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“The Cole Miner’s” Weekly Pitching & Hitting, Buying & Selling Week 12 Edition

Does anyone else sort of get a feeling of a second wind around this time of the fantasy season? I feel like this is the perfect time for it. Of course there’s still plenty of time until most trade deadlines and a lot of time to make acquisitions, but most of your late season additions will only help for of course that 4-6 weeks. This isn’t your last chance to make quality acquisitions, but it is about your last chance to get half a season of production out of those acquisitions.

In the spirit of the second wind, I dove into a ton of Pitching and Hitting topics. No need to extend the Introduction any further.

Pitchers

New Outlook: Ross Stripling

One of baseball’s biggest 2018 surprises is the performance of the Dodger’s Ross Stripling. It is one thing when a pitcher defies our expectations by limiting damage, suppressing hard contact, and playing to their defense. It is another thing entirely for a pitcher to do what Stripling is doing.

K/9

K/BB

HR/9

GB%

Value

10.58

7.73

0.87

47.1%

Percentile*

83rd

99th

78th

71st

*If qualified. Ross Stripling does not qualify due to IP.

In my opinion, these are four of baseball’s biggest general statistical predictors particularly when used together. To look at these metrics from another vantage, the standard Fangraphs leaderboard has 30 Players on a page, and on each leaderboard (K/9, K/BB, etc.) Ross Stripling’s name, if qualified, would appear on the first page. Only Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, Jacob DeGrom, Luis Severino, and Trevor Bauer are top 30 Pitchers in K/9, K/BB, and HR/9 this year. Jacob DeGrom is the only other pitcher in baseball, or at least the only qualified pitcher in baseball, to match Stripling in terms of minimum performance in all four of these categories, as the other names are less Groundball oriented.

In terms of Arsenal, Stripling is past the minimum three pitches for me— he’s actually at four. He has a roughly 40/30/20/10 split in his arsenal between 4-Seam, Slider, Curve, and Change-Up. The uniformity aside, having all four of the main pitches gives Stripling the ability to both play to his strengths and his opponents weaknesses. And all four pitches have been damn good too. All of his pitches, including his fastball, have 10+% Whiff%. He has two pitches that specifically get an excellent grade in terms of GB% in his Change-Up (74.07%) and his Curve (60.87%). And, while the Slider and Change do have slightly elevated SLG%’s at least compared to the Curve and Fastball, they don’t reach problem areas to me, and are still significantly better than allowing a .500 SLG.

For one final bit of discussion, I’ve received questions along the lines of what happens if the Dodgers decided to move Stripling to the pen when their Starters get healthy. Firstly, saying “when the Dodgers starters get healthy,” the last two years is a legitimate joke. This staff has been riddled for far longer than just the 2018 season. But more than that, I don’t think the Dodgers move this kind of hot hand, in a hotly contested playoff and World Series race, to sit the pine. I also don’t believe that, like others have insinuated, Stripling will face much of a true innings cap or shut-down. This is a player who will be 30 years old by the end of next season. If they believe his arm can get through this year, there’s no reason they shouldn’t let him do it. What would the reason be? To preserve his arm when he’s… what? 32? Even if they had to go to a 6-Man Rotation, which I believe possible, that would likely keep Stripling relevant throughout the year.

As the piece started, there is a difference between good performances and these kinds of performances. I’m certainly not going to say that, based on what I’ve seen, Stripling deserves to be among the names in this outlook. I will say that, if I’m an owner, there’s a 0% chance that I’m selling for any deal short of one that would make half the league complain “Oh I can’t believe you gave up Player X for a flash in the pan like Stripling.” It’s also really not a buying situation right now unfortunately. I can’t imagine too many owners experiencing Stripling and wanting to deal him so fast. I’ll have him ranked close to the top 30 in my upcoming SP rankings, and I’ll rank him among the SPs I’ve covered in the past couple of issues below.

Verdict: HOLD, seeking to BUY if possible.

Low Cost SPs

I was looking to write about a couple SPs, particularly Suarez and Lamb, that I felt had an opportunity to make a sizable return on investment. So, I decided to make it a segment this week. These are ordered by preference. And the goal here is not to find “streamers,” but pitchers with season long upside that could affect your roster. 

