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04-27

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7

Fantasy Freestyle: I’m Very Nervous
by
Mike Gianella

04-27

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9

The Stash List: Fourth Edition
by
Greg Wellemeyer

04-26

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10

Dynasty Dynamics: Should You (Try and) Trade (for) Starling Marte?
by
Ben Carsley

04-26

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4

Deep League Report: Week 4
by
Scooter Hotz

04-25

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4

Closer Report: Week 4
by
Matt Collins

04-24

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0

Player Profile: Tyler Skaggs
by
Wilson Karaman

04-24

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2

The Buyer's Guide: Chase Anderson
by
Eric Roseberry

04-21

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3

Fantasy Freestyle: My Fantasy Investment Portfolio—Minor Leaguers I Own Across Multiple Leagues
by
Scooter Hotz

04-21

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2

Free Agent Watch: Week 3
by
George Bissell

04-21

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17

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 4
by
Mark Barry

04-20

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0

TDGX Transactions: Week 3
by
J.J. Jansons

04-20

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Reconsidering Your Targets
by
Mike Gianella

04-20

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13

The Stash List: Third Edition
by
Greg Wellemeyer

04-19

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1

The Quinton: Where To Find the Trades
by
Jeff Quinton

04-19

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8

Deep League Report: Week 3
by
Scooter Hotz

04-18

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3

Closer Report: Week 3
by
Matt Collins

04-17

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0

The Buyer's Guide: Jason Vargas
by
Eric Roseberry

04-14

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4

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 3
by
Mark Barry

04-14

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5

Fantasy Freestyle: Three Surprising Strikeout Surgers
by
Matt Collins

04-14

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2

Free Agent Watch: Week 2
by
George Bissell

04-14

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: My Fantasy Investment Portfolio: Major League Players I Own Across Multiple Leagues
by
Scooter Hotz

04-13

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10

The Stash List: 2017 Second Edition
by
Greg Wellemeyer

04-13

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0

Deep League Report: Week Two
by
Scooter Hotz

04-12

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0

Daily League Strategy: Week 2: Picking Pitchers
by
Tim Finnegan

04-11

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2

Closer Report: Week 2
by
Matt Collins

04-10

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0

The Buyer's Guide: Mark Reynolds
by
Eric Roseberry

04-07

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14

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 1
by
Mark Barry

04-07

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1

Free Agent Watch: Week 1
by
George Bissell

04-06

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3

Fantasy Freestyle: The PFM and The Model Portfolio
by
Mike Gianella

04-06

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30

The Stash List: 2017 First Edition
by
Greg Wellemeyer

04-06

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1

TDGX Transactions: First & Second FAAB plus first big trade
by
J.J. Jansons

04-05

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Fixing What Broke in Francisco Liriano
by
Alex Chamberlain

04-05

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11

Dynasty Dynamics: Six (Slightly) Delayed Gratification Prospects
by
Ben Carsley

04-05

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2

Deep League Report: Week 1
by
Scooter Hotz

04-05

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4

TDGX Transactions: Amateur Draft
by
J.J. Jansons

04-04

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12

Closer Report: Week 1
by
Matt Collins

04-04

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2

The Quinton: Keeper League Auction Takeaways
by
Jeff Quinton

04-04

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2

Daily League Strategy: Week 1
by
Tim Finnegan

04-03

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0

The Buyer's Guide: Jorge Soler
by
Eric Roseberry

04-03

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Five to Watch: Leadoff Surprises
by
Greg Wellemeyer

03-31

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8

Fantasy Auction Values: Fifth Edition, 2017
by
Mike Gianella

03-31

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0

My Model Portfolio: Boom, Boom, and Hope the Rest Don't Bust
by
Wilson Karaman

03-31

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1

My Model Portfolio: Betts, Old Bats, and Starting Pitching
by
Jeff Quinton

03-30

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1

My Model Portfolio: The Defending Champion
by
Scooter Hotz

03-30

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0

My Model Portfolio: All-In on the Astros Infield
by
Mark Barry

03-30

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1

My Model Portfolio: Defending a Participation Trophy
by
Bret Sayre

03-30

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3

Expert League Auction Recap: Tout Wars General Impressions
by
Mike Gianella

03-29

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0

My Model Portfolio: Man vs. Self
by
Ben Carsley

03-29

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1

My Model Portfolio: Give Me Your Tired
by
Eric Roseberry

03-28

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2

My Model Portfolio: New York State of Mind
by
Tim Finnegan

<< Previous Column Entries Next Column Entries >>

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April 20, 2017 6:00 am

The Stash List: Third Edition

13

Greg Wellemeyer

Julio Urias might need just a little more stretching in the minors before the Dodgers promote him. Bradley Zimmer can't stay stuck in the minors forever. Get ready to ride the Reynaldo Lopez train!

