June 2013

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RotoAuthority League Update: Fantasy All-Stars, Hitters Edition

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 3 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he’s not one of them.

We've reached that time of the season when fans vote for who they would like to see play in the All-Star Game. Now clearly the value of a player in real baseball can be quite different from his worth in fantasy baseball. You didn't come here for advice on how to fill out your All-Star ballot, though. Accordingly, let's see which players have been the fantasy All-Stars in the RotoAuthority League. As usual, it's not about overall production but rather profit relative to the investment.


Evan Gattis

Owner: Forty 2 Twenty 4

Investment: Free Agent Pickup

Current 5 X 5 Value: $17

First of all, Gattis is the best story of the season from a human interest perspective. In the far less significiant world of fantasy baseball, he's also the leader among players with catcher eligibility in both HR and SLG. He came out of the gates on fire in April and then continued with a solid May. He's struggling thus far in June and no longer playing everyday with both Brian McCann and Jason Heyward back from the DL. Still, it's all gravy at this point, as this is a player who went undrafted in most Mixed Leagues.

First Base

Chris Davis

Owner: Gramma Nutt Crushers

Investment: 12th Round pick

Current 5 X 5 Value: $40

Who knew Miguel Cabrera would be available in Round 12 of fantasy drafts this year? Well, Crush Davis has been the closest thing to Miggy, and he came at a fraction of the cost. With better plate discipline and improved performance against southpaws, Davis is now a fantasy monster. To me, this looks completely legitimate, and I view him as a top ten player going forward. Say hello to a new member of Round 1 in 2014.  

Second Base

Matt Carpenter

Owner: Say It Ain't So Cano

Investment: 21st Round pick

Current 5 X 5 Value: $21

Second base has been somewhat of a wasteland in fantasy baseball this year. Case in point, Daniel Murphy has actually been a top-8 performer at the position even though his numbers don't really jump off the page. The same can also be said for the most profitable player at the position, the versatile Carpenter. Many fantasy pundits recommended drafting Carpenter in the preseason and then waiting for him to attain eligibility at second. Well, any fantasy owners who followed that advice have certainly reaped the benefits. This is a player who is even better in real baseball and looks like a solid option at second base for the next several years.

Third Base

Josh Donaldson

Owner: Brewsterville Bruins

Investment: Free Agent Pickup

Current 5 X 5 Value: $21

Often in fantasy baseball there's wisdom in the masses, and the fantasy community can anticipate breakout performances even before they take place. Sometimes we're not so prescient, but breakout campaigns do make sense in hindsight during the winter. At other times, though, a player takes his game to a new level, and it's difficult to explain even after the fact. For me, Josh Donaldson is one such example. Here's a player my beloved Cubs once traded to acquire the injury-prone Rich Harden, so this isn't a player who comes with a particularly great pedigree. Even so, we're now in mid-June, and he lies just outside the top 5 at third base. What's more, all of this production has come from a player whom any owner could have had in a Mixed League in April.


Jean Segura

Owner: Reedy

Investment: 21st Round pick

Current 5 X 5 Value: $37

The top value at shortstop is also the best player overall. In a season in which stolen base totals are down dramatically, Segura offers a rare combination of power and speed at a relatively thin position. In fact, he's the only infielder with double-digit totals in HR and SB thus far. Like Davis, this looks mostly real to me. Don't expect Segura to be available beyond Round 3 next year in drafts.  


Domonic Brown

Owner: Smell the Glove

Investment: 20th Round pick

Current 5 X 5 Value: $28

A post-hype sleeper that has paid dividends, Brown has rewarded any fantasy owners who still believed in his tools. It's rather challenging to figure out whether Brown is for real. After all, he has just 2 No Doubt HR on the season. Also, there's certainly more to plate discipline than taking a walk, but a walk rate around 6% coupled with an ISO near .300 does not seem sustainable. At this point, fantasy owners have already turned a tremendous profit, but here's one player whose second half will be interesting to follow.

Starling Marte

Owner: Forty 2 Twenty 4

Investment: 17th Round pick

Current 5 X 5 Value: $25

Another player whose speed has led to enhanced value due to the leaguewide decline in stolen bases, Marte may be on the verge of fantasy stardom. The key category for his value going forward will be in the BA department. The BABIP is a tad high but not unsustainably so for a player with his speed. If Marte's BA approaches .260, he's a good but unspectacular fantasy option. However, if this is a true .290 hitter, we have another fantasy stud alongside Andrew McCutchen in the Pittsbugh outfield.

Nate McLouth

Owner: Smell the Glove

Investment: Free Agent Pickup

Current 5 X 5 Value: $22

Like Brown, McLouth is another excellent find in the outfield for the current leader in the RotoAuthority League, Tim Dierkes. Here's a player with a truly odd career path. Following the 2008 season, this looked like a fantasy superstar. For several years then, McLouth was simply waiver wire fodder in Mixed Leagues. In the second half of last season, though, something may have clicked in Baltimore. Fantasy owners who speculated early on him in light of his hot start have to be more than delighted with his second-best total of 23 stolen bases in the American League. Even if he slows down going forward, that speed is especially valuable this year, so McLouth will hold significant worth all season long.

Stock Watch: Trade Your Prospects

Real-life Major League teams are getting more and more sensible these days, holding onto prospects like a miser with a bag of pennies. Sure, sometimes they still trade away next year's top shortstop for a mid-season rental, but those Jean Segura warning stories just seem to make most teams all the more protective of their best prospects. 

You, on the other hand, should do no such thing. There's no next year in fantasy (unless you play in a keeper league, in which case this advice has little to do with your situation), so deal away. Because it makes a much easier transition, let's shake things up and start off with some great prospects to trade away....

Trade Away (All Your Favorite Prospects)

I suggested nabbing Zack Wheeler last week--and I spent nearly half my yearly FAAB budget to get him on one team--so why am I telling you to deal him away now? I mean, he hasn't even gotten to pitch yet! The reason is that now could very well be the peak of his value. For every Shelby Miller, there are several Kevin Gausman's (Gausmen?). If Wheeler pitches poorly in his first start, his value drops by a lot, but right now he's still got that new-car smell, that untainted, sky's-the-limit, prospect essence. If you sell now for a proven commodity, there is a real chance that you undersell his value. And a real chance that you win the deal big. What you can get, though, is the safety of acquiring the kind of proven player that can't be found on the waiver wire. 

