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Monday, April 23, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SUNDAY

Jose Ramirez:  2/4 with 2 home runs (7 for season) while hitting .236.  Ramirez has his own personal Home Run Derby with Manny Machado and held his own.  There is no longer any need to question the power uptick a year ago and now instead let's see how many steals Ramirez takes.

Manny Machado:  3/4 with 2 home runs (8 for season) while hitting .356.  Glad I got Machado and not Nolan Arenado or Kris Bryant in the draft. 

Corey Kluber:  7 IP 6 H 3 ER 0 BB 4 K with an ERA of 1.96.  This qualifies as a shelling for Kluber. 

Teoscar Hernandez:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .343.  Or the third home run since I told you to pick him up.

Didi Gregorious:  1/3 with his 6th HR while hitting .333.  Anyone still willing to take Corey Seager over him like you all did in March?

Luis Severino:  7 IP 3 H 1 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.32.  So far Severino is showing no ill effects from the huge inning jump last season. 

Whit Merrifield:  1/5 with his third HR while hitting .266.  Like Ozzie Albies, you primarily bought Whit Meffifield for steals but instead he is giving you power.  (Commence banging head on laptop). 

Mike Moustakas:  1/5 with his sixth HR while hitting .318.  Nothing like a pissed off slugger who didn't get the payday he wanted last winter taking it all out on MLB.

C.J. Cron:  2/5 with his 5th HR and an average .273.  Third home run in two days for Cron who should be owned and started daily in all fantasy baseball leagues.  Been a few years since Cron was mentioned prominently on here but I always liked the initial potential.

Carlos Gomez:  1/5 with his third HR while hitting .160.  Only the Rays would put up with Gomez for this long. 

Christian Yelich:  1/4 with his second HR while hitting .333.  I am really hoping we no longer have to see the 2-3 home run Yelich now that he is in Milwaukee. 

Junior Guerra:  5 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 4 K with an ERA of 0.56.  Another one of those veteran arms who comes out of the gates on fire and everyone then begins to contemplate an add.  Bad idea.  He is what he is and that says Guerra is nothing but waiver fodder.  Trust me. 

Luis Castillo:  5 IP 7 H 3 ER 4 BB 3 K with an ERA of 6.51.  Castillo needs a refreshment in the minors.  Like right now.  What a bust this has turned out to be. 

Miles Mikolas:  7 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.46.  The Cardinals has historically uncovered pitching sleepers such as this and Mikolas has more strikeout potential longer-term given his impressive power stuff.  With a dirt cheap price tag at the draft (or off waivers), Mikolas has been one of the terrific surprises of the season. 

Nick Pivetta:  6.1 IP 5 H 2 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.57.  From the beginning, I said Pivetta was well worth a pickup when the season began and he looks very comfortable right now.  While I don't see Pivetta graduating to SP 3 territory, a strong SP 4 would still make him a tremendous waiver add. 

Evan Gattis:  1/5 with his first HR while hitting .217.  I don't if all those years of hard living has stolen Gattis' power but this is the second season in a row he is down in that area.  If Gattis is not hitting home runs, he is virtually useless. 

Lance McCullers:  6 IP 8 H 1 ER 1 BB 3 K with an ERA of 4.67.  Starting to see a lot of Jon Gray here and that is not a good thing. 

Mitch Haniger:  3/5 with his 7th HR while hitting .314.  Haniger has now homered in three straight games to further elevate what has been an eye-opening breakout.  We likely would have seen this last year as well but Haniger's health never cooperated.  This is a HOLD all the way.

Nomar Mazara:  1/4 with his third HR while hitting .309.  I have always kept the faith here given the fact Mazara came up at such a young age and he could have a Michael Conforto 2017 breakout this season if all goes according to plan.

Joey Gallo:  1/2 with his 7th HR while hitting .209.  The suspense will be to see if Gallo can hit .230. 

Javier Baez:  2/6 with his 7th HR while hitting .292.  Many forget that Baez was once considered as big an infield prospect as Gleyber Torres and the plate discipline is finally showing up. 

Nolan Arenado:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .344.  Outside of injury, there was no chance of not turning a profit here.

Charlie Blackmon:  3/5 with his 8th HR while hitting .304.  Looks like Blackmon wants to challenge Arenado for the team lead in home runs. 

Patrick Corbin:  6 IP 2 H 2 ER 1 BB 11 K with an ERA of 1.89.  I swear I think I am watching a young Max Scherzer here. 

Brandon Belt:  3/5 with his 5th HR while hitting .288.  I mean the guy was a top prospect back in the day. 

Mike Trout:  1/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .306.  Still without peer. 

Johnny Cueto:  6 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 0.35.  Just like old times with this guy. 

Justin Upton:  0/3 while hitting .235.  As hot as Upton can get, he also can get ice cold like he is now at a moment's notice. 


Sunday, April 22, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: WALKER BUEHLER A MUST ADD FOR PLUSH START MONDAY VERSUS MARLINS

It is now prospect rush hour in Major League Baseball now that the deadline to preserve another year prior to arbitration has passed and so on the heels of the New York Yankees calling up top infield prospect Gleyber Torres, the Los Angeles Dodgers have done the same with pitcher Walker Buehler in order to start Monday versus the Miami Marlins.  While Buehler has had trouble with control as most other young power arms have had, there is no questioning the major strikeout ability he brings to the fantasy baseball table as he has rocked a double-digit K/9 rate at every level including the majors where he put forth an 11.57 mark out of the Dodgers pen late in 2017.  Buehler averaged a ridiculous 98.4 on his fastball during that term and his extreme ability to crank up the heater makes him an especially good play versus the terrible Marlins Monday.  Pick up Buehler where available and start him in everything but shallow leagues. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: DAVID DAHL BACK TO TEASE US AGAIN

Yeah this guy again.  For the better part of the last two seasons, Colorado Rockies outfield prospect has been front-and-center as a guy who caught unending sleeper hype based on some interesting power/speed ability but more so for the Colorado backdrop. It was just last spring where Dahl was a very popular target of the sleeper hounds in fantasy baseball drafts but all those owners got for their trouble was not a single major league at-bat due to unending injury problems.  The virtual wipeout year put Dahl way off the radar screen with regards to 2018 fantasy baseball but his name was still stored away for times like Sunday when he was promoted to take the spot of injured outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.  Dahl just came back from a minor league DL stint himself and his offensive numbers prior to that were not overly impressive (.231, 0 home runs, 1 steal in 26 at-bats) but he also is the same guy who at the age of 22 posted a 7/5/.315 line with the Rockies in 2016.  At the very least, Dahl should be added where available to see if he can make good on his promise and at 24, he still carries a few years of upside before the prime stage arrives.  Give it another chance. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STOCK WATCH: TYSON ROSS SP SAN DIEGO PADRES

Going back to his roots certainly looks like it is working out nicely for San Diego veteran pitcher Tyson Ross; with the game he tossed Friday when he was flirting with a no-hitter but then ultimately yielded just one hit, one earned run, and 10 K's in the win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.  That brought Ross' season totals to the following: 

2-1
2.81 ERA
1.01 WHIP
8.42 K/9
.250 BABIP

So when examing Ross, it needs to be stated that he is just now beginning to find himself after having 2016 almost completely wiped out due to TOS surgery and then barely pitching a year ago.  Signed to a no-risk deal by the Padres this past winter, Ross at the age of 31 is showing he still has enough to get by as a very good SP 4/5 based on the early results. At one time a tremendous strikeout pitcher prior to the surgery with the Padres (9.73 K/9 in 2015), Ross has lost his fastball some just like Matt Harvey due to the TOS.  Ross averaged 94.0 on his fastball in 2015 but now is down to just 91.9 this season. Unlike Harvey though, Ross is getting good results and his 8.42 K/9 is still very solid. Showing better control (2.45 BB/9) than he did previously and that has helped with the ratio battle so far this season. 

Now in terms of where this could go, Ross' .250 BABIP shows he has been getting a bit lucky but the strikeouts and better control are nice positives.  Right now I would start Ross every time out at home but monitor any road outing.  At the very least, Ross looks like a guy who should be on a fantasy baseball roster in all leagues that are applicable. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SATURDAY

Aaron Judge:  2/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .338.  Judge is insane right now and I already mentioned how he has knocked down his K/9 a bit compared to last season which is helping the batting average.  Obviously, Judge is not going to continue hitting .338 but if he can carve out .280 with all those homers, then it was an even bigger year than 2017.

Marcus Stroman:  6 ER in 5.1 IP with an ERA of 8.55.  Stroman has made it a habit of getting his head beaten in this season and he is drop material in all fantasy baseball leagues considering the league and division he is in. Potential can only get you so far.

Jordan Montgomery:  6 IP 4 H 1 ER 3 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.80.  A poor man's Andy Pettitte.

Nick Castellanos:  3/5 with his first HR while hitting .286.  Finally.  Castellanos was a big sleeper favorite of mine and I admit I was getting impatient waiting for the first homer.  I still think he can be a 25 home run guy but the slow start has eliminated the 30-homer chance.

Danny Duffy:  6 ER in 4.2 IP with an ERA of 5.26.  Throw Duffy in with Marcus Stroman but give him more demerits since he is pitching like garbage but in a weaker division.

Jose Ramirez:  3/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .221.  Ramirez' power uptick from a year ago looks completely legit and everything else is beginning to fall into place for he and the entire previously slumping Indians lineup. 

Yonder Alonso:  2/3 with his 4th HR while hitting .206.  Alonso seems to be holding the power increase from a year ago himself as well but the average is in the toilet which makes him barely worth using even in those who are involved with AL-only formats. 

Mike Clevinger:  9 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 3 K with an ERA of 1.75.  Man Clevinger has been fantastic and it seems like he is taking a bit off the fastball in order to put forth better control.  Hey it is working. 

Yadier Molina:  2/3 with his sixth HR while hitting .292.  Still don't think this guy is not a first ballot Hall of Famer?  Also a fantasy baseball Hall of Famer too I might add. 

