The good life on Huston Street highlights this week’s edition.
Before I get started, I want to alert those of you who have not already heard that Colton and the Wolfman on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio with Rick Wolf and me is moving to a new time. We will now be on every Tuesday night from 10pm to midnight eastern time. Feel free to call in to comment on anything you like (or, heaven forbid, dislike) about the analysis and tips below or just to hear the Wolfman howl. This week we will be admitting listeners into our listener league that drafts 8/27.
Ok, now back to the business at hand . . . .
Huston Street: Huston Street is on fire and no one seems to be noticing. The Padre closer has not allowed a run since June 23. With that hot streak, he has erased a poor first start and posted a 3.18 ERA with a 1.06 WHIP for the year. Add in that he is 23-24 in save chances and you have a very good closer, albeit one who like every year, missed time with injury. There is no reason to think Street will falter down the stretch or be seriously challenged for the closer role next year. Buy if you can.
Jim Johnson: In sharp contrast to Street is Jim Johnson. According to reports, Orioles manager Buck Showalter refused to say Jim Johnson is his closer. Johnson, who has never had typical closer stuff, has had an up and down year. On the plus side of the ledger, Johnson has 39 saves. However, the minus side of the ledger has big minuses -- 9 blown saves, a bloated 1.34 WHIP (way too high for a closer) and his typical low K rate. If you own Johnson, you have no choice but to hold him. However, those in search of saves should seriously consider pot shots at any of Tommy Hunter, Francisco Rodriguez or Darren O'Day – each could vulture some saves down the stretch. [Final note – another thing working against Johnson could be his performance in last year’s playoffs in which he blew a save in game 3 and gave up the go ahead run in the 9th inning in game 1 at home].
Tyson Ross: Tyson Ross was sharp again this week, twirling seven innings of one-run ball while giving up just five hits and striking out eight. The 26-year-old has an impressive 1.32 ERA and 36/10 K/BB ratio in five starts since moving to the starting rotation. This is a classic example of a roto opportunity that is presented when a young talented player fails early in his career and is written off by many. Yes, Ross has had his troubles but now all signs point upward. He is pitching in San Diego – the ultimate pitchers’ park, is having success and has added 1.5 MPH to his average fastball velocity (now lighting the gun at 94). Those in keeper leagues and fantasy pennant races should look to add Ross cheaply while they still can.
Kolten Wong: Kolten Wong has joined the redbirds and is the 2B. The bad news is that he is 0-8 in his first taste of major league ball. That poor start presents opportunity for savvy fantasy owners. The Cardinals hit and Wong will too. This year in AAA, Wong hit .303 with 10 HR and 20 SB. Who couldn’t use some power and speed in their MI for the fantasy stretch run? Buy! (Plus, you have to love that first name – even if the spelling is different).
Yovani Gallardo: Yovani Gallardo came off the shelf Saturday and pitched pretty well against the hard hitting Reds, going 6.3 shutout innings. We know the Brewer righty is talented but this year has not been kind to Yovani. Even after his good start Saturday, he is sitting with a bloated 4.68 ERA and really bloated 1.45 WHIP. His reduced K rate and velo, together with his perennially high walk rate make Gallardo a very risky play for this year. That said, if you are in a keeper league, this is a high strikeout guy still in his prime who may be had cheaply. Explore.
Zack Wheeler: Zack Wheeler mowed down a dozen Padres Thursday but still got stuck with a no decision. While he toils in the shadow of his all-star teammate Matt Harvey, Wheeler has posted a very respectable 3.43 ERA and 57/29 K/BB ratio in 63 innings. Those in keeper leagues should target Wheeler if they are trading talent to build for next year. Those looking to win the pennant this year MUST remember that he will be shutdown at some point and I am sure it will be at an inopportune time for fantasy pennant hopes.
Raul Ibanez: Raul Ibanez hit his first homer in more than a month Thursday. 25 HR is a very good season for the 41 year old OF. However, anyone who thought Raul would continue his first half pace was deluding themselves. Hopefully those loyal readers who own Ibanez enjoyed his first half success and followed the advice in this space and sold high before it was too late. If there is someone in your league who thinks Raul is a good bet to catch fire again for a team out of the race, well, I want to play in that league.
And last and but not least, Schultz says: “Roto-pundits like your humble narrator here tend to have recurrent themes that they like to return to from time to time. Not only does it do wonders for the ego to reaffirm pithy maxims as valid, it is infinitely easier than coming up with fresh material or trenchant observations. One of Schultz' pearls of wisdom is that it bears remembering the lesser publicized minor leaguers that accompany trading deadline deals. In what seems like another era, the Indians traded Bartolo Colon to the Montreal Expos for Lee Stevens and "three minor leaguers." Those three minor league ball players were Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore. Major league general managers predominantly know what they are doing and with the exception of the Mets constantly trading for washed-up Indians second basemen or ones that involve Jason Knapp as a centerpiece, usually get a fair albeit delayed return.
One of 2013's bigger deadline deals involved Jake Peavy going to the Red Sox and Jose Iglesias moving to the Tigers. The third player in that deal, Avisail Garcia kind of a-sailed under the radar. Although he toiled in the minor leagues for most of 2013, Garcia saw significant time in the Tigers outfield on their run to last year's World Series - including a fine series against the Yankees - and has shown flashes of power and speed. With Alexis Rios now playing in Texas, Garcia will man the White Sox outfield for the rest of the season. With waiver wire fodder growing scarce this time of year, the third wheel of the three team trade is worth a chance should you need to fill that last outfield spot.
For those looking ahead to 2014, it might be smart to keep an eye on Mike Olt and Justin Grimm, former Rangers prospects that will be integral to the rebuilding of the Cubs as well as L.J. Hoes and Josh Hader, the booty the Astros received from the Orioles for Bud Norris.
I also can't recommend highly enough the Colton & The Wolfman show featuring the Overlord of this little column. Praising the show whenever they let me appear may be my attempt at positive reinforcement for more air time but objectively speaking, it's a fantastic and entertaining show. Where else can a full fledged debate erupt on the merits of the Mr. Irrelevant of a fantasy football mock draft.”
Response: Thank you Schultzie. We appreciate the kind words and look forward to your next appearance on the show!