Andrew Suarez (5.5%)

I’m starting to fall in love with Andrew Suarez. He’ll be covered in more detail soon. The fastball looks hittable— this is something that you’ll likely hear and see with Suarez. It’s going to cause him to give up some High EVs at times as well as an added proneness to HRs. That said, Suarez also has a lot of things going for him. Suarez throws 4 pitches, and the performance on the latter three, the Curveball, Change-Up, and Cutter/Slider are all well above average. He’s gotten whiffs and kept the damage down. These pitches should help the fastball, which does have plus velocity from the Left Hand side (93.5 MPH), play up and be a better pitch. His other weaknesses are also mitigated by playing on the Giants. His Home ERA on the season is 3.41. There are certainly other factors playing into this, like quality of opponents, but I think Suarez is a pretty safe home start right now. I’m writing in the midst of a two start week against the Marlins (6.1 IP, 2 ER, 7 K, 1 BB) and the Padres (Saturday/Today on day of Publish). His June ERA is also 3.18 with 20 Ks and 4 BBs in his last four starts.

Nick Kingham (6.6%)

While Kingham has slowed down since his first start, his numbers and situation to me indicate that he should be a bit more owned than just 6.6%. He throws a heavy fastball+slider mix that should equate to strikeouts and he’s limited the Walks enough to keep his WHIP at 0.99. That 0.99 WHIP alone jumps off the page for an unowned players. WHIP as its own fantasy category is often underrated when analyzing SPs. Kingham should aid your team in this category, and is in a good position as a whole to contribute to late season fantasy runs.

Shane Bieber (8.5%)

I like Bieber and put a lot of faith in the Cleveland Coaching Staff, which does go a long way in my evaluation. I mean look at where Bauer and Clevinger are right now. Maybe Bauer was considered a top prospect at one point, but both are late-career breakouts that needed to continuously improve until they got to where they are today. And those are the typical 3/4 of the rotation as well. Bieber has some strikeout upside and plays in easily the best streaming division in baseball. Think about this: if you have a RAYS pitcher, the top two teams in your division are the Red Sox and Yankees. The toughest offense for a Cleveland Pitcher in division is the Minnesota Twins. I’m not saying the Twins are the worst. But if that’s the best opposing offense you have to come across in your division, that’s a pretty favorable division.

Anthony Desclafani (4.8%)

So far this year, Desclafani’s first three starts off the DL haven’t been great. That said, even in his first starts since 2016, he’s maintained a strong K/BB (15:4) and gone at least 5 Innings. Desclafani actually has a pretty solid offense behind him lead by an underrated infield tandem of Suarez and Gennett. The park he has to play in stinks, but he’s been a sleeper on many lists for many years, and he’s been a solid SP when healthy.

John Lamb (1.5%)

This is the super sleeper addition, opened up by injuries to Tropeano, Ohtani, Richards, and now Skaggs being scratched with a hamstring issue. Formerly of the Cincinnati Reds, John Lamb is actually one of the pitchers I wanted to talk about the most aside from Suarez, as he is almost universally unowned. He unfortunately struggled his last time out against the Blue Jays, but it is also unfortunate that, due to a late scratch (Tyler Skaggs), Lamb started a day before he was scheduled to. But for the pitcher himself— Lamb throws three pitches, has struck out nearly a batter an inning in his MLB career, and has a ridiculous 14.5 MPH gap between his Change-Up and his fastball. His HR/9 and career ERA are both very high, so there’s certainly some risk here, but his AAA numbers took a huge rise this year after returning from injury/suspension (see below chart) and a change of scenery from the Great American “Launchpad” to Angel’s Stadium with the Angel’s defense should benefit him as well.

AAA

ERA

K/9

K/BB

2017

5.37

6.14

1.85

2018

3.44

9.79

3.60

Hitters

New Outlook: Greg Bird

For a player with so much tout and hype, Bird has to date completed 116 games and 436 PAs to the tune of a .223/.312/.466 line (.778 OPS). These aren’t the kind of numbers that generally create the hype that Bird has had, but let’s also add a caveat or two here. In this line-up and park, the sky truly is the limit for Greg Bird. Throwing out absurd HR totals, like 45-50, doesn’t even sound particularly crazy from a lefty with immense power in Yankee Stadium. But there’s quite a few clouds in front of that potential of sun and rainbows.

