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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: CHRIS SALE PLACED ON DL WITH LEFT SHOULDER INFLAMMATION

The Boston Red Sox have placed ace starter Chris Sale on the 10-day DL Tuesday with left shoulder inflammation.  Brandon Workman has been called up to take his place and it makes the trade of Nathan Eovaldi the other day so much more of a crucial move. 

Analysis:  Wow.  Huge issue here as shoulder trouble is death for a pitcher as we saw this season with Carlos Martinez and so Sale's fantasy baseball owners are hurting big time now.  The Red Sox could also be vulnerable in terms of holding on to the AL East as well but the Yankees just lost J.A. Happ to foot and mouth disease so they have their own issues. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: KEVIN GAUSMAN ACQUIRED BY THE ATLANTA BRAVES

The Atlanta Braves continued to fortify their bullpen for the last two months of the season as they acquired starter Kevin Gausman from the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday.  Once a vaunted prospect in the Baltimore system, Gausman has mostly struggled to find any consistency as a starter for the team, with 2018 being more of the same as he heads to Atlanta with a 4.33 ERA and a mediocre 7.55 K/9.  Moving from the AL East beast to the NL will only help but boost the K's though and Gausman should also lessen his ERA a bit despite Atlanta having a major home run park.  All in all, Gausman gains a bit of value with the move but remains just an SP 5. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: CAMERON MAYBIN HEADED TO SEATTLE

The Seattle Mariners made yet another trade on Tuesday, this time to add Miami Marlins outfielder Cameron Maybin for international money and a prospect.  Maybin heads to Seattle having a typical season for him in terms of an ugly average (.251) but with 3 home runs and 8 stolen bases.  Still just 31, Maybin is nothing but a journeyman who never lived up to the initial hype of being a first-round pick.  His fantasy baseball value really once enters now in AL-only leagues and even there he is a mediocre option. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: PHILLIES ON VERGE OF LANDING WILSON RAMOS FROM RAYS

Looking to shore up one of their more glaring weaknesses as they aim to win the NL East, the Philadelphia Phillies reportedly are close to acquiring Tampa Bay Rays catcher Wilson Ramos.  While currently on the DL (a career-long problem for him), Ramos remains arguably one of the most underrated hitters in all of fantasy baseball as he is currently batting .297 with 14 home runs on the season which counts as one of the best offensive outputs at catcher in 2018.  Count on this one getting done real soon and for Ramos, this is a tremendous move for his fantasy baseball outlook now that he will be moving from a pitching park to an offensive launching pad in Philly. 


2019 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: TOMMY PHAM GETS MUCH-NEEDED FRESH START IN TAMPA

Having made it very apparent his unhappiness with the St. Louis Cardinals front office going back to spring training, a tough season for outfielder Tommy Pham and the public statements criticizing the team was enough for the team to send him to the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday for three prospects.  Coming off a monster breakout in 2017 when he hit 23 home runs, stole 25 bases, and batted .306 but those numbers have fallen sharply in 2018.  Perhaps distracted by the contract issue, Pham goes to the Rays with just a .248 average brought down by a spike in K's (24.5 K/9) and a BABIP that has fallen sharply as well.  With that said, Pham still has hit a solid 14 home runs and stolen 10 bases which means the power/speed game is still in order.  A fresh start with the Rays could certainly get Pham back on track and despite the slide this season, he still looks like a solid OF 2.  Keep in mind though that I said not to by Pham coming off the career season this past spring and that advice looks spot on as of this writing. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: LEONYS MARTIN HEADED TO CLEVELAND

After Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo proclaimed that star outfielder Bryce Harper would not be traded, the interested Cleveland Indians quickly pivoted to add the much less accomplished but still solid Leonys Martin from the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday.  While Martin never truly realized the potential he carried during his early Texas Rangers days, he has settled into a useful outfielder in hitting .251 with 9 home runs and 7 stolen bases for the Tigers prior to the deal. In other words, Martin is just an OF 3 in deep mixed leagues and a backup in more moderate fantasy baseball formats. Meanwhile the Tigers get a decent return in shortstop prospect Willie Castro. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: BRAVES STAY AGGRESSIVE ON TRADE FRONT BY ACQUIRING SLUGGER ADAM DUVALL

The Atlanta Braves can almost smell the 2018 postseason and so they made another move to increase their chances of reaching such a destination late Monday by picking up slugging outfielder Adam Duvall from the Cincinnati Reds.  Still young at the age of 29, Duvall is very good in terms of the power game as he heads south with 15 home runs and 61 RBI in 370 at-bats but the limitations come in the form of his annually shaky batting average which currently remains VERY ugly at just .205.  A 27.0 K/9 is a major reason why Duvall has been so hideous on the average front and honestly he has been nothing but an up-and-down OF 3 or bench bat in yearly fantasy baseball leagues since he made his full-season debut in 2016.  What Duvall does have going for him is moving to another launching pad ballpark and another extended power push is likely given the friendly hitting atmosphere in Atlanta.  Be that as it may, Duvall is just a bit player in today's fantasy baseball and this won't change going to his new locale. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: BOSTON RED SOX ACQUIRE 2B IAN KINSLER FROM ANGELS

The Boston Red Sox refuse to stand by and watch the New York Yankees make all the trade news as they acquired veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler from the Los Angeles Angels late Monday for cash considerations, LHP Williams Jarez, and RHP Ty Buttrey.  Now clearly in the twilight of his very impressive and underrated career, Kinsler arrives in Boston hitting just .239 but with a solid 13 home runs and 9 stolen bases.  While Kinsler is still posting useful power/speed numbers, his average has dipped under .240 for the second season in a row which is a clear indication his 36-year-old body is dragging his game down a bit but in short bursts, the guy can still be a help to those in fantasy baseball who take part in AL-only formats or as a backup/MI option in deeper mixed leagues.  With just a 10.2 K/9 rate this season, Kinsler still has his high-contact approach down pat and generally has stayed healthy which you would figure would be another major challenge since he is approaching 40.  Add in the ballpark boost and likely invigoration going to a prime World Series contender and Kinsler could be a very sneaky play the rest of the way if he is available on your league's wire. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: KEONE KELA PICKED UP BY PIRATES EARLY ON TUESDAY

Another day and yet another closer is on the move and this time it is Texas Rangers stopper Keone Kela who was acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates very early in the morning on Tuesday.  A rumored move for days now, the Pirates and Rangers finally put the finishing touches on the deal as Pittsburgh will send back to Texas LHP Taylor Hearn and a player to be named later.  While Kela has has some rough swings in numbers this season, his overall 3.44 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 44 K in 36.2 IP passes the smell test but he will now move into setup in front of Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez.  Vazquez himself has been up and down like an elevator this season so try and hold Kela in deeper formats but overall this is a hit to the latter's fantasy baseball value. 

Now in terms of who takes over for saves in Texas, it could be anyone from Alex Claudio, Jake Diekman, or Jose LeClerc.  On the surface, LeClerc is having the best season of the three as his 2.27 ERA and 1.01 WHIP are sparkling and he also has closer-like K's with a massive 56 in 39.2.  Claudio is way too much of a soft-tosser and Diekman has 23 walks in just 39 IP which is not a great ratio by any means.  So if you have one spot to use, try and go with LeClerc who can help even in setup.  With that said, a committee could also be in order so this is just speculation based on numbers. 


Monday, July 30, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: YANKS GET ROTATION INSURANCE IN NABBING LANCE LYNN FOR TYLER AUSTIN

Concerned about the recent but pronounced struggles of ace Luis Severino, the New York Yankees picked up some rotation insurance late Monday when they dealt first baseman Tyler Austin to the Minnesota Twins for veteran starter Lance Lynn.  While Lynn has struck out an impressive 100 batters in 102.1 IP this season, he has been hit hard almost throughout the year as shown by his horrific 5.10 ERA and 1.63 WHIP.  A .322 BABIP has been some of the cause for Lynn's bloated rotations but he also has posted career-worst control with his 5.45 ERA and home run have been an issue as well.  Since he is now moving from a decent pitching park in Target Field to a launch pad in New York in Yankee Stadium, this is obviously a rough move for the few individuals who still somehow own Lynn in fantasy baseball.

As far as Austin is concerned, he will finally get a chance at some consistent playing time with the rebuilding Twins and there is some ability here as the kid has flashed power ability in his cup of coffee runs with the Yankees.  Also capable of playing the outfield, Austin is perhaps worth a speculative add in AL-only formats. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEALINE NEWS: PADRES CONSIDERED FAVORITES FOR CHRIS ARCHER

The San Diego Padres are considered to have the best offer out there for Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer but the Rays are also asking for final prosposals from the other teams that are involved such as the Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, and St. Louis Cardinals. 

Analysis:  Archer has been a guy I have been a big fan of in yearly fantasy baseball but this year I put the brakes on that obsession given the lack of a consistent third pitch and elbow worries that cropped up at the end of last season.  The struggles have been stark this season with a 4.38 ERA and a sizable drop in K/9 rate but Archer is also under team control for three more seasons which is a plus.  The Padres have a deep stable of prospects to offer the Rays which means they have to be considered solid favorites right now. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: ZACK DUKE SENT TO SEATTLE

The Seattle Mariners are all-in on making a 2018 postseason run and they helped that cause by adding lefty reliever Zack Duke to their bullpen after picking him up from the Minnesota Twins late on Monday.  A failed starter back in his Pittsburgh Pirates days, Duke has become one of the best lefty relievers in the game and his 3.62 ERA and 39 K in 37.1 IP will surely help the Mariners if they can reach the playoffs. In terms of fantasy baseball however, the move has little impact. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: ASTROS PICK UP CLOSER ROBERTO OSUNA TO BOOST PLAYOFF BULLPEN

After watching the disgrace that was Ken Giles and maybe then not feeling comfortable with Hector Rodon and some ugly past experiences finishing games during his Chicago Cubs tenure, the Houston Astros made a bold move late Monday by acquiring Toronto Blue Jays troubled but talented stopper Robero Osuna.  While no one would argue the fact that Osuna is one of the very best closers in the game, he is just now getting close to coming back from a 75 game domestic violence suspension levied by Major League Baseball in an incident from earlier in the year.  As far as ability is concerned, Osuna has the good as he has logged ERA's of 2.58, 2.68, 3.38, and 2.93 since becoming a regular back in 2015 and you have to think he would be bumped ahead of Rodon as soon as he gets some outings at the major league level under his belt.  What is also interesting is that the Blue Jays will get back Giles and thus, buy low on the guy in the hopes he could be turned around as a possible saves option for 2019.  