Paul DeJong:  2/5 with his sixth HR while hitting .250.  DeJong is kind of "just there" for me since I don't own him anywhere and don't feel bad about it.  Major holes in the overall swing but he still looks like a good bet for around 25 bombs this season. 

Carlos Martinez:  6 IP 3 H 0 ER 3 BB 7 K with an ERA of 1.42.  Martinez is as locked in as you can get right now but keep in mind he is getting a lot of BABIP love and the control is still shoddy.  A sell high is probably a good idea. 

Rhys Hoskins:  2/3 with his 4th HR while hitting .328.  Even better than advertised. 

Aaron Nola:  7 IP 6 H 2 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.30.  Nola is a fantasy baseball ace in every sense of the word.

C.J. Cron:  2/4 with 2 home runs (4 for season) while hitting .264.  Sometimes getting away from Mike Scoscia as a young player is the key to an eventual breakout.  I have written a lot over the years regarding Cron being a power sleeper and going to the reclamation specialists in Tampa Bay certainly seemed to be the impetus for what we are seeing this season. 

Blake Snell:  7 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.54.  Unbelievable.  Snell always carried immense power pitching potential but with the caveat he had to curb the walks.  He has curbed the walks and the results are staggering.  We could be seeing the start of a monster breakout. 

Cody Bellinger:  1/4 with his third HR while hitting .289.  Like with Aaron Judge, Bellinger is beginning his sophomore campaign showing better strikeout zone judgment which is curbing the K/9 rate and thus boosting the average.  Now Bellinger needs to match this approach with last year's power (which is down per game this season) and we have a superstar. 

Joc Pederson:  2/4 with his first HR while hitting .211.  Man what might have been here.  Pederson just simply never figured things out and this is the cautionary tale for Byron Buxton and Yoan Moncada.

Stephen Strasburg:  7 IP 5 H 2 ER 2 BB 10 K with an ERA of 2.97.  Really tough luck here as Strasburg gets a no-decision but he is fully in his dominance mode after a stumble the first week. 

Hyun-Jin Ryu:  7 IP 2 H 0 ER 3 BB 8 K with an ERA of 1.99.  The Korean has always had talent and reminded us what he is capable of on the VERY rare instances he is healthy.  Obviously Ryu is worth an add given his decent on-the-mound track record so see whete it goes. 

Brandon Belt:  1/3 with his 4th HR while hitting .259.  While it may seem he is older than dirt, Belt is still in his prime years and he showed increased pop per game in 2017 which has carried over thus  far.  Said a few days ago he should be added and even more so now. 

Mike Trout:  3/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .309.  For all the praise Bryce Harper has received this season in his nuclear start, Trout has been better but yet not as much chatter since it is expected here and the latter has been so much more consistently great than his counterpart. 

Albert Pujols:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .267.  At this late stage of the game for Pujols, you take whatever numbers you can get. 

Garrett Richards:  6 IP 5 H 2 ER 1 BB 11 K with an ERA of 3.46.  I was a very big fan of his before all the UCL trouble but willing to look here again given the pop in his stuff last night.  Your on borrowed time with Richards but the K's in this one at least show the tear in his UCL is not completely eroding the heater. 

Josh Reddick: 2/3 with 2 home runs (6 for season) while hitting .267.  Just draft Josh Reddick in the 17th round every spring please. 

Dallas Keuchel:  6 IP 4 H 1 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.10.  While I was not worried about Keuchel's ragged start to the season, it is nice to see two strong outings in a row which signals to me it was all mechanical previously. 

Lucas Giolito:  9 ER in 2 IP with an ERA of 9.00.  This guy is a complete joke.  Also, the White Sox are realizing right now that the Washington Nationals knew what they were doing dumping him onto their squad. 

A.J. Pollock:  2/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .268.  Love the home runs but as a Pollock owner, I miss the leadoff spot and mucho steals.  Yeah I am being picky but I think I am not alone there. 

Zack Godley:  5.1 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.09.  Godley's strikeouts have been all over the map from start-to-start to begin the season but he is pitching well overall.  A little more consistency would be nice but otherwise I am happy with my purchase. 

Jacob DeGrom:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 2 BB 10 K with an ERA of 2.53.  Back-to-back games of double-digit strikeouts from DeGrom who is looking even more impressive than his monster 2017 campaign.  We need to seriously be placing DeGrom right behind the Corey Klubers, Clayton Kershaws, Max Scherzers, and Chris Sales of the world. 

Julio Teheran:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.00.  Teheran held his own in the duel against DeGrom and he has thrown very well in his last two starts.  Always scary trusting Teheran but his recent performance means you can try him out again.

Lewis Brinson:  1/4 with his third HR while hitting .157.  The fact the three homers have come when moved further down the order may be an indication Brinson was pressing way too much batting leadoff.  Hey, whatever that can be done to salvage this. 

Travis Shaw:  1/2 with his 5th HR while hitting .296.  The man has found a home in Milwaukee. 

Yu Darvish:  5 ER in 4.2 IP with an ERA of 6.86.  Yes it was Coors Field but Yu Darvish looks like total crap and has since last summer.  Very concerned here considering the still-high cost at the draft and not sure if we will ever see the ace version of Darvish again. 

Robinson Cano:  3/5 with his second HR while hitting .333.  So I took a lot of flak for ranking Cano as high as I did among the second baseman in the annual draft guide but not hearing such talk now. 

Mitch Haniger:  1/3 with his sixth HR while hitting .292.  Clearly the kid is validating all the optimism from a year ago.

Nelson Cruz:  3/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .263.  Really the only thing worth looking into here where the average will come in at given Cruz's age. 

James Paxton:  5 ER in 4 IP with an ERA of 5.61.  Man my pitching sucks this season.  So does he. 

Sean Manaea:  9 IP 0 H 0 ER 2 BB 10 K with an ERA of 1.23.  Wow kudos to those who had the stones to start Manaea against the surging Red Sox and his start to the season has been insane.  What is funny is that Manaea was not striking guys out before this which was concerning but that was remedied for at least one outing. 







Saturday, April 21, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: GLEYBER TORRES ERA TO BEGIN SUNDAY

One frustrating Tommy John elbow surgery and a month later, the New York Yankees will begin the Gleyber Torres era beginning on Sunday as word circulated late Saturday the team will promote their top infield prospect for that day's game.  Already universally considered a top five prospect in all of baseball, Torres has absolutely torn it up at Triple-A in his return from the 2017 Tommy John surgery; hitting an insane .370 with 1 home run and 1 stolen base at the ripe age of 21.  Having been the big return when the Yankees traded Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs midway through the 2016 season, Torres would have already been up as an everyday Yankee if not for the Tommy John surgery that virtually wiped out all of last season.  With Torres showing no ill effects from the surgery, he is expected to step right in and be the team's everyday second baseman to high effect.  While he already looks like a future 20/20 man, what really separates Torres as a top prospect is his ability to draw a high amount of walks but also limit K's which is very rare from a young hitter.  This promises to be a fun ride so be sure to get Torres right in there beginning tomorrow. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: COREY KNEBEL (HAMSTRING) THROWING OFF MOUND

                                                                  

Rehabbing Milwaukee Brewers closer Corey Knebel threw a bullpen session on Saturday which marks his first on-the-mound work since he tore his hamstring two weeks ago. Knebel is still quite a ways back from returning but this is a decent first step in his comeback.  In the meantime, the Brewers bullpen have seen saves land on Jacob Barnes, Matt Albers, and Josh Hader which has made the situation more than chaotic.  

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY WATCH: MANUEL MARGOT (RIBS) ACTIVATED FROM DL

                                                                 

San Diego Padres outfielder Manuel Margot was activated from the disabled list on Saturday after spending the minimum amount of time out of action with injured ribs due to an HBP.  Margot makes his return after hitting .159 with one home run and two steals and retains very intriguing fantasy baseball upside leading off for the Padres.  If anyone dropped Margot in your league, pick him up immediately. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: FRIDAY

Mike Moustakas:  1/5 with his 5th HR while hitting .338.  Moustakas has just a 14.7 K/9 which is Jose Ramirez territory but he is not walking to make things even more sweeter with a BB/9 of just 2.9.  The latter will make it impossible for Moustakas to hit over .300 but this is a guy who is looking very motivated to get paid next winter.

Jason Hammel:  9 IP 5 H 2 ER 2 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.20.  Hammel has always done his best work from April through June so in deeper formats he can work as an SP until the end of that stretch.

Teoscar Hernandez:  1/3 with his second HR while hitting .370. I said to pick up Hernandez when he was promoted given his minor league power track record and Rogers Center will certainly help bring that skill to the forefront.  Not sure how long the good times will last since he has always carried average risk but see it through as always with hot sluggers.

Yangervis Solarte:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .283.  Petco Park curbed any power potential Solarte had and he is the classic example of a guy whose move to a more favorable hitting environment helped unleashed burgeoning numbers. 

Giancarlo Stanton:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .205.  Listen Stanton will hit home run by accident so don't think for a second all is well now here since he went yard.  Among the bigger disappointments so far this season as I think Stanton just struck out again. 

Miguel Andujar:  1/4 with his second HR while hitting .227.  Andujar is really going on a game-to-game scenario with the Yanks as the team is struggling and they won't hesitate to send him back to the minors if he is still hitting .220 in a week or two. 

Sonny Gray:  5 ER in 3.1 IP with an ERA of 8.27.  I am not surprised in the least what is happening here as I had it down in print in my annual draft guide that Gray was a bust waiting to happen and his "comeback" campaign a year ago was Oakland-heavy since his ERA and advanced rates all went the wrong way once he arrived in NY.  Wish you would have listened. 

Marco Estrada:  5 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 5.32.  It was all right to look past Estrada's annually high home run rates (3 given up last night) when he was beating the BABIP curve on a yearly basis. No more of that as Estrada is now waiver junk. 

Manny Machado:  1/3 with his 6th HR while hitting .388.  Remember Machado was compared to Miguel Cabrera when he was first coming up and that came from this peanut stand. 

Dylan Bundy:  6 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 1.42.  Hot starts are becoming part of the DNA for Bundy and I have been wrong about him to this point.  Still, Bundy got a ton of strand rate and BABIP love a year ago and finished in ugly fashion.  I will allow for improvement here but I am still wary. 

