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Monday, May 2, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: MORE OF THE SAME FOR DEVIN MESORACO, THIS TIME A TORN LABRUM

After missing virtually all of the 2015 season with a hip injury that required surgery, there was hope that 2016 would be a strong rebound campaign for Cincinnati Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco.  A big spring training where Mesoraco flashed the top-end power he showed in his 2014 breakout returned and thus it was easy to write the bounce back value play feature during the exhibition season.  Alas Mesoraco began the year absolutely ice cold with the bat and then once the end of April arrived, soreness in his shoulder led to missed games.  Then it was revealed Monday that Mesoraco had a torn labrum in his left shoulder which sent him to the disabled list where he will likely stay for months and not weeks.  Alas we are back where we were at almost the same time frame as last season with Mesoraco facing another washout.  Cut him loose in all formats as there is simply no reason to continue chasing what looks like a 2014 mirage. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP NEWS: HEYWARD, GRICHUK, MESORACO, COZART ALL OUT MONDAY

With Monday being a light day on the fantasy baseball calendar, there are some sizable names that will be planted on the bench for the night's games.  Among those taking a seat Monday include:

-Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward
-Cards outfielder Randal Grichuk
-Reds shortstop Zach Cozart and catcher Devin Mesoraco.

All are routine days off except for Mesoraco who is continuing to deal with shoulder trouble.  This marks the second straight season of injury problems for Mesoraco who underwent hip surgery a year ago and his big 2014 is pretty much becoming a distant memory. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY NEWS: YU DARVISH TO PITCH ANOTHER REHAB GAME FRIDAY

Texas Rangers ace SP Yu Darvish will throw another rehab game on Friday as he moves closer to being activated from the disabled list.  Darvish continues to make steady progress in his return from last year's Tommy John elbow surgery and he was tremendous in his first rehab outing with two scoreless and hitless innings with two K's.  He is expected to come off the DL sometime in the last 1 days of May.

Analysis:  Great news all around here as Darvish on ability alone is a top ten fantasy baseball pitcher with pure strikeout stuff that is as good as anyone.  There are control issues like anyone coming back from Tommy John and this is especially true in Darvish's case since he gave up a lot of walks even before going under the knife.  Those who bought low on him this past drafting season are about to get handsomely rewarded. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: J.J. HARDY FOOT FRACTURE RE-JIGGERS BALTIMORE INFIELD

While he has almost zero fantasy baseball at this late stage of his career, the foot fracture that will put Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy on the shelf for the next 6-8 weeks has changed the look of the left side of the team's infield.  Specifically speaking, uber-talented Manny Machado will now likely shift from third base to shortstop where he played a bit at the end of last season which gave him the unbelievably valuable eligibility there.  Machado is gold no matter where he plays and already this season he is putting himself in Mike Trout-Bryce Harper territory with his five category superstar production.  Throw in his eligibility at the most shallow spot on the diamond at shortstop and Machado it came be argued is THE most valuable player in fantasy baseball.  In addition to Machado moving over, Pedro Alvarez will get dusted off and play on an every day basis at third base.  Previous to Hardy's injury, Alvarez was a semi-regular which added to the idea his career is already spiraling down when he should still be in his prime.  Dogged by constant high K rates that ruined his batting average and overshadowed some very impressive power, Alvarez now has some newfound value for those looking for a power boost. 

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: CODY ALLEN HEADING DANGER LIST

Another week gone by and more closer chaos as the fantasy baseball season moves into its second month.  Let's take a look at the latest news items in Closing Time.

