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Saturday, June 30, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: IS SAQUON BARKLEY A SLAM-DUNK PICK IN ROUND 1?

The New York Giants were one of the more polarizing teams entering into the 2018 NFL Draft due to the debate held in most circles about whether they should select the heir apparent QB to Eli Manning among whoever the Cleveland Browns didn't take at one or if they should dive back in with Manning and give him a major toy in running/receiving dynamo back Saquon Barkley.  By now we all know that Barkley ended up being the choice and thoughts quickly turned to his suddenly potent standing for 2018 fantasy football.  Already with mocks and some actual fantasy football drafts taking place as the calendar gets set to turn to July, Barkley is finding himself being picked in the latter half of round 1 in many leagues both standard and PPR.  The question of course is whether this is warranted or not which we are here to answer as we continue to look at some prime storylines for fantasy football this summer.

In terms of Barkley being worthy of a first-round pick, now seems a very silly time to ask this question given what we have seen the last two seasons among rookie backs.  Two years ago it was Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys taking both the NFL and the fantasy football world by storm as a rookie and last season was even more ridiculous as Kareem Hunt became just as much a monster and he was complemented by big performances on a per game basis by Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey Leonard Fournette, and Alvin Kamara.  Throw in the fact that Barkley's 2018 draft grade was HIGHER than each and every one of those previous names and it becomes foolish debating such a topic.  Of course, usage will determine just how far Barkley goes as the Giants have become one of the more annoying teams with regards to using a committee at running back the last few seasons.  They did sign veteran Jonathan Stewart during the winter to possibly work as a goal-line back (idiotic if this does take place) and also retain pass-catching maven Wayne Gallman.  Be that as it may, Barkley is a can't-miss prospect who will get to do his thing both in the running and receiving game and so he should be a first-round pick in all leagues this summer.  Sometime we just can't overthink things when it comes to evaluating a player and Barkley is one such case.






Friday, June 29, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: CHRIS ARCHER SP TAMPA BAY RAYS

Having been cleared to begin a rehab assignment next week, the return of Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer to active duty is drawing nearer.  On the DL for the last few weeks due to an abdominal strain, Archer has been nothing short of a disaster for those who still own fantasy baseball stock in the guy as he was hit around badly prior to getting hurt.  Things were so bad that this one-time big Archer fan was on board with anyone who wanted to cut him outright in mixed leagues.  While the hope is that Archer will return a much better pitcher then when he left, the damage he has done already is stark as evidenced by the following numbers:

3-4
4.24 ERA
1.34 WHIP
.260 BAA
8.96 K/9
3.07 BB/9
1.06 HR/9
.324 BABIP

Boy those are some ugly numbers and while Archer was always a guy who seemed to pitch worse than what one would think is possible from a guy who habitually struck out 240 batters a season, there are a multitude of red flags worth discussing.  The starkest is the insane drop in K/9 from Archer who prior to 2017 was one of the very best strikeout artists in baseball who struck out 252, 233, and 249 batters the three seasons prior to 2018.  Alas, Archer's K/9 has gone from an extremely good 11.15 a year ago to just 8.96 this season.  While 8.96 is still very solid, the loss of strikeouts has made Archer so much more hittable which makes sense in terms of the ugly ERA and WHIP.  What is also interesting here is that Archer has not lost anything in terms of average fastball velocity as his 95.4 mark this season is only just a smidge down from 95.8 the year prior.  What we do have here is Archer missing with location as his walks are up sharply and he also is dealing with a BABIP that is in the unlucky range.  When Archer's unlucky BABIP is adjusted, his FIP (3.78) and XFIP (3.78) ERA's are much more palatable. 

So what we have here is that Archer could benefit from the time off and come back with the lost strikeouts from the first two months of the season.  Also if his luck regresses back to the mean, the ERA will drop as well which changes the whole storyline here.  If you do still hold shares in Archer, be a bit careful of his early usage but also don't be afraid to buy into the advanced numbers portending to better outings being on the way soon. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: LANCE McCULLERS SP HOUSTON ASTROS

When you pitch in a Houston Astros rotation that may already be in the running for the most dominant group of all-time and is fronted by THREE guys who could legitimately challenge for the AL Cy Young, it can be very tough to get noticed.  Such is the current setup for youngster pitcher Lance McCullers who has watched Justin Verlander, Charlie Morton, and Gerrit Cole look like an old Greg Maddux-Tom Glavine-John Smoltz threesome from back in their dominant Atlanta Braves days and thus outings like Thursday when he overwhelmed the Tampa Bay Rays (7 shutout innings, 3 hits, 7 K's) can get overlooked.  Be that as it may, McCullers is having a fantastic season himself as he makes good on all of the power pitching promise he showed when he first came on the scene in 2016.  Having been held back by some major injury scares since then, McCullers has remained healthy this season to the point where his following numbers look very impressive:

9-3
3.55 ERA
1.15 WHIP
.214 BAA
9.41 K/9
3.38 BB/9
0.89 HR/9
.272 BABIP

What is interesting here is that McCullers should have an ERA even BETTER than his current 3.55 given the unlucky .272 BABIP but there is also no doubt he is a real chore to hit against as his .214 BAA is dominant.  While McCullers continues to struggle with control (not a surprise since most young hard-throwers have issues there), he is keeping the baseball in the park and missing bats at a very nice clip. The best part of course is that McCullers is staying healthy which was not the case really at any point in 2017 and so now it is about his talent doing the work.  On that front, McCullers has been very good to where he is holding his own in the stacked Houston rotation and also becoming a major asset for his fantasy baseball owners. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

Zack Greinke:  7 IP 7 H 0 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.41.  The days of an under-3.00 ERA for Greinke seem gone for good but the current/aging version is still pretty damn decent. 

Logan Morrison:  2/5 with his 9th HR while hitting .191.  Put last season's outlier behind you because Morrison is still garbage. 

Jake Odorizzi:  6 IP 3 H 0 ER 3 BB 8 K with an ERA of 4.62.  Like with Morrison, Odorizzi's days of fantasy baseball relevancy died the day he departed Tampa Bay.

Nick Castellanos:  2/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .310.  I'm perfectly fine if Castellanos gets a hold of 9/10th's of what I predicted for him back in March.  Classic case of another player who came up perhaps a tad premature in his development but wound up becoming a top guy as he made incremental improvements each season. 

Sean Manaea:  6 IP 5 H 2 ER 1 BB 2 K with an ERA of 3.38.  Manaea has steadied his season when it began to look like it was spiraling out of control almost from the moment he finished his no-no.  Have no issue with him being a solid SP 3 but he is and never was anything more than that.

Michael Fulmer:  8 IP 9 H 4 ER 0 BB 5 K with an ERA of 4.20.  The Tigers said they would not be trading Fulmer but I always found it telling they entertained talks for him as much as they did.  Could be the elbow is a ticking time bomb or it also could be that Fulmer is in no way as good as his initial breakout (that I called a fluke) seemed. 

