July 2013

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This Week(end) In Streaming Strategy

Happy All-Star break! The shortened week of course means that fantasy junkies need only worry about Friday through Sunday in the short-term. Here are some matchups on both sides of the ball that are likely to yield short-term gains over the weekend...

Corey Kluber, Scott Kazmir -- Both Cleveland starters are owned in less than 20 percent of Yahoo and ESPN leagues, and both will draw the Twins this weekend. Kazmir has struggled on the road in 2013, but he has a 2.08 ERA in two starts against the Twins, who have just a .706 team OPS against lefties and are without their top right-handed power bat, Josh Willingham. Kluber has also struggled away from Cleveland but has a 3.15 ERA over his past seven starts.

Lonnie Chisenhall -- It's not just the pitchers who benefit from facing the Twins, as the Tribe's lineup will square off against Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Correia and Scott Diamond. That group of pitchers wouldn't intimidate Mario Mendoza himself, let alone the 24-year-old Chisenhall, who's hitting .309/.365/.544 with three homers over his past 20 games.

Bud Norris -- Norris, owned in 17 percent of Yahoo leagues and six percent of ESPN leagues, draws a home start against a light-hitting Mariners offense. Norris' 2.27 home ERA ranks 13th in baseball, so despite a poor start heading into the break, he's a solid option on Friday.

Wade Miley -- The Giants' lineup has been abysmal of late, and Miley has been the opposite. He's sporting a 2.29 ERA over the past month, and he dominated the Giants in his lone start against them this season. San Francisco struggles against lefties in the first place, and Miley, not surprisingly, has pitched considerably better away from the hitter-friendly Chase Field this year.

Felix Doubront -- No one's going to mistake Doubront for King Felix, but he's still criminally underutilized in fantasy leagues. He's whiffed 93 hitters in 99 innings and draws a depleted Yankees lineup this weekend that has struggled against lefties all season. It's a home affair, where Doubront has been slightly better, as well. Doubront fared well in his last go against the Yankees, allowing just one run in six innings with six strikeouts.

Evan Gattis -- Fresh off a stint on the disabled list, Gattis travels to the homer-happy U.S. Cellular Field to square off against a pair of lefties (John Danks and Jose Quintana) as well as a returning Jake Peavy. Gattis is slashing .302/.380/.631 against lefties. Chicago's bullpen is also noticeably thinner, with Matt Thornton now in Boston and Jesse Crain on the shelf. He's available in about 57 percent of ESPN and Yahoo Leagues, so take advantage. If you're in a particuarly deep league, Reed Johnson's hitting .333/.378/.405 against southpaws, making him a decent option against Danks and Quintana as well. With B.J. Upton and Jordan Schafer on the DL, he should find his way into the lineup.

Jake Westbrook -- Few teams have struggled like the Padres this month, and Westbrook will look to prolong their offensive woes on Friday. Westbrook is nowhere near as good as his 2.88 ERA. There are years of data to show that he is what he is -- an unexciting innings eather with a low strikeout rate and strong ground-ball rate. He's allowed just one earned run in 29 home innings this season, and while scientists are working around the clock to determine the source of this phenomenon, it's unlikely that San Diego will be able provide much in the way of answers Friday.


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RotoAuthority League Update: All-Star Break To-Do List

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 the All-Star break in the RotoAuthority League, and I'm embarrassed to admit I currently stand in last place. After finishing in the top five for four consecutive seasons, it only seems fitting that I'd struggle in the season that I chose to write about the league. While it will take a valiant effort for my squad to avoid the bottom four, I can guarantee that I won't go down without a fight. With that out of the way, let's go over a checklist of items for fantasy owners to consider over the next four days with no games scheduled.

1. Take a breather

The daily grind of fantasy baseball can be truly taxing. This time is a fantasy owner's only chance until the end of September to relax for a bit. Spend a day or two without looking at any rosters or analyzing any statistics. You'll thank me later.

2. Analyze the standings

The key here is to determine how many points you can gain in each category. It's important to be realistic with those goals. Even though we're at the All-Star Break, we've already passed the halfway point; in fact, the season is roughly 60% done. What really matters is how closely stratified each category is in your league. In the RotoAuthority League, for instance, I've chosen to punt the HR category, as I'm in dead last by a fair margin. This is a somewhat tricky category to punt, as I still want to compete in the four other offensive categories. Still, power bats who are AVG killers really have no place on my squad. Accordingly, over the weekend I traded Mike Napoli and Koji Uehara for Michael Cuddyer and Carl Crawford. To replace Napoli, I picked up J.P. Arencibia and then dealt him the next day for Salvador Perez. At the expense of some power (and saves from Uehara), my goal here is to boost the four other offensive categories. The plan may burn up in flames, but at this point you must have a plan as to how to approach the standings.

3. Speculate with the MLB trade deadline in mind

Some player values can change quite drastically as a result of trades, so fantasy owners must be quick to respond to such news in July. Unfortunately, in the RotoAuthority League the Commissioner just happens to be the creator of MLB Trade Rumors, so I don't stand a chance of learning about a trade in time to act upon it. For the rest of you out there, though, keep in mind that relievers lie at the top of the list of players whose value may change in the next couple weeks. As it turns out, that very same Commissioner of ours, Tim Dierkes, has created a valuable leaderboard of relievers on the trade block. Specifically, Tim recently listed the following closers as potential trade candidates: Steve Cishek, Kevin Gregg, Jonathan Papelbon, Glen Perkins, Tom Wilhelmsen, and Jose Veras. The primary setup men for these closers at the moment appear to be A.J. Ramos, Blake Parker, Antonio Bastardo, Casey Fien, Yoervis Medina, and Jose Cisnero, respectively. Believe it or not, I've stashed away all of these guys in the RotoAuthority League, but I view Parker and Ramos as the most likely to be closing on August 1st. In case you missed it, our own Alex Steers-McCrum also provided excellent analysis on this topic.

4. Send out trade offers

During the season I try to avoid having many trade offers on the table for one main reason. Specifically, another fantasy owner could accept a trade shortly after a player leaves a game with an injury without giving me a chance to withdraw my offer. To me, any such trade should be reversed, but I've played in leagues that have a rationale of tough luck in that situation. At any rate, that's not a problem during these four days because you don't have to worry about any players getting hurt. I've been sending out offers left and right in my leagues, and the responses seem to be quicker than usual. My theory is that fantasy owners often wish to make sure that no players involved get hurt when games are in progress, but again there are no games right now.