-To say that Cleveland Indians closer Cody Allen has had a rough start to the season would be the epitome of an understatement.  Fresh off taking a loss in extra innings versus the Philadelphia Phillies where he gave up a home run to Ryan Howard, Allen's season ERA now stands at a ghastly 6.97 as the calendar flips to May.  Pretty much everything has gone wrong for Allen this season so far and only some extreme patience by Cleveland manager Terry Francona has kept him from making a change.  What is really disturbing with Allen is that his velocity is down a bit which has caused his K rate to fall drastically to a mediocre 7.84 K/9.  That is a massive drop from the 12.85 last season or the 11.76 in 2014.  In addition, Allen is fighting his control as his BB/9 is up to a horrendous 4.35.  Add it all up and Allen is a walking pitching disaster.  Now in searching for an excuse for Allen, he did have a terrible April last season but the difference was that he was still whiffing guys at a high rate.  As always now is a good time to look at possible replacements.  The name that stands out here is Zach McAllister who has yet to give up an earned run this season and who is coming off a 2015 campaign where he registered a 3.00 ERA and struck out a very high 80 batters in 69 innings pitched.  Now McAllister has his warts in terms of a career-long struggle with control which is not a good thing for a ninth inning pitcher but Francona can't keep watching Allen throw away games the way he has.  The Indians have plans to make the postseason and so it is more imperative Francoca put Allen on a short leash.  This right now is the biggest red flag closer spot in fantasy baseball.  Overall this is as bad as it gets. 

-It has been a nice turnaround for Detroit Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez since returning from a personal leave.  Rodriguez was hit very hard before the leave but has come back nicely with 3.1 scoreless innings and three saves.  Rodriguez is as crafty as they come among closers and age still can't be counted on yet in terms of him becoming a liability. 

-The short tenure of Andrew Miller picking up saves for the New York Yankees will end after another week as Aroldis Chapman gets set to return May 9th from suspension.  Chapman of course is the clear number one closer in the game and Miller will now go to setup where he has next to no value.  While you can hold Miller for his high K rate in innings-capped formats, he can also be easily cut loose. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SUNDAY

Chris Sale:  5.1 IP 5 H 1 ER 4 BB 6 K with an ERA of 1.66  Sale got the win but he struggled with his control.  Hey it happens to the best of them and Sale is the best of them.  No one talks about how utterly dominant Sale has been the last four years as he truly is a locked-in top five guy among all pitchers. 

Brett Lawrie:  3/3 with his fourth HR while hitting .290.  Lawrie is begging you to pick him up right now and I think I may do just that.  Ballpark has made all the difference.  Health also. 

Danny Espinosa:  1/4 with his second HR while hitting .188.  Espinosa is trying in vain to hold off Trea Turner but this is not going to do much to push that off past June 1. 

Max Scherzer:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.55.  The alarms would have blared if Scherzer struggled again in this one but he looked like his old top five ace self.  We can easily forget April as long as this continues into May and if so, Scherzer will answer in the affirmative that his high innings totals the last few years were not to blame for his early ugly outings. 

Buster Posey:  2/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .284.  Do you really think that Posey won't finish with 20-plus home runs and a .300 average?  As safe an investment as one can make. 

Hunter Pence:  2/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .293.  Pence is awesome.  Nobody ever wants to own him except for me but he is the epitome of dependable.  Yes 2015 was ugly but that was more due to injuries which have not carried over. 

Matt Duffy:  2/4 with 2 steals (2 for season) while hitting .263.  Duffy stealing bases?  Yes please.  Honestly though this was solely due to Noah Syndegaard on the mound who is as slow as they get when it comes to delivery to home plate.

Madison Bumgarner:  6 IP 6 H 0 ER 3 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.03.  Bumgarner struggled again with control like he has for most of April but the K's are ticking upward and right on schedule.

Noah Syndegaard:  5.2 IP 5 H 4 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.51.  First sign of struggles from Syndegaard this season but it is what it is.  He will soar past 200 strikeouts before you know it. 

Evan Longoria:  2/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .242.  Longoria is holding onto the third spot in the Rays order but his fall from being a former first round pick has been swift the last few seasons.  Right now Longoria looks like a younger Albert Pujols who is swinging for the fences and not doing anything else. 