Nelson Cruz:  3/5 with his 21st HR while hitting .277.  Yeah Cruz is now officially all the way back where he should be....or where I said he would be in telling his owners not to panic in April. 

Manny Machado:  1/3 with his 20th HR while hitting .303.  There is not a player on the block this summer who could tilt the balance of power in baseball almost by himself the way Machado can.

Chris Davis:  1/3 with his 7th HR while hitting .155.  I mean we all knew Davis was a perennial joke in the average department but this is ridiculous. 

Albert Almora Jr.:  2/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .318.  Yes pick him up. 

Justin Turner:  1/3 with his 4th HR while hitting .256.  Shocked at how bad the power has been so far for Turner and you got to at least wonder if all his recent injuries the last few seasons are to blame.  He is no spring chicken after all and the body doesn't bounce back as it does in it's 20's. 

Max Muncy:  2/3 with his 17th HR while hitting .266.  The assault on MLB continues.  Remind you of Khris Davis?

Clayton Kershaw:  5 IP 4 H 1 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.84.  The Dodgers are still babying Kershaw a bit we're fine with that as long as he can answer the bell the rest of the way. 

Walker Buehler:  5 ER in 1 IP with an ERA of 3.44.  Talk about one outing blowing up a whole season of previously good work. 

DJ LeMahieu:  3/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .280.  Looks like LeMahieu is headed for a career-best in home runs which is a nice bonus.

Nolan Arenado:  1/5 with his 19th HR while hitting .308.  The single most consistent/dependable PLAYER in all of fantasy baseball. 

Brandon Belt:  2/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .295.  Yet another injury interrupted things but Belt has been a revelation this season in finally realizing all of the potential he once carried around during his early San Francisco days. 

Jon Gray:  5 ER in 4 IP with an ERA of 5.77.  It is never going to happen here. 

Rhys Hoskins:  3/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .260.  Signs of the second half of 2017.

Aaron Nola:  7.2 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.48.  What a gem this guy is.  Would take him over Noah Syndergaard right now if both guys were healthy and a draft was held today. 

Andrelton Simmons:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .313.  Simmons' reputation for sterling defense preceded him with regards to overshadowing what has been a terrific development as a hitter. 

Rafael Devers:  1/3 with his 13th HR while hitting.242.  2019 will be the crucial season of development in terms of whether or not Devers can become more than the all-or-nothing slugger he is now. 

Jackie Bradley Jr.:  1/3 with his sixth HR while hitting .202.  Well for those in AL-only leagues, Bradley Jr. is finally showing a pulse. 

Eric Thames:  1/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .234.  Hey love the leadoff gig but Thames has already been exposed as nothing but a .240-ish hitter with all the power.

Jesus Aguilar:  3/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .313.  Imagine the guy who just played the wire and picked up Max Muncy and Aguilar this season. 

Jose Peraza:  2/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .273.  Took a few seasons of failure by Billy Hamilton to force the Reds to see what they really had in this dynamo leadoff man.




Thursday, June 28, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: THE TROUBLE WITH PICKING ANTONIO BROWN IN ROUND 1

With early 2018 fantasy football drafts already underway, now is a good time to check in on some early themes and one that crops up yet again this season is the first round status of Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Antonio Brown.  On talent and numbers alone, Brown is absolutely worthy of top-five overall status in any fantasy football league and that goes for 2018 as well.  Now up to five straight seasons of 100-catch campaigns, Brown seems like a player you never have to worry about in terms of numbers and durability.  While we subscribe to that overall line of thinking, it get a bit complicated when you look at 2018 fantasy football drafts and how things are currently unfolding.  Specifically speaking, the top of the running back heap is as potent as ever but this group also doesn't go very deep given the high amount of committee's out there.  Thus, getting your hands on one of these backs really sets up up for massive running AND receiving numbers from the same player, while you only get the receiving end of things with Brown.  Now as far as those backs are concerned, you have the following "Super Five" of Le'Veon Bell, David Johnson, Todd Gurley, Kareem Hunt, and Ezekiel Elliott who very well could be the top five picks in most fantasy football drafts this summer.  Then close behind them you have LeSean McCoy, Melvin Gordon, Alvin Kamara, and even rookie Saquon Barkley.  That brings to 9 out of 12 first round slots that should go to both RUNNING and RECEIVING backs.  Meanwhile those who take Brown only get receiving numbers and then likely have to look at more limited or questionable second round backs such as the recovering Dalvin Cook, the OC questions marks in Atlanta dogging Devonta Freeman, and the non-receiving games of Jordan Howard and Leonard Fournette.  In addition, Brown's fortunes are almost completely tied to the health of Ben Roethlisberger who 7 total games the last three seasons.  One only has to think back a few seasons ago when Big Ben sat for 4 games in 2015 and saw Brown struggle to catch passes from Michael Vick to know how suddenly things can change for the worse when injuries strike.  So when you look at things through that prism, using a first-round pick on a running back is the way to go here and Brown should not be looked at unless you are picking 10th or later.  Agreed?  

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: CHARLIE MORTON SP HOUSTON ASTROS

While Justin Verlander or even Gerrit Cole deservedly get major accolades for their beyond tremendous pitching during the 2018 fantasy baseball, one must be sure not to overlook the just as superb work being done by veteran Charlie Morton.  By now the story has been repeated countless times about how Morton overhauled his delivery mid-career and in the process found some extra mph on his fastball that suddenly elevated him from a back-of-the-rotation filler arm to an ace in fantasy baseball.  Having punched out 13 batters in another gem on Tuesday night, Morton now sits on the following overall numbers that have him as arguably the best fantasy baseball pitching value of the season at the age of 34:

10-1
2.54 ERA
1.11 WHIP
.194 BAA
11.48 K/9
3.67 BB/9
1.03 HR/9
.263 BABIP

Just look at that record!  And the K/9 rate is beyond insanity as well.  Add in the sparkling ERA and WHIP and Morton has been an absolute stud fantasy baseball ace who cost nothing but a late mid-round pick in 2018 drafts.  Obviously, the strikeouts have been a major boon to both Morton's overall game and his standing in fantasy baseball and we are now talking Chris Sale or Max Scherzer territory when it comes to that area.  It all comes back to the increased velocity as Morton averages an absurd 96.9 on his fastball after being as low as 92.9 back in 2015.  The increase in velocity has now allowed Morton to escape damage he has always inflicted upon himself with walks (still very high this season at 3.67BB/9) and also gets him out of jams when some odd hits fall in.  Yes Morton does have a lucky .263 BABIP to inflate (or deflate) the ERA but his .194 BAA makes you see just how tough a chore it is to face him this season if you are a major league hitter.

When you put it all together, it almost all comes up smelling like roses with Morton this season.  While he could give back some in the ERA department if the BABIP moves back some to mean, his strikeouts and overall dominance this season make him one of the very best hurlers in the game this season.


