R.I.P Muhammad Ali.
Raise your hand if you started Jeff Locke, PIT@ Miami on Monday. My hand is up (in two leagues) but I don’t see too many others. Last week I picked Jeff Locke as my 9th and last featured spot starter in my weekly article, then went and picked him up in my own leagues. I did the basic analysis, checking the splits of both Locke and the Marlins along with recent trends and Locke’s peripherals, and then mixed in a teaspoon of gut instinct and optimism, and BAM, hit a home run when Locke pitched a complete game shutout. (He was a two start pick and still has a game today, Saturday, vs the LA Angels at home.) I’d love to tell you that I did all my analysis and predicted he would pitch a shutout, except I can’t. I even stated in my analysis that this choice was likely a reach. Locke is a mediocre, bottom of the rotation, innings eating starter, and that hasn’t changed. But, he proved that when the match-up is right and the stars and moon align, that anything is possible in baseball. Heck, even Alfredo Simon, he of the 9.00 ERA and 2.00 WHIP, won a game in Colorado this past week. (UPDATE: On Saturday, Locke pitched a 7 inning QS for a win over the Angels. He did have 3 earned runs and gave up 2 HR, but also had no walks. His line for the week: 16 innings pitched, 3 ER, 10 hits, no walks, 3 K’s & 2 Wins plus one complete game shutout, not a bad week. In his 4 game winning streak he has 3 walks in 30 innings pitched, and 11 walks in his last 53 IP spanning 8 starts.)
Thank you Mr. Locke for making me look like a genius for just a minute. Now it is time to cut bait as his next start is in Colorado on Thursday. Remember: Don’t fall in love!
We have some work to do now. This week is history. So, moving forward, we are finally past that point in the season where the slow starters have any more rope. Sure, if you are Justin Upton on a big contract you have some more rope, but anyone not nailed down is fair game now. Not coincidentally it is also the time of year when top prospects start to pass the all powerful Super II Deadline. Some are surely owned already, especially in deep or Dynasty formats, but check out your wire if you need help and want to trust a highly rated prospect or two. Trea Turner, SS, Wash just got the much anticipated call and is one of the most added players in all formats. Byron Buxton, MIN got the call and started the last four games getting at least one hit in each. He is still available in about 1/3 of leagues. The two big Korean imports, Hyun Soo Kim, BAL & Dae-Ho Lee, SEA are starting to hit, and get playing time. Both are worth a pickup if you need some offense from 1B or DH, or even OF in Kim’s case. Kim, 6’2″& 28 years old is hitting .397 now that he is out of Buck Showalter’s dog house & Lee, 6’4″ 250 lbs & soon to be 34 is hitting .310 with 8 HR and playing every day.
There are some likely call-ups that should be starting games in the Bigs soon. Any of three Pirates pitching prospects could find their way into the rotation in the next week or two. Tyler Glasnow 22, Jameson Taillon 24, & Chad Kuhl 23 all look ready. Their major ratios, in order, 2.07/1.197, 2.04/.811 & 1.24/.862 show that these three guys are dominating AAA hitting right now. Glasnow, the highest rated is striking out 10.6/9 but also walking 4.3/9 & Taillon, the most experienced is striking out a whopping 13.5/9 but also walking 4.5/9. There is the rub with rookies. No matter how good they are, if they give up 4 or more walks a game they will get blown out by big league lineups. Kuhl is not a big strikeout pitcher with a 7.1 K/9 but only has a 1.4/9 walk rate making him appear on paper to be the most ready. To get the call they will have to displace one or more of Juan Nicasio, my boy Jeff Locke, or Jon Niese. This should be watched closely as it would be tough to pick up any of them not knowing the Bucs plans, though Nicasio would seem the most likely to go.
At the big League level, Kyle Gibson, MIN is set to come off the DL and word is that he may bump the beleaguered Phil Hughes from the rotation. That is sad to me, but long overdue. Both are currently about 34% owned. Chris Young, KC may bump Dillon Gee, KC back to wherever he came from. Shane Green, DET is set to come back from the DL as well, and Manager Brad Ausmus said he would be in the pen. Word has it that he may instead bump Anibal Sanchez, DET in another sad move that has been a long time coming. Mike Pelfrey, DET is also on the hot seat if the Tigers have any more replacements coming. Julio Urias, LAD, he of the Alfredo Simonesque ratios, will get a 2nd chance to see if he belongs this week as well. I don’t think he is ready yet, but many disagree as he is a whopping 75% owned in Fantrax leagues and 31% in ESPN. Finally, Timmy Lincecum, LAA is scheduled to make his first start for the Angels this coming Friday. He is inexplicably 23% owned, but is only 31 and only two years removed from the last of his six consecutive 200 K seasons. He did not miss a start during those six seasons. I’m not in a rush to pick up any of those pitchers as there is still plenty to mine on the wire already, but keep an eye on them as they may help you later this season.
