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THT's Fantasy Archives
Friday, May 18, 2012
The Daily Grind provides daily match-up advice based on my every-morning waiver wire search. I welcome advice to help make this column more effective. Ownership rates are from Yahoo!
There are several pitchers you can try. Some options are better than others.
Marco Estrada against the Twins tops my list for today. I'm using him in two leagues.
Jarrod Parker takes on the Giants in what newsmongers call the battle of the bay.
Daniel Bard will face a fairly impotent Phillies lineup.
You could reach even further and take Alex White against the Mariners or Philip Humber against the Cubs. Both are fine match-ups, although both pitchers have exhibited reason for concern.
Andy Dirks sees Charlie Morton today. He should be owned outright for now.
Raul Ibanez gets a friendly match-up against Bronson Arroyo.
Dexter Fowler is starting to crop up on waiver wires. He faces Kevin Millwood at Coors, so pick him up liberally.
Rajai Davis should be in to face the lefty.
Roster Drew Smyly. He's owned in 39 percent of leagues so he's available to somebody. He faces the Pirates tomorrow. Use him tomorrow and then keep him.
Christian Friedrich makes his third favorable match-up start. It's also his third big league start. Someday, he'll face a real lineup, but the Mariners won't provide that challenge tomorrow.
Jeanmar Gomez against the Marlins isn't a terrible match-up if the juicy ones above aren't available.
Keep using Ibanez. This time it will be against Homer Bailey.
Eric Thames sees the inflammable Miguel Batista.
Ryan Sweeney should pop a couple hits against Joe Blanton.
Hang on to Dirks against A.J. Burnett.
It was yet another one of those nights...
Aroldis Chapman blew the save in the seventh inning yesterday.
Brandon League blew his third save of the year.
Rafael Betancourt took the loss after allowing a two-run home run to Justin Upton in the ninth.
James McDonald was helpful: 5.2 IP, 11 K, 4.76 ERA, 0.88 WHIP
Zach McAllister's outing was similar, but less exciting: 5.2 IP, 6 K, 4.76 ERA, 1.41
Juan Pierre was 2-for-5 with one run.
Thames was 1-for-4 with one run.
Ibanez was 0-for-3 with a walk.
Dirks was 1-for-3 with a home run, one run, one RBI, and one walk.
I'll make the usual offer. Get me up to 270 Twitter followers and I'll make sure you have TDG picks through the weekend.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 6:33am
Anthony Bass | Padres | SP | 17 percent Yahoo ownership | 6 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 2.87 ERA / 1.13 WHIP / 8.6 K/9
Oliver ROS: 4.10 ERA / 1.30 WHIP / 6.3 K/9
Bass is the latest bullpen-to-rotation convert in San Diego (in the same vein as a one Cory Luebke) whose profile raises questions of why he wasn’t in the rotation in the first place. While his strikeout ratio is likely unsustainable, Bass is finding mostly sustainable success with a groundball rate above 50 percent. His ERA is 2.87 with a normal strand rate and three plus pitches—his 3.20 xFIP means regression will be minimal.
Soon, hitters will start making more contact with Bass—his rate is well below average. That isn’t to say he won’t continue to thrive in a massive home park with an above average defense.
Recommendation: Worthy of an add in all formats.
Gregor Blanco | Giants | OF | 4 percent Yahoo ownership | 7.9 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .283 / .371 / .400
Oliver ROS: .245 / .336 / .340
The near-30 journeyman found success at the major league level last year, where he was essentially league average at 2.28 WAR/162 games, and this year, his offense has jumped with an increased walk rate. It’d be easy to dismiss it as unsustainable if he hadn’t have posted spiked rates in his brief Triple-A service time last year, but it looks legitimate. With a .400 on base percentage (sure to fall, but still impressive), Blanco should steal more than 6.5 bases per 100 at-bats.
He should handle leadoff duties for the Giants most of the time with his ideal mix of speed and patience, and should be a boon to fantasy rosters for the remainder of the year.