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

Jose Peraza:  2/5 with his third HR while hitting .270.  Peraza has a bit of pop in his bat to go with all the speed but what you really like here is that he is not like his teammate Billy Hamilton in that he can consistently hit his way on base to run like wild.

Sean Newcomb:  6 IP 7 H 3 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.71.  It probably is nothing to worry about but Newcomb has had two straight outings with more baserunners than innings pitched.  Could be a mid-season bout of fatigue but maybe not.

Mike Moustakas:  2/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .255.  There should no longer be any doubt how good the power is here but Moustakas is more the struggling average hitter he was for most of his previous career than what we saw in 2017.

Jesus Aguilar:  1/2 with his 18th HR while hitting .304.  We are getting to the point now where Aguilar is in the conversation as the best waiver wire add among hitters for 2018 fantasy baseball.

Alex Bregman:  3/5 with his 14th HR while hitting .277.  There is not a hotter hitter in all of fantasy baseball right now.

Dallas Keuchel:  6 ER in 5.1 IP with an ERA of 4.22.  Seems to be great one year, crap the next kind of deal with this guy.

Kyle Seager:  3/6 with his 15th HR while hitting .230.  Seager is hot as hell as the hits and homers pile up over the last week which means he is moving from being just starter-worthy in AL-only leagues to also mixers.  Also keep in mind this is par for the course for Seager who always does his best work from June onward.

Ryon Healy:  1/5 with his 15th HR while hitting .248.  At just 26, the Mariners got Ryon Healy just as he was reaching his prime years as we are seeing some good offensive spikes here.  While he is allergic to walks (4.3 BB/9), Healy's .260 BABIP is also quite unlucky which means an average uptick is also on the way to go with the extremely good power. 

Rhys Hoskins:  2/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .252.  Still, plenty of time for Hoskins to earn back 80 percent of what his fantasy baseball owners spent on his insanely elevated 2018 fantasy baseball price. 

Zach Eflin:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.02.  If you just picked up young Phillies pitchers off waivers this season (Eflin, Pivetta), you did really well. 

Ian Kinsler:  1/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .216.  At the very least you can't say Kinsler is still not capable of hitting for very impressive power.  Again, this is usually the last stat to go from an aging veteran on the cliff. 

J.D. Martinez:  2/4 with his 25th HR while hitting .329.  It is like the Red Sox fans are watching a clean version of Manny Ramirez. 

Eduardo Nunez:  1/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .254.  Not having everyday action has put a major hurt on Nunez' fantasy baseball potential in Boston this season. 

Andrew Heaney:  6 ER in 3.1 IP with an ERA of 3.95.  Despite being a big fan of his, I posted on Twitter last night to bench Heaney in Boston as I would with 90 percent of all pitchers.  The Boston lineup is so insanely great that these outings can be thrown out to a degree. 

Wilmer Flores:  1/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .258.  The only Mets hitter not named Brandon Nimmo and Asdrubal Cabrera with a pulse. 

Zack Wheeler:  7 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.47.  The stuff remains good but there is zero consistency when it comes to Wheeler.  That makes him impossible to depend on even in a streamer scenario. 

Robbie Ray:  6 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.01.  A successful return for Ray who has some work to do to pacify his fantasy baseball owners who watched him pitch terribly before getting injured.  No question about the massive strikeout potential which always puts a pitcher a step ahead. 

Mike Minor:  7 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 5 K with an ERA of 4.64.  Minor has talent as we have seen in the past but hate the fact he operates in Texas. 

Jose Abreu:  2/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .272.  He will be hitting .300 before you know it don't worry. 

Avisail Garcia:  1/4 with his third HR while hitting .232.  This is a crucial season for Garcia in order to show where his true numbers ability lies. 

Kyle Gibson:  5 ER in 7 IP with an ERA of 3.48.  Surprised Gibson has managed to go this far into the season with such a tidy ERA.  It won't last. 

Edwin Encarnacion:  1/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .235.  Can Encarnacion hit .250 again?  Debatable. 

Shane Bieber:  6 IP 6 H 1 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.22.  On paper this seemed like a tough assignment on the road for Bieber but he was in total control which is a reminder of how great a season he is having no matter the level.  Use liberally. 

Wilson Contreras:  2/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .272.  I said to stay patient here and the numbers are beginning to flow as anticipated.  By the end of the season Contreras will have yielded what his owners paid to get him onto their rosters. 

Joc Pederson:  1/3 with his 11th HR while hitting .265.  This performance has legs to it.  Keep riding it out. 

Max Muncy:  1/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .259.  Seems like Muncy just showed up yesterday but now he has 16 bombs.  He draws walks like they are going out of style so the average should stay above liability range. 

Cody Bellinger:  2/5 with his 16th HR while hitting .246.  The holes in Bellinger's swing made me avoid him this season in predicting sophomore trouble and this is what has taken place. 


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: JONATHAN LOASIGA THE LATEST YANKEES GEM

The endless supply of top prospects compiled by New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman shows no signs of slowing down and the latest gem comes in the form of 23-year-old power pitcher Jonathan Loaisiga.  Having made what can only be described as a ridiculously quick ascension up the minor league ladder, Loaisiga has been nothing short of remarkable through three MLB starts as he has compiled the following numbers:

2-0\
1.93 ERA
1.29 WHIP
.204 BAA
11.57 K/9
5.14 BB/9
0.00 HR/9

Wow those strikeouts.  It is the strikeout that has clearly out Loasiga on the fantasy baseball map and the hype there is well-deserved as he was a K machine at every stop of the minors as well.  Already this season Loasiga has pitched at Single-A (1.35 ERA, 11.70 K/9) and Double-A (4.32 ERA, 11.52 K/9) before going nuts already for the Yanks.  Blessed with a fastball that approaches 100-mph and also has movement, Loasiga seems destined to be the team's next Luis Severino on the power front.  Now one may quibble with the ugly BB/9 rate which is understandable but Loasiga showed nothing but impeccable control in the minors prior to his arrival with the Yanks which means nerves are likely playing a factor there.  The way Loasiga is pitching, the Yanks almost have to see this through as the kid really has been something to see.

Now in terms of how to play this going forward, you obviously want to use caution against teams like Boston and Toronto but Loasiga has earned the right to be in your active lineup on most days that he is pitching.  The kid is quickly becoming a sizable 2018 fantasy baseball story and given the massive success of other recent Yankee prospects, this could be a story that continues on with decent results.


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: TUESDAY

Nathan Eovaldi:  6 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 4.08.  We have seen so much disgrace from Eovaldi in his career but he always has had the big fastball.  Whether he finally has some movement on the heater is up for debate but his early results coming back from Tommy John look promising. 

Max Scherzer:  7 IP 4 H 1 ER 3 BB 4 K with an ERA of 2.04.  It is ridiculous that Scherzer has four losses. 

