I woke up this morning thinking about nothing but baseball. How would my Yankees do today? Will they be buyers or sellers at the deadline? How are my own teams doing, both in my fantasy leagues and my entries into DFS on Friday night? And what pitchers will I be recommending today for next week? I twisted and turned in bed. I got up early and went out and cut the grass. I tried to catch the Ground Hog who’s been eating all my veggies. I ran errands, bought Burger King and ate my first Whopper in 20 years, but nothing helped, not even the “Boom Sauce” Double IPA’s I found in my fridge. The BK just gave me a stomach ache, the Boom Sauce……
Then I looked at my pool. That same pool I lamented about all last summer, and begrudge spending time and money on every summer. I was hot. I was sweating. My head was still spinning. There was only one thing to do and that was jump in the pool. I recently discovered the best invention of the 21st Century. The “Pool Hammock”. It is likely available in every pool store in America, but usually by the time I know what chemicals I need and what procedures I need to follow when I get home, I don’t have time to look at pool toys. But, the Pool Hammock……………..
The Pool Hammock is just two inflatable cylinder pillows with a nylon “hammock” spread out between them. Climb on and drape your legs over the far pillow and rest your head on the bigger one. Your body lays on the “hammock” almost fully under water while your head and limbs are simply draped over the inflatables. It was instant bliss. I floated like that for a long while and I watched the clouds. I watched the planes. I watched the birds. I cleared my head. I had no idea how long I was out there in pool nirvana but I knew I better make my weekly spot start picks so I had to get out. I knew my life had changed. It was one of those aaaaaaaahhhhhh moments. Pool Heaven. I now love the pool again that I’ve complained about for years. The Pool Hammock. Get one. Or do I like I did and get two. The Pool Hammock should not be shared. This was certainly not a paid advertisement, just a life changing discovery.
The ground hog is ok, I didn’t catch him. I called a local wildlife intervention guy who set a Have-a-Heart trap and baited it with a peach. Now we wait. (Update: The Jeddhi groundhog was caught in one hour and removed peacefully)
But choosing streamers for next week is what we do here, right?
Trivia Question: What 24 year old National League East righty this year has increased his K rate to 8.1/9 IP, decreased his walk rate one full walk down to 2.6/9 IP, improved his GB/FB ratio, line drive percentage, and even improved his own defense this season. Answer below.
It is time to add spot starters for next week.
SPOT STARTS –
- ***Two Starts***Tom Koehler, SP, MIA (36% owned) vs PHI, TUE & Vs STL, SUN: Tom Koehler can be a great spot start, but he needs a perfect storm to get on my short list and he has it this week. He gets the Phils Tuesday at home, a team who is hitting .149 vs Koehler in 2016 (3 gs, 22 IP, 17 K’s 8 BB), and .239 vs righties in general. His ERA vs the Phils is 1.64. His ERA at home is 30 points lower at home than on the road. Like I said it is a perfect storm. Just don’t expect 10 strikeouts. His biggest weakness is walks, but the Phils are dead last in the NL in walks, 40 behind the 14th place Reds and Padres and nearly 200 less than the league leading Cubs. You will not look like a Dunce if you spot him.
- Bud Norris, SP, LAD, (56.9% owned) Vs TB TUE: Don’t tell anyone but the Bud Norris Fairy Tale Ride is almost over. It actually is over already, but he has another great match-up this week vs the Tampa Rays on Tuesday. So, if you have not jetted him off your team yet, hang on to him for this Tuesday’s start. A lot of owners dropped him thinking the Dodgers dropped him from the rotation after they used him for 1 and 1/3 innings of relief on Friday night. It was merely his day to throw a side session so the pitching starved Dodgers used him instead. Welcome to the NL Bud. He gave up one run on two hits and a walk. Norris was great in his first start with the Dodgers on July 1, but since then has added nearly a full run to his ERA bringing it to 4.56. The Rays are dead last or close to last in the AL for nearly every batting stat and are 2nd to only the Astros at accumulating strikeouts. They are also hitting .232 vs righties, or 40 points lower than they hit lefties. Squeeze in one more start for Bud. (Norris that is, I still have more Boom Sauce in the fridge for summer beverages.)
- Ivan Nova, SP, NYY (28.8% owned) @ TB THU: Nova is on a roll that is likely not sustainable, but he gets the Rays on Thursday in Tampa so I’m riding the wave. In his last 4 starts covering 24 innings he is 2-0 with a 2.62 ERA and 24 strikeouts vs only 6 walks. Of the 7 runs scored on him though, 4 came by way of a HR. As I said before, Tampa strikes out a lot, but they are also 4th in the AL in Home Runs. When I did a Google search for pictures of Nova the one to the left is the one that caught my eye. I barely recognize him, but it is clear he is working on keeping the ball down in the zone if that is his new follow through on his delivery. I just think it is crazy to try and do it in heels, but hey, whatever works Ivan. Actually, he has the best GB/FB rate of his career this season at 1.25, and his best walk rate (5.5% or only 2/9 IP) Hopefully the high HR rate is the anomaly as his line drive percentage and Babip are right in line with his career numbers plus he has his best strikeout rate in 3 years. Nova is also a righty, and as I said the Rays hit poorly enough, but especially against righties.