It’s week three of the Stash List and things are moving. We’ve got some graduates, some dropouts, some new blood. Let’s get on with it.

The Graduates: Joe Ross (Previous rank: 5), Martin Prado (8), Joey Gallo (20)

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April 19, 2017 6:00 am

The Quinton: Where To Find the Trades

1

Jeff Quinton

The needs of others can outweigh the needs of yourself.

It’s early, but the post-draft, post-auction, post-opening day euphoria is waning already for most fantasy baseball participants. Some players are doing better than expected, and some are doing worse, even though, only 17 days into the season, we surely are looking at an incomplete picture. Regardless, this is the time when some owners will begin looking for trades.

Is now a good time even to be considering trades? Great question. I believe it is a good time to do so, if only because our competition often is looking to make a trade now. Put differently, the way to get the most back in trades usually is to make a deal with someone else who wants to make a trade, someone who either wants something specific, or who wants to trade a particular player. We know that trades can be difficult because of the endowment effect—our tendency to value something more, simply because we possess it; thus, we always are looking for opportunities to make trades with a team dealing with factors that are counteracting the endowment effect.

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April 19, 2017 6:00 am

Deep League Report: Week 3

8

Scooter Hotz

Jaff Decker, center fielder? Who'd a thunk it? The A's, of course. Where else might you find some value?

Hitters on the bad side of a platoon and lots of non-closing relievers—the Deep League Report has settled into midseason form a little earlier than expected.

AL-only position players

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April 18, 2017 6:00 am

Closer Report: Week 3

3

Matt Collins

Injuries hit the back of Baltimore's and Texas' bullpen. And we're waiting on Fernando Rodney to implode. But who picks up the saves if he does?

Welcome to Week Three of the Closer Report, and while there hasn’t been too much baseball played this year there already is plenty of news to cover. Before we do, though, allow me to direct you back to my Closer Grid, where I update any and all changes as soon as possible. With that out of the way, let’s get right to the news.

Zach Britton hits the disabled list

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April 17, 2017 7:50 am

The Buyer's Guide: Jason Vargas

0

Eric Roseberry

Vargas is off to a hot start for the Royals and has become a wanted man in fantasy league. How much value might he sustain for fantasy owners?

By Eric Roseberry

The Buyer’s Guide is a weekly column designed to help fantasy owners assess a player who sees an increased level of interest during a given week. This column will focus on players who generally have lower than 40 percent ownership rates across various leagues.

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April 14, 2017 6:00 am

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 3

4

Mark Barry

Max Scherzer, Yu Darvish and Michael Fulmer represent the "Auto-Starts" this go-around. As for Steven Wright: Sit!

Every Friday I’ll be previewing the hurlers scheduled for two starts in the upcoming week. Hopefully that will give readers enough insight to make educated lineup moves and FAAB decisions over the weekend. As the old wrestling promoters would always say, “Card Subject to Change"—because lots can happen between the time this goes up and first pitch. Unfortunately, weather, injuries, and tinkering managers make this less than a science. I’ll do my best, though, and should new information present itself after this posts, we can go over it in the comments. We’ll crowd source this as well, so if you hear anything, feel free to comment and we all can offer our takes, hot or not.

Here’s how this works. The pitchers will be split by league using these categories:

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April 14, 2017 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Three Surprising Strikeout Surgers

5

Matt Collins

Where did these whiffers come from?

J.A. Happ

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April 14, 2017 6:00 am

Free Agent Watch: Week 2

2

George Bissell

Grab Asbrubal Cabrera and Michael Lorenzen while you still can. And how about the Ryan Zimmerman revival?

12-Team Mixed Leagues (Must be available in at least 50 percent of ESPN, Yahoo, and CBS leagues)

Hitters

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Who does Scooter love? How about Matt Moore six times?