Kyle Seager:  2/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .225.  Again no qualms with the usually very good power coming from Seager but it used to come with AT LEAST a .260 average., 

James Paxton:  7 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 10 K with an ERA of 3.65.  As a Paxton owner, I sweat every start in hopes he makes it out in one piece but so far am ecstatic we are almost at the end of June here and he is still functional. 

Aaron Hicks:  2/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .248.  Hicks would look real good as the every day leadoff man if Brett Gardner departs for 2019.

Didi Gregorious:  1/5 with his 15th HR while hitting .259.  April was out of this world but still Gregorious has rebounded since the simply brutal May to pretty much put himself back where he was a year ago which is just fine.

Luis Severino:  7 IP 5 H 0 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.10.  It is crazy the ERA's and strikeout numbers from some of the big-time fantasy baseball aces around the game this season.  Wasn't this supposed to be the tougher league to pitch against?

Jake Arrieta:  5 IP 9 H 3 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.54.  Closer and closer to over 3.75 ERA like I said.  Get out NOW!

Mookie Betts:  1/3 with his 20th HR while hitting .338.  20 home runs before the All-Star Break is ridiculous as it is but when paired with the .338 average we are talking fantasy baseball MVP.

J.D. Martinez:  2/5 with his 24th HR while hitting .326.  If you have a Boston Red Sox fan in your fantasy baseball league, chances are he is running away with the hitting categories.

Jackie Bradley Jr.:  3/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .199.  Bradley Jr. is the forgotten man in this whole Boston outfield arrangement given his lack of hitting but I spoke in 2016 how I didn't think the ceiling would go very high given some contact problems. 

David Price:  6 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.66.  It goes to show you that when Price just shuts his mouth and pitches, he can still do it very well.

Jed Lowrie:  4/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .288.  Aging gracefully here.

Gregory Polanco:  2/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .220.  I like seeing extra hits besides the home run from Polanco as he really needs to hike his average/consistency or else vanish into the nether regions of the fantasy baseball universe given all the disappointing letdowns previously.

Michael Conforto:  1/3 with his 10th HR while hitting .232.  I still believe. 

Steven Matz:  7 IP 6 H 3 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.69.  Lost in what has been a comically inept season by the New York Mets is the solid effort being put forth by Steven Matz. 

Zack Godley:  5 IP 6 H 2 ER 4 BB 4 K with an ERA of 4.58.  He got the win but Godley can't do any better than 5 innings versus the Marlins?  I understand if anyone has run out of patience here. 

Rougned Odor:  1/4 with his third HR while hitting .227.  If this kid doesn't learn any semblance of plate discipline, he will be doomed to backup status no matter how many home runs he hits. 

Brian Dozier:  1/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .221.  Terrible season so far for Dozier as he is now down in the Twins lineup given his hitting struggles and it brings to mind his pre-2016 performances which I was never impressed with. 

Adalberto Mondesi:  2/3 with his first HR while hitting .208.  The home run is nice but I still don't think Mondesi can't hit enough to stick and also unleash his speed. 

Ryan Braun:  2/3 with his 9th HR while hitting .245.  Braun is now firmly settling into the all-or-nothing power hitting phase of his aging career. 

Jesus Aguilar:  2/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .302.  The insane breakout continues.

Christian Yelich:  2/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .291.  Still seems like Yelich will be at his standard numbers this season like always despite the move to Milwaukee.  That qualifies as a bit disappointing. 

Jakob Junis:  5 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 4.67.  So yeah in April I spoke of the very lucky BABIP and strand rate and that things would go the other direction before too long.  It almost always does and sometimes in nasty fashion like this. 

Freddy Peralta:  7 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 10 K with an ERA of 1.59.  Holy cow.  It is very simple with Peralta in that like most young power arms, when the control is good then domination ensues.  Anyone start could be a blowup given the extreme youth here but Peralta is the real deal on the K front. 

Ian Desmond:  2/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .217.  It is a real shame that Desmond's insane strikeout ways have prevented him from hitting for even a decent average as the power has been very good.  Always something with this guy. 

Alex Bregman:  4/5 with his 13th HR while hitting .272.  We could be seeing the beginning stages of what may be an INSANE offensive performance the rest of the way. 

Charlie Morton:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 2 BB 13 K with an ERA of 2.54.  I can't think of many other pitchers who have had such pretty strikeout game logs than this guy this season. 



Tuesday, June 26, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL TOP 12: PPR

Amazing that 2018 fantasy football drafts are already underway (in my opinion a bad idea as you want to wait until as close to the season as possible given the injury factor) and so now is a good time to look at what a typical 12-team PPR first round should look like. 

1.  Todd Gurley:  Unlike the last few seasons where there was no clear consensus number 1 pick in fantasy football 2018 is no such year as Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley should hear his name called first everywhere. 

2.  Le'Veon Bell:  While we once again have a summer contract battle playing out, there is also no doubt that the closest challenger to Gurley as the top pick in 2018 fantasy football drafts is this superb running/receiving dynamo.  While Bell has an injury history to be wary of, he held up just fine under a heavy workload a year ago. 

3.  Antonio Brown:  While Brown is at the mercy of the health of QB Ben Roethlisberger, the guy remains the premier pass catcher in the game by a country mile.  Another 100-plus catcher, 1,300-plus yards, and double-digit scores would be the easiest prediction you could make for the upcoming season. 

4.  David Johnson:  You always have a leery feeling investing a first round pick on any player who missed the majority of the previous season with injury but that is the setup for Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson.  What makes us feel better about Johnson going into the new season is that it was a busted wrist and not an injury to his legs that derailed almost his entire 2017.  The Cards continue to plan on using him heavily in both the running and passing game and so Johnson should stay in the top five and get the nod over Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott due to his prowess in the latter side of the offensive attack.

5.  Ezekiel Elliott:  Yes Elliott is not the receiving as the four guys ahead of him on this list but he is every bit the runner.  The Cowboys remain one of the most run-heavy offensive outfits in the league and Elliott will once again operate behind one of the best offensive line's in the league. 

6.  DeAndre Hopkins:  It is amazing that the Houston Texans' Hopkins was able to snag 96 catches while playing with some brutal QB's a year ago not named DeShaun Watson.  With Watson fully healthy entering the season, Hopkins could challenge Brown for the top WR spot in 2018.

7.  Kareem Hunt:  You could make the case for Hunt as a top-five overall guy and I would have no issue.  I think Andy Reid will carefully monitor Hunt's 2018 workload as he did in the middle of 2017 but other than that, Hunt is set to be yet another major running/receiving monster this season.

8.  Michael Thomas:  Tough call between Thomas and Alvin Kamara but I like the consistency of the former which in my view makes him the smarter pick.

9.  Alvin Kamara:  When I look at Kamara for 2018, I get the bad feeling he will slightly disappoint.  The expectations are through the roof here as they should off such a spectacular 2017debut but I always hate paying top dollar for the previous year's numbers.  The first four weeks should be a real show with Mark Ingram suspended but the latter's return is a major threat to Kamara's numbers. 

