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“65 Mustangs” Pick Your Spots: Week 16 Spot Starting & Reliever Guide. Plus the Justin Morneau Story.

Where did the time go? We are now closer to the end of the regular MLB season than the beginning, and that means another three weeks closer to our own playoffs in the Fantasy Game.  Two weeks ago I gave you my “Poster Boys” for spot starting and they have not changed. What has changed is the quantity of new spot start candidates that will be coming our way. It will not be like the May through June free-for-all when new SP candidates are coming along every day. There will still be plenty of rotation fluctuation caused by injuries, re-habs, trades, minor league promotions, etc. Your targets, if mining for new spotters, are likely going to come from the injury re-habbers and the minor league call ups. Any pitcher with MLB chops is already owned or still in the spotter pool where he has been all season. A durable 5th starter may now be his team’s third starter due to injuries and other attrition. That is good for us.

Please be patient today as it will take a few minutes to get to the spot starting choices for next week. There is a lot to report on the closer front and I need to tell a story.

One newly activated player is actually an old friend, and a hitter, not a pitcher. Justin Morneau made his debut for the Chicago White Sox yesterday (Friday) and went 0 for 1 in a pinch hitting appearance. He is in the lineup Saturday(0 for 4). There is a soft spot in my Fantasy Baseball heart for Justin Morneau. I never met him, but he taught me patience and the importance of small sample sizes. In 2006 I was working as a tax accountant at a large national public accounting firm. Among my fellow accountants were a group of guys who had a company fantasy baseball league on Yahoo, and they needed one more team. I joined without hesitation. I had been playing fantasy baseball since I was 10 years old with my friends in the neighborhood, long before computers, but I was interested in this internet based Fantasy Baseball. I admit I was late to a party that I had been waiting for all my life. My leisure time would never be the same, but that is another story. This is about Justin Morneau.

The Twins drafted Morneau in the 3rd round of the 1999 MLB draft at the age of 18. In 5 minor league seasons he hit well over .300 with plenty of power. He had future star written all over him, and I got to see him play in 2002 when he was in AA ball playing for the New Britain (CT) Rock Cats of the Eastern League. He teased us in 2004 with a .271 BA, 19 HR, and 58 RBI in his MLB rookie season. He followed that up in 2005, his first season as a starter, going 22/79/.239 in 141 games, the .239 dropping his value in 2006 drafts. I thought I got a bargainmorneau drafting him late in a 12 team Yahoo league as my 1B man. I had done my research. I remembered seeing this guy launch homers in New Britain that haven’t come down yet.

However, on May 18th, 2006 after an 0 for 3 performance with 3 K’s, he was hitting .229 with 10 HR and 36 RBI, and the very first 65 Mustangs Fantasy Baseball team was in last place of a 12 team H to H Yahoo League. I had so much to learn about fantasy strategy, and Mr. Morneau was hardly the reason I was in last place. But I had to do something, so I dropped Justin Morneau. I don’t even remember who I picked up to replace him (Tom Paciorek maybe?). All I saw was that .229 and my own miserable record. I didn’t bother to project 10/36 to be about 38/140 over the course of a season.

A few months later, Justin Morneau won the 2006 AL MVP with a line of .321/.375/.559, 34 HR and 130 RBI in what would be the best season of his MLB career. I finished in last place, and I got my first lessons in the important factors of winning in FBB:

  1. Do your research. Don’t let a good player slip by you and make the end draft as important as the first few rounds. CHECK
  2.  Stick to your gut. You did the research, more than likely it was correct. CHECK
  3. Six weeks into a season is no time to panic. Be patient, see #2 again. FAIL!

Yes, patience is a Fantasy Baseball skill, and the only way Morneau’s wife would get into one of my articles is if i wrote this story. Yes, it was her idea.

I moved the Closer Carousel section back to the bottom of the article as there is a lot of closer news to report and I did not talk about them last week.

Trivia Question: For you WAR buffs. What NL West pitcher who is only 31% owned has accumulated a 10.0 WAR over the past three seasons?   Answer below.

Mourneau can’t pitch, so it is time to add spot starters for next week.

