August 2013

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Stock Watch: Last Chance to Make a Deal

I just pulled the trigger on a trade, so I'll lead with it. Because you all care a lot about what happens to my fantasy teams, I know. 

I swapped Patrick Corbin for Allen Craig. To me, these players are very similar: legitimately good (Corbin has a 3.12 FIP and a 3.33 K/BB, while Craig has a .367 OBP and 22 doubles) and decidedly lucky (Corbin has 12 wins and Craig has a .362 BABIP). Both players should be quite good for the rest of the year, but both have generated value over their true talent levels. (Though I'm definitely hoping Craig is a true-talent high-BABIP guy.) 

The point of using this trade as an illustration is that I probably didn't maximize my value for Corbin. I could have checked around the league and maybe gotten a slightly higher offer. Or I could have brought back one of those extra players I like to sneak into deals. I didn't. Why?

There is no time.

If you're offered a deal that helps your team (mine was running Brett Wallace and Adam LaRoche out there at first after Albert Pujols got hurt), go for it. When you send out trade offers, you might as well make you initial offer pretty fair, because we've only got two days left in most leagues to finish the deal. No more of this week long negotiating on whether or not the other owner will include Garret Jones as a throw-in, and no more trying to sell off all your scrubs for Troy Tulowitzki. If you've gotta make a deal, make the deal.

So, if we're trading to fill needs, who are good targets? I'll go position by position this time, with plausible targets for low, middle, and high players. If you've got the talent budget to trade, consider the high guys. If you can only afford incremental changes, aim low. 

Fair warning, this week's article is a long one, so if you have no time, feel free to skip to whichever position you're in need of.


Low: Miguel Montero is having an awful season (and might be on your waiver wire), but he's got a history of success that makes his longshot upside quite good. And are targeting a "low" guy. Who'd you expect, John Buck?

Medium: J.P. Arencibia has an abysmal batting average but leads all catchers with 18 homers. Players with strong strengths and strong weaknesses make excellent trade targets, as owners might need to improve on the categories this type of player hurts in.

High: Of the high-level catchers, Jonathan Lucroy has a BABIP (.282) that exactly matches his average and a name that doesn't carry brand-related prices. Target him over Joe Mauer, who's got a .380 BABIP and iconic status.

First Base

Low: Options like the steady, low-upside Garrett Jones and Yonder Alonso are good ideas for teams needing to protect a high place in the standings. For those hoping against hope for a big rise (or a dominant September from a low-seed team) should consider the likes of Ike Davis, Chris Carter, and the potential return of Lance Berkman. Even Albert Pujols could help teams in that position.

Medium:  Consider Justin Smoak, Eric Hosmer, and yes, even Brandon Belt, as all three are showing signs of living up to their promise, but have season stat lines weighed down by abysmal starts. And yeah, first base is so rough lately that these guys count as medium. Nobody expects anything out of James Loney anymore, so he could be quite affordable.

High: Adrian Gonzalez has quietly returned to the top echelon of first basemen. Even if that reflects the position's hard times, his high-average medium-power game is better than it looks.

Second Base

Low: Marco Scutaro has no power and no speed, and he still manages not to be bad. His position flexibility is great too.

Medium: Ben Zobrist has ugly season-level numbers, but has played much better lately. Don't expect all the power to come back on, but he can still provide value. His flexibility is a great asset in leagues with short benches.

High: Aaron Hill has spent time injured, and he's been up and down when healthy. That said, he's got the skills to put up an elite final month and a half and shouldn't carry the same price tag as Robinson Cano, Jason Kipnis, or Dustin Pedroia. If you really want to make a big splash, though, don't be afraid to pay superstar prices for Cano, as he's an elite 1B/OF bat playing at second.

Third Base

Low: Mike Moustakas might be on the upswing, and that might is all you need to make a low-level trade. Mark Reynolds might get playing time with the Yankees, but that might, might not make him worth trading for or picking up.

Medium: Pedro Alvarez has a familiar cycle of boom and bust production. I mentioned last week, but I'll say again: trade for him while he's busting, because a boom is never far behind. Josh Donaldson has come pretty much out of nowhere to be a top third baseman. Any owner who has him probably has another 3B-eligible player (the one they actually drafted), so they may be more open to a trade than others.

