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THT's Fantasy Archives
Friday, June 07, 2013
The Daily Grind provides daily match-up advice for tinkerers 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 daily picks are a mixture of Daily League specific advice and information for the more typical fantasy owner.
Pitcher (to start): Francisco Liriano is the top choice for today if he is available. He will face the Cubs.
Jarrod Parker has looked better recently.
Pitcher (bum): Esmil Rogers cannot be expected to pitch deep into the game, so the Rangers should lump on runs even if they can't figure out Rogers.
The Phillies could get to Alfredo Figaro, or perhaps Figaro gets to the Phillies.
Edinson Volquez will have to dodge spotty storms and the thin Colorado air at Coors Field today. It could be a short outing for any number of reasons.
Jeremy Bonderman has done nothing to make me think that he's ready to be back in the majors.
Hitter (power): So play Travis Hafner against Bonderman.
Scott Van Slyke will face lefty Paul Maholm.
I recommended Kelly Johnson yesterday, but he's a bit banged up and is considered day-to-day.
Hitter (speed): You have a small stack of speedsters for today. Gerardo Parra, Chris Denorfia, David Murphy and Leonys Martin are among the best options.
Note that the below recommendations do not reflect any impending rain-outs from today.
Pitcher (to start): Shaun Marcum is back on the list as a tentative start against the Marlins after yesterday's rain-out.
A hunch says that Kevin Gausman should be considered as a start against the Rays. Obviously, this move is a risk.
Andy Pettitte is owned in 50 percent of leagues. He will face the Mariners.
Tommy Milone will see the White Sox.
Pitcher (bum): Mark Buehrle has had the most difficult season of his long and steady career. An assignment against the Rangers will be a challenge.
Nate Karns was originally slotted to pitch today and now he's listed for tomorrow. Another postponement will allow the Nationals to skip his start.
Tom Gorzelanny will be asked to make a spot start against the Phillies. The Brewers don't exactly have a deep bullpen, which should break in the Phillies' favor.
Stephen Fife will have to subdue the Braves.
Hitter (power): Juan Francisco will take some big hacks against Kyle Kendrick.
Jonny Gomes is likely to start against C.J. Wilson.
Dayan Viciedo will do his best impression of Francisco against Milone.
This is the day to grab Jayson Werth if he's still available. He's opposed by Scott Diamond.
Hitter (speed): Try Craig Gentry against Buehrle.
The first day of the draft was yesterday. The second day of the draft is today. The rest of the draft is tomorrow. Such is the news of note.
The Twins and Nationals face rain that is expected to clear late in the evening. They could get this one in, but it's unlikely.
The Angels and Red Sox don't even need to bother gearing up if the weather report is to be believed—heavy rains through midnight.
The Marlins and Mets are mixed up in the same storm.
The Padres and Rockies could see isolated thunderstorms.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 6:02am
Welcome back to the roster doctor's office, where the receptionists are as curt as they are unhelpful.
This week, we encounter another patient ailing in both runs and stolen bases. It must be an epidemic. Jason writes:
It's a 10-man league, standard 5x5 scoring. I'm getting smacked around in runs and SB. I also can't seem to buy a win. Since it's only a 10-man league we had to add some extra positions
With Giancarlo Stanton's impending return from the disabled list—Marlins fan(s) rejoice!—somebody in your lineup is going to have to take a seat.
Maybe I'm just a bitter, jaded Jays fan who endured five disappointing months with Kelly Johnson last season as he fashioned a .663 OPS from May through October, but my prejudice notwithstanding, I simply can't believe he's a top-10 fantasy second baseman. He's doing a commendable job trying to convince us, though, collecting 10 home runs, 35 RBIs, and six stolen bases while hitting a respectable .275 through June 5. But considering how you've struggled to generate runs and steal bases, I'd recommend moving him for someone with speed who hits toward the top of the lineup. Coco Crisp (39 runs, 12 steals, .290) and the resurgent Nate McLouth (38 runs, 21 steals, .301 average) come to mind. Much about Johnson's accomplishments so far this year scream aberration and portend some regression; let me count the ways:
1. Johnson, in his age-31 season, has produced a .240 isolated power that represents a 63-point bump over his career mark.