Like Wheeler, it would have been a safe (and usually advisable) play to deal Gerrit Cole before his first start: though Cole is a higher-level prospect, uncertainty still remains with any pitcher in their situation. Owners are obviously glad they didn't trade him, as his value has gone up. Now he's proven to be able to handle big league hitters. I bet there are plenty of leagues in which you can get a star caliber return for Cole right away. Most of you probably already know which owner to offer the trade to....

Yasiel Puig is another prospect like Cole, who might be able to fetch a serious return. His early success really might carry into continued great hitting...or it might not, or he might slump just in time to get squeezed out of the outfield when the better-paid Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford return from the DL. Sell him while you can!

Jurickson Profar is another sell-high candidate another prospect worth trading. I actually released him in one league the week before Ian Kinsler got injured. I'm not exactly kicking myself for that decision, though I certainly did at first. Profar may or may not be "ready" for the Majors, but he hasn't hit like it, and certainly not well enough to push Kinsler to the outfield. While Texas hasn't said what they'll do when their second baseman is back from the DL, don't be shocked if Profar wanders back to AAA. Fortunately, his name value alone might be enough for you to get a usable fringe starter in a trade.

I mentioned above that you don't want to make trades like these in keeper leagues, but you also shouldn't make them in another situation: last place. If you're at or near the top of your league, then it makes sense to deal upside for likelihood of usefulness. Even when you're in the thick of the pack, that strategy makes sense (though you might want to hold out for better return). But when you're at or near the bottom, you need upside. If you get offered one of these players, or most other prospects, in a deal (except Profar) try to swing a trade, and remember that teams higher in the standings can still benefit from low-upside returns.

Trade Away (BABIP Heroes)

Two players stuck out to me as BABIP-induced sell-high's. Sometimes when a player's high BABIP is inflating their numbers, you know that everyone knows it's a big fluke. Seriously, nobody's going to give you anything good for Jhonny Peralta. (But take it if they do!) Instead, high-expectation players with high-BABIP's look much better when dangled in trade. If I told you Joe Mauer would have a high batting average, and derive most of his value from it, would you be surprised? Of course not. But that doesn't mean you should expect him to keep the .410 BABIP that has led to his .332 AVG. Similarly, Freddie Freeman entered the year with high expectations. He's only hit six homers, but his .314 AVG mitigates the sting of lost power somewhat. Unfortunately, a .314 AVG isn't that high when you consider that Freeman's BABIP is .381. Deal both of these guys, while their averages make them look elite. 

Trade For

Troy Tulowitzki is making his annual trip to the DL, this time for 4-6 weeks with a broken rib. If you've got depth at short and Tulo's owner is reeling, regretting using a second-round pick on a player who's always getting hurt, try sneaking him onto your roster--even discounting the injured time, there's still every reason to think the slugger will remain the top at his position when the year is out. Another injured shortstop, Jose Reyes, is beginning his rehab. This seems like a good time to swing a deal for him--though be aware he may be slowed by his injury after his return.

Anthony Rizzo started the year slowly, then hit like crazy, and now he's been slumping again for a while. It's early in his career to call him "streaky," but if he is, a low point in the boom and bust cycle is the right time to make a move for him. Not only that, but a .269 BABIP is suppressing his numbers at least a little.

Manny Machado should be traded for if you play in a points league. Owners might be mystified why a player with a BABIP-inflated .316 AVG, and just five homers and five steals is among the league's best. They might anticipate a drop in his overall production. They might not know that he's got 30 doubles already. That's a crazy amount, putting him on pace for 72 two-sackers, breaking the all-time record, and netting you a ton of points. Even in standard leagues, it's a sign that his runs and RBI's are more solid than they first appear--though owners in these leagues will be hurt more by any drop in his BABIP.

Pick Up

Brandon Beachy is a pretty obvious add, as his rehab stint is nearly done and even the small chance that he can return immediately to his former glory is worth FAAB money, waiver claims, and whatever else it might take to get him on your team. Another obvious choice is Seattle catching prospect Mike Zunino. While Zunino might be with the big club for only a little while, expect him to stay if he hits at all well. If he's good enough for your fantasy team, he'll be good enough for the Mariners.

Josh Rutledge is the beneficiary of Tulowitzki's injury. Sent down after getting his shot earlier in the season, he's been slugging in AAA (which is sort of a given in Colorado Springs) and will have another month or more to prove himself against Major League pitching. Middle infielders with any chance for power are rare enough that he deserves immediate attention.

Remember Rick Porcello? Well, he's pitched rather well well in four games in a row, and six of the last seven, and is worth claiming for your team. If he's ever going to turn his talent into results, that time might be now. Hector Santiago was an add last month, then a drop, and now he's an add again. The strikeouts he generates are worth the lousy WHIP he'll probably give you. Finally, Erasmo Ramirez might be the next pitching prospect up to the big leagues with Seattle, and could be worth stashing. And maybe dealing when he does hit the Majors....

Closer Updates: Brewers, Dodgers, Mariners, Tigers, Padres

Ninth inning drama is great for baseball. It makes things exciting, gives every team hope, and makes heroes out of future Hall of Famers and lifelong benchwarmers alike. It can make middle relievers into household names, bartenders into millionaires...and it can take all that away. Closing is fickle work, and things may have held steady last week, when we went off-format to talk about the year's top perfomers, but things are back to their heart-wrenching normal. There's a reason Rolaids sponsors the Fireman of the Year Award....


Apparently, this is Sparta. Though closer Jim Henderson who, as his owners may remember, was filthy-dominant before his injury, is back from the DL, he's going to be seeing time in other innings for a while. This is a pretty normal thing, as teams like to see what their closers look like and let them shake off any remaining rust before handing them the ball with the game on the line. What isn't normal, though, is the team's reasoning for the decision to leave Francisco Rodriguez in the closer's role for the time being: K-Rod is just two saves from 300. (I told you this was Sparta.) Loving round-numbered milestones as we apparently do, the Brew Crew will let Rodriguez try to get to this one. Though they're being a bit coy with the details, it looks like Henderson will have an opportunity to get his job back after that, but we'll see. To be fair, K-Rod has pitched well enough. 

For now, owners should hang onto both pitchers, while we see how things shake out.


