Five widely available middle relievers that can make the difference in September.
Whether you’re in a head-to-head or a rotisserie format, your team is likely in one of three places as the calendar flips over to September. You’re either a front-runner looking to load up for a potential playoff/championship push, or you’re on the periphery of the playoff race and desperately trying to make a run, or you’re completely out of it forced to focus on the future in a keeper or dynasty format.
When it comes to pitching statistics this late in the year, especially in a rotisserie format, there are two approaches you can take. If you are in the position where the rate statistics don’t matter and you’re just looking to pick up ground in wins and strikeouts, trolling the free agent wire for low-end streaming options is the way to go. If you’re looking to do the exact opposite, protect your ratios, then one of the most efficient ways to accomplish that is to load up on impact middle relievers.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
A look at whether the young Jays righty can take another step forward in 2015.
Formerly on Fantasy Freestyle, I took a closer look at right-hander Yordano Ventura, whose fantasy stock is a bit inflated after a successful rookie campaign with the Royals. Today we’ll change it up and look at another young American League hurler generating plenty of buzz with the added plot twist that yours truly is even buying the hype.
That young pitcher is Marcus Stroman, who will wear the number six next year. Despite not making his first start until May 31st, Stroman earned $13 in AL-Only leagues this year (according to BP’s valuation Santa Claus Mike Gianella). For comparison, Ventura earned $16 in “only” leagues, but enough about him.
Oscar Taveras and Marcus Stroman earn their diplomas, but Gregory Polanco is still waiting.
The Graduates: Oscar Taveras (2), Marcus Stroman (15)
It only took a year longer than many thought, but Taveras has finally taken his rightful place in the Cardinals’ outfield and lineup. With the ankle injury finally in the rearview mirror, the stud prospect is ready to start hitting for average and power immediately at the major league level. If reading about Taveras is your thing (and frankly, that’s all of us), he got the full Call-Up treatment on Saturday by Jason Parks, with fantasy analysis from yours truly. Stroman, on the other hand, is getting his second shot this season, but this time in the role he was born to play: starting pitcher. In his starting debut, Stroman went six innings while striking out six and allowing five base runners. He should stick and although the performance may be up and down, he’ll be worth owning in leagues as shallow as 12-team mixed.
Examining a handful of players who might pique your interest in deep leagues.
The names aren’t as sad this week, as I get to talk about three young players and Gavin Floyd. You can’t win ‘em all, but things are looking up!
Gavin Floyd, SP, Braves
Remember when the Braves weren’t going to have enough pitching to compete after Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy were lost for the season? Welp... here we are at April’s end, and now we’re wondering where Floyd—a savvy offseason pickup by GM Frank Wren—is going to fit in a crowded rotation once he’s healthy. Floyd is currently on a rehab assignment in High-A, and could be ready for the majors as soon as early-to-mid May.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Blue Jays righty Marcus Stroman and Brewers outfielder Tyrone Taylor.
Hitter of the Night: Tyrone Taylor, OF, Brewers (Brevard County, A+): 5-5, 5 R, 2B, 3B, HR, BB.
Yes, that’s a cycle. Taylor’s offensive outburst came as part of a 20-run onslaught for the Manatees on Tuesday. Taylor is a doubles collector, but two of those potential doubles have cleared the fence in the past two days, a good sign for his future power development.
Pitcher of the Night: Marcus Stroman, RHP, Blue Jays (Buffalo, AAA): 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 10 K.
If this is the swan song for Stroman’s minor-league career, he went out with a bang. There has been speculation that Stroman could get the call this week to take the place of Dustin McGowan. After struggling this spring, he has his three plus pitches working, and the continued development of his changeup could give him a fourth.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Astros first baseman Jonathan Singleton and Blue Jays righty Marcus Stroman.
Hitter of the Night: Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Astros (Oklahoma City, AAA): 3-5, 2 R, 2B, 3B, HR, K.
Apparently the mantle of “best hitter in Oklahoma City” isn’t too much for Singleton to handle now that George Springer is in the big leagues. He won’t be too far behind Springer, though the Astros will probably wait until June to promote him.
Pitcher of the Night: Marcus Stroman, RHP, Blue Jays (Buffalo, AAA): 5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K.
Remember when Stroman struggled badly this spring and everyone worried about whether a short pitcher would be able to generate enough downward plane to miss bats? Well, he’s still short. When Stroman keeps the ball down, he’s lights out, thanks to a plus change-up. He can get hurt when he misses up, but who doesn’t?
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Royals outfielder Brett Eibner and Red Sox lefty Henry Owens.
Hitter of the Night: Brett Eibner, OF, Royals (Ohama, AAA): 5-5, 3 R, 2B, 2 HR.
Eibner is on the fringes of prospect territory these days as a 25-year-old who hit .243 in Double-A last year, but what he can do is hit for power, and when he cuts down on the swings and misses, he can really be an impact player. It just hasn’t happened nearly enough at the upper levels of the minors to this point.
Pitcher of the Night: Henry Owens, LHP, Red Sox (Portland, AA): 6 2/3 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K.
The 21-year-old Owens kept his ERA at 0.00 on the young season with his second straight nine-strikeout performance. When he’s being consistent with his mechanics, Owens generates tremendous downward plane that is difficult to square up and features two potential plus off-speed pitches.
From true relievers to starters who might convert, a look at the arms that could rack up saves or holds down the road.
Nope. I'm not doing it. I'm not dignifying the reliever position with an introduction.
To warrant inclusion here, every pitcher has to a) project to have at least eighth-inning upside, b) project to reach the majors by 2015, and c) project to have a huge impact in either strikeouts or WHIP.