So what kinds of offers should you be sending out? Well, perhaps I've belabored the point by now, but it's all about gaining points in the standings. Don't worry too much about value at this point. Consider the needs of other owners first, and then make an offer that makes sense for both sides. You'll be amazed at how much easier it is to get deals done when you're only focused on particular categories.

Enjoy the break, readers.



Stock Watch: All-Stargazing

Each year in the middle of July, the fantasy community lets out a collective groan. Like any other game-addicts, we're loathe to experience even a single day without our fix. Three in a row...ouch. Not only that, but our schedules are distorted, truncated or elongated according to our commissioners' caprices. It makes for a weird week, to say the least.

That said, I've always loved the All-Star game. Maybe because my longest-running league always holds a party at which trades flow even more freely than the beer. Sometimes the best players to trade are the ones in the game: after all, what adds to a player's trade value like seeing him dominate the best players in baseball. And Jhonny Peralta. In this spirit, let's take a look at a few selected All-Star participants and speculate on what kind of investments they are going forward.

J.J. Hardy
All-Star or not, Hardy is the homers and nothing else guy that he's essentially always been. If you need power desperately, trade for him, but if you've got someone else competent at short, this might be a great time to deal him away. Yes, the homers are great, but everything else is not. His low triple-slash stats will keep his Runs and RBI's down, even in that potent Orioles lineup, and his .253 BABIP is an exact match for his 2012 mark.

David Ortiz
The ageless Ortiz is killing the world in just about every way (save steals, obviously). If your leaguemates are into giving DH or age related discounts, he's a great trade for candidate, as I see little reason for his production to drop appreciably.

Hisashi Iwakuma
The wheels have been coming off for Iwakuma in the last few weeks, a storyline which may or may not get coverage during the All-Star broadcast. I'd trade him away before problems get worse. He may right the ship at any moment...or he may fall to drop status. Either way, it's doubtful that he belongs among the best pitchers in baseball.

Justin Masterson
The Indians' ace has finally harnessed the strikeout stuff he'd flashed throughout his career and it's got him an All-Star slot. His ERA isn't great (3.78), but his FIP and xFIP are both a bit better (3.42/3.40). Whoever drafted him probably wasn't expecting the strikeouts to be this good and maybe waiting for the other shoe to drop. If you need whiffs, definitely try to trade for him. If you're good in that category, I'd stay away, because, while he doesn't hurt you in the other categories, he isn't really an asset.

Torii Hunter
I do not know why Hunter is an All-Star. (Particularly with Raul Ibanez not getting the honor.) Hope for him to hit a home run, and then immediately trade him to anyone in your league that you happen to know likes to drink while watching the All-Star games. Those in anonymous online leagues may have difficulty, but check over the league's message board and you might find some suitable takers. 

Bryce Harper, Carlos Beltran, and Carlos Gonzalez
These All-Stars are all great hitters having great seasons. They're exciting players and they often get hurt. Wait, that last thing isn't good? In fact, it makes them good players to trade away if as they all carry significant injury risk and all play well enough to anchor a serious trade. Note that this is only a good idea if your team is good and you need to lower your risk. If you're sitting in the bottom half or third of your league, this is the type of player to trade for.

Brandon Phillips
The Cincinnati second-sacker's season has thus far featured a 2% drop in his walk rate and a total disappearance in his stolen-base ability. Name recognition and a dearth of other good second basemen has him starting in the All-Star game, and now is as good a time as any to hope those same qualities will be enough for you to turn him into a more productive player. Trade him.

Jose Fernandez
The Marlins' phenom was a high-upside, high-risk play when Miami called him up early in the season. It's paid off and I have nothing bad to say about his production. (Because I don't believe in lying in this space.) That said, the Marlins would be foolish not to limit his innings somehow this season. They are foolish, but they'll probably still find a way to keep him from pitching in September. Outside of Roto formats, trade him away.

Patrick Corbin
Raise your hand if you really believe that this is Corbin's real talent level. No? I can't believe it. But I would trade for Corbin, because chances are his owners don't believe it either. Hopefully he allows a three-run home run in the game and nets you a discount. He's not an ace, but his 3.28 FIP tells me that he's a very useful pitcher anyway.

Jeff Locke and Travis Wood
Neither of these pitchers' results match their peripherals. Wood's 3.56 FIP makes him look average, and his 4.36 xFIP makes him look even worse than that. Locke's 3.82 FIP and 4.27 xFIP do the same. Trade these guys away.

Michael Cuddyer
Cuddyer has been pretty quiet about putting together a great year. Of course, it's buoyed by a .373 BABIP and home games at Coors Field. That said, he's been plenty good on the road, and he hasn't drawn huge attention to himself. While you should expect his BABIP to slip during the second half, he's still a pretty good trade target, as his owners are as likely as anyone else to expect a decline in his production.

Allen Craig
Craig has certainly been a power disappointment, and for that reason I was surprised to see him on the All-Star team, and fairly sure that I'd recommend dealing him. But, actually, no. Though his BABIP is high (.374), he's shown himself to be a high-BABIP/high-average hitter, and I'd trade for him confidently if I were in need of batting average.

Bartolo Colon, Nelson Cruz, Everth Cabrera, and Jhonny Peralta
All of the above are implicated in scandal and all may end up serving significant suspensions this season. Peralta should be traded regardless, but your strategy with the other three depends largely on how much risk you want to take on. Cruz has surged back from a lousy 2012, Colon is having maybe the best season of his career (and he's a Cy Young winner), and Cabrera is baseball's best base-stealer. If you need to take on risk and upside, trade for these guys and hope for light punishments, long appeals processes, or innocent verdicts. Because he steals so much, Cabrera is particularly worth trading for in Roto formats, as even a month of his production will help you in the category. Of course, if you're sitting at the top of your league, you should deal them away and let someone else absorb the risk.



Closer Updates: Riding the Trade Winds

Rumors continue to swirl around baseball this time of year, and no position receives more attention than relief pitchers. Why? Even the best are expendable on a bad team, and even pitchers of marginal greatness are assets on contenders. Everyone who spent the last two decades watching playoff baseball knows how important strong bullpens are for the October teams. For fantasy owners, this can be a mix of good and bad news. How your team fares is all about how prepared you are for the upcoming month. After all, a fantasy team doesn't need to be on the top of the standings to need more saves...or on the bottom to profit from trading away relievers.