Ivan Nova:  6 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 3 K with an ERA of 4.20.  Nova has pitched better than his ERA indicates which is just a continuation on his strong SP 5 status since arriving in Pittsburgh. 

Whit Merrifield:  1/5 with his second HR while hitting .271. Merrifield was looking like a huge one-year wonder prior to the homers the last week so we will take whatever we can get here. 

Jake Junis:  8 IP 4 H 2 ER 1 BB 4 K with an ERA of 2.03. Incredible stuff here from Junis which has carried over since the start of spring training which adds some validity to it.  The problems are apparent though when you look at the .169 BAHIP which if even at .269 would still be quite lucky.  In addition, Junis will have a tough time making it through the season with a below-average 6.75 K/9.  This is a MAJOR sell high. 

Max Kepler:  2/4 with his 4th HR while hititng .289.  With so many young sluggers in today's game unable to hit for average, this is a nice feather in the cap for Kepler. 

Logan Morrison:  1/4 with his first HR while hitting .083.  Now Morrison can tweet that he does in fact have proof he is in fact still an active player. 

Chris Archer:  6.2 IP 4 H 2 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 6.59.  It is a start but Archer still gave up another home run.  Make a note to yourself to avoid the Archers, Tanakas, and Estradas of the world next spring when it comes to the draft. 

Ozzie Albies:  1/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .352.  And to think we were expecting mucho steals and just a few home runs.  Completely overshadowed by Ronald Acuna, I got Albies in the 14th round of the Experts Draft which at this point netted me a first-round talent. 

Mitch Haniger:  3/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .290.  What's funny is that for all the hype Haniger got a year ago when he busted due to injury, no one is talking about him this time around when he is healthy and hitting as a post-hype sleeper. 

Carlos Correa:  3/5 with 2 home runs (4 for season) while hitting .319.  Nothing but standard excellence here. 

Justin Verlander:  6 IP 2 H 0 ER 3 BB 5 K with an ERA of 1.10.  Could be another Cy Young campaign underway here. 

Ryan Braun:  3/5 with his 5th HR while hitting .230.  Another 1.5 games until Braun pulls up lame and is day-to-day for 8-10 days. 

Travis Shaw:  3/4 with his third HR while hitting .291.  Shaw is reaching that hallowed ground as the dependable fantasy baseball bat who you don't think about much since you think the numbers will just be there. 

Javier Baez:  4/6 with his 6th HR while hitting .290.  Nice steps forward.from Baez this season so those who bought him at the affordable price he presented at the draft have done well. 

Kyle Schwarber:  3/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .283.  Schwarber's walk rate is up and his K/9 is down slightly so there are some legs to the improvement here. 

Tyson Ross:  7.2 IP 1 H 1 ER 3 BB 10 K with an ERA of 2.81.  I said Ross was a person of interest given his return to San Diego and the advantages of pitching in Petco Park.  The K rate is coming all the way back from the endless injuries the last few seasons and so there is some clear reason for optimism here. 

Max Scherzer:  6 IP 4 H 1 ER 3 BB 9 K with an ERA of 1.36.  Scherzer beating Clayton Kershaw is just confirmation of what I have been saying since 2016 regarding how he is the better fantasy baseball bet now. 

Clayton Kershaw:  7 IP 9 H 4 ER 0 BB 4 K with an ERA of 2.45.  Sorry Clayton but you are not the top guy anymore. 


Friday, April 20, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT 1B ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Humidor or nonsense?  That has been the central question centering around all the Arizona Diamondbacks hitters since the news first broke in early spring training that the team would install a humidor for 2018 in order to help curb the home run-heavy aspect of Chase Field.  The knee-jerk reaction here was that starting with Paul Goldschmidt and working on down the line, was that there would be a drop in home runs and overall offensive numbers for the team's offensive players given the humidor's effects which experts say could knock down long balls by up to 30 percent.  This led me to dropping Goldy down from a sure-fire top five player for all of fantasy baseball entering into 2018 drafts down toward the end of Round 1 given the news.  Fast forward to today and perhaps the humidor was not such a myth after all as Goldschmidt went into Friday's action with the following numbers:

.254
4 HR
14 R
10 RBI 
0 SB
25.3 K/9

Hmmmmm.  So we are now a month into the season and past the 60 at-bat threshold where statistical numbers begin to settle in and Goldy's numbers are down across the board.  Also out of Goldy's 4 home runs, not a single on has come at home which is startling.  Coincidence?  Maybe but also maybe not.  In addition, Goldy is striking out at a much higher clip this season as his 25.3 K/9 is really getting up there and is a sharp increase from 22.1 the year prior.  If Goldy stays above that 22.1 this season, it would make the third straight seasons he saw an increase there which is another red flag.  Finally, Goldy does not have a single steal and I did point out during the spring and in our annual draft guide that his days of running could be coming to a close now that he had reached his 30's.

So where do we go from here and will Goldy rebound?  To a point I think Goldy will be fine in that his average should rise and he won't keep hitting .175 versus righties as he is as of this writing.  Also the power should still be very good on the road.  At home though is another story given that he has yet to hit a home run there and so we have to consider that 30-plus home runs are a thing of the past.  That doesn't mean he cant hit 25 but the dip there and any loss in steals would make Goldy a guy no longer worthy of being a Round 1 pick in fantasy baseball going forward.  


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TREND OR MIRAGE: CHRIS STRATTON SP SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

With the San Francisco Giants taking the cake in terms of being the team with the most pronounced bad injury luck to begin the 2018 season on the pitching side of things, the planets quickly aligned for the team's 2012 first-round pick Chris Stratton to get a long look to begin the year.  Having already opened eyes by pitching to a 3.68 ERA in 58.2 innings for the team in 2017, Stratton is off to a tremendous start to this season as he currently sits with the following numbers after posting another terrific outing Wednesday night (7 IP 1 ER 8 K):

1-1
2.22 ERA
0.90 WHIP
7.03 K/9

On face value, the numbers are phenomenal and Stratton has now given up just one earned run in his last 14 innings spanning two starts.  The key has been Stratton not giving up hits as he has surrendered just 15 in 24.1 IP and few hits obviously means fewer chances for opposing teams to score.  While that is all well and good, that has overshadowed some troubling red flag numbers elsewhere.  For one thing, Stratton's control has been a bit shaky with 7 walks in those 24.1 IP (2.59 BB/9) and it is a reminder of the very nasty 4.30 BB/9 he put up last season with the Giants.  In addition, Stratton's .231 BABIP is very lucky and his XFIP adjusted ERA of 4.03 might tell more the story of the type of pitcher he really is.  Yet another issue is the 7.03 K/9 which is below average by MLB standards and given the fact Stratton has almost always been in the mid-7.00 range, it is obviously he is not going to help in strikeouts.  Thus, the problem will arise where Stratton doesn't get the strand/BABIP luck he has been getting and he won't be able to extricate himself from trouble using the strikeout as well.  The end result will be a rise in ERA and WHIP and it could go all the way up to the 4.00 range as the XFIP suggested.  So in essence, Stratton is pitching on borrowed time in terms of his so-far great ratios.

In the end, Chris Stratton is a guy you can certainly keep riding until the trouble arises but beware of the expected regression which should start showing up before too long.  While you can be impressed with what Stratton has done so far, don't over-hype the production given the advanced indicators suggesting he is not as good as the numbers are showing.

TREND OR MIRAGE:  MIRAGE


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

Manny Machado:  3/5 with 2 home runs (5 for season) while hitting .338.  Yeah so I did say Machado's drop in average last season was a gigantic fluke.  

Chris Davis:  1/3 with his second HR while hitting .145.  If the Orioles could, they would make Davis disappear forever.  Let's hope they figure out a way.  

Jiemer Candelario:  4/4 with his third HR while hitting .284.  Said the other day after home run number 2 to pick up Candelario.  What is funny is that Candelario is doing what I expected Nick Castellanos to put forth.  

Alex Cobb:  5 ER in 3.1 IP with an ERA of 15.43.  Cut him loose.  Man Cobb should really have done his best to steer clear of the AL East since his K/9 has not come back to pre-TJ levels.  

Jose Altuve:  3/4 while with 4 RBI while hitting .342.  This guy is seriously one of the best hitters I have ever seen.  Just one steal and no homers yet but Altuve's averages the last few seasons have been utterly ridiculous.  

Josh Reddick:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .250,  Reddick is a .280-ish hitter so he will get the average back up and a 20/10 season is also very possible for a guy that went VERY late in 2018 fantasy baseball drafts for some reason.  

Charlie Morton:  7 IP 3 H 0 ER 0 BB 8 K with an ERA of 0.72.  Just unbelievable here.  I am in two competitive leagues (Experts and a high-stakes money) and own Morton in both.  I was fully on board with the mid-career renaissance but this is even beyond my wildest dreams.  We are talking early AL Cy Young front-runner numbers so far.  

Luke Weaver:  6 ER in 4 IP with an ERA of 4.22.  Weaver has hit his first rough patch of the season which likely comes at a time when major league hitters are getting enough film on him to make adjustments.  Now its Weaver's turn to fire back. 

Jon Lester:  6 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.10.  Lester has been either really good or really bad this season in his four starts but overall the ERA has worked nicely.  Truth be told, I was very down on Lester coming into the year given his age and previously high workload and still think by the summer his arm will be screaming for mercy.  Think of a sell high here.  

Todd Frazier:  1/3 with his third HR while hitting .293.  This is the best I have seen Frazier since 2016 and remember he has had some truly unlucky BABIP's the last two seasons which at least partly explains the horrendous averages.  With a 20.5 BB.9 rate right now that is tremendous, Frazier is offsetting a rising K/9 (23.3) so far.

Adrian Gonzalez:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .256.  Gonzalez has gotten hot himself of late but this is strictly just a deep NL-only add as 2013 is never coming back.  

Kurt Suzuki:  3/4 with his third HR while hitting .317.  We have seen trends lately of previously impotent hitting catchers get going in their 30's and Suzuki joins Chris Iannetta in that trend.  

