Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses four pitchers who could help you in fantasy baseball this week.
Tim Collins, RP, Royals
There have been several relief pitchers this season who have so dominated in their role that they deserved being scooped up off the waiver wire, even before they were picking up saves. Three that come to mind are Aroldis Chapman, Ernesto Frieri, and Tyler Clippard. Next in line is Tim Collins, a 22-year-old southpaw who has dominated in the Royals bullpen this season.
While Jonathan Broxton has been a dominant reliever, Collins is a perfect 2-0 with a 2.17 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. He is striking out about 1.5 batters per inning, which ranks amongst the leaders in baseball. Perhaps if Broxton is traded at the deadline or ends up injured, Collins would end up getting some save opportunities. This is an arm fantasy baseball managers should target.
Garrett Richards, SP, Angels
The Angels seem to always have a nice group of spot starters and this year is no different, as Garrett Richards provided a stellar seven innings last week against the Mariners. This time around, Richards, who is filling in for the injured Jered Weaver, takes on the Dodgers.
The former first-round pick did not dominate in the minors, but most big league clubs struggle against rookies in their first few starts because of a lack of a scouting report. Richards did show an ability to strikeout the opposition in the minor leagues and it carried out similarly in his first start this season in the majors. Expect big things in his second start as Matt Kemp remains on the DL for the Dodgers and the game comes at LA’s National League park.
Henderson Alvarez, SP, Blue Jays
As long as you are not looking for many strikeouts, Henderson Alvarez is a fine start, first against the Nationals this week and then against the Brewers next week. The 23-year-old boasts a solid 3.76 ERA and 1.28 WHIP despite pitching in a hitter-friendly ballpark in the brutal AL East.
Alavrez had a mini slump in the last few weeks, but it came against impressive offenses such as the Rangers, White Sox, and Red Sox. The Nationals should not be such an issue, even with a designated hitter at their use. The Brewers will be the next foe and that comes at Milwaukee, which means Alvarez gets the benefit of throwing to the opposing pitcher. A pitcher with great command, Alvarez is a safe bet this week.
Nathan Eovaldi, SP, Dodgers
This 22-year-old has been a pleasant surprise for the Dodgers since he was drafted in the 11th round in 2008. Eovaldi has picked up plenty of K’s in both the minors and big leagues and calls home one of the more pitcher-friendly ballparks in baseball. Though his record shows at 0-2, Eovaldi has pitched quite well with a .209 opposing average and 1.93 ERA. Amongst his three starts are one at Colorado and most recently, six shutout innings against the Mariners. Eovaldi is turning into a hot prospect and this may be your last chance to pick him up off the waiver wire.
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Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw answers your questions from Twitter about potential fantasy roster changes.
Question: Do I trade Bryce Harper to get Tim Lincecum?
Answer: This is an easy one: No Way! Bryce Harper is not just good for his age (19 years old), he is very good in general. As I always say, I would rather have a hitter who contributes in five categories than a starter who contributes in at four at the most. The only starters that I would consider investing such a hefty price in are sure things and Tim Lincecum is not a sure thing. The Giants star has surrendered four or more runs in five of his last six starts. Harper is a five-tool talent primed to win Rookie of the Year.
Question: I’m looking for steals without breaking the bank. Should I trade for Bonifacio, Austin Jackson, or someone else?
Answer: You have a few options for stolen bases. Blue Jays outfielder Rajai Davis is a bit too feast or famine but he does rack up the steals. With Eric Thames demoted, he will play regularly until another prospect such as Travis Snider is promoted. Davis does not reach base often enough and lacks much pop, but he will steal 25-plus bases and score some runs.
Dodgers outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr., is another option. He is solid on defense, which buys him some at-bats. On the basepaths he had already swiped eight bases and his average is respectable. Just don’t expect any power.
Tigers centerfielder Austin Jackson is returning from injury but is now reaching base more often and hitting for power. Then there is the Prince and Miguel who make sure to drive him in. This is a player to trade for.
Question: Avila hitting the DL hurts in my two-catcher league. Only options seem to be Thole, Laird, or Jaso. Thoughts?
Answer: Josh Thole is the safe bet. He will at least offer you a high average and high on-base percentage and will perhaps score some runs. On the other hand, he has the least home runs of any active catcher with 700 at-bats dating back to 2009. Chris Iannetta will be coming off the disabled list soon and I recommend picking him up and riding out Thole in the short-term.