SPOT STARTS –                                                                                                                                         

  • ***Two Starts***Jeff Locke, SP, PIT (32% owned) vs Mil, TUE & vs PHI, SUN:  I suppose it is time to admit it, Jeff Locke is my Fantasy FWB. He is there when I want or need him as long as the game is at his house, and doesn’t mind when I cast him aside the following week or start. Locke has a home ERA of 2.81 vs a road ERA of a whopping 7.47. He gets two of the worst offenses in the NL this week (MIL 12th & PHI 14th in BA & R plus MIL leads the NL in K’s) and both at home. This is a no brainer.locke ball 2
  • ***Two Starts***Sean Manaea, SP, OAK (49% owned) vs HOU, TUE & vs TB SUN: Why on earth is Manaea only owned in half the leagues? Never mind, who cares? This week Manaea snags two home starts, where he has a 3.97 ERA, vs Hou Tuesday and vs Tampa Sunday. Houston is hitting .231 vs lefties, which is 20 points lower than vs righties plus Manaea has held the Astros hitters to a .214 batting average in two starts so far in 2016. Add the Tampa game (Last in AL in BA & R) to that equation and Manaea is another no brainer add this week.
  • Manaea, Sean
  • ***Two Starts***Jose Urena, SP, MIA (5% owned) @ PHI TUE & vs NYM SUN: Urena teased in a few 2015 starts but otherwise has been mediocre in his brief career. He goes to Philly Tuesday to face the 14th ranked offense in the NL who are hitting .225 at home this season vs .260 on the road. That start is another no brainer for next week. His 2nd start is against the Mets in Miami on Sunday. The Mets are 13th in Runs & 14th in BA, though they do hit HR’s and take some walks. Based on that I could understand being less enthusiastic about the Mets start. However, the Mets are hitting .229 over the past two weeks, .242 on the road & only .234 vs righties in 2016. As usual I’ll see how Tuesday goes before I decide.urena
  • Jorge De La Rosa, SP, COL (31% owned) vs TB, WED:  He is still out there in 70% of leagues. He is also still pitching very well, both at home and on the road. Tampa is bringing their AL worst offense to the mountains this week and De La Rosa gets them on Wednesday. The Rays do hit lefties better than righties and better on the road, but they’ve been hitting .230 the past two weeks. They can hit some homers as well, but De La Rosa is used to preventing them at Coors. I’ve had him in my articles for about 4 weeks straight now and I own him on several teams. I can just as easily cut bait and drop him, but right now he is on a roll. De La Rosa has accumulated a 10.0 WAR over the past three seasons toiling in obscurity.delarosa
  • **Two Starts**Nick Tropeano, SP, LAA (43% owned) vs TEX, MON & @ HOU, SAT: Trope is not ever going to lead the league in strikeouts,  but what I like about him is that he seems to be fearless. That is why I won’t be afraid to trot him out for the home game against the Rangers on Monday. Texas is hitting .256 vs righties or 32 points lower than lefties. They are also hitting 33 points lower on the road (.249) than at home, and hitting .231 as a team in four games in Anaheim so far in 2016. Trope’s last win came against Texas in Texas a couple weeks ago when he went over 6 shutout innings. Houston is hitting .249 vs righties, only .237 at home and .238 the past two weeks. The two knocks on Trope are his walks which are keeping his WHIP around 1.4 and not going deep enough in games limiting his counting stats. He does have his K rate up to 9.0 per 9 and has given up 2 runs or less in 9 of his 12 starts in 2016 for an ERA of 3.12. He gave up four runs one time and five in another, never more.   Nick Tropeano                                                                                                                                                                              NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART:     
  •   **Two Starts**Tyler Anderson, SP, COL (38% owned) vs TB, MON & vs ATL, SAT:  You all know the mantra, “Don’t start Colorado pitchers in Colorado” or any pitchers for that matter. I’m putting my neck out here recommending a Colorado pitcher with TWO (2!) starts at home next week. Bring It! This could go badly as he is also due for a correction at some point with an unsustainable 1.52 GB/FB rate and 4% walk rate or 1.5 walks per nine. His 8.1 K per nine is now closer to his minor league number. I think Anderson is a must start until the wave crests. Both starts are in Colorado, but against the offenses of the lowly Rays & Braves who are each dead last in offense in their respective leagues, plus Tampa loses the DH. As for Anderson, and his 3.03 ERA & 1.262 WHIP, all he has done is give up 2 runs or less in 5 of his 6 starts, four of them QS (missed the other two by 1 out each) only netting one Win from all that due to run support and bullpen issues. The fun part is that four of those starts came at home where he has given up 7 runs in 4 games vs 5 runs in his 2 away games. I’ll take all 6. tyler-anderson-mlb-2jpeg           


**Two Starts**Chase Anderson, SP, MIL @ PIT, TUE & vs CHC, SUN.

**Two Starts**Colin Rea, SP, SD @ STL, TUE & @ WAS, SUN.

Matt Wisler & Julio Teheran, SP, ATL @ COL, TBA & FRI

Bud Norris, SP, LAD @ WAS, THU. You were tempted weren’t you?

Closer Merry-Go-Round:  Ready for more Summer Fun? Lots to report here.

It appears it is A. J.Ramos, RP, MIA, not Fernando Rodney, RP, MIA who is still the closer in Miami. Sure, we all expected that, but you cringed anyway. I saw you. My big question is why Miami needed Rodney with David Phelps, Mike Dunn & Kyle Barraclough all having good season’s behind Ramos.

Brandon Maurer, RP, SD does appear to be the closer for the Padres. He’s gotten the last two saves.

Brandon Kintzler, RP, MIN is still the closer in MIN. Hopefully they’ll give him some leads to protect. Kevin Jepsen, RP, MIN was released by the Twins. Things change fast.