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WELCOME TO THE SHOW: KOLBY ALLARD SP ATLANTA BRAVES

At the ripe old age of 20, top Atlanta Braves pitching prospect Kolby Allard has be summoned by the team from Triple-A to make his MLB debut Tuesday versus the Miami Marlins.  While he certainly has a plush first assignment that would instantly draw fantasy baseball interest, Allard is bit of an anomaly in terms of being a buzzy pitching prospect who lacks in the strikeout department.  The 14th overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft certainly has the numbers to warrant the promotion however as Allard has pitched to a sparkling 2.80 ERA in 109.1 innings at Triple but his 7.16 K/9 leave a lot to be desired on that front.  Clearly, Allard is your classic control artist as his 2.72 BB/9 is excellent 0.49 HR/9 even better.  So while Allard may not blow anyone away with 98-mph fastballs, he also doesn't defeat himself via walks or home runs which is a tendency never to be overlooked.  So in essence what we have here is a must add in NL-only formats and a speculative addition in deeper mixed fantasy baseball leagues.  While the lack of K's dulls some of the excitement, Allard looks like he at least could be a key SP 5 boost if he can stick around.


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL STOCK WATCH: LET THE ANDREW LUCK HYPE TRAIN BEGIN

Another day of NFL training camp brought another day of 2018 fantasy football positives and negatives in terms of some players' value.  Let's get right to the latest.

TRENDING UP

Andrew Luck:  Completing 19-of-22 in an intrasquad scrimmage was certainly a highlight for Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck who has not played an NFL down since 2016 due to slow recovery from shoulder surgery.  While it was a glorified exhibition, reports indicate Luck had very good velocity on the football and his ball placement was excellent.  Considering shoulder strength was the major worry here, this is nothing but a positive sign and Luck now gets added to an already deep stable of value play QB's such as Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, and Kirk Cousins. 

Dante Pettis:  Any offensive player in a Kyle Shanahan offense has our attention and so the early rave reviews of San Francisco 49ers rookie wideout Dante Pettis are very intriguing.  The 49ers loved Pettis in the draft and made sure to move up to get him which means they have plans for the kid.  Not the worst way to spend a late-round pick.

Devontae Booker:  While the Denver Broncos are giving first-team reps to FOUR different running backs in camp, it will likely come down to Devontae Booker and rookie Royce Freeman to begin the season.  What is also being said is that Booker will likely begin the season as the starter which adds some cold water onto the burgeoning fantasy football stock of Freeman.

TRENDING DOWN

Sam Darnold:  Still a holdout as of this writing, the rookie New York Jets QB is really hurting his chances to even contribute in 2018.  While he was not worth being drafted even in two-QB leagues, Darnold has immense ceiling that would help boost the values of the Jets skill players.

Sterling Shepard:  While he didn't miss reps, New York Giants wideout Sterling Shepard came up lame on a play during a weekend practice.  Not a big deal on the surface but Shepard being injured is a reminder of his rough 2017 on that front.  Something to keep an eye on. 

Seattle Seahawks Running Backs:  Right now Chris Carson is acting as the starter and C.J. Prosise is working on third downs.  That leaves rookie Rashaad Penny in limbo but there is almost no chance the Seahawks coaching staff won't unveil their new bulldozing running back early on.  So in essence we have chaos here once again. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SUNDAY

C.J. Cron:  2/4 with 2 home runs (22 for season) while hitting .254.  Could be the cheapest 35 home runs in fantasy baseball this season. 

Chris Davis:  2/3 with 2 home runs (13 for season) while hitting .159.  When you look at Davis' numbers, you can't help but laugh. 

Jonathan Schoop:  1/5 with his 17th HR while hitting .244.  Already went in depth on Schoop this morning so more of the same. 

Teoscar Hernandez:  1/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .254.  Hernandez is nothing special as he grades mostly as a backup in mixers but still a solid full-season debut nonetheless. 

Ryan Boruki:  6 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.83.  The 1.43 WHIP and the shaky minor league numbers say it all. 

Carlos Rodon:  7.2 IP 5 H 2 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.24.  Ridiculous that the White Sox are letting the just returned from the DL Rodon to pitch in the eighth inning but one walk shows some very key development could be in play. 

Zach Wheeler:  6 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.11.  Heck of a possible swan song for Wheeler but I have to say it doesn't make sense to me the Mets possibly trading the guy now that he is finally paying dividends after years of disappointment/injuries. 

Rosell Herrera:  2/4 with his first HR while hitting .289.  Herrera was nothing special in the minors as a .278 hitter before being promoted. Even in AL-only leagues he is a stretch. 

Salvador Perez:  2/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .237.  Perez is red-hot and aiming for 30 home runs despite the toilet average.  At catcher you can clearly overlook batting average given the lack offensive options here but you wanted at least .250 here considering the cost. 

Aaron Hicks:  3/3 with his 17th HR while hitting .256.  The power growth is undeniable here and Hicks has made it a habit since joining the Yankees to up his offensive rates each season. 

J.A. Happ:  6 IP 3 H 1 ER 1 BB 2 K with an ERA of 4.05.  Doubt the guy at your own risk.  I have learned my lesson.

Tyler White:  3/3 with his third HR while hitting .286. White has been on a never-ending shuttle between the majors and minors the last few seasons but he can be useful in short bursts like he is going right now. 

Mike Minor:  6 IP 4 H 2 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 4.73. There is a quality arm hidden under the extreme difficulties of not only pitching in the AL but also in Texas as shown by the 1.20 WHIP and decent K rate.  Alas, Minor has to figure out a way to get back into NL before he is worth even a cursory look.

Lance McCullers:  5.1 IP 6 H 3 ER 0 BB 11 K with an ERA of 4.06.  McCullers has not gone all Luis Severino yet in terms of fatigue but the hits rates are up from the beginning of the season.  I have sounded the alarm here for a few weeks now so capitalize on the K's and sell high. 

Nick Markakis:  3/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .320.  I remember laughing about the four-year deal the Atlanta front office gave Markakis three-plus seasons ago but they and he got the last laugh.

Sean Newcomb:  8.2 IP 1 H 1 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.23.  Terrific sign here that Newcomb has pulled out of his mid-season swoon and wouldn't you know only one walk. 

Scooter Gennett:  2/4 with his 17th HR and third SB while hitting .319. Remind me never to say a bad word about Gennett ever again. 

Luis Castillo:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 4.98.  Maybe Castillo does his best work after June as this is bringing back memories of the second half of 2017 when the hype got prematurely out of hand. 

Nathan Eovaldi:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 0 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.80.  Well that was a nice surprise.  I have zero faith long-term in Eovaldi as a member of the Red Sox so I won't go overboard here but no doubt an excellent outing. 

Edwin Encarnacion:  2/4 with his 24th HR while hitting .235.  I am wed to Edwin through the end of the season in the Experts League so here is hoping for one last big burst out of the aging veteran. 

Yonder Alonso:  3/5 with his 18th HR while hitting .265.  Alonso is just a more pricy C.J. Cron. 

Corey Kluber:  7.1 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.79.  Nothing stops this veteran ace. 

Khris Davis:  1/4 with his 28th HR while hitting. 249.  Always will have a soft spot for Davis since he helped carry my team to an Experts League championship during an insane second-half run back in his Milwaukee Brewers days.  Good to see he still has a knack for such a run.

Tom Murphy:  1/4 with his second HR while hitting .282.  Just because of the locale and catching eligibility, Murphy became an overnight overrated sensation.  Now let's see if he can actually produce for more than a week. 

Travis Shaw:  1/1 with his 20th HR while hitting .245.  At the least the added second base eligiblity will help offset the somewhat negative tone his season has taken on.

Ryan Braun:  1/4 with his 11th HR while hitting.234.  Braun is so done. 

Junior Guerra:  5 ER in 4 IP with an ERA of 3.43.  Never too late for the regression to kick in.
 
Marco Gonzales:  6 IP 7 H 2 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.37.  Unexpected terrific 12 wins here and I am riding Gonzales as far as this goes. 


Sunday, July 29, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: BRAD BRACH SHIPPED OFF TO ATLANTA TO HELP BACK-END OF PEN

The Baltimore Orioles continued their dismantling on Sunday as they came to an agreement to ship current closer Brad Brach to the Atlanta Braves for a package that is unknown as of this writing.  Having just gotten the Orioles closer gig back after Zach Britton was traded to the New York Yankees last week, Brach will now head to a Braves team whose own stopper in Arodys Vizcaino is currently on the DL with a stubborn shoulder problem.  While A.J. Minter has handled save chances in Vizcaino's place, it is not out of the question that Brach could get a look in the ninth inning in his new locale as well.  Truth be told though, Brach has been pretty miserable this season with a composite 4.85 ERA and horrid 1.77 WHIP and of late he has been even worse.  Meanwhile, the Orioles likely next man up should be Mychal Givens whose has 55 K in 47 IP this season but also an ugly 4.40 ERA and 1.40 WHIP.  In other words, don't run out to get him. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL RUNNING BACKS I WILL TARGET

The running backs are up next in terms of those who I will look to target in 2018 fantasy football drafts.  This season I am all-in on going RB in Round 1 and maybe RB-RB to begin the draft given the depth at WR and value at QB.  With that in mind, here is who I am zeroing in on.