Mid-season trades can create quite a lot of upheaval, often leaving two teams with new closers. Whenever a closer is traded away (except for other closers, hypothetically) a new one is created to fill the void he left and everyone scrambles to the waiver wire to get him. Better yet, stay on top of the rumors and try owning a new closer before he gets the job. The downside of this is that the best trade candidates don't usually have great backups.

The other trade fallout happens on the team that acquires the new closer: either that team's old closer is deposed (bad news for his owners), or the new pitcher is suddenly the setup man (bad news for his owners. Most often, good teams have an established closer by this point in the season, and they're looking to use bad teams' stoppers to shore up their 'pen. Yes, you should trade away any closers at risk for this situation.

At-Risk Closers

Keep in mind that trade rumors can change quickly and that not all of these closers will get dealt into setup situations. Why do you think we link to MLB Trade Rumors right at the top of the page? Here are just a few of the storylines circulating as I write this: Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn are drawing interest for the Marlins, who don't want to deal themthe Yankees are pushing to deal Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughesthe Mets probably want to keep Bobby Parnell and are releasing setup man Brandon Lyonthe Phillies would rather buy than sell Jonathan Papelbon; and all the Brewers' relievers are drawing interest. So, seriously, refresh MLBTR all day long and a couple times during the night just in case, because all these could have changed by the time you read this.

Steve Cishek and his setup man Mike Dunn could get dealt, but odds are they won't both be traded away. And since Cishek is under team control until 2017, the lowly Marlins could rationally think of him a piece on future good teams. He's one that I'd take a risk and trade for at low cost. His value won't be that high, as the Marlins don't do much winning, but it's looking pretty unlikely that he gets traded away. That's good, because he wouldn't be closing anywhere else (except maybe Detroit).

Jose Veras is a pretty good reliever. Not amazing, so if he gets traded, don't expect him to take over the ninth inning reins. In head-to-head leagues, I'd trade him away, but hold onto him in Roto-style. Wesley Wright might get the save opps if Veras is dealt, but there's no need to pick him up until that happens. Frankly, it'd probably be an open audition anyway.

Francisco Rodriguez has had a resurgent closing experience with Milwaukee. As a guy with playoff-tested moxie and at least some leftover brand name, I'll make the bold prediction that he gets traded to Detroit and closes for them. He's on the fringe of being good enough (in reality and appearance) to close on other contending teams in the event of a trade, so I'd hold on him. If he is traded, expect Jim Henderson to get his closing gig back.

Like Rodriguez, Glen Perkins has a good chance of beating out incumbent closers for the ninth inning. He's even less likely to be traded in the first place, so hold him if you got him. Your risk is relatively low if you trade for him, but it isn't nonexistent.

It almost seem taken for granted that Kevin Gregg will be dealt, and that Blake Parker, James Russell or Pedro Strop will take over the ninth. Maybe, maybe not. Gregg might close for the Tigers, but I don't think any other contender will let him close unless someone gets injured. If you can get any return for him trade him away, in head-to-head formats, and probably in Roto too.

Bobby Parnell's trade rumors might say he's staying now, but the Mets don't have any real need for a competent closer, and you have to think they'd move him for a decent prospect. Parnell doesn't have the raw saves totals or the history of closing to push other closers out of a job; for that reason I'd trade him away.

The Mariners don't look likely to find a partner willing to overpay for Tom Wilhelmsen, so he may stay with the club and close for the rest of the year. Or he might continue his periodic implosions. If you find a fellow owner willing to value him like Seattle does, trade him away. Most of us, however, will just have to hold on. If he's dealt or demoted...we'll, we've examined this mess before.

With the Blue Jays presumably expecting to have a better 2014 than this year, they probably don't want to deal Casey Janssen. If the tea leaves swirl in a new direction, I still wouldn't be worried, as Janssen is good enough to continue closing for several contenders. Unless he starts getting connected with teams like the Yankees and Rangers who have well-established closers, I would hold, or even trade for him. If he is dealt, perhaps final All-Star balloter Steve Delabar would take over.

Jonathan Papelbon seems less and less likely to get dealt in real life. I suggest you trade for him while the rumors are still lingering, and he's still got a low saves total, and the stigma of his blown saves is still recent. On the off chance that he's dealt, Antonio Bastardo is a good pitcher to own.

Greg Holland hasn't seen his name come up in the rumors, but the Royals are always in danger of seeing their season fall apart. You can safely hold him for now, but keep an eye on the news. Kansas City actually has several capable relievers, so it's hard to know who to pick up.

Potential Buyers

Everyone knows the Tigers are buyers. Joaquin Benoit may be on the final All-Star ballot, but that might not be enough to convince the team that he's their stopper. Obviously, keep Benoit around, but be ready for him to be replaced before the first of August.

With the struggles that Jim Johnson has had, I wonder if the Orioles will be in the relief market this month. There hasn't been much noise about that, but maybe they're just playing it quietly. Johnson would probably have to struggle after a trade is made to lose his job, but he's used a lot of a long leash this season.

The Red Sox may have two of the best Japanese relievers in the world in Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa, and an ex-closer in Andrew Bailey, but that might not stop them from loading on more arms for the pennant race. If they add someone with more closing clout than Uehara, don't expect them to hesitate to make (another) change.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again (all month long, probably), but the best way to come out of the trade crucible ahead is to keep up with the rumors on MLBTR and to follow @CloserNews on Twitter.



The Proof Is In The Peripherals: July 11-17

Remember the character of Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and how she'd always use the phrase "five by five" when saying that someone was all right or okay with her?  Does this mean that Faith was secretly a big fantasy baseball fan who stuck to the 5x5 leagues?  I shouldn't have brought this up, since now I'm going to presume that every stranger I'm playing against in a public league is actually Eliza Dushku, which may induce me to make stupid trades in a vain attempt at getting a phone number.

