Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
And here's the full roster.
Most Recent Comments
A Look at John Buck (1)
THT Fantasy has moved to Rotographs (4)
THT Roundtable: How seriously do experts take mock drafts? (21)
Player-A-Day: Tim Lincecum (3)
Player-A-Day: Josmil Pinto (5)
All content on this site (including text, graphs, and any other original works), unless otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
THT's Fantasy Archives
Monday, June 10, 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): John Lackey appears to legitimately be back on his feet and should be owned in most leagues. He's up to 45 percent owned, so people are noticing.
A few leagues have been slow to move on Julio Teheran. Go ahead and snatch him up—at least until the upcoming roster crunch resolves itself. Teheran needs a strong start to cement his position.
Pitcher (bum): Josh Lindblom will get the spot start for Texas against the Indians.
Wade Miley has struggled recently, allowing hits in bunches.
Dallas Keuchel allows more than his share of hits and walks, which should help the offense-starved Mariners.
Hitter (power): Michael Morse's ownership is trending downward since his hot start. He'll see Keuchel today.
Scott Van Slyke gains the platoon advantage against Miley.
Jason Giambi's starts are unpredictable, but Lindblom is an excellent match-up if he's picked to start.
Hitter (speed): Craig Gentry will try to reach base against Scott Kazmir.
Pitcher (to start): Gerrit Cole is getting the call to face the Giants. This is likely nothing more than a spot start, so don't beat yourself up if you've already missed Cole in redraft leagues.
Another youngster—Michael Wacha—is 51 percent owned and will oppose the Mets.
Tony Cingrani is also back in action with a start against the Cubs.
The Rangers are a tough assignment, but Corey Kluber is beginning to settle in as a reliable big league starter.
Pitcher (bum): The Tigers should get to Wade Davis.
Chien-Ming Wang is making his 2013 debut with the Blue Jays, who desperately needed a spot starter. Do not expect this to be smooth sailing for Wang.
I'm pro-Dan Haren, but a start at Coors Field isn't likely to reverse his home run woes.
The Astros have a poor man's version of the feast-or-famine offense. Still, Aaron Harang has been a Chinese buffet for everybody this year.
Hitter (power): Jason Castro and Carlos Pena are worth a look against Harang.
David Murphy has a solid match-up with Kluber. On the other side of the ledger, Drew Stubbs will gain the platoon advantage. Both offer a mix of power and speed.
Hitter (speed): Wil Venable has a favorable match-up against contact-oriented Tim Hudson.
Rajai Davis may start against lefty Jose Quintana.
Giancarlo Stanton is expected to return today.
Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy suffered a seizure last week. This was expected after his close call last season and he shouldn't miss additional time. McCarthy was already sidelined with shoulder inflammation.
The Angels and Orioles are expected to see thunderstorms at some point during their game.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 6:01am
With Jim Henderson returning, it looks like Francisco Rodriguez’s days as Milwaukee’s closer are ending, though manager Ron Roenicke wants to get him his 300th save, making K-Rod an interesting play in Week 11. Meanwhile, Ike Davis, a guest on the waiver wire a few days ago, was just sent down to Triple-A, so despite my eternal optimism that he’ll figure things out eventually, he’s a safe cut in most leagues at least until he finds his way back to Queens.
Such are the trials of a life of dumpster-diving. Some players reward patience and faith will solid returns (thanks, Rick Porcello), while others kick you in the shins and make you look foolish at the same time (too many to count here). But the season has plenty of time left in it, and thus, plenty of waiver wire fodder to examine.
Cameron Maybin | San Diego Padres | OF | 19 percent Yahoo ownership; 22.2 percent ESPN; 27 percent CBS
YTD: 57 PA / .157 / .232 / .235 with 0 HR and 4 SB
ZiPS updated: 351 PA / .227 / .295 / .334 with 5 HR and 18 SB
For years, fantasy owners hoping for a breakout season from former super prospect Maybin has been something of an annual ritual. But after he hurt his right wrist in mid-April and landed on the disabled list for six weeks, his ownership levels dropped to fringe status by the time he returned to action last week. That’s not all that surprising, but now that he’s back, fantasy owners should keep in mind that Maybin is a stolen base machine and remains something of an upside guy.
On that first point, the steals are legit, with 66 of them over the past two seasons. The wrist injury, of course, shouldn’t affect his speed, so there’s little reason to believe that he won’t be back to his kleptomania from the get-go. (He had four steals in three games entering Sunday’s action.)
