Advice From The Fantasy Baseball King: May 4 Mailbag
Editor’s Note: Gonna get right into the fantasy baseball advice this week with the Fantasy Baseball King – check out his blog for great tips every day. To get your questions reviewed by the King and considered for upcoming editions of the Mailbag, please email fantasybaseballdugout [at] gmail [dot] com,
Fantasy Baseball Question #1:
Hey King, Love your insight and am looking for your opinion on my team. I drafted specifically to get top tier talent at the weaker positions and to load up on pitching. I feel that I was successful; however; injuries (Longoria, Utley, Mauer) have killed me so far as have a couple of pitchers who have not lived up to their potential (Liriano and Gallardo). This is your typical H2H yahoo league with two DL spots. The scoring categories are: R, H, HR, RBI, SB, AVG & W, SV, OUT, K, ERA, WHIP
- C – Matt Weiters
- 1B – Ike Davis
- 2B – Danny Espinosa
- 3B – Evan Longoria
- SS – Asdrubal Cabrera
- OF – Bobby Abreau
- OF – Tori Hunter
- OF – Colby Rasmus
- Util – Mike Napoli
- Util – Alex Gordon
- BN – Carlos Lee
- DL – Chase Utley
- DL – Joe Mauer
- SP – Felix Hernandez
- SP – Clayton Kershaw
- RP – Carlos Marmol
- RP – Brian Wilson
- P – Jordan Walden
- P – James Shields
- P – Matt Cain
- P – Brandon Beachy
- BN – Francisco Liriano
- BN – Yovani Gallardo
- BN – Kyle Lohse
- BN – Kyle Drabek
There are a few players I am extremely interested in picking up of the waiver wire and am looking for some opinions other than mine as I have a hard time pulling the trigger on dropping what I thought were very good pitchers.
SP: Madison Bumgarner, Randy Wolf, Chris Young, Travis Wood, Bartolo Colon, Brandan McCarthy
Position Players: Gabby Sanchez, Justin Smoak, Michael Cuddyer (due to 4 positions), Matt Joyce, Matt Laporta, Chris Coghlan, Garrett Jones
(Get the King’s advice AFTER THE JUMP)
The Fantasy Baseball King’s Response:
Thanks for writing in.
Well, obviously after last night’s no-hitter, any thoughts of dropping Liriano have to go on the back-burner. As I’ve mentioned in other columns, Liriano is a warm weather pitcher, whose ERA only gets better as the temperature rises. His April and March career ERA’s are both right around 5, so while 9.13 (entering tonight) certainly is much higher, he’s still a VERY talented pitcher. Who knows? Maybe tonight sets him on a ridiculous streak where he goes 7+ innings for 5 games in a row and posts a sub-2 ERA!
The one thing about Liriano that I would watch, however, are his K numbers. It was noted during the television broadcast last night that the Twins pitching coaches had been working with Liriano on “pitching” rather than “throwing,” and basically telling him to trust his stuff, have faith in his defense, and pitch for contact. As a result, while I still stand behind my season-long faith in him, I’m a little worried his strikeout rate may be low…at least until it’s 95 degrees out and he’s at his best ; )
Now, as for your team and the players available in your league…I could see you making a move for 1 pitcher. As good as he’s been all season, Kyle Lohse is NOT going to finish the year with front-line numbers. His 2.44 ERA is heavily supported by an opposing BABIP of .200 (career, .303). Eventually, balls hit are going to land in gloves instead of on dirt or grass, and that ace-like ERA is going to rise to its proper place somewhere in the 4.25 – 4.65 range. That’s what he’s done during his career, and none of his other metrics support the idea that he’s suddenly changed. Thus, I’d definitely drop Lohse (thank him for his service first) and consider the following:
Madison Bumgarner: Definitely a nice choice for a keeper league, but Bumgarner has looked shaky all season, walking 3.56 batters per 9 innings pitched (highest rate in the minors was 2.70, and he allowed a mere 2.11 during his 111 inning ‘cup of tea’ in 2010). While a high opposing BABIP and silly-low LOB% means he’s certainly deserving of an ERA better than the 5.34 he’s currently sporting, the truth is that he’s basically a rookie. And rookie pitchers, barring a few, are very dangerous investments. He may go on a great stretch, but be prepared for a bumpy ride.
