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THT's Fantasy Archives
Monday, September 16, 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 Indians versus Royals game has a 50 percent chance of showers. The rest of the games should see clear skies.
Johnny Cueto is back from the disabled list but is also working with a pitch count. I would avoid the outing against the Astros unless you need to throw multiple Hail Marys. Other pitchers today include Scott Kazmir, Erik Johnson and Sonny Gray.
Pitcher (to start): Tanner Roark has a sparkling ERA, but his match-up against the Braves doesn't pair well with some worrying peripherals. Using Roark would be a classic case of trusting the hot hand over talent. There's a reason that he didn't debut until his age 26 season and has bounced between the rotation and bullpen. While he's shown strong walk rates, he generates whiffs at a well below average rate and has been lucky on balls in play and home runs allowed. The Nationals have cut their deficit to 4.5 games in the Wild Card race, so expect a quick hook.
If you have the nerve to use Roark, I recommend looking at Brian Flynn first. He's been disastrously wild in his first two big league starts but has a strong track record of limiting free passes. He's also had bad luck on balls in play and with home runs. The Phillies feature a pretty weak offense, although they aren't as prone to left-handed pitching with Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown on the shelf.
Yusmeiro Petit versus Zack Wheeler features the out-of-nowhere journeyman against the up-and-coming prospect. With poor offensive support expected, this could wind up being a pitchers duel.
Marco Estrada has been excellent since returning from the disabled list in August. He'll face a weak Cubs offense. He's a good bet to generate strikeouts while limiting walks.
Corey Kluber can be counted on to give you a shot at an excellent outing. It's unclear if the Indians mean to continue limiting his work given that he's now two starts removed from his stint on the disabled list and the Indians are just half a game out of the second Wild Card. He's opposed by Danny Duffy, who has seen good results since returning from the disabled list in August but has allowed way too many walks in the process. The Royals are just 3.5 games back from the Wild Card, so this series may make or break their season.
Jose Quintana has a pleasant match-up against a gutted Twins lineup. Their best hitter is Josh Willingham and he's barely been better than average this season.
Pitcher (bum): Freddy Garcia opposes Roark. He's pitched well in three outings since joining the Braves, but he's showing the exact same stuff as the last few seasons. He can eat some innings, which is all the Braves need of him.
Roy Halladay is having trouble throwing strikes. He's blaming mechanical changes, but erratic control makes me think that his shoulder injury is not healed. The Marlins aren't a terrifying lineup, but anyone who walks four batters in a row is exploitable.
Brandon Maurer has struggled when starting ballgames and the Tigers are a tough assignment for anybody.
Nick Tepesch had a single terrible inning in his lone appearance since coming back from the disabled list. It's not likely that he's stretched out for the start, so expect a bullpen game.
Jordan Lyles has pitched well of late, but he has a tough game against the Reds tomorrow.
Mike Pelfrey doesn't have a difficult match-up, but he's been very inconsistent start-to-start.
Juan Nicasio has to survive the Cardinals onslaught at Coors Field. Good luck.
Hitter (power): Old column favorites Brandon Moss and Seth Smith will face Garrett Richards.
Avisail Garcia and even Jordan Danks might be worth a shot against Pelfrey. Neither hitter is much of a true power threat.
Duffy may be in the recommend section, but the Indians do enjoy facing lefties, especially Ryan Raburn and Drew Stubbs.
Try squeezing in Christian Yelich against Halladay.
Hitter (speed): Rajai Davis will face a lefty - Andy Pettitte.
Chris Denorfia will start against a Jeff Locke, who has been much more hittable since the All Star break.
Pitchers to come
Wednesday: Wednesday has a few interesting choices including Alex Wood and Danny Salazar, but I'm leaning toward the safe pick of Charlie Morton. The upside is significantly less but so is the downside.
Thursday: Ubaldo Jimenez appears to be the best choice for Thursday.
Friday: Zach McAllister has a decent match-up with the Astros.