Anyway, just as you shouldn't use fantasy baseball as a way of hitting on actresses, you also shouldn't use the 5x5 stats as your sole guide to determining a player's value.  Here's your weekly look at the advanced metrics to see which players you should put your....faith...into.  *rimshot*

Say Yes To Ricky No: Things are looking up for Ricky Nolasco these days.  He was recently released from purgatory traded from the Marlins to the Dodgers, where he gets to pitch in a pennant race (sort of) and near his SoCal hometown.  It also helps that Nolasco is on pace for his best overall season since his breakout 2008 campaign, in large part because for once, Nolasco's peripherals are pretty normal.  Sabermetricians still speak in hushed tones of Nolasco's bizarre 2009 season (a 5.06 ERA but a 3.35 FIP) and for his career, the right-hander has a .308 BABIP and 68.7% strand rate, both higher than average.  This season, however, Nolasco's BABIP is a solid .299 and his strand rate is actually a bit better than average (72.5%).  The only somewhat worrisome stat is that Nolasco isn't allowing as many grounders as he did in the previous two years, though since he's pitching at Dodger Stadium, his increased fly ball tendencies aren't likely to cause many problems.

Nolasco has a 7.2 K/9, 3.6 K/BB ratio and a 3.85 ERA (3.51 FIP, 3.70 xFIP, 3.80 SIERA) in 112 1/3 innings this season, yet he's only owned in 36% of Yahoo fantasy leagues.  It's possible owners stayed away from Nolasco in their drafts due to his years of good-but-not-great performances and the fact that the Marlins in general were going to be a disaster, but there's no reason to not snatch him up now. 

Alexei Sale: Alexei Ramirez's career is taking a weird arc, as he began his career as a solid power-hitting shortstop but now seems to be morphing into a no-hit stolen base threat.  Ramirez has 19 steals already this season, putting him easily on pace to break his career high of 20, so I can't say that the White Sox shortstop has been a total fantasy bust.  Ramirez has hit .277/.305/.345 with one homer and 33 runs scored, plus a stunningly low .068 ISO that indicates the Stark family on Game Of Thrones are the only ones with less power than Ramirez right now.

Not that steals aren't a valuable category and it's not like shortstop is brimming with big bats anyway, but I always hate having a "steals-only" guy on the roster who swipes a few bags and usually has a decent average but just kills you in every other category.  If you have one or two other speed threats in your fantasy lineup, I'd recommend moving Ramirez for a better shortstop since his bat just isn't coming back.  He even has a .314 BABIP on the season, so if this is the lucky Alexei, I shudder to think how he'll be hitting if his luck turns.

Shell Hhigh Ohn Jhonny: There's a chance that Jhonny Peralta won't be on anyone's roster for a large chunk of the remaining season, but suspension rumors aside, Peralta is a classic sell-high candidate if you have him on your team right now.  And if there's an owner in your league that isn't following the Biogenesis story then hey, caveat emptor!

Peralta was recently named to his second All-Star team as a result of the .304/.360/.445 batting line he carried into Tuesday's play, and when combined with seven homers, 42 RBI and 38 runs scored, Peralta has been one of the best fantasy shortstops of 2013.  It's a marked improvement over his disappointing .689 OPS in 2012, though I'd argue that Peralta's hot hitting isn't likely to last into the second half.  Forget about the PED accusations --- it's all about Peralta's league-leading .385 BABIP.  This ridiculous number obscures the fact that Peralta's peripherals are largely the same as usual, except for a 26.6% line drive rate that is far above his 20.7% career average.  Peralta is bound to regress so do your best to move him for a shortstop that has fewer statistical red flags.

Big Time Timmy Jim: I think most fantasy owners would be pretty pleased with having a pitcher with a 9.39 K/9, 2.35 K/BB rate and a 3.48 ERA in their rotations, eh?  Well, that's what you would have if you owned the much-maligned Tim Lincecum, and also owned him in a just universe.  Lincecum's 3.48 number refers to his FIP, and his 3.31 xFIP and 3.61 SIERA likewise indicate that the Freak is having some freakishly bad luck this year, as his real-world ERA sits at 4.61.  A handsome and talented MLB Trade Rumors writer pointed out in February that Lincecum faced a bit of extra pressure this season as he not only was trying to regain his old consistency, but also had to do so in a contract year.  Lincecum has more or less done his job, but the high BABIP (.327) and low strand rate (66.2%) have kept his ERA from matching his advanced metrics.  In non-luck based numbers, Lincecum also has a career-high 27.2% line drive rate, so with more hard-hit balls in play, it's perhaps unsurprising that more are landing for hits.

All this said, Lincecum's fortunes are due to change during the second half, and owners who rolled the dice on Lincecum following his rough 2012 could still get the maximum return on their risk if the righty delivers a couple of vintage Freak months.  After all, he's "Big Time Timmy Jim," a nickname I had literally never heard until I surfed onto Lincecum's Baseball-Reference page.  What an unwieldy nickname.  And his middle name isn't even James, so it makes even less sense.  Whomever's in charge of handing out nicknames in San Francisco really dropped the ball on that one.  Kruk and Kuip need to get on this.



This Week In Streaming Strategy

Looking at the seven days leading into the All-Star break, here's another handful of matchups that can give you a short-term edge as your teams limp through injuries, with a few long-term recommendations even included...

Dillon Gee -- For those who haven't noticed, Gee is far more than a streaming option at this point, but he's owned in fewer than 20 percent of Yahoo Leagues and fewer than 10 percent of ESPN leagues. No longer content to focus all of his efforts on trying to out-beard Brian Wilson (or perhaps more accurately, Scott Ian of Anthrax), Gee has posted a 2.47 ERA with a 47-to-9 K/BB ratio over his past 47 1/3 innings (seven starts). He also draws the Giants on Tuesday -- a team whose offense issues a collective heavy sigh as it wishes it could be as productive as the Marlins over the past couple weeks.

Rick Porcello, Jonathan Pettibone -- Porcello is as mercurial as they come, but he's coming off a pair of solid outings against lineups that are far, far better than the White Sox one he will face on Wednesday. The Sox rank in the bottom three in runs, OBP and slugging in all of baseball, and they scored 13 runs in their first six games in July. Likewise, Pettibone's not a sexy option, but he's shown decent command and a nice ground-ball rate.

