Young hurlers and saves truisms highlight this week’s Week That Was.
Before I get started, just a quick note to remind you to tune in to hear Rick Wolf and me on Colton and the Wolfman on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio (Sirius 210 XM 87) Tuesday nights from 8pm-11pm ET – all the fantasy baseball news as it is happening and the strategy tidbits you cannot get anywhere else.
Jacob Turner: Jacob Turner pitched well again Saturday, holding the world champs to 1 run over 7 innings but took a no decision as the anemic Fish offense scored only once. Thus far this year, Turner has a strong 1.97 ERA and 1.16 WHIP since returning to the show in late May. He is a must start against the Friars next time out. The real question is what is the prognosis for the rest of the year? The good news is that Turner has been consistent with 5 quality starts in a row and that his average fastball velocity has been up over a mph as compared to last year. The bad news is that his BABIP is very low and his strand rate high (translation – there has been some luck). The bottom line here is that Turner should be good the rest of the year (especially pitching in that big park). However, he will not pitch to an ERA under 2.00 or even under 3.00 the rest of the way and will not get many wins on the futile fish team. Value accordingly.
Jose Veras: Jose Veras locked down his 15th save of the season Saturday, retiring all 3 Cubs’ batters he faced. Yes, the Astros are bad but … wait for it … wait for it … here is a fantasy lesson: Even closers on bad teams get saves. The Astros have won only 29 games and yet, Veras has 15 saves and is on pace to tally more than 30 (assuming he is not dealt to a contender which, of course, is always a risk with closers on bad teams). That closers on bad teams still tally saves is a lesson I learned in my first fantasy baseball season of 1988 when Doug Jones saved 37 games for a 78 win Indian team leading me and my then law school roommate to a fantasy baseball title. Bottom line: Veras is relatively certain to nail down another 5-8 saves before the end of July. After that, there is at least a 50% chance he ends up in the 7th or 8th inning for a contender. Value accordingly.
Michael Morse: Michael Morse landed on the DL this week with a right quad injury. Thus far this year, Morse was ok with a subpar .251 average and 11 HR. Fantasy lesson: as the Wolfman loves to howl every Tuesday night, “injury prone players get injured”. Morse has topped 500 AB only once in his major league career and has never come close to 600 AB. So, those of you who paid for 500 or even 600 AB have no one to blame but the man (or woman) in the mirror. You violated a rule of engagement! Once again, remember, injury prone players get injured. Do not pay full value for those players.
Miguel Gonzalez: Miguel Gonzalez had another quality start Saturday, giving up just 3 runs in 7 1/3 innings. He deserved better as his relief, Darren O'Day, caused the third run to be charged to Miguel by giving up a bomb to the first batter he faced. Gonzalez has a solid 3.75 ERA and 1.18 WHIP on the year and a tasty matchup against the Indians next week at home. He is one of those guys you watch pitch and wonder how he is successful. However, he is. Thus far this year, his BABIP is a little low but so is his strand rate. Assuming those opposite factors both normalize, he should still remain the same pitcher he has been this year. Buy.
Jarrod Dyson: Jarrod Dyson, who has been out since mid-May, came off the DL this week. Before hitting the shelf, Dyson was hitting .268 and providing his customary speed. The real issue now is whether Dyson will steal playing time from David Lough or Jeff Franceour. So far this year, Lough is hitting .282 with a HR and 11 RBI in 103 AB (after hitting .338 at AAA Omaha before his call-up) while Franceour is well, Franceour, hitting .212 with 3 HR and only 13 RBI is 179 AB. Clearly, the Royals should not play Franceour and let Lough and Dyson split the third outfield spot opposite Cain and Gordon. The situation bears watching.
Gerrit Cole: Gerrit Cole won again Friday by beating the Halos. Cole struck out five, walked only one, and gave up just four hits over 6 1/3 innings. Cole is a bit of a puzzle in his early big league career. His average fastball velocity is a robust 96.6 MPH yet his K/9 in the bigs is under 4. In fact, upon inspection one sees that the Ks were not coming in bunches in AAA either – just 47 in 68 innings. So, what is the fantasy advice you ask? Good question. Well, in keeper leagues, it is easy. Hold! However, in re-draft leagues, now is the time to get full value for a player who may well struggle in his second time around the league if he continues to allow so much contact. Do not give him away but do not hesitate to deal him if someone is going to pay for his 3.44 ERA and 1.04 WHIP.
Julio Teheran: Julio Teheran was not stellar but still did OK Friday night, giving up just 2 runs in 6 1/3 innings. The 8 hits were not great but with no BB and 5K, not too shabby. After a slow start, Teheran has allowed 3 ER or fewer in 10 out of his last 11 starts and has some pretty overall numbers: 3.32 ERA and a 71/16 K/BB ratio. I know you are going to ask, so I will tell you – I think he is for real. He pitches on a good team with a lot of tremendous defensive players and there are no indicators that he has been getting especially lucky. Buy!
And last and but not least, this from the Baron of the Bottom of the Page -- Schultz says: “With the start of the summer, it's quite common to look at your starting outfield and wonder if that last outfielder could possibly be improved upon. When going through those mental gymnastics, the words Minnesota and Twins usually do not come to the forefront of anyone's consciousness. Fear not, Schultz has not gone bereft of his senses. He's not going to start crafting some wild argument that Clete Thomas, Oswaldo Arcia or Josh Willingham are ingredients in your Championship bouillabaisse - although Willingham will offer power numbers at the expense of them being his only hits. No, Schultz has a long memory and remembers some ex-Twin outfielders that may be lurking at the fringes of your league's availability.
Despite the fact that he's hitting .336 with 10 HRs and 39 RBIs, not many people lump Michael Cuddyer into the group of top-notch roto-outfielders. When healthy - and that, right there is why Cuddyer has never made that jump - he is a somewhat dependable source of moderate power (15-20 homers and 60-80 RBIs) and has the ability to run together monster multi-week roto-streaks. Colorado is a fine place for Cuddyer and his present roto-owner could be doubting the sustainability of his present numbers.
Over in Arizona, former Twin Jason Kubel has an altogether forgettable line of .273, 4 HR, 22 RBIs and 16 runs. However, since the start of June, Kubel is hitting .354 and is coming off of a breakout 2012 power surge. There might be some hidden value here should he be available. Another separated Twin, Ben Revere, got off to a horrible start with the Phillies but over his last 10 games is hitting .413 and is already up to 17 steals. Those with long memories (or really those that can remember 2012) will recall that Revere started last season in the minors and didn't start sizzling until the summer, turning into one of the more productive roto-speedsters. He may be sitting on your league's waiver wire if his previous roto-owner got fed up with his horrible start.
Maybe in the future, Schultz tries to solve the mystery of whatever happened to Justin Morneau.”
Response: Jury is still out on whether Schultz has gone “bereft of his senses” but this piece is thought provoking and provides solid fantasy tips as the midway point of the season fast approaches. I would add that Oswaldo Ar-SEE-YA could be a very valuable AL only fantasy outfielder, especially after the Twins make some July trades.
Read this final note: Last week I wrote “I cannot wait to dive into the advance copy of Matthew Berry’s Fantasy Life I received at the [FSTA] conference. I have no doubt that the book, which as Matthew is quick to remind, is coming out on July 16, will be as entertaining, funny and compelling as we have come to expect from such a gifted writer, analyst and entertainer.” Well, I am half way through the book and it is more than living up to my lofty expectations. You too can enjoy this great read by visiting www.fantasylifethebook.com.