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THT's Fantasy Archives
Monday, April 08, 2013
The Daily Grind provides daily match-up advice for tinkers and daily fantasy players. I welcome advice to help make this column more effective, including notice of impending weather events, new injuries, and changes to platoon situations. Ownership rates are from Yahoo!
The Fanduel picks are a mixture of Daily League specific advice and information for the more typical fantasy owner. Use the team-by-team TDG eligible players spreadsheet for more detailed information.
The Fanduel Daily League Players of the Day are:
Pitcher (to start): Paul Maholm is up to 48 percent owned and a game against the Giancarlo Stantons of Miami temporarily justifies that rate.
Several other marginal pitchers have good match-ups today, but they are all heavily owned.
Pitcher (bum): I'm not going to recommend streaming the Twins offense very often, but Ervin Santana seems to have lost his major league eligibility. He's opposed by Kevin Correia, who is usually good for giving up four runs.
I have a $10 bet against Roy Halladay that should tell you my opinion pretty clearly. I bet that he would not pitch six innings and would not hold the Mets' tepid offense to two or fewer runs. We'll see.
Hitter (power): On that note, try Lucas Duda with the knowledge that Doc is only half a season removed from toying with hitters of Duda's caliber.
Chris Parmelee should get a chance at Santana, but Kaufman Stadium isn't the most home run friendly.
It's another Jonny Gomes day. Fun!
Hitter (speed): Jeremy Hellickson was rough around the edges in his first outing, so go ahead and try David Murphy (batting fifth most days and should be owned outright despite 33 percent ownership rate) and Leonys Martin.
A.J. Pollock has the platoon advantage against Wandy Rodriguez.
Pitcher (to start): Dillon Gee is unlikely to beat Cliff Lee tomorrow, but he's a good pitcher who should be owned several times more frequently than his current 12 percent rate.
Carlos Carrasco is interesting in the same way that craps is interesting. I don't know what you'll get tomorrow, but the Yankees offense is el terrible. (And I just LOVE being able to say that.)
Pitcher (bum): Roberto Hernandez squeaked through his inaugural outing, but I'm not sure he can repeat the performance against the Rangers.
Same goes for a Mike Pelfrey versus Jeremy Guthrie match-up in Kansas City. If the offenses were a little better, I would predict greater than 15 combined runs scored. But they aren't, so I won't.
I'm pretty convinced that Tim Lincecum is suckballs now, which is a technical term for the kind of guy who walks seven in five innings and doesn't get away with it.
Brandon Maurer was less than stellar in his debut. He appeared to throw waaay too many pitches over the heart of the plate. Might have just been nerves, or he might get teed up by Houston's few hitters with power.
Hitter (power): Chris Carter has been ice cold to start the year, but a grooved fastball could change that around.
Nate Freiman is a very large man and thus should have some very large power, like Richie Sexson. C.J. Wilson is no slouch though and there's no guarantee that Freiman will even play.
The Ryan Doumit and Trevor Plouffe trains are slowing down, which could mean either is available in his start again Guthrie.
I'm going to go ahead and give a quiet recommendation for Travis Hafner.
Hitter (speed): Carlos Gomez is still heavily owned, but he's available in every league in which I do not own him, so I suspect he's available in some of yours too. He has a nice match-up against Travis Wood.
Try Murphy and Martin again. Murphy should be owned at least 10 percent more frequently than Gomez.
Kyuji Fujikawa appears to have ousted Carlos Marmol already. I just got done explaining in multiple places that the Cubs have a vested interest in using Marmol so they can dump some of his salary, but I guess they have given up on that plan.
Kelvin Herrera notched a save and could compete with Greg Holland if the latter struggles.
A few first basemen are banged up. Freddie Freeman hit the disabled list with an oblique strain while Adam LaRoche is day-to-day with a strained back.
Weather watchThe Yankees, Indians, Cubs, Brewers, Reds and Cardinals are all playing around some rain, but it doesn't look like any of the games should be overly affected. St. Louis could see isolated thunderstorms, while the other two games have morning rain that probably won't linger.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:44am
Good news, you guys! The ambitious letter writing campaign by rabid Waiver Wire fans (c/o "The Powers That Be," 1 THT Way, Madeupville, BS, 01234, USA, America, Plant Earth) has resulted in said The Hardball Times' brain trust deciding what the Waiver Wire columns need is more
In addition, rather than segregating our columns by league (Karl had been doing the National League after doing the American League last year, and I had been doing the American League this season) we will no longer be shackled by these cumbersome restraints.