Recommendation: Worthy of an add in deeper mixed leagues and NL-only formats.
Bobby Abreu | Dodgers | OF | 3 percent Yahoo ownership | 1.3 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .255 / .300 / .382
Oliver ROS: .261 / .359 / .408
Abreu has stolen 20 bases in each of the past 13 years yet hasn’t swiped a single base in his 60 plate appearances this year. That’ll change, and his plate discipline should return to incredibly consistent career norms, too. I’d wager that the playing time jam in Los Angeles led to some pressing on the part of old Bobby, but with Matt Kemp on the DL, he should find a comfort zone at least temporarily in Chavez Ravine. Buy him now, worry later.
Recommendation: Worthy of an add in all formats.
John Mayberry Jr. | Phillies | OF | 5 percent Yahoo ownership | 2.8 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .234 / .255 / .319
Oliver ROS: .254 / .304 / .436
Laynce Nix hit the DL the day of my Week 5 column, which leaves a vacuum of playing time that Mayberry is likely to fill. I say likely because Mayberry was promised a full-time gig at the beginning of the season by manager Charlie Manuel, yet has found himself on the lineup bill for only 20 games.
In the past seven days, he’s hit a homer, driven in three runs, and hit six times in 23 at-bats, which constitutes as improvement across the board. Power will come, as his lifetime .216 isolated power can vouch for.
Recommendation: Worthy of an add in deeper mixed leagues and on NL-only rosters.
Everth Cabrera | Padres | SS | 0 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.0 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: No stats accrued
Oliver ROS: .233 / .302 / .307
Cabrera was once the hyped prospect who stole 73 bases in Single-A ball and was on the fast track to the majors. But a speedster who doesn’t hit or field with much success rarely survives at the major league level, especially when his success rate with steals hovers around 70 percent and was at 63 percent in his most recent major league stint. While it doesn’t seem like he’s figured out how to hit sustainably and consistently—he’s thriving off of batted ball luck in Triple-A currently—he is nonetheless putting up video game numbers, and can provide steals if and when the Padres clean house.
Recommendation: Worthy of a stash on all rosters that crave speed.
Anthony Rizzo | Cubs | 1B | 3 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.8 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: No stats accrued
Oliver ROS: .255 / .324 / .474
New year, same story with Anthony Rizzo. He’s mashing at Triple-A, yet has made no apparent progress that might carry over the major leagues. Perhaps new seasoning, a new mindset, or competition in the form of Bryan LaHair will push Rizzo to new, replacement-level heights. He’s striking out slightly less than last year, and walking slightly less as well—and while his power will play better in Chicago, expectations should be held in check. He’ll get some burn though; LaHair can be pushed to the outfield and the Cubs have a typical Cubs record. Rizzo will hit a few homers when he's up, for sure.
Recommendation: Worthy of a stash in all deeper mixed formats and NL-only leagues.
Trevor Bauer | D-Backs | SP | 6 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.3 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: No stats accrued
Oliver ROS: 4.97 ERA / 1.43 WHIP / 8.4 K/9
Bauer’s made an appearance on this column before, but his promotion seems around the corner, and thus he should be picked up if he’s still on your league’s wire. While his 4.8 walks per nine innings leaves a lot to be desired, he made a clear adjustment in his May 11 start and walked a season-low one in seven sterling innings. He also struck out nine, and has given up only seven hits and hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last two starts, totaling 14 innings.
With Patrick Corbin only mildly impressive in his four starts and with Joe Saunders predictably slipping, room may open up quickly for Bauer if he keeps pushing improvement like he has. Triple-A, here he comes.
Recommendation: Worthy of a stash in all formats.
