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.
Bloomberg Sports Anchors Rob Shaw and Julie Alexandria break down four players who have struggled mightily over the first quarter of the season:
Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals
Last year a 1-4 performance was ho-hum for Royal phenom Eric Hosmer. These days it’s cause for celebration as it lifts his batting average further above the Mendoza line. The 6 home runs and 25 RBI aren’t all that bad for Hosmer, but with an average of .204, the former top three pick has been a major bust. Also, his power and patience have declined this month, as he boasts just one home run and six walks in May. I still do not suggest dropping Hosmer, because his struggles are not isolated. The entire Royals roster has pretty much struggled, and once guys like Alex Gordon, Jeff Francouer, and other start hitting, there will be more runners on base and more fastballs in the middle of the plate. I am buying low on Hosmer, and have confidence that he will turn this season around.
Dee Gordon, SS, Dodgers
Similar to former Rangers prospect Julio Borbon a few years ago, Dee Gordon gained some fantasy interest with a strong finish to the season, most notably 24 steals in 56 games. However the scouting report is now out on Gordon and you can’t steal bases if you can’t reach base. With a .225 average and .269 on base percentage, Gordon is not getting on base nearly enough. As a result, he is not scoring runs and not getting enough steals to warrant fantasy value. I’m not buying on Gordon in fear that he is a bit more one dimensional than people thought.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks
Billed as the next prolific power hitter to thrive in the desert, Paul Goldschmidt was predicted to blast as many as 30 home runs this season Instead, he has just three round-trippers a quarter of the way through the season. The lack of homers as well as the 19 RBI will be enough for some fantasy managers to drop the bopper. Instead, they should focus on the 12 doubles, which projects to more than 40. Again, you can’t blame Goldschmidt for the fact that his teammates are struggling to reach base. Once those doubles turn to home runs, all will be forgiven.
Ike Davis, 1B, Mets
Finally, Ike Davis makes the list for all the wrong reasons. To his credit, Davis has driven in six RBI over the last six games, but his average is well below the Mendoza line and it will take a heck of a hot streak to return to respectability. The problem for Davis is that he is returning from nearly a full year off from baseball and his timing isn’t where it should be. Furthermore, the opposition is exploiting Davis with junk, throwing him more off-speed itches than anyone else in baseball. The Mets have decided to keep Davis at the Big League level, and this is largely because he remains a better threat than anyone else that they can put in the lineup. I don’t know when, but I do think that Davis will eventually bounce back and end up with a batting average closer to .240 by season’s end.
Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw breaks down four different fantasy players gaining some attention on the waiver wire.
How about the four game stretch from May 24 to the 27th for White Sox rising slugger Dayan Vicideo. The 23-year-old pounded out eight hits, scored six runs, blasted three home runs, and drove in 10 RBI during that stretch. I actually dropped the top prospect in one of my fantasy leagues for the simple reason that he kills your on base percentage. He has just four walks all season if that is a category in your fantasy league, you basically have to depend on him having a lot of power to make up for it. That certainly could end up being the case and as of now I regret dropping the Cuba native.
It was long in the making and long deserved, but middle reliever extraordinaire Tyler Clippard has finally been promoted to the closer’s role in Washington following the injury to Drew Storen and the implosion of Henry Rodriguez. Clippard was for a long time one of the few middle relievers worth owning in fantasy leagues because of his stellar all-around numbers including ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts. A few years ago he even picked up 11 wins. Now he finally gets the glory associated with the ninth inning and he has been perfect in his last four outings, picking up three saves. Clippard’s fantasy value is soaring with saves now within reach.
The last time Sale had fantasy value it was because of our expectation that he would be the 2011 closer after scooping up four saves in 2010. Instead, Sale struggled early and ended up with just eight saves last season as Sergio Santos broke out as the team’s closer. This season Sale became a starting pitcher and after a brief flirtation of him returning to the bullpen, Sale has thrived, pitching at an ace level. On Monday, Sale was at his best, allowing just five total base runners while pitching into the eighth inning. Most notably, he fanned 15 batters, which is easily a career high. It actually might be the best time to sell high on Sale. After all, Sale is now just 13 innings away from reaching last year’s totals. You typically try to avoid the major increase in innings workload, so my guess is that the White Sox will try to limit Sale’s innings for the remainder of the season.
In his debut with the San Diego Padres, Carlos Quentin blasted a double, scored a run, and picked up an RBI. The power is legit, but keep in mind that Quentin is going from back-to-back hitter ballparks first in Arizona then in Chicago’s US Cellular to the ultimate pitcher’s park, PETCO Park. This is very much a streaky hitter, which tells me that the frustration of the cavernous home ballpark could end up wreaking havoc on Quentin’s season. I am not picking Quentin up off the waiver wire, allowing his low average to hurt my competitors.
