The Pirates lefty has fared well in July, but is that reason to believe that the tide has turned on his 2014 season?
It’s no secret that Francisco Liriano remains one of the more electric arms in baseball. He still has a lively fastball, as well as a devastating slider-changeup combination that can induce a myriad of swings-and-misses. When he throws strikes consistently and stays healthy, he can be dominant. Last year, he missed a few starts and only threw 161 innings, but he decimated the NL Central with a 3.02 ERA (2.92 FIP) and struck out more than a batter per inning. Ultimately, he was a top-30 starter and a wonderful surprise in all formats.
Fantasy owners remained skittish when drafting Liriano this spring. His average draft position didn’t reflect his 2013 performance, as owners worried about his health and whether he had truly discovered something that would lead to consistent, reliable performance on the mound.
These bullpen arms might not rack up saves, but they can help you pad other categories in Roto leagues.
In non-dynasty leagues, quality relievers who do not rack up saves are often overlooked. If employed correctly, though, they can be pseudo-saviors for two main types of squads: (1) teams who have an underperforming pitching staff and are striving to recover in specific categories in the second half of the season, and (2) leagues that have strict “games started” limits in order to keep teams from simply streaming starters all season.
Teams who have fallen behind in pitching categories can try to cobble together a trade or two, hoping to bolster their pitching staff for a second-half run. However, trades aren’t always possible. And even in the meantime, it can be useful to target specific relievers who can help in desired categories. This article will outline a few relievers who could be useful waiver-wire pickups to aid in WHIP/ERA or in strikeouts. I’m not including pitcher wins because that seems like a crapshoot.
The Indians' second sacker hasn't lived up to expectations in 2014, but is a turnaround in store?
Prior to the season, the upper fantasy echelon of the second base position appeared to be a rather precarious investment. Robinson Cano inked a mega-contract with Seattle, which made many fantasy owners nervous that his power numbers would spiral down the drain. Dustin Pedroia saw his power production drop precipitously in 2013 and had finally found himself on the wrong side of 30. Ian Kinsler compiled rather pedestrian (for him) numbers a year ago and was transitioning that performance to a more pitcher-friendly environment in Detroit.
The traditional fantasy stalwarts at second base were vulnerable. It seemed a changing of the guard could occur and other guys could step into the limelight—and in some ways, that’s exactly what has happened with Dee Gordon, Jose Altuve, and Anthony Rendon asserting their fantasy dominance in the first half of the 2014 season. After the season, perhaps we must re-evaluate who can now be labeled as “elite” at the position.
The Angel had a fine first half by fantasy keystone standards, but can he sustain or improve on it?
The Buyer’s Guide has been rolling along for the better part of two months at this point. I’ve been dishing out buy, hold and sell recommendations each Monday, and as your high school mathematics teacher likely reminded you dozens of times, it’s imperative to go back and check your work.
The recent surges from April's fantasy slumptrucks.
A couple weeks ago, we discussed some unexpected early-season fantasy studs and asked how they had fared since their brilliant starts to the season. An intrepid commenter suggested a follow-up article that highlighted some players who had accelerated their performance after spinning their wheels out of the gate. This is my humble acquiescence.
Is J.P. buying the Cleveland outfielder's breakout?
With the summer trading season in full swing, the letters “PTBNL” are about to become quite familiar. However, while many trade deadline deals include that mysterious Player To Be Named Later, recent history has taught baseball fans to disregard any such player, as they usually turn out to be inconsequential.
Can one of the league's hottest pitchers keep it up?
I’m flipping the script a bit this week. Y’all brought interesting names to the table in the comments section last week, and while I normally choose an individual player on whom to focus based upon your suggestions, I felt the need to go off the board. Quite simply, it’s because right-hander Jake Arrieta laid waste to Major League Baseball last month. He wasn’t talked about enough in fantasy circles, but after flirting with no-hitters in back-to-back outings, he’s on the tip of every fantasy owner’s tongue.
Through 39 2/3 innings in the month of June, Arrieta compiled a 0.92 ERA with 48 strikeouts and only six walks. He’s gone four consecutive starts in which he’s thrown at least seven innings and struck out nine. Fantasy owners have taken notice, too, as the 28-year-old hurler is now owned in 83.5 percent of ESPN leagues (as of Monday evening). It’s a number that has increased dramatically in the past couple weeks, and owners have begun to ask whether Arrieta is someone to simply plug-and-play while he’s scorching hot, or if this breakout is something more permanent.
These starters may have unexpectedly anchored your staff in the early going, but can they keep it up going forward?
Last week, we discussed the difficulty of evaluating unexpected early-season studs. Their cumulative statistics can often camouflage a subsequent downturn in performance because of a strong month of April, leaving fantasy owners hanging on to overperformers longer than they should. It simply takes too long for the overall numbers to become unpalatable when they’re bolstered by an extremely strong stretch early in the year. Thus, it is important to isolate recent performance and determine whether Cinderella has legitimate staying power as early as possible. Fantasy owners can’t afford to pick up guys like Emilio Bonifacio during his hot stretch and stick with him for the next couple months while he drags his feet behind the remainder of one’s roster.
The Cardinals call up last year's first-round pick to patch a battered rotation.
The Situation: With Jaime Garcia now their third starting pitcher on the disabled list, the Cardinals once again turn to a first-rounder from just one year before to help bolster their starting rotation, calling up left-handed pitcher Marco Gonzales to make his major-league debut on Wednesday.