High: Evan Longoria's up and down season and low batting average make him an interesting trade option. At his best, he's better than David Wright. Miguel Cabrera is probably untouchable, but Adrian Beltre is a first-round producer in four categories himself. He may carry only a second round price.


Low: Jed Lowrie has a decent average and a few home runs. That sets him apart from competitors like Yunel Escobar and Stephen Drew who have bad averages, and Erick Aybar, who has less than half as many homers.

Medium: Starlin Castro has been as big a disappointment as they come for many this year. He hasn't played like a starter, let alone a star. Still, he's young and talented. How surprised would you really be if this guy put up one great month this season? J.J. Hardy's good-power-and-nothing-else might wear on some owners, but trade for him if you could use power. We can always upgrade at short....

High: Ian Desmond is having a good all five categories. His lack of greatness at anything keeps him from being indispensible to an opponent's roster. You may not get a great deal for him, but you might actually get him, unlike other top shortstops. Otherwise, Troy Tulowitzki is a player I'd roll out the red carpet to get.


Low: While Carlos Quentin is on the DL again, and he got deservedly bad press for the Zack Greinke incident, he's put together a very good season. The recently returned Josh Willingham is worth a flyer. Norichika Aoki does a little of everything (and I do mean a little), but he won't hurt in any category, except maybe homers.

Medium: Matt Holliday's un-flashy year probably hasn't excited owners, but that's all the more reason to slot him into your outfield. Dexter Fowler and Carlos Beltran are flying a little under the radar, as are surprisingly good seasons from Alfonso Soriano and Hunter Pence. (Did you know they're even stealing bases again? I didn't, and Sori's on my team.)

High: Michael Cuddyer has been a beast this season. When healthy, this guy can really hit, and he's been healthy all year. With only a month and a half to go, his health risk isn't so much higher than anyone else's. His low draft slot will keep his cost down too. Shin-Soo Choo has more name value than Cuddyer, but his little-bit-of-everything style makes him an easier player to trade away, just as it does for Ian Desmond. If you want power, go for Giancarlo Stanton, whatever the price. If you need speed, do the same for Jacoby Ellsbury.

Starting Pitcher

Low: Some of the best bargains can be found here, particularly in roto leagues where some teams are trying to shed all but their best pitchers. Consider pitchers with big differences between their ERA's and their FIP's, xFIP's, SIERA's and such. Edwin Jackson, Rick Porcello, Jeremy Hellickson, and Andy Pettitte have all gotten cursed by the luck fairy...but could easily see a change in their fortunes. Ian Kennedy hasn't gotten much help from his new environment, but it's a good bet that he will.

Medium: Tim Lincecum is a name I've mentioned before, but I'll say it again: go after him. Jeff Samardzija has pitched badly of late, but his upside is with the top 25 starters in the game. CC Sabathia still has plenty more talent than what he's shown this season. Justin Masterson and Lance Lynn make interesting trade targets as well.

High: A.J. Burnett's age, injury history, and bad years in New York keep him from carrying an elite name, but he's given elite performance. Cole Hamels continues to ratchet his strikeout rate back up and close the gap between his ERA and FIP. Chris Sale is an ace with a losing record, one of the best kind of guys to trade for. Mike Minor looks a bit lucky, but he's also very, very good.

Relief Pitcher

Low: Guys with temporary or uncertain jobs like Mark Melancon, LaTroy Hawkins, Brad Ziegler, and your choice of Rex Brothers and Rafael Betancourt. Basically anyone Luckey Helms wrote about in Closer Updates.

Medium: For mid-tier guys, look for high strikeout rates with low saves totals, bad teams, or recently anointed closers. Danny Farquhar can check all three of those boxes, but consider also Kenley Jansen, Koji Uehara, and Joaquin Benoit. Fernando Rodney had so many struggles and such a high price tag early in the season that he's still an interesting trade target.

High: Mariano Rivera has blown three consecutive save chances, so this might be the best time in his career to trade for him. He'll have all the leash in the world in his final season, and he's been mostly lights out all year long. Mostly, though, high-end closers are rarely worth the price it takes to get them. Over a season, the differences in skill and opportunity manifest in value, but in less than two months, there's no telling who the most useful closers will be. So go cheap.