As for being an upside guy, it might be a bit hard to believe for someone who’s seemingly been around forever, but Maybin just celebrated his 26th birthday, meaning he still has plenty of prime seasons left if he can figure out major league pitching
I wouldn’t blame you if you’ve already slapped the “bust” button on this guy after a lifetime .248 / .312 / .368 line in nearly 1,800 major league plate appearances, but Maybin did manage to hit .283 in the second half last year after making a significant change to his swing.
We won’t know for at least a few weeks how that new swing translates to success in 2013, and there’s still reason to be concerned about that right wrist, since it’s an injury that’s apparently bothered him for two years. But for a former 10th overall draft pick who already delivers solid results in the steals department, I bet more than a few owners are overlooking Maybin’s potential offensive upside. In a deep league, he’s an attractive addition off the waiver wire.
Recommendation: Just a steals option right now in mixed leagues, but keep an eye on his bat.
Rex Brothers | Colorado Rockies | RP | 37 percent Yahoo ownership; 63.6 percent ESPN; 39 percent CBS
YTD: 27.2 IP / .33 ERA / 8.8 K/9 / 5.2 BB/9 with 2 saves
ZiPS updated: 69 IP / 2.44 ERA / 10 K/9 / 5.3 BB/9
Back in April, waiver wire brother Jack Weiland pounced on Colorado’s bullpen, as he questioned how long Rafael Betancourt would hang on as the Rockies’ closer after a bad start to the year. Well, six weeks later, Jack’s reservations were well-founded, since Betancourt is on the disabled list with a groin injury and isn’t expected to be back until late June at the earliest.
So for those of you who need saves, meet Mr. Brothers, or, as I like to call him, the Rex of the Rox. (Rox’s Rex also works, though that apostrophe looks a bit out of place). Brothers, a lefty, must be afraid of bats, because he avoids them with great frequency, evidenced by a lifetime 11.2 K/9 and 13.3 swinging-strike rate. He also maintains a very good groundball rate, a 19.1 percent line drive rate is very reasonable, and he’s yet to allow a home run so far in 2013.
On the converse side of things, the walks are concerning, since a lifetime 4.8 BB/9 has gotten worse this year thanks to Brothers yielding free passes to more than five batters per nine innings. The situation hasn’t gotten any better since the 25-year-old took over the closer’s gig at the beginning of this month, with five walks issued in just four innings.
How much that has to do with an average fastball velocity that’s two miles below the 95-mph mark he maintained in 2011-12, I can’t be sure, other than to note the decrease. And while Brothers' ERA is microscopic, that’s largely the byproduct of an otherworldly 97.1 percent strand rate, which would have to fall significantly just to be considered charitable.
On the front-office side of things, I’m not the first one to bring up the fact that Betancourt, 38, could be a prime trade candidate if the Rockies fall out of the race, though the team was just two games back in the NL West heading into Sunday.
I’m not especially confident that the team will hang in there for the long haul, but if they’re competitive, they might not shop Betancourt as actively as they would under different conditions. On the other hand, let’s say they are shopping Betancourt as an experienced closer. Wouldn’t the Rockies consider giving him back the ninth inning in July to show that he still can finish games for a contending team?
Unlike, say, home runs or RBIs, only certain players are in a position to earn saves, so if you need them, pick up Brothers (which you’ve probably already done). But just keep in mind that he’s not certain to be the team’s closer indefinitely.
Recommendation: He’s among the best cheap save candidates out there right now, even if his long-term outlook is uncertain.
Adam Lind | Toronto Blue Jays | 1B | 25 percent Yahoo ownership; 41 percent ESPN; 46 percent CBS
YTD: 175 PA / .342 / .423 / .523 with 5 HR and 1 SB
ZiPS updated: 509 PA / .298 / .366 / .483 with 18 HR and 2 SB
You’d think that a guy who was smacking the ball around as well as Lind would find more love from the fantasy baseball community, but such are the depths to which his stock fell after a dreadful 2012 campaign. Apparently, for many last year erased the memories of the 28 home runs and 91 RBIs he averaged from 2009 through 2011, because that kind of track record should make Lind a no-brainer pickup now that he’s back to playing well.
Some people may be turned off by the crazy .393 BABIP, because they know it’s certain to plummet and take his outstanding batting average with it. But there’s no hiding a decent line-drive rate and a HR/FB rate that’s a tad low given his career norm, especially when one realizes that the 13.1 percent clip at which he’s walking represents a vast improvement over past seasons.