Trivia Question: What is the only team in the major leagues that C. C. Sabathia has at least 20 wins against? Answer below.
Is it finally next week? Let’s go:
SPOT STARTS – I’m having trouble dropping some of these guys:
- **Two Starts**Trevor Bauer, SP, CLE (12.8% to 59.8% owned) @ SEA, MON & @LAA, SUN: While I think Bauer is a quality major league SP, this is as much about match ups as the improvement in Bauer’s pitching. He is a work in progress but 4 of his past 5 starts have been QS, during which he struck out 25 vs 12 walks in 31 IP. Yes there is danger in the walks, however he has only given up more than 3 runs once in 2016. The Mariners are hitting .249 @ home vs .276 on the road, and while they are a team with power Bauer has become quite the ground ball pitcher with a GB/FB rate of 1.80 (74/41). The Angels are hitting .244 @ home vs .277 on the road albeit with more power @ home. That is where the GB/FB rate enters into the equation again. Let’s just say i liked the looks of this week for Bauer before even looking at any numbers, so there is also a dash of hunch in there.
- CC Sabathia, NYY (25.0% to 56.5% owned, AGAIN twice the prior week) Vs DET, FRI: So, I’m a Homer. But CC is the most famous pitcher with a 2.85 ERA and 1.20 WHIP that no one knows about. He’s been unusable for nearly two years, but suddenly might have figured out how to pitch without his high heat. CC fired off his 5th quality start in a row and 6th of his 8 starts in 2016. The last two were against Toronto in which he gave up 2 runs over 13 IP. He has not given up more than three runs in any start so far and has a K/BB during the five game streak of 30 K’s & 8 walks in 32 innings pitched (8.4/2.25). The last couple of years it was home runs and walks that mainly did CC in, and not coincidentally CC has only given up two HR so far in 8 starts to go along with the improved walk rate. This week he gets the Tigers on Friday at home. In his long career, CC has a record of 20-13 vs. Det, and it is the only team in baseball that CC has won 20 games against. His ERA/WHIP ratios against them are 4.23/1.27, but this game is at home where CC’s #’s are 3.57/1.19 vs the Bengals. I’m starting him if I can find him.
- **Two Starts**Zack Davies, SP, MIL (2.4% to 31% owned.) Vs OAK, TUE & @ NYM, SUN: Davies is being added to teams while I’m typing this as I’ve had to adjust the percentage a few times. I’m not a band wagoner for his most recent start (8 shutout innings of three run ball with nine K’s against STL) though it was definitely a good sign, and I don’t understand why so many fantasy writers are steering clear of him this week. I guess I’ll be the contrarian and see if I can stay on top of the wave for two more starts before it crests. Davies had an excellent track record in the minors for the Orioles until he was moved to MIL in the Gerardo Parra trade last July, and has put up good numbers in his brief MLB career. There is that feeling in the air that a correction is coming, and there may be, but I don’t think it will come @ home vs OAK this Tuesday. The A’s are 12th in the AL in runs, and mid-pack in BA but next to last in OBP. They have never seen Davies pitch. He also has a start vs the Mets on Sunday for a two start week. I’ll be watching the Mets first though. They have a lethal line-up on paper but it is absolutely not clicking right now, and down two corner infielders. Unless that changes in the next week, I’ll probably roll Davies right back out against the Mets. The Mets are 13th in the NL with 200 runs, about 100 less than the Cardinals at the top, and next to last in the NL in BA @ .231. Davies did get roughed up a bit by them a few weeks ago but i think he has the advantage this time around. If things don’t look good after his Tuesday start I won’t hesitate to cut him loose.