This past weekend, I had my last two auctions of the season, my AL-only league on Saturday and my NL-only league on Sunday. While I love fantasy baseball, there is a sense of relief that comes from closing the book on drafting and auctioning teams for the year. With a few days of perspective, I repeated an exercise I performed last season and took a look at which players I owned the most often across my seven leagues.

Here’s a high-level rundown of the configuration of my seven leagues:

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April 13, 2017 6:00 am

The Stash List: 2017 Second Edition

10

Greg Wellemeyer

Little has changed so far, but we do have data from early season samples to examine.

With the minor-league season just a week old and the major-league version not much more seasoned than that, there isn’t a whole lot of upheaval since last week’s list. Injuries, promotions, poor performance, and wild speculation will stir it up soon, don’t you worry.

The Graduates: None.

The Dropouts: Collin McHugh (5), Pedro Alvarez (19), JaCoby Jones (23), Roman Quinn (25).

I was bullish on McHugh’s stashability last week, assuming he was a rehab turn or two away from rejoining Houston’s rotation and re-asserting his back-end fantasy value. He made it through just one inning in his first rehab start, and is now shut down for six weeks with an elbow injury. Few pitchers in baseball have thrown as many breakers as McHugh over the past three seasons, so this was probably bound to happen sooner or later. I’m not optimistic enough to leave him on the list as we wait a couple months for a return.

Jones has started six of the Tigers’ seven games, so doesn’t really fit the profile for this column seeing as how he has something close to a full-time opportunity. I like the power-speed potential, though his contact inability and down-the-order lineup position limit his fantasy ceiling.

1) Julio Urias (LHP)—Los Angeles Dodgers (Previous Rank: 1)

Urias made his 2017 debut for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Monday, allowing two runs in 3 2/3 innings, striking out five and walking four. More important than the results was his pitch count. Despite limited action this spring, Urias threw 79 pitches, and might be more stretched out than I originally anticipated. Physically ready or not, Dave Roberts suggested that “some time at the end of the month makes sense” for his arrival. I’ll take the over.

2) Yoan Moncada (2B)—Chicago White Sox (Previous Rank: 2)

I’m trying not to be swayed by the in-person looks I got at Moncada this week, but am having a hard time. He swatted a home run on Monday that sounded like he hit the ball with a telephone pole, and yesterday he thumped a pitch on the outer half off the top of the wall in the opposite-field gap. Oh, and those were from different sides of the plate. While I still have concerns about the strikeout rate that aren’t likely to be answered in the short term, Moncada is going to be very impactful very soon.

3) Jorge Soler (OF)—Kansas City Royals (Previous Rank: 3)

Soler swung a bat Sunday for the first time since injuring his oblique on Feb. 26 and could begin a rehab assignment next week. Paolo Orlando is off to a .125/.192/.125 start in his stead, which is to say that the job is still firmly Soler’s as soon as he can get back.

4) Michael Conforto (OF)—New York Mets (Previous Rank: 4)

This is what happens, Terry.

5) Joe Ross (RHP)—Washington Nationals (Previous Rank: Unranked)

An unintentional omission from last week’s list, Ross is at Triple-A Syracuse because the Nats don’t need a fifth starter until April 22. Ross was beaten up a bit in his first start for the Chiefs, but I don’t think his major-league rotation spot is in any jeopardy regardless of what happens while he’s on the farm.

6) Jose Berrios (RHP)—Minnesota Twins (Previous Rank: 6)

7) Reynaldo Lopez (RHP)—Chicago White Sox (Previous Rank: 7)

Berrios surely can use his time in Rochester for refinement, but he has absolutely nothing left to prove at that level from a performance standpoint. After six shutout innings in his first appearance, Berrios now owns a 2.48 ERA and 215-to-51 K-to-BB ratio in 193 Triple-A innings. Adalberto Mejia, who won the last spot in the Twins’ rotation with a solid spring, couldn’t get out of the second inning in an ugly major league debut. Lopez’s run prevention and ability to pitch deep into games in the early going at Triple-A Charlotte leave much to be desired. His 15 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings does not.

