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THT's Fantasy Archives
Monday, July 29, 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.
I feel like I may have jinxed myself the last time I said the grind was back for good. But barring anything else unforeseen, it should continue uninterrupted for the remainder of the season.
Today’s weather watch
For the first time in a long time, I get to say that there are no impending weather events.
A few names to keep an eye on in order of preference are Brandon Beachy, Felix Doubront, Zach McAllister, A.J. Griffin and Jeremy Hefner.
The Cubs and Brewers have a double header tomorrow, so plan accordingly.
Pitcher (to start): Scott Kazmir has been a controversial pick for this column in that he's performed terribly when selected. But he is still showing 2007 velocity and his ERA has inched under 4.00 for the season. It also helps that he's facing the White Sox.
Wei-Yin Chen has the coveted Astros match-up. Even against the 'Stros, Chen is not a candidate for a strong strikeout rate, but he's a decent bet to pick up a win with solid to good ratios.
I missed Alex Wood's last start so this is my first chance to throw some accelerant on his ownership rate. He's currently owned in just two percent of Yahoo leagues despite sporting a strong whiff rate, mid-90s fastball, and tolerable walk rate. On the cloudy side, watch out for the reliever to starter transition. Out of the pen, his velocity regularly sat between 92-93 mph. In his last start, he sat at just 90 mph. He has one other start this season on June 18, when he averaged over 92.
Zack Wheeler is 39 percent owned and will face the Marlins. Walks remain a major issue. Despite a decent ERA of 3.72, his FIP stands at 5.57. The Marlins offense is also more respectable than earlier in the season, so beware. I strongly prefer the above-mentioned Wood.
I'm not sure where to place Brandon Workman in the column. He's young and interesting, but I don't have enough data on him to recommend for or against. The Mariners have been streaking a bit recently, but they're still a sub-par offense. He's only one percent owned.
The old Mike Pelfrey is back. For many pitchers (like Kazmir), that statement would deserve an exclamation point on the end, but Pelfrey appears to have returned to his solid, inning-eating ways. That's not worth owning for the four days between starts, but he can help you chew through innings. On the Twins, his utility is limited since it will be unlikely for him to earn a win.
Pitcher (bum): The Cubs do not possess a fearsome lineup, but Yovani Gallardo has been a mess this season, allowing way too many hits and walks to succeed.
Ian Kennedy is another veteran looking for a life line. Kennedy seems to have suffered a more modest reversal in his skill set than Gallardo—namely walk and strikeout rates resembling his 2010 numbers when he posted a 3.80 ERA with the help of a .259 BABIP. We should expect about a run every other inning going forward.
Edinson Volquez is yet another exploitable, struggling veteran, but unlike the two above, Volquez has been this way for awhile. The Reds should walk and mash aplenty.
Hitter (power): I love Juan Francisco against struggling righties and Jake Arrieta falls into that bin. He'll also face Carlos Villanueva in the first game of the double header. Francisco will likely receive plenty of RBI opportunities with Ryan Braun tucked away on the shelf.
Jonny Gomes will face Joe Saunders.
Chris Carter likes high-contact lefties, although Chen will still not be the easiest match-up for him.
Hitter (speed): A C.J. Wilson's start has me itching to use Leonys Martin. I still own him outright in a couple of leagues despite his recent slump.
Eric Young Jr. has returned to Earth and is dealing with a minor injury, but he's still a decent speed play against the Marlins and Nathan Eovaldi.
Try Kelly Johnson against Kennedy. He could provide some fireworks or steals. On the flip side of that match-up, give Gerardo Parra a look.
Pitchers to come
Wednesday: Corey Kluber tops the list for Wednesday.
Thursday: Chris Tillman is currently the only pitcher listed for Thursday who is remotely start-able and available. Mostly because he will face the Astros.
Friday: I have to go with 57 percent owned Gerrit Cole against the Rockies. Thankfully the game will be played at PNC Park. As usual, half the games still feature TBA.
With all the Biogenesis and trade deadline rumors, there's not much of substance to report here.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:33am
Today is July 29, which means the non-waiver trade deadline is so close we can taste it. And it tastes like ... ah, nevermind. It's two days away, all right?
That deadline is at once as exciting and frustrating as it gets for fantasy owners. Jobs are created or lost in a moment with the flick of a few signatures. With that in mind, and the understanding that league affiliations for players today are very fluid, let's peer into the crystal ball for two Chicago outfielders and one young Cincinnati catcher to see what they may provide the rest of the way.