Matt Harvey:  6 ER in 6 IP with an ERA of 6.00.  Mickey Callaway has not committed to Harvey's next start and nor should he.  The evidence is clear Harvey's TOS surgery has ruined his overall stuff but I think he can succeed in the bullpen in a similar deal like what we see now with Bud Norris.  Norris saw his stuff erode through injuries and bombed as a starter but now he is closing games at a high rate in St. Louis.  Unfortunately, Harvey is blocked for saves and so he has zero value to speak of.  

Aaron Judge:  1/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .339.  Yeah Giancarlo Stanton was a first-rounder while Judge slipped to Round 2 in most fantasy baseball leagues but the latter has been by far the better player so far.  Also it needs to be said that Judge has lowered his K/9 from the nasty 30.7 a year ago to 24.0 so far which is a terrific improvement.  As the 20.0 BB/9 and Judge can hit .280 if he holds these.

Rhys Hoskins:  1/3 with his third HR while hitting .327.  There is not a player in all of fantasy baseball I don't own but wish I did.  

Jameson Taillon:  5 ER in 1.2 IP with an ERA of 2.86.  I swear it feels like all the pitchers who got off to red hot starts all got bombed for the first time in the last few days.  It was almost like the Law of Fantasy Baseball Averages collectively saying "enough of the fun."  This was ugly for sure but Taillon looks like the real deal.

Jake Arrieta:  7 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 10 K with an ERA of 2.04.  I have been trying to kick dirt on this guy for awhile now but then he goes out and does this to make my arguments moot. So what we can now surmise here is that Arrieta still has good stuff but instead I will lean on him not staying healthy.

Lewis Brinson:  2/3 with 2 home runs (2 for season) while hitting .156.  Brinson was really straddling the demotion line there before the much-needed big game but being dropped in the order will hurt the steals potential.  Still looking like an overall mess but the hope is he won't be the latest annual tease like Byron Buxton has been.  

Lorenzo Cain:  3/4 with his second HR while hitting .303.  For those who are new to the site, former Minnesota Twins outfilder Torii Hunter was one of my all-time favorite players in fantasy baseball who I had to have every year.  Well now that Hunter has retired, Lorenzo Cain has stepped up to fill this void.  Said to draft him everywhere and he is off to a great start with numbers coming from all directions.  

Ryan Braun:  1/1 with his 4th HR while hitting .214.  Typical Braun who annoyed his fantasy baseball owners yet again as he didn't start and then homers which most didn't get credit for.  I still don't understand why anyone drafted the guy this season given all the day-to-day injuries and slipping overall game.  

Orlando Arcia:  1/5 with his second HR while hitting .203.  Arcia's season is already being hurt badly by batting so far down in the order which is a major issue in NL locales.  

Brandon Belt:  1/4 with his third HR while hitting .255.  Remains boring as hell but the advanced metrics hinted at a decent year for Belt if he could stay healthy.  

Ketel Marte:  1/4 with his first HR while hitting .237.  Still not happening here completely but Marte remains more than an intrigue given his offensive skills based on speed and contact.  

A.J. Pollock:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .254.  Pollock getting good pitches to hit behind Paul Goldschmidt but you get the feeling if you own him like I do that this season is not very exciting without the leadoff spot.  

Zack Greinke:  7 IP 3 H 1 ER 1 BB 2 K with an ERA of 4.13.  Greinke always finds a way to post good outings which speaks to how smart a pitcher he is. I say smart and not overpowering due to the fact Greinke's K/9 is dropping in being down almost a full K from a year ago and his average fastball velocity is under 90 for first time in his career at 89.4.  


Thursday, April 19, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: KEN GILES FACING POSSIBLE DL STINT DUE TO BACK INJURY

                                                                  

The last week has brought some confusion from the fantasy baseball community when it came to the status of the team's closer both in the present and moving forward.  Incumbent Ken Giles was passed over not once but TWICE by manager A.J. Hinch as top setup man Chris Devenski successfully nailed down two saves.  Well Hinch cleared things up a bit on Thursday when he revealed that Giles has been dealing with a back injury since last weekend and that a DL stint can't be ruled out.  Hearing this, Giles' fantasy baseball owners received a bit of mixed news in that it was a positive that he was not replaced by Devenski officially but the negative is that he may now hit the DL and give Devenski a chance to run with the gig.  We all know that Devenski is as good as it gets among all relievers and he would be an instant top closer if he did get the gig officially.  For now, anticipate a possible DL stint as Giles once again is delivering nothing but stress to his owners already. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: FREDDIE FREEMAN DAY TO DAY WITH BONE BRUISE IN WRIST

All fantasy baseball owners of Atlanta Braves first baseman can rejoice as it was revealed he suffered just a bone bruise in the wrist that was hit by a pitch in Wednesdays game.  Both X-rays and and MRI were conducted on the wrist which was broken by an HBP a year ago but no breaks were found. Look for a return sometime this weekend.  

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TREND OR MIRAGE: DANSBY SWANSON SS ATLANTA BRAVES

What a different a year makes huh?  Last March the fantasy baseball hype for Atlanta Braves shortstop prospect Dansby Swanson was immense to say the least.  Having been the number 1 pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, Swanson carried as big a prospect pedigree as you could get given that selection spot and so he had more than his fair share of suitors during fantasy baseball drafts last spring.  As so often happens though, Swanson failed to live up to the Derek Jeter comparisons as he sank to just a .232 average and it all of 6 home runs in 551 at-bats.  Making matters worse was the fact Swanson was so bad early on during the year that the Braves were forced to send him back to the minor leagues.  With that as a disappointing backdrop, Swanson was mostly a forgotten man as 2018 fantasy baseball drafts got underway but that instantly turned him into a value play who was now in position to be a post-hype sleeper made good.  With the season now more than three weeks old, it certainly looks like Swanson is fitting that post-hype sleeper mode as he goes into Thursday's action with the following numbers:

.358
2 HR
9 R
11 RBI
1 SB

Those are tremendous numbers no matter how you slice it and Swanson is so far showcasing the high batting average talent and moderate power/speed game that was so talked about last spring.  Clearly, moving Swanson down in the order has helped in that is has lessened the pressure to produce but now we have to determine if this is something that can be sustained or if in fact it is just a fluke which will be corrected. 

Digging into the advanced numbers is always the way to go when facing such a dilemma and it is here where things start to get less murky.  What jumps out right away is that Swanson's .440 BABIP is simply ridiculous and is in no way sustainable.  That alone means Swanson's average will take a tumble real soon and it could be stark.  Making this an even bigger concern is Swanson's tiny 5.6 BB/9 which shows impatience on his part and thus, another avenue where the batting average will slide.  While his 21.1 K/9 rate is pretty good for a young player, Swanson's BB/9 and BABIP numbers ensure there will be trouble ahead and he doesn't hit home runs or steal bases at a high enough rate to offset things enough.  So if you are holding stock in Swanson at this moment, talk up his big start and still solid prospect name and see what you can get out of it  Troubling times are going to be ahead before you know it. 

TREND OR MIRAGE:  MIRAGE

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY WATCH: FEARS OF A SECOND BROKEN WRIST FOR FREDDIE FREEMAN

Here we again. Belonging in the "you can't make this stuff up" file, there are fears that Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman suffered a broken left wrist for the second straight season after taking an HBP to the area during Wednesdays game for the team. Freeman headed for testing right after but no official word had been released by the Braves as of this writing. What is telling is that in most cases a delay in getting out information usually indicates something was found on initial X-rays and further testing is needed. That is a potentially very bad sign for Freeman who is almost impossible to replace given his tremendous power and high average ability. Stay tuned on Thursday but expect bad news here. 

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

Chris Iannetta:  1/4 with his second HR while hitting .264.  Iannetta has become quite underrated and engineered a very good second portion of his career.

Miguel Cabrera:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .255.  Cabrera has been pretty good but still well below his previous monster levels which he was last at in 2016.  Maybe this is the new norm in terms of moderate power and a slipping average but not ready to go there just yet.

Jeimer Candelario:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .238.  Candelario will get a long look this season given the rebuilding going on in Detroit and so he should be on your WATCH lists at the very least.

Kevin Gausman:  6 IP 9 H 2 ER 0 BB 4 K with an ERA of 5.57.  Never been a fan of his and won't start now.  Being in the AL East kills almost of the appeal and honestly, Gausman is just not that good.

Matt Boyd:  6.1 IP 2 H 1 ER 3 BB 6 K with an ERA of 1.40. Damn this guy.  Right now Boyd's XIP is a 5.67 ERA and his BABIP is .154.  Your going to get burned badly if you keep using him liberally.

Eric Thames:  1/3 with his 7th HR while hitting .231.  Remind me to draft Thames next spring, start him every day in April, and then deal him May 1.

Zach Davies:  6.1 IP 3 H 0 ER 2 BB 2 K with an ERA of 4.84.  He looks like he is 12 but Davies could hold down SP 5 value in deeper leagues.

Jacob Barnes:  scoreless 2 IP with 3 K for second save and ERA of 1.50.  It looks like Craig Counsell is done with Matt Albers already and is rotating between Josh Hader and Barnes for two innings saves. Very unconventional and quite stupid.

Shin-Soo Choo:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .224.  Choo is at the age we have to worry about him becoming an all-or-nothing slugger and the early signs are not promising.

Mallex Smith:  1/4 with his third SB while hitting .373.  It is a high crime and misdemeanor that Smith is not leading off for the Rays.

Whit Merrifield:  1/5 with his first HR while hitting .250.  Merrifield is yet another example of a spring training hero turned regular season zero.  I think he will pull out of this rut and be a very solid 10/20 guy but was never buying last season's average.

Jorge Soler:  2/4 with his first HR while hitting .267.  Another guy whose big spring has not carried over.  Then again, Soler has not carried over anything from Cuba.

Curtis Granderson:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .318.  Hey it would not shock me in the least if Grandy hit 25 homers in his MLB swan song before he goes into politics or takes over the MLB Player's Union.