Good luck trading, everyone. I know I'm off to send out a last flurry of deadline deals....

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Closer Updates: Angels, Astros, Mariners, Mets, Pirates, Rockies

Edior's Note: This article is the product of Luckey Helms (not the author listed above) and is his RotoAuthority debut. Luckey has been managing the @CloserNews twitter feed and will bring his expertise to us in article form from now on.

As we close out the work week, come to the close of our fantasy regular seasons (be it roto or head-to-head), it’s time for some MLB closers. In order to do so, we’ll first have to open up a can of updates...


Per Closer Updates tradition, Ernesto Frieri was removed from the closer’s gig the night last week’s column went up. Since that demotion, the Halos have given their only save opportunity to Dane De La Rosa, who converted it. In the last week, De La Rosa has pitched 2.2 innings of no run baseball, with two strikeouts, one hit, and two walks.

While Dane De La Rosa may not be America’s Next Top Closer, he seems to have the job for now. Lurking in the background is Kevin Jepsen, who has struggled slightly since Frieri’s demotion. In those three innings, Jepsen has given up two runs, while walking two and striking out four. The K/9 is nice, but those runs cannot make Mike Scioscia happy.

 Frieri has been a stand-up reliever since losing his spot and has responded with two clean innings, three strikeouts, one hit and no walks. If De La Rosa and Jepsen struggle in the short-term while Frieri keeps it up, he may have his job back very soon.


 In the last week, Houston has had two saves. One went to Josh Fields, his second on the season, and the other to Chia-Jen Lo. Fields has not pitched much better since his blown save, lowering his season ERA from 7.59 to 6.85 in 2.2 innings, by striking out three and giving up two earned runs. Lo, on the other hand, seems like the guy for the job... for now. Since being promoted to the big leagues in July, Lo has posted an impressive 0.00 ERA, an interesting 1.11 WHIP, and an underwhelming 7.11 K/9. However, he’s getting the job done better than Fields at the moment and should get Houston’s few save opportunities in the near future.


 Seattle brings us the week’s most uncomfortable postgame clubhouse setting. On Wednesday morning, the Mariner’s interim manager stated emphatically that Danny Farquhar was his closer. That evening, Farquhar gave up his first blown save to the Devil Rays. Awkward. However, that performance seems to be just a blip on the radar. In August, he’s had a strong track record with 83% save conversion rate and a 14.12 K/9. At the moment, Farquhar seems to have a firm grip on the closer job with little internal competition from the bullpen and Tom Wilhelmsen working things out in the minors.


 All was well in the world of LaTroy Hawkins until Wednesday evening. After earning the closer’s gig in the wake of Bobby Parnell’s injury, he had converted three consecutive saves and not allowed a walk in more than a month. During Wednesday’s blown save, Hawkins took a ground ball to his groin while not wearing a protective cup. Sorry LaTroy. Lesson learned.

 Hawkins stayed in, gave up a game-tying home run and hasn’t appeared since. This should not linger as a long term issue, but right now the Mets closer job is an uncertain situation and if he misses an extended period of time, look for Gonzalez Germen to get save chances over David Aarsma. On Thursday, Germen earned his first career save with a nice two-inning performance.


 Jason Grilli has been in a throwing program, building up arm strength after what appeared to be a severe injury a few weeks ago. Although speculation that he’ll be back on the Pirates before September may be aggressive, he should be back closing for the Buccos soon. That being said, do not expect him to resume the closer role immediately. Mark Melancon has been outstanding and they’ll ease Grilli back into the job slowly.


 It appears that Rafael Betancourt will be activated from the disabled list, after his recent bout with appendicitis, once he pitches at least one rehab inning in AAA. Depending on his initial performance, he may have more time in the minors or return to the bigs for low-pressure situations immediately. While Rex Brothers may have the stuff of a future closer, Betancourt will regain his job as soon as he returns to form.


 This week’s version of things you haven’t seen before brings you the mystery of Mariano Rivera. The forty-three-year-old future hall of fame closer blew three consecutive saves for the first time in his career. If this is indicative of a slump, if even that’s possible with the likes of Mariano, David Robertson is worth a flyer. He may already be gone in your league, but look for him may snag saves and wins if Mariano’s recent issues continue.