Nate Schierholtz | Chicago Cubs | OF | ESPN: 26.8 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 19 percent; CBS: 42 percent
YTD: .281/.340/.536 in 307 plate appearances
ZiPS projection: .277/.336/.514 in 443 plate appearances
It is very clear by now that the Cubs are wide open for business. It started by trading Scott Feldman at the beginning of July then continued more recently with deals involving Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano. Anyone who isn't nailed down is ready to move at a moment's notice. (Side note: the Cubs really should not be nailing guys down. That sounds painful and these are human beings after all. The perils of being a professional athlete, perhaps.)
Among those left to be traded who should see increased action as the deadline fast approaches is right fielder Nate Schierholtz. The former Giant has quietly put together a very strong season in Chicago and appears to be one of the best value signings from last offseason. (He signed for this year at $2.25 million, and will be eligible for arbitration next year.) Accordingly, he's been connected to a number of teams in the run up to the deadline, most notably the Pirates.
The Cubs have used him mostly in a right field platoon, as he's seen 266 plate appearances against righties this year and just 41 against lefties. Despite this, I'm not totally convinced it's necessary. Over the course of his career, which includes six partial seasons with the Giants and one with the Phillies, Schierholtz has a career wOBA against left-handed pitching of .303, and a career wOBA against right-handed pitching of .331.
There's probably a mechanical reason he's seen four times as many appearances against righties as he has against lefties over the course of his career, but it isn't borne out completely by his numbers (at least so far). It's not inconceivable he could land in a situation where he sees something closer to everyday at-bats. And even if he does not land in such a situation, he has value to fantasy leaguers who can monitor his usage and slot him in the lineup when his team is facing a righty.
That's all well and good, but what can we do for fantasy owners? His .876 OPS this season is .122 percentage points higher than his career average on the strength of a sizable increase in power. The 29-year-old's ISO this season is .255 compared to his career average of .160. It would be easy to point to his HR/FB rate, which is twice his career average at 15.9 percent right now, and say his increase in power is due entirely to that, and he's unlikely to continue this pace.
I'm not so sure, though. As a prospect in the Giants' system, Baseball America touted his power in both its 2007 and 2008 Prospect Handbook, writing in 2008, "Schierholtz has a bodybuilder's physique and tremendous power." In its annual the following year, Baseball America tagged Schierholtz as having 30-home run power.
So pop isn't foreign to him. It had yet to manifest itself in his major league game until now, but that's not unheard of. Everything else in his profile is right at (or close to) his career averages. So I'm inclined to buy this production with a chance of a modest drop in power going forward.
Recommendation: Buying here, especially if he gets traded into a spot where he can play every day and rack up counting stats.
Devin Mesoraco | Cincinnati Reds | C | ESPN: 6 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 6 percent; CBS: 12 percent
YTD: .256/.320/.394 in 228 plate appearances
ZiPS projection: .253/.319/.403 in 365 plate appearances
It happens all the time. A prospect puts together a season in which he rockets through the minor leagues, breaks camp with his big league club, and everyone expects him to take over immediately and not look back. And yet for every Mike Trout, there's a Devin Mesoraco. Progress is not always linear; rather, it comes in fits and spurts.
Mesoraco's three-level 2010 season assured him a prominent place on the prospect map, and a strong follow-up at Triple-A the following season (in which he raised his average and cut his strikeouts while maintaining his walk rate) did nothing to quiet that hype. So it was last season, when Mesoraco broke camp with the Reds, that owners and pundits alike seemed to expect Mesoraco to take ownership of the catching duties in Cincinnati.
The problem was, Ryan Hanigan. The veteran backstop walked a bunch, provided strong defense, and failed to yield the lion's share of the catching duties to the younger, much more hyped Mesoraco. That happens every so often with prospects and veterans. In the excitement of the former, we forget entirely about the strengths of the latter.
Entering this season, expectations were lowered. Mesoraco's skills hadn't quite translated to major league success yet, and Hanigan was still in the picture. A wrist injury has shelved Hanigan, however, and in his place the Reds have had Corky Miller join Mesoraco behind the dish. And for all of Miller's good qualities (his name, physique, and facial hair) playing baseball is not among them. (I will not deny I am writing about Mesoraco mostly so I can mention Corky Miller's name, physique, and facial hair.)
Anyway, Miller will not be much of an obstacle for Mesoraco in the short-term. It remains to be seen when Hanigan will return, as he's still dealing with soreness in his wrist, and it's worth noting he has been many shades of terrible this season in posting a sub-.600 OPS. So even when he comes back, Mesoraco seemingly will have an inside track at starting on a more regular basis.
It doesn't hurt that he's been better this year, mostly on the strength of a bounce up in BABIP, from an unlucky .234 last season to a reasonable .289 in 2013. His triple slash isn't enough to move most people, and that probably explains his low ownership rates, but this is a player who was seen as a power hitter climbing the minor league ranks, and one who draws walks on a regular basis.