Yangervis Solarte:  2/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .296.  Always one of the better hitters in the game during his San Diego Padres days, we are now getting to see Solarte's power in a launching pad of a ballpark.  Could be a career season on tap.

Teoscar Hernandez:  4/6 with his first HR while hitting .421.  Hernandez has been a decent power prospect for awhile and he has a good park matchup in Rogers Center.  Worth an add to see where it goes.

Ryan Zimmerman:  3/4 with 2 home runs (3 for season) while hitting .161.  Few everyday hitters have been worse to this point but Zim seems to be coming out of it.  Either way, there was no chance he was replicating both the major uptick in numbers last season that literally came out of nowhere, nor the good health that NEVER is part of the equation.  Anyone who sought out Zimmerman this spring bought really high.

Yoenis Cespedes:  2/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .217.  The strikeouts have really spiked this season which is concerning and something to watch.  No issue with the power by any means but Cespedes can't go back to being a .260 hitter over the .280 one he has been with the Mets if he wants to realize his old OF 1/2 value again.

Tanner Roark:  7 IP 2 H 2 ER 3 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.24.  Roark continues to produce on an almost yearly basis with no one giving a crap. It is these kinds of undervalued players that put fantasy baseball rosters over the top though and Roark at the very least will lend plentiful chances to win.

Yoan Moncada:  2/7 with his third HR and third SB while hitting .222.  Its something at least.  The White Sox seem determined to see this all the way through with Moncada as they should but the K's are just hideous.  On the positive side, the power/speed game is obvious and remains the strong allure.  Still hold him.

Jed Lowrie:  2/7 with his 6th HR while hitting .346.  Good health and being an aging veteran is what is at work here.  We all know Lowrie won't keep this up so a sell high is absolutely the call here.

Andrew Triggs:  6 ER in 1.1 IP with an ERA of 5.82.  I feel like a parent now where I say I told you not to bother here and you learned a harsh lesson for not listening.

Edwin Encarnacion:  2/7 with his 4th HR while hitting .153.  Maybe Edwin realizes May is just around the corner. Still struck out twice though and that has been the major problem.

Miguel Sano:  1/7 with his 4th HR while hitting .235.  Standard operating procedure here.

Carlos Carrasco:  7 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.60.  The movement on this guy's stuff is insane and Carrasco is doing everything expected so far for his fantasy baseball owners except get injured.

Jose Berrios:  7 IP 3 H 0 ER 0 BB 5 K with an ERA of 1.63.  Wow what a talent.  My AL darkhorse Cy Young pick looks pretty damn good right now.

Dansby Swanson:  2/3 with his second HR while hitting .358.  We could be looking at a serious and classic post-hype sleeper campaign underway.

Evan Longoria:  3/4 with his third HR while hitting .241.  Nobody cares anympore.

Brandon Belt:  1/4 with his 2nd HR while hitting .255.  I swear no team has more borings in all of fantasy baseball than San Francisco.

Rafael Devers:  2/5 with his third HR while hitting .273.  I feel like I haven't mentioned Devers much but he is holding his own which is all you can ask for a young kid being thrown right in it.

J.D. Martinez:  4/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .313.  With all the things the Houston Astros have done right over the years, I still can't figure out what they missed on this guy.

Rick Porcello:  6 IP 6 H 0 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 1.40.  Ride it out but I have seen way too much slop here over the years to trust Porcello.

Kenta Maeda:  5.2 IP 8 H 4 ER 2 BB 10 K with an ERA of 3.77.  Maeda was pretty electric in this one but he also is now carrying around a red flag 1.74 WHIP.  Be careful here in the next few outings.

Gerrit Cole:  7 IP 5 H 0 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 0.96.  I would have to say the move to Houston has gone about as well as it could have based on the early returns.



Wednesday, April 18, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING INJURY NEWS: TOMMY JOHN SURGERY FOR TAIJUAN WALKER

Updating an earlier item, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Taijuan Walker will undergo Tommy John surgery for a torn UCL in his elbow and be done for the 2018 season.

Analysis:  I said yesterday this is what would happen and here we are.  Walker is just the latest in the epidemic of young and hard-throwing pitchers who have gone under the Tommy John knife and it has reached a point where drafting them is becoming a tremendous risk probably best left avoided. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY WATCH: ANIBAL SANCHEZ HITS DL WITH STRAINED HAMMY

                                                                

Atlanta Braves veteran starter Anibal Sanchez was placed on the 10-day DL Wednesday after suffering a strained hamstring during a pregame running session.  There was an air cast placed around Sanchez' leg as he was tended to which sparked fears of a break but subsequent testing revealed the strain.  This is a tough blow as Sanchez was pitching very well with a 1.29 ERA and 14 K's in 14 IP this season before suffering the injury but now he is likely to be out beyond the 10 days given the fickle nature of hamstring problems.  Only in very deep leagues should Sanchez be stashed. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: MORE FRUSTRATION FOR BYRON BUXTON OWNERS AS HE HITS DL WITH MIGRAINES

                                                                

Now he knows how we all feel.  That would be the collective response to anyone who has owned Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton over the last few seasons as he has made it an art form to disappoint the masses with his annually ugly offensive numbers despite possessing a world of natural talent.  2018 apparently looks like it will be no different as Buxton was placed on the 10-day DL on Wednesday with persistent and what the team has called severe migraines.  Having had some big hype and expectations once again attached to his name coming into the season after putting forth a big second half of 2017, Buxton goes into the DL stint with just a .195 average with 0 home runs and a 25.6 K.9 rate.  While the latter is improved from his 29.4 mark a year ago, Buxton is once again struggling to hit offspeed stuff and we are right to wonder if it will now ever happen.  Add in the DL stint and Buxton is doing his best to drive everyone crazy this season. Obviously, Buxton needs to be stashed considering what it cost to get him but the early returns on this season are not promising. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TREND OR MIRAGE: NICK PIVETTA SP PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

The Philadelphia Phillies are still in the stages of a massive rebuild that began when they phased out former All-Star but aging veterans Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, and company but they have tried their best to reinforce their rotation with home-grown or young pitchers who can lead them back to prominence.  While there have been some sizable busts in that effort, it seems like the team has found a gem in the form of Nick Pivetta who is off to a smashing start to the 2018 season.  The former 2013 fourth-round pick now stands with the following eye-opening numbers after his first four turns through the rotation:

1-0
2.49 ERA
0.97 WHIP\
8.72 K/9

Clearly, the ERA and K/9 rates stand out right away and Pivetta has the added bonus of being a young and hard-throwing pitcher in the NL and not the tougher AL.  So are the numbers legit and can Pivetta be a guy we can throw out there every time his turn in the rotation arrives? Let's dig in a bit more and find out.

Looking back at the history here, Pivetta has been a strong strikeout guy in his minor league tenure such as in 2017 when he was at 10.41 before summoned to the Phils where he struggled badly (6.02 ERA).  With an average fastball of 94.7 the last season-plus in Philly, it is easy to see that Pivetta is an adept strikeout artist which of course plays well in fantasy baseball.  Even better it was that Pivetta has yet to give up a home run and that is especially crucial when you all the launch pad in Philadelphia home.  The walks do tend to come and go here (mostly go so far with a 1.00 BB/9) but Pivetta has really been impressive so far with sustainable advanced indicators.

So when you add it all up, it looks like Pivetta can continue to be a guy who can be of service to you in fantasy baseball and I would sign off on liberal usage until things turn for the worse.

TREND OR MIRAGE:  TREND


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: TUESDAY

Mike Moustakas:  2/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .339.  Moustakas has been killing it and clearly has the motivation angle working.  That's almost always a recipe for fantasy baseball success so go with it.

Lucas Duda:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .302.  Listen we all know the average is coming down sharply but Duda is a quality 25-home run first baseman who plays especially well as a UTIL or CI guy in deep leagues.

Yangervis Solarte:  2/3 with his third HR while hitting .311.  Another quality veteran but as opposed to Duda, Solarte can hit .300 and qualifies all over the diamond.

J.T. Realmuto:  2/4 with his first HR while hitting .500.  Welcome back.  Realmuto is the Robinson Cano of catchers but the ultimate hope is that he gets moved ANYWHERE else to help the counting numbers.

Giancarlo Stanton:  0/4 while hitting .197.  Stanton is getting snippy with the NY media already which is a bad sign and he is not hitting a lick at home which is another major red flag.  It is not going well. 

Jarlin Garcia:  5 IP 1 H 0 ER 5 BB 2 K with an ERA of 0.86.  The A.J. Burnett special.

Brad Ziegler:  1 ER in 1 IP with an ERA of 8.22.  Please just go away. 

Masahiro Tanaka:  6 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 6.45  It is almost like Tanaka is trying to top his hideous first half of 2017.  He is succeeding.  A clear case of a guy with really good stuff whose crazy penchant for home runs overshadows everything. 

Gio Gonzalez:  5.1 IP 8 H 2 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.49.  Be careful of the bottom falling out here as Gio's WHIP is nasty at 1.52.  Getting way too lucky to sustain things the way they are. 

Danny Duffy:  6 IP 2 H 0 ER 3 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.86.  The velocity has steadily gotten better here since the beginning of spring training which explains the jump in K's and overall effectiveness.  It may be time to see if Duffy is available.

Trey Mancini:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .299.  Mancini has quickly established himself as one of the better pure hitters in all of baseball and hitting leadoff seems to be sticking which is nothing but a positive. 

Victor Martinez:  3/4 with his first HR while hitting .313.  Not sure how much power is left in the tank but V-Mart is showing he will hit at a high rate right into retirement.  One of the more underrated careers we have seen of late.

Chad Bettis:  7.1 IP 5 H 0 ER 2 BB 3 K with an ERA of 1.44.  There is little margin for error here given the lack of strikeouts but I and everyone else should be rooting for the cancer survivor. 

Francisco Lindor:  1/5 with his second HR while hitting .238.  The fly ball rate has gone up the last season-plus which explains the average dip compared to 2016 but Lindor should be right in line with customary 5-category production.

Jose Ramirez:  3/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .200.  I guess there was no reason to worry about this guy's power uptick being sustainable from 2017.