8) Martin Prado (3B)—Miami Marlins (Previous Rank: 9)

9) Devin Mesoraco (C)—Cincinnati Reds (Previous Rank: 12)

10) Wilson Ramos (C)—Tampa Bay Rays (Previous Rank: 10)

11) Tom Murphy (C)—Colorado Rockies (Previous Rank: 11)

Injury update time. Prado was cleared to begin a rehab assignment Wednesday and began in High-A. The plan is for Prado to play four games and, barring a setback, he could return to Miami for full action next week. Mesoraco’s through four games of his rehab assignment at Double-A Pensacola but has yet to catch back-to-back contests. Playing time upon his return is unclear, but especially if you’re a Gary Sanchez or Buster Posey owner, Mesoraco is worth a stash because of his imminent activation and upside. Nothing to report on Ramos or Murphy.

12) Austin Meadows (OF)—Pittsburgh Pirates (Previous Rank: 13)

13) Bradley Zimmer (OF)—Cleveland Indians (Previous Rank: 16)

14) Blake Swihart (C) Boston Red Sox (Previous Rank: 15)

Small sample fun: Meadows has a .374 OPS, Zimmer has just four strikeouts in 27 at-bats, and Swihart has caught all give games in which he’s played. I expect one of these things to continue.

15) Lucas Giolito (RHP)—Chicago White Sox (Previous Rank: 7)

16) Jose De Leon (RHP)—Tampa Bay Rays (Previous Rank: 14)

I’m officially worried about Giolito. Reports from both spring training and his first outing at Triple-A Charlotte have his fastball in the low-90s. Mixed-league value is going to be hard to come by unless that changes, and the Pale Hose have no reason to push him to the big leagues in the meantime. I said last week that De Leon would need to return to action soon to hold on to his spot on the list, and there is no update to his injury status. Tick, tick, tick.

17) Archie Bradley (RHP)—Arizona Diamondbacks (Previous Rank: 21)

Last week I said that “10 of the seven outs Bradley recorded were by way of strikeout,” which is mathematically impossible, no matter how impressive Bradley was in his first appearance. He didn’t quite have the same swing-and-miss stuff in his second outing, but he did allow just one baserunner in two innings of work. I’d give him one more shot in the rotation if I were the Diamondbacks, but he could be plenty relevant if he becomes one of the next Andrews Miller we’ve heard so much about this spring. Because, you know, everyone has one of those just lying around waiting to be deployed optimally.

18) Cody Bellinger (1B)—Los Angeles Dodgers (Previous Week: Honorable Mention)

19) A.J. Reed (1B)—Houston Astros (Previous Rank: 17)

20) Joey Gallo (3B)—Texas Rangers (Previous Rank: 18)

21) Trey Mancini (1B)—Baltimore Orioles (Previous Rank: Unranked)

22) Dan Vogelbach (1B)—Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 20)

Leaving Bellinger off the proper list last week was a mistake, considering I included four inferior players with similarly ambiguous paths to regular time. He’ll have to really rake in Triple-A to force the Dodgers into giving him the call, much less installing him as an everyday, fantasy relevant player. Bellinger has the tools to do it though, bringing significant power if he can keep the strikeouts in check, with a bit of speed to boot. Mancini replaces Alvarez by virtue of playing the same position(s) and already being in the majors.

23) Franklin Barreto (SS)—Oakland Athletics (Previous Rank: Unranked)

24) J.P. Crawford (SS)—Philadelphia Phillies (Previous Rank: 22)

I still believe that Crawford arrives first, and that Barreto is more valuable in our game because of his speed and the security of his hit tool. He’s off to a blistering start at Triple-A Nashville, but I don’t see the A’s rushing him in a non-competitive season. Chad Pinder likely gets the first shot at playing time when Jed Lowrie gets hurt. I’m willing to hedge against that assumption with a spot at the bottom of the list. Crawford is off to whatever is the opposite of a blistering start.

25) Aaron Altherr (OF)—Philadelphia Phillies (Previous Rank: 24)

Playing time has been in short supply, but you have to figure the Phillies will see what they have with some of their controllable assets before too long. I still believe in the power-speed combo here, even if I’m nervous about its utility because of suspect contact ability.

Honorable Mention: Ozzie Albies, Jorge Alfaro, Tyler Beede, Carter Capps, Matt Duffy, Delino DeShields, Dilson Herrera, Ketel Marte, Francis Martes, Jesse Winker

I’d like to include someone from Texas’, and maybe Washington’s bullpen, I just don’t have any conviction about who it should be. Matt Bush and Koda Glover are my hunches, but neither is making an especially strong case just yet.