10. Odell Beckham Jr.:  You got to swallow hard when using a first round pick on Beckham given his injury history but he is playing for a new contract which should have him firing on all cylinders. 

11. Melvin Gordon:  I have seen Gordon fall to the second round in early mocks which is surprising since he is the clear workhorse back for the Los Angeles Chargers who is featured heavily both in the running and passing game.

12. Julio Jones:  I say Jones is overrated a bit every season and that comes out to be true since he doesn't score a bunch of TD's and he looked shaky at times in Steve Sarkisian's offense last season.  In PPR though, he remains a clear WR 1 option. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: KRIS BRYANT 3B/OF CHICAGO CUBS

When it came to 2018 fantasy baseball drafts, one player who elicited some debate regarding whether he belonged in the first-round was Chicago Cubs third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant.  While no one doubts the extreme pedigree (first overall pick in 2013) and massive numbers already put up before the age of 26 (39 home runs in 2016), Bryant was coming off a 2017 campaign that saw him lose offensive numbers in every category but average.  Having lost 10 home runs, 10 runs scored, and a massive 29 RBI from the year prior, some wondered whether or not Bryant was worthy of being a first-round pick again.  Add in the fact that manager Joe Maddon began using Bryant in the number two spot in the order which cuts down on RBI opportunities and there was some validity to questioning his first round status.  With all that said, Bryant goes into Tuesday's action both hobbled (dealing with a current shoulder ailment) and the following numbers:

.280
9 HR
36 RBI
40 R
2 SB
21.2 K/9
10.9 BB/9
.340 BABIP

Looking at the numbers, there is no doubt that Bryant has been very solid almost across the board but he also has seen his power numbers down on a per game basis for the second season in a row.  In fact we are now starting to wonder if the 39 home runs Bryant hit in 2016 is an outlier number as he is on pace for just 26 this season after going for 29 the year prior and that is with the additional at-bats in the two spot.  What we do notice as well is that Bryant has lost a bit of plate discipline this season as his strikeouts are up some and his walks are down.  That is not the combination you want and it often results in the average taking a hit as we see with Bryant batting .280.  While .280 is a nice number, it is down from the .290-plus of each of the last two seasons and so Bryant is not clicking on all the hitting cylinders.  Also one has to wonder if Bryant's running days are over as well since he has been on a decline for three straight seasons there.  After going for 13 steals in 2015, Bryant has sank to 8 and 7 the last two years and is on pace for just 6 in 2018.  Again, another hit to the bottom line statistics.  Add in some injury problems already this season and Bryant has not been a first round guy on numbers so far.  With that said though, Bryant is as talented a player as there is in baseball and he is still a major hold in our book.  


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: MONDAY

Jed Lowrie:  1/5 with his 12th HR while hitting. 279.  Never said Lowrie wasn't capable of his current pace of numbers.  Only said he was not a .300-plus hitter and that he couldn't stay in one piece.

Stephen Piscotty:  3/5 with his 7th HR while hitting .256.  The ropes are piling up of late for Piscotty who went through a very tough time the last few years dealing with an ill mother.  Now seems the time to try him out again. 

Nick Castellanos:  2/5 with his 10th HR while hitting .304.  My preseason prediction of 30 home runs seems out of reach but don't think for a second Castellanos is not having a terrific season. 

Edwin Jackson:  6 IP 6 H 1 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 1.50.  I mean does this guy ever go away?  If you need me to tell you not to bother here, then try fantasy Nascar. 

Tyler Skaggs:  7 IP 7 H 1 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.69.  Moving that extra year away from a Tommy John procedure has done wonders for Skaggs and the talent he always possessed.  Separate post upcoming.

Brad Keller:  7 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.25.  Keller was an 8th round draft pick in 2013 and is just 22 but a 5.63 K/9 in the AL means he is radioactive. 

Jonathan Schoop:  1/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .205.  The Orioles are so disgusted with Schoop's season that they have now buried him toward the bottom of the order.  What a bust so far. 

Aaron Judge:  2/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .277.  Just stay out of that damn Home Run Derby bro.

Maikel Franco:  1/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .256.  Considering how bad the last few seasons Franco has been, this year has been actual progress.

Jonathan Loasiga:  5.1 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 1.93.  Well what do we have here?  Big power arm in the making and Losaiga had K/9 rates over 11.00 both in A-ball and Double-A THIS season.  Talk about a rapid rise.  Add everywhere.

Gregory Polanco:  1/3 with his 10th HR while hitting .216.  You get the feeling that if Polanco doesn't turn it around this season, the fantasy baseball community will swear off him for good.

Josh Bell:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .248.  Last season Bell hit home runs with no average.  This season he is doing neither. 

Seth Lugo:  5 IP 4 H 1 ER 3 BB 4 K with an ERA of 2.76.  Lugo still has to get stretched out some more but we have seen enough good things out of him when in the rotation when given the chance to be worth a speculative look in NL-only leagues.

Jake Lamb:  1/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .229.  Never liked the guy and that won't change now. 

Justin Bour:  1/5 with his 13th HR while hitting .243.  The power has been very good as anticipated but was also hoping for .265. 

Shelby Miller:  5 ER in 3.2 IP with an ERA of 12.27.  I am convinced Miller will continue to pitch like garbage until his last Arizona day in order to keep reminding the team how simply brutal their trade for him was.

Dan Straily:  6.1 IP 4 H 3 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.82.  Straily has not been good in his usual SP 5 way so no need to bother.

Kevin Kiermaier:  1/4 with his first HR while hitting .147.  Ignore the average as Kiermaier just came off the DL recently and instead embrace trhe leadoff position and always quiet power/speed game here. 

Wilson Ramos:  2/4 with 2 home runs (11 for season) while hitting .293.  The only thing I am upset about with Ramos (who I told you all to target in drafts) is that he is playing so well that I may not be able to sneak him onto my roster a season from now. 

Gio Gonzalez:  6 ER in 1 IP with an ERA of 3.68.  We all knew Gio was headed for a BABIP regression but even this is a bit extreme.

Blake Snell:  7 IP 1 H 0 ER 4 BB 10 K with an ERA of 2.31.  What James Shields was during his early ace-like Rays days is what Blake Snell is now. 

Scott Schebler:  2/5 with his 10th HR while hitting .284.  The .284 is what Schebler should have hit last season when he burst onto the scene with terrific power and rotten BABIP luck. 

Ozzie Albies:  3/6 with his 17th HR while hitting .269.  Albies is responding back to pitchers dominating him of late which is always a nice sign for a young hitter.

Mike Foltynewicz:  5 IP 1 H 1 ER 4 BB 4 K with an ERA of 2.14.  While Blake Snell gets most of the attention, this guy has had just as terrific a full breakout in 2018. 

