Joe (@jcswigga) – Adam Wainwright, Yu Darvish, Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee round out my top-4 at the present time. In leagues utilizing quality starts as opposed to wins, I have no issue flip-flopping Hernandez and Lee. All four pitchers have posted greater than one strikeout per inning pitched which translates to 200+K seasons, assuming health affords that many innings. The pitcher that I am most worried about is Madison Bumgarner who was ranked pre-season #10 by ESPN. Bumgarner doesn’t possess the electric stuff that the aforementioned list does so he relies more on command. However, through 20.2 IP, Bumgarner has a mid-3 ERA and an astounding 1.79 WHIP. His strikeout ratios remain intact so this isn’t someone I’d be selling but rather monitoring.
Joseph (@JosephTheroux) – I rank the elite arms pretty much the same way I did before opening day: Kershaw then Darvish then a big blob consisting of Scherzer, Wainwright, Lee, King Felix, Strasburg, Verlander, Bumgarner, Fernandez, and Sale. It would take something drastic, like a major injury or loss of a job, to change my opinion. I do, however, raise my eyebrow just a bit any time something seems a bit off with Chris Sale. His frame and mechanics have always scared the hell out of me. Granted you can’t argue with the results, but if he keeps throwing with the inverted W and keeps going 120ish pitches a start I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t have a date with Dr. Andrews before Obama leaves office.
Jay (@broncokeeper) – I wouldn’t even have those guys in my top 5 going forward. Obviously, Kershaw is a stud and I can’t wait for him to get back (I spent $42 on him in my NL-Only Roto League…), but I have a hard time valuing guys who aren’t throwing (or throwing well…). My top 5 right now are: Jose Fernandez, Masahiro Tanaka, Felix Hernandez, Johnny Cueto, Adam Wainwright. All of those guys have WHIP’s below 1.00 and Wainwright is just barely outside the 9+ K/9 stat.
Regan (@ReganFP) – None of the Dbacks pitchers, except Archie Bradley, but he won’t be up because they don’t want to pay him a year early. 1B- All the rest of the Dbacks pitchers…
2. Are there any players you would “sell low” on because they have started slow and you do not believe they will turn it around?
Seth (@SethDaSportsMan) – Matt Garza – Garza gets a lot of hype, but I’m not sure why. Yes, he’s been dependable (10 wins in four of last six years), but his overall fantasy production is so-so. His career-high in wins is 15, but his second-most is just 11. His career ERA of 3.85 is also decent, but his strikeout numbers are ho-hum. Most of his perceived fantasy value comes from his 2011 season with the Cubs, in which he had a career-best 3.32 ERA and 197 K. Unfortunately, that year was an anomaly for Garza. His 7.7% HR/FB was at least 2.2 percent lower than any year since 2010 and his 2.95 FIP was far below his career averages of 3.98. His swinging strike % (11.2) and contact rate (76.5) were both career-bests, and far exceeded his next highest marks. Basically, Garza had everything going for him that season – he wasn’t inducing much contact, but when he did, the defense behind him was outstanding and balls were staying in the park. Milwaukee is playing very well, so I think Garza could easily reach that 10-win mark again and post a high 3.00- to low-4.00 ERA, but the strikeouts won’t be there. Those numbers represent more of a streamer or a matchup play in deeper leagues. On name recognition alone you should be able to get a decent 4th OF or MI in a trade.
Joe (@jcswigga) – I would like to preface this section by stating that an owner should never attempt at selling low. Even if it takes a week or two of waiting for said player to have a hot night, it’s almost always worth the wait with regards to the value that your trade commands. Having said that, Eric Hosmer was ranked preseason as a top-50 player and I don’t think I will ever buy that. Last year Hosmer produced the following line: .302 BA, 17 HR, 79 RBI, 86 R and 4 SB. It would be silly to say that Hosmer didn’t have a productive season but an elite 1B; I’m not sure that will ever happen. Fast forward to this season and here are Hosmer’s numbers to date: .275 BA, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 4 R and 0 SB. If an owner in your league is willing to pay you for his services as a truly elite 1B, I wouldn’t think twice about shipping him off.
Joseph (@JosephTheroux) – Billy Hamilton. He can’t hit. He’ll pull a Dee Gordon and finally put it together in two years , but for now he’s a one category player. Someone in your league is still a believer. Don’t be that guy.
Jay (@broncokeeper) – Yasiel Puig. Came in blazing hot last year and set the world, fantasy and real, on fire. I’m at the point where he’s just a flash in the pan who could be great, but I don’t think he’ll ever get it all together. Get what you can and move on. Heck, you might dupe someone who still believes he will bounce back to his June call-up form from last year.
Regan (@ReganFP) – All of the Dbacks pitchers.