Travis Hafner -- Pronk isn't the threat he was eight years ago. Heck, he's not the threat he was eight weeks ago, but he's got one of the most favorable schedules he could ask for this week. He'll square off against homer the Royals in New York this season (where his OPS is nearly 200 points higher and two-thirds of his homers have come). Not only that, he draws homers allowed leader Jeremy Guthrie, human pitching machine Wade Davis and Ervin Santana, who's been dominant but still homer-prone. Then it's off to Minnesota and their crumbling pitching staff for the 36-year-old slugger. Sign me up for Hafner and possibly Lyle Overbay this week.

Cody Ross -- If you like hitters that produce .403/.435/.584 batting lines against left-handed pitching, then you're in luck! Cody Ross is widely available and has exactly that line! A star of fortune has truly shined upon you. It hasn't shined upon Chris Capuano and Hyun-Jin Ryu, both who are slated to face Ross on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. It's unclear who he'll face against the Brewers on Sunday, but it could be another southpaw in Tom Gorzelanny. At the very least, Ross, who's fresh off a 5-for-5 on Saturday, is a nice short-term add early in the week.

Tyler Chatwood -- With the exception of his most recent outing, Chatwood has been dominant, and the peripherals have backed up that he's been legitimately good. His strikeout rate isn't anything to write home about, but he utilizes solid command and ground-ball stuff to keep himself out of trouble. He draws the floundering Padres on Monday (13 runs in six games this month as of Sunday morning) and the Dodgers on Saturday. Both starts come on the road. Is it any wonder that his two real clunkers this season have both come at Coors Field? Chatwood has a silly 0.82 ERA in 22 road innings this season. Sustainable? No. A good sign for the upcoming week? Probably.

Nathan Eovaldi -- Eovaldi will face the Nationals on Saturday, and the 23-year-old makes for an interesting play against a Nationals lineup that's underperformed as a whole all season. Eovaldi's velocity has jumped to better than 96 mph, but he's sporting a 7.3 swinging strike rate and sub-5.00 K/9, largely because he pitches from behind in the count so much. His 52.6 percent first-pitch strike rate shows he falls behind way too often, but he's managed a 2.55 ERA and 4.17 FIP in spite of that shortcoming.

Roberto Hernandez -- The former Fausto is still being plagued by a 20.5% HR/FB ratio, but he's been solid outside of that and most of his homer troubles have come on the road. Hernandez has allowed two fewers long balls at home in 2 1/3 more innings than he's thrown on the road. He draws home starts against the Twins (Monday) and Astros (Saturday), the latter of which should make for a particularly good source of strikeouts. Hernandez's 3.57 K/BB ratio and 51 percent ground-ball rate are good traits for a spot start, and he receives love from both xFIP (3.53) and SIERA (3.59) going forward.

Jose Iglesias -- I'm not sure exactly how Iglesias is only owned in 34% of Yahoo leagues right now (ESPN players have caught on), but the Red Sox shortstop will reap the benefits of facing Jeremy Bonderman and Aaron Harang on consecutive days this Wednesday and Thursday. Really, any Red Sox starter that's available in your league is worth picking up against that tandem.


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RotoAuthority League Update: Standings Movers

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.

With three months in the books, let's take a look at the current standings in the RotoAuthority League and see how they compare to the standings at the beginning of June. In this way, we can see which teams have risen or fallen recently. Changes in standings over the past month are provided in parentheses.

1. Smell the Glove 106.5 (+8)

2. Yu at the Animal Zoo 98.5 (+4.5)

3. Say It Ain't So Cano 83 (+12.5)

4. Gramma Nutt Crushers 73.5 (-5.5)

5. Brewsterville Bruins 73 (+4)

6. Men With Wood 70 (-0.5)

7. Reedy 60 (-5.5)

8. UP 55 (-12)

9. E-Z Sliders 49.5 (+8)

10. Philly Cheez 40.5 (+1)

11. A Century of Misery 36 (-0.5)

12. Forty 2 Twenty 4 34.5 (-9)

On the Rise

After climbing up the standings in May, Say It Ain't So Cano was once again able to make up ground in June. For this squad, it all starts with Jason Kipnis, who's been the most valuable player in all of fantasy baseball over the past month. Aside from Robinson Cano, there's no second baseman I'd rather own going forward. Eric Hosmer has also been on fire lately, possibly due to a change in placement of his hands. A wise pickup of Rajai Davis on May 30th has paid dividends, as the speedy outfielder has 14 SB since then. Meanwhile, Carlos Gonzalez and Jay Bruce have continued to provide solid production.

Tim Dierkes's Smell the Glove was already in first place on June 1st, and yet only one squad has gained more points in the standings than his since then. The dominant display by this team is bordering on the absurd. Smell the Glove currently has 107 out of a maximum possible total 120 points. In particular, the offensive production has been just silly, as Tim has accrued 58 out of 60 possible points. It's not like the pitching is weak either. In fact, WHIP is the only category in which this squad is outside the top three. As I said a month ago, at this point the RotoAuthority League has become the Commish's league to lose.

E-Z Sliders has also been able to make up ground lately in an effort to dig out of the bottom 4 and live to see another year of the league. Despite making the decision to punt saves, this team has still been able to move up in the pitching categories with a staff led by young studs Matt Harvey and Madison Bumgarner. Jayson Werth has also quietly been very productive since coming off the DL. Oh yeah, and that Mike Trout guy doesn't seem to be having a sophomore slump...

On the Decline

UP has slipped recently and now is in danger of finishing in the bottom four. A staff that looked dynamite on paper has struggled lately. Justin Verlander hasn't really been his elite self, although the luck dragons are mostly to blame. James Shields has pitched well but has just three wins to show for it on the punchless Royals. Finally, R.A. Dickey continues to be maddeningly inconsistent, as he's managed to give up at least six earned runs in six starts this year.

Forty 2 Twenty 4 has rapidly fallen to the bottom of the standings. Just when it looked like Matt Kemp might catch fire, he gets banged up again. Anthony Rizzo has really cooled off after a hot start. On paper the staff looks great, but there's also a lesson here on just how tough it is to stay competitive in the pitching categories. While Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez have been terrific as usual, Jon Lester and Tim Lincecum have struggled again while C.C. Sabathia has taken a step back, too. A starting pitcher with an ERA of 4.00+ used to be just mediocre, but now it actually hurts a fantasy roster. As the leaguewide pitching statistics continue to improve, even one bad apple can ruin a fantasy owner's chances of finishing near the top of the ERA and WHIP categories. 