Todd Gurley, Le'Veon Bell, David Johnson:  I like those three in that order to begin every fantasy football draft and I will any of them without hesitation.  The fact that it was a busted wrist that knocked out Johnson and nothing with his legs leaves me with no worries about his health. 

Kareem Hunt:  I have Hunt a smidge before the three above and that is only because there are a lot of capable backs in K.C. with a healthy Spencer Ware joining Charcandrick West.  Be that as it may, Hunt led the league in rushing as a rookie in 2017 and has terrific receiving skills as well. 

Saquon Barkley:  This kid is the real deal and while I don't like to go heavy on rookie backs in terms of using a first or second round pick to get them, Barkley is the exception given his insane athletic skills and dual running/receiving game. 

Melvin Gordon:  While I don't like the fact he has yet to rush for even 4.0 yards per carry on average in a given season, Gordon has little competition for work in the Los Angeles Chargers' backfield and he also has developed into a tremendous receiver.

Jerrick McKinnon:  I already did a separate piece on how much I love McKinnon this season and being a prime back in a Kyle Shanahan offense means lot of rushing yards and receptions.

Devonta Freeman:  Last season was a bit of a rough one due to injury but that just means Freeman will come that much cheaper this season.  He is still as good as it gets. 

Dalvin Cook:  Cook was on his way to a big rookie season that could have rivaled Kareem Hunt's output if he didn't tear his ACL.  He is now looking like he will be 100 percent for Week 1 and so Cook should be gone by the latest at the start of Round 2 in drafts. 

Derrius Guice:  I like Guice better than any rookie running back not named Saquon Barkley and the path to big playing time it not inhibitive in Washington. 

Christian McCaffrey:  Ron Rivera seems intent on giving McCaffrey more work as a runner this season and that sounds nice when combined with his 80-catch ability. 

Alex Collins:  Collins is shaping up to be a monster value play as he has slipped into the third round in many early drafts.  The speed is top-notch and the receiving ability is solid as well.  He could reach RB 1 status with ease if all breaks right. 

Royce Freeman:  Devontae Booker will likely begin the season as the Denver Broncos' starting running back but I think Freeman will take over before too long and show some intriguing overall skills. 

Sony Michel:  Once again it is a crowded backfield in New England but Michel was not drafting so early by Bill Belichick to sit around. 

Dion Lewis, Duke Johnson, Tarik Cohen:  I place these three together due to the fact they all have superb receiving skills and I personally only take part in PPR formats.  Each can be a low-end RB 2 on the receiving game alone. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: FRANCISCO ARCIA OUTFIELDER LOS ANGELES ANGELS

In almost every case, the promotion from the minor leagues to the majors of a pitching or hitting prospect becomes an instant action move in yearly fantasy baseball leagues.  Given the present but unknown upside, these players are fought over like no other during the course of the season.  However there are some red flags to always be aware of when it comes to prospects who make their move from Triple or Double-A to the Big Show and one of the most pronounced is when such a player is not of the "prospect age."  What we mean by that is that a promoted prospect who is on the older side (think 25 or higher), there are usually some concerns associated with the player given the fact they took some extra time to make it to their major league team.  While injuries and late bloomers are perfectly reasonable reasons for some of these cases, others need to be looked at more closely such as what we have now with the Los Angeles Angels' Francisco Arcia. 

Since making his debut last week, Arcia has been a literal instant hit as he has swatted 2 home runs and batted .625 in his first two games with the Angels.  While this certainly will get the attention of the fantasy baseball community who could be on the lookout for a late-season push, some brakes need to be applied here for a number of reasons.  The first is the fact that Arcia is already almost 29 years old and that he made his pro debut way back in 2007.  Now onto his third MLB organization, Arcia also has struggled mightily with his batting average almost on a yearly basis due in large part to an impatient approach.  Having also hovered around the 20.0 K/9 mark in the minors, Arcia's walks and strikeouts will likely only get worse at the highest level of the game.  So while the going is good right now, all of Arcia's new fantasy baseball owners need to realize that this is likely only going to be a short-term help and nothing more than that given those issues we talked about above. 


Saturday, July 28, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: JONATHAN SCHOOP 2B BALTIMORE ORIOLES

I think Jonathan Schoop homered again.  Certainly, if the day went from one to the next, Schoop likely swatted a bomb as his longball Saturday night makes it five games in a row he touched all the bases.  To say that Schoop has been destroying the baseball in July would be the mother of all understatements as he has batted a scorching .374 for the month with 8 homers and 16 RBI.  That insane level of production has saved what at one point looked like a gigantic bust of a season after Schoop exploded into upper-level fantasy baseball status in 2017 when he smacked 32 home runs, drove in 105, and batted .293.  What is really ironic as well is that there are likely a slew of Schoop owners who drafted him in the spring who at some point cut him loose as a DL stint and the lagging first half (.229, 10 homers) forced their hand.  That means those who were smart enough to take advantage of such impatience have been rewarded by a monster second-half performance to date that has now brought Schoop's numbers to much more respectable levels as shown below:

.245
16 HR
37 RBI
44 R
0 SB
20.2 K/9
3.4 BB/9
.265 BABIP
The batting average is clearly still an issue but again it is trending in the right direction.  What needs to be said though is that Schoop was never going to be a batting average asset given the fact he is allergic to walks.  With that said, he can be a .265 guy on a yearly basis and the power as we said is immense.  That power needs to continue onward at a high clip for a second baseman though since Schoop also doesn't run at all.  The lack of running from a second baseman in fantasy baseball is never ideal since you want to get as many steals as you can from the position and that greatly cuts down the margin of error here as well.  Be that as it may, Schoop looks primed for a huge second-half performance either way.  




2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: ASDRUBAL CABRERA THE LATEST NEW YORK MET SENT PACKING

The dismantling of the simply awful 2018 New York Mets took another step forward on Friday as the team sent second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera to the division rival Philadelphia Phillies for power arm pitching prospect Franklyn Kilome.  Finishing out his last season on his contract, even at the age of 33 Cabrera has been very good this season as he goes into action Saturday with 18 home runs, 58 RBI, 48 runs scored, and a .277 average.  The power has been the real asset with Cabrera this season as he currently is on pace to post a career-best in home runs which came all the way back in 2011 when he smacked 25 for the Cleveland Indians.  A steady veteran year in and year out who always seems to post solid numbers, Cabrera has been the epitome of an underrated asset in yearly fantasy baseball leagues.  While he doesn't run anymore (zero steals), Cabrera should certainly be able to set that career-high in homers now that he will be moving from a pitching-dominant home ballpark with the Mets to a homer haven in Philadelphia.  

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: BREWERS PICK UP MIKE MOUSTAKAS

While much was made about how veteran third baseman Mike Moustakas failed to generate much of any interest in free agency last winter, there was still no debating the fact that his power bat could serve as a help not only to the fantasy baseball community but also to his real-life major league team.  Moustakas found a new home late Friday night as the Kansas City Royals sent him packing to the Milwaukee Brewers for a package of prospects and from a fantasy baseball angle, the move works out nicely for him in that he goes from a pitching-dominant park to an offensive haven.  As far as the numbers were concerned, Moustakas' power has been very good once again this season with 20 home runs and 62 RBI in 417 at-bats but his batting average has gone into the gutter of late in dropping to an overall shaky .249 mark.  Considering last season Moustakas batted a solid .272 with his 38 home runs and that qualifies as a sure letdown.  Now with regards to that power, Moustakas' 38 homers last season is not happening again and that smelled like it belonged in the outlier bin as soon as he put the finishing touches on that performance.  Be that as it may, Moustakas' home run rate should go up in Milwaukee and his arrival there will shift incumbent hot corner man Travis Shaw to first base where the latter will gain some additional and more valuable versatility.  All in all, a win-win scenario for all involved. 


Friday, July 27, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: EDUARDO ESCOBAR ON THE MOVE TO ARIZONA

With Jake Lamb having battled never-ending injury trouble in 2018, it made complete and obvious sense that the Arizona Diamondbacks were in on most of the available third baseman leading up to the July 31 deadline.  After being connected to multiple prominent names over the last few weeks, the D-Backs finally got their guy on Friday and it was a good one in the form of the Minnesota Twins' Eduardo Escobar.  As far as Escobar is concerned, the 29-year-old is having a career-best campaign in 2018 that includes the following numbers:

.274
15 HR
63 RBI
45 R
1 SB
22.3 K/9
8.3 BB/9
.325 BABIP

While he has gotten a bit cold of late, Escobar has hit for good power and his average has been steady as well leading into July.  Be that as it may, Escobar moves to a much better offensive ballpark in Arizona despite the humidor and that should help him continue hitting for solid power and good counting statistics like RBI and runs.  Add in a batting average that is not horrible and Escobar remains a steady deeper-league starting third baseman in 2018 fantasy baseball.  


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

Anthony Rizzo:  3/5 with his 13th HR while hitting .261.  Unless he absolutely explodes the last two months of the season, Rizzo will fall short of expectations. 

Zack Godley:  5.2 IP 7 H 4 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.73.  I cut Godley weeks ago and don't miss him.  Nothing has gone right him all season and it seems we have more than enough evidence to say that 2017 was a massive fluke.

Jose Abreu:  2/4 with 2 home runs (16 for season) while hitting .258.  Can't ever understand why anyone would ever ask me "what is wrong with Abreu?"  Nothing and never was.

Avisail Garcia:  2/5 with his 11th HR while hitting .272.  My benchmark for buying into uptick in production from a younger player is that it has to go into a second year.  Garcia has made such a jump so I am on board now. 

Daniel Palka:  2/4 with 2 home runs (14 for season) while hitting .231.  A dime a dozen player. 

Kole Calhoun:  2/5 with his 11th HR and 5th SB while hitting .196.  See Palka, Daniel above. 

Ian Kinsler:  3/4 with 13th HR while hitting .234.  Hanging on by his fantasy baseball fingernails. 

Francisco Arcia:  2/4 with his first HR while hitting .500.  Not overly excited about a 28-year-old "prospect."