 If you’re chasing saves in your fantasy league, I’ve got a scoop for you... For the latest updates on which closers to grab, stash, start, or bench, follow @CloserNews on Twitter.

The Proof Is In The Peripherals: August 15-21

With only six weeks left in the baseball season (and perhaps even less time left in your fantasy season if you're in a head-to-head league with playoffs), it's time for a minor format change here at TPIITP headquarters.  Firstly, we're going to acknowledge that "TPIITP" sounds like the noise you make when you try to spit four sunflower seeds at the same time.  Secondly, we're deep enough into the season that we're going to narrow our focus to more recent results. 

It does little good at this point to say "hey, this guy has been really unlucky, he'll turn it around!" when he's been killing your team for four and a half months already.  Likewise, I could point out a so-called regression candidate who's had great BABIP luck all year long but with just six weeks left, there's not much time left for this player to regress --- he might just be one of those players who is lucky from start to finish in a season.

Essentially, I'm just cutting the sample size.  Rather than a season's worth of peripherals, I'll just examine the info from the previous 4-6 weeks to see if a player's hot-or-cold streak is a temporary condition or something you should be paying attention to as you enter your fantasy playoffs.  Let's begin!

* Dan The Man?  I'll start with one of those players who seems ripe for "he could still turn it around!" buzz since Dan Haren, as of late, has indeed been turning it around.  Haren's peripherals (5.05 K/BB, 8.02 K/9, 4.26 FIP, 3.81 xFIP and 3.66 SIERA) suggest his actual 4.99 ERA is inflated though there's no denying that Haren's first three months as a National were total garbage.  Since returning from a DL stint to correct, a shoulder injury, however, Haren has posted a 2.43 ERA over his last six starts. 

I wouldn't presume, however, that the ol' statistical pendulum has swung back in Haren's direction quite yet.  Haren has posted career-highs in fly ball and home run rates this season and also has a career-worst 34% ground ball rate.  While he's only given up two homers his last 37 innings, I worry about the .215 BABIP since the All-Star Break, not to mention that Haren's GBR (30.4%) is even lower since the Midsummer Classic.  Also, we could just put these fancy metrics aside and simply tell you that of Haren's last six starts, five have come against lower-tier lineups (the Brewers, Marlins, Mets and twice against the Phillies).

There's a great chance that Haren's early-season struggles have made him available on your league's waiver wire.  I'd hesitate before picking him up, at least until he shows what he can do against a legit team.  Unless it really was his shoulder that was bothering him all along, Haren might have a few frights left in his nightmare season.

* MORE MORE MOREMitch Moreland hasn't been getting much help from the BABIP gods this season (.269) and that trend has worsened in August as Moreland only has a .238 BABIP.  The difference is that Moreland has overcome that below-average number to post an .875 OPS.  Now, this is a verrrrry small sample size, so don't go releasing Chris Davis, inserting Moreland into your 1B lineup spot and dusting your hands off in triumph.  My point is that while Moreland had cooled off after a scalding hot May and spent time on the DL with a hamstring injury and generally doesn't play against left-handed pitching and he's never really been that big a fantasy contributor...wait, this is a pro-Moreland piece, right?

Right!  If you look at the 5x5 stats, Moreland has 16 homers and 45 RBI, so he'll easily top his previous career best of 16 HR/51 RBI in 2011 (in 512 PA, mind you, and Moreland has already basically matched that total through 377 PA in 2013).  What I'm suggesting is that since Moreland is owned in just 16% of Yahoo fantasy leagues, he's worth a cheap pickup to be used as a bench option or as a start whenever the Rangers face a righty starter. 

* Gee MinorDillon Gee has an impressive 1.53 ERA over his last five starts.  Gee whiz!  He also has an absurd 94.5% strand rate and .179 BABIP over that span, plus a measly 3.57 K/9 that largely explains his 4.32 FIP and 4.80 xFIP.  Aw geez!  Gee hasn't had a bad year overall, but his fantasy value will be limited until he starts posting more consistent strikeout totals.  As for the here and now, I wouldn't be in any rush to pick him up since his current good form is largely due to great luck.  Or, geeeee-reat luck, as he pronounces it, to Tony the Tiger's annoyance.  This is why Tony always roots against the Mets.