2. Of Johnson's 10 round trippers—among second basemen, he trails only Robinson Cano in that department—four have come at the Trop, a ballpark that hasn't been hospitable to home runs since 2006. #unsustainable
3. His home OPS trumps that of teammate Evan Longoria by more than 80 points—if that doesn't adequately convey why Johnson will probably cool off, I'm not sure anything can.
Most of Johnson's RBIs (and consequently, much of his value) have come via the home run; he's driven in 19 with the long ball. As his power numbers start to approximate his career norms, his value will drop substantially. Hitting toward the bottom of Tampa Bay's lineup, Johnson likely won't collect a ton of runs, and while the half-dozen steals are nice, your offense is potent enough to handle swapping him for someone who really knows how to purloin a sack.
With Jurickson Profar getting antsy on your bench and ready to assume second base/utility duties (at least while Ian Kinsler is incapacitated), I'd suggest shopping Johnson immediately. He's already showing signs of slowing down, eking a paltry .083/.250/.083 line over his last 16 plate appearances, and I'd argue the window to maximize return is closing shortly.
I'd also explore potential trades involving Ryan Zimmerman or Kendrys Morales, players with undeniable value who also boast unique deficiencies that'll impede their ability to become stars.
Let's start with Morales. In the cavernous (but slightly less cavernous than last year) Safeco Field, Morales' power and run production prospects don't inspire a whole lot of tumescence. Despite a relatively negligible 18-point difference between his home/road OPS splits (.871 and .853, respectively) the modest disparity fails to convey how tough it is to hit the ball over the fence in Seattle. Only two of Morales' eight home runs this year have come at home, a ratio that bespeaks a .148 home isolated power that trails his road mark by almost 75 points.
As discouraging as his pitcher-friendly environment is, the cadre of players Morales shares the field with is even more disheartening, from a fantasy perspective. Seattle's collective .307 on-base percentage ranks eighth-worst in baseball, a number that can be largely attributed to the team's alleged "table-setters"; Mariners leadoff hitters have managed just a .292 OBP through the first 60 games of 2013, a number that would have you believe Brendan Ryan is batting first for Seattle. With 35 RBIs, Morales has yet to really suffer from his teammates' on-base issues, but it's a problem that could easily curtail RBI potential. As such, I'd try to swap him for the run-scoring, base-stealing prototype discussed earlier.
Zimmerman also is worth moving, as recent injury trouble has evoked some concern about his true value. He already has missed 26 games this year with a wonky hamstring, and his relatively meager production has further eroded any chance of repeating his impressive 2012 campaign.
Much has been made of the impact that offseason shoulder surgery has had on Zimmerman's throwing motion, but the procedure seems to have had consequences on the offensive side of things, too. As of Thursday, Zimmerman has managed a .169 isolated power—21 points below his career average and a 27-point departure from his 2012 campaign. He has just six home runs, of which three came last Wednesday night against the Orioles.
Zimmerman also is striking out with unprecedented regularity, fanning in a career-high 20.9 percent of his plate appearances. Zimmerman's 22 runs (19th among third basemen) typifies the Nationals' inability to put points on the board this season; they've averaged just 3.41 per game, good for 29th in the league, an issue compounded by the absence of Bryce Harper.
Granted, Zimmerman is still just 28, and he plays for a team that's undoubtedly better than it has demonstrated so far in 2013, but he's a name that could command a sizable haul in the trade market, and should be considered moveable for the right price.
As far as your pitching goes, I'm not sure you're in a position to complain, your dearth of wins notwithstanding. Outside of David Price's injury and a minor, expected regression from Gio Gonzalez, your staff is performing better than anyone could've expected. In fact, Price is the only starter on your staff to possess an ERA north of 3.64 or a WHIP greater than 1.20. Heck, maybe you should just drop him now. (Read: do not, under any circumstance, drop him now.)