Manuel Margot:  1/5 with his third HR while hitting .249.  Margot is leading off again and is showings signs of the talent that had us all intrigued this past spring.  Try him again. 

Joey Luchessi:  4 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.57. Told you to stick with Luchessi off his rough first start off the DL as I said it is always tough for young pitchers to adjust off a long absence.  Luchessi just too talented to stay down for long. 

Curtis Granderson:  2/4 with 2 home runs (9 for season) while hitting .258.  Will always root for this good guy.

Randal Grichuk:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .194.  Forget this. 

Alex Bregman:  2/4 with his 12th HR and 7th SB while hitting .263.  While the narrative is that Bregman has struggled to this point, a 12/7 split in homers and steals is nothing to scoff at. 

John Gant:  7 IP 1 H 0 ER 5 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.48.  It wasn't pretty with the walks but Gant was pretty much unhittable in this one.  Now in his third MLB organization, Gant has flashed some useful ability in the past but he seems like just an SP 5 stopgap on a good team. 

Kiki Hernandez:  1/3 with his 13th HR while hitting .234.  Hernandez has three home runs in the last two games.  The power is certainly eye-opening but there are limitations in the average department that make him work best as a backup.

Chris Taylor:  1/1 with his 9th HR while hitting .254.  Taylor continues to battle a bum hamstring and overall has been far from the breakout guy he looked to be on the surface last season.  I warned you not to overanalyze that performance and we are seeing why. 


Monday, June 25, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: GARY SANCHEZ HITTING THE DL WITH BUM HAMSTRING, A BAD SEASON GETS WORSE

As if New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez' 2018 fantasy baseball season has been rough enough, he will now be placed on the 10-day DL Monday with the strained hamstring he suffered in Sunday's game versus the Tampa Bay Rays.  Having gone as high as a late first-round (and mostly second) round pick in fantasy baseball drafts this spring in coming off a spectacular 2017 campaign, Sanchez goes into the DL stint mired in an overall offensive slump that is borne out by the following numbers:

.190
14 HR
41 RBI 
36 R
0 SB
23.8 K/9
11.7 BB/9
.194 BABIP

Before you we go any further, it must be stated that Sanchez' power game has been excellent as his 14 home runs and 41 RBI are tremendous numbers in those two categories and that is especially true for a catcher.  With that said, Sanchez' .190 average is abysmal and it brings back memories of a J.P. Arencibia campaign or more recently Mike Zunino.  That means that any power that is supplied is offset to a degree by the massively negative batting average in that category.  Sanchez has had some drastic cold spells this season and so his .190 average is at least partly owned by him.  However we must also not ignore how Sanchez has had arguably some of the roughest BABIP luck of ANY hitter in 2018 fantasy baseball as his .194 mark in that category is almost impossible to believe.  With a typical BABIP coming around the .300 range, even a slow runner like Sanchez can't possibly be .194 bad without some regression back to the mean.  That simply has not happened yet and so the average is putting a major hurt on Sanchez' owners and taking shine off of the power.  Now we have the injury which is expected to keep him out for weeks. 

So where do we go from here?  Well obviously as a Sanchez owner you can't cut the guy and again his power has been very good and as advertised.  However his average and injury is a reminder of how investing a high pick in a catcher is always a very risky thing to do.  

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: JOSE BERRIOS SP MINNESOTA TWINS

Back in March, yours truly was such a fan of Minnesota Twins hard-throwing sophomore starter Jose Berrios that I selected him as my "Darkhorse AL Cy Young Award" winner.  Blessed with a fastball that approaches 100-mph and with offspeed stuff that continued to improve, Berrios had all of the tools needed to dominate from the start of the 2018 fantasy baseball season.  Fast forward to Sunday as Berrios engineered yet another masterpiece on the mound as he tossed 7 innings of 3-hit shutout ball with 2 walks and a massive 12 strikeouts as the ball was darting all over the mound in eliciting a ton of swings and misses.  The outing also lowered his season ERA to a sparkling 3.15 and the WHIP just as impressive at 0.95 as Berrios picked up his eighth win.  In addition, Berrios also now carries around with him the following advanced numbers:

9.52 K/9
1.75 BB/9
1.05 HR/9
.255 BABIP

While Berrios has in fact gotten some luck on the batted ball, even his FIP (3.26) and XFIP (3.38) ERA's are excellent which shows overall how great he is pitching.  Again, the strikeouts tell the story here as Berrios' 9.52 is ace-level power stuff but the crucial part in all this is that he has shown uncanny control as well for such a young pitcher.  You don't typically see 1.75 BB/9 rates from someone who throws so hard and who is also so young and with a home run rate that is good enough, Berrios has been about as tough a pitcher for a hitter to face as any in all of baseball this season.  So while the AL is chock full of ace starters who will challenge for the Cy Young Award, Berrios is holding his own with the big guns in the league already and the future seems even more promising. 


Sunday, June 24, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: ARODYS VIZCAINO HITS THE DL WITH SHOULDER SORENESS, WHO STEPS UP IN HIS PLACE?

Having battled shoulder scoreless off and on pretty much from the start of the season, the Atlanta Braves were finally forced to place closer Arodys Vizcaino on the 10-day DL early Sunday.  With Vizcaino already having recorded a splendid 1.82 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 33 K in 29.2 IP this season, the Braves will now be forced to turn one or both of the two following candidates which we will look at more closely below:

A.J. Minter:  The current favorite to inherit saves for the Braves while Vizcaino is out would be setup man A.J. Minter who came up a year ago striking everyone out and overall has had a decent 2018 in recording a 3.30 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, and 35 K in 30 IP while predominantly working the eighth inning.  Often the eighth inning man moves into the closer role when the incumbent is injured and Minter was called on for a save chance (which he blew) the other day.  13 walks in those 30 innings is troubling though and the 1.43 WHIP shows Minter could be a high-wire act.  Be that as it may, Minter has put forth scoreless appearances in five of his last six outings which he has over the next guy.

Dan Winkler:  No doubt the hard-throwing Winkler has been a revelation for the Braves this season as he has the better numbers across the board with a 2.73 ERA, 0.98 WHIP., and 41 K in 29.2 IP.  On the flip side though, Winkler has given up runs in three of his last six outings which includes a 4 earned run in .1 IP bomb the other night.  So the latter negative could put him behind Minter initially. 

All in all, this is a tough one to figure out as either guy could easily be a solid closer while Vizcaino is out.  If you have one spot to use, I would go with Minter but honestly, this could go either way. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SATURDAY

J.T. Realmuto:  2/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .308.  It really shows how what a great player Realmuto is both in real and in fantasy baseball that he can continue to put up excellent and very rare offensive numbers are catcher despite all the slop surrounding him.

Hunter Renfroe:  2/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .237.  You could see the all-or-nothing profile from a mile away.  Strictly for the NL-only crowd. 