Posted by Nick Fleder at 5:48am
Dayan Viciedo| Chicago White Sox| OF| ESPN: 0.4 percent ownership, Yahoo! : 8 percent ownership
Oliver ROS: .265/.310/.430
The man Hawk Harrelson calls Tank has his share of faults. He isn't patient, walking in just 2.5 percent of his plate appearances, and chasing 39.2 percent of pitches outside the strike zone (league average this season is 29.4 percent). He's striking out at an all-time high, albeit in a short major league career, and he's hitting a ton of ground balls. Finally, he's being slotted near the bottom of the White Sox order, which limits his opportunities to score runs and drive them in.
With the negatives out of the way, let's move on to why Viciedo needs to be rostered in a higher percentage of leagues. He has huge raw power, much of which is derived from his big body build. He has already crushed six home runs this year, and is on quite the tear, hitting a home run in three of his last four games. He has also collected multiple hits in three of those four games, and with only one strikeout in that time frame, could be finding his groove at the dish.
There are few ballparks that are as friendly to right-handed home run power as U.S. Cellular Field is. Pair Viciedo's home run happy digs with his plus power and you have a recipe for an easy 25 plus home run season. Owners would be hard pressed to find cheaper power available than that which Viciedo provides.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all large mixed leagues and AL-only formats as well as some shallow mixed leagues.
Xavier Avery| Baltimore Orioles| OF| ESPN: 0.4 percent ownership, Yahoo! : 0 percent ownership
Oliver ROS: .237/.286/.332
Avery has long been considered more athlete than baseball player. He began translating his athleticism into usable skills in the Arizona Fall League (AFL), which I discussed in an AFL update last November. He has carried over his solid showing in Arizona to 2012, opening the year at Triple-A Norfolk before earning a call-up to the Orioles to replace injured left fielders Nolan Reimold and Endy Chavez.
I looked at Avery in depth for the Fantasy Baseball Cafe on Tuesday, so rather than rehashing the long version of what he brings to the table, I'd suggest reading that article.
In short, Avery is a speedy prototypical leadoff hitter. He's not afraid to work a walk, and while he has yet to steal a base for the Orioles, he did steal eight in eight chances for his Triple-A club. He has played in all five games since being summoned from the minors, and he has hit in the leadoff spot in four. The one game he did not bat leadoff was against Yankees southpaw CC Sabathia, the only left-handed starter the Orioles have faced in that time frame. He was slotted ninth in the order for that game.
He hasn't been over-matched in his limited taste of the majors, and so long as he is hitting atop the Orioles order, he has a chance to be an asset in not only the stolen base category, but also runs.
Recommendation: Should be owned by owners in need of steals in large mixed leagues and AL-only formats.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia| Boston Red Sox| C| ESPN: 4.3 percent ownership, Yahoo! : 18 percent ownership
Oliver ROS: .236/.293/.424
Since I wrote Saltalamacchia's obituary as the Red Sox starting catcher in week one, suggesting that the team may turn to Ryan Lavarnway instead, he has come to life at the plate in a big way. In the last 30 days Salty is slashing .319/.333/.597 with four home runs in 72 at-bats.
He remains impatient, and he continues to strike out often, but he is hitting for power, and is a part of a Red Sox lineup that is fourth in the majors in runs scored. He's doing the bulk of his damage against right-handed pitchers, sitting occasionally for backup Kelly Shoppach against southpaws. On the favorable side of a platoon, Salty is proving to be valuable to fantasy owners.
Owned in far fewer leagues than J.P. Arencibia, Salty is essentially his fantasy equal. As long as he is getting regular playing time, he slots in the 10-15 range of catchers, making him ownable in 12-team mixed leagues, and long gone in two-catcher formats. Owners in single catcher leagues that are employing the cheap backstop strategy would be wise to look Salty's way.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all two catcher leagues, all AL-only leagues, and all single catcher leagues with 12 or more teams.
Wei-Yin Chen| Baltimore Orioles| SP| ESPN: 15.8 percent ownership, Yahoo! : 19 percent ownership
YTD: 2.66 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 2.86 BB/9, 6.55 K/9, 33.3 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 3.66 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9, 6.0 K/9
The Oliver projection system liked Chen more than I did coming into the season. Oliver is getting the better of me thus far, and having taken a look at his PITCHf/x player card at Brooks Baseball, I'm beginning to warm up to Chen.
