Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses fantasy players on the decline.
Chris Perez, RP, Indians
He has allowed nine runs, five of which were earned, seven hits, and three walks in 1.1 innings in his past two games, leading to back-to-back blown saves. Indians set-up man Vinnie Pestano has not surrendered a run in the past 19 innings pitched, giving him a 1.29 ERA and .94 WHIP on the season. He could be the next closer for the team.
David Wright, 3B, Mets
After hitting .351 in the first half of the season, he has batted .231 since the All-Star break. He had 47 strikeouts in the first half, but already has 29 in the 24 games since the break. His fantasy value is getting lower, but still could bat .300 on the season.
Yu Darvish, SP, Rangers
In his last seven starts, he is 2-4 with a 6.75 ERA. He has 58 strikeouts in 45.1 IP during that stretch, but also has issued 25 walks. The hot Texas summer may be affecting his play in the second half.
John Axford, RP, Brewers
Since June 7, Axford has a 7.03 ERA in 25 games. Prior to this, he had a 3.22 ERA. He is not only giving up walks, but is also getting hit hard. Axford picked up the save on Monday, but it was Jim Henderson who got the save Tuesday night. Henderson throws heat, and has dominated as a closer in the minors this year. Look to him to be a possible new closing option for the Brewers.
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Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw breaks down the fantasy implications of two players’ MLB debuts and the potential trades of five players who are most likely to be moved.
The Big Debuts
Matt Harvey, SP, Mets
Finally some good news for Mets fans as 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey made his debut Thursday night and it was a memorable one to say the least. Harvey set a Mets record for a debut with 11 strikeouts and did not allow a run to score in 5.1 innings.
Harvey touched 98 MPH on the radar gun and got some K’s with high fastballs while also getting some weak swings by putting sliders in the dirt. Don’t expect all of his starts to go this smoothly, but Harvey is a strikeout artist who should continue to rack up the K’s, though it could come with some walks as well.
Starling Marte, OF, Pirates
On the first Major League pitch he saw, Starling Marte made his mark, blasting a home run. The 23-year-old outfielder is an instant upgrade for the contending Pirates. Marte has some power, as he blasted 12 home runs with 13 triples and 21 doubles at Triple-A. He lacks plate discipline, but also has some speed. I do not see Marte having too much fantasy value this year aside from what could be a hot start since the Major Leaguers lack an in-depth scouting report on him. Regardless, the future is now for the Pirates and Marte only makes the team more interesting.
Five Players Most Likely to be Moved
1) Zack Greinke, SP, Brewers
The Brewers have come out and acknowledged that they are going to trade their ace, which makes it clear that no long-term commitment could be reached with Zack Greinke. Ultimately, a trade to a contender will do fantasy managers some good, but at varied levels.
If he goes to the Rangers: The hitter’s ballpark is bound to lead to some extra runs so Greinke’s ERA may spike, but he will also enjoy the best run support possible. This is the trading partner that makes the most sense for everyone. Greinke owns a sensational 2.38 lifetime ERA at Rangers Ballpark.
If he goes to the Angels: Greinke should continue to post similar numbers but with a few extra wins thanks to the offensive star power of Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo. You can expect a big second half from the ace who is 44-45 in the first half of seasons and 41-31 following the All-Star break.
If he goes to the Braves: This is the best ballpark for Grienke, plus in the NL he faces opposing pitchers, which will keep his ERA lower. Greinke is 25-9 in 49 starts with a National League club.
2) Jonathan Broxton, RP, Royals
The interest in Jonathan Broxton has been limited on the trade market and it may be for a couple of reasons. First, few contenders are desperate for a closer or late reliever right now. Also, Broxton’s numbers are not as good as they appear. He is not getting many strikeouts, which is a reversal of his career trend. He is also allowing 1.40 runners on base each inning, which is a recipe for destruction in late innings. The Royals are wise to put him on the block.