I hate to be non-interventionist —it's sort of in my job description to intervene—but this is an impressive collection of pitchers, and the wins will start to come if you remain patient. Outside of Samardzija and Gonzalez, each of your starters plays for a team currently above .500 and above-average at scoring runs. Each of your starters (again, with the Price qualifier) has done a tremendous job at both keeping men off base and limiting home runs; only Gio has a walk rate above 10 percent, and only Minor has allowed more than 0.80 home runs per nine innings. If you're really desperate (and you really shouldn't be) consider moving one of your closers, as you've assembled a pretty formidable bullpen and could afford to trade saves for other categories.
Posted by Jonah Birenbaum at 3:38am
A couple of months ago, I pledged to not write about players on my beloved Mets here in this column too much, because (a) who wants to read about players on the same team each week, and (b) the truth, of course, is that there are only so many players on the Mets who do anything right, let alone are fantasy-worthy.
Besides, after watching Collin Cowgill and Jordany Valdespin do a whole lot of nothing since I wrote about them in April, it’s not as if I’m working off some super track record that suggests the Mets are some fantasy goldmine simply waiting to be explored.
But like a wino who’s just been released from the local police drunk tank, I’m back on the streets and thirsting for a new bottle of Mad Dog. And since THT scribe Scott Strandberg has already taken on Yasiel Puig and Michael Wacha, you don’t need me to echo his outstanding analysis. Instead, here are two Metropolitans who might be able to provide a fantasy boost in the near-term—and yeah, one rookie left-hander you may have heard about.
Dillon Gee | New York Mets | SP | 6 percent Yahoo ownership; .9 percent ESPN; 23 percent CBS
YTD: 64 IP / 5.20 ERA / 7.9 K/9 / 2.5 BB/9 with 4 wins
ZiPS updated: 160 IP / 4.78 ERA / 7.6 K/9 / 2.8 BB/9 with 10 wins
It turns out Gee isn’t unlike the rest of us working stiffs: When our job security is at stake, we magically turn up the productivity at work. For Gee, perhaps, the prospect of Zack Wheeler’s imminent call-up to the Mets rotation has sparked a renewed urgency that’s behind two excellent starts away against the Yankees and Nationals, wins that have seen him produce a welcome 19-to-1 K/BB ratio.
As you may recall, Gee, 27, was pitching pretty decently last year (3.54 xFIP, 3.34 K/BB ratio, 1.25 WHIP) before he was hospitalized with a blood clot in his right shoulder. The injury shut down his 2012 season, and certainly relegated him to afterthought status in all but the deepest of NL-only leagues entering this year. And he hasn’t done a whole lot to impress this season, surrendering four earned runs or more in half of his 12 starts so far.
Has anything changed in just two starts? For one thing, Gee has cut down on his mediocre change-up, a pitch that accounted for nearly a quarter of the balls that left his hand through his first 10 starts, in favor of more fastballs and curves, according to Texas Leaguers data. That’s helped lead to an increased swinging strike rate (11 percent, up from 8) and has contributed to a 2013 first-strike percentage that’s above his career mark.
His BABIP probably stands to drop a bit from its .360 level, since his 21.6 percent line drive rate, while not good, isn’t unmanageably terrible. Meanwhile, despite the mediocre two months, he’s still getting ground balls and hasn’t hurt himself with walks.
As for Wheeler taking his rotation spot, it’s hard to see the team at this point sending Gee in place of Jeremy Hefner to the bullpen, especially with Jon Niese missing a start due to a shoulder injury and the ever-injured Shaun Marcum waiting to jump onto the disabled list at a moment’s notice.
I doubt I’ll ever be a huge Gee fan, but he’s a serviceable arm who calls a bona fide pitcher’s park home. We’ll need more than two starts if we’re truly going to believe a breakout is on the way, but he’s probably a better pitcher than most people give him credit for.
Recommendation: Solid add in all NL-only leagues, though standard mixed league owners can afford to wait at least another start before picking him up.
Ike Davis | New York Mets | 1B | 38 percent Yahoo ownership; 28 percent ESPN; 43 percent CBS
YTD: 201 PA / .166 / .244 / .265 with 5 HR and 0 SB
ZiPS updated: 529 PA / .203 / .284 / .353 with 18 HR and 1 SB
If I had to guess, you’re probably thinking two things right now: One, doesn’t Davis suck at life? Two, isn’t he an established player? Why would he be waiver wire fodder?
