This is a great time for baseball. As of Monday morning, there were six teams in the AL within three games of a playoff berth. The NL Central title is at a standstill between the Cardinals and Pirates.
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Ultimately, I see the Cardinals winning the NL Central and the Rays and Royals earning AL wild-card berths. The Rangers look like a team in disarray and their manager, Ron Washington, is doing more harm than good with his outdated views on baseball tactics. Specifically, his fascination with the bunt, which at this point has reached the same level as Americans yearning for cattle at the dinner table.
As I watched the Rangers-Rays game, I couldn’t help but think why the Rays shouldn’t even be in the position they’re in. To begin the year, they buried Wil Myers and Chris Archer in the minor leagues despite having nothing to prove in the minor leagues. Before Myers was called up in June, the Rays were giving important at-bats to the likes of of Luke Scott, Sam Fuld and Sean Rodrigez who have combined WAR (according to Baseball Reference) of 0.4. Wil Myers has a 1.5 WAR, which seems extremely low considering the offensive value he’s provided. Since his call-up, he leads the Rays in OPS with .841.
Roberto Hernandez and his 5.19 ERA (since 2011) was given the fifth spot in the rotation even though Archer was missing a ton of bats in triple-A and during a brief stint in the majors last year. The Rays have a solid reputation of finding players no one wants and turning them into gold. Kyle Farnswarth, James Loney, Grant Balfour, Rafael Soriano and Fernando Rodney are the biggest examples. However, that doesn’t mean they’re batting 1.000 either. Ryan Roberts and Kelly Johnson are two examples of players who haven’t worked out. For the year, Archer has a 2.5 WAR compared to a -0.4 WAR for Hernandez. Combined, Archer and Myers have a WAR of 4.0 compared to a WAR of zero for the replacement players used in their stead.
In my fantasy drafts, I drafted Archer in every league because he, along with Myers, would be called up after the first two weeks of the season after the Rays were guaranteed the extra year of player control. The Rays are an extremely small-market club that has to find ways to maximize every advantage they can both on and off the field. I get it, but keeping both players down as long as they did was due to the organization being cheap. They waited for the Super Two deadline to completely pass before even grabbing a pen to begin to the paperwork to call Myers up. The Super Two deadline has nothing to do with the years of team control, but instead involves a player with that designation to be eligible for arbitration with less than three years of service.
When a team has a healthy Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist and David Price, you have to go all-in and forgo the master plan. Two years ago, I actually rooted for the Rays. But after going out of their way to trade for a rapist in Josh Lueke, acquiring players with extremely questionable pasts in Delmon Young and Yunel Escobar, and how they buried Myers and Archer in the minors has made me realize this is a team I no longer want to root for anymore.
Since this is a daily fantasy recap piece, I better provide some fantasy advice …
- Speaking of the Rays, Alex Cobb had great command and was extremely effective utilizing his change-up/splitter to generate 10 strikeouts while allowing only six hits in eight innings.
- The Indians are scheduled to face four left-handed starters in their next six games, so pick up Ryan Raburn if he’s available. For the year, he has a .804 OPS against lefties and bats in the middle of the lineup when he plays.
- Yordano Ventura, the Royals fifth best prospect according to Baseball Prospectus, will make his big-league debut tomorrow against the Indians. Ventura has a monster fastball (it can touch 100+ mph) in bursts and has the ability to miss a ton of bats; he had a strikeout rate of 24.3% in triple-A. There are many content providers that provide full scouting reports, but I wanted to add my thoughts on starting him in your fantasy lineup. Odds are, if you’re still playing, you’re in the middle of your championship week. The question I have for you: Do you really want to win or lose your fantasy championship on a pitcher making his major-league debut?
- Lastly, if you read my starting pitcher rankings for this week, I apologize for the Jarrord Parker ranking.