Jonathan Schoop:  2/5 with his 15th HR while hitting .240.  So yeah there likely are a bunch of chapped original Schoop owners who cut him loose in June who are now watching him go all Babe Ruth on the league.  Them's the breaks. 

Salvador Perez:  1/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .227.  16 hits and 16 home runs.  Not really but you get the idea. 

Didi Gregorious:  2/5 with his 18th HR while hitting .263.  Starting to feel that Gregorious is becoming a boring veteran right before our eyes. 

Sonny Gray:  5 IP 3 H 0 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 5.08.  Gray has been solid in July but that is like putting lipstick on a pig considering his overall season. 

Asdrubal Cabrera:  3/5 with his 18th HR while hitting .277.  The trade chatter is really picking up here for Cabrera who could be a Diamondback by the end of the day. 

Nick Kingham:  6 ER in 3 IP with an ERA of 4.80.  I am still ticked at those who mocked me for saying Kingham was a waste of time and then he goes out and throws a game in that first start. 

Kyle Gibson:  8 IP 4 H 1 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.42.  Shout out to all those who had the ultimate stones to start Gibson IN Boston last night.  I wouldn't ever have those guts. 

Rhys Hoskins:  3/5 with 2 home runs (20 for season) while hitting .260.  Yeah so Hoskins has exploded which we figured he would at some point. 40 is likely still out of range but with Hoskins' type of natural Jim Thome power, anything is possible. 

Carlos Santana:  1/5 with his 16th HR while hitting .215.  100 percent humidity in Cincy and Home Run Derby broke out. 

Eugenio Suarez:  1/3 with his 23rd HR while hitting .306.  I am in love. 

Nick Williams:  4/5 with 2 home runs (14 for season) while hitting .260.  Williams was pretty useless early on in the season but he has picked up steam as the year has gone along. 

Maikel Franco:  2/5 with 2 home runs (17 for season) while hitting .273.  The breakthrough is real. 

Trea Turner:  3/6 with his 13th HR while hitting .264.  Nice to see the 20-home run growth but those who spent a first-round pick on Turner anticipated leadoff duties and 60 steals which has and will not happen respectively. 

Juan Soto:  2/3 with his 12th HR while hitting .308.  Only thing I worry about is that Soto will be the latest explosive rookie who then causes the fantasy baseball community to spend on him like crazy next spring which then sets up a disappointment due to a sophomore slump.

Manny Machado:  1/4 with his first NL home run while hitting .258.  Show him the money. 

Ronald Acuna Jr.:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .270.  I can't wait to see what he has in store for 2019. 

Rich Hill:  7 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.82.  Once again Hill is finding his way to solid numbers despite all the missed starts. 

Christian Yelich:  3/5 with his 14th HR while hitting .314.  Maybe it just took Yelich half a season to get acclimated to his new home park. 


Thursday, July 26, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: AARON JUDGE HEADED TO HOSPITAL AFTER HBP TO HAND

Oh boy.  New York Yankees All-Star slugger Aaron Judge is headed to the hospital for testing after suffering an HBP to his hand during the team's game Thursday night.  

Analysis:  Wow it doesn't get any bigger than this.  We have seen all too often HBP's to the hand results in fractures that keep a player out for two months and often it is a 50 percent or so rate of that worst case scenario unfolding.  Check back for updates as they come in but needless to say, all Judge owners are on the edge of their seats right now.  


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: JOAKIM SORIA YET ANOTHER CLOSER ON THE MOVE, JACE FRY GETS A PROMOTION

While on paper he looked like one of the worst closers for 2018 fantasy baseball heading into the season, veteran stopper Joakim Soria had the closer gig all to himself for the Chicago White Sox to begin the year.  Despite losing the gig temporarily early on, Soria wound up pitching very well to the tune of a 2.56 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 49 K in 38.2 IP finishing games for the Sox which likely caused his trade market to expand to the point he was finally moved to the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday.  Soria will now step into a setup role in front of Brewers closer Corey Knebel and so like with Zach Britton a few days ago, he loses almost all of his fantasy baseball value. 

The flip side here is that Jace Fry should get a look as the new White Sox closer as the 25-year-old has logged a solid 3.86 ERA and a closer-like 11.27 K/9 while working in setup.  As a result, Fry should be added where available and immediately since the saves chase is intense with all of these recent changes around the game lately. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: J.A. HAPP LATEST ADD FOR YANKEE PLAYOFF PUSH

As was widely speculated for weeks, the New York Yankees have finally picked up veteran starter J.A. Happ from the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday for a package of infielder Brandon Drury and minor league outfielder Brian McKinney.  Happ will serve to bolster a questionable Yankee rotation that has had to watch Masahiro Tanaka miss extensive time to injury and Sonny Gray struggled almost from the start in and the fact he his a proven pitcher in the AL East is an added bonus.  Now in terms of fantasy baseball, Happ has always been an interesting story in that he was a late bloomer who made various stops around the majors with terrible results before figuring things out in 2015 when he pitched to a 3.61 ERA.  In the following two seasons, Happ became a very dependable and underrated SP 3 as he logged ERA's of 3.18 and 3.53 from 2016-17 respectively and even though he has struggled of late, his current 4.18 ERA was inflated due to a rough July.  What is doubly interesting here is that Happ is striking out batters at a career-best 10.26 K/9 rate and he is keeping walks down as well which show up in both FIP (3.84) and XFIP (3.63) that are lower than his actual ERA due to an unlucky .284 BABIP.  Going to Yankee Stadium is certainly a negative but operating the last few seasons in Rogers Center was no picnic either.  Happ remains a decent SP 3/4 who will now have a chance for more wins on the Yanks.  


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: STEPHEN STRASBURG LANDS RIGHT BACK ON DL

When it comes to Washington Nationals ace starter Stephen Strasburg and annual fantasy baseball leagues, the scouting report on him has remained nearly the same for the last five-plus seasons in that he has ace power pitching ability but also a never-ending habit of spending at least one stint on the DL each year.  2018 has gone right according to the script as Strasburg has once again gotten injured and now is up to two DL stints after going back there Thursday morning.  Having missed six previous weeks with shoulder trouble, Strasburg has reinforced the notion that he is simply impossible to depend on in yearly fantasy baseball leagues and even beyond that fact, he is not pitching well as shown by an elevated 3.90 ERA.  While he remains as potent a strikeout artist as there is in all of fantasy baseball, he has only ONCE pitched more than 200 innings in a given season.  In other words, it is par for the course here as Strasburg is better left for someone else to deal with next season.  


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

Heading into the 2018 fantasy baseball season, Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was being drafted outside of the first round for the first time in a few seasons as some began to grow concerned about his power and RBI dip in 2017 and also his spot in the team's lineup.  While 29 home runs were nothing to sneeze at by any means, that number was down 10 from the 39 he hit the previous season and Bryant saw an even major drop in RBI as he went from 102 to 73.  The blame for the latter centered on Cubs manager Joe Maddon moving Bryant to the second spot in the order for a large chunk of 2017 and while that gave him some more at-bats, it also took the guy out of some RBI chances.  Fast forward to 2018 drafts and this is why Bryant slipped into Round 2 in some leagues.

Now as far as yours truly was concerned, I said not to worry about Bryant one bit as he was just entering into his prime at the age of 26 and his overall batting approach continued to get better by the year as he boosted his walks and lowered his K's.  However even I will admit that Bryant has been a letdown this season so far as he battled health trouble for large chunks of the season and goes into Wednesday's games looking at another possible DL stint for ongoing shoulder woes.  In addition, Bryant's disappointing numbers looked as follows:

.276
11 HR
44 RBI
46 R
2 SB
20.9 K/9
10.9 BB/9
.332 BABIP

Looking at the numbers above, Bryant is not even on pace to hit 20 home runs which is a HUGE letdown/problem and his walks and strikeouts have both taken a step in the wrong direction when you compared it to 2017  Bryant is also showing no interest in running either which means his days of being a five-tool guy look finished.  Now we have the health woes as it is certainly beginning to seem like Bryant is just having one of those seasons where nothing goes right.  Be that as it may, Bryant is still very young and has all the natural talent in the world to continue being a top guy for years.  He should still be a second-round pick in drafts next spring and deservedly so.  The talent is just too obvious and a rough season happens to everyone.  While 2018 could ultimately go bust, Bryant should be just fine long-term with regards to ability.




Wednesday, July 25, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: NATHAN EOVALDI BECOMES SO MUCH LESS INTERESTING GOING TO BOSTON

After coming back from Tommy John surgery earlier this season, veteran starter Nathan Eovaldi caught some renewed attention in the fantasy baseball community as his previously underwhelming career strikeout rate ticked up in his first 10 starts for the Tampa Bay Rays and up until recently, his ERA was looking decent as well.  Yours truly did throw some cold water on the early Eovaldi returns in a separate piece two weeks ago as I talked about how he was benefitting some from a lucky BABIP and also for the fact him being gone so long caught opposing hitters a bit off guard.  Well any attractiveness Eovaldi may have garnered now goes out the window after he was acquired by the Boston Red Sox earlier in the day on Wednesday for pitching prospect Jalen Beeks.  Now with an increasing 4.26 ERA and a K/9 that is now down to 8.37, Eovaldi should not be touched even in deeper formats now that he will be calling Fenway Park home.  If anyone does own shares of Eovaldi, you may want to cut bait now before things get nasty. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL STOCK WATCH: EARLY RISERS AND FALLERS

Training camps have just gotten underway but that doesn't mean some key fantasy football players have not already seen their stocks rise and fall based on differing situations.  Let's take a look.

STOCK UP

David Johnson/Odell Beckham Jr.:  We put both Johnson and Beckham together due to the fact they are players looking for new deals but who decided to still show up for camp.  It is always a plus when a player gets himself in shape with his teammates and gets some snaps in before Week 1.  Remember that Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell struggled last September after holding out all of camp.