Wilson Contreras:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .262.  While Contreras has not exactly lit the world on fire, he has not been terrible either.  The best part is that Contreras is another guy whose does his best work as the season goes on.  Try to buy low.

Joey Votto:  1/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .299.  Given his advancing age, I will be paying attention closely here to see if Votto's power starts to fade like with Miguel Cabrera.  Also like Cabrera though, Votto is still very capable of maintaining the swell average.

Willy Adames:  2/4 with 2 home runs (7 for season) while hitting .231.  I'm not jumping out of my chair to add Adames as he seems like a guy who is decent in all the categories but far from being an impact guy in any of them. 

Carlos Santana:  1/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .229.  Second game in a row with a home run.  That's where the good commentary ends. 

Anthony Rendon:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .286.  It took awhile for things to get on track here but Rendon can easily be the top 30 guy overall we all anticipated him to be. 

Mark Trumbo:  1/3 with his 7th HR while hitting .263.  Shades of 2016 all over again. 

Dylan Bundy:  6.1 IP 7 H 2 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.75.  Bundy's season almost went completely off the rails a few weeks ago before more than salvaging things. 

Julie Teheran:  7 ER in 4.2 IP with an ERA of 4.52.  Boy did this season turn badly on a dime. 

Francisco Lindor:  2/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .291.  I mean is this guy really going to make a run at 40 home runs? 

Trevor Bauer:  6.1 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 11 K with a 2.44 ERA.  Bauer looks like Chris Sale now. 

Paul Goldschmidt:  1/3 with his 17th HR while hitting .264.  Throw out the beyond brutal start to the season holding the average down and Goldy is pretty much where he should be in terms of power numbers.  Talk about a rapid turnaround from one extreme to the other. 

Zack Greinke:  6 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.66.  The WHIP is only 1.11 as Greinke has managed to overcome his home run and declining velocity negatives to hold decent SP 2 ability yet again.  Any one season things could go completely off the rails though as Greinke doesn't have any margin for error left with the velocity. 

Yadier Molina:  2/4 with 2 home runs (11 for season) while hitting .276.  Molina has 6 more home runs than Buster Posey and he came about 7 rounds cheaper.

Adrian Beltre:  3/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .314.  It would not shock me in the least if Beltre had one last gasp high-end performance to offer the fantasy baseball world. Or two.

Eddie Rosario:  2/5 with his 17th HR while hitting .317.  Only Torii Hunter knows how much it is to be loved by yours truly while wearing a Minnesota Twins uniform like Rosario does. 

Matt Olson:  1/3 with his 17th HR while hitting .241.  Olson was a semi-sleeper coming into the season given his power potential but that is about the only thing that has worked well here in this limited repertoire.

Stephen Piscotty:  2/3 with his 6th HR while hitting .249.  Always was a previous fan of Piscotty early in his St. Louis Cardinals days but he has not looked like the hitter he showed right out of the gate for the last few seasons now. 

Tim Anderson:  2/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .249.  Anderson's lack of plate discipline talk has always overshadowed what has turned out to be a really nice power/speed player at the shortstop position which should never be overlooked. 

Mike Leake:  8 IP 3 H 0 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 4.11.  Leake always seems to serve like a human magnet to the 4.00 ERA mark no matter how bad things get at any point in the season. 

Yuli Gurriel:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .300.  Mostly an empty average here but this still works as a decent UTIL or CI bat in leagues that go 14 teams or deeper.

Lance McCullers:  6 IP 4 H 3 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.82.  The 1.19 WHIP is a vast improvement from previous norms and best of all, McCullers is staying healthy. 

Max Muncy:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .257.  Nice breakout happening here but Muncy is falling to Matt Olson territory with the overall profile.

Matt Kemp:  1/1 with his 13th HR while hitting .323.  Never thought Kemp would be anywhere near this still tremendous level once his legs started betraying him. 

Clayton Kershaw:  3 IP 5 H 2 ER 1 BB 4 K with an ERA of 2.94.  Lots of baserunners again as a 1.17 WHIP for Kershaw is like 1.35 for anyone else. 


Saturday, June 23, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: SHANE BIEBER SP CLEVELAND INDIANS

He may not be able to sing but this Bieber surely can overpower opposing hitters.  While Cleveland Indians top prospect starting pitcher Shane Bieber would love to have the wealth of Justin, he should do just fine on the money front as long as he continues to build on what has been a big season so far split between the minors and majors.  After having his most dominant start to date late Friday night by tossing seven scoreless innings with just four hits given up and striking out 9, Bieber seems ready to stick with the Indians and instantly become a valuable fantasy baseball hurler.  Leading into his latest promotion with the Indians, Bieber put forth the following impressive numbers at Double and Triple-A at the age of 23:

Double-A:  3-0 1.16 ERA 8.71 K/9 0.29 BB/9
Triple-A:  3-1 1.38 ERA 8.28 K/9 0.99 BB/9

Looking at the numbers, Bieber has been unhittable in the minors this season and he has really helped himself with steller control and decent strikeout totals.  While Bieber has increased his K/9 rate since coming to the Indians in no doubt taking advantage of unsuspecting hitters unfamiliar with his stuff, the ceiling is high here as his fastball has good movement and can reach the upper-90's to go with the top-notch control.  If Bieber is still available in your league, do yourself a favor and pick him up quickly.  This breakout has legs to it, along with a superb arm to go along for the ride. 




2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: FRIDAY

Franklin Barreto:  2/4 with 2 home runs (3 for season) with 6 RBI and hitting .185.  Truth be told, Barreto was not hitting in the minors this season (.236) prior to his promotion and he is currently batting ninth to add to the "just one game" narrative.

Sean Manaea:  7 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.40.  This is more of what we saw out of Manaea this past April before his BABIP luck began to run out.  Even now he continues to tote two HUGE red flags around in a .220 BABIP and horrible 6.71 K/9.

Odubel Herrera:  4/5 with his 13th HR while hitting .308.  Fifth straight game with a home run for Herrera who I already talked about at length the other day.  We are in some kind of insane run right now for the guy but like I said a few days ago, this is what happens when you are already talented and then reach your prime years.

Carlos Santana:  2/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .228.  The average will never get better for Santana who is well past the improvement stage of his career and so he will be stuck in the mode of being added 8 times a season and dropped the same amount depending on how his bat is doing.

Zack Eflin:  5 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.44.  The WHIP is 1.17 and I have spoke glowingly about Eflin like I have Nick Pivetta for most of the season.  Should already be added everywhere.

Patrick Corbin:  7 IP 3 H 0 ER 0 BB 12 K with an ERA of 3.24.  Corbin was really scuffling for awhile so on odds alone he was due for a big outing like this.  Never a question of talent here but instead how his offspeed stuff negatively impacts his body as the season goes on.

Ivan Nova:  8 IP 3 H 0 ER 0 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.98.  It certainly was a night for pitching dominance on Friday and Nova got in on the fun.  After a recent bump, he has his ERA right where it should be in straddling his annual SP 5 realm.