Josh Donaldson:  1/3 with his 9th HR while hitting .293.  Ho-hum. 

Troy Tulowitzki:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .172.  Wow has Tulo been ugly and it marks the second season in a row he has dropped across the board in numbers.  Lots of injuries in Tulo's past which look like they are starting to firmly eat into his numbers.  Been telling you to avoid him for years and now there is no reason to even take him at a discount. 

Marcus Stroman:  8 IP 3 H 1 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.77.  The WHIP is now 0.95 as Stroman's stuff continues to point toward ace status.  From the start I have loved everything about Stroman but the only knock is that his K's tend to fluctuate. 

Jake Odorizzi:  7 IP 2 H 1 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.12.  The WHIP is now down to 1.18 as Odorizzi is picking up where he left off in his big but underreported 2015.  The K rate is very intriguing and potentially potent with more development but at this very moment Odorizzi is squarely in SP 3 territory. 

Marcell Ozuna:  1/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .227.  Second game in a row with a homer from Ozuna whose lack of plate discipline has really stalled his career.  The power remains interesting but this is still in only watch mode.

Domingo Santana:  2/5 with his third HR while hitting .259.  Santana carried some sleeper hype coming into the season and he has been pretty good thus far.  Nothing earth-shattering by any means but Santana leading off with his decent power keeps him in your everyday lineup in the outfielder 3 slot. 

Chris Carter:  3/5 with 2 home runs (7 for season) while hitting .278.  On and on the power goes with Carter who has gone into May with a decent average for the first time in forever.  He will be in the .250 range or more likely worse before too long but it looks like his off 2015 is now the outlier.  30 home runs is a very good possibility. 

John Jaso:  1/6 with his second HR while hitting .306.  Second game with a home run for Jaso himself who continues to do a nice job leading off as one of the more disinteresting players in fantasy baseball.  Jaso will be lucky to hit more than 8 home runs given his career trends but those in OBP leagues can find a place for him.

Gregory Polanco:  2/3 with his third HR while hitting .315.  Polanco is now up to the number five spot in the lineup as he has hit so well that the move was a necessity.  This will of course help his RBI numbers but Polanco's steals continue to be neutered.  Still the development is obvious as Polanco is cutting his previously high K rate which dragged his average down prior.  The is one stock on the upswing. 

Carlos Santana:  1/3 with his fourth HR while hitting .244.  The average is inching up a bit here which is always the key with Santana who has hurt his owners badly there in the past.  He is very blah no doubt and has no place on my team now and forever given the average issues. 

Danny Salazar:  7 IP  H 2 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.40.  Yeah we were a year too early in extremely hyping Salazar back in 2014 but the guy is now on the doorstep of fantasy baseball ace status as the walks are fading more and more. 

Vincent Velasquez:  6 IP 2 H 0 ER 4 BB 6 K with an ERA of 1.44.  Nice outing from Velasquez who struggled a bit since his huge 16-K game.  We feel very confident Velasquez will be very good like this for another two months or so before you got to cut bait as the innings pile up.  Very good long-term outlook. 

Nick Castellanos:  1/3 with his 4th HR while hitting .361.  It is tough to get attention as an upstart fantasy baseball third baseman in this day and age of Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, Kris Bryant, and Maikel Franco but Castellanos is trying. 

Julio Teheran:  7 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.72.  Yeah Teheran is looking for attention again after this one but we have been there and done that too often.  There is no start that is not edge of your seat when it comes to this guy so no thank you. 

Alex Rodriguez:  2/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .203.  Rodriguez is really locking in right now and is the only Yankee that is hitting worth a darn.  Throw him into the UTIL slot until he cools. 

Travis Shaw:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .322.  Shaw continues to do nothing but hit since he came up last season but again like with Nick Castellanos, third base is tough to break into as a starter.  Not enough power on a per game basis but the average speaks for itself. 