In case you missed it, Wladimir Balentien broke the Japanese home run record. As mentioned previously, he's under contract for another two seasons, so don't get excited about your team signing him.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 7:08am
The end is upon us, fellow dumpster divers. After nearly six long months, we’re at the end of the 2013 season, and we have now earned the right to look ahead to next year with an eye on keepers. Since we’ve profiled dozens of players on this page over the season, we’ll take a look back this week on some of the best value picks we grabbed after the draft through the lens of keeper upside.
Patrick Corbin | Arizona Diamondbacks | SP |
YTD: 197 IP / 2.92 ERA / 7.6 K/9 / 2.2 BB/9 with 14 wins
ZiPS updated: 214 IP / 3.01 ERA / 7.6 K/9 / 2.3 BB/9 with 15 wins
The crown jewel of my fantasy soothsaying this season, Corbin also happened to headline my first waiver wire column back on March 29, when I wrote the following:
[L]ook for him to build upon his 2012 stats, when an inflated HR/FB rate and BABIP conspired to boost his ERA. I wouldn’t expect lights-out production, but I could see Corbin outdoing his Oliver projections by a tad and becoming a useful fantasy pitcher on a team that should provide him with opportunities at wins.
Obviously, Corbin exceeded everyone’s expectations, particularly in the strikeout department. But the 24-year-old had posted a 7.5 K/9 down in the minors, and he improved a decent 8.7 percent swinging strike percentage to a very impressive 10.8 rate this year. Factor in an uptick in Corbin's average fastball velocity to the low- to mid-90s, and a heavier emphasis on his slider over his change-up, and voila—you have one of 2013’s best breakout stars.
Can we expect similar production next year? The 78.4 percent strand rate is a bit off-putting, though the .268 BABIP is not impossible to reproduce, especially for a pitcher with a solid 47-percent groundball rate. His FIP and xFIP (3.29 and 3.44, respectively) are a tad higher than his ERA, but neither is particularly worrisome.
I’m skeptical that Corbin will replicate his eye-popping 70.3 percent first-strike rate, but his professional body of work already tells us that he simply does not walk people, so I think a BB/9 under 3.0 next year is well within bounds.
True, the production faded a bit in the second half—as if not maintaining the level of a 11-1 record with a 0.997 WHIP is somehow a crime—but that’s perfectly reasonable given a guy who’s making his first 200-inning major league season.
Ceiling-wise, Corbin, a second-round pick in 2009, was a solid prospect in the D-backs’ minor league system, though he was never on the level of Trevor Bauer or Tyler Skaggs, and he never cracked Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list. That’s not a knock against him, per se, though he shouldn’t be counted on to anchor a fantasy rotation next year, and a good pitching staff probably won’t depend on him to be a No. 2.
But considering Corbin’s ridiculously dirt cheap price this year—he was undrafted in nearly 99 percent of drafts across the three major fantasy platforms—you shouldn’t have any reservations about keeping him for next year as an extremely valuable fantasy starter.
Daniel Nava | Boston Red Sox | OF
YTD: 488 PA / .300 / .388 / .443 with 11 HR and 0 SB
ZiPS updated: 522 PA / .298 / .386 / .440 with 12 HR and 0 SB
Let’s rewind the videotape back to April 22:
It isn’t hard to like Nava, who, despite so far not having been able to translate a successful minor league career into major league numbers, has still produced a quality walk rate and an ability to make contact at the big league level. The .342 average he flashed entering Sunday’s game was backed by a perfectly reasonable .310 BABIP and 21.2 percent line drive rate. And while I wouldn’t expect the home run production to continue, 15 to 18 over the course of a full season sounds about right.
It might be easy to dismiss Nava, 30, as a fluke, since the 2013 season wasn’t exactly his first rodeo. But while the batting average eventually came back down to earth, his BABIP since has jumped to .348 (validated by a cowhide-bashing 25.7 percent line-drive rate). That might be, in part, because he decided that walking his way to first was just as effective as swinging the bat, evidenced by a .388 on-base percentage that’s currently fifth in the American League among qualified hitters.
One also shouldn’t forget that what kept Nava on the Red Sox radar for all these years was his ability to hit minor league pitching, as he flashed a .317/.425/.525 line across parts of six seasons.