While it is very difficult for fantasy managers to pick up a franchise player off the waiver wire, they are rookies who can have a major impact that remain availble for the picking. Here’s a look at four talented players in the farm system who could be worth a waiver wire pick:
A former sixth round pick who has been passed around from the Red Sox to the Padres to the Cubs, it’s looking like Anthony Rizzo could be up for a promotion very shortly. In a 49 game stint with the Padres last season, Rizzo flopped, hitting just .141 with one home run. Now through 44 games, Rizzo is pounding the ball in Iowa with 16 home runs and a .355 average. Considered a long-term investment, the 22-year-old Rizzo could push Bryan LaHair to the outfield within the next month. Now that he has left San Diego and has a favorable ballpark, Rizzo is a fine speculation pick off the waiver wire.
Chances are you never heard of Danny Rosenbaum. A former 22nd round pick, the southpaw may be the most unknown dominating ace at any level of baseball. At one point he allowed just one earned run to score over a 45-inning stretch this season at Double-A. The 24-year-old hurler is a perfect 6-0 through nine starts this season. He is a control pitcher that has never had an ERA higher than 2.60 in his professional career. Rosenbaum’s never been known for his stuff, and the Nats rotation seems pretty full, but these numbers are too good to dismiss.
There was consideration for Julio Teheran to make the Braves rotation coming into the season, but instead he was beat out by fellow top prospect Randall Delgado. At Triple-A he has been something of an enigma. His control is a tad off and he is not racking up the K’s at the rate you would expect. Perhaps it has something to do with frustration still pitching in the minors, but a call to the Majors could happen at any moment especially with Mike Minor struggling with the Braves.
The Trevor Bauer watch continues in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks top prospect was recently promoted to Triple-A after dominating Double-A with 7 wins in 8 starts. In his first two starts since the promotion, Bauer has fanned more than a batter per inning while allowing just two runs in 13 innings. The Diamondbacks have a few top prospects in the farm system and have to be pleased with the play of Wade Miley this season. For now Patrick Corbin is holding down the fifth spot in the rotation with Daniel Hudson injured, but Bauer is likely on call.
Showing Their Age:
Jamie Moyer, SP, Rockies
The spring training feel good story is not feeling very good right now for the Rockies. Jamie Moyer is struggling at many things right now, as he has surrendered five or more runs in four of his last five starts. The problems center on the fact that Moyer is simply too hittable, as the opposition is hitting .328 against him, the worst mark for any starter in the National League. He is also walking batters twice as often as his 2010 season. Furthermore, the fact that he has only pitched seven innings once in nine starts this season puts a toll on the Rockies bullpen. With the team expected to compete this season, I have a hard time believing that there’s much patience in the front office.
Todd Helton, 1B, Rockies
A recent three-game hit streak lifted Todd Helton’s average to .231, but it’s still not enough to warrant an everyday gig for the Rockies legend. Amongst the RBI leaders early in the season, Helton had a dry spell before bouncing back against the Reds this past weekend. The plate discipline remains, but he clogs the bases without speed, and doesn’t have much power either. Helton’s career performance may one day lead to his induction in the Hall of Fame, but for now, it’s retirement has to be creeping on his mind.
Johnny Damon, OF, Indians
The good news was that Johnny Damon finally went yard with his first home run of the season for the Indians. The bad news is that he cannot escape reality and his batting average remains way too low at .158. That’s now 76 at bats and Damon has just three extra base hits. The 38-year-old has also shown some decent plate discipline, but he has yet to steal a base this season. Truth is that the Indians can contend without Damon on the roster. His leash is getting shorter by the day as he finds himself on the wrong side of the Mendoza line.
Rob Shaw and Julie Alexandria discuss five veterans aging gracefully:
Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees
With a .342 average and five home runs, Derek Jeter has far exceeded expectations this season, as he is now surpassed 3,150 hits for his career. Now it may be time to sell high on the Yankees legend. Despite the early power showing, Jeter has just one extra base hit since May 6. He is starting to look like the singles machine that boasted just a .370 slugging percentage in 2010. Furthermore, the stolen bases are way down with just three swipes this season. Jeter has been great so far, but there are some serious questions about the sustainability of this hot start from the 37-year-old shortstop.
David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox
Though he seems to be getting bitter with age, claiming he doesn’t get respect in Boston, David Ortiz is as dangerous as ever with the stick in his hand. Ortiz is on pace for 40 home runs and 120 RBI while batting .305. Ever since everyone predicted his decline in 2009, Ortiz has bounced back and is once again one of the best designated hitters in baseball.
Chipper Jones, 3B, Braves
Sadly this is the swan song for Chipper Jones, who will one day find himself inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame. A bruised left calf had forced Jones out of the lineup for the time being, but when he is healthy this season, he has blasted five home runs with 24 RBI and a .307 average. Jones is unlikely to have much more than 400 at bats this season, but if you are willing to change your roster on a daily basis, you can end up with an oldie, but goodie.
Raul Ibanez, OF, Yankees
The Phillies thought Raul Ibanez was done after a less than stellar 2011 season. The Yankees took an inexpensive gamble on the New York City native and so far the 39-year-old designated hitter has blasted nine home runs with 27 RBI. Yankees Stadium seems perfect for the left-hander, as he already has seven home runs at home. Additionally, the solid Yankees lineup has led to many run-producing opportunities and so far Ibanez has capitalized.