3) Jason Vargas, SP, Mariners
With the demands so high for front-of-the-rotation hurlers such as Greinke and James Shields, alternatives such as Jason Vargas are becoming attractive for teams. Vargas has won four straight starts and now owns a career high 11 wins this season. So when he does get traded, what does this mean to his fantasy value? The run support will increase, but his ERA will also soar. He has a 4.67 ERA on the road this season compared to 2.63 at home, which explains everything you need to know about the 29-year-old southpaw.
4) Francisco Liriano, SP, Twins
When the Twins dealt their ace Johan Santana to the Mets a few years back, they not only assumed that some of the prospects from the trade would turn into stars, but the hope was that Francisco Liriano would step up as an able replacement at the top of the rotation. Though he did enjoy some success in 2010 with 14 wins, a 3.62 ERA and a career high 202 strikeouts, the following two seasons have been disastrous.
Liriano has found himself in the bullpen and even in the minors over the last two seasons while sustaining an ERA north of 5.00 in the Majors. The positive signs this season are that the opposition is hitting just .239 against Liriano and he is fanning more than a batter per inning. On the other hand, his control is lacking, which makes him a major gamble for whoever brings him in via trade.
5) Yunel Escobar, SS, Blue Jays
After a strong 2011 season that included 11 home runs, a .290 average and .369 on-base percentage, Escobar has struggled this season. His average is down to .255, his OBP is .299 and his 19 extra-base hits have resulted in a .342 slugging percentage.
Escobar has shown some life recently with a five-game hitting streak, but there is growing concern about his character according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, which may scare off some suitors. Keep in mind that Toronto is a favorable hitter’s park and the Blue Jays lineup has posted a lot of runs. The 29-year-old Cuban does not make for a very good fantasy investment.
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If in Texas everything is big, Rangers veteran hurler Scott Feldman fits right in at 6’7”. Despite the imposing figure, Feldman is actually something of a soft-tosser who gets by with finesse. In 2009, Feldman did more than just get by. He was sensational in the franchise’s transition into one of the league’s better pitching rotations. He finished with a 17-8 record and a 4.08 ERA and 1.28 WHIP.
Since then, the journey has been a bit rockier for Feldman despite the team’s good fortune, reaching back-to-back World Series. He struggled in 2010 and then last season was only healthy enough to contribute 32 innings, though he was solid with a 3.94 ERA and stellar 1.09 WHIP.
Now 29 years old, Feldman has regained his health and has assumed a role as a spot-starter for the Rangers. He performed admirably on Monday, pitching 4.2 innings while surrendering no earned runs. His ERA is down to 3.00 through 15 innings of work.
Never much of a strikeout artist, Feldman does offer some solid control and keeps the ball in the park, which isn’t easy pitching in Arlington. If he can somehow stick in the rotation, Feldman has a shot at enjoying fantasy value with plenty of wins and a respectable ERA and WHIP. However, for now he is a fantasy afterthought with greater value in reality.
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BY ROB SHAW
Get to know Drew Smyly, a 22-year-old southpaw nabbed out of Arkansas with a second round pick in 2010. Smyly made his Major League debut last week and the nerves were obvious as he surrendered three walks and gave up four hits in just four innings of work. More impressively, Smyly did fan four batters and allowed just one run as he was removed with a no decision.
In his one year of minor league service, Smyly was dominant. He finished 11-6 with a 2.07 ERA with more than a strikeout per inning and impeccable control. Smyly took the mound on Tuesday against the Royals and was sensational. He this time only walked one batter, and though he surrendered seven hits, they did not lead to any earned runs. Unfortunately, a lack of run support in the early innings led to another no-decision for the rookie.
A true test follows this weekend, as Smyly is slated to face the Rangers on Sunday. Considering how well the Rangers have been hitting, it may be a good idea to keep the southpaw on your fantasy bench. On the other hand, Smyly is becoming a must-start these days with a 0.90 ERA through his first two starts.
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