Or, in other words, Karl finally will (at long last!) be allowed to write about players on the Astros you might want to add for some reason. Which, if I'm honest, is a little disappointing for me on a personal level, because I have really enjoyed giving him a hard time about getting screwed out of covering the Astros the past two seasons. Such is life.
To recap some of our recent WW subjects:
Kyuji Fujikawa - Karl highlighted the Cubs reliever on Friday, as it seemed only a matter of time before Carlos Marmol's high wire act would wear out its welcome in Chicago. Turns out that matter of time happened to be two days, as Fujikawa was officially tabbed as Marmol's replacement. He's now a must-add if you're in need of saves.
Stephen Drew - The Red Sox shortstop is expected to be activated Wednesday, and it's worth gambling that his power still will be there and can help him crack the top ten shortstops.
Brandon Maurer - Debuted Thursday in Oakland and gave up six runs in six innings of work, including home runs to Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes. His fastball was working mostly in the 91-92 mph range, and although the end result wasn't pretty, he didn't look as bad as his line might indicate. He's still a good buy in dynasty leagues and worth using in his next start against the Astros, who have struck out like 5,000 times already this year. (Slight exaggeration.)
J.A. Happ - Looked very good against the Red Sox Saturday, throwing 5.1 scoreless innings, striking out six and walking three. He's still owned in just 18 percent of CBS leagues and can be a nice addition for teams in need of starting pitcher depth.
Dylan Axelrod - Also posted a nice line in his debut Saturday against the Mariners, pitching 5.2 innings of scoreless ball, walking two and striking out three. He remains useful in a pinch while he hangs on to the last starting job in the White Sox rotation, but matchups and park factors must be considered.
A few names to consider heading into Week 3:
Jim Henderson | Brewers | RP | ESPN: 1.4 percent ownership | Yahoo!: 24 percent | CBS: 17 percent
YTD: 2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.79 FIP, 3.09 xFIP, 9.00 K/9, 0.00 BB/9
Oliver Projection: 3.95 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 9.12 K/, 4.77 BB/9, 66 IP
Early-season blown saves are by no means the end of the world. (After all, Fernando Rodney blew his first save opportunity this season, and no one is saying it's time to bail on him after he had the most amazing year in the history of forever last year.) But John Axford's early season struggles, including a mysterious drop in velocity, should have owners ready to pull the trigger.
Axford entered the 2012 season slotted safely in the ninth-inning role after a superb 2011 season in which he racked up 46 saves, had a 1.95 ERA, a 2.41 FIP, and a 2.85 xFIP. He struck out 28.2 percent of batters faced in 2011, and walked just 8.2 percent.
For whatever reason, 2012 didn't work out quite as well. His ugly 4.67 ERA and nine blown saves caused a temporary demotion from the closer role while fellow 6-foot-5 hard-throwing Canadian righthander Jim Henderson took over. (Side note: are all Canadian relievers exactly the same? This sample seems to indicate that).
Axford's 4.06 FIP and 3.79 xFIP indicate there was a fair amount of bad luck in those 2012 statistics, including an absurdly high 19.2 percent HR/FB rate. It's worth noting, however, that Axford also saw his walk rate jump by more than four percent (from a workable 8.2 percent in 2011 to 12.6 last year) and did not see a corresponding increase in his strikeout rate (from 28.2 percent to 30 percent).
Obviously speculating on one or two bad outings is a fool's errand, but there's certainly reason to be concerned for Axford owners, and reason to speculate on Henderson, who has already taken over the ninth-inning duties in Milwaukee once and is poised to do so again should Axford's struggles continue.
Henderson also was unlucky last year, posting a 3.52 ERA but a 1.95 FIP and a 2.73 xFIP. Most of that discrepancy is due to a high BABIP of .352, which should return to Earth this season. His strikeout rate (34.4 percent) and walk rate (9.9 percent) both were very strong.
Contributing to this excellence was a superb swinging-strike rate of 14.9 percent. Oliver sees the strikeout rate dropping a ton, all the way down to 22.9 percent, with a rise in walk rate at the same time, but that seems unlikely without a change somewhere unforeseen (velocity, etc.) and is probably the result of Henderson being a somewhat unique case as a 30-year-old with just 30 innings of major league experience.