Stock Watch: Guys Named Davis (And a Surprising Quantity of Mets)

Real-life baseball is ramping up for its most exciting months. All-Star rosters come out today, and when the Game ends the trade deadline's clock will start officially counting down. Chances are, your fantasy league's deadline comes sometime after that, but we know the time to deal is upon us. Since trades in reality can have a big effect on fantasy value, we'll be dealing a lot of the same players in our fake game as in the real one. The effect is perhaps most pronounced on pitchers, with the importance of their teammates and parks. 

Trade For

Ricky Nolasco is a great pitcher to trade for, as he couldn't be leaving a worse offensive situation than Miami. Any team that might trade for him should give him a lot more help getting leads and then keeping them. Of course, a trade to Colorado might negate a lot of that value, but he's still well worth the risk. 

Yovani Gallardo has been as big a disappointment as any this year. While I can't say what the cause of his struggles has been, a change of scenery almost certainly wouldn't hurt. Arizona is the top trade destination mentioned, so his park effects might not get any better, but pitching for a contender ought to help with the wins. Who knows, maybe the adrenaline will spark some improvement for him....

Matt Garza won't be toiling for the Cubbies much longer, that's almost for sure. It's good news for Garza owners, too, since the teams that might be interested are likely to be heavy hitters. Expect AL East teams to show interest, since he's had success in that division before. Let that temper any expectations of improved stats in any category but wins.

Kyle Gibson is not on the trading block in MLB, but after a disastrous second start, he might be in your fantasy league. Actually, he might be back to the waiver wire, in which case he's worth picking up. With his value depressed (who doesn't get roughed up by the Yankees every once in a while, anyway?), he's a great "throw in" in a bigger trade.

Mark Reynolds hasn't hit a lick since his torrid start, but he's still got a lot more power potential than anyone you're likely to find on the waiver wire (with one exception, see below). Obviously, target him at a low price, but he's the kind of gamble you should make if you could benefit from a power increase.

If the Price Is Right

Some players might be in the Trade For category for some...and the Trade Away for others. I suppose that's the best way to get a deal done. Our own Andrew Gephardt detailed some of the factors that go into a good trade on Monday, and the circumstances of your team make all the difference in the world. Here are a couple players worth dealing for with the right price and situation...or dealing away in others.

Eric Hosmer has been setting the world on fire for the last month or so, and it has been suggested that he's finally breaking out. It has also been suggested that some of his homers haven't been off the world's best pitchers. So is Hosmer a buy or a sell candidate, a star who's inexpensive for the last time in his career, or someone to toss after month of playing over his talent level? Honestly, I don't know, but that wouldn't stop me from taking a risk on him one way or another.

If you've got an excess of power or 1B production, then I'd say try to sell high. If you can get a quality return from someone who feels more confident that Hosmer has turned the corner, go for it. On the flip side, if your team is need of power, try getting him from an owner that expects regression. In either case, don't go overboard. If the other owners in your league are similarly ambivalent about Hosmer--or happen to be valuing him the same as you are, don't go too many extra dollars to make a deal.

Elvis Andrus is in much the opposite situation as Hosmer, but you can approach it in a similar way. Texas has moved him down to eighth in the batting order, with manager Ron Washington citing Andrus' place in the leadoff spot as the reason for his troubles. I can't say if that's the case (though I'm usually skeptical about such assertions, I have little or no inside information about Andrus' psyche, certainly less than Washington). Whatever the reason, Andrus is a player with a history of useful (if overrated) fantasy production coming off a horrid last month.

If you're in need of MI or SS help, or really need steals, Andrus is probably a good trade candidate. He's not a true-talent .100's hitter, so his production has no reason not to improve. Unfortunately, Andrus cost many owners high draft picks and comes with a lot of brand-name value. You won't be able to avoid paying a premium for that brand, but he's been so bad lately that he could still come at a reasonable price. Of course, it's that very brand that makes Andrus a trade-away candidate. With everyone in your league expecting some sort of positive regression, Andrus ought to bring back a useful piece. If you're otherwise set at short, deal Andrus.

Trade Away

I've suggested dealing Matt Harvey before, but the reasons are different this time. No, it does not look like Harvey will be regressing from his ace form anytime soon, but that won't stop the Mets from finding some way to limit his innings and pitch counts from here on out. MLB Injury News speculates on the Mets' many options to limit Harvey's injury risk, though New York hasn't given any definitive indication of their plans. As a fantasy owner, I actually don't care what their plans are: Harvey's value will almost certainly go down with any plan they implement. Fewer innings might not be a big deal in roto leagues with innings caps, but you should deal him in any league with a playoff format. The Mets will have nothing to play for in September, but Harvey is a huge part of their future.

It's not the fault of Hanley Ramirez or Jason Kipnis that they're on this list. It's just that any player hitting like they are should be dangled in trades. Maybe nobody in your league will bite and overpay, but maybe someone will. Both are high-quality infielders. Neither one is Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout. Or Willie Mays, for that matter.

Pick Up

Martin Perez has been on my fantasy teams before, and it hasn't gone well. His last two starts certainly suggest that he's figured out the Major Leagues an while that may not be true, it's well worth a waiver claim. Nab him while you still can. If you still can. Also, he's scheduled for two starts next week, if you care about that sort of thing.

Randall Delgado has been a prospect for awhile, but striking out nine Mets and walking none is enough to put him on the map. With the Diamondbacks pursuing a division title, they'll use him as long as he's good, which is the only case you'll have kept him anyway. He's well worth a try.

Carlos Villanueva was on a lot of successful fantasy rosters last September, but hasn't had the same success this year. Or much of any success, really. Still, he's slotting into Scott Feldman's place in the rotation, and with Matt Garza likely to go too, he ought to stay in as long as he's remotely successful. His strikeout potential is worth checking out.

Eric Young is stealing bases and hitting the ball for the Mets. (A lot of Mets in this one. I don't know why.) He's even gotten some playing time at 2B. In deep leagues and for those who need speed, he's worth a try. He'll be worth a try almost everywhere if he does get that 2B eligibility.

Ike Davis came back to the bigs yesterday, and the mere chance that he found his power stroke again on his trip to AAA makes him worth a waiver claim. I do suggest keeping him on the bench until he shows that he can hit Major League pitching again, but homers aren't easy to find on the waiver wire.