This Week In Streaming Strategy

A look around the league at some of the most favorable matchups that are on the horizon...

Andrew Albers: As if the White Sox's lineup wasn't struggling enough, they've now traded Alex Rios and replaced him with a talented but raw prospect in Avisail Garcia. The White Sox have struggled against lefties all season, posting the third-worst OPS against southpaws, and the little-owned Albers has opened his career with 17 1/3 scoreless innings; an 8 1/3 scoreless gem against the Royals and a shutout against the Indians. Albers' success is largely a factor of BABIP, but his plus ground-ball rate and razor-sharp command should be enough to muster a third straight impressive outing against a depleted White Sox offense.

Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez, Tom Koehler: The Giants simply can't buy offense right now. Entering play Tuesday they'd scored just 27 runs this month due to a .598 collective OPS. In other words, as a team, they're hitting like a cross between Darwin Barney and Maicer Izturis. The imagery there may be a job for MLB Face Swap, but it's up to fantasy owners to take advantage of the situation. Eovaldi is somehow owned in just five percent of Yahoo leagues despite a 2.82 ERA in 60 1/3 innings. Alvarez has a 3.18 ERA and 2.95 FIP in 51 innings, and Koehler's 4.62 ERA isn't as telling as his 3.99 FIP. If you're looking for readily available quality starts and boosts to your ratio, consider the Marlins' young rotation.

Jenrry Mejia: I don't know if people haven't noticed Mejia's outrageous 2.22 ERA, and 7.33 K/BB ratio, or if they just don't care because they're frightened of and confused by his peculiar name. I'm going to assume it's the latter, because there's not much to dislike about his 8.1 K/9, 1.1 BB/9 and 57.4 percent ground-ball rate so far. He has a 2.68 FIP, 2.45 xFIP and 2.61 SIERA... and he's facing the Padres, who have scored a whopping 26 runs this month. Jenrry, I've got your number! (I immediately regret typing that... sigh)

Kole Calhoun: A left-handed hitter facing Phil Hughes and his 6.18 home ERA should be enticing enough, but Calhoun is even more enticing given his hot start to the season. A top prospect in the Angels' system (which, admittedly, is a weak farm), Calhoun is hitting .283/.382/.500 with three homers in 15 games this season. Hughes, meanwhile, has given up an unthinkable 16 homers in 62 2/3 innings at Yankee Stadium (2.3 HR/9), and lefties have an .877 OPS against him. Oh, and did I mention that Calhoun goes on to enter a weekend series against the Astros and their MLB-worst 4.91 ERA (and a lot of that was with Bud Norris, Jose Veras and Wesley Wright on board). Houston has a 5.15 ERA this month. Calhoun needs to be owned.

Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe: If ever there was a time to be excited about owning Brian Dozier, now is it. Not only is Dozier batting .327/.390/.712 this month, he has a rare all-lefty series this weekend. Granted, one of them is Chris Sale, but Dozier is hitting a delicious .310/.392/.595 against southpaws this season. Plouffe, meanwhile, in addition to having a tremendously fun name to say ("Ploof!"), is hitting lefties at a .324/.405/.515 pace this season.

Darin Ruf, Cody Asche: The Philadelphia duo has the tall task of facing Chad Bettis and ...Jeff Manship? Really, Manship is in a Major League rotation again? Well, anyhow, they're facing that pairing, though the respectable Jhoulys Chacin is sandwiched between them. Manship has a career ERA north of 6.00, while Bettis' 5.06 ERA is somehow a full run better than his 6.23 FIP. Sure it's a small sample, but he's already allowed three homers in 16 innings after averaging 1.3 per nine in the minors. Asche crushed right-handed pitching at Triple-A, and Ruf has four homers on the month already with an .882 OPS.

Lastly, I regret to inform you that Jeff Baker does not have any upcoming matchups against lefties. I know... I'm as hurt by at is you are. 

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RotoAuthority League Update: The Mother of All Blockbusters

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.