His four-seam fastball and sinker sit in the low-90s on average, good velocity for a left-handed starting pitcher. Both pitches have well above average whiff/swing rates, with the sinker's rate being exceptionally high. His pitch location graphs in two-strike counts show that he is no stranger to going up the ladder with his fastball to attempt to induce empty swings.
The trade-off is his low groundball percentage, which will likely eventually lead to a few more taters than he has yielded in the early going. In addition to his four-seam fastball and sinker, Chen throws two breaking balls, a curveball and slider, as well as a third offspeed offering, a change-up. Of the non-fastball pitches, his curveball is the only one that results in empty swings at an above average rate. Neither the slider or change-up are hopeless pitches in regards to fishing for a strikeout, but neither would be classified as a put-away pitch at this juncture.
Chen has faced some stiff competition to date, and has been up to the challenge. He has allowed no more than three earned runs in seven starts, and has hit that total only one time in a turn against the Red Sox at Fenway. Four of his seven starts have come against top five run scoring offenses, with one start against the Red Sox, one against the Rangers, and two against the Yankees. He was outstanding in two of those starts, and didn't embarrass himself in the other two.
It will be interesting to see how the league adjusts to Chen as more tape and information is available, but it should be noted that he was better in his second start against the Yankees than in his first. That start provides encouragement that he won't turn into a pumpkin when batters see him a second time. He won't carry fantasy staffs, but he should be a reliable option to round out them out in larger mixed leagues and AL-only leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all large mixed leagues and AL-only formats, and should be owned in some shallow mixed leagues.
Ryan Cook| Oakland A's| RP| ESPN: 1.8 percent ownership, Yahoo! : 13 percent ownership
YTD: 0.00 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 4.58 BB/9, 8.24 K/9, 46.5 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 4.13 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 3.9 BB/9, 6.3 K/9
One of the feel-good stories of 2012 has been the play of the A's. General manager Billy Beane overhauled the roster during the winter, trading away young starting pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill as well as young closer Andrew Bailey in an attempt to get—you guessed it—younger and cheaper.
In the midst of a rebuild, it is a bit surprising to see the club one game above .500, and ahead of the offseason's big spenders, the Angels, in the American League West. All that said, the A's aren't going to contend for a playoff spot, and should be sellers at the trade deadline. Teams are always in need of relief pitching, and Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes should provide Beane a couple of trade chips to continue the A's face lift.
Balfour began the year as the club's closer, and has since been demoted in favor of Fuentes. Neither has been the best reliever for the A's in 2012, though. That distinction is held by Cook, who has yet to yield an earned run. Cook was acquired from the Diamondbacks as part of the Cahill package, and he has been used in late-inning, high-leverage situations regularly.
He began his professional career being developed as a starting pitcher, but didn't truly flourish until the Diamondbacks turned him into a reliever full-time last year. He dominated at the Double-A level, pitched respectably at the Triple-A level, and struggled in less than 10 innings in the majors for the Diamondbacks.
As the stats would indicate, he has been much better this season. Cook possesses a live arm that generates two fastballs that average better than 95 mph. He flashed a change-up on occasion last year, but has thrown only four this year. When he's not lighting up the radar gun, he is throwing his slider.
In spite of a pitch mix that should show a platoon split, he has been equally tough on right-handed and left-handed batters. There is a good chance that the A's will eventually look to Cook to close games, whether that is because they trade Balfour and Fuentes or not. Owners in need of saves should act now before a change in ninth inning duties occurs. Meanwhile, Cook will provide cheap ratio help, some strikeouts, and possibly a few vulture wins and saves.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues in which non-closing relievers have value, and should be stashed by save-needy owners in large mixed leagues and AL-only leagues.
Posted by Josh Shepardson at 5:40am
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