Yonder Alonso:  1/4 with his third HR while hitting .196.  While he had a big spring, Alonso needs to get the average going or else he falls into backup first base territory given how much power is out there. 

Edwin Encarnacion:  0/4 while hitting .135.  Geez its getting worse.  Others have correctly pointed out to me on Twitter that April is always rough on Edwin but the major spike in K rate is more an indicator of age eroding the skills.  It is beyond time to be worried.

Michael Brantley:  3/5 with his first HR while hitting .346.  Now that Brantley's ADP has sank into the gutter, I have use for him as a plug-in and never look back OF 3 who will boost your team average and supply decent enough numbers across the board on the rare occasions he is healthy.

Corey Kluber:  6.2 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 1.52.  Scary to think where this is headed since Kluber is now dominating in April which is always his worst month.

Shin-Soo Choo:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .219.  Choo has really hit the skids of late so the hope is the homer will get things back on track.

Wilson Ramos:  1/4 with his first HR while hitting .220.  If someone dropped Ramos in your league, he is well worth picking up as he tends to get hotter the longer the season goes on.

Matt Moore:  7 IP 5 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 5.59.  Still no!

Eric Thames:  1/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .224.  It will all go downhill once May arrives.  In all seriousness, we have seen more than enough here to concretely conclude Thames is just another in an endless line of average-averse sluggers. 

Josh Hader:  2 scoreless IP with 3 K for second save and ERA of 1.54.  Not sure about these consecutive two inning saves but will take it as a Hader owner who will jump for joy if this arrangement becomes permanent. 

Paul DeJong:  1/5 with his 5th HR while hitting .242.  Yeah so I did say after DeJong's first couple of big games that the average would dip severely real soon.  Yuppers.

Javier Baez:  3/4 with his fifth HR while hitting .235.  This is Paul DeJong with some speed.

Greg Holland:  2 ER in 0 IP with an ERA of 11.57.  All Bud Norris owners are smiling today.

Tyler Chatwood:  4.2 IP 1 H 2 ER 7 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.60.  I said after his last start to cut Chatwood loose.  Hope the 7 walks convinced you to finally do it.

Eric Hosmer:  1/5 with his second HR while hitting .265.  Welcome to Petco Park dude.  3 home runs a month is what you signed up for.

Kenley Jansen:  second blown save with 2 ER in 1 IP with an ERA of 810.  The velocity REMAINS down almost two full mph and now I am very concerned here.  There has been high usage the last few seasons as the Los Angeles Dodgers were advancing deep into the playoffs and we could be seeing the effect of that by the looks of things.  Jansen is now more susceptible to the home run than ever before and Pedro Baez should be added at the very least.  Yet again you should never pay for closers no matter how good the guy is. 

Matt Kemp:  1/3 with his third HR while hitting .333.  Stable and dependable as Kemp continued on toward his mid-30's.  I have to admit I was ready to write him off a few seasons ago but the back-nine of his career has been very solid. 


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY WATCH: TAIJUAN WALKER LIKELY HEADED FOR TOMMY JOHN

Every spring we compile a list of the classic prospective Tommy John elbow surgery pitchers and that group predominantly is made up of guys who are both under the age of 28 and who also throw their average fastball in the middle-to-upper-90's.  Such a player that made the list this season was the Arizona Diamondbacks' Taijuan Walker who came up as a big power pitching prospect with the Seattle Mariners with an upper-90's fastball and who is just 25 for the 2018 season.  Well Walker didn't even make it out of April before damaging the UCL in his pitching elbow according to a Tuesday report and so he very well could be headed to season-ending Tommy John surgery.  Right now, Walker is waiting for a second opinion but we all know how this will likely end.  Those who own stock in Walker should already be looking for a solid replacement. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP ISSUES: MARLINS ACTIVATE CATCHER J.T. REALMUTO (BACK) FOR TUESDAY

                                                                 

The Miami Marlins welcomed back All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto on Tuesday after the team activated him from the disabled list where he has been since the start of the season due to a bone bruise in his back. 

Analysis:  The Marlins are desperate for any spark to help them in this miserable rebuilding season and Realmuto can at least help a bit on that front due to his tremendous pure hitting ability at catcher.  Realmuto is a slam-dunk top fantasy baseball catcher who brings back memories of Jason Kendall with his high batting averages and contributions in stolen bases but his lineup support will make things very challenging this season. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP ISSUES: ANTHONY RIZZO (BACK) ACTIVATED FROM DL

                                                                   

Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo was activated from the 10-day DL on Tuesday ahead of him starting that night's game.  Rizzo went on the DL with back soreness that was persistent in nature but he is now 100 percent ready to go and looking to get his season more on track after previously being off to a bit of a slow start.

Analysis:  Rizzo is one of the most consistently dependable players in all of fantasy baseball so no worries on this end in terms of production,.  The miserable early weather in Chicago has not helped Rizzo's back but this is no long-term issue by the looks of it.  Put him back in there with no reservations. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP ISSUES: YOENIS CESPEDES/JAY BRUCE BACK IN LINEUP FOR METS, MICHAEL CONFORTO IS OUT

                                                                 

After a mental health day on the bench Monday, New York Mets star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes returned to the team's lineup on Tuesday versus the Washington Nationals.  He will be joined on the returning front by Jay Bruce who has missed a few games with a nagging case of plantar fasciitis in his foot.  In addition, Michael Conforto will take a seat against lefty Gio Gonzalez as Brandin Nimmo takes his place.

Analysis:  Cespedes has been mired in a huge slump that includes a slew of strikeouts and has gone back over a week now.  That followed an insanely hot spring training and first week of the season but the strikeout spike is a bit alarming.  As far as Bruce is concerned, the foot has flared up going back o last season but he is less volatile of the two in terms of production.  Finally, Conforto has pretty much sat versus most lefties going back to last season which makes him sitting out Tuesday no shock.  The bigger story is that he looks to be pain-free and swinging the bat well. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: HANDICAPPING ALEX COLOME REPLACEMENT

Tuesday is Closing Time day where we delve further into the world of the fantasy baseball closer.  Let's get right into it:

-While the start of the 2018 fantasy baseball season has been filled with its usual array of closer chaos, it is shocking that the Tampa Bay Rays have not pulled the plug yet on beyond struggling stopper Alex Colome.  Colome has been nothing short of a disgrace this season as he went into Monday's action with the following numbers:

0-2
10.80 ERA
3.20 WHIP
7.20 K/0

No these numbers are not a misprint and so Colome may already be stripped of the closer role before you read this.  It seems like the Rays are giving Colome the benefit of the doubt after he pitched very well (2016:  1.91 ERA) and pretty well (2017:  3.24 ERA) for them the last two season.  Be that as it may, I saw right through Colome as I wrote in this year's Fantasy Sports Boss Draft Guide that the guy was a major bust waiting to happen and should be avoided at all costs.  The reason I had these feelings was due to Colome having below-average strikeout stuff for a closer and also for the fact his control was getting worse by the year.  With such a lesser margin for error and now a bit of a dip in velocity this season added in, Colome is acting like a batting practice machine.  No matter where you look, the numbers are disgusting and so benching Colome outright should have been done by now if you haven't cut him already.  Attention should also turn to who will step up to possibly replace him and that centers on setup men Sergio Romo and Jose Alvarado.

Now in terms of Romo, he has been one of the best setup men in MLB for the better part of the last five years but when given the chance to close in the past, he has struggled.  With that said, Romo has been very good once again in setup this season with a 1.69 ERA and a massive 13.50 K/9.  With Romo clearly showing his stuff is as potent as ever, he could easily slide in to close at the age of 35.  Or the Rays could turn to Alvarado who at 22 represents being a possible future closer for the team and who himself has pitched very well with a 1.29 ERA and just as impressive 11.57 K/9.  Alvarado has had the better control of the two as well so that could give him a leg up there.  If I had to choose just one option though, I would pick Romo given how young Alvarado is and due to his experience as a longtime veteran of the majors.  Either way, you want no part of Colome by any means given how pathetic he has been.

-Another interesting is happening in St. Louis where the Cardinals opened up with great uncertainty in the ninth inning with almost every member of their bullpen being mentioned as a possible closer but then they went out and signed former All-Star Greg Holland to presumably be the guy once he got his legs under him.  In the meantime, free agent signee Bud Norris handled save chances while Holland was in the minors and even when the latter came up more than a week ago.  Unfortunately, any bet on Holland looks like a bit of a dicey one as he walked 4 batters in his first appearance and generally has been shaky as he went into Monday's action with 5 walks in 2.1 IP to go with a 3.86 ERA and 2.57 WHIP.  Meanwhile, Norris has been good with a 2.35 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 14 K in 7.2 IP as he logged three saves.  Norris was pretty good when given a chance to save games for the Los Angeles Angels a year ago and so he could be holding the spot for awhile longer the way things are going.  Norris should be owned in all leagues but Holland should be held as well since he has the better long-term prospects in the ninth inning.






2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: MONDAY

Nomar Mazara:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .311.  Mazara has gotten off to good starts three seasons in a row now and we still don't know how high the ceiling goes here just yet.  What is obvious is that the swing is smooth and Mazara hints at being a perennial 25-home run hitter.  Add in the fact he is still not in his prime yet and Mazara is still very interesting on a lot of fronts. 

Joey Gallo:  1/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .216.  Gallo is up to .216.  He is on fire. 

C.J. Cron: 2/5 with his second HR while hitting .232. Tampa Bay is the land of opportunity for previously retread players and Cron still carries some interesting power.  The average still needs a lot of work.

Blake Snell:  6.1 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.95.  All the hype I had for Snell a year ago is now being realized so far and it all has to do with vastly improved control.  He began showing this during the spring which got the excitement meter going and now this.  If Snell can keep this going and with his potentially big K/9 rate, there is a path for SP 3 numbers.

George Springer:  2/3 with his 4th HR while hitting .223.  Now let's get that average up so we don't have to worry about that becoming a problem again like it was in the past. 