Rajai Davis (I told you there'd be guys named Davis) was one of the most prodigious base stealers in the Majors for the last several years, but relegation to a bench spot might have made him available in leagues this year. If he's still out there in your league, he's an obvious source of speed now that he'll be playing every day again.


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Closer Updates: Not Exactly the Best

If you don't own a Diamondbacks closer, it's probably been a pretty quiet week for you. Given that, we'll take a quick look at some closers who may have seen changes in their value, and examine the situation in Arizona, before tackling the most exciting possible post-July-4th topic: disappointing closers. A couple weeks ago, we looked at the best* closers around baseball and determined whether or not we would want each one on our teams going forward. Back then, we promised to follow up with the rest of baseball's stoppers, so here we are.

*Note: actually, we looked at those closers who had saved the most games thus far. Some (**cough, cough**, Tom Wilhelmsen) were not even arguably among "the best."

Diamondbacks

J.J. Putz just hasn't been a good investment this year. Bad pitching, seven weeks of injury, and now he blows the save and loses his job in his first outing back. I guess there's a reason most teams ease returned stoppers back into the ninth. For now, Putz will work to build himself up and Heath Bell has un-lost the closing gig. Hold on to both for now, keeping Bell until Putz shows a strong hold on the job, and not dropping Putz unless he scuffles in middle relief for an extended period. The whole situation makes this Bell owner pretty happy his father beat him to snagging Putz off the waiver wire....

Mariners

The aforementioned (and afore-maligned) Tom Wilhelmsen locked down his 17th save Wednesday, and looks to be getting future chances. If he got dropped (I dropped him) in your league, pick him back up if you need saves. 

Cubs

Sure, Kevin Gregg blew his first save, but he came back with another winner for the Cubs. The chance that he gets traded to a contender to set up is pretty high, but in case he doesn't, he could be a good trade target, as this article suggests a solid reason for his much-improved control.

Brewers

Francisco Rodriguez nailed down another save Wednesday. He's gotten a lot more chances than Jim Henderson lately, and it may be proper to consider him the real closer in Milwaukee. Trade for him with care, however, as he's a good candidate for a real-life trade into the 7th or 8th inning.

Less than the Best

It's worth noting (briefly) that I'm not including closers who've bounced in and out of the job, those who've spent significant time injured, or who just got the job. Those guys get plenty of face time in this space anyway.

Can't Complain--or Shouldn't, at Least

Ernesto Frieri, 21 SV

Frieri is what he is and does what he does. Specifically, he strikes tons of people out, and walks tons of people. He's like the old Armando Benitez, a good Carlos Marmol, or Aroldis Chapman-lite. It seems to work, and the Angels are more likely to reload for next year than try to rebuild.

Glen Perkins, 20 SV

Perkins has been a boss, but you should trade him away. Why? Because the Twins are awful and he could fetch a serious return on the real-life trade market. Deal him first, just in case, because most of the closers he'd replace don't pitch for the teams that will be buyers at the deadline. (Except the Tigers, but an in-division trade is a bit much to hope for.)

Grant Balfour, 20 SV

The world's most appropriately named person (seriously, I bet his parents were Nolan Ryan fans and hoped he'd grow up to be the all-time leader in walks issued) has given owners none of the stress they (we) received last year. Luckily for his owners, the A's are firmly in contention and won't be dealing him away. He's a great trade target if you can pry him away from his owners.

It's Been an Interesting Ride, Hasn't it?

Greg Holland, 18 SV

Quick: who's got the second best K/9% among closers. Yup, it's Holland, who's only a little behind Chapman and nearly a full point ahead of third-place Jason Grilli. Holland's owners should hope Kansas City can retain delusions hopes of contention, because he could make a great trade piece. He's been so good that I'd gamble on him until and unless trade rumors heat up about him.

Casey Janssen, 17 SV

This guy has quietly pitched very well up North. The Blue Jays may not be contending this year, but the team they built in the offseason wasn't built for this year only. Unless the rumor mill says otherwise, expect Janssen to keep the job. He's a good one to deal for, if worried owners predict a real life trade.

Jose Veras, 17 SV

Veras went practically undrafted in many leagues this year, as the hapless Astros weren't expected to offer enough save chances for him to be relevant. Well, he is. He's worth targeting, especially as a throw-in for a larger fantasy trade. Unfortunately, Veras is very vulnerable to leaving the Astros for the middle of a contender's bullpen.

Fernando Rodney, 17 SV

I'm pretty sure fantasy owners who drafted Rodney early didn't expect Jose Veras to have matched his save total at this point in the season. Here we are, though. It's clear that Rodney isn't the guy he looked like last year (surprise), but he isn't as bad as he once was, either. Expect him to close all year on the contending Rays team; he's a good one to target in trade, as his owner is likely still disappointed in his production.

There's Always Next Year the Second Half

Steve Cishek, 16 SV

Cishek might get the award for Most Likely to Be Traded, as the Marlins are going nowhere and have a compulsive desire to trade anyone making more than half a million dollars every deadline. If you can get any value for him, I'd cut bait on this Fish. Unfortunately, you probably can't, so your best option is just to ride it out and enjoy the few saves while you can.

Jonathan Papelbon, 16 SV

Papelbon is probably the best trade target out there right now. He's just gone through a pretty rough stretch, which might lower his value just a bit. More importantly, he's the only closer that might be on the market that will close just about anywhere he gets traded. Even if the Phillies don't improve in the second half, it's very likely that he gets (and converts) plenty more save chances. 

Huston Street, 15 SV

Street has already spent injured time, depressing his save total. While he could be traded, San Diego isn't out of it just yet and might not be hoping to sell. Of course, Street has been horrid this year, with a 4.94 K/9 and an eye-popping 7.59 FIP. The good news is that his xFIP is only 4.90. If you can find a buyer, deal him away. 

Bobby Parnell, 14 SV

Parnell has shown great control and hasn't let a single ball out of the yard. Pretty impressive, but not good enough to net him the lowest save total for anyone who's kept the job all year. At least he isn't under the shadow of Frank Francisco anymore. There haven't been any trade rumors about Parnell yet, but the Mets aren't exactly playing for the 2013 Series. Like Papelbon, he's likely to receive more save chances in the second half.