Jarvis Landry:  Word leaked out that Todd Haley would use new arrival wideout Jarvis Landry on the outside some this season but count on him to also feature prominently in the slot.  In addition, the continued issues surrounding Josh Gordon should firmly entrench Landry as the top target of QB Tyrod Taylor.

Christian McCaffrey:  Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera made it known that he could foresee Christian McCaffrey taking 200 carries for the team this season in addition to his exceptional receiving work.  That would only serve to reinforce McCaffrey's standing as a RB 1 in PPR formats and a better RB 2 in standards.  

STOCK DOWN

Tyler Eifert:  Already we are hearing that Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert will be questionable for Week 1 as he continues to make his way back from back surgery.  Eifert has been an absolute health mess over the last few seasons and so even in standard formats where he has his most value, Eifert can't be counted on as a starter.

Julio Jones:  Jones is holding out of training camp as the Atlanta Falcons said publicly they wouldn't extend his contract until the offseason.  Missing reps in training camp won't hurt a veteran like Jones as much as a younger player but this is always a bit disconcerting considering he has not reached 90 catches for two straight seasons and he has always been banged up.


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: TUESDAY

J.T. Realmuto:  1/3 with his 13th HR while hitting .304.  Since he is really just getting into his prime years, it is not out of the question we see another slight jump in power in 2019 as well.  The best of the best now at catcher.

Starlin Castro:  1/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .287.  Another quality season being put forth by Castro who still has the average thing down despite the lack of support in Miami.

Julio Teheran:  7 ER in 4.1 IP with an ERA of 4.42.  The start to the season was nice but Teheran once again is showing zero dependability that keeps him only as a risky SP 5.

J.D. Martinez:  2/4 with 2 home runs (31 for season) while hitting .323.  It has been another week of near-maximum humidity along the East Coast and that means boatloads of home runs for those in the locales.

Mookie Betts:  2/5 with his 24th HR while hitting .351.  That average is not a misprint.  I said all spring it was ludicrous that Betts saw his ADP slip to the middle or even late portion of Round 1 this past spring (when he should have gone number 2 overall) which was based almost entirely on a poor BABIP dragging down his average.

Jonathan Schoop:  2/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .238.  Just scroll down and see what I wrote about Schoop yesterday when he also homered.  The man is red hot.

Yefry Ramirez:  5 IP 4 H 3 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.49. Ramirez is now in his third MLB organization but he had a decent 3.88 ERA and 9.00 K/9 in the minors prior to this look.  Monitor in just AL-only however.

Yasmani Grandal:  3/7 with 2 home runs (16 for season) while hitting .259.  Third home run in two games now for Grandal who has been the cheaper version of Salvador Perez but with a better batting average.

Jorge Alfaro:  1/6 with his 7th HR while hitting .250.  Alfaro looks like a future Yasmani Grandal.

Kenta Maeda:  7 IP 6 H 4 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.27.  Maeda actually pitched a terrific game but it goes to show you how the home run ball can skew everything.

Eduardo Escobar:  2/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .278.  While not as impressive as Eugenio Suarez, this breakout in 2018 has been eye-opening in its own right.

Jose Berrios:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.48.  No signs of fatigue yet from this gem of a kid who I want on all my teams going forward.

Starling Marte:  2/5 with his 18th HR while hitting .292.  30/30 on the table for Marte which is an even more exceptionally valuable level to reach in these days of non-running.

Gregory Polanco:  1/5 with his 18th HR while hitting .237.  Looks like Polanco is finally getting his act together as the power has been at a personal-best level.  It also seems as though that the average may be a lost cause.

Josh Bell:  2/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .272.  Bell's power has regressed back to his pre-2017 norms and the average is just all right.  So, in essence, he is barely just a backup bat and honestly more suited for the NL-only crowd.

Edwin Encarnacion:  2/3 with his 23rd HR while hitting .237.  Nothing has changed here in terms of the makeup since the start of the season as Encarnacion continues to leak average but holds steady with the power.

Shane Bieber:  7 ER in 1.2 IP with an ERA of 4.80.  With the season moving closer to fantasy baseball crunch time, you can't be toying around with kids like this if if it not working.

Dexter Fowler:  1/3 with his 8th HR and 4th SB while hitting .179.  I mean Fowler has been downright hideous but always have to report on a HR/SB game.  There I did it. 

Eugenio Suarez:  1/4 with his 21st HR while hitting .306.  30 homers and a .300 average would look mighty nice to take into 2019. 

Austin Gomber:  6.1 IP 2 H 2 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.48.  The WHIP of 1.11 looks nice as well as the team's fourth round pick and the kid did have a 10.01 K/9 prior to the promotion.  In deeper leagues you can take a stab but monitor one more outing to b e sure what we are seeing is legit.

Michael Conforto:  2/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .229.  A complete reset is needed here for 2019.  I still believe in the talent but sometimes with a young hitter, early season  trouble (especially coming off a serious injury) doesn't allow a season to ever get on track.

Zack Wheeler:  7 IP 4 H 2 ER 1 BB 3 K with an ERA of 4.33.  The most likely Met pitcher to get dealt, Wheeler is beginning to make that crucial transition from trying to strike everyone out to taking a bit of steam off the heater into order to generate weak contact.

Masahiro Tanaka:  9 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 4.09.  The WHIP is down to 1.06 which is phenomenal for a starter in the AL East and the Yanks won't need to trade to boost the rotation if Tanaka can keep this up. 

Jed Lowrie:  3/5 with his 17th HR while hitting .280.  I admit I was overly skeptical here when Lowrie began the season on fire but I guess this is what health will bring.

Khris Davis:  1/6 with his 25th HR while hitting .251.  Davis has gone absolutely nuclear since the All-Star Break but honestly, 40 home runs was a lock here anyways so no shock.

Stephen Piscotty:  2/6 with his 14th HR while hitting .263.  That's around 10 home runs since I told you to add Piscotty.  This is what happens when a talented pure hitter reaches his power prime. 

Elvis Andrus:  2/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .268.  Andrus is still younger than you think but he has fully entered into the boring veteran portion of his career. 

Joey Gallo:  1/3 with his 25th HR while hitting .188.  This guy is Dave Kingman personified. 

Willie Calhoun:  1/4 with his first HR while hitting .167.  The first of many bombs from this super-talented kid. 

Adam Eaton:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .324.  If only he could stay healthy.

Christian Yelich:  3/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .308.  No complaints here.

Mike Moustakas:  1/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .247.  You can do so much better.

Salvador Perez:  3/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .227.  Don't spend high draft picks on catchers.  Right Buster Posey and Gary Sanchez owners? 

George Springer:  1/5 with his 17th HR while hitting .252.  Ignore the average as we talked about the depressed BABIP Springer has carried around compared to his previous norms.  He is playing fine. 

Alex Bregman:  2/4 with his 21st HR while hitting .284.  A classic case of a kid so talented that it was almost impossible for him not to achieve stardom. 

Carlos Rodon:  7.2 IP 2 H 2 ER 3 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.38.  The WHIP is just 1.11 here as Rodon seems to be reigning in his explosive stuff to a point where he can take off in a hurry. 




Tuesday, July 24, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: ZACH BRITTON ON VERGE OF HEADING TO YANKEES

Another day and another former All-Star closer is on the move as rampant reports late Tuesday indicate the New York Yankees will acquire Baltimore Orioles stopper to boost their bullpen for the stretch run.  While Britton has pitched a notch or two below his dominance of 2015 and 2016, he has been sharp of late in tossing scoreless innings in 9 of his last 10 appearances; while also lowering his ERA to 3.45.  The strikeouts have really taken a dive for Britton since 2016 which has taken some of the shine off his game but he will still be a big addition to a Yankees bullpen that also contains setup aces David Robertson, Chad Green, Dellin Betances, and closer Aroldis Chapman.  In terms of fantasy baseball, Britton will lose most of his value though since saves won't be part of the equation anymore and Brad Brach should take his place in Baltimore which is not an overly exciting proposition either.  

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: SETBACK WITH GROIN INJURY SENDS GARY SANCHEZ BACK TO THE DL

Well I guess even exceptions to my stated golden rule of never drafting catchers early in yearly fantasy baseball leagues has no boundaries.  It was New York Yankees All-Star backstop Gary Sanchez who yours truly said would be the only exception I would make to my never-ending strategy of never drafting catchers early and it was due to the massive power and offensive game overall that he brought to the table the last two years.  Many took this advice as Sanchez went on average in the second round of most fantasy baseball leagues and the results since then have been nothing short of disastrous.  Sanchez has been about as big a bust as you can get this season as he was hitting just .188 with a 24.0 K/9 rate before he hit the DL for the second time this season on Tuesday with another bout of groin soreness.  Clearly, Sanchez was not over the previous stint on the DL he spent with the original groin injury but even beyond that, he has been pathetic with the bat outside of the 14 home runs in 279 at-bats.  Again, the power has been as good as advertised but Sanchez has been destoryed not only by the shift but also an increase in strikeouts.  Now we could be looking at him being out for awhile as the Yankees will be extra cautious with his recovery this time around and so there is now some more stress for his owners.  No matter how you cut it, Sanchez has been terrible and nowhere near the cost to get his services onto your team this past spring. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL QUARTERBACKS I WILL TARGET

With the rankings out of the way as we continue our early 2018 fantasy football coverage, now let's take a look at the quarterbacks yours truly will target in drafts using a one-passer model.  Those in two-QB leagues should be much more aggressive getting that first passer but ideally leagues should go with one at this spot.

Carson Wentz:  I was a huge fan of Wentz and touted him both on here and in my annual draft guide as a big-time sleeper.  That prediction came through in an MVP way but then disaster struck as he tore his ACL in December.  Wentz will be handled with kid gloves this spring as he comes back from the injury but that will push his draft price down to where he becomes very attractive.  With a loaded Doug Pederson offense ready to launch more massive numbers, I am all over Wentz is he slips like I think he will.