Nelson Cruz:  1/3 with his third HR while hitting .222.  Of course Cruz hit a home run in his return.  What else would he do? 

James Paxton:  6 IP 3 H 1 ER 3 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.57.  Second straight dominant outing by Paxton which perhaps shows the ship has been righted here.  When Paxton is operating like this, he has the goods to be a fantasy baseball ace as we saw in 2017. 

Dallas Keuchel:  8 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.52.  The WHIP is still ugly at 1.48 but I don't worry about Keuchel who seems to have found his stride now. 

Howie Kendrick:  1/5 with his second HR while hitting .309.  If your looking for a guy who can keep himself afloat in daily deep league lineups, Kendrick can still swing it. 

Bryce Harper:  2/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .315.  Do yourself a favor and queue up the homer on YouTube as Harper's bat shattered in half but yet the ball still went over the fence.  Never saw that before. 

Asdrubal Cabrera:  4/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .356.  My theory of aging veteran players always seemingly getting off to very good starts in bore out here as well since Cabrera is hitting everything in sight.. Ride it out. 

Jacob DeGrom:  7.1 IP 6 H 3 ER 1 BB 12 K with an ERA of 3.24.  Gave up one run in 7 before he went out for the eighth and was involved in the epic Mets pitching meltdown.  Prior to that, DeGRom was tremendous and he no doubt is a top fantasy baseball ace without debate.  Still, all of DeGrom's owners had to worry when he went out for the eighth and it turned out to somewhat hurt a terrific overall night. 

Charlie Blackmon:  2/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .314.  Some home run battle brewing between this guy and Harper.  Also it looks like Blackmon's days of leading off are through.  Good for RBI and slightly bad for runs scored.

Trevor Story:  2/3 with his 4th HR while hitting .200.  Story is still young enough to address the annually ugly K rates and average but so far he is not being successful there. 

Aaron Judge:  2/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .351.  Hey Giancarlo!  This is how you hit for a scorching average despite striking out a ton.

Didi Gregorious:  2/4 with 2 home runs (5 for season) while hitting .357.  Is it me or does it seem like whenever Didi homers, he then adds a second in the same game?

Luis Severino:  6 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.63.  As a Severino owner, I was giddy when the Detroit series got postponed which then put Severino in line to face the garbage Marlins.  Yeah that was a nice turn of fortune. 

Julio Teheran:  6 IP 5 H 1 ER 3 BB 9 K with an ERA of 5.40.  Listen every pitcher has a good day at some point but even after this gem, Teheran still has a 5.40 ERA and1.65 WHIP.  No thank you.

Jose Abreu:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .250.  Honestly unless he gets hurt, there is nothing to add here like ever.

Matt Olson:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .242.  So far Olson is losing to Chapman to see who is the best hitting Matt on the A's. 

Reynaldo Lopez:  6 IP 4 H 2 ER 4 BB 10 K with an ERA of 1.42.  So I told you all last week to add Lopez given the fact he GAINED 2 MPH on his fastball and so now we get the uptick in K's here.  This is a top power arm who is poised to open some eyes. 

Christan Villaneuva:  3/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .333.  This has already gone on longer than I thought it would given the minor league numbers so maybe it has some legs to it. 

Matt Kemp:  2/2 with his second HR while hitting .333.  While he may need a cane to get to first base, the guy can still hit with authority. 




Monday, April 16, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STOCK WATCH: LEWIS BRINSON SITTING BOTH GAMES OF YANKEE SERIES, DEMOTION COULD BE IMMINENT

                                                                  

For the second season in a row, consensus top outfield prospect Lewis Brinson is struggling to hit major league pitching and things have now reached the point where manager Don Mattingly already came out on Monday and said he would sit for the entire two-game series versus the New York Yankees in a "clear his head" strategy.  Things are already hitting rock bottom for Brinson who has one single hit in his last 36 at-bats and his K/9 rate is an obscene 30.3 percent going into Monday's slate.  Down to just a .131 average with zero home runs and just one steal, Brinson could be nearing a demotion back to the minors since the Marlins have nothing to play for and don't want to damage his confidence moving forward. Brinson's struggle mirror those of the Minnesota Twins' Byron Buxton who has a similar power/speed game but who also had major problems hitting major league pitching his first few years in the majors.  Anyone who owns stock in Brinson needs to bench him outright and only put him back in when he finally puts some hits together.  All in all though, things are not going well here by any means this season. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: BROKEN HAND TO SIDELINE JOSH HARRISON SIX WEEKS

                                                            

What we have quickly learned over the years in fantasy baseball is that when a hitter takes a pitch to the hand, 9 times out of 10 something bad will happen in terms of serious injury.  This often means a broken hand or finger and thus an expected sideline time of up to six weeks.  This is the exact scenario that took place Monday with Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Josh Harrison who learned he suffered a break in his left hand from an HBP Sunday and he is expected to miss around 6 weeks as a result.  Adam Frazier will likely pick up the slack in Harrison's absence but the fantasy baseball owners of the latter suffered a decent loss here since he was hitting .263 with 1 home runs and 1 stolen base and generally has been a very underrated power/speed guy in his career.  Stash him only in deeper leagues.  

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: KEVIN KIERMAIER DOWN 8-12 WEEKS WITH TORN THUMB LIGAMENT

                                                                  

It is amazing how bad both the injury luck has been for Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier during his still-young career and it is equally amazing how an problem with the thumb of all things can completely derail a guy's season.  Those two issues converged on Kiermaier Monday when it was learned he suffered a torn thumb ligament this past weekend and surgery to correct will keep him out the next 8-12 weeks.  While he was off to a slow start at the dish (.163 with 0 homers and 1 steal), Kiermaier was once again a nicely priced outfield item who went 10/18, 12/21, and 15/16 in the HR/SB columns the last three seasons.  Given the news of the day though, Kiermaier is not worth holding in even deeper leagues since the next time we will see him could be sometime around the All-Star break.  Having just once accumulated over 500 at-bats, Kiermaier has fully earned the injury-prone label to say the least.


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: RONALD ACUNA'S STRUGGLES AT TRIPLE-A DELAYING PROMOTION

With the date for preserving another year of service time having passed a few days ago, the assumption in fantasy baseball was that all of the top prospects would start being called up en masse to begin their expected superstar careers.  Unfortunately, that simply has not happened as guys like the Cincinnati Reds' Nick Senzel, the New York Yankees' Gleyber Torres (although he could be closer), and the Atlanta Braves' Ronald Acuna are still operating down on the farm.  The latter of course was the single-most hyped players for 2018 fantasy baseball drafts as Acuna has uncanny five-tool ability that he showed in tearing things up during the exhibition slate.  That hot stretch didn't carry over to the start of the Triple-A season though as Acuna goes into Monday's action with a paltry .152 average with a staggering 12 strikeouts in just 36 at-bats.  With Preston Tucker playing very well so far this season, the Braves have not had a pressing need to call up Acuna as he continues to struggle but it is still a bit of a bummer he has not arrived just yet.  Reports came out on Monday that there is no firm set date on when Acuna may in fact be promoted but count on the Braves wanting to see some signs of him coming out of the rut before they do so.  Be that as it may, Acuna is going to be insanely good and it should happen quickly once he gets comfortable against major league pitching. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: GLEYBER TORRES PROMOTION COULD BE IMMINENT

If you were watching the press meeting between New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone and the team's reporters Sunday afternoon after the team's doubleheader with the Detroit Tigers was rained out, you would have caught wind of a plan to promote top infield prospect Gleyber Torres sometime in the very near future.  While Boone didn't confirm that the move was in fact in the works, he also didn't it and also went into how much he looks forward to having Torres on the team.  With the Yanks infield dealing with the absence of third baseman Brandon Drury (migraines) and with fellow rookie Miguel Andujar really struggling, a promotion of Torres makes sense on so many levels.  Then there is the fact Torres is absolutely on fire in at Triple-A where he goes into Monday's action with a scorching .389 average with 1 home run and 1 stolen base in 39 at-bats to begin the season there.  Lauded as a future All-Star monster and considered a top five prospect in all of baseball, Torres already should be owned everywhere he is available.  With the deadline having passed to preserve another year before arbitration for prospects, look for a Torres promotion possibly as early as this Friday.  

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SUNDAY

Chris Sale:  5 IP 2 H 1 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 1.23.  The bigger shock would be if Sale ever gave up just 3 earned runs in any one start.

Starling Marte:  5/5 with his third HR while hitting .305.  Nothing like a 5-for-5 day to stop a cold streak in its place.  Hopefully, he did it clean.

Ivan Nova:  6.2 IP 6 H 3 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 4.88.  Nothing like facing the Miami Marlins to reverse an early season slump.  In Nova's defense though, his 1.17 WHIP shows he should be getting better results then he has been to this point in the season.

Stephen Strasburg:  6 IP 4 H 4 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.08.  One bad pitch marred an otherwise terrific outing.

Matt Albers:  1 ER in .2 IP with an ERA of and ERA of 2.16.  Albers has not pitched well since ascending to closer while Josh Hader is literally striking out everyone.

Noah Syndergaard:  5.1 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 11 K with an ERA of 2.95.  Thor is still not pitching deep into games but boy those strikeouts.  Also, no issue with blisters in this game.

DJ LeMahieu:  1/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .309.  I guess LeMahieu did the Scooter Gennett workout this past winter.

Charlie Blackmon:  2/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .298.  Blackmon has reached that hallowed level where he is so consistently great that he is boring to talk about.

Ian Desmond:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .190.  Ho-hum.

Trea Turner:  0/2 while hitting .203.  I wonder if those who own Turner still feel comfortable using that first round pick on him.

Bryce Harper:  1/2 with his 7th HR while hitting .300.  Take that Mike Trout.

Billy Hamilton:  1/5 with his first HR while hitting .170.  Who cares.

Carlos Martinez:  7 IP 2 H 0 ER 4 BB 11 K with an ERA of 1.75.  Martinez is locked in right now and dominating like I haven't seen from him in awhile.  Even in this one though, the walks were ugly.

Zack Godley:  4 IP 5 H 5 ER 6 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.00.  I know Godley was due for a bad outing but he didn't have to go the extra mile there.

