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THT's Fantasy Archives
Friday, August 31, 2012
Recap: A sore knee soured the Domonic Brown recommendation, but he’s here for the long haul... Soon, I’m confident, his miniscule home run rate will rise, and his line drives should keep his average from becoming a liability.. Adam Ottavino didn’t vulture any wins, but he pitched five innings over the week and was particularly effective in three home frames versus the potent Dodgers lineup... Ottavino and Rex Brothers should tally a few more wins apiece in the bloody pitching mess in Colorado...
And now, a moment of silence for the September fantasy potential of Billy Hamilton, who isn't likely to be appearing in Cincinnati to flash his piss-your-pants speed...Jedd Gyorko, meanwhile, is pressing as a promotion looms; he struck out in seven of his 27 at-bats this week, but still managed nine runs driven home...Can’t love him thanks to that park, but he should be a mixed-league worthy asset...Collin McHugh will be back up in early September and is worth a long, intense look after his startling debut....
Meanwhile, the big news of the week was the Jerry Sands—er, Adrian Gonzalez—blockbuster trade; Sands is technically a PTBNL, but should he make his way successfully to Pawtucket in the next few weeks, he’d be an asset splitting time between left field and first base....Joe Saunders was sent into the heat of the exciting AL East race, so Tyler Skaggs’ rotation spot is safe—that is, unless he continues to display such erratic control...A 2.92 ERA will play, but it’s mostly a mirage with his seven walks in less than 13 innings (two hit batsmen) and two home runs allowed... His fly ball tendencies displayed so far aren’t going to play well at Chase Field, especially when he catches so much of the plate on his fastballs (though Justin Ruggiano and Bronson Arroyo aren't complaining) so if you must start him, do so when he adventures out of Arizona...
Sure enough, Gregor Blanco is being spelled by the far inferior Francisco Peguero... Javier Lopez is getting some burn in save situations on the fascinating Giants, as was promised by me...Brett Jackson is the latest all-or-nothing slugger to make way onto the fantasy radar; the prototype is often valuable in moderation, and hell, one month is defined as moderation... I’m buying... And finally, Eric Stults! A week after I teased him for pitching too much to contact, he struck out nine in 13 innings, a marked improvement from his previous four over two starts...If you're keeping track at home, Stults is once again worthy of your attention, particularly when he takes to the always lovely PETCO.
Ronald Belisario | Dodgers | RP | 10 percent Yahoo ownership | 2.1 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 2.75 ERA / 1.01 WHIP / 8.08 K/9
ZIPS ROS: 3.60 ERA / 1.30 WHIP / 8.10 K/9
Probably long gone and probably in for a short run, Belisario nonetheless gets the proper and precedented treatment for those passing through the closer carousel; pick him up for a hot minute and enjoy a couple of saves. You know the drill... But why him and not Brandon League? Plain and simple, his repertoire is better than League's (faster fastball, superior slider) and he generates ground balls like his bullpen colleague used to a few years back (which is to say he generates a ton of groundballs). That he got the first opportunity when Kenley Jansen was unavailable is telling of Manager Don Mattingly’s trust in him; plus, Jansen is hardly guaranteed a swift return.
Recommendation: To summarize, Belisario is a skilled bullpen arm with the tools to survive, but will face off, one presumes, with a former All-Star closer and an unknown time frame for the interim. Buy into the admittedly sticky situation, but don’t stake anyone who isn't expendable. Score one for some obvious logic!
John Mayberry Jr. | Phillies | 1B-OF | 6 percent Yahoo ownership | 6.5 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .240 / .282 / .401
ZIPS ROS: .244 / .298 / .407
My man crush on Mayberry is well-documented and hardly explicable, but it shocked me, in case you hadn’t heard, that Charlie Manuel promised the kid full-time at-bats after a scorching second half of 2011 and failed to deliver on that promise. Once Manuel started benching Mayberry, the kid seemed to press even more, sacrificing plate discipline for the chance of a home run he so craved. When the Phillies cleaned house with their outfielders, they finally put Mayberry in charge of left-field for good. No surprise to this author that as he’s started a dozen games in a row, he's responded positively (hitting .355 over the span). Three homers later, and he should be on your fantasy squad—no questions asked. Fine, fine, I’ll field one question. You in the red. What did Mayberry do last August-September, you ask? Nine home runs, 23 runs batted in, a couple of steals and a .301 batting average.
Recommendation: Like I said, ditch injured dead weight (Emilio Bonifacio, Matt Joyce, Peter Bourjos, David Ortiz), a struggling or demoted pitcher (Lance Lynn, perhaps), or one of those streaky teases (Colby Rasmus, Jeff Francoeur), and hope Manuel will continue to let the car drive.
