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Wednesday, July 31, 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.
Today’s weather watch
The Rockies and Braves in Atlanta are expected to see scattered thunderstorms. There is a modest chance for rain in the Midwest, affecting Detroit, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh.
Today is a good time to make up ground in innings pitched if you have the roster flexibility.
Thin Thursday isn't thin on games this week, but it is thin on available pitchers. Keep an eye on the TBAs for the Angels, Rockies and White Sox.
Pitcher (to start): Chris Tillman draws the coveted Astros match-up. Tillman looked fantastic down the stretch last season, but he needs to push his walk rate down into elite territory to be more than a fantasy innings eater.
Ricky Nolasco is surprisingly available at 39 percent owned. He will face a light-hitting Cubs offense. The low ownership rate is a bit surprising since he's now on a much better team than the Marlins. He's also having the second best season of his career per ERA. He's the pick of the day if that is unclear.
Pitcher (bum): Tom Koehler is a sixth starter type. Plenty of Mets are on the waiver wire, so this is a good place to acquire hitters for tomorrow.
Scott Diamond has been boom or bust in 2013, leaning heavily towards bust. He's opposed by the Royals.
It has been a rough season for Josh Johnson and he'll need to survive a top-heavy Angels attack if he wants to improve upon it.
Hitter (power): Garrett Jones has failed to replicate an excellent 2012 season, but he still swings a decent power stick and Joe Kelly is one of the more hittable pitchers tomorrow.
Brett Pill started yesterday, once again thwarting my Brandon Belt versus Kyle Kendrick recommendation. Pill is likely to start again with lefty Cole Hamels on the hill tonight. Hamels has been a bit too hittable, although he appears to be very close to the same pitcher he was last season.
Hitter (speed): It's hard to predict with certainty if Jordy Mercer is going to start, but he can potentially fill in for owners needing to catch up in games played for shortstops.
Brian Roberts is playing most days and will face Jordan Lyles. He's not doing much with his opportunities, but a steal or two could happen.
Leonys Martin has moved into a leadoff role for the Rangers, jumping his value to must-own in deep roster 12-team leagues.
As mentioned the other day, Lorenzo Cain is a solid placeholder for a roster spot, but doesn't bring much value outside of a few strong match-ups.
Eric Young Jr. is a solid alternative to Martin. He's more likely to steal a base against Koehler, but lacks any sort of power utility.
Pitchers to come
Friday: Gerrit Cole remains the top option scheduled for Friday. He's up to 56 percent owned. Two fantasy-relevant pitchers—Alexi Ogando and Brandon McCarthy—will return from the disabled list.
Saturday: Zach McAllister is the best of the widely available options thanks to his match-up against the Marlins, but there will be plenty of players for me to write up.
Sunday: At the moment, Sunday is shaping up as a good day to bulk up on waiver innings. I'm partial to Phil Hughes at Petco Park, but there are plenty of alternatives.
It's all Biogenesis and trade deadlines.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:42am
It’s trade deadline time, which means fire sales abound for teams looking to dump stock before the non-waiver window closes. For us dumpster divers, this is an exciting time in the season, as teams are given a stir and more opportunities open up for previously unheralded waiver talent.
Although more deadline deals are sure to be made today—and were likely made last night as I filed this column—the Astros’ decision to send Jose Veras to Detroit has already presented us with a new source of saves in Houston, while a potential impact arm arrives in the Mets’ rotation.
Jose Cisnero | Houston Astros | RP | 16 percent Yahoo ownership; 18 percent ESPN; 11 percent CBS
YTD: 41.1 IP / 3.48 ERA / 8.7 K/9 / 4.1 BB/9 with 0 saves
ZiPS updated: 78 IP / 4.25 ERA / 8.3 K/9 / 4.3 BB/9 with 7 saves
Staring down the barrel of another 100-loss season, the Astros had little reason to hold onto Veras, making him the fourth closer to be traded by GM Jeff Luhnow since he took over in late 2011. That’s a fine deal from a baseball perspective, but for fantasy purposes, the relative steadiness Veras brought to the table will likely be supplanted by the 24-year-old Cisnero.