Randy Wolf: No, no, no. I could basically take the Lohse analysis and substitute Wolf’s name. The only difference is that Wolf’s career has been slightly better, so I could see him ending the year with a better ERA. But this man is no front-line starter, either.
Chris Young: As a Mets fan and lover of any athlete with intelligence (Young graduated from Princeton), I am tempted to say “Go get him!” But unfortunately for Mets fans and Chris Young owners, he simply cannot be trusted to stay healthy. When on the field, he’s a legit #2/#3 starter, but you would be taking a huge risk by rolling the dice on him.
Travis Wood: Another guy I love, and had pegged for a better year than he’s so far having. While I believe in his future as a solid mid-rotation starter (with some #2 years sprinkled in, too), the Reds rotation has way too much competition. Much like Young’s injury issues, the upcoming return of Johnny Cueto could spell the end of Wood’s time in the starting rotation. In a keeper league, I’d say to hold him, but in a regular head-to-head league, don’t pick him up unless he’s guaranteed a spot.
Bartolo Colon: He’s having a nice, unanticipated comeback, that’s for sure. While I love what he’s done and am happy for him, his family, and all Colon owners out there, I wouldn’t feel safe placing my confidence in a guy whose most innings pitched since 2005 was 99.1 with the Angels 4 years ago in 2007.
Brandon McCarthy: This is a guy I’m a huge fan of…talk about post-hype sleepers! He’s pitching great, and with a somewhat high opposing BABIP, he may even get better. He’s showing all the signs of emerging as a quality #2 or #3 starter. He’s always had the talent; it was just a matter of staying healthy and having a chance. Oakland is known as a good place for doing that. The thing I love the most? That he followed up his terrible 7 earned run performance on April 26 by allowing zero earned runs in 6.0 innings pitched on May 2.
My advice: Drop Lohse for McCarthy
As for the position players, the only ones I really think could make your team better are Justin Smoak, who is certainly looking like he’s finally “arrived,” and Matt LaPorta, who has been really heating up as of late. Consider dropping Carlos Lee and Brandon Beachy (not sure you really need 9 starting pitchers) to get him. By adding Smoak and LaPorta, you’ll be getting two guys who look to be on the verge of reaching their potential– which is that of true impact bats.
Hope that helps, and good luck!
The Fantasy Baseball King
Fantasy Baseball Question #2:
King I need to be talked off a ledge here. What is going on with Hanley Ramirez? This season has to turn around for him right ? He is killing my lineup and frankly I don’t have any bench spots at the moment with Zimmerman on the DL taking up one of my two bench spots. My DL spot is currently taken up by Cueto.
Should I drop Cueto move Zimmerman to the DL and look for another SS to place Hanley on the bench or should I just wait it out and hope Hanley recovers pretty soon?
Thanks so much,
The Fantasy Baseball King’s Response:
First off, please….step away from the ledge. Fantasy baseball is fun and all but, in the end, it’s just a game, and not worth what you are implying.
Away yet? At the desk to read the response? Good! So moving forward…
To accurately answer your question, I’d really need to see your pitching staff (whether or not Cueto will make an impact anyway) and which shortstops are out there on the WW/FA list (to see if they are worth the move).
But working with what we have, I’d say no, definitely don’t give up on Hanley! He’s an elite bat at a difficult position to fill, and will end the year with numbers somewhere along his typical elite rates. “But he’s hitting an appalling .191!” you may shout in reply. Yes, yes, I know all that. But take note of the following valuable information:
- The main reason for Hanley’s struggles right now is probably his dirt poor .224 BABIP (career, .343). Speedy players such as Hanley Ramirez are able to succeed with high BABIP’s because they beat out ground balls, and make plays out of otherwise inconsequential at-bats.
