Kluber’s return to the Tribe highlights this week’s Week That Was.
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 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. Oh, and of course, we will recap NFL week 1, forecast week 2 and help those of you in your fantasy baseball title hunt take one step closer to fantasy nirvana.
Ok, now back to the business at hand . . . .
Corey Kluber: Corey Kluber is coming off the DL to start against the Mets today. Kluber, who has been out since the beginning of August, is a must start down the stretch. Before getting hurt, Kluber posted an impressive 3.54 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 116/26 K/BB ratio in 122 innings. If there are still trades in your league, go get Corey. He can help you both in your pennant race and in keeper leagues. The real question is whether this success was foreseeable. Answer: Yes. Kluber struck out more than a batter per inning in the hitter friendly PCL in 2012 and had one of the best swinging strike rates in the AL last season. If major league hitters are swinging and missing, there is a there there. Buy!
Jacoby Ellsbury: According to reports, Ellsbury is in a walking boot, will be shut down for a while and is headed for more tests on his injured foot. If you own Ellsbury, you better make other plans for at least the next two weeks. With the Sox playing well and basically assured of winning the AL East, there is no reason to rush Jacoby back. There are some good sources of speed likely available on your waiver wire. You need to get one. See Dyson, Jarrod; Hamilton, Billy; Villar, Jonathan.
Elvis Andrus: Speaking of speed sources, Elvis Andrus returned to the Rangers lineup with a rare bang Friday, going yard against the Angels. His fantasy owners will take it but Andrus’s real value lies in his legs. After a down year on the speed side in 2012, Andrus is 35-41 on the base paths this year. Lesson: It is very unwise to give up on young players who have had success in the majors at a very young age. Andrus is not yet even in his prime and it should not have escaped anyone drafting this past March that Andrus presented a strong value at a weak position.
Joe Kelly: Joe Kelly won for the 8th straight time Friday, holding the Pirates to one run over six innings. Fantasy lesson: The Cardinals know pitching. When they brought Kelly up and inserted him into the rotation, you should have followed suit. Oh, and just because it is my column, I will reprint what I wrote about Kelly on June 29 of this year: “Kelly represents a serious buying opportunity, especially for those in NL leagues. While he has not started a game yet, Kelly will get the ball on July 6 and be a member of the Cardinal rotation. Kelly had a 3.53 ERA in 107 innings for the Cards last year at 24 years old. Last night’s start-type outing just shows that he has the potential to repeat that performance and get you some wins along the way in 2013. Oh, and did I mention he is averaging over 95 MPH on his fastball in the bigs this year?” Fantasy lesson: Good team, good velo, some early major league success equals good chance for roto bargain.
James Shields: James Shields had a night to forget Friday and may well have cost many a fantasy baseball owner a pennant. Big Game James gave up a whopping 10 runs on 14 hits over just 3 2/3 innings. That is the bad news. The good news is that this outing is clearly an outlier. On the year, Shields, has a 3.43 ERA and 167K. Given that Shields had given up just 6 ER in his 5 previous starts, it is not time to panic. If the Shields owner in your league is reaching for the airsick bag while riding the Shields express, do the only thing you can do – take Shields off his or her hands and hope you can live with yourself because you would have likely committed a fantasy heist. Buy!
Billy Hamilton: Billy Hamilton stole his 3rd base of the year Friday in a win against the Dodgers. If you need speed and can afford an otherwise dead lineup spot, Hamilton is a difference maker. It would not surprise me to see him steal 15 bases this month alone. If so, that could give many a fantasy team key SB points they need to vault to the top of the standings.
Mike Leake: Sticking with the Reds, Mike Leake looked strong Friday, giving up just 2 runs in 7 2/3 innings in beating the Dodgers. Leake also struck out five without walking a batter. On the year, Leake is 12-6 with a 3.46 ERA. I know I sound like a broken record sometimes (ok, often), but please remember that when a player makes the majors at a very young age, he will struggle, get written off by many a fantasy player and commentator and then hit his stride when he reaches age 25 or 26. Leake made the bigs at the age of 22, struggled in 2012 with a 4.58 ERA and 1.35 WHIP and now has paid dividends to the savvy fantasy owners who grabbed him in his age 25 season by dropping his ERA by over a full point, and his WHIP from 1.35 to a solid 1.23. You get the point.
And last and but not least, Schultz says: “Kipnis bless you if you are reading a fantasy baseball column on the football-iest weekend of the year. For most baseball leagues, the die has pretty much been cast at this point and the next three weeks hold little suspense. However, for those that have teams still in contention, paying attention to the injury wire might provide the small push necessary for roto-glory (the aristocratic way of saying "in the money").
With Toronto announcing that Jose Bautista will pay homage to America's grandparents and rest his hip until the spring, the Blue Jays have an opening in the outfield which will likely be filled with Anthony Gose. Bereft of power and an apparent hitting eye, Gose has blinding speed and should he find a way to get on base, could be a factor in the steals category. Once a hot prospect - he was integral to the trade that brought Roy Oswalt to the Phillies - Gose would be the epitome of the player on which one takes a flier.
In light of the Red Sox post-season prospects, Jacoby Ellsbury's wonky foot shouldn't needlessly shelve him for the season (although stories of him being placed in a walking boot can't be a cause for celebration) but it may lead to Jackie Bradley Jr. getting some mid-September playing time. Does anyone still remember JBJ? It was only six months ago when he was the shining light of Beantown after lighting up the pre-season. Allen Craig, another valuable roto-asset with a wonky foot, is also likely to miss significant September time, opening up at-bats for Matt Adams. If Adams gets hot, he can easily help boost a team's power numbers and batting average.
It's also worth keeping an eye on Nick Castellanos, Detroit's rookie outfielder. Jim Leyland had no issues with playing an untested Avisail Garcia in last year's post-season and he may be kicking the tires on Castellanos to see if he can fill that role in 2013. The Tigers are rolling right now and Castellanos may thrive in September. Even if he doesn't, he's a nice stash for 2014.”
Response: Schultz delivers again. Nice work buddy and good luck in the Colton & the Wolfman fantasy football listener league!
Some fantasy football thoughts for the first week of the season and beyond: As loyal readers know, I am a big fan of drafting RBs early and often. I hope you followed that advice and rostered the RBs. Assuming you now own those RBs, play them IF they are starters. I get a ton of tweets asking who to flex. To quote Bob Harris of Football Diehards (one of the truly great fantasy football guys out there), the first rule of “flexology” is to flex the guy who gets the most touches. Invariably that is the starting RB.