"Finally!" shouted everyone in the world not named Don Mattingly. Seriously, even Brandon League would have pulled himself from the closer's role before now. True, the Dodgers had plenty riding on using League as closer, but the latest meltdown was more than they could handle. After a while it does become pretty tough to justify using a guy with an ERA more than a point higher than his K/9 in the ninth inning while Kenley Jansen rattles around in the eighth. Anyways, though Jansen was already owned in most leagues, his ownership should jump to near 100%, because he could immediately be a top closer. No guarantees: I still suspect that Los Angeles knows worrisome things about his long-term health status, but that's just a guess. If he stays healthy, he should rack up saves, and he will rack up strikeouts.


Ever have your boss tell you to come into her office and "talk about your role" at work? Yeah, that's what poor Tom Wilhelmsen is in for, according to manager Eric Wedge. I can't say what the result of that will be, but the former bartender has exchanged a strict menu of strikeouts for a open bar of runs scored. While the M's don't have a lot of other options in their bullpen, if Wilhelmsen keeps pitching like he has been, other pitchers won't have to be any good to be a lot better than him. I'm thinking my window for trading him has passed, but I'd still give it a shot. His ERA is still a respectable 3.77, so you may get something useful from an owner desperate for saves. If Wilhelmsen is tossed from the role, keep an eye on Carter Capps, who's struck out 34 batters in 28 IP this season.


Before the season, everyone knew the Tigers weren't interested in re-signing Jose Valverde to close. And then nobody else seemed up to the job and nobody else wanted Valverde. It was a marriage of necessity; unsurprisingly, it's on the rocks at the moment. The closer's only blown three saves (he's had 12 chances), but he isn't striking people out (6.26 K/9), he's walking people (3.52 BB/9), and his xFIP is 5.01. In his latest blown save, Valverde didn't even start the inning--that honor went to Drew Smyly, to take advantage of the lefty-lefty matchup. The trouble is, you don't need to play matchups like that when you trust your closer. Though Detroit doesn't look ready to ditch Valverde for Smyly or anyone else, it's clear that the honeymoon period is over. If they do make a change, it wouldn't be a surprise to see a committee develop involving Smyly, Joaquin Benoit, and the rest of the pre-season's suspects.


Luke Gregerson just blew a save opportunity, but it looks like he and Dale Thayer will continue to see most of the opportunities in the current closer committee situation. That may not be for much longer, however, as Huston Street is rehabbing and may be just a couple appearances from a return to the Majors. As the replacements haven't really set the world on fire, I expect the Padres to get Street back into his role as soon as is viable. Of course, Street isn't the healthiest closer on the block, so I wouldn't drop Gregerson or Thayer until Street actually pitches a ninth inning.


As I write just about every week, Jansen is a great add. Now he's an actual closer, so those in even the shallowest leagues should be picking him up, even if it means dropping a mid-level closer to get him. If you're a Wilhelmsen or Valverde owner--or if you're in so much need for saves that you could use some longshot speculative saves--try picking up Carter Capps or Drew Smyly. Also, don't forget about Rex Brothers or Vinnie Pestano as they fill in for Rafael Betancourt and Chris Perez, respectively.

This Week In Streaming Strategy: Week 9

Whether your regulars are injured, your starting pitching is trash, or you just plain get bored from time-to-time in fantasy, streaming is here to be your friend. Here are some upcoming matchups that can provide short-term benefit.

Jake Westbrook, Michael Wacha -- The Cardinals draw the streamilicious task of facing the Marlins this weekend. Miami has actually made progress; thanks to the Mets they now rank 29th in the Majors in batting average instead of 30th! Fear not though -- their OBP and slugging are still in the cellar. While Mets fans lament trailing the Fish in any offensive category, fantasy owners can scurry to add one or both Cardinal right-handers. Wacha merits long-term ownership as opposed to just one stream, and he's still only half-owned on ESPN and Yahoo. Miami does have Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison back, but the lineup still lacks punch.

Xavier Paul -- Paul hit his fifth homer Tuesday, all of which have come against right-handed pitching. Prior to that two-hit performance, Paul was hitting .288/.383/.462 against right-handers. He doesn't play against lefties and does his best work in Cincinnati, but he faces three right-handers in the next five days. The Brewers are in Cincinnati this weekend, and their staff has struggled with homers across the board.

Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman -- Feldman is more widely owned than Jackson but is still out there in roughly half of Yahoo and ESPN leagues. Both north-side hurlers are facing the aforementioned Mets this weekend, which brings good news and bad news. The bad news is that Ike Davis isn't in the lineup anymore. The good news is that he'll be replaced by some combination of Josh Satin and Colin Cowgill (with Daniel Murphy moving to first and Jordany Valdespin playing second when Cowgill plays). The Mets are averaging 3.1 runs per game this month, and while Jackson's 5.76 ERA is scary, his 3.39 FIP and 3.59 xFIP are nice and inviting.

Cody Ross, A.J. Pollock -- Both Arizona lefty mashers get the Padres' dynamic duo of Eric Stults and Clayton Richard this weekend. Ross is hitting .404/.439/.596 against lefties, while Pollock is at .275/.298/.563. Stults hasn't pitched terribly poorly, but those are solid numbers against lefties for both (more in the power department for Pollock). Richard, on the other hand, has basically turned every player who's faced him this season into Miguel Cabrera.  Opponents are hitting .315/.384/.614 against Richard, and right-handed hitters are batting a silly .336/.406/.686 against him.

Adam Dunn -- Don't look now, but Big Donkey's on another homer bender, and he's facing the Astros again this weekend. I don't think this recommendation necessarily needs any more explanation, but I'll add that Dunn is hitting .300 with five homers in his past nine games. That includes this four-hit bonanza with two homers. It's unclear if the fog, the camerawork, or the fact that Dunn hit the ball all the way to the moon is the reason that you can't see where his first homer lands. Oh, and his first post-Astros opponent will be Mike Pelfrey.

Scott Kazmir, Corey Kluber -- Kazmir falls into the "Let's try this again" category after Scott Diamond managed to get lit up by baseball's most southpaw-friendly offense last weekend. Kazmir's punching out a batter per inning with respectable control in the AL, and the Nats are still hitting .210/.276/.310 as a team against lefties. Kluber is clearly an alien from another planet who has sucked the talent out of Matt Cain and made it his own (you've seen Space Jam, right?). His 3.40 FIP is identical to Cain's from last year, and he's averaging nearly a strikeout per inning and just 1.9 walks per nine innings. Washington's .242/.296/.396 line against righties doesn't scare me -- particularly with Bryce Harper still on the shelf after being bested by an inanimate object in Los Angeles.