- Robbie Ray, SP, ARI (53% owned) @ MIL, THU: Ray has a 5.33 ERA at home in 2016, but a 3.49 ERA on the road. That is an insanely unsustainable split, but exploiting unsustainable splits is part of what we are doing here, no? Ray gets the Brewers in Milwaukee on Thursday, and they are 12th in the NL in runs, 11th in HR, and 1st in strikeouts. The Suds are also hitting .227 over the last month, equally bad vs lefties and righties. So, while it may not be easy, Ray should give us a QS this Thursday. He may also gather some strikeouts as he has the best K rate of his brief career in 2016 and over his last 7 games he has 54 K’s in 44 IP vs only 11 walks. He was only 2-4 during that stretch mainly because of poor fielding and run support. His ERA over that stretch is 4.09, 4.53 for the season but his FIP is only 3.74 pointing at the last 7 games as a better picture of his overall performance than the first two months of the season showed.
- Mike Foltynowitz, SP, ATL (45.6% owned) @ MIN, WED: Mike is not even 25 yet and he has been making my favorite pitching adjustments for three consecutive seasons. He has increased his K rate to 8.1/9 IP, decreased his walk rate one full walk down to 2.6/9 IP (the best it has been in his 6 years as a pro, minors included), improved his GB/FB ratio, line drive percentage, and even improved his defense. He gets a MIN offense that is hitting .247 vs righties and only .231 overall the past two weeks. Their home road splits are nearly identical other than HR which they hit far less at home than on the road, and that could be important as Folty’s biggest weakness is his nearly 2.0 HR/9. Hopefully he keeps the ball in the yard and if he doesn’t there are no Twins on the bags when it goes.
NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART:
- **Two Starts**Lucas Harrell, SP, ATL(20% owned) @ MIN TUE & Vs PHI SUN: Harrell just turned 31 so he is no rookie. He played last season in Korea after a mediocre major and minor league career that started in 2004 when he was 19. His biggest bugaboo is his walk rate which has been over 5.0/9 since 2012, twice over 6.0/9 in that time. Right now his walk rate is 3.5/9 which is not All Star caliber but his lowest since 2011. Why did i pick him for this week’s spot starts? Minnesota and Philadelphia are the answers. I already mentioned Minnesota’s splits at home and verses righties (See Folty above) and Philadelphia has been even more inept of late, hitting .206 the last two weeks with only 18 walks in 306 plate appearances. Against the Braves they have hit .247 this season, .228 with 5 walks in 101 plate appearances in Atlanta. I’ll use him if I need a start or two.
- Cody Reed, SP, CIN (38.0 %owned) @ SF TUE: This is not a slam dunk spot start, but I like the match up and the way Reed has been throwing of late. The 23 year old lefty pitched his best game of the season (his whole career) last week vs the Braves pitching a quality start giving up 2 runs, none earned and only 2 walks. The biggest difference was the fact that he did not give up a HR for the first time this season (6 starts). He gets to face a Giants team that has been batting .234 the past two weeks and hits about half as many HR at home as on the road. Reed’s walks per 9 IP have always been less than 1.0 but sit at 2.5 HR/9 in his brief MLB career. That will come way down or he’ll be going back down himself.
DO NOT START!
Matt Boyd, SP, DET Vs HOU, FRI
Sean Manaea, SP, OAK @ TEX WED.
Nathan Eovaldi, SP, NYY @TB FRI.
Kyle Lohse, SP, (6.2% owned) Vs OAK, MON: Remember him? Remember why you stopped using him?
Craig Kimbrel, RP, BOS is already set to start a re-hab assignment next week. That is surprising to me if only because of the volume of panic screams coming from Boston over the injury in the first place, arthroscopy on his knee, the Ziegler trade and then the Uehara injury. If he is back in a week or so it would have been nothing but drama.
Rumors have Aroldis Chapman, RP, NYY being traded in the next day or two. The named suitors and their incumbent closers are the Nats (Papelbon), Cubs (Rondon), Giants (Casilla), and Indians (Allen). The Yanks say they’ll keep Andrew Miller, RP, NY who would become the closer again. Some rumors say that as soon as Chapman was gone they would listen to Miller offers. The bigger question is which current closer gets deposed, as no team would trade for Chapman to be a set up man. Tighten you seat belts owners of those closers above. You may lose one. Casilla likely has the most tenuous hold on his spot at the moment, while it would be just desserts for Papelbon to be the one knocked down a notch. The Yanks are reportedly interested in SP Joe Ross. Stay tuned.
Speaking of Papelbon and the Nats, the seemingly always connected Drew Storen, RP, TOR was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays yesterday. This time last year he was one of the best closers in the NL. I’m still scratching my head. Maybe the Yanks will replace Chapman with him. HaHa.
Back in the desert, Daniel Hudson, RP & Tyler Clippard, RP, AZ are trying hard NOT to win the closer job with Hudson especially really getting torched lately. Clippard will likely settle into the role even though he blew the last save he tried to close giving up 3 runs in a game earlier this week.
Wade Davis, RP, KC is also hearing his name in trade rumors as the Royals may be deadline sellers. Kelvin Herrera, RP, KC would likely be next in line to save games but Joakim Soria, RP, KC is also on hand with closing experience.
Finally, Jim Johnson, RP, ATL is the closer in Atlanta for now with Arodys Vizcaino removed from the role. Get on that roller coaster at your own risk. I have not once owned a Braves reliever this season and I’m not about to.
*”CLEW” = Closer En Waiting
** IRS + H = Inherited Runners stranded plus Holds
See you next week. Thanks for reading.