Taking over the starting pitcher VP list, Mike brings Mike Minor and Javier Vazquez on board.
The first newcomer on this week’s list is, well, me. After nearly two years on the closer beat, I’m shifting over to the starting pitchers as we wish Bill Baer the best of luck in other endeavors, and I have to say, I’m excited for the switch. No more chasing the almighty save or worrying that some poor closer will get lit up at 2 AM ET out in Seattle. Let’s get to the starters on this week’s Value Picks:
With murky situations in Chicago and San Fran, Chris Sale and Jeremy Affeldt join VP this week.
Joining the party
Chris Sale, White Sox (Yahoo! 25%, ESPN 12%, CBS 20%)
In few places has the dichotomy between fantasy baseball and “real” baseball been laid out more clearly than when Chicago manager Ozzie Guillenspoke to theChicago Sun-Times last weekend:
A look at Mike Morse's breakout 2011 and his prospects for the future.
Take a look at the current MLB leaderboard for True Average, won’t you? The top ten, with a minimum of 350 plate appearances, is littered with the kind of names you’d expect to see: Jose Bautista, Matt Kemp, Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto and so on. But just beyond that, tied for 12th at the time of this writing, you’ll see two huge outliers who barely even had MLB careers at this point a year ago: Casey Kotchman and Michael Morse. That’s not even that much of an exaggeration, since on August 11, 2010, Kotchman was on his way to hitting .217/.280/.336 on his fourth team in just over two calendar years, and Morse’s 130 plate appearances to that point nearly matched his combined total in the four previous seasons. One year later, they’re suddenly among the most productive first basemen in the game.
While there wasn't much bullpen activity as expected during this year's trade deadline, there are a few interesting options remaining for VP.
Despite all the craziness of the trade deadline, surprisingly little happened to impact fantasy bullpens. The closers most likely to move—San Diego’s Heath Bell, Washington’s Drew Storen, Florida’s Leo Nunez, and Seattle’s Brandon League—all stayed put. The two setup men most likely to be closers—San Diego’s Mike Adams and Baltimore’s Koji Uehara—each went to Texas, where they will join with Neftali Feliz to form a Ranger bullpen which is terrifying to opponents yet infuriating to fantasy owners wondering who will be the consistent closer. With no relievers ascending to post-deadline closer roles for the first time in recent memory, we’ll have to dig even deeper to find value.
A look at the shakeup in the Cardinals bullpen and a reliever who, even absent saves, could be a major fantasy asset.
Quite a boring day we had yesterday, right? Ervin Santana tosses a no-hitter, Carlos Beltran is a Giant, Colby Rasmus is a Blue Jay, and the Cardinals come away with a mixed bag of relievers who in no way add up to Rasmus. The craziness is only going to get more pronounced as we head into Sunday’s deadline, particularly in the relief world. I don’t need to tell you to pick up Mike Adams, right? I’ll be following the excitement on Twitter, so feel free to hit me up there as well as in the comments.
Mike speculates about the trade deadline, remarks on the messy situation in Chicago, and tries to figure out how the Mets bullpen will shake out.
My team might be 11 games under .500 and mired in the midst of a beyond embarrassing courtroom scandal, but it’s still my favorite time of the year: trade deadline season. Among closers, Heath Bell and Leo Nunez seem to be the most likely to be moved, though we could see some surprises in places like Washington and Kansas City as well. That, of course, means that some current setup men could soon be pushed into new roles over the next week.
Mike analyzes the fallout of the K-Rod trade and the messy situation in Cincinnati.
When I realized my column this week landed on the final day of the All-Star break, my first thought was, “Hooray! No worrying that some closer will get bombed or hurt out in Seattle or San Diego at 2am ET, long after I’ve submitted the article.” That was quickly followed by, “Argh, there probably won’t be much news after four days of inactivity.” Well, so much for that, because the news of Francisco Rodriguez’ trade to Milwaukee was a bombshell. Neither Rodriguez nor John Axford are eligible for inclusion here since they’re owned in nearly every league, but I’ll still weigh in with my two cents: unless Brewers GM Doug Melvin has completely lost his mind, Axford should still be the closer. He’s simply been a better pitcher, and the Brewers won’t want to be on the hook for the $17.5m option Rodriguez will be in line for if he closes enough games.
Mike looks at 2011's crop of young pitchers who maybe be approaching innings limits.
As I was reviewing the first half of the Dodgers season over at my own blog this week (shameless plug here), one topic that came up was the solid performance of rookie starter Rubby de la Rosa. Forced into the rotation about a month ago when fifth starter Jon Garland’s season ended due to injury, he’s offered the club plenty of value (3.74 ERA / 3.94 SIERA), striking out more than a man per inning while doing some on-the-job learning with his control at the major league level. While his debut has been a nice surprise, he is also already nearing a career high in innings pitched with 85 2/3 combined innings under his belt between the minors and majors this year. His previous high was 110 1/3 innings last season, which followed three years in which he totaled just 69 2/3 frames. The Dodgers are woefully out of the chase, so the priority must be on preserving the 22-year-old for the future–not pushing him beyond his limits this year in pursuit of an October run which will almost certainly not come.
Mike looks at the shaky situation in Minnesota and welcomes two high strikeout setup men to VP.
I spent my holiday weekend in the middle of the country, mainly driving from Ohio through Indiana to southern Illinois. If nothing else, I learned this: 80 percent of radio stations in that part of the country are, at any given time, carrying a St. Louis Cardinals game.Nothing at all wrong with that.