All of which is a long way of saying I think Lind will finish with numbers closer to that sparkling three-year average as opposed to a player who was demoted to Triple-A at one point last year. Lind isn’t a superstar, and first base is hardly the most difficult position to fill in fantasy, but here’s a guy who’s playing well and seems available in far too many fantasy leagues.
Recommendation: Lind is back to being a mixed-league option.
Posted by Karl de Vries at 3:11am
Another week brings with it another round of exciting prospect news. The next two weeks are expected to feature the major-league debuts of two of the game’s top pitching prospects, and both need to be owned in all leagues.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft is slated to make his first big-league start on Tuesday against San Francisco, and there are plenty of reasons to be excited. As far as pure stuff is concerned, there are few pitchers in the minors right now who can even compare to Cole.
He has an electric fastball, sitting in the mid-90s and dialing up triple-digits when he wants to. His power slider isn’t far behind, a true plus major-league offering that he throws in the upper-80s with crazy late break. Pair those two pitches with a change-up that is at least an average major-league weapon, and you have the makings of a potential ace.
Strangely, the 22-year-old’s strikeout rate has taken a huge hit with the move to Triple-A this season. His 6.22 K/9 rate is thoroughly unimpressive, especially when compared to last year, when he struck out at least a batter an inning in each of his four minor-league stops. He has struck out no more than five batters in any of his 12 Triple-A starts this year.
Control has always been the biggest question about Cole, and his 3.71 BB/9 rate this year illustrates that this continues to be an issue. Despite the ugly 1.68 K/BB rate in Triple-A, Cole is worth taking a chance on in pretty much any format. His stuff is too dominant to make me care all that much about his minor-league numbers this season, although I will admit that the control problems concern me. Another issue is how long he’ll have a job.
It is undetermined at this point whether Wandy Rodriguez will require a trip to the disabled list or how long his recovery would take if he does. If Rodriguez turns out to be fine, there’s not a lot of room in the Pirates rotation. With A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano and Rodriguez entrenched at the top, and Jeff Locke giving the team no reason to bump him from the rotation, there’s only one open spot. Both James McDonald and Charlie Morton are expected back very soon, so things could get crowded in a hurry.
Still, Cole is one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball and is seen as a blue-chip, top-of-the-rotation starter. The obvious questions of whether he’s ready and how long he’ll stay are certainly valid, but he’s looked up to the task in his last two starts (14 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K). Despite all the questions, the upside is way too high to ignore.
It initially was reported that Wheeler was expected to make his major-league debut this Friday against the Cubs, but the team now is saying that he will make one more start in Triple-A before joining the Mets rotation next week against the Braves. I may be in the minority here, but if I could have only one of this week’s top waiver-wire options, I would take Wheeler over Cole. Allow me to explain why.
Part of my reasoning for this is job security. It’s pretty clear at this point that the Mets have a plan for Wheeler. Even though his projected June 18 call-up is a bit further off than Cole’s debut this Tuesday, and despite the fact that June 18 is a double-header with the Braves, thus allowing each team to carry a 26-man roster for the day, I still believe Wheeler will be in the majors to stay.
The main thrust of the job-security argument is that the Mets just aren’t very good. Why would a team in the Mets' position not give a kid like Wheeler the opportunity to pitch against major-league competition every fifth day, knowing that they’re not likely to have any chance at the playoffs?
When I attended last year’s Futures Game, Wheeler was the one pitcher who stood out from the crowd for me. He was just so smooth, so fluid, painting the corners with ease and showing a seamless, repeatable delivery. His numbers in Triple-A this year aren’t great (4.14 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 4.04 FIP), but Mets manager Terry Collins, amongst others, has suggested that Wheeler, much like Matt Harvey last season, has gotten bored in Triple-A and may not have much more to learn at that level.
The 23-year-old showcases a four-pitch mix, with two of those pitches (his fastball and slider) being easy plus major-league offerings. So far this year, although his 3.57 BB/9 is very similar to Cole’s rate, he’s striking out batters at a 9.43 K/9 clip, giving him a 2.64 K/BB ratio.
I just don’t believe the Mets would be making such a big fuss about Wheeler’s impending promotion if they weren’t planning to keep him with the big-league club. Also, because his call-up is still more than a week away, Wheeler probably can be acquired with a much smaller FAAB bid or lower waiver claim than Cole can be had for.
Fantasy is all about value, and the likelihood is high that you can stash Wheeler now at a reduced rate while everyone else is blowing up their budgets for Cole.
Posted by Scott Strandberg at 3:02am
This is Page 1 of 1 THT Fantasy Focus pages