This week's Jeff Baker watch shows that he'll face off against Mark Buehrle on Thursday. Baker is hitting .386/.491/1.000 against lefties and went 1-for-3 with a homer against Buehrle last week. That split is the goofiest baseball line I've seen since I hit .424 and broke the single-season hits record with Hank Blalock in my MLB '06: The Show franchise seven years ago (yes, that happened). No one has more homers against left-handed pitching, and my love for him knows no bound. The Jeff Baker Experience must be felt before it can truly be comprehended.

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Prospect Prospectin': Sell Bryce Harper Edition

Here’s a clown question, bro: why do I want to start this week’s PP’in by talking not about a current prospect, but about the hottest prospect in the last 10 years? The answer: because I’m suggesting you sell him in re-draft leagues. Now, I love Bryce as much as the next guy, but you’re not going to be too happy with him if he gets hurt again.

And he will get hurt again.

The guy makes Pete Rose look like Charlie Slacker. He probably hustles around the locker room. He probably hustles at the grocery store. He probably hustles in his sleep. He clearly hustles at the barber since they only have time to cut half his hair. The guy is going to hustle himself right onto the DL many more times in his career unless he can learn how to play smarter. I mean, what the hell was that play in right field at Dodger Stadium? That was bizarre at best and absolutely stupid at worst.

Now is the time to sell him, because even though he’s on the DL, you could still get great value for him, like a Cespedes-type or maybe even a package for a couple of 2nd-tier players. If Bryce comes back later this month and then gets hurt again, his value will be nil this year. You’ll just be stuck with him. So you might as well get what you can now (or as soon as he returns from the DL). You’ll be glad you did. Bryce will learn to play smart eventually, but it doesn’t look like this is going to happen anytime soon.

Cole Hard Cash

Gerrit Cole

When Gerrit Cole was the number one draft pick in 2011 and get a record $8 million signing bonus, expectations were high. Cole met and exceeded those expectations on Tuesday, when he went 6.1 IP with 7 hits, 0 walks, 2 ER and 2 K’s. Watching him blow away hitters with an effortless 99-mph heater was a thing of beauty. Cole’s strikeouts were down in the minors this year, but that was possibly done on purpose to throw fewer pitches in an effort to conserve his arm. For a guy who regularly flirts with triple-digit fastballs (he’s been clocked as high as 102 mph), I’m not too worried about the strikeouts. The K’s will come. Cole will most certainly have his struggles this year, but he looks like he’s going to live up to the pedigree. He’s an obvious buy in keeper leagues, and I’d certainly grab him in re-draft leagues too to see if he can keep it up. Hell, the guy even had a 2-run single in his first career AB... stick him in the Utility slot!

We Bought a Zunino

Mike Zunino

Baseball’s top catching prospect after Travis D’Arnaud got the call and went 1-for-4 in his first game yesterday. His hit looked good, a rip up the middle on an 0-2 fastball. The guy seems pretty beastly, but I’m kind of skeptical that he’s going to come up and immediately produce. He was striking out a 28.4% clip in AAA this year, not to mention the terrible lineup in a pitcher’s park. I grabbed Zunino in a couple leagues - if he starts out hot I’m going to sell, sell, sell. His power is real (he kinda looks like Mini-Gattis), but his promotion seems a tad early and there’s no telling how long he’ll even be up for.

Separate the Wheat from the Jaff

Jaff Decker

With Cameron Maybin hitting the DL again, the Padres called up prospect Jaff Decker to relieve Quentin, Denorfia, or Blanks in the Padres outfield and/or Jesus Guzman at first base. Decker has sneaky 20/20 potential and a great batting eye - even though he was hitting a paltry .251 in AAA this year, his OBP was .370. Decker is definitely worth throwing a couple bucks at in OBP leagues, particularly NL-only. Who knows? Maybe he’ll return to his 2011 ways when he hit more than 20 bombs and swiped 16 bases.

Drop It Like It’s Cold

Tony Cingrani

Don’t drop him because he’s cold. Drop him because Johnny Cueto is coming back on Sunday and Cingrani is going to be sent back down. Obviously hold onto him in keeper leagues, but in re-draft leagues feel free to send him packing.

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The Proof Is In The Peripherals: June 13-19

Here's this week's dive inside the peripheral numbers to seek out the hidden gems, identify the fool's gold, identify which diamonds are diamonds and which lumps of coal are indeed lumps of coal.  #GeologyMetaphors

* Wade To GoWade Davis' transition back to starting pitching hasn't exactly gone smoothly, as the right-hander has been rocked to the tune of a 5.66 ERA through 12 starts.  This said, I'm recommending Davis as a very stealthy fifth starter option for the remainder of the season since man, his bad luck has to eventually turn around, right?  Davis' .391 BABIP is the highest among all qualified starters and only five hurlers have a higher HR/FB rate than Davis' 17.2% mark.  That homer rate is almost twice Davis' career 9.8% HB/FB average, by the way, and it's even more perplexing given that the righty has just a 28.6% fly ball rate overall.  Davis has a 40.6% fly ball rate for his career, so he should be celebrating his newfound ability to keep the ball down were it not for the fact that a stunning number of those flies are turning into big flies.

Davis' advanced ERA metrics still aren't very pretty (4.76 FIP, 3.99 xFIP, 4.20 SIERA) but those numbers and his real ERA should all drop as his calamitous home run rate comes back to earth.  Even if you're in a deep league, Davis is probably available and might not be a bad pickup if you have a rotation spot to fill due to injury or lack of performance from one of your current starters.

* There's A Will, But Maybe Not A WayJosh Willingham has been an underrated fantasy weapon for the last couple of seasons but he's been a bit of a letdown to his owners in 2013.  Willingham had 10 homers and a .215/.361/.421 line heading into Tuesday's play and he's seen his ownership in Yahoo fantasy leagues slip to 69% as some managers have clearly given up hope that his batting average and general power numbers will rise.

A .262 BABIP is part of the problem but the bigger issue is that Willingham is simply not hitting the ball with as much authority as in recent years.  Willingham's line drive rate is down to 12.9%, well below his 18.8% career average, and his overall lack of pop has translated to more (cans of) corn --- Willingham's 22.6% infield fly ball percentage is well above his 12.8% career average.  He's still able to draw walks as regularly as ever, but now that Willingham is 34 years old, you simply have to wonder if he's finally hit his decline phase and that power won't come back.  I could see his average get back around the .250 range as his BABIP normalizes but to me, Willingham doesn't seem worthy of a starting position in a fantasy outfield at this point.  I'd bench him if you have a better option, or try to deal him before his power outage starts to extend to his seemingly okay home run totals.