Rafael Betancourt, 14 SV

Betancourt has been his usual fragile-but-good self this year. With Colorado just 2.5 games back, don't expect the Rockies to try dealing him away just yet. That makes him a better trade candidate than most of the pitchers on this list.



The Proof Is In The Peripherals: July 4-10

We're under a month away from the trade deadline, so of course everyone's refreshing MLB Trade Rumors on a minutely basis, right?  Since every baseball fan's mind will be focused on deals, deals and more deals in July, I thought I'd focus this week's column on four players whose names (i.e. Lowenstein) have been whispered as the trade winds whistle through the leaves...

* Supernatural Success.  Since the baseball gods love to laugh at the Kansas City Royals, the Royals' additions of Ervin Santana and James Shields have indeed helped turn around the club's pitching rotation...but now the team can't hit a lick.  Oh well.  Santana can't do anything about his team's weak lineup, but he's more than done his fair share in the starting rotation, posting a 2.84 ERA, 7.2 K/9 rate and a 4.05 K/BB ratio over 16 starts.  The 30-year-old has rebounded nicely from his brutal 2012 season, set himself up for a nice free agent contract this winter and been a boon to fantasy owners who took a flier on him as a fifth starter. Aside from him extending Rob Thomas' music career by at least a decade, there's not much to dislike about the Santana experience. 

So what's the problem?  Santana has personally enjoyed all the luck that the snakebitten Royals franchise lacks.  The righty's .250 BABIP and 81.4% strand rate explain why his advanced ERA numbers (3.88 FIP, 3.52 xFIP, 3.56 SIERA) are significantly higher than his regular ERA.  These aren't bad stats by any means, but I'm more worried about Santana's unnerving 13.8% HR/FB rate.  Santana's struggles last year were caused giving up a ton of homers (1.97 HR/9) and while he's cut back on his career-worst 18.8% HR/FB mark from last season, that 13.8% number is still the second-highest total of his career.  While Santana has cut down on his fly balls from 2012, his long ball tendencies might only be being held in check by the fact that he pitches in one of the most homer-unfriendly parks in the majors.  Santana is bound to regress anyway over the next three months, and if he gets traded away from Kansas City, he could find himself again bit by the homer bug.  If you've enjoyed having Santana on your roster so far, sell high and move him now before the regression kicks in like a wicked guitar solo.

* Sorry.  Cubs fans have wanted to be rid of Alfonso Soriano's millstone contract for years now, but things have been complicated by the fact that, well, nobody else has been particularly interested in absorbing that contract, not to mention the fact that Soriano hasn't been overly keen on waiving his full no-trade clause.  Soriano seems a bit more open to leaving Chicago now, though the problem now is that he's on pace for one of his worst seasons.  Soriano entered Tuesday hitting .257/.284/.428 with nine homers and 35 RBI in 306 PA, and at age 37, it's fair to wonder if the veteran is simply too washed up to be of any real value to either the Cubs or any other team that might wonder if Soriano could regain his old pop in their uniform. 

It's hard to see Soriano catching fire in the second half whether he's at Wrigley Field or elsewhere.  Soriano is putting up that lousy slash line despite the fact that his contact rates are up across the board and that he's getting a bit of extra BABIP (.308) help.  Fantasy-wise, Soriano has been a verrrrry borderline starter for the last few years, averging 26 homers and 82 RBI between 2009-2012 but of little help in the runs scored (62) or batting average (.252) categories.  If your league tracked walks, then yikes, Soriano's .310 OBP made him bench depth at best.  This is the year where I think Soriano can be altogether dropped and considered to be more or less fantasy-irrelevant.  On the bright side, you'll have an easier team moving him in your fantasy league than the Cubs will at the deadline.

* Young At Heart.  I owe Michael Young an apology.  I thought this guy was seven kinds of washed up after his fall-off-a-cliff 2012 season and avoided him in all of my leagues.  Since I'm sure Young monitors my fantasy leagues and took my snub as a personal affront, he has rebounded to hit .290/.346/.410 for the Phillies this year.  His power numbers (five homers, 21 RBI) impress nobody but his average and 33 runs scored make him a decent play as a second baseman, and he also qualifies at both first and third base for some added versatility value.  Young's .326 BABIP would make him seem like a regression candidate but he's always had a high career BABIP (.334) and this year, he's walking more than ever before.  Young's 8.0% walk rate will be a career high if he keeps it up for the entire season, so at age 36, the old dog isn't exactly learning a new trick, but the extra patience is paying off. 

Young is, of course, playing in Philadelphia and in the National League after spending his previous 13 seasons in Texas, so if he is traded, I'll predict continued success due to the "a move is easier the second time" theory.  Several players who have moved to a new team after long stints with their original club have spoken of a longer adjustment period, and once they've moved on to a third team and gained a few journeyman points, they've gotten used to the moves and in many cases find their old form.  Young has already fit in just fine in Philly, so if he's dealt again, heck, he may just upgrade his performance yet again.  It's like the first time I moved into a new apartment and how I took a million cardboard boxes from home, overpacked my car, had Mom pack a box of canned goods so that I didn't starve, etc.  By that third move, though, I had my entire wardrobe stuffed into one suitcase and enough spare room in my car that I could've picked up two hitchhikers and told them how they should keep Michael Young on their fantasy teams.  Aha, you didn't think I'd get back on topic, did you?!  Point, Polishuk.

* Electric Edinson.  Petco Park has helped prop up many a pitcher's stats, but the "Petco Effect" has yet to really take for Edinson Volquez, now in his second season with the Padres.  The right-hander is pitching okay...but he has little to show for it, with a 5.50 ERA that has been inflated by a low strand rate (63.9%) and high BABIP (.328).  Volquez's 3.95 FIP, 4.13 xFIP and 4.39 SIERA all indicate that he's basically the same borderline-fifth-starter fantasy pitcher he was last season, he's just been unluckier. 

While there's reason to believe Volquez can turn things around and still produce for you if you've stuck with him in your rotation this long, drop him immediately if he's traded.  Volquez's home/road splits are very lopsided since joining the Padres --- a 2.95 home ERA and 5.60 road ERA in 2012, and a 4.73/6.23 split between home and away this season.  As long as the Volqswagen keeps running in San Diego, he still has some fantasy value and even a bit of underdog pickup status in the second half.  If he's dealt anywhere else, however, the Volqswagen is running on empty.





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