Given full-time at-bats, in that park, with that lineup, he could close the year quite a bit more valuable than he currently seems.
Recommendation: In deep mixed leagues and NL-only leagues, he's worth a roll of the dice right now.
Dayan Viciedo | Chicago White Sox | OF | ESPN: 21.4 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 17 percent; CBS: 28 percent
YTD: .254/.299/.414 in 304 plate appearances
ZiPS projection: .257/.304/.420 518 plate appearances
Amid the uncertainty of the trade deadline, it's always nice to have a place you can find value that you know (beyond the shadow of a doubt) will not change.
Two statements regarding Dayan Viciedo seem pretty safe to make:
1. We pretty much know who he is: an extremely free-swinging hitter who doesn't walk much and hits for decent power, especially against left-handed pitching.
2. There is virtually no chance he sees a change in usage during the stretch run, as he's been playing on a daily basis for the White Sox in left field, and there is a zero percent chance that horrible, awful team acquires someone to start in his place before next season.
There is value in this.
No, Viciedo isn't going to help you much if average matters, and he'll contribute even less if OBP matters. But he does have power (particularly against lefties), and he's as much a lock to play every day as anyone in the league.
Recommendation: Look here if you're searching for some counting stats and power help in AL-only leagues. Avoid if batting average or walks matter very much.
Posted by Jack Weiland at 3:12am
Wilmer Flores (Ownership rates: Yahoo N/A, ESPN 0%, CBS 4%)
I must say, I was shocked to discover that Flores isn’t even in the player database on Yahoo. It’s not like he’s some under-the-radar prospect whom no one expected to see the majors this year. The 21-year-old has been on three Baseball America Top 100 Prospect lists in his career and finished last season in Double-A, where he hit .311/.361/.494.
This year, Flores actually has improved on that line, hitting .318/.352/.519, this time at the Triple-A level. What we have here is a guy with very little left to prove, at least offensively, in the minors. The big knock on Flores as a prospect is his fringy defensive ability. He has spent most of this season at second base, where he hasn’t exactly shone:
Fortunately, defense doesn’t matter in fantasy, as long as it’s not so bad that it keeps the player off the field. Considering how well Flores has hit at Triple-A, it certainly seems like his bat would help the Mets, who are 13th in the National League in OPS.
With the Mets removed from any reasonable chance at playoff contention, there’s really no reason to keep Flores in Triple-A any more. The Mets can afford to put up with some sub-par defense to let the kid show what he can do at the major-league level. The only real problem is finding him a position to play.
Flores originally was a shortstop, but he was moved off that position before last season and hasn’t played an inning there since. He plays some third base, but the Mets have some guy named David Wright hogging all the playing time over there.
The Mets probably could stomach his poor defense at second, but Daniel Murphy is having a solid season at the keystone. However, Murphy is capable of playing several positions and easily could be moved off second base if the Mets want to give Flores an opportunity there. Also, with the trade market for middle infielders being especially thin this year, it would not surprise me if Murphy is traded before the deadline to strengthen the Mets’ farm system.
One spot Flores could play without having to worry too much about defense is first base, where the Mets currently have a platoon of Ike Davis, who is doing his very best not to hit baseballs this year (.175/.270/.272), and 28-year-old rookie Josh Satin, who has hit quite well (.329/.454/.494) but clearly is playing well above his head.
Long story short, the Mets can, and likely will, find a way to get Flores and his hot bat into the major-league lineup some time soon. Once he gets the call, it shouldn’t take long for him to hit his way into fantasy relevance. It’s always difficult to project minor-league production to the majors, but the fact that Flores hit very well in Double-A last year and has been even better in Triple-A makes him a pretty safe bet not to trip over his own shoelaces in the bigs.
Scouts have given plus grades to both the hit tool and raw power on Flores for years, and he’s shown excellent development in both areas over the last two seasons. His batting average last year (.311) and this year (.318) are the two best marks he’s ever had at any level, and his isolated power has jumped considerably both of the last two years (.110 in 2011, .179 in 2012, .202 in 2013).
Flores may not show up on recent top prospect lists, but that doesn’t mean he’s not an excellent fantasy prospect, as his defense and awful baserunning (he’s been caught stealing in over half of his minor league stolen-base attempts) hold down his overall prospect status. He’s not going to steal any bases for your fantasy team, but he shouldn’t hurt you in any other categories.
As I’ve said before, the later we get into the season, the harder it gets to find quality options on the fantasy waiver wire. Flores is eligible at third base on CBS and at shortstop on ESPN and likely will gain eligibility at first base, second base or both once he gets the call. He should hit for a solid average and has 15-20 home run potential. Stash him now before someone else does.
Posted by Scott Strandberg at 3:09am
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