* The No Homers Club.  This week's player whose performance can be expected to continue in a positive way throughout the season is Reds righty Homer Bailey.  While most weeks I use the advanced stats to indicate a guy's steadiness, I'm predicting Bailey will stay the course due to a couple of conflicting metrics that will eventually even themselves out. 

Let me explain.  Bailey has a 3.47 ERA that could be said to be unluckily high given his 2.56 FIP, 3.05 xFIP and 3.18 SIERA.  He has an even 83 strikeouts in 83 innings, and while his 9.0 K/9 would be a career-best, it's not a massive jump given his 7.5 K/9 average over the last three seasons.  His BABIP (.301) and strand rate (69.7%) are both perfectly average, so Bailey should be due for even more success as the season goes along, correct?

Maybe not.  Bailey has a 49.8% ground ball rate, well above his career average of 43.6%.  He's also posting a career-best 0.43 HR/9, which is surprising given that his name is actually Homer for pete's sakes Bailey carried a career mark of 1.1 HR/9 into this season and plays his home games at the hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark.  The righty's luck in keeping the ball on the ground isn't all due to luck, as Bailey has made the two-seam fastball a much bigger part of his arsenal this season, but you have to wonder if the one pitch will be enough to override a few years' worth of habits.  Bailey's home run rate is bound to tick up, which will in turn elevate his FIP/xFIP/SIERA numbers and leave him with....probably somewhere around a 3.47 ERA.  So this is a very roundabout way of saying that you can expect more of the same for Mr. Bailey.

* Corb Your Enthusiasm.  Well, you knew it had to happen sometime, but Patrick Corbin has finally made an appearance in this column.  His 9-0 start with a 1.98 ERA would've made him the talk of the town back in 1995 but with today's newfangled advanced metrics, we can see that Corbin isn't quite as his record indicates.

First, the good news.  Corbin is, in fact, a pretty good pitcher.  His strikeout and walk numbers are roughly the same through his 34 career Major League games (7.2 K/9, 2.2 BB/9) as they were over his 80 career minor league games (8.4 K/9, 2.3 BB/9), so it seems like you can count on Corbin to deliver a decent amount of punchouts without doing much to hurt his own cause.  If you drafted Corbin, you obviously didn't take him as your staff ace, so the fact that he's delivering his good numbers out of your fifth rotation spot is tremendous.

That said, Corbin will likely start pitching like a fifth starter sooner rather than later.  His 3.10 FIP, 3.82 xFIP and 3.83 SIERA indicate that his ERA is going to eventually take a jump, likely once his super-high strand rate (84.1%) and low BABIP (.258) normalize themselves.  Corbin has been pretty decent at keeping the ball in the park over his pro career but I think we can all agree that a 23-year-old who pitches at Chase Field is probably not going to keep up a 5.1% HR/FB rate for an entire season, eh?  You're not going to hurt yourself in the long run by keeping Corbin on your roster, but you might explore a trade and let one of your rival fantasy owners deal with Corbin's inevitable regression period.

Editor's Note: Mark's prediction that Corbin would start pitching like a fifth starter was made before his most recent performance. This editor's fantasy team is paying for that.

RotoAuthority League Update: Recent Trades

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 3 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he’s not one of them.

It's been awhile since we examined some of the trades in the RotoAuthority League, so let's take a look at some of the recent action.

05/21 - A Century of Misery trades Matt Wieters to Yu at the Animal Zoo for Victor Martinez, Andrew Bailey, and Junichi Tazawa

Our first trade today is the only one involving my squad. I've been playing from behind all season long in the saves category after leaving the draft with just one closer, so my main objective in accepting this offer was to acquire the highly skilled yet often hurt Andrew Bailey. While Victor Martinez has struggled this season, he only sits during interleague road games for the Tigers. He's begun to heat up recently, so perhaps he can begin to turn around this disappointing season. Oddly enough, I actually view Matt Wieters as a nice Buy Low target, but I desperately needed the saves. Overall then, I was willing to downgrade at catcher in order to address a need. 

05/27 - Yu at the Animal Zoo trades Felix Hernandez, Starling Marte, Justin Morneau, Gerardo Parra, Marco Scutaro, and Brandon McCarthy to Forty 2 Twenty 4 for Edwin Encarnacion, Norichika Aoki, and Ben Zobrist

As you'll see shortly, Yu at the Animal Zoo has been very active over the past few weeks. In this particular trade, this owner sought to consolidate some pieces on his second-place roster. Given that Yu at the Animal Zoo currently leads every pitching category except saves, he can certainly accommodate the pitching needs of Forty 2 Twenty 4. If we try to break down this colossal deal, Felix Hernandez and Starling Marte for Edwin Encarnacion and Norichika Aoki seems pretty fair. I actually prefer Edwin to King Felix by a hair, but the added power-speed production from Marte over Aoki offsets that edge. One can make the case that the remaining pieces that Forty 2 Twenty 4 received are all replacement level to slightly above so in 12-team mixed leagues. If you don't own Ben Zobrist, you might assume that he's in the middle of another solid fantasy season. In reality, however, he enters today with just 4 HR and 4 SB; this is a player who seems to have more name value than actual value at this point. In summary, Forty 2 Twenty 4 improved his staff while Yu at the Animal Zoo beefed up in power. 

05/29 - Say it Ain't So Cano trades Angel Pagan to Philly Cheez for Rafael Betancourt

Sometimes both teams improve in a trade; at other times, there is a clear winner. Still other times, though, neither owner improves his roster as a result of a deal. At least to this point, this trade falls into that last category. After all, both players have gone on the DL since the transaction. I actually liked the trade at the time for Say It Ain't So. While Angel Pagan is undervalued just about every year, there are outfielders on the waiver wire who can contributely reasonably close to the production that he provides. Rafael Betancourt is nothing special among closers, but acquiring a closer for a low-end outfielder is more often than not a good move. Ultimately, though, any analysis of this deal is incomplete until we know when each player returns from the DL. One thing that Philly Cheez may have had in mind is that Betancourt is a free agent at season's end, so he seem very likely to be dealt at the deadline. Rex Brothers may very well hold that job all season long.