Well, yes, he’s been gawdawful so far in 2013, to the point where his ownership—which should be at least 90 percent in a moral universe—has steadily plummeted to platoon-like levels. But we remember how the dude smacked 32 homers and 90 RBIs last year at age 25 while playing half his games in scary Citi Field, and as a former first-round pick, Davis, the son of 11-year major league veteran Ron Davis, has the pedigree to be a star.
The question is when he’ll turn it on. The good news, at least I hope, is that we’re starting to see some signs of a turnaround.
Let’s review the recent rays of light for Davis. The good times began a couple Sundays ago against the Braves, when Ike’s two-run single on national television in the eighth inning gave the Mets an emotional win. After being told a couple of days later that he had to produce or face imminent demotion to the minors, Davis came up big for the Mets in their astounding sweep of the Yankees, providing a two-run kill shot in the first inning against David Phelps that locked up the series’ third game. On Sunday, Davis connected for a moonshot in Miami, his first home run since April 25.
Perhaps most encouraging is the improvement in the strikeout area. Overall, Davis’ K rate is an awful 31.3 percent, unsightly for anyone, let alone a first baseman with such pitiful power numbers. But since Davis deployed a new batting stance last Wednesday, he’s struck out only four times in 24 plate appearances.
Baby steps, I know. But let’s not forget that Davis was similarly terrible to begin last year, when he posted a .524 OPS with just five homers through the first two months, and still finished with counting stats to be proud of. If you want to remind me that Davis’ average at no point this season has peaked above .180, go ahead. But I believe Davis is capable of being a major league power hitter, one who’s not afraid of playing in a pitcher’s park, and he’s going to pay off fantasy dividends in his career. I happen to think that could begin sooner rather than later.
Recommendation: I’m hanging onto him in NL-only leagues and keeping tabs on him in deeper mixed leagues.
Tyler Skaggs | Arizona Diamondbacks | SP | 16 percent Yahoo ownership; 9.7 percent ESPN; 51 percent CBS
YTD: 11.2 IP / 3.86 ERA / 10 K/9 / 2.3 BB/9 with 1 win
ZiPS updated: 87 IP / 4.70 ERA / 8.1 K/9 / 3.4 BB/9 with 4 wins
If you’ve read this far and haven’t thrown down your laptop in disgust over the idea that not one, but perhaps two Mets could be useful in
The background: Skaggs, 21, has already turned the minor leagues into his own personal playground and has made 18 starts in Triple-A. After making his debut last year, Skaggs in 2013 has turned in one great start (six innings, nine strikeouts, no runs) and one not-great start (five earned runs in a no-decision Tuesday against the Cardinals). I’m not clairvoyant, but I’ll assume we’d see similar fluctuation stretched out over the season, with the usual talk about an innings limit at some point, as Skaggs embarks on what everyone thinks will be a successful major league career.
Right now, owners needn’t worry about Skaggs’ job security, since he’s starting in place of Brandon McCarthy, who was placed on the DL earlier this week with shoulder inflammation. Even if McCarthy had a reputation for being healthy—that’s now nine DL trips McCarthy has made in an eight-year career—there doesn’t seem to be a timetable for his return. At the same time, McCarthy doesn’t have any structural damage in his right arm, so that suggests he could be back before the month is over.
If that were the case, and if were McCarthy were to pitch well, things could get tricky for Skaggs. Patrick Corbin has been magical since the season began, Trevor Cahill and Ian Kennedy aren’t going anywhere and despite a down start from Wade Miley, he’s probably pitched better than his lofty ERA indicates. As for Daniel Hudson, I’m not too worried about him kicking out Skaggs given that he just left a rehab start due to elbow stiffness.
But yeah, even though I’m not expecting instant dominance from Skaggs, I’d say he’s got a very decent chance to hang around the rotation going forward, and we'll worry about an innings limit later. Given his upside, there’s no reason to ignore him in anything but the shallowest mixed leagues.
Recommendation: Green light across the board.
Posted by Karl de Vries at 3:18am
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