Making a HI/Lo deal is all about preying on emotion. If you’re looking to BUY LOW, it’s about targeting players that have been sub-standard or possibly hurt; find the FED UP OWNER. If you’re looking for SELL HIGH, it’s about cashing in your chips knowing that you’ve seen the best; find the DESPERATE OWNER.
And then there’s the third element , the gloom and doomers in DYNASTY LEAGUES that do not believe for a second the immortal words of Yogi Berra – IT AIN’T OVER ‘TIL IT’S OVER. Find the guy PLAYING FOR NEXT YEAR.
As the grand finale I will unveil thirty players (one for each MLB franchise) that can tick an emotional box and trigger a swap/pickup . The code will be as follows: PLAYER pre-season Rotowire ADP#/league format relevance (R indicates redraft, D indicates dynasty)/ gambit (Buy/Sell). Following will be the reasoning with a minimal amount of stats (go to baseball Reference or FanGraphs if you feel the need to go in-depth).
Jacob Degrom, NY Mets/#34/R,D/SELL first , BUY second
I live in New England at the crossroads of Yankee/Mets/Bosox fandom. It’s been quite a time with the resurgence over the past decade by Boston, the ALL RISE of the ’17 and ‘18 Yankees and then there’s the Mets. This is a team whose window came and went more than likely. This year has been a bumpy road with the overall batting issues, a bullpen that has been erratic and a starting staff that reminds one of the old Milwaukee Braves one that whose tag line was SPAHN AND SAIN AND PRAY FOR RAIN.
To borrow a fantasy football metaphor, Degrom, despite the hovering presence of Thor, has been the BELLCOW all of last year and thus far in ’18. Last year was more than solid with 15 wins, 3.53 ERA/ 1.18 WHIP and 239 K’s. This year his eight game stats are even better (1.83 ERA/ 1.04 WHIP) but there are concerns about a “cranky elbow”. This from a guy that already has had, along with the majority of his Met’s rotation brothers, TJS. This is a BIG RED FLAG that has the Met’s fans a tad very panicky.
Maybe it’s strictly about the Mets, whose medical staff has been crucified for years, being super cautious. For the sake of Degrom, who is very likeable, and the pennant race in the newly hatched NL EAST I hope it’s a false alarm. But as a fantasy guy I see some real opportunity here. I see a RAKE ‘EM OVER THE EMBERS SITUATION as long as he can avoid the DL. Conversely, and regardless of the Mets final record, the former longhair could be an excellent put-your-team-over-the-top guy if, pardon the pun, all breaks well. This ploy would be best suited in DYNASTY where you have ,as examples, the sons of Bichette, Deshields or Guerrero languishing on your roster
For more on the soap opera known as NY METS starting pitching click below.
Madison Bumgarner, S.F/#45/R,D/ BUY with reluctance, SELL in a heartbeat
There’s a possibility that you got this guy at a huge discount depending on when you drafted him- that’s the good news. The bad is that he’s still out and who knows if he’ll ever be the dominant force of yesteryear. But the important thing is that this guy will draw tremendous interest when his return nears. IF your team is not a contender SELL- if you are still a player BUY but with the realization that this will not be the PUT ME OVER THE TOP MOMENT.
Robbie Ray, Arizona/ #47/R,D/ BUY
The best, and probably cheaper, strategy would have been to have already “helped out” the Robbie Ray owner with an arm or two to fill the huge hole in his/hers rotation. But that is why I’m telling you it’s not too late to make a play for a HUGE UPSIDE player. Of course, it’s an arm related gamble that could subterfuge your season if you guess wrong. The results this season have been very mediocre- play on those heartstrings if you have to.
Dallas Keuchel, Houston/#75/R/BUY but won’t be cheap
Whereas the Indians pitching staff is down a notch from last year, the Astros, who were good last year, are even better in ’18. In order of greatness: #1 Justin Verlander #1A Gerritt Cole, #1B Charley Morton and clearly number four: Keuchel. But on a lot of fantasy teams, although not a strikeout force, this BEARDO could be THE MAN.