Recommendation: Henderson is worth a stash now if you have room, with the understanding that Axford's grasp on the closer's role is not as tenuous as Marmol's was last week. That said, both Axford and Henderson bear watching, and owners should be ready to move if the Brewers make a switch. If the change is made, Henderson can be a solid second-tier option for saves. He's an elite relief option for strikeouts and holds as is.
Eric Sogard | Athletics | 2B | ESPN: 0.1 percent ownership | Yahoo!: 1 percent | CBS: 1 percent
YTD: .188/.278/.188 in 18 PA
Oliver Projection: .263/.328/376 in 457 PA
Seth Smith | Athletics | OF | ESPN: 0.1 percent ownership | Yahoo!: 1.0 percent | CBS: 5 percent
YTD: .333/.400/.778 in 10 PA
Oliver Projection: .256/.335/.448 in 487 PA
We've had some good stuff here at THT lately about fantasy platoons, most notably by Scott Spratt and Brad Johnson. For those of us in absurdly deep leagues, my advice last week on three big-name middle infielders who have relatively low ownership rates could be filed in the "Yeah, right!" folder. In leagues like these, sometimes you have to get creative. And that means looking for value absolutely everywhere, including platoons.
Johnson mentioned Smith in his piece, and he's one of my favorite options because:
1. He's widely available.
2. There isn't much guesswork at play with him.
3. I own him.
Smith debuted with the Rockies in 2007 and has exactly 1,900 career major league plate appearances, during which he has posted consistently above-average numbers against right-handed pitchers (.283/.361/.503). If he was able to post that kind of production over a full season against pitchers from both sides, he'd basically be Cespedes last year, and you'd have no hope of finding him anywhere near the waiver wire.
As solid as Smith has been against righties, though, he's been equally bad against left-handed pitchers, to the tune of a .194/.266/.320 triple-slash line. Or, put another way, 2012 Drew Stubbs territory. He's going to be rather useless against lefties (if the A's even have him in the lineup, which they probably won't), but given that two-thirds of major league pitchers are right-handed, this presents an opportunity to add a quality bat to fantasy lineups a few times a week and at very little cost.
Sogard also finds himself in a platoon for the A's in the early going, splitting second-base duties with Scott Sizemore. The fact that he'll see a majority of the at-bats against right-handed pitchers means he could provide sneaky value in the same way that Smith can.
The only problem is he isn't particularly good at hitting. We can pretty much throw out all of Sogard's MLB numbers, given their small sample size (73 games split over three seasons) and the fact that he's had some crazy bad luck for most of them (a .181 BABIP last year).
His minor league stats do little to excite, as well. He's had below-average power at every stop of his career but has posted encouraging walk rates (above 10 percent every year since 2008) and acceptable strikeout rates (less than 11.4 percent every season during the same stretch).
While Sogard is getting playing time at the moment, that's subject to change at a moment's notice. Sogard, Sizemore, Jed Lowrie, Jemile Weeks, and Hiroyuki Nakajima all will be in the mix at some point for two positions. The relative upside for Sogard does not merit wading into such a messy situation. Unless you're desperate. Really, really desperate.
(Hat tip to reader Rafi for the question on Sogard in last week's AL Waiver Wire column.)
Recommendation: Smith is a pretty safe bet to provide average-or-better production against right-handed pitchers and should see plenty of at-bats against them this season. Sogard is a worse bet, in a potentially much more complicated platoon, and should be used only in case of emergencies.
Jose Fernandez | Marlins | SP | ESPN: 9.9 percent ownership | Yahoo!: 30 percent | CBS: 70 percent
YTD: One freaking awesome start
Oliver Projection: 3.42 ERA, 3.04 FIP, 8.19 K/9, 3.55 BB/9 in 74 IP
The 20-year-old's earlier-than-anticipated major league debut has been covered in seemingly every corner of the internet. So here I mostly want to say: what is wrong with you ESPN folks? Which players are actually owned over there? Absurd.
Recommendation: Pick him up, ESPN slackers. All joking aside, there probably will be an innings limit at some point, and Fernandez is 20, so the upside here is somewhat limited. That said, it could be nice to enjoy the ride while it lasts.
Posted by Jack Weiland at 3:09am
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