David Price:  6 ER in 7 IP with an ERA of 6.14.  Wow Price has been absolutely brutal this season and it is not easing up now that we are into May.  Too easy to say it is the AL East and it would be false as Price became a Cy Young winner in the division.  Yes the ballpark is rough but he excelled in Toronto last season.  I see a Crisis Point on the way. 

 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: RAISEL IGLESIAS' SHOULDER GOES BAD

The Cincinnati Reds placed promising power pitcher Raisel Iglesias on the 15-day DL early Sunday due to soreness in his pitching shoulder that cropped up a few days earlier.  The move was backdated to April 25th but now the wait goes on to see how serious the injury is.  As we have said many times in the past, a shoulder injury is a major deal for a pitcher and is worse then an elbow ailment.  Often shoulder injuries crop up again as the season goes along and they do the most damage to a pitcher's fastball in robbing some mph.  That has been the case with Iglesias in terms of the re-occurrence as he came down with soreness towards the end of 2015 and this time around he admitted to feeling a "pinch" which is very concerning.  This of course is a real shame as Iglesias has one of the more promising power arms in the game as he has averaged a strikeout per inning since entering into the Reds rotation midway through 2015.  Count on Iglesias being out longer then the 15 days as the Reds will make it a point to root out any problem in the area before he is allowed back onto a mound.  With the Reds not going anywhere this season, prudence will be the rule of the day. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SATURDAY

Kyle Seager:  2/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .159.  The average remains putrid but Seager is a very good BUY LOW as he is in historically awful BABIP luck right now which of course will turn.  The power is what you really like here and Seager can also still chip in a few steals with around a .260 average.  The rough start might make the average around .250 but everything else should be in line.

Seth Smith:  2/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .298.  Smith is a useful piece in deeper formats if you platoon him when only a lefty is on the mound.  Been the story of his career and that won't change now.

Wade Miley:  9 IP 5 H 0 ER 0 BB 4 K with an ERA of 5.06.  Nice outing but Miley is nothing but a soft-tossing joke in mixed leagues. 

Yordano Ventura:  4 IP 3 H 5 ER 6 BB 1 K with an ERA of 3.67.  This outing was as ugly as it look in speaking about a joke.  Ventura is a joke himself because for a guy who can throw as hard as he can, he is squarely in the Nathan Eovaldi territory when it comes to ineffectiveness despite high 90's stuff.  We are past the sleeper stage now and so Ventura can be graded on who he is which is just a middling starting pitcher. 

Fernando Rodney:  scoreless ninth for his fourth save with an ERA of 0.00.  Go figure,  I guess Rodney is going to be around until he is 60. 

Matt Shoemaker:  7 ER in 2.1 IP with an ERA of 9.15.  Now maybe I can finally stop talking about this guy which should have been the case last season but some still think his strikeouts are worth looking into. 

Derek Holland:  6 IP 4 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K with an ERA of 2.48.  Only one strikeout here but Holland's big start could be an indication that all his injuries are robbing his velocity and than in response he has adjusted.  We hate the ballpark which is tough on lefties like Holland and that makes him more of an SP 5 at best in mixers. 

Mitch Moreland:  1/4 with his third HR while hitting .257.  Moreland's power is coming along now after a quiet start but now firmly into his prime, what we saw out of him last season is pretty much all you can get optimally this year.  UTIL or CI only. 

Albert Pujols:  1/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .176.  Likely selling out more and more to an all-or-nothing approach due to age, Pujols can still crack a high number of home runs but the damage to your team batting average is becoming extreme and make an investment very iffy. 

Brandon Drury:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .294.  It was said that Drury will play as long as he his hitting which he obviously is doing.  The guy was only a 13th round draft pick and did very little in the minors worth mentioning.  Sure you can ride it out but we have seen countless cases like this that go into the gutter real quick. 