Instead, what’s been most troubling for Nava owners was the dip in playing time in the second half, as Jonny Gomes and Mike Carp have eaten into his share of plate appearances. The switch-hitter has proven vulnerable against lefties, compiling a human .657 OPS.
If you want to zoom out, Nava isn’t an across-the-board fantasy producer, as his home run production will be lucky to reach the 15 dingers I outlined five months ago, his runs (68) and RBIs (62) will probably settle in the good-not-great tier of fantasy production, and he’s only attempted two stolen bases this season—both of which ended with him being thrown out.
But I think Nava’s batting average will be back to .300 come next year, and in a league that counts on-base percentage, he can provide significant help while contributing a bit in three other categories. Nava’s keeper value isn’t universal—I’m thinking deep five-outfielder leagues—but given his skill set, he could be a terrific guy to hang onto next year.
Jose Quintana | Chicago White Sox | SP |
YTD: 179.2 IP / 3.56 ERA / 7.5 K/9 / 2.6 BB/9 with 7 wins
ZiPS updated: 196 IP / 3.61 ERA / 7.4 K/9 / 2.6 BB/9 with 8 wins
I know I treat Corbin like a favorite son, but Quintana has a special place in my heart, as well, being that I positively gushed over him back in April and have since been rewarded with solid fantasy production:
About those strikeouts: his 2012 rate is not good, to be sure, but he posted an excellent whiff rate in 300 minor league innings, and as he develops, I don’t think a 7.0 K/9 is an unreasonable expectation. His walk rate is no joke, either, as evidenced by an above-average first-strike rate.
If you throw away the wins issue—not that they don’t count in fantasy, but the guy has had no fewer than 17 no-decisions this year, many of which weren’t his fault—Quintana offered help in fantasy’s major categories, adding a 1.22 WHIP to his stat line.
We knew the strikeouts would take a step forward after he underperformed in that category, but his swinging-strike rate is approaching 9.0 percent, which keeps his good K/9 in touch with reality. Like Corbin, Quintana’s average fastball velocity picked up a mile per hour, and he greatly increased his wFB (fastball runs above average). As discussed back in the spring, a consistent ability to pound the strike zone (65.7 percent first-strike percentage) kept the free passes under control.
Also like Corbin, the FIP and xFIP are right where they should be, as is the .284 BABIP. Even if a minor correction to his 75.6-percent strand rate next year might boost his ERA a tad higher. I don’t think Quintana is as good as Corbin, but depending on your keeper system, that might not matter, since he’s probably as cheap (if not cheaper) and surely will improve on his wins next year.
So, once more, for good luck: the strikeouts are solid, and the base runners are low. If Quintana can pick up, say, 13 to 15 wins (which doesn’t sound unreasonable after his showings of 2012 and 2013), he’ll emerge as a serious fantasy starter. The fact that he still remains under the radar should only help savvy fantasy owners next year as they build their teams with bargain players.
Wilson Ramos | Washington Nationals | C |
YTD: 261 PA / .274 / .307 / .480 with 14 HR and 0 SB
ZiPS updated: 287 PA / .273 / .307 / .476
Catchers are typically a poorly-held secret in fantasy because the good ones are in short supply, and in two-catcher leagues, nearly every one pops onto owners’ radars. But after a rough couple of years that included a kidnapping incident and a series of serious injuries, quick-minded waiver-wire scroungers scooped up Ramos when he returned from a left hamstring injury in early July.
Despite still having to contend with Kurt Suzuki for playing time, Ramos has been a steady presence in Washington’s lineup, and he has absolutely responded with a nice power performance.
This is no surprise, since Ramos has always shown an ability to hit and was one of fantasy’s hot sleepers entering 2012 before a bad knee injury in May torpedoed his season. But the .206 ISO and 15 homers this year (one long ball every 18.6 plate appearances) are legit, as is the .286 BABIP and very good 14.6 strikeout percentage.
Let me make this quick: Ramos won’t be a secret come draft day, as you can bet every fantasy magazine in the country will tout him as a potential sleeper at catcher. If you were wise enough to grab him on the cheap in 2013, why not keep a good thing going by holding onto him for next year?
Posted by Karl de Vries at 3:01am
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