It’s been a roller coaster ride of sorts since a breakthrough 2014 season that was followed up a CY YOUNG AWARD. Since then he hasn’t pitched a full season since including one meltdown season followed by a recovering back to his old low ERA and highly effective self. Keuchel’s record thus far is a mediocre 3-5 . But in nine starts he’s pitched well (3.10 ERA/ 1.10 WHIP). Not eye-popping stats but stats that will help ANY FANTASY STAFF. This is a perfect storm combination- a guy on a good team who really doesn’t have the burden of staff ace anymore. BUY before the ‘Stros stop fooling around and go 28-12 at some point.
Mashiro Tanaka, NY Yankees/#97/R/SELL first, BUY second
Either way kind of guy- Tanaka will be a nice addition to a fantasy staff as a 4 or 5. Conversely, if you can find the YANKEE FAN caught up in the greatest team ever mindset liberate this guy for the market will bear.
Alex Wood, Los Angeles Dodgers/#114 /R/BUY (LOWBALL permit issued)
Herky Jerky has already surprised in ’18. Unfortunately, the bad surprises include the facts that the Dodgers truly suck and that in nine starts (51 IP) the still crafty lefty has ZERO wins. The good surprises are that he is still good (ERA 3.35,WHIP 1.06) ,finally healthy and that the asking price for Mr. Woods is lower than a limbo bar at a birthday party for a three-year old. Even if the L.A nightmares persist this is a pitcher THAT WILL HELP YOUR TEAM
Marcus Stroman, Toronto/#151/D/BUY
It’s hard not to root for a guy like Stroman. He’s undersized, he’s got a huge heart and he’s an incredible leader (if you watched the World Baseball Classic you’d know this). The problem is the wing. The reports in spring training said BAD SHOULDER. He pitched or shall I say gritted his way through seven starts with an ERA close to 8! And it get’s uglier, control was way off and his record was 0-5. One good start out of seven was a definite clue that a 27-year-old guy that just came off a breakthrough season (3.09 ERA and 8th in Cy Young voting) was all messed up. This is where you swoop in as a DYNASTY OWNER and give a wannabe contender a spare part and acquire this sprite with hopes that modern medicine can get the job done and restore this guy to solid starter status even if it’s a year from now.
Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh/#181/R,D/BUY
Another recipe for a good HI/Lo is to target a player on a small market team that gets off to a strong start and then falls off. Such is the case with this young (26) and talented player. Right now his record is a nondescript 2-3 with a respectable 3.97 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. Chances are that owners of this remarkable guy (cancer survivor) will cut bait for the right deal. Regardless of format and even knowing of the Pirates current state BUY BUY BUY!
Dylan Bundy, Baltimore/ $193/D/R/BUY
A yo-yo has got nothing on this guy. The start of the season was spectacular- without a doubt this would be the coronation year. Not so fast there fella…. Starts 1 through 5, four were excellent and one was acceptable. Starts 6 through 8 were absolute disasters and then in start 9 pitched seven shutout innings albeit against T.B.
The reality is that the former #1 pick (4th overall) is only 25 years old and is still developing. Besides the up and down game log of particular “worry” was the huge 60 innings jump from 2016 to last year. So how did he come out of the gate so good only to lose it? No idea.
It’s been an injury riddled road for Bundy who in 2012 (at 19 years old) was a rising star. Then he missed all of 2013, pitched sparingly the next two years before the 2016 Ascension to the SHOW. Theoretically, the arm woes are behind him and that is why I advocate a BUY order. Fantasy owners love steady and this guy is anything but, hence he’ll be available FOR THE RIGHT PRICE.
Mike Clevinger, Cleveland/#194/R,D/SELL first, BUY second
It’s been a slow start for the Indians. First, the offense was a no-show and secondly, the decline of easily the best MLB pitching staff in 2017. Danny Salazar hasn’t pitched at all, Andrew Miller hasn’t been dominant and subsequently hurt and Kluber has been good but not Kluber yet. In fairness, Carlos Carrasco has been quite good and Bauer arguably ACE MATERIAL.
That brings us to the guy I call THE CLEAVER. After what he did last year (3.11 ERA in 122 innings) and with the massive “stuff” he had last year this was NO SECRET TERRITORY yet he was drafted late in lots of drafts. This year, the 27-year-old has a better ERA, WHIP and control although the K rate is down. He’s already twirled the remarkable feat known as a COMPLETE GAME SHUTOUT!