Casey Kelly | Padres | SP | 1 percent Yahoo ownership | 1.4 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 0.00 ERA / 0.83 WHIP / 6.00 K/9 (one start)
ZIPS ROS: 5.14 ERA / 1.64 WHIP / 5.79 K/9
I’ve never cared much for Kelly as a prospect, but his skill set is well tailored to his home park: most of the balls let in play are grounders, and the fly balls are likely to be swallowed up by the spacious outfield and warning track. While he’s not “a huge velocity guy,” his “smooth, efficient delivery” should help him thrive in select environments. For what it’s worth, I’d always viewed Kelly as an underperformer in the minors—his strikeout totals were often hovering at or below the seven per nine range—but this year is a different story. His major league equivalent in four starts between Double-A and Triple-A: 2.48 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and an uncharacteristic 10.2 strikeout per nine innings ratio. My mind has been changed.
Recommendation: Any Padres pitcher can be fashioned into an asset. Kelly, someone who's always generated at least some praise from scouts, can rise above that, ever. He's worth grabbing despite the potential growing pains.
Jimmy Paredes | Astros | 3B | 0 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.1 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .318 / .348 / .477 (Triple-A)
ZIPS ROS: .250 / .274 / .363
Oliver believes in Paredes’ speed, so why shouldn’t you? His 34 steals in 120 Pacific Coast League games translate to a rate of 46 per full season, or .283 per game. While I wouldn’t expect any batting average help out of Paredes, a former third baseman deftly converted into a future center fielder (and current right fielder) by Jeff Luhnow and company, he’ll run on an Astros team that craves speed. If your fantasy squad is anything like the Astros in that quality (and that quality alone), Paredes is your man.
Recommendation: Despite his shortcomings, Paredes’ prowess for snagging a base will outweigh what could be an ugly average. Though he certainly lit up the PCL (hardly a major accomplishment), the hits are simply an added bonus to his main event: speed.
Yasmani Grandal | Padres | C | 9 percent Yahoo ownership | 1.5 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .283 / .369 / .519
ZIPS ROS: .242 / .338 / .387
Got a black hole at catcher? Is Mayberry, most highly recommended source of power likely to be found, already claimed? Check if Yasmani Grandal is there for the taking. He is like any other sane hitter in his affinity for Coors Field, where he slugged two homers in a late June game; and—would you know it!—he starts a three game set there today. Three more games to come apiece in Arizona and Milwaukee make Grandal a keep-around guy in September for that rare, fleeting power from a catcher.
Recommendation: If you own Kurt Suzuki, Michael McKenry, Carlos Ruiz (for whatever reason) or Russell Martin, I’d quickly make the switch. He’s better than a number of big name backstops out there.
Posted by Nick Fleder at 3:29am
Recap: Sorry for being MIA last week, but I took a break for my summer vacation. What we learned in the past two weeks ... Alex Cobb threw a shutout, but also had an abysmal start and a mediocre one, so he hasn't exactly lived up to my lofty expectations, even if I remain a fan ... Manny Machado, despite his bright future, has been useless since I praised him, hitting just .152/.171/.212 over the past two weeks ... Geovany Soto, on the other hand, has received some regular playing time in Mike Napoli's absence and has played well, going .324/.378/.471 over that span ... Miguel Gonzalez got pushed around by Texas in his one start since we last touched base
Pedro Ciriaco | Boston Red Sox | 3B / 2B / SS | 38 percent Yahoo ownership; 57.8 percent ESPN ownership
ZiPS ROS: .264/.274/.375
With shortstop and second base eligibility complementing his regular third base job, Ciriaco, who turns 27 next month, is rightly attracting attention from AL-only owners, as his impressive line has been sustained for nearly two months straight. With 10 steals thrown in, and guaranteed playing time in the absence of Will Middlebrooks and the departed Kevin Youkilis, he’s certainly established himself as a tempting waiver wire pickup.
In deep leagues, of course, there’s nothing wrong with playing the hot hand, so Ciriaco is worth adding to AL-only rosters. But how legit is his good fortune? He’s boasting a .415 BABIP against a lousy 2 percent walk rate, and compiled a pedestrian .272/.299/.357 line in his minor league career, which, it should be said, stretched over the course of eight seasons (indeed, Ciriaco had notched just 40 plate appearances prior to 2012).
And yet, he’s playing well, seems to have found a home on the Red Sox and absolutely murders the ball at Fenway (.373/.388/.542), with an OPS more than 200 points higher than that on the road. He’s going to come back down to earth at some point during September, so keep a look out. But hey—if you need an infielder, you might as well pick him up while he’s killing the ball, especially if he lines up for some Beantown ABs.
Recommendation: Worth picking up in AL-only leagues, though mixed league owners can probably hold back.
Andrew Bailey | Boston Red Sox | RP | 62 percent Yahoo ownership; 67.3 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 1.69 ERA / 1.125 WHIP / 6.8 K/9
ZiPS ROS: 1.29 / 1.000 WHIP / 9 K/9
Remember Bailey? Sure, you do: the guy’s a former rookie of the year and all-star who notched an average of 25 saves over the past three seasons entering 2012. That’s when a nasty thumb injury hit, vaporizing Bailey’s contributions in the first half of the season, and by the time he returned, Alfredo Aceves had entrenched himself in Boston’s closer role.
