eventually once opposing starters began to figure him out. 

Joey Luchessi:  1.2 IP 3 H 4 ER 2 BB 3 K with an ERA of 3.86.  It is always very tough for a rookie pitcher to jump back into it off the DL and so give Luchessi a mulligan with this. 

Jose Ramirez:  1/2 with his 22nd HR while hitting .291.  I mean this is getting simply ridiculous right now. 

Corey Kluber:  7 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.10.  This guy is so consistently good it is scary. 

Giancarlo Stanton:  2/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .255.  K/9 still at 31.6 but power showing much more like the norms Stanton has previously set.

Gary Sanchez:  2/3 with his 14th HR while hitting .197.  Yeah nobody saw this turning into J.P. Arencibia or Mike Zunino.

Mark Trumbo:  1/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .262.  I picked him up two weeks ago.  So should you have.

Jose Altuve:  3/4 with 2 home runs (7 for season) while hitting .347.  So much for the power of 2016-17 not being there. 

George Springer:  1/3 with his 15th HR while hitting .279.  While it is a yearly bummer Springer doesn't run in the majors like he did in the minors, he still reached OF 1 status relatively quick.

Alex Bregman:  1/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .268.  Been expecting the numbers to explode for a while now but here we are.  Bregman does though seem to be the new Mark Teixeira slow starter who requires patience to own early on when we are all 100 percent into our leagues. 

Charlie Morton:  6 IP 2 H 0 ER 4 BB 4 K with an ERA of 2.74.  There really has been no letdown here since the insane April which adds to the lore of one of the more improbably post-30 revivals I have ever seen.

Rougned Odor:  2/3 with his second HR while hitting .226.  You get the sense the kid's career is at a crossroads already. 

Mike Moustakas:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .263.  Moustakas better be careful not to let the average fall much further or else even the Royals won't want him back next winter. 

Jakob Junis:  3 ER in 6 IP with an ERA of 4.43.  Had been saying from the beginning of the season that Junis was playing with BABIP house money and that at some point he wouild regress to his true ability.  Sometimes that regression takes longer than anticipated but we are there. 



Wednesday, June 20, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: BRANDON MORROW (BACK) PLACED ON THE DL WEDNESDAY, PEDRO STROP OR STEVE CISHEK THE ADD

After playing with health house money for the first two-plus months of the 2018 fantasy baseball season, the career-long injury issues of Chicago Cubs closer Brandon Morrow reared their ugly heads when he was placed on the 10-day DL Wednesday with the balky back that has kept him out the last few days.  Prior to the injury, Morrow was absolutely fantastic in his first full season closing games as he logged an ERA of 1.59 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 25 K in 22.2 IP.  As a result of Morrow going on the DL, top setup man Pedro Strop would be the figurative add as he has been dominant himself with a 1.76 ERA but Steve Cishek has been very good himself with a 2.01 ERA and has much more experience closing games. Of course, Joe Maddon has been known to use committee's in the past during his Tampa Bay days so who knows where he will go with this. 


HERE IS THE POST BY CHEAT SHEET WAR ROOM WHERE OUR 2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT GUIDE WAS RANKED NUMBER 2 IN THE INDUSTRY

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: BRYCE HARPER OUTFIELDER WASHINGTON NATIONALS

$400 million?  $300 million?  No matter what the sum of the expected massive contract that pending Washington Nationals free agent Bryce Harper nets this winter, his 2018 numbers almost don't even matter given the still very young age and overall insane offensive ability here.  While Harper still has just one 30-home run season under his belt in 6 MLB campaigns, he remained locked in as a first-round pick in almost all fantasy baseball leagues this past spring given the brand and fresh memories of his still unfathomable 2015 campaign.  While there have been some issues we will get into, Harper generally has been terrific as he went into Tuesday's games with the following numbers:

.212
19 HR
43 RBI
41 R
6 SB
23.6 K/9
17.0 BB/9
.208

What obviously stands out here is the hideous batting average and it is almost hard to believe Harper would be capable of such a terrible number there.  But in another reminder of how random average can be, take a look at his .208 BABIP which is so incredibly unlucky that I can't remember that number ever going that low for someone this late in the season and who has good speed like Harper has.  As a result, I say you can give Harper almost a complete mulligan there and soon you should expect the hits to start falling in and the average taking a sharp turn upwards.  I mean Harper's average has fluctuated wildly the last three-plus seasons (twice going over .315 and twice going under .250 in that span) but the 17.0 BB.9 is as good as it gets and reinforces how that average can be tossed out into the fluke bin.

In terms of the rest of the numbers, Harper is on pace for over 40 home runs and his runs and RBI number are just fine.  Add in a few steals and Harper has hit the mark in four offensive categories.  So while we still don't know where Harper will end up in free agency, the bottom line is that he remains at the age of 25 as good as it gets in today's fantasy baseball and there are no signs of that changing anytime soon.


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: TUESDAY

Joc Pederson:  1/3 with his 9th HR in Game 1 while hitting .277.  Pederson is really impressing me so far with his 13.8 K/9 which is way down from 27.3 and 21.1 the last two seasons prior.  If that can be maintained, there is no telling where this can go considering the type of power Pederson has.  Should be owned everywhere.

Kenta Maeda:  3.2 IP 5 H 3 ER 5 BB 2 K with an ERA of 3.84.  Tough return for Maeda but the strikeouts continue to show up in massive numbers per inning and the advanced metrics still show ace-like skills.

Nelson Cruz:  1/3 with his 18th HR while hitting .250.  Cruz has been on a home run per every other game for awhile now as he marched toward another 40 in that category.  Since we already talked about the tough BABIP luck, it is pretty much standard Cruz.