Derek Lowe, SP, Indians
It’s very rare for a pitcher to have success with more walks than strikeouts, but lo and behold, Derek Lowe is having a bounce back season with the Indians. Lowe had allowed just seven runs over his last six starts before getting pummeled this weekend. Even still, the ERA is a solid 3.25. Again, the strikeouts are a concern, and it makes you wonder how long this could last.
The total numbers are disappointing, 2 homers, 15 runs, 17 RBI, and a .267 AVG. On the other hand, he has hits in 16 of his last 18 games, has stolen six bases, and already has 5 doubles over the last 11 games. Keep in mind that Choo took a little while to bounce back after missing a large chunk of last season. However, at his best this is a rare 20-20 talent. This is a fine time to pick him up while his fantasy managers are keeping him glued to the bench.
In the past, the only thing keep Nelson Cruz down was his health. This season he has been an iron man and while his run production is solid with 24 runs and 23 RBI and his average is respectable at .274, so far the power has been limited with just four home runs. However, a closer look at the double-digit doubles tells me that maybe some of those shots simply have not left the yard, but come the summer in Texas, I think the ball will really start to fly off his bat. I still think 30 home runs is realistic, so go ahead and make the move for Cruz, though keep in mind that he is slowing down a bit on the base paths and he does have that injury-prone label.
Stolen bases have some serious value in fantasy leagues and for that reason alone you may be able to unload Drew Stubbs. Stubbs is a low average hitter with some pop and speed. He swiped 40 bases last season, which got a lot of attention, but also we saw a decline in home runs from 22 to 15. This season he only has three in comparison to his seven stolen bases. The positive is that he does score a lot of runs, which really is amazing when you consider that he strikes out a ton and rarely reaches base. Trade Stubbs while you can to someone desperate for some steals.
I have been known to lead my leagues on annual basis in saves despite not drafting closers until the middle or late rounds. I do this by picking up the pitchers who gain the promotion into the ninth inning because of either the struggles or health woes to the player ahead of them. Often it can result in excellence, such is the case with my drafting Aroldis Chapman in the final round of my draft. On the other hand, sometimes the closer I pick up implodes and doesn’t hold the gig for long. I fear that Cubs closer Rafael Dolis is of the latter. While I do like his youth at 24 years old and his live arm, I am very much in fear of his lack of strikeouts. This will not only hurt my fantasy team in that category, but also you typically like closers that can miss bats otherwise they can find themselves in trouble. With a 3.75 ERA and 2 blown saves already, I am selling on Dolis and keep in mind that Carlos Marmol will return from the DL and could end up earning the gig once again.
It usually turns out that the best arm in the bullpen ends up with the closer’s gig. It’s Darwinism and most recently played out in Cincinnati where Aroldis Chapman picked up what will likely be the first of many saves with a strong finish against the Yankees on Sunday. In Anaheim, we have seen Jordan Waldan lose the job after his early season struggles and southpaw Scott Downs then picked it up. I have no complaints with Downs, he was excellent last season with a 1.34 ERA and he has yet to surrender a single run this year in 12 innings. But in Firieri the Angels have a flame-thrower that has fanned 14 batters in 6.2 innings since he was acquired from the Padres. He’s worth picking up since he’ll give you some immediate value and that could soar down the line assuming he gets his hands on the ninth inning.
In his first taste of Big League action, Matt Adams did exactly what he’s done in the minors: rake. The 23-year-old top prospect in the Cardinals system may start the remainder of the season at first base with Lance Berkman possibly lost for the season due to a knee injury. The former 23rd round pick had never hit less than .300 in any of his seasons in the farm system. After blasting 32 home runs with a .300 last season at Double-A, he hammered nine with a .340 average before earning a promotion this season. This is a player worth using your waiver wire priority on, and feel free to up the ante if in an auction waiver wire.
If in need of a power bat, take a look at Dayan Viciedo. The White Sox top prospect got off to a tough start, but has really turned things around lately. On May 13, Viciedo’s batting average dipped below the Mendoza line down to .196. Since then he has enjoyed a seven game hit streak with four home runs and 10 RBI. He will kill you in leagues that consider on base percentage, as he has drawn just three walks all season. On the other hand, his strikeouts are in decline and the White sox even pushed him up to cleanup on Sunday with Paul Konerko out of the lineup. The White Sox know that they will need Viciedo to come up big this season if the team is going to compete, so look for the franchise to do everything to jumpstart their rising slugger.
This 22-year-old outfielder was a second round pick in 2008 and has taken some time to develop. Last season he had 36 steals, but very little power and horrible plate discipline while playing at Double-A. This year Avery started at Triple-A and played at an all-time high level. He drew a ton of walks, hit for power, and was a perfect 8 for 8 on the base paths. Avery has since been called up to the Big Leagues where he got his first Major League against the Yankees. A potential 5-tool talent with youth on his side, Avery has a shot at making an impact in the Big Leagues. He’ll hold down left-field until Nolan Reimold returns and at that point the Orioles will have to make a tough decision. Avery batted leadoff on Sunday for the Orioles and responded with two hits, a run scored, and his first Major League stolen base. He is now batting .312.