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April 13, 2017 6:00 am

Deep League Report: Week Two

0

Scooter Hotz

Injuries beget playing time for backups, and a closer already has lost his job.

Injuries to prominent players such as Gary Sanchez, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Trea Turner have freed up playing time for some bench players. A closer lost his job, too, and the guy who is taking over isn’t the guy that most people thought it would be. Plus, the usual assortment of bullpen arms with good strikeout rates or a shaky closer ahead of them and hitters on the bad side of a platoon. It might be mid-April, but the Deep League Report is rounding into midseason form.

AL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS

Guillermo Heredia

He wasn’t a lock to head north with the big club after spring training, but Guillermo Heredia made the Mariners roster. The 26-year-old Cuban is a plus defender at all three outfield spots with a good approach at the plate, but he doesn’t have much in the way of home-run power or stolen-base potential. He’s a fourth outfielder for now behind Leonys Martin, Jarrod Dyson and Mitch Haniger, so he won’t get regular plate appearances for the time being, but Dyson and Haniger haven’t been everyday players in the majors before, so it’s not-too hard to imagine one of them struggling and Heredia getting a shot at a larger role. And note that he’s a better bet in OBP leagues than AVG leagues due to his plate discipline.

Austin Romine

The injury to Sanchez has given Romine a shot at regular playing time behind the plate for the Yankees for around a month. He’s not much of a hitter with a career line of .219/.256/.324 in 371 plate appearances, but in deep AL-only leagues, a starter’s share of playing time is a big asset, even if the guy doing the hitting isn’t a particularly strong hitter. Kyle Higashioka was recalled to back up Romine, but he shouldn’t pose much of a threat to Romine’s playing time unless Romine really craters. Anecdotally, I bought Wilson Ramos in my AL-Only home league this past Saturday, giving me zero plate appearances for the first few months of the season at one of my catching slots. It made sense for me to pursue Romine to give me a good number of plate appearances at a slot that otherwise would be a dead one. I bid $6 of my $100 FAAB budget on Romine for this coming week and won him, causing me to do a little fist pump after the bids were processed. Deep AL-only and NL-only leagues make us do weird things.

Chris Young

The knee injury that landed Bradley on the DL has landed Chris Young a spot in the Boston lineup for as long as Bradley is out. So far, there is no timeline for Bradley’s return, so there’s no way to say how long the 33-year-old Young will be in the lineup. He has been a batting-average risk in the past but, to his credit, he has hit above .250 in each of the past two seasons. His speed on the base paths is mostly gone, but he still has a bit of home-run pop and will be hitting in a high-scoring Red Sox lineup. If you’re short on plate appearances, Young can help until Bradley gets back.

Other Options: Higashioka, Austin Jackson, Trey Mancini

AL-ONLY PITCHERS

Brad Peacock

When he was added to the Astros roster at the start of the season, Peacock was expected to be a long reliever. So far, he has thrown 3 2/3 innings across three appearances, which isn’t terribly long. Those innings have been very good, as he’s currently posting a 0.00 ERA and a 0.55 WHIP with six strikeouts and two walks. He’s about as far down the list for saves in Houston as it gets, so don’t expect anything from him in that category, but he could be useful for rate stats and strikeouts going forward. Plus, writing about Peacock lets me link to this clip, which is nice.

Adam Warren

The fact that Adam Warren can throw multiple innings per outing makes him a valuable asset to the Yankees out of their bullpen and makes him a valuable asset to his owners in deep AL-only leagues, too. Like Brad Peacock, he’s unlikely to get within spitting distance of saves. What Warren should do is post good rate stats and a decent number of strikeouts. Yes, I know that the 29-year-old has never struck out a batter per inning in a full season, but his ability to throw multiple innings and even pick up a spot start or two allow him to throw more innings than most relievers, enabling him to rack up K's. And for what it’s worth, he has a perfect 0.00 ERA and a perfect 0.00 WHIP with seven strikeouts (and no walks or hits, obviously) in six innings across three appearances.