As a big fan in March you can understand that I am bullish on the longhair. The only reason of worry, if you are in THIS YEAR mode is that the most innings he’s ever pitched was 158 in AA a few years back. In closing, I’d be a seller but with a ridiculous asking price regardless of format (for the record I’m not a big dynasty guy). This is a good pitcher whose training days as a mop up man are long gone. Tito believes in him and so should you, the point that if he’s available I’ll go for the gusto now and deal with the innings issue later.
Blake Snell, Tampa Bay/#197/R,D/BUY strongish
It’s great to see when on- field performance has finally caught up to the hype. This is great news for Rays fans (the few that remain) as well as to fantasy owners across the globe. What’s not to like about the 25-year-old lefty who in his first ten starts Snellzilla is 5-3 for a crappy team even by Tampa Bay standards? And the rest of the stats are also pointing in the All Star direction. Consider this guy to be a solid target in all formats, just do it soon and don’t be schmuck and make a low ball offer!!
Tyler Chatwood, Chicago Cubs/#246/R,D/BUY
It’s taken a while but this guy may very well be the best Cubs starter in a year or two. Once the Cubs get it together the ChatterBox will no longer just be a staff filler type. In the meantime start trolling and acquire this relative unknown whom Chicago gladly shelled out $37 million for four years. At 28 years old his window has arrived-grab him especially in dynasty leagues.
J.A Happ, Toronto/#249/R/BUY
Similar situation to Taillon in that Happ is on a team going nowhere fast. The big difference is age (35) and the fact that he throws lefty. The key similarity is that he’s a solid, possibly below the grid player that you’ll often see undrafted only to rise above it every summer. This years stats are actually better than most- 5-3 record/4.15 ERA/1.13 WHIP/ 66 Ks. By all accounts this guy is, at least in America, underrated and needs to be grabbed immediately.
Felix Hernandez, Seattle/#281/R/Trash Can special
Could this guy be the next Bartolo? I hope not, but it is plain to see that the devastating stuff is long gone. The glimmer of hope is that Seattle, despite the loss of Cano, have a halfway decent little team that could challenge .500 or better. Maybe the King just needs a change of venue? I don’t see that happening but IF you see a well pitched game or two by this guy pick him up and go to your nearest confessional. YOU NEVER KNOW.
Sean Newcomb, Atlanta/#309/R,D /SELL first, BUY second
I’m always cautious when a guy makes such a big leap this quick especially when he’s on my favorite MLB team. The favoritism part I have covered pretty well in that I automatically downgrade Braves and Falcons to prevent the dreaded HOMER PLAY. Unfortunately, this year on all the teams I picked I have Albies and Inciarte on one team, and Freeman and Acuna on NONE! Pitching wise, I have no shares of the current two you’d want- Teheran and Newcomb.
Lets take a quick look at the stats pendulum for the big lefty and then you can decide if it’s real (IF SO BUY, IF A MIRAGE SELL)
- 2017: as a 23-year-old/ 4-9 record/4.32 ERA/ ghastly WHIP 1.57 – he started 19 games for a team that went 72-90 (.444 winning percentage)
- 2018: as a 24-year-old/ 4-1 record/2.51 ERA/ splendid WHIP 1.16 – for a team that is 26-16 (.619 winning percentage)
Last year the Braves played actually played decently until July 16th. Of course, only a Braves fan would consider 45 wins- 45 losses “decent” but then came the rest of the season. So from that point on the Braves lost another 45 games but only won 27. The ray of sunshine through the gloom was the inspired play of Ozzie Albies and the September callup of A.J Minter. And now they’re in first place- GO FIGURE.
As far as Newcomb, I’ve known about this guy since the University of Hartford days (yes- another shameless Connecticut reference) and knew of the potential. Last year there were glimpses but a lot of shellackings. This year obviously has gone well for him and especially the Braves. Maybe, just maybe they can contend for a Wild Card spot. Maybe, just maybe Newcomb becomes the best Braves lefty starter than Glavine. Who knows?
In summation, this guy could easily be envisioned as a pillar in the Dynasty format- make ’em pay accordingly. As far as in redrafts also feel free to do so but with the expectation of some bumps along the way especially if the Braves do an el foldo.
