Taking a look around the league, here’s a recap of last night’s action and suggestions for your fantasy baseball team.
Mr. Clutch (pitcher) – Chris Sale has really found his stride. Against the Angels last night, Sale pitched 7.2 innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out 12, which was a season high. He has not allowed a run in over 20 innings, and the question now is where does he rank among starting pitchers? His average draft rank was 16th, behind R.A. Dickey, and according to ESPN’s player rater, he has been the ninth-best pitcher for the season behind Shelby Miller. If we were to redraft today, I am slotting Sale ninth behind Yu Darvish, Adam Wainwright and Matt Harvey, but ahead of guys like Matt Cain, Cole Hamels and Jered Weaver, who were originally in the top 10.
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Mr. Clutch (hitter) – Another player we need to reevaluate is Paul Goldschmidt. He continued to crush last night, going 4-for-5 with two home runs, four RBIs and four runs. Goldschmidt is only behind Jean Segura on the ESPN’s player rater for the season, but his average draft position was 74, eighth among first basemen. If we were to redraft today, I am putting Goldschmidt as the second first basemen off the board, only behind Prince Fielder. I am generally worried about Votto and his lack of power this season. Goldschmidt has risen above the young first basemen (Freddie Freeman, Eric Hosmer, etc.) to become a genuine top-10 fantasy player going forward.
Surprise, surprise! – Are we ready to live in a world were Eric Chavez is legit? Last night against the Marlins, he went 4-for-5 with a home run, four RBIs and two runs. On the year, he has a .337/.398/.584 slash line with five home runs, 18 RBIs, 14 runs and one steal. For a waiver-wire pickup, he has definitely returned a very good value. Going forward, he is definitely going to regress a bit (.362 BABIP vs. .288 career BABIP), but as long as they are playing him everyday, he should be a solid option. The only thing that concerns me is the lefty/righty splits. He’s batting .354 against right-handed pitching and .200 against left-handed pitching.
Here comes the heat – Adam LaRoche continued his torrid streak last night, going 2-for-4 with two home runs, four RBIs and two runs. He extended his hitting streak to 14 games and has his batting average all the way up to .226, which tells you how awful he started out the season and why he was dropped in so many leagues. He has been one of the hottest players in fantasy right now. In the last 15 days, LaRoche is 13th on ESPN’s player rater. He was drafted as the 16th-best first baseman, and I am ready to sneak him into the top 10 if we redrafted today. What I am saying is he should be owned in more than 68 percent of leagues. That number should be 100 percent by Monday.
Left out in the breeze – Matt Kemp continues to struggle and last night was no different. Against the Braves, Matt Kemp went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts. Matt Kemp has a .273/.320/.344 slash line which is decent, but not from a player taken in the top 5 in most drafts. We are now 600+ plate appearances past his magical 2011 season. The power has been nonexistent, and while he is stealing more than last year, it is nowhere near the 40-steal pace from 2011. I was all in this year on Matt Kemp, and even though his 2.6 percent HR/FB rate should normalize to his career average of 16 percent, I still do not think he is a top-10 fantasy player anymore.
Who’s trending? – What is in the water in Tampa? The revived James Loney has been one of the hottest pickups in the past week and for good reason. Last night, Loney was 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI. He is putting up career numbers across the board, and for a guy who could never hit lefties (career .255), he is batting a whopping .419! While he is not going to produce many home runs or steals, he’s still giving you excellent value and is a must-own in 12-team mixed leagues.
Bench me, please? – The past two seasons really raised the bar for Josh Willingham, but this year has been rough and last night was no different. Against Boston, he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. While the OBP has been solid this season (.367), you did not draft this guy to just get on base, you drafted this guy to hit home runs. With five on the year and a dismal .198 ISO, Willingham has reverted back to 2010 Josh Willingham, and with the eventual DL stint coming, and you know it is coming, I would sell this guy now.
The Streamer – I’m taking Hector Santiago against the Angels tonight. Every year, there is the reliever stretched out to a starting pitcher who gives you top-30 value. Santiago is quietly becoming that guy. Keep an eye out for him.