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“Sauer Notes” Central Divisions Week 5 Forecaster

AL Central

  1. Chicago White Sox 18-8
  2. Detroit Tigers 14-10
  3. Kansas City Royals 13-12
  4. Cleveland Indians 10-12
  5. Minnesota Twins 8-18

White Sox

The Sox continue to roll through competition with as 8-2 record over their last 1o games. They split a series with Baltimore 2-2 after sweeping Toronto 3-0. Chris Sale turned in another dominant performance going five and one-third innings, striking out six Orioles while issuing four walks and surrendering only one run. The four walks were an anomaly since his current BB/9 (1.87) and K/BB (4.22) are among his career best. We would like to see his strikeout numbers climb (his K/9 (7.89) is the worst of his career). He still has an above average swinging strike percentage (10.2%), but that’s way down from his 2015 mark of 14.6%.

What makes Sale’s stuff so devastating has been his ability to get swings and misses on pitches outside of the strike zone.  But, this year he is posting a career low rate of 27.4%. There are some promising numbers. His hard hit percentage is 26.3%.  That ranks him 72nd out of 104 qualifiers on FanGraphs. Furthermore, his soft-contact percentage is 21.9% which ranks him 26 among the qualified pitchers. All in all the guy is 6-0 and really helping your fantasy team if you are one of his owners.

OA ABREUver the past seven days, Jose Abreu, has been scorching hot.  He has slashed a monstrous .423/.464/.462 while leading the team with 11 hits and five RBI (even though he has not homered).

 

 

 

It’s starting to seem like jumping into first place right out of the gate and staying there throughout the first 25 games or so is no fluke for the White Sox.  They can continue to stay atop the division if their rotation continues to pitch as well as it has thus far. If Todd Frazier can ever get it going here in Chicago this team could be really dangerous with the always reliable Adam Eaton (.283/.357/.374 on the season) leading off, and players like Brett Lawrie and Melky Cabrera having solid seasons of their own.

Tigers

A FULMER

The Tigers had been muddled in the middle of the division, hovering around .500. Then they played the ailing A’s and then the tumultuous Twins. This was the medicine they needed.  They are currently riding a five-game winning streak and are heading into a series with division foe Cleveland Indians. During the five-game win-streak, they benefitted from solid pitching which included the debut of their top pitching prospect, Mike Fulmer. Fulmer was overlooked in all the hype about other top pitching prospects like Berrios and Manea. But he went five strong innings striking out four batters and allowing just two earned runs while averaging just about 95mph on his fastball. He may get extended time with the major league club now that Shane Greene hit the DL.  He is definitely worth an add in all formats.

Royals

A CAin

The Royals suffered a five game losing streak last week. Over that stretch the club managed to score only seven runs, while being shut out twice. Their 1-4 hitters got the job done offensively.  But the rest of the lineup could not drive them in. Lorenzo Cain finally had himself a good week slashing .364/.364/.364.  But, his yearly totals are still faltering at .260/.305/.302. We know there are no true power hitters on this Royals team so they need consistency throughout their lineup to manufacture runs.  That just was not the case this past week. When you have six players hitting under .200, you cannot expect to win a ton of games– and that is exactly what happened over the course of the past week. They had some good pitching during this bad stretch, yet they struggled to put runs on the board.

Both Kris Medlen and Chris Young will have two starts this week. Both have shown some good flashes in recent starts. They will both be on the road in their first start against the Yankees where Medlen will face off against Tanaka, and Young will face off with Sabathia. In their second start they will be at home against the Braves, where Medlen will go against Chacin.  Young’s second opponent has yet to be determined. Regardless, you can use both of these guys and expect at least one win each in the contests against the Braves.

Indians

A BAUERThe Indians had another mediocre week, going 2-3 and losing two one-run games against the Phillies. One of their wins did come against Justin Verlander, whom they bombarded for seven runs over five innings. In the wake of Carlos Carrasco’s injury, all of Cleveland’s pitchers (including Carrasco’s replacement, Trevor Bauer) have performed well.  Bauer is an erratic pitcher to say the least. But he has some upside with his strikeout potential.  In his first outing (where he received a no decision), he lasted only four innings (78 pitches), surrendering three runs while striking out four and walking two. He could pitch deeper into games if he does not get himself into too much trouble. If so, his career 8.56 K/9 offers some value, especially in points leagues (but he still could ruin some ratios).