Eduardo Rodriguez, Boston/#317/R/BUY
Maybe this will finally be the year that this 25-year-old lefty smoke thrower can achieve two elusive feats: staying healthy and staying in the rotation. Up until his most innings pitched in a season is a measly 137.1 (last year). Results in ’18 have been spotty with the good being a 3-1 record and 1.20 WHIP and the bad, an ugly seven homers allowed and an ERA of 4.68. Add it all together with the fact that he’s started eight games already and B-I-N-G-O this offers hope for the long-awaited bust out. In closing, the obvious right way to make a trade,especially a HI/LO A. locate player, B. check the league stats ROTO style (by category), C. identify where weaknesses and strengths lie, D. find a player or players that will HELP both teams, E. make a trade offer that is fair (but not necessarily BEST AND FINAL)
Vince Velazquez, Philadelphia/#354/R/BUY for a song
The Phillies, like the Braves are vastly improved and a key reason for both is improved, by a mile, pitching. Velazquez is the wild card for the Phils. There is no debate about his stuff but the yoke of a 4F health grade is a drag. But this year has been eerily similar to the tale of Eduardo Rodriguez in that he hasn’t missed a start (9) and his ERA is a tad high at 4.37. He even allowed the exact amount of homers (8). That being said and the pitching in the bandbox factor included I still recommend grabbing this guy provided the price is lowish.
Jack Flaherty, Cardinals/ #357/D/BUY
As predictable as nightfall Adam Wainwright got hurt (big time) and the Irishman is here to save the day. This guy is a special talent but very young (22) so expect some growing pains. There is absolutely nothing more for him to prove in the minor leagues. His value is strongest in the Dynasty format due to the understandable playing time limits one of baseball’s smartest franchises will impose. He will still be a sturdy addition to redraft leagues. Make a play NOW!
Jakob Junis, Kansas City/#373/R,D/BUY
Writing about sports it’s hard, really, really hard to avoid cliches. But sometimes it’s just gonna happen. Jakob Junis is a diamond in the rough. The rough being the spotty, at best, play of his employer, the K.C Royals. If you were paying attention last year you’d have known that J.J had a decent rookie go of it last year (9-3 record with a below league average ERA (4.30) and 166 strikeouts including AAA. Thus far this year he’s 5-3 with a solid ERA and excellent ratio (3.53/1.04). Of the eight games he’s taken the hill five were quality starts. I doubt he’ll be available on the waiver wire but if so be on it like a winning scratch off. Great pickup overall in a trade regardless of format and even if the Royals remain woeful.
Andrew Heaney, Anaheim/#422/R,D/BUY ASAP
I’ve been waiting for the stars to align for this guy seemingly forever. A blown out elbow will do that. But now the elbow is fully healed and the early results have been encouraging. Real simple, as soon as you’re done with this magnum opus go over every league you are in check the pool and grab him. If that doesn’t work seek and conquer.
Bartolo Colon, Texas/#458/R/SELL before the Apocalypse
How can a player that old (45) , looking that out of shape (playfully listed at 285 lbs) play in the big leagues? Rhetorical question I suppose because there is no answer. But the fact remains that like father time itself he is a constant presence on that 10″ high hill every fifth day presently for the Texas Rangers. Now that I think of it, can the lovable Shrek lookalike endure the brutal heat of summer in Arlington, Texas? The answer to that is probably not.
You have to take a look at the record book to truly appreciate this journey. Not sure what the record is but Colon, who is playing in his 20th season, has pitched for 13 different teams. You’d need a couple dozen interns working for the MLB channel to accurately interpret the, irregular as a knuckleball, yearly numbers. Some seasons (10) he pitched decently (defined as below ERA .4.00) and some were out-and-out disasters including last year when in 143 innings he was arguably the worst SP in the game (ERA 6.48/WHIP 1.58/allowed 1.8 HRS per 9 innings). And now here he stands easily, at the moment, the 2nd best starter for the Rangers.