It’s not that I have anything against a guy who delivers nearly a strikeout per inning and has a solid 3.50 FIP, but a 25 percent line drive rate and 1.48 WHIP don’t exactly inspire confidence. Saves are saves, of course, but I wouldn’t expect lights-out performances from Cisnero, especially for a team that, well, isn’t going to need a guy to protect a whole lot of ninth-inning leads for the rest of the year.
The good news for him is that there isn’t a parade of other options breathing down his neck, at least not in the immediate term. Triple-A closer Josh Zeid is on his way to Houston bringing an impressive strikeout rate, but, like Cisnero, has had a problem allowing baserunners (highlighted by an ugly 5.6 BB/9). Chia-jen Lo, also just promoted after closing games for the ‘Stros Double-A affiliate, has a history of elbow problems, while left-handers Wesley Wright and Travis Blackley aren’t leaving middle relief anytime soon.
So aside from strikeouts, Cisnero should have a somewhat sizable leash as August begins, which is at least a point in his favor. But I’m not betting he’ll turn in the surprisingly dependable performance that Veras did.
Recommendation: Strictly AL-only league material.
Jenrry Mejia | New York Mets | SP | 7 percent Yahoo ownership; 2 percent ESPN; 17 percent CBS
YTD: 7 IP / 0.00 ERA / 9 K/9 / 0.0 BB/9 with 1 win
ZiPS updated: 27 IP / 3.62 ERA / 6.2 K/9 / 3.1 BB/9 with 2 wins
I don’t know much—regular visitors to this column probably wouldn’t care to disagree—but I do know that one good start does not validate someone as a legitimate, mixed league fantasy pitcher. On the other hand, we waiver wire scavengers realize that even one sterling appearance can open eyes, and in the case of the Mets’ Mejia, he turned in a doozy against the Nationals last week.
What qualifies as a doozy? Well, seven strikeouts (no walks) over seven scoreless innings can certainly find a way onto my fantasy team every week, and like-minded owners have made Mejia one of the hottest pickups among CBS leagues recently. The Mets have even announced that they’ll go to a six-man rotation just to accommodate the 23-year-old righty. (Though if Jeremy Hefner continues to get pushed around like he has over his past three starts, it might be back to five men soon enough.)
Mejia made the Mets’ 2010 Opening Day roster as a big-time prospect, only to suffer through a series of injuries that have derailed his major league career. But he does have a fastball that can reach the mid-90s, to go along with a curve ball and change-up. He did a serviceable job limiting free passes in nearly 25 innings in the minors this year, and has the ability to make good on his strikeout-per-inning promise.
The Mets, of course, aren’t going anywhere in 2013, so there’s no reason for the team to push Mejia out of the rotation. But Mejia’s problems aren’t going to come from the organization or even the National League—it’s the injury issues that have plagued him for years. Mejia was limited to just six minor league starts in 2013 after being diagnosed with elbow inflammation in spring training, an ailment that followed a devastating tear in his mediate collateral ligament in his right elbow two years ago.
I’d need to see more from Mejia before I could say with any certainty whether he’s healthy—although my medical expertise is, ahem, questionable—but we do know that Mejia will require surgery after the season to remove bone spurs from his elbow, unless, of course, he’s unable to finish the season.
As a Mets fan, I really hope Mejia’s career gets back on track, as should fantasy owners, who always have room for a strikeout guy on their squad. But just one good start—against a .500 Nationals club, no less—isn’t enough for me to be adding this guy just yet.
Recommendation: Mejia is definitely an upside guy, but the injury issue should merit pause among owners in mixed leagues.
Posted by Karl de Vries at 3:19am
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