J.D. Martinez:  4/5 with his 23rd HR and 2nd SB while hitting .324.  If J.D. gets 10 steals, talk about icing on the superstar fantasy baseball cake.

Nelson Cruz:  4/5 with 2 home runs (20 for season) while hitting .266.  Cruz had 7 RBI as he has not lost any ounce of ability as he goes into his fourth decade on earth.

Ryon Healy:  1/5 with his 14th HR while hitting .259.  I liked Healy in March as a very affordable power bat along the lines of 25-30 home runs in a loaded lineup and who wouldn't kill you in average.  Right on schedule.

Steven Wright:  10 ER in 3.1 IP with an ERA of 3.38.  So this is why I told you not to bother with this guy.

Edwin Encarnacion:  2/5 with his 17th HR while hitting .233.  The power for guys like Edwin are usually the last stat to go when it comes to aging and fantasy baseball for slugging first baseman.  He will likely be nothing but a late-round grab next spring.

Francisco Lindor:  1/4 with his 17th HR while hitting. 288.  Just like with his teammate Jose Ramirez, Lindor's power is no longer up for debate.  Embrace the first-round greatness.

Yonder Alonso:  2/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .255.  Alonso has upped the average of late which helps the bottom line and moves him more from backup capacity to UTIL right now.

Shane Bieber:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.45.  Bieber has Trevor Bauer potential with his massive strikeout ability and he could now be here to stay.  Upward and onward we go.

Kyle Schwarber:  1/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .239.  Third home run in the last week for Schwarber who should be re-inserted back into lineups.

Eugenio Suarez:  3/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .304.  I had Justin Turner and Anthony Rendon as the two third baseman I was really aiming at in drafts this past spring but will add Suarez right into that group in terms of extremely vaulable and well-priced players at the position.

Cody Bellinger:  1/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .232.  If you don't believe in sophomore slumps, I present to you Cody Bellinger.

Yasiel Puig:  2/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .256.  Never a question of talent.

Manny Machado:  2/5 with his 19th HR and 5th SB while hitting .305.  Love the steals that Machado supplies as a bonus and now the trade deadline stuff will go into overdrive.

Sean Newcomb:  7 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 3 K with an ERA of 2.59.  Nice to see Newcomb dominate even when he doesn't have his strikeout stuff working.  Signs of reaching near-ace status.

Jesus Aguilar:  2/4 with 2 home runs (16 for season) while hitting .305.  I guess you didn't have to draft Joey Votto or Anthony Rizzo and instead just needed to get this guy off waivers.  What a breakout. 

Jack Flaherty:  7 IP 1 H 1 ER 2 BB 13 K with an ERA of 2.50.  We have seen a few of these nuclear strikeout outings from Flaherty already and he is already looking like one of those mid-season pickups that could put many fantasy baseball teams over the top given the extreme value. 

Shin-Soo Choo:  2/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .280.  Choo has some run going right now in terms of getting on base and there may not be a better OF 3 relative to draft cost out there this season.

Dallas Keuchel:  6 IP 6 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.90.  Keuchel can't hold the jock of three of his rotation mates right now but he remains a good buy low considering his track record of pitching well the second half of the season.

Nolan Arenado:  3/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .323.  Arenado wants to do an Odubel Herrera impersonation. 

Jon Gray:  7 IP 8 H 1 ER 0 BB 12 K with an ERA of 5.52.  Yeah this is why we always pause for a second when weighing whether to add Gray or not.  Lean on "not!" 

Andrew Heaney:  7 IP 9 H 1 ER 0 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.42.  WHIP is down to 1.12.  Stick with it. 


Friday, June 22, 2018

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

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


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Thursday, June 21, 2018

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

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

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

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


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STTAUS REPORT: ODUBEL HERRERA OUTFIELDER PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

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

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

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




2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Wednesday, June 20, 2018

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

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


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

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: BRYCE HARPER OUTFIELDER WASHINGTON NATIONALS

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

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

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

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


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: TUESDAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: BROKEN HAND TO KNOCK OUT HUNTER STRICKLAND FOR 6-8 WEEKS

The early front-runner for Dumbest Injury of the 2018 Fantasy Baseball season undoubtedly will go to San Francisco Giants closer Hunter Strickland who suffered a broken hand after punching a door after leaving his Monday appearance.  The break was found on subsequent testing done after the game and now Strickland will miss the next 6-8 weeks and throw the Giants' closer spot in flux yet again.  The real shame of it all is that Strickland had been pitching great in the closer role in place of the injured Mark Melancon; recording a 2.84 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 29 K in 31.2 IP.  Now Strickland will be out until well after the All-Star break and he could be drop-worthy in deeper leagues.  In his place, manager Bruce Bochy said he would turn to either lefty Tony Watson (1.87, 0.95, 40 K in 33.2 IP) or Sam Dyson (2.51 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 26 K in 32.1 IP).  Since we have seen Dyson struggle badly closing games in the past, Watson would be the guy we would pick up if we had just one spot to use.  It was also telling that Bochy didn't mention the just recently returned Melancon who struck out the side the other day in the seventh inning. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: AMARI COOPER WR OAKLAND RAIDERS

When it comes to prime players with regards to the 2018 fantasy football season, few elicit such a reaction either positive or negative with such force as Oakland Raiders fourth-year wideout Amari Cooper.  Having been drafted 4th overall in 2015 after a stellar career at Alabama, Cooper immediately went out and produced back-to-back 1,000 yard receiving seasons for the Raiders as he hinted at star WR 1 ability.  Then 2017 arrived and Cooper had what could only be described as a miserable season across the board as he missed two games due to injury and saw his offensive numbers dip to the tune of just 48 catches for 680 yards and 7 scores.  This after Cooper went as a second-round pick in the majority of fantasy football leagues.  As a result of that dud, Cooper became a pariah by the end of the season and his outlook for 2018 is being handled with extra caution since he burned so many a year ago.  Be that as it may, Cooper actually could be shaping up as a big-time value player for a number of reason which we will talk about.

The first positive going for Cooper obviously is the arrival of Jon Gruden as head coach.  Given that Gruden is widely considered one of the best offensive minds in the game and was once a wide receiver coach, the easy assumption is that he will do wonders for getting Cooper back on track.  Then there is the fact that TD vulture Michael Crabtree is now in a Baltimore Ravens uniform which will now make Cooper the number 1 option in the red zone as well.  Having a bit of a Julio Jones tendency to not score a high amount of touchdowns despite tremendous physical ability, Cooper is being talked about by Gruden as being the main guy in the team's passing attack.  Combine all of that together and Cooper could easily slide back to WR 1 status with a run at career-best numbers across the board.  So while last season was certainly ugly, Cooper is still young and filled with potential to be a smart pick no from late Round 2 or later.  

2018 PROJECTION:  88 receptions 1,105 yards 8 TD