Blake Parker

The 4.50 ERA that Parker is sporting right now isn’t all that attractive, but the rest of his line is: a 0.75 WHIP with seven strikeouts and no walks in four innings out of the Angels bullpen. I watched him throw an inning during the first week of the season, and the batters he faced looked uncomfortable. I couldn’t tell if it was the movement on his pitches or his annoyingly twitchy pre-pitch routine that unsettled his opponents, but whatever it was, he looked like he was in complete command of each plate appearance. At 31 years old, the 6’3” righty is no rated rookie, but he could be helpful with rate stats and strikeouts in deep leagues for owners looking to fill in a vacancy on their staff via the free-agent pool. And given the uncertainty in the Angels’ bullpen, it isn’t difficult to imagine a scenario where Parker inherits the closer’s role a month or two from now thanks to his own hot start and the failings of the pitchers ahead of him on the depth chart.

Other Options: Danny Farquhar, Zach Putnam, Jose Leclerc

NL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS

Wilmer Difo

The injury to Turner (along with another to Stephen Drew) means more playing time for Difo and in the short term. The 25-year-old Difo doesn’t have a lot of power, but he has legitimate speed and could pick up a handful of steals in short order before Turner returns. It looks like Turner won’t be out much longer, so don’t expect more than a week or two of starter’s playing time from Difo. If you could use some steals in the short term, though, Difo is a decent bet.

Alen Hanson

He doesn’t have regular playing time at second, shortstop or third with Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer and David Freese starting, but none of those three are great bets to hit enough and stay healthy enough to keep Hanson on the bench all season. The 24-year-old doesn’t have much home-run power, but he has stolen more than 30 bases in four of the past five minor-league seasons. In the current low-steal environment, Hanson could swipe enough bags to be an asset in deep NL-only leagues, even if he spends the year as a utility infielder.

Jabari Blash

If you need power in a deep NL-only league, take a long look at Jabari Blash. Throughout his minor-league career, the 27-year-old has been a classic Three True Outcomes hitter, launching loads of home runs and drawing plenty of walks while striking out a ton. The 6’5” outfielder hasn’t gotten much playing time yet, but he could at least end up on the bad side of a platoon if any of the trio of young outfielders starting for the Padres struggle for an extended period of time. His walk rate makes him an appealing option in OBP leagues, but if he can’t get his career strikeout rate below 40 percent sometime soon, he won’t get a chance to draw many walks.

Other Options: T.J. Rivera, Scott Van Slyke

NL-ONLY PITCHERS

Joaquin Benoit

In the wake of Jeanmar Gomez’ implosion over the weekend, Joaquin Benoit was named the new closer in Philadelphia. The 39-year-old was a bit of a surprise selection over Hector Neris, who was stashed by many owners in deep leagues in their auctions. Benoit might have been selected as much for his guaranteed contract as he was for his pitching ability—each save racked up by the arbitration-eligible Neris would increase his probable salary in arbitration. This isn’t a problem with Benoit since he has a guaranteed contract. What matters for roto purposes is that Benoit will be getting the saves for Phillies for the foreseeable future, and that makes him pretty valuable in deep NL-only leagues, where saves are only available in the free-agent pool a few times per season. If you need a closer, you should feel comfortable bidding 30 to 40 percent of your FAAB on the veteran.

Ryan Buchter

He picked up a save during the first week of the season, but Buchter isn’t the closer in San Diego. For now, anyway. The 30-year-old is currently the setup man behind Brandon Maurer and managed to pick up that save when Maurer was unavailable after pitching in each of the two previous games. The big lefty piles up lots of strikeouts, posting an 11.1 K/9 last season and a 12.3 K/9 in the early going this season. Maurer is far from a sure thing, so if he stumbles, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Buchter start racking up saves in addition to strikeouts despite the aversion that many teams have toward naming lefty closers.

Kevin Siegrist

A favorite of mine for the past few years, Kevin Siegrist is off to a poor start in St. Louis with a 19.29 ERA and a 3.43 WHIP in 2 2/3 innings after a disastrous outing against the Nationals in which he surrendered five runs in 1/3 of an inning. Walks always have been the most troublesome aspect of Siegrist’s profile and they have hurt him this year, as he has issued four already across three appearances. More troubling is that Siegrist hasn’t been striking out guys like he has in years past, with only one strikeout so far. With only 2 2/3 innings thrown, we probably can’t draw credible conclusions, and the safest bet would to assume that the 27-year-old will stabilize and return to the level he established over the previous two seasons. However, it just might be that I need to stop living in the past and entertain the possibility that one of my favorite non-closing relievers isn’t as good as he used to be.