Colon attributes his current success to the fact that he no longer has to bat now that he’s an AL guy. I beg to differ since some of my baseball watching on TV moments were watching him at bat, on the bases (once in a great while) and hitting a homer (check the VIDEO!). He is funny- he is lovable- he throws some amazing pitches. But how in the world can he start seven games and still be upright with a 2.82 ERA and a WHIP of .843. It has to be the uniqueness combined with the swing-from-the-heels mentality of today’s hitters, But somehow I believe in the law of averages and that pretty soon we’ll be seeing early showers for the guy Mets fans called Big Sexy. Long story short, it’s an honor to have seen this guy pitch over the years. His grittiness and expressions alone- you could write a book. But as a prognosticator the obvious call is SELL.
Tyson Ross, San Diego/ #468/R/BUY
Look no further than the ADP above to see how far this lanky righty has come. Fantasy sports and baseball especially are big on what have you done for me lately and that is why Ross was picked so seldom. That and the fact that in nine seasons he’s been healthy three. Two years ago, I drafted him and he started opening day, got rocked and NEVER PITCHED AGAIN. It was like a bad soap opera following the injury updates- he’ll be back soon/he may need surgery/ he opted for rehab/ he may be back soon and finally, months later, they shut him down (shoulder). I assume he had surgery but frankly don’t care to dig into it. Either way he’s back in 2018 and pitching arguably the best he ever has at Petco, which is always a plus. My first take on Ross is I could throw him further than I could trust him which isn’t easy to do to a guy 6’6″ and 245 lbs!!! But I can forgive and strongly believe in modern medicine and ability, both of which seem very aligned at this point in time. Pick him up but don’t overpay.
Jeremy Hellickson, Washington/#493/R/SELL SOON
It’s a fluke- don’t for a second think that this journeyman can maintain “quality” level performance. But then again, just two years ago for the Phils pitching in that snake pit he posted a solid 3.71 ERA and struck out a career high 154 batters. THIS IS THE SELLERS PITCH.
There is no denying that performance thus far has been nearly incredible. Let’s start with the indisputably solid stats including a low ERA (2.20) and a great ratio (.857). Through no fault of his own, in six starts, he only has one win probably due to the fact that he’s basically been treated as a five innings and done type of guy. Now the bad news-this is a pitch to contact type pitcher that ,more than likely, will get touched up more often than not when the weather heats up. The deluge is coming- hope he pitches a few more good games and get what you can.
Trevor Cahill, Oakland/#494/R/BUY as in dumpster diving
Surely, I could have easily come up with a better A’s option but for the sake of variety I’ll offer this seasoned vet that you can spot start or use in the deepest of leagues. Don’t expect a continuation of 2.79 ERA and a wonderful 1.00 WHIP (in 29 innings pitched) but maybe he can pitch some decent games for a decent team in a good pitchers park…..
Brandon Morrow, Chicago Cubs/#159/R/SELL or BUY
Understandably, a lot of us wondered if a guy that was 18/26 in saves opportunities over the course of eleven seasons could be a legit closer. It’s been quite a journey from the bullpen to the rotation and back for Morrow. Oh and then there’s the injury riddled years known as 2013 to 2016. That’s right in four seasons he averaged 34 INNINGS PER YEAR. Not good. But what was good was the comeback last year in the Dodger bullpen (2.06 ERA with a WHIP<1.00 and 50 Ks in 43.2 innings). This year is the big test- can he withstand a heavier, drama packed workload. So far, so great as attested by the following: 10 saves in 15 innings of work and has just allowed two runs (1.20 ERA).
A definite dilemma situation for an owner-is actually quite simple, IF YOU CAN WITHSTAND THE LOSS OF 25-30 SAVES- SELL HI. If you’re a buyer pay for the 25-30 and move on. THE SOONER THE BETTER.
Shawn Greene, Detroit/#219/R/SELL
Unlike Morrow, Greene got an audition last year as a closer and did pretty well. A classic case of a former starter revising his repertoire and going right at ’em mostly with the 95 MPH heater. This year, in spite of the Tiger woes, he’s already notched 10 saves although his ERA/RATIO (3.54/1.33) are up compared to last year. The problem here is that there is a teammate knocking at the door. His name is Joe Jimenez and he’s six years younger (only 23), was groomed in the minors as a closer and has actually pitched better this year if you trust ERA/WHIP as king. Finally to the point, the Tigers may or may not unload Greene to the highest bidder and give the reins to the XL (6’3″ and 272 lbs!) youngster. SELL Greene and, for that matter BUY Jimenez.