Jed Lowrie:  2/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .348.  Sorry not buying into an aging veteran's sudden burst of stardom.

Sean Manaea:  7 IP 2 H 1 ER 2 BB 4 K with an ERA of 1.63.  The K rate is a bit lighter than you would like it but there is no denying that Manaea is off to by far the best start of his career.  Remember that Manaea has been on the sleeper radar for a few seasons now despite the disappointment leading into 2017.  Could be legit.

Clayton Kershaw:  7 IP 2 H 1 ER 0 BB 12 K with an ERA of 1.73.  This is Kershaw telling all of us not to go too crazy about Max Scherzer and Chris Sale.

Justin Verlander:  8 IP 1 H 1 ER 1 BB 11 K with an ERA of 1.35.  Best pitched game I have seen in quite some time on both sides. In terms of Verlander, the guy is simply amazing and he clearly has a bunch of gas left in the tank.

Bartolo Colon:  7.2 IP 1 H 1 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 1.45.  Here is hoping this guy never goes away in any way, shape, or form. 


Sunday, April 15, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY WATCH: ERIC THAMES EXITS WITH LEG/LOWER-BODY INJURY

                                                            

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder/first baseman Eric Thames was forced out of the team's Sunday game versus the New York Mets after injuring his leg or something in his lower body while striking out in the first inning against Noah Syndergaard. The weather is brutally cold and windy in New York with 42 degree temps which always is a risk for muscular injuries and this would be a decent loss for Thames' fantasy baseball owners given how hot he has been with the power this month.  

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: JOSE QUINTANA SP CHICAGO CUBS

Heading into the 2018 fantasy baseball, admittedly one of my preferred starting pitchers who had a decent price tag attached to him was the Chicago Cubs' Jose Quintana.  After all, Quintana first became a favorite in these parts when he churned out year after year of terrific numbers with the Chicago White Sox for annual prices of a late-round pick.  With a K/9 rate that only kept growing (and would especially do so once he arrived with the Cubs during a mid-season trade a year ago), the thought of even better numbers for 2018 was easy to understand.  Well I guess Quintana didn't get the memo because his latest shellacking on Saturday (7 ER in 2.1 IP) have him now sitting with the following numbers:

1-1
8.16 ERA
1.18 WHIP
5.65 K/9

Man those are ugly numbers no matter where you look and they get worse the further you did.  What quickly stands out is Quintana's 5.65 K/9 which is downright putrid and far below his 9.87 mark a year ago.  Even if you go back further, Quintana at the very least was a mid-7.50 K/9 guy.  So something is amiss here and one part of the blame could go that Quintana's average fastball velocity is down to just 91.4 this season which is down from his standard 92.5  While not much, any dip in fastball velocity makes a big difference for a hitter and so it is easier for them to catch up to Quintana's heater.  In addition, Quintana is really fighting his control as his 6.28 BB/9 is downright comical.  Since he is not beating himself with home runs (just a 0.63 HR/9), it stands to reason that Quintana is just messed up mechanically to begin the season.  You have to take into consideration that the weather in Chicago and most of the country for that matter has been horrendous and so some blame can lie there.  Once the winter winds die down and the temperature heats up, Quintana should be much more effective.  Quintana has always had very good control and so his struggles right now on that front belongs in the outlier bin.  In fact we would suggest trying a buy low here given what the advanced rates are showing.  Things will turn around so keep the faith here and see things through. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: BLUE JAYS-INDIANS FIRST OF MANY POSSIBLE POSTPONEMENTS

The weather can only be described as dreadful in the middle and eastern portion of the United States on Sunday and that means a slew of MLB games are in jeopardy of being canceled.  Already the Toronto Blue Jays-Cleveland Indians has been called given heavy rain in the area and more could be on the way there.  So that means it is imperative you keep tabs on your fantasy baseball lineups which will need to be adjusted given the absences. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SATURDAY

Charlie Blackmon:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .279.  Interesting is that Blackmon was batting third in this one and not leadoff in his return from stubborn back soreness.  I like it.

Matt Wieters:  2/4 with his first HR while hitting .214.  I am still holding out hope Wieters can be useful again.

Max Scherzer:  7 IP 1 H 2 ER 1 BB 11 K with an ERA of 1.33.  You wouldn't believe all the hate tweets I have gotten the last two seasons when I said Max Scherzer was a better fantasy baseball starting pitcher pick than Clayton Kershaw.  Not hearing that as much now anymore.

Jon Gray:  5 ER in 5.1 IP with an ERA of 6.23.  Cut him loose and be done with it already.

Tommy Pham:  3/4 with 2 steals (5 for season) while hitting .327.  If Pham can lock down this leadoff spot the way he is performing, LOOK OUT!  Encore is pretty special so far.

Hanley Ramirez:  2/5 with his third HR while hitting .362.  Maybe when HanRam said he wanted to go 30/30, he was not trying to be funny after all.

J.D. Martinez:  3/5 with his third HR while hitting .283.  I said the other day Martinez was not finding his groove in Boston and now look.

Alex Cobb:  7 ER in 3.2 IP with an ERA of 17.18.  Keep in mind that Lance Lynn got bombed his first time out as there was clearly rush from the two late signings.  What does separate the two though is that Lynn is not in the AL East and has a better K rate.

Hector Velasquez:  5 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 5 K.  No, no, no, no, NO!  Former Mexican League pitcher has a career K/9 usually in the 6.50 range and in the AL East that is asking for it.

Jose Quintana:  2.1 IP 7 H 7 ER 4 BB 1 K with an ERA of 8.16.  On the short list of being the worst pitcher in fantasy baseball relative to drafts spot.

Sean Newcomb:  5.1 IP 6 H 2 ER 4 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.02.  The 1.53 WHIP showsNewcomb's ERA should be even worse.  He is not ready to contribute consistently to fantasy baseball yet.

Ozzie Albies:  3/5 with his 5th HR while hitting .313.  My goodness the power.  That has been a real surprise but the average and speed hasn't been.  I can't say it enough that Albies is going to be a possible first-round pick as soon as next spring.

Charlie Morton:  6 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 12 K with an ERA of 1.00.  Look at that ERA!  I guess if you missed out on Max Scherzer but got Charlie Morton, you got the same player.

Joey Gallo:  2/5 with his 5th HR while hitting .212.  And Gallo threw in a bonus hit with the bomb.

Adrian Beltre:  2/4 with his first HR while hitting .298.  The Yadier Molina of third baseman.

Yuli Gurriel:  2/5 with his first HR while hitting .333.  There won't be an overly high amount of home runs but Gurriel can hit with the best of them.

Mike Trout:  1/5 with his sixth HR while hitting .266.  Only really care about how many bases Trout's steals since that is the only thing up for question with the number one player in the entire game. 

Justin Upton:  2/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .297.  There is some average hope here as Upton's K/9 is just 17.3 which is down from 28.8 a year ago.  The numbers always seem to be moving all over the map here (from average to steals) but Upton always turns a profit since he is not as highly sought after the last few seasons like he was when first coming up. 

Mike Moustaskas:  1/4 with his third HR while hitting .327.  Even if Moustakas hits .300 this season, I don't think he suddenly gets paid next winter. 

Garrett Richards:  5 IP 1 H 3 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.60.  The fastball is still humming here despite the UCL tear in his elbow but Richards now reeks of being just an SP 5 at best. 

Jonathan Villar:  1/4 with his first HR while hitting .298. I wrote in the spring how Villar was a good buy low given how far his ADP had fallen off that terrible 2017.  Being taken out of the leadoff spot has helped take the pressure off of Villar and he has responded nicely. 

Orlando Arcia:  1/1 with his first HR while hitting .178.  I like Arcia's tools but hated his batting order spot which is why I own no shares.  Batting order spot is never to be overlooked in the NL where hitting towards the bottom of it is a huge negative. 

Chase Anderson:  6.1 IP 2 H 1 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.82.  Anderson is now into his second straight season of very good pitching adding legitimacy to his stock. 

Josh Hader:  2 perfect IP with 5 K for first save and ERA of 1.86.  Hader is now up to 22 K in 9 IP which is downright insane and you have to think Craig Counsell will fully unleash him as the closer the way he is throwing. 

Jameson Taillon:  6 IP 4 H 0 ER 3 BB 2 K with an ERA of 0.89.  Second straight dominant outing from Taillon who only lacks consistent K's to be a fantasy baseball ace.

Jake Arrieta:  6.2 IP 7 H 2 ER 2 BB 1 K with an ERA of 3.38.  The K's are absent so far which you have to wonder if being chalked up to arm fatigue and injuries from such high usage the last few seasons. 

Chris Archer:  7 ER in 4 IP with an ERA of 7.84.  A complete disgrace is what Archer has been this sesaon. We all know about the lack of a third pitch and the homer issues but I wonder if he is pitching hurt since there have been a few scares the last season-plus.  We have may reached the benching point here despite the name brand. 

Khris Davis:  1/5 with his 5th HR while hitting .259.  Third game in a row with a homer.  Owning Davis can be annoying with the dry spells but not when you look at 40 homers by the end of the season. 

Jean Segura:  2/5 with his first HR while hitting .253.  Not impressed by the early production from Segura so far but as a veteran still in his younger prime years, there is little need to worry. 

Mitch Haniger:  2/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .310.  Wow Haniger has made it halfway through April without getting hurt. 

Dan Voglebach:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .258.  Voglebach can be added in AL-only formats and in deeper leagues since he looks comfortable at the dish and has some power.  Just cut bait when that inevitable cold spell filled with K's arrives. 

Kyle Seager:  3/4 with his third HR while hitting .304.  Kyle needs to get a hold of Corey and get him going. 

Paul Goldschmidt:  3/4 with his third HR while hitting .235.  Back on track. 

A.J. Pollock:  2/4 with 2 home runs (3 for season) while hitting .294.  This guy has so much ridiculous talent but continually gets undermined by the lack of health.  Please stay upright as I am heavily involved here this season. 

Chris Taylor:  0/3 while hitting .214.  Looking more like a pretender by the day.