- Other than BABIP, Hanley’s metrics are basically right around career rates. Except, that is, BB%– which currently sits at 12.1% (career, 9.7%). This tells me two things: 1) Hanley is an intelligent hitter, and is being more patient; and 2) He is willing to do whatever it takes to get on base. He knows he isn’t hitting right now, so why not take a walk to get on?
- It’s also important to note that, although he’s currently nowhere near his March and April career OPS rates (.863 and .846, respectively), he actually is typically at his best late in the season– his career OPS in July, August, and September are, in order: .893, .954, and .957.
- Mike Stanton, the guy who was supposed to replace Dan Uggla’s production in the Marlins offense, has also had a terrible start to the year. Thus, all pressure has been on Hanley to produce. I’m not saying that it’s a good sign that he hasn’t, but I AM saying that having a productive Stanton (who is thankfully heating up as we speak) could do wonders for the pitches that Hanley sees.
So, in closing, although it may take some patience, I implore you to NOT give up on Hanley Ramirez. Although he is struggling right now, he’ll come back and provide his typical .300 average with 20-25 homers and 25-30 steals. At any position, especially shortstop, that’s priceless.
Good luck, and stay away from that ledge!
The Fantasy Baseball King
Fantasy Baseball Question #3:
King, how’s it going!?
So I literally just dropped Zambrano and picked up Bartolo Colon (and I didn’t just jump b/c of the results of tonight’s game – I watched some highlights from tonight and he was hitting consistent 95 mid-game and his 2-seamer looked NASTY!! (those two combined = K potential, plus he’s gonna get wins because he’s on the Yanks). SO anyway, my ?pitching CONTINUES to be my issue (with McCarthy getting rocked the other night and Dempster being HORRIBLE). I’m relatively content with my offense right now and seeing that my ERA is over 5.00, I need some advice!!
Here are the top available pitchers: Randy Wolf, Zach Britton, Brandon Beachy, Tim Stauffer & Dustin Moseley (I like PETCO’s ERA friendliness), Jeremy Guthrie, Wade Davis, Mike Leake, Dice-K, and Freddy Garcia.
Should I drop anyone (preferably a pitcher, but I’ll drop BN players if necessary) in order to pick up any one of these (looking for LONG TERM help)??
I like Wolf and Britton but Britton being in the AL East concerns me, Leake is intriguing to me but I just don’t know, same with the SD pitchers (plus no run support for them always hurts – but again, I’m more concerned about pitchers that can help my ERA so I don’t know!!)
THANKS so much!!
- C Geovany Soto
- 1B Ryan Howard
- 2B Brandon Phillips
- 3B Casey McGehee
- SS Jimmy Rollins
- OF Matt Kemp
- OF Alex Rios
- OF Vladimir Guererro
- Util Adam Jones
- BN Sam Fuld
- BN Jed Lowrie
- SP Roy Halladay
- SP Chris Carpenter
- SP Ryan Dempster
- RP Jordan Walden
- RP Mitchell Boggs
- P Brandon McCarthy
- P Jair Jurrjens
- P Sergio Santos
- P Carlos Zambrano
- P Aroldis Chapman
- P Brandon League
The Fantasy Baseball King’s Response:
If your starting rotation is Halladay, Carpenter, Dempster, McCarthy, Jurrjens, and Colon, you’re already at 6 guys, so I wouldn’t add any more. The rest of your pitching staff really should, as it currently is, be dedicated towards closers and setup men.