06/06 - Smell the Glove trades Steve Cishek and Josh Johnson to Forty 2 Twenty 4 for Brett Lawrie

The league's current leader, Tim Dierkes's Smell the Glove, recently got roster-crunched and made this trade to acquire an injured player instead of being forced to drop either Steve Cishek or Josh Johnson. For Forty 2 Twenty 4, this trade make sense, too. While the Marlins are certainly miserable, Cishek does still seem to be the go-to guy for saves, so adding another closer never hurts. Johnson, meanwhile, is exactly the type of high-variance player that owners near the bottom of the standings should seek to acquire at this point. Along those same lines, it's worth pointing out that Dierkes wisely chose to make a deal with an owner who's currently not a direct competitor in the standings. Moreover, Forty 2 Twenty 4 may be able to pass up second-place Yu at the Animal Zoo in the saves category, so there's an added benefit here for Smell the Glove. This is an often neglected element in the game theory behind fantasy baseball.

06/07 - Yu at the Animal Zoo trades Heath Bell and Adam Dunn to Men With Wood for Sergio Romo

Here's a trade in which we have one owner clearly putting his money on sabermetrics with another content to simply acquire the best player in the deal. Over the past several seasons of competing against Men With Wood, it's been easy to see that this owner appreciates the advanced metrics. Here's yet another example. Adam Dunn enters today with the lowest BABIP among all qualified hitters in baseball. Now we should never expect Dunn to post a league-average BABIP given his propensity to hit the ball in the air. Even so, we should anticipate that he'll receive better fortune going forward. Heath Bell, meanwhile, may be one of the top closers to target via trade at this point. The old veteran seems to still have the perception of the poor reliever that he was for the past couple seasons. In reality, though, the skills are stellar this season. In fact, there's very little difference in his peripherals and those of Sergio Romo this season. Another factor to consider in this trade is that Men With Wood is already in last place in AVG, so perhaps this is the first step in a strategy to punt the category. 

06/08 - Yu at the Animal Zoo trades Michael Morse and Jarrod Parker to Brewsterville Bruins for Jim Johnson

Here's yet another trade for the hyperactive Yu at the Animal Zoo. Just like in the previous deal, he acquired a closer. In this deal, though, he didn't give one up in return. After a hot first week of the season, Mike Morse has cooled down considerably. Quite the contrary for Jarrod Parker, who was rocked the first month of the season but has slowly begun to turn around his season. Jim Johnson is a player whom the fantasy community has maligned so much so that it may have gone too far. Say what you will about his strikeout rate, but he keeps the ball in the yard. More importantly, with full support behind Manager Buck Showalter, Johnson has one of the longest leashes among closers, in spite of his mediocre skills. That being said, the Bruins could certainly afford to move the closer, as this squad leads the saves category. Overall then, this trade appears to have bolstered both rosters.

06/08 - Smell the Glove trades Michael Pineda to Philly Cheez for Chris Perez

Just yesterday, it appears Dierkes landed a closer on the cheap. Both Michael Pineda and Chris Perez are expected to be back some time around the end of this month. In the case of Pineda, however, he's coming off very serious shoulder surgery, so there could always be a setback. One would expect Perez to resume closing duties soon after he returns from the DL. He was the one and only closer for Philly Cheez, so at this point this owner is clearly punting the category. Given that Philly Cheez resides near the bottom of the standings, there's some incentive to try to catch lightning in a bottle with a player like Pineda. Still, kudos to Dierkes for actively seeking out a trade and acquiring a closer at a very reasonable price.

Stock Watch: Scandalmakers and Struggling Shortstops

This week on Stock Watch, we're trying out something a little different. Not a lot different--don't worry--but there's been a bit of news out there that might affect your fantasy team....

Biogenesis Scandal

By now, you've probably heard more about this scandal than you care to, and--unlike the witch-hunting masses--your main worry is probably about whether your fantasy stars will be suspended and for how long. You're probably wondering what to do with players like ****** and ****, let alone *******. That's right--I didn't include their names! Why? Because none of the players involved has yet been proved guilty of anything, and none of them need their reputations tarnished by me any more than already has been. But I also need to provide useful fantasy advice, so I'll take the via media of linking to an article that mentions the players you should be concerned about. Among them are superstars, minor leaguers, rookies, veterans, and just about everyone else. 

Who will be suspended and for how long? I can't say. How long will the process take? Still don't know. Will players who've already received PED suspensions get more punishment? Tough to say, but the one bet I wouldn't make is for this process to be carried out in a way that's transparent or fair. Maybe I'm overly pessimistic about MLB's anti-PED unit, but that seems the safest route to me. While the players implicated haven't failed tests, they don't need to to get suspended. Many are mentioned by name in Tony Bosch's ledgers, but others are in by code name or mere association. It might be worth mentioning that Mr. Bosch has plenty of incentive to roll on Major Leaguers, the bigger the names, the better. More worrisome for owners is the report that MLB has" tons of witnesses" to corroborate the allegations. (Report from RotoAuthority alum, Mike Axisa.)

What to do if you own these players? I own several across a few leagues (though I did shy away from most during drafts), and I'm standing pat. Right now will be a very difficult time to trade these guys, because your leaguemates will be watching as much ESPN as you, and you aren't likely to get much value from them if you shop them. Trading for them doesn't seem like a great strategy either, as you may be paying for useless assets. If you want to shoot off some lowball offers, go for it, as the strategy could pay off big, despite a low probability of success. By the same token, if someone offers you, say, 70-80% value on a big-name player, make that trade and hope for the best. And, of course, keep following along with the news to see what happens next.

One guy you might not have to worry about--and whose name I don't mind mentioning--is Gio Gonzalez. Reportedly, he is mentioned but exonerated by the evidence found at Biogenesis, having only purchased legal and unbanned substances. Good news for Gio owners. If you happen to find yourself looking at a good deal for him, pull the trigger.

A final thought is that the suspensions handed out may be lengthy--perhaps 100 games, perhaps more--but they will probably not include lifetime bans. This may be a great opportunity to get quality players on your keeper roster for a low price--especially if you're already out of contention this year. Note that this is a pretty long-term plan, as some of the repercussions of the scandal may last into next season.

The most important thing to do is not to panic and make a bad deal, as any suspensions handed out may take a long time to end up happening--others may not happen at all.

Struggling Shortstops

Most shortstops are bad fantasy players--we all know this. That's why we spend so much auction money or used high draft picks to get the few who can hit. This year, not only are several injured (Jose Reyes, Derek Jeter, Asdrubal Cabrera), most of the other top choices have been pretty terrible.