Zack Greineke:  7 IP 8 H 2 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 5.50.  Greinke gave up more hits and walks then innings pitched which is not where you want your fantasy baseball pitchers to be.  We could be dealing with a situation where this could be as good as a Greinke start might get now that he is in a prime offensive ballpark.  Very disappointing so far. 

Brett Lawrie:  1/3 with his 3rd HR and 2nd SB while hitting .267.  Now that Lawrie is back in an offensive park after dealing with O.Co Coliseum in Oakland a year ago, he carries some post-hype appeal.  Clearly we all overhyped Lawrie when he first came out of the minors as he simply is not that type of a star hitter but those hurting for a second baseman can make the add.

Todd Frazier:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .229.  Frazier is hitting home runs are his customary rates but the average obviously is a drag so far.  Remember though that Frazier was only a .260 guy at his best prior to this season given the high K rate in his bat and the adjustment to the AL took a few more points away.  Otherwise he is the same player. 

Pedro Alvarez:  3/5 with his first HR while hitting .224.  Now just a part-time guy in Baltimore, Alvarez's career has dovetailed. 

Mat Latos:  4 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 1.84.  A correction is obviously coming here as Latos has gone WAY above and beyond what his rates and previous numbers suggested.  Keep in mind though that he is healthy for the first time in years and his adjustment to solid offspeed stuff is working well enough.

Francisco Liriano:  6.2 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.86.  Liriano has dealt with some early control woes which is nothing new considering the scope of his career.  This could be the start of a nice turnaround here and believe it or not Liriano has been so good since arriving in Pittsburgh that he gets the benefit of the doubt. 

Jerad Eickhoff:  6 IP 6 H 3 ER 0 BB 4 K with an ERA of 4.15.  This was very good to see as Eickhof got his head beat in during his last start and the fact he adjusted back to his big start is key to him being a top-end starter in fantasy baseball.  We have liked Eickhoff for awhile and the only caveat is a late summer fade due to fatigue. 

Marcell Ozuna:  2/5 with his second HR while hitting .229.  Right now Ozuna's 2014 debut by far is the best performance by the guy which is a problem.  He doesn't have a lot of fans in the Miami front office so he better pick it up.  Should be owned as nothing but a bench bat.

Derek Dietrich:  1/5 with his second HR while hitting .278.  Dietrich has picked up some big hits in limited time this season but when you are known more for getting into it with Tino Martinez, that is a big issue for his potential fantasy baseball ownership levels. 

 David Ortiz:  2/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .321.  This guy is amazing.  Ortiz will join Fernando Rodney as still being active at the age of 60 if he wants.  No matter how he is doing it, Ortiz is going to go out with 30 home runs and 100 RBI.

Rick Porcello:  7 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.76.  Listen if you want to run out and pick up Porcello be my guest.  Don't come crying to me asking me what happened when he has an ERA north of 4.00 in another month. 

Jesse Hahn:  6.2 IP 3 H 0 ER 2 BB 4 K with an ERA of 0.00.  Hahn has pitched well when given the chance in the past and he should be added as a solid SP 5. 

Michael Conforto:  3/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .365.  Magical stuff is happening here as Conforto is as hot as any hitter in fantasy baseball.  Remember it was I who did a sleeper post on him way back in January saying he was capable of a .300 average and 25 home runs.  You heard it here first. 

 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL TRENDING UP/TRENDING DOWN

Another week gone by in 2016 fantasy baseball as the month of April gets set to be put in the books.  As always let's see who moving up and moving down this past week.

TRENDING UP

Steven Matz:  While he was not totally efficient on Friday night, Steven Matz has given up two earned runs total in his last three starts for the Mets with 21 K's.  The talent is supreme here and some early rust was the only issue Matz had to fight through.  Fully back on track. 

J.T. Realmuto:  I was very high on Realmuto during the spring and still very much am after he has started to drive the baseball over the last week.  Realmuto is capable of a solid average with a handful of home runs and some rare steals.  Get on board.