Michael Brantley’s return has been anything but a revelation as he sits at .143/.174/.190 through his first 21 at-bats. Now, that is a small sample size and he will improve.  But he has not been the jolt of production that owners patiently waited for. In general, the Tribe’s bats have been hot.  So, look for them to produce as we get into summer.

Twins

A BERR

Well we finally got what all fantasy owners were waiting for over the past two seasons: the debut of Jose Berrios. In his first start he only went four innings while giving up six hits, five earned runs, and striking out five while taking the loss. His second start he looked a lot more comfortable.  He still lasted only five innings.  But he gave up only up two earned runs, while striking out eight in his defeat Dallas Keuchel and the Astros. He has issued seven free passes over his first nine innings of work. But we will definitely take the 13 strikeouts he has given us. He will face the division leading White Sox on Sunday and we will see if he can pick up two wins on his first two-start week. Prospect Alex Meyer also made his debut on Tuesday, but lasted only two and two-thirds innings, giving up three earned runs while walking three. He will be sent back down to Triple-A Rochester.  He may have a bright future in the MLB, but that may be in the bullpen. Miguel Sano had a solid week slashing .318/.400/.500. If you find yourself needing speed, Danny Santana is widely available. He has three stolen bases over the past week while slashing a fine .269/.296/.243.

NL Central

  1. Chicago Cubs 19-6
  2. Pittsburgh Pirates 15-12
  3. St. Louis Cardinals 13-14
  4. Milwaukee Brewers 11-15
  5. Cincinnati Reds 10-17

Cubs

A KBRY

Not too much else we can say about this Chicago Cub team as they keep winning games and their players continue to produce for your fantasy teams. Dexter Fowler continued to be the best lead-off man in the league this week slashing .300/.417/.400 while swiping you three bags. Anthony Rizzo continues to prove he is one of the best in the game slashing a robust .389/.542/.667 with four RBI and also stealing a base along the way. I told you Kris Bryant would not stay quiet. His .462/.611/.538 line this week indicates some improvement at the plate (though it was only over 13 plate appearances through four games).  Ben Zobrist is beginning to show why they brought him in via free agency.  He had a fine week slashing .278/.348/.333 while accumulating a team-high five RBI over that span. Do we have to talk about Jake Arrieta anymore? He pitched 12 innings over the past week and disappointingly gave up one run. He gave up five total hits in two games, while striking out 11 and walking four. Most importantly he did get you the two wins that mean the most in the real and fantasy world.  From the top down in their pitching rotation they received quality starts from everyone but Jason Hammel, who still recorded a win in his outing. Continue to roll out any pitcher from this staff, and pretty much any hitter in this lineup as they are capable of hitting 10 plus runs any given game.

Pirates

A GCOLE

Hammel’s victory came at Gerrit Cole’s expense.  Cole did not just lose, he got clobbered, giving up five earned runs through four and two thirds innings. He struggled with his command as he walked four batters. The only positive aspect of this start is that he struck out six in less than five innings. The bludgeoning took Cole to 2-3 on the season with a 3.95 ERA and a less than K per nine–definitely not what we had envisioned when taking this guy as our SP1.  Francisco Liriano recovered from two bad outings in which he gave up four earned runs in each.  In a strong outing against the Reds, he allowed only one earned run, while striking out six. Former MVP Andrew McCutchen continued to struggle this week as he slashed an abysmal .167/.286/.333 and struck out a team-high seven times in 24 at-bats. On the flip side, dynamic outfield partner Starling Marte continued to shine bright with a .333/.417/.381 over the past week. If you followed last week’s advice and added shortstop Jordy Mercer, you were rewarded as he raked .350/.458/.400 for the week.

The Bucs need to play better as a whole or they will keep having weeks like the last where went  go 3-3 (one game postponed), and lost pace with the Cubs who already have a four game lead.