Bird has done some things pretty well in his short sample of games in the major leagues. His career 41.0% Hard% and 13.5% Soft% give him one of the league’s better Hard/Soft discrepancies. While his Pop-Up% isn’t like some of baseball’s elite pure hitters, it does sit south of 10%, which I consider to be fairly strong for a flyball hitter. But there’s things I don’t like in this batted ball profile as well. Line Drive contact fluctuates far more than most of these stats, but regardless 18.9% should not be considered as a strong rate. And while he has not nearly been the Pull-Problem hitter that his teammate, Gary Sanchez, has been in his career, his career 47.7% Pull% and 22.6% Oppo% do suggest a player that is limited in a way that could make him susceptible to shifts. This year his Pull% has increased and Oppo% fallen even further.

We also haven’t covered the real red flag of the situation yet: Bird’s struggles with the fastball. From the beginning of 2017 to today, here are a few of Bird’s metrics against the 4-Seamer. He has seen 409 4-Seam Fastballs and whiffed at 11.74% of them, which I consider a fairly high mark versus the Fastball. In 76 ABs he has produced 10 Hits (.132 BA), 19 Total Bases (.250 SLG), and 24 Ks. This was my Red Flag for Bird in the preseason, and it concerns me that it has not yet gone away. Most, or at least a very high proportion, of strong power hitters rely on avoiding breaking balls to get into fastball counts, and a higher proportion of pitchers throw fastballs than any other pitch. This is a very Baseball 101 kind’ve thing. Right now though Bird is missing those pitches too often.

Bird is obviously not guaranteed to either keep struggling or turn it around. But we have to be realistic about where he is right now. He needs to do a few things different to be much better than a .200 BA, and I actually think there’s potential for worse right now. Bird’s upside, if or when he turns that corner, will be staggering. It could even happen this year. But in general, I’m not that excited about Greg Bird in the majority of redraft leagues as anything other than a high-upside bench-flier.

Verdict: SELL. I still think the perceived upside carries his value higher than it should. In Dynasty you hold the upside, but have a realistic understanding of where this player is right now.

Special Addition (part 2): Finding Value

Last weeks piece focused on players from various ownership%’s that could be added at the Middle Infield positions. Today will be Corner Infield, with Outfield being either one or two pieces starting next week.

40-50% (2)

Mitch Moreland (46.0% ESPN) is actually one of the more dropped players (-11.0%) in recent weeks, most likely due to the fact that his excellent short sample numbers in May didn’t completely carry over into June with more playing time, but at the same time this is still a talented hitter in the Boston line-up. Moreland’s a good walker (has a .350+ OBP even this month) which helps him stay in the line-up as well as gives him added value in OBP leagues. Moreland’s gone quite a few games without a HR in June, but he’s also 6/14 in his last 4 games and I believe the power will be fine by season’s end, even if it has ebbs and flows.

Justin Bour (40.7% ESPN) might be the player that I most egregiously overrated in my 2018 Preseason Guide. I believe I primarily underestimated the situation of player on that desert Miami team. But regardless, you don’t have to pay my preseason price to get Bour anymore, and I still believe this is a guy with quite a bit of talent as a BA/HR source. Obviously the park and line-up give the easy edge to Moreland between the two. I’d love to see what Bour looked like though if it were him and not Greg Bird trying to split the Righties in Yankee Stadium  Oh boy would I love to see that.

20-40% (2)

Jeimer Candelairo (31.4% ESPN) deserves a bit of a longer form discussion, perhaps in a near future week. He is currently having a slow June and I do think we are starting to see a few potential cracks that do concern me when it comes to Candelairo. Previously I was a bit more aggressive on Candelairo, but in particular his struggles versus breaking balls have me a bit worried. One interesting fact is that he’s killing lefties and struggling versus righties. As a switch hitter, you wonder if it’s perhaps maybe the “one swing” that’s off. When he bats right-handed, Candelairo is absolutely killing it right now (.297/.375/.578). Make sure if you own him he’s in the line-up v. Lefties, even during these struggles.

Matt Duffy (23.7% ESPN) is finally getting some MUCH deserved respect this season. He was written about in last week’s article as an MI value at just above 10%. Duffy was returning from the DL, hitting .310, and owned in close to 5% of leagues not all that long ago. In a standard roto 5×5, I expect Duffy to outperform the rest of this list. He may not provide excess particularly in power and speed, but the combination of stats across the board here alongside the ability to play middle or corner is still being disrespected at only 23.7% owned.

