Last week I featured five pitchers that were riding LO and needed to be stolen and four pitchers that were riding HI and needed to be put on the block. Due to the small sample size this early in the season I’m gonna slim the list down this week confident that in the weeks to come that a bigger population of RISERS/DIVERS will emerge. The special report – the 12 Commandments of Early Season Management (formulated by Brian Roche, Bryan Luhrs and myself last Sunday in Baseball show #113 ) will conclude this weeks column.
BUY LOW OPPORTUNITIES
Jon Gray (COLO)- early season woes 16IP- 1.50 WHIP- 5.63 ERA (hidden nugget 17 K’s)
Name a great Rockies pitcher EVER…..I thought so. But the hype train had Gray onboard as an up-and-comer. He’s healthy and young, he’s got legendary stuff, and he’s actually unfazed by Coors Field. So why should this Shaggy lookalike (from Scooby Doo) be featured on a Mylanta bottle near you? Can you spell E-R-R-A-T-I-C?
And that is precisely the reason that you pick the Longhair up ASAP. It won’t take much. This may sound ridiculous but pick this guy up BEFORE he hits the waiver wire (preferably as a throw-in) ! The rationale is as follows: the Rockies will score runs and win games, he will have some masterful games and there is no way he ever sees AAA again (unless it’s on an injury rehab assignment). Plant this guy in the back of your rotation and pick and choose his starts. With a little luck he’ll continue his Coors success and get back to 2016 form since last year he only tossed 110, mostly mediocre, innings due to a pre-season injury that lingered.
As far as this year’s ragged stat line that is perturbing owners. At Arizona- lousy. At SD pitched a gem. At home against SD poor. Okay, further review shows the D’Backs are not hitting and the Padres are easily one of the lousiest hitting teams in baseball. The picture I’m painting here is one of Gray owners being easily convinced to say good riddance at the hint of a decent offer. JUMP NOW if you have the guts.
Julio Teheran (ATL)- early season woes 14IP- 1.79 WHIP- 7.07 ERA (hidden nugget NONE)
Okay I’ll admit that I was one of the horde that nominated this guy as a strong Rebound to Form candidates after last year’s nightmare. In essence this is a tale of a very good pitcher that did not adjust well to the decent hitters park currently known as SunTrust Park.The onus of being staff ace is not for everyone especially on a team that could be on the rise. Could it be that? As a Braves fan, I hope not.
In spite of these woes Teheran was “well drafted” but thus far in 2018 -CLOBBER CITY. In spite of this minute sample some owners may be already looking in the rear view mirror at ’17 and thinking one of two things. A) I gotta bench the stiff and wait for a pulse or, B) maybe someone is dumb enough to take this guy off may hands. It’s a tough call- I think he’ll turn it around and would take him at a discount expecting the worse and seeking much better. Let’s check the tale of the numbers crumble.
Composite three season averages from 2014- 2016 followed by (2017 stats)
- Innings pitched= 203 (188)
- ERA=3.38 (4.49)
- WHIP= 1.15 (1.37)
- WINS= 12 (11)
- HR ALLOWED= 24 (31)
- K:BB ratio= 3.1:1 (2.1:1)
SELL HIGH GUY
Reynaldo Lopez (CHIX)- early season star 13IP- .84 WHIP- .69 ERA
Doesn’t seem fair that some schmuck outfoxed you and either drafted this guy as an afterthought or took a dive into ‘the pool.” Either way a gold nugget for a pittance. But can it last? Let’s look at the track record first. The Dominican Whippet was signed by the Nationals as an 18 year old and in methodical, and sometimes remarkable fashion debuted in the majors just four years later. It wasn’t pretty – less than five innings later he had allowed ten hits (six runs) but struck out nine! There were mixed results with the real bugaboo being walks (22 in 44 innings). Pretty common right that a hard thrower (average pea was 94.5 last year) having command issues except that throughout his minor league career his control was good if not better .
Then came the big break when he got swapped along with an even bigger SP prospect, Lucas Giolito to the Chisox for OF Adam Eaton. Both pitchers spent the majority of the season in AAA (Charlotte) and pitched well enough to earn 45 and 47 innings respectively. Giolito’s stats were better and each won three games. So fast forward to 2018- Eaton, who wiped out his knee badly early on is back to his dynamic, top-of-the-order self in D.C and the White Sox have the youngest 1-2 SP punches in the game. REALITY CHECK is that the fickle nature of potential and the unfriendly act of rifling baseball’s for a living over and over tells the savvy baseball fans to veil optimism, White Sox fan or not.
Enough with the gloom and doom, Lopez came out of the gate slinging it like an All Star (see incredible stats above). Let’s just put two good starts in perspective- first game against a scuffling Blue Jays team and in his second start against a ragtag Tigers lineup. Still four hits in 13 inning pitched – that is dominant. Not so great was the seven walks.
For sure the potential is there and at only 24 years old his career is on the right trajectory, but he will undoubtedly have innings limits and playing on such a lousy team in that bandbox- there will be blowups guaranteed. IF I OWNED LOPEZ : a. in a dynasty league he’d be darn near untouchable, b: in a redraft league he’d be available but at a markup that would make your head spin.