Philip Rivers:  Rivers has been a personal favorite of mine for years and honestly, he may be one of the most underrated players of ALL TIME.  Seriously, the guy never misses a game (no small thing in fantasy football, and he is an annual lock for 25 scores and over 4,200 yards.  This is the guy I will really zone in on in the middle rounds after stocking up on wideouts and backs.

Kirk Cousins:  Cousins is another annual target of mine but I think he may be slightly too pricey this time around given the attention he garnered signing with Minnesota over the winter.  With Dalvin Cook, Kyle Rudolph, Stefon Diggs, and Adam Thielen at his disposal, the weapons are insane.

Matthew Stafford:  Throw Stafford in with Rivers and Cousins as well in terms of annual QB's I target.  For some reason Stafford drops in drafts every season and then he proceeds to go out and put up terrific numbers while not missing a game. 

Jared Goff:  While I do think 2017 is about as good as it could get for Goff, the fact he operates a Sean McVay offense alone should get you interested here.  The pedigree is there as a former top pick and Goff showed last season he can be an Aaron Rodgers-lite passer coming from Cal.

Andrew Luck:  All the signs are positive here as Luck is throwing without restrictions.  My plan here is that I would pair Luck with a Ben Roethlisberger or Matt Ryan so that I am covered.  There are legit worries about the arm strength coming off such a serious shoulder surgery but Luck also has all the talent in the world.  With the Colts having finally beefed up the O-line, the dirt cheap price tag is looking attractive.

Ben Roethlisberger:  Always tough to quit Big Ben despite the missed games every season.  After all, he has the best running back AND wideout at his disposal in Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown so he is a definite mid-round gem.

Eli Manning:  Another guy I can't seem to walk away from.  Yes Eli was brutal last season but he had no help as the O-line was a joke and he lost his top three wideout for all of long stretches of the season.  With the Giants welcoming back a healthy Odell Beckham to join Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and top rookie Saquon Barkley, the numbers could flow once again. 




2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: MONDAY

Jonathan Schoop:   2/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .235. Schoop is in his best stretch of the season with the bat and so if anyone cut him loose in your league, pounce quickly since he can really go crazy with the homers in a short span of games. 

Rick Porcello:  6 IP 6 H 0 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.93.  Add in the 1.24 WHIP and this is about as good as I personally anticipated Porcello to be when BABIP is neutral. 

Joc Pederson:  2/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .256.  Still rocking a 15.4 K/9 and if the season ended today, that would mark the fourth straight season of improvement there.  Continue to use liberally. 

Yasmani Grandal:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .255.  Decent season from Grandal but April made the outlook appear so much more promising. 

Max Muncy:  2/3 with his 23rd HR while hitting .279.  Will be very interesting to see where the fantasy baseball community ranks Muncy and Jesus Aguilar next spring. 

Chris Taylor:  2/3 with his 12th HR while hitting .258.  The Dodgers keep bouncing Taylor up and down the lineup in seemingly not knowing where to slot him.  Told you he would regress this season as 2017 was a gross outlier to previous numbers but at least the power has been solid enough.

Maikel Franco:  3/4 with 2 home runs (15 for season) while hitting .272.  Post-hype sleeper tag certainly applies here.

Rhys Hoskins:  1/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .252.  It would not shock me in the least if Hoskins cracks 15 more homers the rest of the way.  Or even more.

Odubel Herrera:  1/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .280.  Magical things happen when a hitter reaches his prime. 

Ross Stripling:  5 ER in 4.2 IP with an ERA of 2.43.  Certainly no need to panic here off one rough start but we do have to be aware of the innings piling up here since Stripling has been injured and a reliever the last few seasons.  Another fatigue case to watch. 

Josh Harrison:  2/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .254.  Harrison now hitting towards the bottom of the Pirates lineup which is trouble so his dwindling fantasy baseball owners need to root for a trade. 

Eugenio Suarez:  1/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .307.  I almost wish Suarez slumps towards the end of the season so I can steal him at a cheaper clip next spring in drafts. 

Daniel Poncedeleon:  7 IP 0 H 0 ER 3 BB 3 K with an ERA of 0.00.  Well then.  Love the name firts of all and the kid will get at least one more start.  This is a situation to be watching closely as Ponceedeloen had a 10.08 K/9 and 2.15 ERA in the minors prior to the promotion. 

Luis Castillo:  5.1 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 5.30.  The cases of Castillo and Luke Weaver should be a reminder to tread very carefully when it comes to prospect arms who debut in a partial season the year prior.  Hitters always adjust during the winter and often the adjustment back by these pitchers is a process that leads to some trouble.  Always lean on veterans if you can which also lessens the Tommy John risk. 

Joey Luchessi:  5.1 IP 6 H 2 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.34.  I admit I am a sucker for the kid.  Pick him up. 

Jacob DeGrom:  8 IP 5 H 2 ER 2 BB 10 K with an ERA of 1.71.  He goes eight splendid innings but still takes the loss and is now .500!!!!!! at 5-5.  Take the wins out of fantasy baseball and use quality starts from now on. 

Freddie Freeman:  2/5 with his 17th HR while hitting .316.  Freeman has fully shown he was the correct call over Anthony Rizzo in 2018 fantasy baseball drafts.

Justin Bour:  1/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .234.  Bour is likely to get moved before or on July 31 and a deal to a more favorable hitting park would make him that much more of a smart add. 

Sean Newcomb:  6 IP 4 H 1 ER 4 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.41.  Lots of walks again which we didn't see in April, May, and a lot of June.  He is tired. 

Gary Sanchez:  1/5 while hitting .188.  This guy has been such a bum both offensively and defensively it is not even funny.

Luis Severino:  6 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 2.63.  Always in the back of my mind as a Severino owner is the concern about the massive leap in innings last season and now his workload in 2018. 

Khris Davis:  3/6 with his 24th HR while hitting .253.  Homers and a lot of them. 

Stephen Piscotty:  2/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .261.  I haven't seen this level of power from Piscotty before so this is a very interesting development. 

Matt Chapman:  3/5 with his 13th HR while hitting .261.  Still worth a look in AL-only formats.

Jonathan Lucroy:  2/5 with his second HR while hitting .242.  When the end comes for a catcher offensively, it comes quick. 

Elvis Andrus:  1/3 with his third HR while hitting .262.  Listen, we all knew the power uptick a year ago was not sustainable. 

Cole Hamels:  7 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 4.72.  This guy is finished. 

Paul Goldschmidt:  2/5 with his 22nd HR while hitting .276.  Wonder if Goldy can get himself back to being a first-round pick next season.

Patrick Corbin:  7 IP 6 H 1 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.13.  Corbin has gotten a second wind after the dip in May and June which included velocity issues.

Daniel Murphy:  1/4 with his second HR while hitting .263.  With no more speed to speak of, Murphy better find his swing or else he is almost useless in terms of fantasy baseball.

Jose Abreu:  2/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .253.  Been getting a lot of messages on Abreu which shows the impatience of the fantasy baseball community when it comes to any player.  The guy is as stable as it gets so stay the course.

Shohei Ohtani:  1/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .281.  Yeah, this has not gone how anyone hoped it would. 



Monday, July 23, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: BLAKE SNELL THE LATEST TO HIT THE DL AS HE BATTLED SHOULDER FATIGUE

Having already engineered a truly monstrous breakout in 2018 with ace-level power pitching, the grind of the long MLB season appears to have taken a toll on Tampa Bay Rays starter Blake Snell as he was placed on the 10-day DL Monday with shoulder fatigue.  Shoulder fatigue is a fancy way of saying Snell is exhausted and that is not a shock since he is still very young and has yet to throw a full MLB season.  We see mid-year falloffs and fatigue with young pitchers each and every season and this is already happening to the Atlanta Braves' Sean Newcomb whose big first three months of 2018 has devolved into some ugly July outings as he too looks gassed.  As far as Snell is concerned, he has been tremendous to the tune of a 2.27 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, .188 BAA, and 10.13 K/9.  All four of those numbers ace-level and the only possible negatives to discuss here is Snell's continued issue with walks (3.55 BB/9) which have kicked up of late.  Now we also have a very lucky .243 BABIP which results in a 3.43 FIP and 3.57 XIP ERA but those are still very good ratios for a young hurler like Snell.  So while he has pitched a bit above his head, we also are looking at one of the future power arms of the game who could be close to reaching elite status.  For now though, get set for what could be a rocky finish to the season given the fatigue that is now enveloping Snell.  Upon his return, a sell high is looking like a great idea. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL TIGHT END RANKINGS

The always frustrating tight ends are now up when it comes to our first look at the 2018 fantasy football player rankings and once again this is a very top-heavy group that has high sticker prices among that range. 

1.  Travis Kelce
2.  Rob Gronkowski
3.  Zach Ertz
4.  Greg Olsen
5.  Jimmy Graham
6.  Evan Engram
7.  Trey Burton
8.  Delanie Walker
9.  Kyle Rudolph
10. George Kittle
11. Jordan Reed
12. David Njoku
13. Jack Doyle
14. O.J. Howard
15. Eric Ebron
16. Tyler Eifert
17. Cameron Brate
18. Ricky Seals-Jones
19. Austin Seferian-Jenkins
20. Jared Cook
21. Charles Clay
22. Austin Hooper
23. Mike Gesicki
24. Ben Watson
25. Vance McDonald

-Give the Carolina Panthers' Greg Olsen a mulligan for 2017 as he was as durable a player as you could get in all of fantasy football prior last year's injury frustration.  Yes he is getting a bit long in the tooth but no one is trusted more by QB Cam Newton in the Panthers passing offense.
-Kelce gets the nod over Gronk simply due to the latter's inability to stay on the field.  Plus, count on K.C. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes looking for his security blanket in Kelce often throughout the season as most young passers do.
-While Jimmy Graham is a notch or two below athletically what he once was with the New Orleans Saints, he should be a lock for double-digit scores after signing on with the Green Bay Packers and QB Aaron Rodgers this past winter.
-If you choose to wait on drafting a tight end, old reliable but somewhat boring veterans Walker and Rudolph are excellent options.
-The hype is getting out of hand with the Chicago Bears' Trey Burton and it is to the point that he may not be worth the cost.