10-20%

Yolmer Sanchez (19.5% ESPN) is a name also brought up last week, and one with relatively limited upside, so not too much to expound on again. But at this level, you’re dealing primarily with Derek Dietrich and Colin Moran types who are the strong side of a platoon. If particular the latter Moran had more opportunity, I’d be very intrigued too see what a year entailed. But for Sanchez, a full season of double digit HRs, 15-20 SBs, and a modest BA wouldn’t shock from Sanchez at this point.

0-10%

The easiest two names to mention here and the names with the easiest path to mixed league relevance would appear to be Johan Camargo, the everyday 3B for the Braves, and no-longer former Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval. If you’re looking for a bit more upside though there are some intriguing options. Obviously if Nick Senzel of the Reds is available and you have a spot to stash, he’s a potential 5 category player from day one, and only the Reds’ incompetence likely keeps him down at this point. Dominic Smith is locked in a platoon, which is a questionable decision for a young player with talent, but as a young player with talent, similarly to Moran above, I’d be instantly adding in far more leagues if something suggested to me that he was the everyday player moving forward. And then, joining with my Bird pessimism, while there is a chance that Bird obviously clings to the role or that if he doesn’t it is split among numerous parties, there are a handful of names, particularly Neil Walker and Brandon Drury, that could potentially be very valuable and are currently virtually unowned. Drury is currently not Corner Infield eligible in ESPN leagues either, but given the exercise here is replacing Greg Bird, Drury would quickly get 1B playing time.

Final Notes

Updated Pitching Rankings

For the last couple weeks I’ve been ranking and reranking the pitchers I’ve been discussing as I build up to writing my midseason top 250, but more importantly for this article, because I think it helps to put statements I make each and every week in greater context. I’ll list them first:

Carlos Carrasco, Tyler Skaggs, Ross Stripling, Tyson Ross, Marco Gonzales, Andrew Suarez, Nick Kingham, Shane Bieber, Domingo German, Anthony Desclafani, John Lamb, Joe Musgrove, and Dylan Covey

Carrasco‘s injury seems minor enough. Skaggs, Stripling, and Ross are very close for me. Skaggs gets the ultimate nod because I’ve been a fan of his for years and love his situation. Pitchers like Suarez and German could easily swap if the swapped teams/parks, but they play where they play. I did move German past Musgrove, but overall I’m still worried he is a potential ERA killer with his FB and Hard Hit tendencies in Yankee stadium. Bieber and German was close, but you just can’t beat that AL Central minus Cleveland Indians divisional schedule. Trevor Cahill would rank right around Gonzales and Suarez if he were healthy. 

Trendy Hitters

If you have any problems at Catcher and haven’t gone out of your way to add John Hicks of the Detroit Tigers, then what are you doing? He does have to keep the job, but playing first base with Miguel Cabrera out for the season, John Hicks is going to waltz into a top 5-7 catching season, at least ROS. Volume is important, and unlike most Catchers, who are playing a hugely physical taxing position and taking multiple days off, Hicks has the ability to play First Base every single day.

I don’t want to talk about Ian Desmond. I feel like I have to. I ranked him VERY aggressively in the preseason. I felt very strongly and confident about it. I continued to defend it until it just got so tiresome that he was just one of the players that I started saying “I can’t defend him anymore.” But he’s heating up, and with 15 HRs and 7 SBs already on the season, just a .240 BA ROS would be incredible value particularly for those who did get him at a reduced price. Favorites of this article series, Brandon Nimmo and Matt Duffy, are also among the most added players.

I was expecting a hot streak from Matt Olson. I got a bit of a slump. I still think it is right around the corner. Brett Gardner has been dropped in a few leagues and is returning to the line-up and, despite some “rest days,” the ability to produce with that Yankee line-up. Most of the other dropped players I would want to discuss (Moreland, Candelairo) are dealt with above.

Until next week,

Cheers


Are you looking for a better experience? Fantasy Football League Openings 2018

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday June 17th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #125 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.

Our guest this week is Joe Iannone. Joe has been a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com since 2014. His articles publish every Sunday and he focuses on spot starts for the coming week.

Major League Fantasy Football Radio Show: Join host Corey D Robertsand Kyle Amore live June 21st, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #83 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. Call in number is 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the host. We will hit free agents, rookies, and fantasy football as a whole for each team for 2018. This week we will discuss everything  AFC North!

Kyle is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com going on his 5 th year. He focuses primarily on baseball, but is a fantasy football fan and analyst as well.

Bachelors in English and History from Indiana University. Borderline-Obsessed Fantasy Baseball Writer who also dabbles in Football, Basketball and Combat Sports.

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