Aaron Hicks:  3/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .256.  Bam!  Third straight game with a homer from Hicks and right before the stretch I said to remain patient with the guy who has the tremendous natural ability.  Throw in the fact Brian Cashman can't stop gushing about him and there was no way Hicks wasn't going to be given every chance to succeed.

Giancarlo Stanton:  1/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .252.  Nothing really new to add here that hasn't been mentioned here in terms of the insane amount of strikeouts depressing the overall offensive potential impact.

Glyeber Torres:  2/4 with his 14th HR while hitting. 291.  Torres with 30 homers right out of the gate as a rookie would be something else.

Miguel Andujar:  2/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .290.  I almost feel as though Andujar continues to unfairly get overshadowed by Torres but there is no denying the rookie third baseman has the skills to be a perennial top 12 guy at the position for awhile.

Domingo German:  7 IP 2 H 1 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 4.77.  The kid went through that rough patch soon after his promotion but has been money his last three times out with strikeouts everywhere.  Always proceed with extra caution with a rookie AL East hurler in terms of evaluating every matchup but pick him up if someone dropped him.

Trea Turner:  4/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .267.  Turner was batting sixth which is not really what his fantasy baseball owners want to see since that spot will cut down on his plate appearances and especially his running chances (big game notwithstanding).

Matt Carpenter:  2/5 with his 12th HR while hitting .239.  The home run binge continues on here for Carpenter who has that and the leadoff spot as two big feathers in his fantasy baseball cap going for him.

Tommy Pham:  2/5 with his 12th HR while hitting .272.  Carpenter looks so much more boring when compared to his teammate who has the same amount of homers but the much better average.

Odubel Herrera:  1/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .292.  Third straight game with a homer as that epic slump Herrera just recently endured is nothing but a memory.

Carlos Santana:  1/5 with his 12th HR while hitting .226.  It just never got better here once Santana started putting up nasty averages during his early Cleveland days when we all thought he was going to be a stud offensive catcher across the board.

Luke Weaver:  4 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 4.69.  I am surprised the Cardinals have let this go on as long as it has considering Weaver's youth.  Minor league tuneup needed.

Jesus Aguilar:  2/3 with his 14th HR while hitting .298.  Here is what is funny about Aguilar.  If you offered him around your league, no one would bite in thinking he is a fluke and will just cool off.  Well that cool off hasn't happened yet and he is up to 14 home runs with a near-.300 average. 

Starling Marte:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .280.  Marte looks exactly like the same player he was prior to his PED bust so why did he even go there?

Freddy Peralta:  6 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.30.  Another one of those young and wild pitchers who could be taking the Blake Snell path in 2019 to big prominence once the kinks are knocked out. 

Johan Camargo:  4/5 with his 7th HR while hitting .240.  Even in very deep mixers (talking 14 or more), Camargo is still pretty much waiver fodder.

Mike Clevinger:  7.2 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 10 K with an ERA of 3.00.  All you need to know here is that Clevinger's 2.91 BB/9 is down from 4.44 a year ago.  Everything else falls into place.

Joey Votto:  1/3 with his 7th HR while hitting .302.  The power is down but I refuse to consider any drop-off here just yet considering how Votto can get as hot as any hitter on the planet. 

Sal Romano:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 4 BB 6 K with an ERA of 5.18.  Great outing but let's move on to more pertinent stuff.

Kyle Schwarber:  1/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .241.  Yeah it is not .200 but Schwarber once again has not shown the ability to help anywhere but in homers. 

Rich Hill:  6 IP 3 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.99.  There is not a more volatile pitcher in all of fantasy baseball than the blister-plagued Hill and at his advanced age that makes taking a shot here even more of a fruitless endeavor. 

Mike Montgomery:  6 IP 5 H 1 ER 4 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.11.  Montgomery was wild but kept the runs to a minimum as he continues to serve as a stable SP 5. 

Rafael Devers:  2/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .243.  Ehhhh things are getting very shaky here.

Chris Sale:  7 IP 3 H 2 ER 1 BB 11 K with an ERA of 2.74.  What is interesting here is that Sale was once a huge Tommy John/injury risk but he has been incredibly durable the last few seasons.  This speaks to the argument that getting past your mid-20's as a young/hard-throwing pitcher greatly reduces the Tommy John chance as the muscles/joints stabilize to the workload.  The evidence is striking.

C.J. Cron:  1/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .237.  Cron keeps sliding further down the Rays lineup as the average takes a similar plunge.

Blake Snell:  7 IP 3 H 1 ER 7 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.48.  Wow the walks in this one were like dreaming about a past girlfriend that drove you crazy. 

Justin Verlander:  6.2 IP 6 H 1 ER 1 BB 10 K with an ERA of 1.60.  Throw Verlander into the Chris Sale point I made above. 

Cole Hamels:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 3 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.41.  The strikeout rate coming back was the key for Hamels becoming as decent fantasy baseball pitcher again but he has to try and get out of the AL to extend this run going into next season. 

Nolan Arenado:  3/5 with his 14th HR while hitting .311.  The rare top-notch hitter we don't ever have anything to say about given the ultra-consistent numbers.

Trevor Story:  2/5 with his 16th HR while hitting .271.  Now we are talking in terms of the average!

Ian Desmond:  2/5 with his 15th HR while hitting .214.  Not so much here!

Carlos Gonzalez:  2/5 with his 7th HR while hitting .272.  You almost want CarGo to just go away so the young Colorado outfield prospects can show what they can do on an daily basis. 

Paul Goldschmidt:  1/3 with his 16th HR while hitting .266.  Goldy has managed to get back to his first-round standing in literally like the last three weeks. 

Ian Kinsler:  1/3 with his 10th HR while hitting .225. Hanging on.