2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SUNDAY

Wil Myers:  1/5 with his 9th HR while hitting .284.  Myers has battled injuries the last two seasons but in between nothing has changed here in terms of his level of production. 

Rhys Hoskins:  2/5 with his 15th HR while hitting .252.  There was hope Hoskins would hit 40 home runs this season but he may not get to 30.  Typical case of an overhyped prospect who his fantasy baseball owners paid too much for. 

Jonathan Schoop:  2/5 with his 12th HR while hitting .231.  Yeah we are kind of back to the drawing board here with Schoop as 2017 won't come close to being repeated. 

Randal Grichuk:  2/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .213.  I never liked Grichuk as a prospect in St. Louis and that has not changed in Toronto despite the ballpark boost.  Way too limited. 

Yangervis Solarte:  2/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .239.  Typical power boost from Solarte going from San Diego to Toronto but didn't expect the average dip as he was generally a previous .280 guy. 

J.A. Happ:  5 IP 4 H 1 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 4.18.  Could be Happ's last start in Toronto but at least it helps assuage some worries over his previous slump.  Again, Happ has succeeded beyond anyone's wildest expectations the last few seasons and that shouldn't change no matter the potential new location. 

Jeimer Candelario:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .230.  Amazing how there are so many limited hitters like this in today's game.  AL and NL-only rosters have never been so stocked with options. 

Chris Sale:  6 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.13.  I mean Clayton Kershaw has all the hardware but this guy is having a stretch the last few seasons that rival that production. 

Corey Dickerson:  4/5 with his 11th HR while hitting .315.  You can't get any hotter than this guy right now.  Leaving Colorado didn't sink this career.

Starling Marte:  2/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .287.  This is one player I have MAJOR regrets about now owning and also MAJOR jealousy who had more foresight. 

Gregory Polanco:  2/5 with his 17th HR while hitting .237.  Polanco is not running much and his average still stinks which means his once five-tool outlooks is looking more like 2.5. 

Matt Harvey:  8 ER in 3.2 IP with an ERA of 5.21.  The Mets don't miss him.  Neither does his former fantasy baseball owners. 

Chris Archer:  6 IP 8 H 3 ER 0 BB 13 K with an ERA of 4.30.  My goodness Archer is still as good a K artist as there is in all of fantasy baseball but still 8 hits allowed in 6 which is not a great ratio.  Still not smooth. 

Matt Kemp:  3/5 with 2 home runs (17 for season) while hitting .316. Good for Kemp that he remains a feared and very productive hitter this late in his career while Ryan Braun (who stole an MVP from him) can't stay on the field. 

Alex Wood:  6 IP 5 H 2 ER 3 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.87.  While Wood has been pretty good, his fantasy baseball owners have an annoying feeling he has not pitched well. 

Tim Anderson:  2/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .244.  Look past the average and Anderson is having a fantastic season and his power/speed game rivals anyone's.

Ryon Healy:  3/4 with 2 home runs (20 for season) while hitting .244.  Travis Shaw clone in 2018. 

Ian Desmond:  1/3 with his 19th HR while hitting .238.  Desmond is the Tim Anderson of first basemen but gets a whole lot more criticism.

Zack Greinke:  8 IP 2 H 1 ER 1 BB 13 K with an ERA of 3.05.  You see Mr. Archer this is how you dominate when you strike out 13 batters in a game. 

Mike Trout:  2/4 with his 26th HR while hitting .307.  It is almost laughable now that we ever had a Bryce Harper-Mike Trout debate. 

Ian Kinsler:  3/4 with his 12th HR while hitting. 227.  Now hitting towards the bottom of the lineup, Kinsler only has some moderate power and literally nothing else to offer. 

Justin Upton:  1/3 with his 20th HR while hitting .253.  Standard operating procedure here. 

Lance McCullers:  5 ER in 4.1 IP with an ERA of 4.01.  I said before the All-Star Game to be concerned here as McCullers has not pitched this many innings in the majors previous to 2018 and so fatigue would likely start to become a factor.  The ERA is now over 4.00.

Andrew Heaney:  6 IP 4 H 1 ER 2 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.66.  Taming a vert tough Houston lineup is another notch in the cap of Heaney in his decent breakout campaign. 




Sunday, July 22, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: NOAH SYNDERGAARD HITS THE DL AGAIN, THIS TIME FOR FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE?

As if this truly horrid New York Mets season has not been more pathetic enough, now we get word that ace starter Noah Syndergaard has been placed on the DL for the second time but foot and mouth disease of all things.  Syndergaard contracted the ailment while taking part in a kids camp this past week but the hope is that he will miss only the minimum ten games.  Be that as it may, this is now the third time Syndergaard has been on the DL three times in the last season-plus and so he is now more than earning the label of being injury prone.  Throw in the fact Syndergaard seems like your classic Tommy John future victim and investing in him on a yearly basis is become an exercise you might want to start avoiding.  In between all the injuries this season, Syndergaard has pitched to a splendid 2.89 ERA  but an elevated 1.25 WHIP with 83 K in 74.2 IP.  While he has pitched decently, it still has fallen short of expectations and added more negative storylines to a truly ugly Mets season. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: MADISON BUMGARNER SP SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

How quickly things change both in real life and in fantasy baseball.  A case in point can be seen with San Francisco Giants ace SP Madison Bumgarner who for years since first coming up with the team has been a slam-dunk power pitching ace in every sense of the word.  Combining very low ratios and 200-plus K stuff, Bumgarner was a top-five starter in all leagues since at least 2014.  Last season was no different as Bumgarner was looking at another big campaign on the way in 2017 but of course, a dirt bike accident where he tore up his pitching shoulder ruined his season.  Once Bumgarner returns from the accident, there was some disturbing signs from here as the velocity was down and the overpowering stuff from before was not being seen.  With that said, a mulligan was given to Bumgarner for 2018 fantasy baseball and many dived right back on. 

Fast forward to present time and Bumgarner comes off a horrid outing Saturday where he walked 6 batters and saw his ERA rise to 3.19 and his WHIP to 1.25.  While the ERA is not terrible, the WHIP is not so hot and there are other red flags to discuss from the overall numbers below: 

3-3
3.19 ERA
1.25 WHIP
7.71 K/9
3.86 BB/9
0.84 HR/9
.257 BABIP

Outside of ERA, Bumgarner has been shaky all over and his 7.71 K/9 is a major red flag as it is way down being above 9.00 each season from 2014 to 2016.  Last season that dipped to 8.19 and now at 7.71, Bumgarner is just average there which is a big problem for his value since much of his cost comes from the strikeouts.  On a related front, he is now averaging just 91.6 on his fastball which is down from 93.0 in 2015.  A case can be made that all of those years of heavy usage early in his career could be hurting Bumgarner now and we don't need to remind you that the Giants have a very bad track record here when it comes to Matt Cain and Tin Lincecum having their careers derailed before hitting 30 given the same issues. 

In addition to the velocity and strikeout problems, Bumgarner is showing some career-worst control and his .257 BABIP is actually in the lucky zone.  When his BABIP is adjusted, Bumgarner's FIP (3.99) and XFIP (4.48) are much worse than his actual ERA.  So in essence, Bumgarner is pitching WORSE than what his ERA shows. 

No matter how you slice it, Bumgarner is in a bad way and his fantasy baseball owners might see more ugly outings the rest of the way given the advanced indicators.  Get out now while you can. 




2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SATURDAY

Michael Conforto: 1/3 with his 12th HR while hitting .221.  Conforto has zero confidence right now and is almost swinging with his eyes closed in the hopes of making contact.  Maybe some of it is mental coming off the very serious shoulder injury last summer but clearly he has taken a step back in development.

Aaron Judge:  3/4 with his 26th HR while hitting .286.  Judge did not become the average killer many feared this season as his insane amount of walks helps offset the damage his high-K tendencies bring to the table.  In between, the power is immense as ever.

Steven Matz:  5 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 3.65.  Not the best way to build trade value and it is a reminder that Matz is nothing but an SP 5 which is a disappointment considering how nicely things started out a few years ago.

Marcus Stroman:  7 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 5.42. This is the best Stroman has looked all season and maybe there is a strong second half push.  With that said, I still want to see more before I even think of trying him out again.

Matt Carpenter:  1/3 with his 24th HR while hitting .275.  I admit I blew it on Carpenter more than any other player this season.  I figured with all the injuries and the brutal start to 2018, he was shot.  Boy was that misread.

Luke Weaver:  4 IP 7 H 3 ER 5 BB 2 K with an ERA of 4.79.  Check back in 2019.

Mike Fiers:  6.1 IP 7 H 0 ER 3 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.49.  Few SP 5's know how to dominate in the second halves of a season more than this guy.

Christian Yelich:  2/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .300.  Yelich is stealing some bases, hitting .300, and will crack about 20 homers which is a typical year for him.  Which then goes down as a bit disappointing after moving to Milwaukee and given the resulting spring hype.

Clayton Kershaw:  6 IP 7 H 1 ER 0 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.64.  If you look closely, you will see a lesser version of Kershaw than from pre-2016.

Corey Dickerson:  2/5 with 2 home runs (10 for season) while hitting. 307.  It took Dickerson a bit to get going with the power this season but at least he was hitting .300 prior to the recent surge.

George Springer:  1/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .249.  The BABIP is just .275 which is unlucky and especially for Springer so no need to worry about a permanent trip back down to where he was average-wise earlier in his career.  The 18.4 K/9 and 10.4 BB/9 both check out.

Josh Reddick:  1/5 with his 10th HR while hitting .261.  He gets hurt with more frequency the last two seasons but Reddick remains a grossly underrated outfielder in fantasy baseball.

Justin Verlander:  6 IP 5 H 0 ER 2 BB 11 K with an ERA of 2.19.  The audacity of anyone suggesting Verlander was in a slump recently.