Joe (@jcswigga) – Julio Teheran would be my selection and I think he could slip into the top-15 with relative ease. Last year Teheran posted a (14-8) record with 170 K’s, 3.20 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in 185.2 IP. This year, he picked up right where he left off having a (2-1) record with 21 K’s, 1.80 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in 35 IP. Teheran has the prototypical pitcher frame standing 6’2″ and weighing 200 lbs. while being only 23 years old. The Braves will also provide him with more than enough offense to win his fair share of games; for quality start leagues, he could be even better. Looking at last year’s numbers one would assume that if he had eclipsed the 200 IP plateau that his K total would have done the same. This year, it looks like 180 K’s may be his cap but let us not forget that the slight decline in K’s has improved his WHIP from the 1.20’s to the 1.00’s. WHIP is often a more telling statistic of pitcher dominance than ERA because base runners not on base have a difficult time scoring, no?
Joseph (@JosephTheroux) – Okay, we’re going deep here. Anyone who has read my stuff or is in a league with me or has had a fantasy baseball related conversation with me can answer this one for me: Scott Kazmir. I have an unnatural obsession with this guy. He came on strong last year and has kept it up so far in 2014, walking no one, keeping the ball on the ground, striking dudes out. Buy low now while you still can. It’s taken ten years but he’s finally delivering on his promise.
Jay (@broncokeeper) – Atlanta. Take your pick. Santana/Wood/Harang have been lights out, life savers for the Braves. If I were placing bets on those individuals finishing in the top 15, that’s the order I’d rank them.
Bonus – Sonny Gray. I had him projected for 11.5 wins, an 8.0 K/9, xQS (expected Quality Start) of 16.5 with xQS% of 61%. He’s currently 3-0 with 4 QS’s in 4 games started. Plus, he’s the ace of a pretty decent A’s team.
Regan (@ReganFP) – None of the Dbacks pitchers… Except Archie Bradley, oh wait…
Seth (@SethDaSportsMan) – The Pirates’ closer situations are is worth monitoring. Jason Grilli has already blown three saves in Pittsburgh and Mark Melancon is waiting on the doorstep. Grilli had an excellent 2013, saving 33 games for the Pirates, but prior to that, he had been used primarily in middle relief. At 37 years old, it’s looking as if he may be fatiguing and last year was nothing but an aberration. Meanwhile, Melancon has allowed only six hits in 10 IP this season, racking up seven holds in the process. He proved he has the ability to close by saving 16 games while Grilli was on the DL last season. The Pirates are 9-13 and are dangerously close to falling out of the NL Central race. They can little afford to lose any more close games. Grilli is still the man in the ninth, but if he continues to falter, expect Melancon to be the next guy up.
Joe (@jcswigga) – My answer to this question is the same player for both, Cody Allen. I feel strongly that the Indians will afford their closer(s) at least 35 saves this year given the fact that they often struggle to score runs. Knowing this, John Axford currently has 7 saves with a (1-0) record, 3.12 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 9 K’s in 8.2 IP. Axford’s job appears safe at the moment but anyone that has owned him in the past knows of his propensity to give you heartburn each time he takes the mound. Cody Allen, on the other hand, has 5 holds with a (2-0) record, 0.00 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 13 K’s in 8 IP. Any closer that has a 1.38 WHIP is putting too many runners on base. The fact that both Axford and Allen have the same WHIP would be the reason why Axford is still the current closer but throw on an Indians game next time you have the chance; Cody Allen is the superior talent and will help your roster even in the set-up role (imagine if he gets the reigns to the closer gig).
Joseph (@JosephTheroux) – Carlos Martinez is a great guy to own this year. You have three options: 1) Rosenthal continues to walk everyone in sight and Martinez immediately becomes an upper echelon closer. 2) The Cards finally relent and he’s moved into the rotation, automatically becoming a solid #3 with upside. 3) He stays in his setup role and gets you some strikeouts, a handful of saves, and helps your ratios. I’d buy that for a dollar!
Jay (@broncokeeper) – Watch the Colorado Rockies situation. Yes, I’m a homer. Rex Brothers will end the year with more saves than Mr. Immortal, LaTroy Hawkins.
Regan (@ReganFP) – None of the Dbacks “closers”
Joe (@jcswigga) – I will not only give you one tidbit but two. First, Oakland Athletics’ SP, Jesse Chavez, has thrown at least six innings and allowed no more than one earned run in each of his four starts this season. Second, Jesse Chavez is one of only two Oakland Athletics’ pitchers since 1914 to strikeout 9 or more without walking a batter in consecutive starts. Chavez currently owns a (1-0) record with a 1.38 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 28 K’s in 26 IP. Let me remind you that Chavez plays for the team sitting first place in the American League and will see half his starts in a ballpark heavily favoring pitchers. He is still not owned in approximately 30% of fantasy leagues. Not sure what the problem is here people… Oh yeah, his next start comes Friday night against Houston. All aboard!!!
Joseph (@JosephTheroux) – How ‘bout that Justin Morneau? Four bombs, 17 RBI with a .346/.369/.615 line! He’s been monstrous in Coors (1.051) but no slouch on the road either (.873). He’s “only” 32 and this could be the start of true return to form.
Jay (@broncokeeper) – Jesse Chavez? Huh? He’s only got 1 win (but wins are an outdated category for ranking pitcher performance), but he’s also gone 100% on his QS%. His WHIP is 0.923 and his K/9 is 9.7. What a steal on draft/auction day?!
Regan (@ReganFP) – Did I mention Archie Bradley?