Other Options: Brad Hand, Hector Rondon, Archie Bradley

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April 12, 2017 6:00 am

Daily League Strategy: Week 2: Picking Pitchers

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Tim Finnegan

Skills—for the pitcher, for his opponent and his even own lineup—all matter when picking for daily leagues. But so does ballpark environment.

In Week 1, we discussed basic strategies for picking hitters to roster in daily leagues. One of the key points from that article is that fantasy owners want to find hitters who have a good chance to be in a high run-scoring environment. Focusing on opposing-pitcher quality—meaning, finding opposing pitchers who do not usually effectively prevent runs, prevent extra base hits, or prevent baserunners—is a good first step.

This week, we'll do the opposite and focus on basic ways to pick pitchers. Generally, when picking a pitcher, I look for a few key things. I want a pitcher who has a good chance to be in a low run-scoring environment, because pitchers are docked points for allowing earned runs. I want a pitcher who will pitch deep into the game, because pitchers gain points the more innings they throw, and in some formats for quality starts (6+ IP of 3 ER or less). I want a pitcher who will get enough run support to be in position for a victory, because pitchers earn points when they are credited with the win. And I want a pitcher who is going to rack up strikeouts, because pitchers get points for strikeouts. It’s sometimes difficult to find all of these qualities in one pitcher, so I look for as many as possible.

To do this, considering the quality of the opposing team that the pitcher is facing is important, just like with picking hitters. A punchless lineup in a pitcher's park on a chilly night is going to have a more difficult time scoring runs than a high-powered lineup in a hitter's park on a hot summer night. A lineup that has a lot of swing-and-miss in it, like the 2016 Brewers, who had a team-strikeout rate near 26 percent, makes it more likely that a pitcher can generate strikeouts. A team starting an ineffective pitcher against a team that is running out their own ace makes it more likely that the ace pitcher will get run support and be in position for the win, because his opponent is starting a pitcher who is prone to giving up runs.

Looking at splits is important, too. If a lineup is right-handed heavy, starting a pitcher who eats up righties, someone like Julio Teheran, can be another good way to increase the chances of run prevention and the accumulation of strikeouts. Teheran’s numbers have been dramatically better against right-handed hitters. Since the start of 2015, Teheran has an outstanding .570 OPS against, 2.78 Fielding Independent Pitching and 26.4 percent strikeout rate against right-handed batters. Home splits are also notable. Starting pitchers league-wide are more effective at preventing runs and baserunners in home games. The reason for this could be related to the pregame bullpen. A home pitcher throws his pregame bullpen and goes right to the mound while he’s hot, while the road pitcher sits in the dugout after his bullpen and cools down for a half-inning. That’s one theory, anyway. I generally favor picking a home pitcher over a road pitcher when most factors are close because of the league splits, assuming the pitcher’s home park isn’t a haven for scoring runs due to environmental or ballpark effects.

In terms of the pitcher's own skill set, the primary stats I look at when picking pitchers are OPS against, ERA, FIP, and strikeout rate (K%—not K/9). I prefer K% over K/9 because K% uses the total number of batters faced and paints a more accurate picture of strikeout skill. Finding pitchers who are efficient with their pitch counts also is helpful for finding pitchers who can get deep into games and rack up points for innings pitched.

So, for example, yesterday I picked Carlos Carrasco for a few reasons. Obviously, Carrasco’s own skills are really good, but the matchup he had is what grabbed my attention the most. Carrasco was facing a below-average White Sox team at Cleveland that has a lineup projected to score in the bottom five league-wide in total runs for the rest of the season. The opposing pitcher for the White Sox was James Shields, one of the least-effective pitchers in baseball over the past year. Carrasco looked like a good bet to prevent runs, get run support and be in position to get the win. Shields ended up only giving up one run, so run support wasn’t there like I had expected, but Carrasco pitched well enough to score well in fantasy by logging seven innings pitched, getting seven strikeouts, and allowing one run and four hits. Identifying favorable situations like these is something I find important when making pitching choices in daily leagues.

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