- Doug Fister, SP, HOU (21% to 56% owned) @ TEX, WED: Eight of his last nine starts have been QS. He is still on the wire in more than half of all leagues. As long as he is sitting there use him for any start until a bad match up comes along. Otherwise, he IS Doug Fister. He missed a good amount of time with injuries in 2015, but our short memories forget that he won 16 games in 2014 with a 2.41 ERA in his 25 starts. This week he gets the Texas Rangers in Texas. They are a good hitting team, but hit 30 points lower against righties than lefties and Fister is also a ground ball pitcher. He has to cut down a bit more in HR and Walks allowed, but what safer spot start is there right now?
- Matt Andriese, TB (39.6% to 65.7% owned) Vs HOU, FRI: Like Jeff Locke, Matt Andriese has tried to make me look like a genius this past week. Last week I listed him as one of my two start pitchers for the week and he pitched extremely well in both match ups. He held KC to one run on 5 hits and 2 walks in 7 IP and followed that up today (Sat) with a Win @ MIN giving up 2 earned runs in 5 IP with no walks and 8 hits. He struck out 8 over the two games. I do have to admit that while his walk rate in the MLB is consistent with his minor league record, his strikeout rate is lagging way behind, and he is pitching to a .228 Babip. He is also sporting a nifty GB/RB rate and has only given up 1 HR in 5 starts. On paper it looks like he is a keep it on the ground pitch to contact type pitcher. His value skyrockets if he gets back some of that 8 K/9 he sported in the minors. His next start is against a team that strikes out a lot (leads the AL in K’s) but also walks a lot (leads the AL in walks). If Andriese can keep it on the ground and miss a few more bats he won’t be eligible for these articles anymore.
- *Two Starts** Danny Duffy, KC (6.9% to 43% owned) @ BAL, MON & @ CWS, SUN. Sometimes this is easy, like Fister & Andriese above. But sometimes you have to put yourself out there, like I did with Locke this past week. Well, this week I’m going on a limb with Danny Duffy. I suppose it took him a start or two longer than you’d like to transition from relieving to starting, but who cares since he is there now? In his most recent start he pitched a QS vs the Rays at home, with 6 K’s and Zero Walks. On the season he has a K/BB better than 10/2. Don’t forget that he was a prized prospect not long ago, and in 2014 pitched to an ERA of 2.53 & a 1.112 WHIP in 25 MLB starts for the Royals. He’s pitched in the past two World Series, albeit as a reliever. In 2015 he pitched to an AL that had adjusted to him,making his sophomore season not nearly as rosy as his 2014. Now I think it is coming back around. He gets two pretty good match ups this coming week @ Balt on Monday and then @ CHW on Sunday. The O’s are hitting only .227 vs lefties in 2016, and even worse at Camden yards.The White Sox are hitting .233, or 20 points lower at home vs on the road, though they do hit lefties better than the O’s. He needs to protect his arm though and stop that heavy lifting.
- Junior Guerra, MIL (23.4% to 54.0% owned) – FRI VS NYM: Last week I said “He gets the tough Card’s Monday and then the Phils Saturday. Because he’s one of the new Fantasy Toys, if he gets by the Cards, you know he will be universally owned after that start.” It’s a good thing all he got was a quality start Vs the Cards, striking out six but not issuing a single walk, leaving him still available in a lot of leagues. He needs to get more length to get the W’s & elite K numbers that he is likely capable of. So far he gives up hardly any home runs, 2 in 6 starts for a .70 HR rate to go with his 8/9 K rate and 3/9 BB rate. Read what else I wrote about the Mets offense above in the Zack Davies analysis. (Update: Today, SAT: Guerra pitched another QS against the Phils, giving up 3 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks in 6 IP. He now has a 3.61 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 7 major league starts.)
- Dan Straily, SP, CIN (9.4% to 49% owned) Vs CIN, FRI: After his predicted blip in Colorado last Monday, Straily pitched another 7 inning quality start vs Washington yesterday. He’s safe to deploy again at home vs the A’s on Friday.NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART:
- Jake Peavy, SF (5% to 22% owned) What? Are you scared? This is Jake Peavy, and good pitchers tend not to forget how to pitch well. With quality starts in 3 of his last 4 starts, I think Peavy is safe to use again, and some owners won’t throw him back. I won’t go that far but Peavy has stopped serving up walks and HR in bunches as he did in April and most of May. In his last 4 starts he’s given up 5 walks and 1 HR. He gets the Dodgers at home next Sunday against whom he had a 3.55 ERA in 2015, however lifetime he has owned the Dodgers going 14-3 with a 2.50 ERA in 200 innings pitched. His ERA at home in SF is 3.02 since he landed there two years ago. Granted his last two starts were against the Braves and Padres, but the Dodgers are only hitting .235 themselves. Peavy has a start today, Sunday, in STL, but I’m not rushing out to grab that one. San Francisco is a perfect home for Peavy as he is a fervent Grateful Dead fan and even plays Dead covers on Jerry’s own Tiger Guitar.