Cardinals

It’s a bird (technically yes a cardinal), it’s a plane…no it’s actually Adam Wainwright getting his second straight victory! Neither victory was a display of dominance by any sense.  But a win isA KWONG a win. His first versus Arizona looks like this: 5.1 IP, 7H, 4R, 2HR, 1BB, 5K. His most recent win against the Phillies looks like this: 6 IP, 5H, 3R, 0HR, 1BB, 4K. In each of those contests his offense (which included his own three run shot against the Phillies) backed him up by scoring double-digit runs. While his performance was not pretty, Wainwright was the only Cardinals pitcher to record a win this past week. But, we cannot just blame their 2-5 record over the past week on the pitchers. Outside of the two games in which they scored 10 and 11 runs respectively, the offense produced only scored six more.  Most of their lineup is cold. But, breakout candidate Kolten Wong  got out of his slump and slashed  .308/.400/.538 while smacking his first home run of the season.

Brewers

A VILL

Runs were not in short supply over Milwaukee’s last six games.  There were a combined 70 total runs and the Brew Crew had 37 of them while going 3-3 over that span. The studs like Ryan Braun (.368/.455/.421) and Johnathon Lucroy (.500/.600/.875) were a major factor in all of this.  Chris Carter  added 4 HR this past week.  Jonathon Villar was just flat-out balling as he slashed a .364/.462/.545 with four doubles, three RBI, and SIX STEALS.  (Villar is probably available in most of your leagues.  While this level of production is not sustainable, you should pick him up and ride the hot streak.)  Aaron Hill  filled in nicely at third base as he posted a reputable .294/.368/.353 line over the past week.

Junior Guerra, the 31-year-old rookie who was claimed off of waivers by the Brewers (a move in which saw Taylor Jungman optioned down to the minors), got the win in his first big-league start. After giving up four runs early on, he got support from Chris Carter’s two homers and good bullpen help. It looks like he will stay up and pitch again Sunday against John Lamb and the Reds. Jimmy Nelson still remains the only Brewer pitcher to own. He is coming off of another strong performance of 7 IP, 4H, 2ER, 1HR, 6K.  But, most importantly, he had the quality start and victory, leaving him at 4-2 on the season with a solid 3.05 ERA.

Reds

A BHAM

The Reds have stumbled and went 2-5 over the past week and suffered the loss of struggling catcher Devin Mesoraco who was placed on the 15-day DL with a torn labrum. He will certainly miss more time than that.  Tucker Barnhart and Jordan Pacheco will pick up his duties. Billy Hamilton surprised us this week, slashing .316/.316/.421. Nonetheless, he recorded only one steal during that time frame (and that is why people roster him). Hopefully, if he can repeat the rate at which he got on base last week, the steals will soon come.

Every other starter has struggled mightily over the past week with the following batting averages:  Cozart (.158), Phillips (.150), Bruce (.167), Suarez (.130), Barnhart (.158), and Duvall (.118). The only semblance of a threat to opposing pitchers has been Schebler (.267) and the always steady Votto (.300). Their pitching is a mess at the moment.  Their best pitcher, Rasiel Iglesias, hit the DL.  The remaining five would struggle to fill any other team’s fifth spot in a rotation. We knew this team was going to be bad, and their early successes are now proven to be an aberration.  Say hello to the 2016 Reds.

Find me on twitter: @zaksauer

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Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly: Join Lou Landers and Kyle Amore live on Thursday May 5th, 2016 from 8-10pm EST for episode #12 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly. This will run every Thursday as a live broadcast that will take live callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. Our Thursday night show will do some weekly recaps, player updates, and preview the coming week end games.

Our guest this week is Eric Paulen. Eric Paulen is an Emmy and Peabody Award winner with significant experience leading large film/video production projects spanning all genres of television with A&E, ESPN, HBO Sports, CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated, The Travel Channel, WWE Network, The NBA, NHL Productions, NFL Films, and NCAA.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

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(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Show: Join Corey D Roberts on Sunday May 8th, 2016 from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of the Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show. We are a live call in radio show so we encourage callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. Every week we will do a quick recap of Fr-Sat games, and a forecast of Monday through Thursday’s games.

Our guests this week are Mark Rush and Marc Foster. Mark Rush of Washington and Lee University is the professor of politics and law, an author, writer, and a frequent guest on National Public Radio as well as the Arabian News Network. He used to write baseball columns and player analysis for Ron Shandler a guru in fantasy baseball on shandlerpark.com. Mark has joined our writing staff at majorleaguefantasysports.com, and his articles publish every Monday. Marc Foster is a former writer with MLFS, a two-time MLFB champ, and frequent guest on the shows this year.

“You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

 

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