Ben Zobrist
After putting up consecutive 20-HR seasons and enjoying Swiss-Army position flexibility, Zobrist was one of fantasy's hottest commodities going into the season. He's on most of my fantasy teams, making me glad that I decided to diversify and stay away from him in my final draft of the season. His slugging is down over .100 points, as he's hit just three homers. His batting average is down significantly, despite a BABIP in line with his career norms. His LD% is down and his HR/FB rate has absolutely cratered. The only good news is that his K%, BB%, and OBP haven't taken big hits, but the Rays care more about those numbers than our fantasy teams do. While Zobrist might well bust out of his protracted power slump, his age might be catching up to him. He may only be 32, but he didn't break out until age 27. Late  success is often an indicator of early decline. Sell him if you still can.

Starlin Castro
Another well-hyped early-rounder, Castro was drafted a bit for the success he's already had and a lot for the success he was expected to grow into. He may still grow into a superstar, but maybe the fantasy community was a bit premature drafting him like he already was one. His steals are down, his homers are down and his low-walk nature has kept him from getting on base in spite of his low average. Like Zobrist, his BABIP isn't bad (it's a nearly-average .296). Compared to last year, Castro is hitting slightly fewer line drives, popping up less, and grounding out a bit more. It's tough to be sure why his average is struggling so much, but slumps are a part of playing baseball, especially for young players. He's a good (but not slam-dunk) candidate to improve, so I'd call him a cautious buy.

Jimmy Rollins
At 34, Rollins is a pretty old shortstop, but unlike Ben Zobrist, he came up to the Majors at a young age and had a strong peak as one of the game's top stars. His years have been pretty up-and-down lately, but last year was an up, with 23 homers and 30 steals. This year has not been so good, with just four homers and six steals, despite a batting average and OBP better than what he put up last year. At .293, his BABIP is the highest it's been since 2007, but his HR/FB is his worst since 2003. Shortstops aren't expected to carry power or speed into their mid-30's and it's entirely possible that Rollins' bat and legs have slowed down. Then again, he gave us that impression for all of 2010 and managed to bounce back. Still, I'd say he's a cautious sell.

I was going to talk about Ian Desmond next, but his recent homers put his numbers in a pretty decent place--enough to make him one of the better shortstops this season.

Good luck navigating this week's muddy waters--and pick up Zack Wheeler and Gerrit Cole  if you still can.


Closer Updates: Top Performers

Last week might have been a dramatic one for our soldiers of the ninth, but this one has stayed the course pretty well. Sure, Addison Reed notched one of the stranger wins in relief history, and the Marlins had to quash trade rumors about Steve Cishek, and Chris Perez might want to hire an attorney, but pitchers who had been struggling like Brandon League, Tom Wilhelmsen, and Fernando Rodney all took steps in the right direction.

As for injured pitchers, keep Vinnie Pestano in for the aforementioned Perez, but Jim Henderson looks to be back as early as tomorrow for Milwaukee. In San Diego, Luke Gregerson seems to be the primary closer and Dale Thayer the secondary in a quasi-committee situation for Huston Street.

Why burn through the roundup so quickly? So we have the chance to take a look at the season's top saves-getters. As we continue into June, we no longer get to talk about hot starts and have to start thinking about good seasons. As the trading season begins, it might help to have an idea about which top closers are worth targeting if you need saves...and which ones you might want to deal away before things head south. 

Alone Above the Wreck

Jason Grilli: 22 SV
Grilli has been a beast this year. He was relatively unheralded coming into the season (this author may have made the mistake of alerting his father to Grilli; said father is now dominating their shared fantasy league), but had pitched seriously well in setup last year. It doesn't look like smoke and mirrors for Grilli, as his 1.01 ERA is actually worse than his FIP of 0.63. His xFIP is a bit of a downer at 1.92. If that isn't enough, he's rocking a 14.51 K/9 and has yet to allow a home run. Grilli remains a great investment going forward, though his rate of save opportunities is likely to go down--he's on pace for 59 of them. 

Mariano Rivera: 21 SV
The Best Reliever in Baseball doesn't have that name because he has the best season of any reliever very often, it's because he has that rare ability to always have one of the best seasons. This year is no exception so far. In fact, his purported final season is shaping up to be one of the best of his career. (Let's hear it for making sure I drafted him one last time!) His 2.26 FIP and 3.09 xFIP aren't as great as his 1.61 ERA, but his 8.06 K/9 and his amazing 0.81 BB/9 should do the job just fine. With the Yankees success, he should see plenty of save opps for the rest of the season, though, like Grilli, it will probably be at a somewhat lower rate than he has so far. Otherwise both these guys will be challenging the record. Rivera is a great bet for quality production over the rest of the year, but his trade value will be inflated due to his well-earned brand name. If you need saves, Grilli might come at a better (but still high) price.  

 You're Not as Brave as You Were at the Start

Jim Johnson: 19 SV
How are you among the saves leaders despite going through a stretch of blowing three in a row? Get a ton of opportunities, of course. Johnson hasn't pitched terribly bad (except that one stretch), and his FIP (3.71) and xFIP (3.54) are both better than his ERA. Moreover, his 7.71 K/9 is much better than what we're used to from him. Johnson is a decent bet for good production the rest of the way, but his non-saves numbers are far from elite. All it will take is a little rough luck--or even normal luck--and his saves total won't be elite either.

Joe Nathan: 18 SV
Nathan's resurgence continues, and Texas is giving him plenty of opportunity to lock down saves. His 8.88 K/9 and 1.85 ERA are excellent, but his 2.59 BB/9 rate might be contributing a little to his not-as-amazing 3.15 FIP and 3.75 xFIP. Though his is a strong candidate for continued success, his peripherals and the likely high trade value associated with his brand and strong team mean he might be an even better sell-high candidate.

Addison Reed: 17 SV
Until yesterday, Reed was all over the closers' leaderboards. I don't feel bad about setting aside his weird extra-innings performance, but then, I wasn't totally sold on his previous success. His 10.67 K/9 rate gives him more value in strikeouts than many closers, and his 2.29 FIP is markedly better than his 3.67 ERA (which his 3.56 xFIP thinks is spot-on). His 3.00 BB/9 is a little high, but not terrible. Now is far from the time to trade Reed, but his short track record of greatness suggests he's at least as good a trade candidate as a keeper.