Alex Colome, RP, TB is back, and other than Brad Boxberger, RP, TB the Rays 2015 closer still lurking, he seems to have no competition for the role. SP eligibility is nice too.

Ryan Madson, RP, OAK is still the closer in Oakland, but Ryan Dull, RP, OAK should be picked up in all formats. Madson is drawing trade interest and has been inconsistent.

The following news is admittedly late as I did not cover relievers last week. Hopefully you already knew and reacted by now:

Craig Kimbrel, RP, BOS was injured and sent to the DL having had arthroscopic knee surgery in Boston. Koji Uehara, RP BOS waskristen-brad-ziegler immediately inserted into the closer role. That same night the Sawx traded for Brad Ziegler, RP, BOS of the AZ Diamondbacks. My bet is that Uehara is the closer till he fails and then Ziegler is the closer. That was more “just the way it is” than any kind of analysis or prediction. I give Uehara to the end of July. Isn’t he close to 50 now? Sorry, he is only 41 and has six saves in 2016 already. Kristen & Brad have been here before.

Back in the desert, Daniel Hudson, RP & Tyler Clippard, RP, AZ are in line for the closer role with Ziegler traded. I think Hudson is better suited, but Clippard may get first shot based on experience. I’m betting on Hudson and have stashed him accordingly.clippard2 Yes, Clippard has been here before too. Chicks dig the CLEWS.

Wade Davis, RP, KC was on the DL with a sore forearm, but appears he’ll be back to closing for the Royals soon after pitching an inning against the Tigers last night. Kelvin Herrera, RP, KC will continue to save games in the meantime. Joakim Soria, RP, KC is also on hand with closing experience.

Closer, Trevor Rosenthal, RP, STL was injured last week, though it appears he will miss the DL. He was in fact “removed” from the closer’s role right before that due to performance. Seung-Hwan Oh, RP, STL has been filling in until a permanent closer is named. My bet is Rosenthal reclaims his role in due time, though he did blow one Friday. Closers close, and he is a closer. Jon Broxton, RP, STL is also on the roster and was a pretty good closer himself for a few years.

As predicted, Jeremy Jeffress, RP, MIL is a popular trade rumor. Therefore, Will Smith, RP, MIL is a must own (Remember he was supposed to be the closer preseason). Of course he could be traded as well. Don’t forget about Corey Knebel, RP, MIL.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have become a black hole for saves. Huston Street, RP, LAA seems to always be injured or on the verge of it. Joe Smith, RP, LAA has been #2 in LAA for years, but was never able to handle the role full time. Good thing the Halo’s are not contenders.

It would be tough to be Carlos Esteves, RP, COL. He is not exactly dominating the NL, though he picked up his 6th save last night. But, he has Jake McGee, Jason Motte & Adam Ottavino all with previous closing experience and all behind him waiting for him to fail. I think McGee will reclaim his role in due time.

CLEW’s — My mid season CLEW review says you should own the following RP’s:

Brad Brach: Love the guy. I only love Delin Betances more when it comes to CLEWS. brachHe contributes in K’s, W’s, S’s, H’s, IRS, ERA & WHIP. Buck Showalter seems to know how to deploy him as well. His ERA has gone down 6 years in a row since he was a Padre rookie in 2011 where he met Jenae Cherry the Country singer. She is now Mrs Brach and his ERA is at .880, so I don’t think he can improve much on either right now.

Ken Giles:  No, I don’t know when he’ll close again, but that is why they call it speculating. They paid a lot to get him and owe him a ton of money. He will be the closer at some point.

Travis Wood. CHC:  In most leagues he has dual eligibility and is racking up Holds and IRS. I own him.

Addison Reed, RP, NYM:  Anyone else notice how good of a year he is having?

*”CLEW” = Closer En Waiting

** IRS + H = Inherited Runners stranded plus Holds

See you next week. Thanks for reading.


(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Football Radio: Join Ej GarrCorey D Roberts, and Coach Jeff Nelson live Saturday July 16th from 1-2:30pm EST for episode #64 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. This is a live broadcast and we take callers at 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the hosts. This week we will break down the NFC North from an NFL and fantasy perspective.

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 to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio: Join Corey D RobertsKyle Amore, and Coach Andy Macuga live on Sunday July 17th, 2016 from 8-10pm EST for episode #73 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host.

Kyle is a writer with Andy is the Head Baseball Coach for Borrego Springs H.S. in Southern California as well as a 4 year veteran in MLFB leagues.

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”

I'm an accountant and an amateur writer of fiction and sports commentary, mostly baseball. I've been a student of the game of baseball since the Dinosaurs roamed the earth, or at least since a few years before the world knew what a designated hitter was. Otherwise, I like "antique" cars of the 60's and 70's and have been a fantasy baseball fanatic since my first draft many years ago. I live in CT with my wife Megan of 25 years, our daughter Caitlin and their (their) cats. I'm also the better looking of the two guys in the the photo.

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