Do NOT START!
Jeff Locke, PIT (8.6% to 30% owned) @ COL, THU: I see some of you have not given back the ring yet. I’m dropping him today.
**Two Starts** Mike Bolsinger, LAD (less than 1.0 % to 18.8% owned) Vs COL MON & @ SF SUN: I used him a lot last season, and even though the Rockies are a tough lineup to get through, especially for a righty, they hit 40 points better at home than they do on the road making this 2 start week tempting. The truth is though that Bolsinger has not made it past the 5th inning yet in 2016 and is doing two things you can’t do with the Rockies or Giants. He’s walking guys and giving up HR.
Matt Moore, TB @ AZ, TUE: I’m finally ready to cut him loose. Michael Pineda, NYY is next.
Will Smith, RP, MIL has been activated and picked up a hold and a win so far in two appearances. His velocity is still a couple clicks below last season, so he’ll be eased back into high leverage spots. Jeremy Jeffress, RP, MIL has not done anything to lose the job, but Smith is the better pitcher and was thought to be the closer going into 2016. To me that means it should not be long before Smith is getting some of if not all the saves in MIL. If for some reason he is on your wire, get a CLEW*.
Kevin Jepsen, RP, MIN is still hanging onto the closer role in MIN. It is not because he is pitching well, but because they don’t have a viable alternative. Brad Boxberger tried last season, but unless Fernando Rodney did it, Jepsen could become the first closer to finish a season with an ERA over 5.00. (5.65 now). Brandon Kinzler, RP, MIN is climbing the depth chart for high pressure innings and could pose a threat to Jepsen in the 2nd half if not sooner. Own him, he is the CLEW* in MIN..
Chapman, Betances, Miller, the Yanks 3 headed monster pulled a trifecta the other day. Each of them gave up 1 run in their inning pitched, however Betances got the Win, Miller the Hold and Chapman the Save. I’m sure it won’t be the last time that happens this season.
Jeanmar Gomez, RP, PHI gave up his first earned run since May 17th in a blown save. He is safe for now and still leads all of baseball in saves with 18, tied with Jeurys Familia, RP, NYM. He is safe.
Ryan Madson, RP, OAK & Sean Doolittle, RP, OAK: Uh oh. Since mid May Doolittle has 4 holds a save and only 1 earned run allowed. I that same period, Madson has blown 2 saves, taken 2 losses, saved 1, and given up 5 earned runs. Objects in the rear view mirror are closer than they appear.
*”CLEW” = Closer En Waiting
** IRS + H = Inherited Runners stranded plus Holds
See you next week. Thanks for reading.
EDIT: The Shields trade finally went through. Shields to the White Sox for Fernando Tatis Jr., Eric Johnson and cash. I have no opinion on it. I don’t own any of those players and i don’t think their values change at all.
EDIT: Nick Tropeano was placed on the DL with a sore shoulder. An MRI showed no structural damage so hopefully he’ll only miss a couple of starts.
(Click the RED link to listen)
Major League Fantasy Football Weekly: Join Lou Landers, Zak Sauer, and Coach Jeff Nelson live Saturday June 4th, 2016 from 1-2:30pm EST for episode #21 of Major League Fantasy Football Weekly. We will run our show on Saturday until August 27th, and then move back to Tuesday nights from 8-10pm EST on September 13th. This is a live broadcast and we do take callers at 323-870-4395. This week we discuss key free agent signings and trades as well as key rookies from the draft.
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”
(Click the RED link below to listen)
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio: Join Corey D Roberts on Sunday June 5th, 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 Coach Andy Macuga and Jesse Ellison. Andy is the Head Baseball Coach for Borrego Springs H.S. in the Northern San Diego area of Southern California and a seasoned Major League Fantasy Sports owner. Jesse Ellison is a child hood friend of mine I grew up playing baseball with amongst other sports. He is also the owner of Ellison Baseball Instruction camps in South East Virginia. You can find his camps at ebicamps.com.
“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”