As for your current staff, Halladay, Carpenter, and Jurrjens obviously aren’t going anywhere. As for the others:
- McCarthy: Yea, he totally bombed that other night, and I believe he himself admitted as much on his Twitter account. I feel bad, as I was pumping him up all over the web as THE guy to pick up. Despite the setback, he came back and pitched a great game the next time out. Looks like a true gamer, and potential #2 starter to me.
- Colon: You’re absolutely right; he looks NASTY. Keep riding the train if/when (hoping for if here) it crashes. Although I wouldn’t pick him up now, in the middle of his hot streak (who knows when it will end?), you have to bee happy with what he’s giving you. Looks great so far.
- Dempster: Wow that’s scary ERA (9.58), and probably the main reason that your team ERA is over 5.00. Have you been slotting him in on all his starts? I’d definitely be benching him; don’t let him accumulate negative points for you when he’s going this bad.
That all being said, of the guys available, I’d go after Zach Britton or Daisuke Matsuzaka. Both are risky (Britton with his rookie status and Matsuzaka with his injuries), but they are the only guys on the list I feel could be top fantasy starters this season. Tim Stauffer is also an OK option, but pitching for the Padres will only give him 6-10 wins, at best I’m guessing.
As for the others:
- Wolf’s K and BB rates are substantially better than his career averages, so either he’s having a career year or just going through a hot spell. I’d go with the latter.
- Beachy is a decent #3 or #4 starter, but will have his hick-ups as a rookie.
- Dustin Moseley…where to start….lol, well I just see NO way of sustaining this success with a 3.72 K/9 rate in addition to a .236 opposing BABIP (career, .305). just not gonna happen. Petco only helps so much.
- Mike Leake’s arrest aside, the Reds’ rotation is too volatile and changes too often to inspire any faith in their pitchers for me. While I like Leake (as well as Travis Wood) long term, I have trouble believing they’ll get a fair shot to get 30+ starts.
- Freddy Garcia is sooo 2001.
- Wade Davis’ K:BB ratio scares me too much to believe he can sustain this level of dominance throughout the season. I see him finishing the year with an ERA closer to 4.25.
- Jeremy Guthrie is, well, Jeremy Guthrie. Kinda like Bobby Jones of the ’90′s, he is what he is. A decent mid-rotation starter…in REAL baseball. Don’t think he’ll help you win a championship in fantasyland though.
Deciding between Britton and The World’s Ace is tough. I have a feeling that, while Matsuzaka will have stretches where he looks awesome, he’ll also completely break down (observe: 2 starts in a row of brilliance followed by a 4.0 IP outing). Britton, meanwhile, is undoubtedly going to encounter some bumps in the road— he can’t continue this level of dominance striking out only a little over 5 batters per 9 IP.
My advice, if you are desperate and need to make a move, would be to dump Dempster for Britton, but be prepared for a cold spell. When it comes, bench him until he adjusts. My hunch tells me that, after adjusting, you’ll see a new Britton armed with better K-rates and ready for ace-hood. Just a hunch, but hope it inspires.
In the end, none of these guys are sure-fire aces or even sure-fire fantasy starters. But you already have a good core. I feel you rotation is pretty much fine, and am guessing that Dempster’s woes are the reason you’ve encountered such bad results. Another option, by the way, is simply to stick with Dempster.
This will sound counter to everything I just said to get you to grab Britton, but in fact, Dempster’s peripherals are quite good. His K-rate is actually higher than his career average, and his BB-rate is right around it. Meanwhile, opposing batters are getting by on a .344 BABIP, meaning he’s been incredibly unlucky as well. Finally, his LOB% (left on base) is a silly-low 53.9%. Seems like he’s either unlucky, getting nervous under pressure, or suffering from bad defense. Whatever the case may be (perhaps a combination of all the above), it probably won’t last all year.
So in conclusion: If you feel you NEED to make a move, dump Dempster for Britton. Otherwise, just sit Dempster until he puts it all together. This is probably the safer option, whereas Britton may bring more immediate rewards.
The Fantasy Baseball King