Thing is, Aceves isn’t that good, and after blowing his eighth save recently—and engaging in a locker room tirade fierce enough to earn a three-game suspension from the BoSox—he’s surrendered the job. As of Thursday night, a replacement has yet to be named, but we fantasy folk can tell which way the wind blows.
The suggestion that Bailey will inherit the closer’s job is enough to make his value jump, and he’s been fine since coming off the DL earlier this month, posting a 1.69 ERA with a 6.75 K/9 and 1.13 WHIP in seven appearances. Bailey was never much of a strikeout pitcher, so don’t expect his whiff rate to approach strikeout-per-inning territory. Still, FanGraphs reports his average fastball velocity as hovering around 94 mph, and his 8.4 SwStr% has room to grow given his career average, so I expect he’ll pick up some more strikeouts as he warms up down the stretch.
Honestly, if you need saves, you might as well scoop up Bailey now.
Recommendation: Worth adding in all AL-only leagues and mixed leagues now that it seems as if he’ll be the closer in Boston.
Daisuke Matsuzaka | Boston Red Sox | SP | 3 percent Yahoo ownership; 1.1 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 5.10 ERA / 1.267 WHIP / 7.8 K/9
ZiPS ROS: 4.50 ERA / 1.500 WHIP / 7.5 K/9
I know he sucks. You know he sucks. Hell, by this point, even Dice-K probably knows he sucks. But many of us are already in fantasy crunch time, and hey, the right-hander did throw seven strong innings on Monday for a convincing win against the lowly Royals, so yeah, we might as well take a look at this trash bag to see if there’s anything there.
What you know already: Dice-K is poisonous to ERAs, never stays healthy and doesn’t gather wins anymore, which used to be his fantasy calling card. This year, Matsuzaka returned from TJ surgery in June to do a whole lot of nothing, going 0-3 with a 6.65 ERA over five starts, and then landed on the disabled list to address a right trapezius (shoulder) strain. To his credit, he gutted out the recovery to return for the final month of 2012 for a team that’s not going anywhere, and probably has a steady job in Boston now that Josh Beckett is out of town.
However, one should also take notice of the Red Sox’ decision to place the soon-to-be 32-year-old on waivers, as a new home could exile him to middle relief duty or, perhaps, a fresh start in a pitching-hungry rotation. Until we find out if he’s leaving—more to the point, if the Red Sox can find a taker for that contract—this is all speculation, but it should factor into the decision-making.
Recommendation: It’d be nice to see Dice-K return to fantasy relevance, but we’ll need to more about his future, and see him put together a couple more decent starts, before he’s trustworthy in AL-only leagues.
David Phelps | New York Yankees | SP | 10 percent Yahoo ownership; 5.5 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 2.96 ERA / 1.129 WHIP / 9.4 K/9
ZiPS ROS: 5.14 ERA / 1.48 WHIP / 6.8 K/9
The question with the Yankees’ fill-in starter isn’t whether he’s effective—he’s gone 1-1 with a 8.5 K/9, 4.50 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over his past three starts—it’s whether he is worth adding in fantasy as Ivan Nova (rotator cuff inflammation) and Andy Pettitte (left ankle injury) try to return to the rotation.
You can probably scratch off Pettitte for at least the rest of the fantasy season, since the 40-year-old hurler is still only throwing off flat ground as of this week. Even if Pettitte returns for the end of the regular season, it certainly sounds like he’d be appearing for the last week or so of the regular season. As for Nova, he’s not even eligible to come off the DL until Sept. 6, and he estimates he’ll need at least a week on top of that to return.
The Yankees, while a near lock to make the playoffs, are still facing competition from the Rays and the Orioles in the AL East, so while they’re not going to rush Nova back while he recovers from a shoulder injury, they really can’t afford to sit back and let him take his time, either.
Even if Nova comes back good as new, there’s a chance it could be Freddy Garcia who’s pushed to the bullpen, as he’s struggled to keep his ERA under five all season and was replaced in the rotation by Phelps back in April. The 35-year-old Garcia gives the Yankees some stability in the rotation, and Phelps has more experience pitching out of the bullpen this year, so it’s not inconceivable that the rookie is the one who loses a spot when Nova returns.
But that’s something to worry about later. Considering that Garcia didn’t make it out of the fifth inning in either of his last two starts, Phelps is in control of his own destiny; as some strong pitching over the next week or so could force the Bombers’ hand in keeping him in the rotation. And considering Garcia’s age, there’s the possibility that he could tire down the stretch himself.
Phelps won’t make it on to too many Rookie of the Year ballots this season, but he’s been decent this year, seems comfortable pitching at Yankee Stadium and is almost certain to get at least another week or so in the starting rotation. Even without the benefit of a long-term forecast of his remaining 2012 season, owners can pick up Phelps with the expectation that he can pitch in (har, har, har) as fantasy postseason time nears.
Recommendation: Worth a look in some AL-only leagues, and mixed league owners can probably take a look as well.
Posted by Karl de Vries at 3:12am
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