Salvador Perez:  1/3 with his 14th HR while hitting .223.  Always worried about the insane workloads the last five seasons and the toll it would take on his body.  The answer is "very bad" on both fronts.

Matt Carpenter:  1/1 with his 25th HR while hitting .277.  Carpenter didn't even start but extended his home run streak to six games.  You have got to be kidding me with this.

Adrian Beltre:  1/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .288.  Here is hoping we get another monster second half from Beltre, even if he is not really capable of such a stretch anymore with the power really fading.

Carlos Carrasco:  6.2 IP 5 H 2 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 4.03.  The WHIP of 1.15 is fine and so are the K's (9.88 K/9).  With both FIP and XFIP ERA's under 3.50, try to steal him away from his jaded owner.

Brandon Belt:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .287.  You always have to deal with injuries but Belt seems here to stay now as the accomplished hitter he was touted to become when first arriving on the scene with the Giants. 

Madison Bumgarner:  4 IP 2 H 3 ER 6 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.19.  The WHIP is 1.25 and Bumgarner's owners need to read the Clayton Kershaw blurb above. 

Trevor Cahill:  5.2 IP 2 H 1 ER 3 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.95.  I told you to pick Cahill up about 57 times this season and he still sits with an ERA under 3.00. 


Saturday, July 21, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: CARLOS MARTINEZ SP ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

When 2018 fantasy baseball drafts rolled around this past spring, one prominently named starting pitcher that I told you all to avoid despite coming off another decent year in 2017 was St. Louis Cardinals ace Carlos Martinez.  While no one would question Martinez' 200-K chops, I did have some very big reservations about investing in him and for a number of key reasons.  The first one (which I have spoken often about) centered on Martinez' past with shoulder trouble and any issues with that socket tends to be more serious for a pitcher than anything to do with an elbow.  Shoulder trouble also tends to come back more than once and historically steals mph from a fastball and can greatly erode stuff.  In addition, Martinez also was an issue for me due to his yearly poor control which manifests itself in annually high walk rates.  Combine the ill health with the ugly control and I was in no rush to pay the fantasy baseball ace cost for Martinez at the draft table.

Fast forward to present day and Martinez has just been placed on the DL once again, with this time being for a strained oblique that is expected to keep him out past the minimum 10 days.  While Martinez has battled poor health during the first half of the season, he also has not pitched as well as his fantasy baseball owners expected as he went into Saturday's action with the following numbers:

6-6
3.39 ERA
1.39 WHIP
8.37 K/9
4.52 BB/9
0.47 HR/9
.293 BABIP

While on the surface Martinez' 3.39 ERA is not terrible by any means, his 1.39 WHIP is horrendous and his 4.52 BB/9 a downright joke.  Martinez has really outdid himself with the pathetic walk rate this season and his strikeouts being down sharply (9.35 K.9 in 2017) is also a major red flag.  A clear issue is that Martinez is leaking velocity this season and has been the last few seasons.  After averaging a tremendous 97.0 on his fastball in 2016, Martinez dipped to 96.7 a year ago and now down to 95.5 this season.  That marks three straight seasons of a drop there and that my friends is a clear trend.  Add in the ugly health and Martinez has been a decent bust relative to the price his fantasy baseball owners paid for him this spring.  Which of course is no shock here since I told you as much previously back in March.  So all in all, Martinez has been spot on in terms of my projection for him and the troubles that arrived once his name was added to your roster.  So let this be a lesson learned that Martinez is in fact one of the more overrated pitchers in today's game. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: JEURYS FAMILIA ON VERGE OF BEING TRADED TO A'S

The Oakland A's have been surprisingly competitive in 2018 and with a chance to claim a wild card spot, have begun moving to pick up some reinforcements for the stretch drive.  That process began late Friday when word got out through Buster Olney of ESPN that the A's and New York Mets were closing in on a deal for former All-Star closer Jeurys Familia to help bolster an already strong bullpen.  Once completed (which is expected to be done sometime Saturday), Familia will move to Oakland where he will setup Blake Treinen who has been superb all season finishing games for the team.  Now in terms of fantasy baseball impact, it is obviously a very bad move for Familia's owners as saves will no longer be a part of the equation.  While Familia has pitched very well to the tune of a 2.88 ERA and 9.52 K/9, Treinen has been one of the very best closers in all of fantasy baseball this season as the former failed Washington National has put forth a 0.94 ERA and 11.44 K/9.  In fact, you can easily make the case that Treinen has been THE best closer in all of fantasy baseball as his numbers look a lot like Zach Britton's when the latter put forth one of the most dominant years in recent memory collecting saves a few seasons ago.  With Familia heading West soon, the Mets now have to figure out who will finish games on their end and on that front, Robert Gsellman would be the add despite a shaky 4.15 ERA.  The fact of the matter is that the Mets have a brutal bullpen and no one inspires much confidence here.  You should probably avoid the whole setup altogether but if you are that desperate for some saves, then Gsellman would be the guy to take on. 


Friday, July 20, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: WILLIE CALHOUN OUTFIELDER TEXAS RANGERS

While it came about three months later than originally anticipated, the Texas Rangers finally made the call to bring up top outfield prospect Willie Calhoun on Friday and he will likely step right into the spot vacated by the injured Nomar Mazara for that night's game.  Having entered into spring training as a top prospect in all of Major League Baseball, Calhoun became a very popular target at the fantasy baseball draft table last March with the thinking that he would be up at the latest in May after the Rangers waited out his service time.  Well the Rangers had other plans as Calhoun sat at Triple-A until getting the call on Friday but prior to that, he once again reaffirmed his status as one of the best pure hitters in the minors leagues as he compiled the following numbers before joining the Rangers:

.306
8 HR
42 RBI
57 R
4 SB
9.8 K/9
6.6 BB/9
.326 

What really jumps out about Calhoun's performance this season is how he looks like an outfield version of Joey Votto with the insanely low K/9 rate; which at 9.8 is as low as it gets.  The contact rate is superb and so Calhoun has batting title ability as soon as he gets comfortable in the majors.  While the power has been a bit on the light side with 8 homers in 408 at-bats, Calhoun is just 23 and is at least three years away from his prime.  Count on the power growing as he continues to age and with the .300 hitting ability already in the cards, Calhoun could be the rare slugger who also helps in the average department.  As of right now, check to see if Calhoun is available in your league as his original owner may have gotten impatient waiting for him to get the call and if so, he could be a tremendous addition for the rest of the season. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: SORTING OUT THE WR MESS IN DALLAS

By the midway point of the 2017 fantasy football, it was clear as day that Dallas Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant was toast.  No longer able to gain consistent separation from defenders, Bryant was abysmal at times for long stretches of the season and so it was no surprise when Dallas cut ties with him during the winter.  Add in the retirement of franchise All-Pro tight end Jason Witten as well and all of a sudden the Cowboys were faced with a major shortfall of receiving targets for third-year QB Dak Prescott.  While the Cowboys did spend a draft pick on Michael Gallup, the signings of Allen Hurns and Tavon Austin to complement Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams leave no one in the fantasy football community ready to run out and get a hold of any of these names in the draft.  With that said, SOMEONE has to step up and lead the team in receptions and at the very least, a WR 3 season is hidden somewhere in this mess.  The key is to find out who it will come from and that projection mostly will center between the rookie Gallup and the veterans Austin and Hurns.

Michael Gallup:  As far as Gallup is concerned, the rookie from Colorado State is entering into a very good position on a Dallas team hurting for receivers.  Having posted back-to-back 1,200-yard campaigns with Colorado State, Gallup showed nice route running ability and good hands.  He is no home run threat through and will likely do much of his work in the possession receiver mode.  At the very least, Gallup should be a late round pick due to the opportunity at hand.

Allen Hurns:  Injuries have been a big issue for Hurns over the last  two seasons as he missed a combined 11 games total in that span.  His last decent came back in 2015 when he hauled in 64 balls for 1,031 yards and 10 scores but that as they say is ancient history.  With that said, Hurns is the most accomplished receiver of the bunch and he is still young enough to be able to go back to his 2015 numbers if the health cooperates.  That is a big "If" but Hurns too should be in the late round discussion.

Tavon Austin:  Once a top draft pick of the St. Louis Rams, Austin really bombed out there as he failed to become what Tyreek Hill is now for the Kansas City Chiefs.  With that said, Austin is the kind of check-down option that Prescott loves and in PPR formats, he could be a decent late round play.

So there you have it.  Nothing overly exciting here but at the very least this situation should be monitored throughout the preseason to see where this goes in terms of usage among those involved.


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: YUSNIEL DIAZ OUTFIELDER BALTIMORE ORIOLES

When it comes to the blockbuster trades leading up to and on the July 31 deadline, more often then not the main  MLB player that gets moved is swapped in exchange for a top or moderate prospect from the opposing team's farm system.  The just-completed Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers deal was no different as L.A. surrendered five prospects to the Baltimore Orioles; with the most prominent being slugging outfielder Yusneil Diaz.  Fresh off slugging two home runs in the Futures Game, Diaz now has a chance to be a possible September call-up by the Orioles and certainly a guy who will be heavily considered for the team next spring training given his already impressive bat.  As he heads to Baltimore, Diaz takes with him the following numbers at Double-A this season:

.314
6 HR
30 RBI
36 R
8 SB
15.5 BB/9
14.8 K/9

While the offensive numbers don't jump off the page, keep in mind Diaz is just 21 and his advanced numbers suggest potency to come as his walk and strikeout rates are already superb.  Keep in mind that one of the better indicators in terms of how a minor league hitter will be able to adjust to MLB pitching is their ability to draw walks (thus controlling the strike zone), while also being able to maintain a high contact  rate.  Diaz already has both skills down and his power will only increase from here as he fills out physically.  Throw in some decent stolen base speed and Diaz clearly knows what he is doing with a bat in his hands.  So while Diaz may not be of much use for 2018 fantasy baseball, the fact of the matter is that he should be able to make his presence felt in 2019 if he continues down this path.