Fernando Rodney, Minnesota/#220/R/SELL
It’s the same, pardon the pun, old Rodney. Plenty of saves mixed in with mess ups (record of 1-2). To be fair he’s gathered 8 saves an his ERA is down compared to last year. But it’s uneasy overall and the Twins possess a more than viable option in the younger, and far more reliable form of Addison Reed. Nonetheless, I’d pack it up on Rodney before the collapse SELL , preferably as a spare part in a multi-player trade.
Nate Jones, Chicago (AL)/#340/R/BUY
Time is running out for Jones. This is a guy that has been a prime setup man (lifetime ERA 3.15, WHIP 1,18) but was never handed the baton. At 32 years old and with a recent season lost to the scalpel now is the time for this sorry franchise to make him a closer. Finally healthy now, this the time to speculate . BUY.
Brad Ziegler, Miami/#350/R/SELL
Another oldie but goodie who can look “ugly” but save a game. That being said the submariner could easily luck out and find his way to a contender doing what he does best, SETUP. In the meantime, hope that he piles up a few more saves and find a jackass to trade him to. And while you’re at it grab the Bear Claw (aka Kyle Barraclough) from free agency if he’s available.
Jeremy Jeffress, Milwaukee/#454/R/SELL
Baseball is a tough business especially when it comes to closers. One season you’re “IN” and the next you’re “OUT”. Such was the case for Jeffress who in 2016 had a solid 27/28 SAVES season with a splendid 2.33 ERA. Last year, he got off to a slow start and was relegated to mop up man with the arrival and coronation of Corey Knebel as “THE MAN”. That brings us to the present where on paper J.J is fantastic- in 23.2 innings he’s allowed one run is 3-0 with three saves (ERA .38 and WHIP .718). The problems are the reappearance of Knebel and the incredible early season excellence of Josh Hader. So this is what you do, find the numbers nerd in your league and wave Jeffress out there and let them take the bait.
Amir Garrett, Cincinnati/#457/D,R/BUY
Let’s face it- the Reds are clueless. A team with arguably the worst starting pitching in baseball relegates Amir the Great to the bullpen. Might make sense if the Reds didn’t have one of the games best young closers in Rasiel Iglesias already bored out of his mind awaiting a save opportunity. Maybe the Reds are thinking they have another Andrew Miller that can effectively “save” games in the 6th/7th/8th and maybe not. Twenty appearances and 25.2 innings pitched backup my In closing, Either way. sooner or later the Reds need to get their heads out of their yaks and stretch this guy out to be a starter. Probably won’t happen this year so I’d say his biggest worth is in Dynasty leagues. Also of note is that in deep leagues with deep stats he’s been a worthwhile player and usable, but to think that he’ll end the year at present levels ERA 1.40/ WHIP .935 YOU ARE DREAMING.
Adam Ottavino, Colorado/#481/R/BUY
How can a guy that will probably end the season with ZERO saves be valuable? As it is turning out, quite easily when you factor in ERA/WHIP/holds impact. I know of the name but never, ever has he been relevant in my book. But looking at the record book he probably should have when in 2016 he closed with mixed results and last year had a mess of holds but with inflated peripherals. So guaranteed this guy went undrafted in 99% of leagues. So far this year he has been almost unhittable as ERA 1.08/ WHIP .64/K Rate 15.8 per 9 and ten holds. even more incredible is the BABIP (.176) that is over 100 points lower than league average. EXPECT MAJOR REGRESSION but he’s still a good guy to have in NL only or deeper leagues even when he’s summoned back to the world of mere mortals.
In summation, the proper way to make any trade, especially a HI/LO is to follow these five steps : A. search league rosters to locate the “target”, B. check the league stats ROTO style (by category), C. identify where weaknesses and strengths lie with your soon to be trade partner, D. find a player or players for the swap that will conceivably HELP (both sides), E. make a trade offer that is fair (but not necessarily BEST AND FINAL)
This concludes the HI/Lo series. I hope I entertained y’all and that you find the time to read my articles on the fantasy football side.
SO LONG FOR NOW
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday May 27th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #122 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 discuss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.