Tanner Roark:  While I don't buy the recent explosion of strikeouts, Tanner Roark is showing that his very good but not talked much about 2014 performance was not a total fluke. 

Aledmys Diaz:  All the kid has done is hit since getting into the lineup once injury took out Jhonny Peralta.  Diaz was just a .260 hitter in the minors prior to 2016 though so a correction is on the way.

Gregory Polanco:  Hitting at the bottom of the Pittsburgh Pirates lineup, Polanco has scorched the baseball which could get him a promotion back toward the top where his major speed will be an asset. 

TRENDING DOWN

Cody Allen:  Allen continues to ripped on an almost daily basis at the back end of the Cleveland Indians bullpen which is exactly what happened a year ago at this time as well.  Maybe Allen is simply a slow starter but either way his hold on the closer role is growing more tenuous by the day.

Kevin Jepsen:  Speaking of closers who are struggling, throw Kevin Jepsen into that grouping for the Minnesota Twins.  Jepsen has only been average at best since replacing an injured Glen Perkins at closer for the team and the terrific pitching of Trevor May means there is heat on his hold on the gig. 

Dallas Keuchel:  Already spoke at length the other day about how Keuchel has come back down to earth off his outlier 2015 Cy Young campaign.  While I think Keuchel can still be very good, he will not be the ace many assumed he would be. 

Adam Jones:  As a Jones owner, I have been front and center to the annual All-Star outfielder's struggles.  Jones has missed a lot of time with a stubborn oblique injury which robbed him of crucial early season at-bats when guys usually begin getting into a groove.  The last few days have been better but Jones could be on the downside now, especially with his steals vanished forever. 

Hisahi Iwakuma:  Been a big fan of his over the years but Iwakuma has been getting shelled for most of this season and we have to go back and wonder if the injury question marks that made the Los Angeles Dodgers pull out of a prospective deal with Iwakuma could be to blame. 

FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP NEWS: JOE PANIK OUT SATURDAY WITH SORE GROIN

San Francisco Giants second baseman Joe Panik is out of the lineup on Saturday versus the New York Mets due to a sore groin.  Panik is being listed as day-to-day and couild return Sunday against Noah Syndegaard.

Analysis:  With the Mets throwing Syndegaard and Jacob DeGrom this weekend, Panik owners should be sitting him anyways.  It has been a bit of a slow start for Panik but his bat is proven to be .300-worthy with moderate power. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL STOCK WATCH: EUGENIO SUAREZ 3B CINCINNATI REDS

While a whole bunch has gone wrong for the Cincinnati Reds early in this 2016 fantasy baseball season, one bright spot has been the tremendous play of third baseman Eugenio Suarez.  Only considered a moderate prospect while coming up the Detroit Tigers system, Suarez found new life with the Reds where he came up and opened a bunch of eyes by smacking 13 home runs, stealing 4 bases, and batting .280 in 398 at-bats while playing mostly shortstop.  While on the surface those numbers were impressive, yours truly was not buying them completely as I pointed out Suarez' very lucky .341 BABIP and for the fact his K rate was a high 23.6 percent.  If the luck was more in the average range, Suarez would have had about a .260 average which would have taken shine off the homers.  Be that as it may, Suarez looks like he is determined to get the last laugh as he has been one of the more impressive early season performers as he went into Tuesday's games with 5 home runs, 4 steals, and a .301 average at the age of 24.  While he is playing third base for the Reds Suarez retained the precious shortstop eligibility for another season which was key.  In addition, Suarez has helped himself by vastly improving his K rate thus far to a very low 13.8 percent.  With a .298 BABIP that is right along the mean mark, Suarez' current .301 average is accurate.  Throw in improved power and more aggressiveness on the bases and Suarez is really earning a profit for his fantasy baseball owners.  While Suarez will likely cool a bit from his hot start, I am now feeling more confident that he can sustain his numbers moving well into the remainder of the season.