Question: I have four Mets on my fantasy baseball team (Murphy, Nieuwenhuis, Byrdak, and Niese) but I think I might bench them this weekend during the Subway Series. Thoughts?
Answer: You definitely don’t want to bench all your Mets this weekend against the Yankees. They are playing at the more hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium, and Daniel Murphy finally showed some life on Thursday with the bat while Kirk Nieuwenhuis is a line drive machine. You can consider benching some of the pitchers such as Niese if it’s the Yankees offense that scares you, but the Mets should put up some runs.
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Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw breaks down the numbers of four players to explain why they are performing at the level that they are this season.
Sergio Romo, RP, Giants
With Santiago Casilla out due to injury, Romo finally got some glory, picking up two saves. Romo has been as good as anybody, with two two wins, two saves, and just one run allowed through 15+ innings of work. Casilla is bound to return as closer, but Romo is the rare middle reliever whose numbers are so dominant that he is worthy of a spot on your fantasy team. To gain a sense of his dominance, consider that the National League Whiff% average for relievers is 23%. Romo is by far the best in baseball with double that, a Whiff% of 46%.
Andrew Cashner, RP, Padres
Though there has not been much good this season for the San Diego Padres, Andrew Cashner has been exciting and there is now talk that the Padres may want to extend him into a starter. Cashner has been the hardest thrower in baseball this season with an average fastball of 98.8 MPH, which is faster than Henry Rodriguez and Aroldis Chapman. He remains a bit wild, so I would avoid Cashner as an investment as his 1.52 WHIP is one of the worst for a regular pitcher in baseball this season.
Chris Capuano, SP, Dodgers
After a fine bounce-back season for the Mets last year, Chris Capuano is now making the most out of his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Capuano is a former 18-game winner, so this is not exactly an unproven commodity. However, perhaps the cause for the southpaw’s success this season has been his control of the strike zone, particularly with first-pitch strikes. He currently ranks third in baseball in that statistic among starters with 67% of his pitches thrown for strikes on a 0-0 count. That ranks just behind Cliff Lee and Jordan Zimmerman, two of the better hurlers in baseball.
Melky Cabrera, OF, Giants
A late bloomer first with the Royals and now with the Giants, Melky Cabrera has become a legitimate star. One area in which he has shined brightest is against the off-speed pitch. After all, this is a hitter who bats .340, compared to the usual .223 average in the National League. In total, Cabrera is hitting .364 this season with a bit of pop, and don’t let the four home runs confuse you. He boasts a .538 slugging percentage with 24 extra-base hits along with nine stolen bases.
Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw answers questions from Twitter about managing fantasy baseball roster changes:
Question: I need to free up a roster spot. Should I drop Colby Lewis or Mat Latos? Who has better potential of bouncing back?
Answer: Colby Lewis doesn’t really need to bounce back. He is 4-4 with a 3.50 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, which so far is beating expectations. He will give you a solid WHIP, comparatively high ERA due to the ballpark, and more than 12 wins for the Rangers. His weakness is that he gives up a lot of bombs. He has already allowed 14 home runs this season, including five in one game.
On the other hand, Reds hurler Mat Latoshas struggled a bit despite a 4-2 record. His 4.91 ERA and 1.40 WHIP suggest it’s been a tough transition to Cincinnati. Like Lewis, he has given up a ton of home runs — 12 so far this year. Each year, Latos’ walks and hits have gone up, but he now has to pitch in the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati rather than in the pitcher haven Petco Park.
Ultimately, Colby Lewis is the safe bet since he does not allow many runners on base and has an incredible offense behind him, but Latos has greater potential because of his youth and past numbers. I’d try to trade Latos and keep Lewis.
Question: I really need a new backup catcher on my fantasy teams. Suzuki is struggling and Mauer is day-to-day right now. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario has been an excellent pickup. He hit his ninth home run Monday night and now has three in his last seven games with nine RBI during that stretch. If he’s still available, he’s the hitter to target. If he’s already been taken, Chris Iannetta will return soon for the Angels and is another good option. He offers a low average but solid on-base percentage and power. Finally, for the Nationals, Jesus Flores has some pop and also hits for the highest average of the bunch.
Question: Is it worth keeping Bryan LaHair in my outfield anymore? Dexter Fowler is available.