Edward Mujica: 17 SV
Jason Motte was supposed to be one of the year's top closers, but instead we've got his third-in-line replacement on this list. Mujica has a nifty 1.67 ERA, with a very good 2.36 FIP and 2.83 xFIP. His 8.00 K/9 gets the job done, while his 0.33 BB/9 makes Mariano Rivera look wild. Pitching for the dominant Cardinals, Mujica is a great candidate for continued success. His owners probably know that, but make him a trade target anyway to be sure.

Craig Kimbrel: 17 SV
Kimbrel was expected to be the season's best closer from beginning to end, so I guess this counts as a disappointment. I'll say now that if his owner really is disappointed in his performance, you should jump on that with a trade offer. His 12.34 K/9 and 1.93 ERA put him with the game's elite. His 3.02 FIP isn't terribly optimistic, but his 2.39 xFIP looks plenty good. Expect him to continue in greatness as the season goes on, but his high draft position and name value will probably give him a high price tag.

 You'll Never Settle Any of Your Scores

Sergio Romo: 16 SV
Romo has been almost definitively serviceable this season. None of his stats are with the elite, but none show cracks in his armor either: 9.25 K/9, 1.11, BB/9, 2.59/2.45/2.97 ERA/FIP/xFIP. He rather epitomizes great-but-not-the-best. To me, that means Romo might make a high-quality trade target, as he may not be the best closer on his own fantasy team--or at least not the one who's seemed the best so far.

Aroldis Chapman: 15 SV
Like Kimbrel, Chapman has been a big disappointment so far. This is mostly because of the unreasonable expectations put on him (by his own incredible 2012 season). Chapman leads all closers with a 15.92 K/9, and he's doing it without walking people at rates like Carlos Marmol or Ernesto Frieri. Not that his 4.15 BB/9 is particularly good. His FIP (2.41) is a dead-on match for his ERA (2.42), while his xFIP is a tad better, at 2.29. Having underperformed huge expectations, Chapman might make a good trade target--but his owners are probably still able to enjoy the saves and strikeouts, so he'll probably come at a high price in most leagues.

Rafael Soriano: 15 SV
The Nationals were expected to be one of baseball's top teams, and Soriano one of the top closers. Though Sori has 15 saves, neither expectation has come to pass. Though Soriano has a solid 2.74 ERA, it comes with a mediocre 3.24 FIP, and a downright bad 4.16 xFIP. With just a 6.65 K/9, something seems to be wrong. Either trouble is coming, or Soriano will find his strikeout pitch again. For now, his solid saves and ERA stats make him a very good trade candidate...if you're dealing him away.

Tom Wilhelmsen: 14 SV
Wilhelmsen burst onto the scene from obscurity last season (a pretty common closer story, actually), and was highly regarded by many going into this year. Part of the reason he was so well-liked was the fact that he struck batters out in bunches last year. This season, not so much; he's got just a 6.49 K/9 rate. That alone is enough for me to shop him, but a 4.44 BB/9 and 4.24 xFIP should be enough to convince most everyone else. Sell him while you can, because he won't hold onto that 2.05 ERA much longer.

Well, that's what we get for having a slow news week. Hopefully your opponents don't look terribly far into the numbers when evaluating your upcoming trade offers. We'll look at some of the lower-level performers next time no closers manage to lose their jobs or endanger their careers with injury. Until then, don't forget to check out our Closer Depth Chart and follow @CloserNews on Twitter for up-to-the-minute information.

Prospect Prospectin': Captain Obvious Edition

Question #1: How is Yasiel Puig still unowned in 26% of Yahoo leagues?! Pick that stud up! He reminds me of Bryce Harper - hustles everywhere. Hopefully he won’t hustle his way into the right field wall like Bryce.

Question #2: Are any of the guys below still unowned in your league? They’re are all likely to be called up this June. You can use this as a checklist; if any of these dudes are still out there, snag ‘em like a flyball and piss off all of your opponents:

Wil Myers (duh)
Zach Wheeler (double duh)
Oscar Taveras (he’s on the DL but should be owned anyway)
Gerrit Cole (has had some control issues but has the best pure arm in the minors)
Billy Hamilton (probably won’t be up for a while but will be a gamechanger)

Honorable Mention:

Christian Yelich (also on the DL but should still probably be owned)

Now onto some other goings-on around the minors:

Olt Is The New Young

Mike Olt

Nelson Cruz might be suspended because of the Biogenesis scandal, and Olt is probably the number one candidate to replace him. He struggled early in the season, but that can probably be chalked up to the vision issues that put him on the DL. Olt is a stud. Stash him if you have the room.

Seeing Reds

Pedro Villareal

Pedro was called up to make a spot start for Johnny Cueto and was promptly demolished by the Rockies. He can be ignored in all fantasy leagues. The man to own is:

Tony Cingrani

Cingrani should be up again soon. Cingrani was dominant in his first three starts this year (18 IP, 28 K’s, 1.50 ERA), then fell back to earth for his next three (15 IP, 13 K’s, 5.40 ERA). He has been more or less his same old self in three games in the minors since being sent down (lot of K’s but some control issues), and should be an asset to any squad for at least the next couple weeks... and maybe longer if Cueto’s injury lingers. Cingrani threw 78.4% fastballs when he was in the bigs earlier this year; maybe if he starts mixing up his pitches he’ll have more success.

Where In The World is Hector Santiago?

Hector Santiago

He’s not a prospect anymore, but Santiago is worth picking up in AL-only leagues now that Jake Peavy pulled a “Jake Peavy” and hit the DL yesterday for 4 - 6 weeks. He’s outperformed his peripherals (3.40 ERA, 4.43 xFIP), and he walks too many batters, but if you’re desperate for K’s, Santiago has been a strikeout machine the last two years, striking out more than a batter per inning. And after the series against the A’s this week, the White Sox face the Blue Jays, Astros, Twins, Royals, and Mets. Those matchups are all muy delicioso.

Erasmo Money, Erasmo Problems

Erasmo Ramirez

Also not technically a prospect (by 9 innings) but I’m mentioning him anyway. Ramirez was in line to be Seattle’s 3rd or 4th starter before the season began, but was out for the first couple months with an arm injury. He’s back in Double-A getting stretched out, and should re-join the rotation in the next few weeks.

Pros: Excellent control, lot of K’s, pitcher-friendly park, played well last year in the bigs, his name is Erasmo

Cons: Is coming off of injury, probably won’t win many games, not a lot of experience

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