Alex Colome (TB)- early season mixed bag 4 IP- 3.5 WHIP- 11.25 ERA BUT 3 SAVES
The last two seasons Colome has been a hidden gem. Not hard to do when you play in the Catastrophe known as the Trop (for the lowly Rays). The common, non- Fantasy participant wouldn’t know this guy from Adam unless they looked at the LEAGUE LEADER IN SAVES list the past two years 84 conversions and only nine blown (87% conversion rate). That’s the good news. The bad is that the hiccups are more like throw ups. Last year despite leading the league with 47 saves he had some monumental blowups where, whilst in a mid-season funk allowed 10 runs in five games. Subtract that and his ERA was even below the outstanding 1.91 posted in 2016.
This year has been somewhat atrocious but he has salvaged three saves (blew two) for another legendarily lousy TBR team. If this guy was a starter I’d be very worried. Decent starters get drilled like this you can bank on one of two things the guy IS HURT OR HE’S WASHED UP. The end can come quickly.
Since there is no report of injury, could it be that he’s “lost” a pitch? For his sake I hope not seeing he only throws a splitter (67%) and a 95 MPH heater (33%). All things considered it’s a curious coin flip situation for a BUYER or SELLER. If you believe in Colome, obviously now is the time to strike before he returns to “normal”. The thing is don’t expect a 50% off sale – think 25%. Make an offer that will benefit the other team in numerous ways by adding a player or two to the swap.
If you are an owner regard 2016 stats as the pinnacle- maybe this guy is a solid, not great reliever. If you had the foresight to have another close guy (in a 5X5) or picked a CLEW or two consider reasonable offers. Other than injury there are three avenues here: he returns to last year’s form for T.B, he gets swapped to another team where his role could be different OR he simply will get battered and have Rodney-like stats (lots of saves and lousy peripherals). I’ll be monitoring the situation closely in the meantime if you really are desperate for saves BUY- if you own and need the saves HOLD FOR NOW- if you can get by with or without him SELL.
12 COMMANDMENTS of EARLY SEASON MANAGING
I. THOU SHALL believe in new approaches/ return to form. Do it with cautious optimism but if you have some good intel that a player is “back” go for it! (e.g: Xander Boegarts -approach/ Miguel Cabrera- heath & fitness) BR
II. THOU SHALL take a chance on rookies. Not talking about the Ronald Acuna type- more so the leftover- hanging around in the pool sort (e.g: Luke Maile/ Jesse Winker). These type players could reap benefits immediately and years beyond in keeper formatted leagues. BL
III. THOU SHALL scour the waiver wire. Patience is a virtue that is in short supply for more owners than you’d guess. Everyday without fail check to see what knucklehead ditched a struggling or injured player that WILL HELP YOUR TEAM. JG
IV. THOU SHALL reserve a spot for SP streamers. OR TWO to play the one and done game. Once in a while you’ll even find a valid arm that you can promote to “the rotation” but if not have a blast searching for a guy that hopefully can help your team right then and there in multiple pitching stats. BR
V. THOU SHALL load up on high K/9 relievers. Don’t be thinking saves just look for guys pitching in high leverage roles that will pad your K total, lower your WHIP, get holds, etc.etc.etc. Chances are, you pile up enough of these types and someone will emerge as THE MAN (e.g: K.Middleton, A.J Minter). BL
VI.THOU SHALL keep a running list of HI/LO players. Especially for the first two months keep a physical list of players on other rosters that are struggling (and will return to form) or soaring (and return to earth). In addition, track players currently on the DL that are lingering on benches. Proper execution of BUY LOW/ SELL HIGH can propel your team to the TOP!!
VII. THOU SHALL NOT ignore utility men. Regardless of active roster rules having a Swiss Army Knife (e.g: Marwin Gonzalez, Derek Dietrich) will give you an edge over the competition. Special note: in leagues that have RF-CF-LF setups it’s a good idea to have a guy that can play two or more (e.g: Eddie Rosario). BR
VIII. THOU SHALL NOT make a trade to Mid-May. Think of the draft as the foundation to your House of Quality- let the concrete harden before you start any major renovations. Resisting the urge to play for next year (Dynasty format) this early will only help you in the long run. In redraft leagues take a deep dive into the numbers and figure out where am I lacking? where do I have excess? and then act accordingly. JG
IX. THOU SHALL NOT overpay for fill ins (for injured players) It’s an inexact science knowing how long a player will be out BUT if at all possible use the waiver wire to plug the hole. If you try to make a swap instead, a savvy owner will see you coming a mile away…BL
X. THOU SHALL NOT overreact to a valid closer struggling. Even the best closers hit rough patches, if you’re “GUY” takes a dive, weather the storm. (e.g: Alex Colome) BR
XI. THOU SHALL NOT deviate from your strategy, Whatever your strategy was before the draft let it play out. It’s a long ass season. BL
XII. THOU SHALL NOT go transaction crazy early on. Lots of leagues have weekly transaction limits , if your league has six , put a limit on three unless you’re besieged with serious injuries. Also worth noting is leagues that have minimum innings limit – you may have to reserve a move or two to get it done! If there is a yearly transaction limit especially be careful the first month or two- there a few things worse than maximizing your moves only to have a tipping point player hit the pool that you cannot have ESPECIALLY IN KEEPER LEAGUES. JG
SO LONG FOR NOW
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Thursday April 12th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #114 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. We will the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Our guest this week is Joe Iannone. Joe is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com. He focuses on spot starting pitchers for the coming week. His articles publish every Sunday morning at 7 am EST. One of our most popular writers so be sure to check him out.