Answer: I would rather have Dexter Fowler than Bryan LaHair. However, dropping LaHair would be a mistake. Look to package the Cubs .300 power hitter for your roster’s weakness. Fowler is the complete package in mind, with more power than the speed you expect from him. LaHair is a fine hitter, but not nearly as well-rounded a fantasy performer.
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Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses three pitchers who you can look to for some production in fantasy baseball this week.
Jeremy Hefner, SP, Mets
The New York Mets are one of the hottest teams in baseball right now and the excellent pitching has been contagious, so much so that even little known rookie Jeremy Hefner has gotten into the action as a replacement for the injured Miguel Batista.
If you’re wondering whether Hefner will be able to take care of business this week, what you should pay attention to are two statistics. First the BB/9, because so far in Major League Baseball of all pitchers with at least 15 innings of work, Hefner has the best command walking just one batter in 17 innings of work. Next, a key difference between his struggles in the rain delay loss to the lowly Padres compared to the win over the rival Phillies was his ability to finish off batters with two strikes. The Padres went 6-12 against Hefner with two strikes while the Phillies were just 1-10. Hefner will be pitching for a spot in the Big Leagues, as Batista is returning from the DL and Chris Young is slotted to return to the Mets as well.
Chris Young, SP, Mets
One thing to note about Chris Young, the 6’9 hurler, is that when healthy he is effective. After a successful tenure with the Rangers and the Padres, Young got off to a fine start with the Mets last season, offering a 1-0 record with four starts with a 1.88 ERA. Young may have to be a little better this season, as the fly ball pitcher will have to respond to the fences being drawn in at Citi Field. However, there is cause for optimism as he’s enjoyed success even in Texas, and his first start comes at Washington, one of the more pitcher-friendly ballparks in baseball. On the other hand, his second start may come at Yankee Stadium, so buyer beware.
Drew Smyly, SP, Tigers
Drew Smyly looks like a good bet this week as he gets two starts, the first coming at home against the Cleveland Indians. Smyly has come back to reality a bit in recent weeks, but the control is real, he just has to learn to keep the ball within the park. Also, after making four of his last five starts on the road, Smyly returns to the pitcher-friendly Comerica Park. The Indians are also coming back to earth, losing seven of their last nine games. Smyly’s second start this week comes at the pitcher-friendly Great American Ballpark, but at least there won’t be designated hitters involved.
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Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw offers four players who can have a major impact on your fantasy baseball team.
Last year only two players in baseball had 30 or more doubles, 15 or more triples, 5 or more home runs, and 10 or more saves. One is Jose Reyes, who signed a monster deal with the Marlins. The other is Dexter Fowler, an outfielder that had been considered a bust in fantasy circles for a few years. It turns out that our focus should have been more on the extra base hits than the steals. Fowler is a power guy, who slowly but surely was growing into his 6’4 frame. This year the doubles have turned into home runs and he is now on pace for 30 round-trippers. Fowler reminds me a little of Rickie Weeks. The average won’t flirt with .300 much, but he does draw walks and the power is legit.
A strikeout machine who cranks the ball up to 100 MPH, Stephen Pryor is likely a future closer who at just 22 years old will get a look in the Mariners bullpen. Pryor has had some control issues in the past, but this year he has been in control, which explains the 0.64 ERA through 28 innings split between the higher levels of the minor leagues. With Brandon League out temporarily as the closer and with his future in doubt as a free agent this summer, it makes a lot of sense for Pryor to get a look in some high pressure situations..
The long swing of Colby Rasmus is starting to make some great contact for the Toronto Blue Jays. Rasmus is riding a seven game hit streak with three home runs and six RBI over that span. In a killer lineup and a great ballpark, Rasmus has every chance to succeed in Toronto. After early struggles in spring training and then to open the season, Rasmus is finally showing the potential that made the Blue Jays a buyer last season after he wore out his welcome with the Cardinals.
Scott Feldman, SP, Rangers (at Oakland and San Francisco)
Feldman is not one of the sexier fantasy picks. He does not get many K’s, his ERA and WHIP are only alright since he calls home to the hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark, and then there is his lack of job security as a spot starter. On the other hand, Feldman does offer the Rangers a chance to win every time he takes the hill, which explains how he won 17 games just a few years ago. Now he gets favorable starts against the A’s and Giants on the road. This is as good as it gets for the Rangers veteran who should have plenty of run support and much friendly pitching backdrops.