In June I analyzed a blockbuster in which Reedy dealt Jean Segura to Gramma Nutt Crushers forGiancarlo Stanton. Well, this past week in the RotoAuthority League a deal took place that makes that one seem inconsequential. The best player in baseball by WAR this season? The best pitcher in baseball by WAR this season? Another consensus top-5 fantasy player? This deal had it all. Let's take a look at the trade and see what each owner involved may have had in mind.

08/08 - E-Z Sliders trades Mike Trout and Matt Harvey to Say It Ain't So Cano for Carlos Gonzalez, Jay Bruce, and Eric Hosmer

E-Z Sliders

Current Position: 6th

Strengths: K, ERA, WHIP

Weaknesses: R, W, SV

Entering this week with a double-digit lead over the bottom four of the league, the E-Z Sliders don't have to worry too much about being kicked out the of league. With this trade, this owner showed he has greater aspirations in mind, namely a possible third place finish. All season long this squad has had an average offense. The staff has been stellar in the ratio categories, but poor luck in wins coupled with the choice to punt saves have kept this team in middle of the standings.

Let's first discuss the players E-Z Sliders shipped out of town. After some fantasy experts forecast a sophomore slump, Mike Trout has somehow actually been better this season. It's just scary how good this guy is at 22 years of age. Since the Angels called him up in late April last year, he ranks 1st in runs (by far), 12th in HR, 20th in RBI, 3rd in SB, and 3rd in AVG. While he's currently second on the ESPN Player Rater, he'll be my at the top of my draft board next season. Don't get me wrong: Miguel Cabrera is awesome. Still, there's really no such thing as a true talent .360 hitter, and Miggy has been a tad lucky in the batted ball department. Whether you have him 1st or 2nd, the fact remains Mike Trout is a Roto stud, but I realize this isn't anything new here.

In addition to trading the top fantasy hitter, E-Z Sliders also dealt the top fantasy pitcher. I'm not sure that Matt Harvey will be my #1 pitcher going into next season, but this young stud has displayed the top skills of any starting pitcher this year. So why would E-Z Sliders want to move Harvey? Well, we do know that he's going to be shut down at some point. As of late-July, Manager Tim Collins indicated that Harvey has about ten starts remaining. Since that statement, Harvey has started seven games. If Collins sticks to his word then, Say It Ain't So may only get a few more outings from the Mets phenom. It's also worth pointing out that E-Z Sliders are near the top of the league in innings, so this is one owner who may be able to afford moving an ace. 

Say It Ain't So Cano

Current Position: 4th

Strengths: R, HR, RBI

Weaknesses: SV, K, WHIP

Like E-Z Sliders, Say It Ain't So Cano shouldn't fret too much about finishing in the bottom four. In fact, this team currently stands just outside the money. As you can see, this owner had some incentive to trade for an ace like Harvey. This team has had one of the top offenses much of the year, but the staff has been mediocre. Unlike E-Z Sliders, Say It Ain't So Cano is behind the innings pace, so this owner was wise to acquire another arm.

In order to obtain a pair of fantasy studs, Say It Ain't So Cano shipped a trio of players who all currently lie inside the top 55 on the ESPN Player Rater. First, this owner acquired Carlos Gonzalez, who should go in the top 5 in drafts next spring. In fact, from a fantasy perspective CarGo is probably the closest thing we have to Mike Trout in the MLB player pool today. Unfortunately for Say It Ain't So Cano, CarGo is currently on the DL with an injured finger. In making this deal then, this owner took on risk not only in that a return date remains up in the air but also in that the stud outfielder may not be 100% upon his return. Injury expert Stephania Bell is particularly pessimistic when it comes to the latter. 

Jay Bruce has always been a tad overvalued among fantasy pundits. Despite a top-notch pedigree, here's a player who's only hit above .256 once in his career. Even so, in an environment in which power is markedly down, Bruce has become a rare source of consistent production in HR and RBI. E-Z Sliders made a prudent choice in acquiring Bruce not only in that the power categories are closely stratified but also in that this is one of the streakiest players in the game. Bruce tends to get his home runs in bunches; in a sample size of just seven weeks remaining, it's a wise gamble to roll the dice in hope of a homer binge from Bruce.

Finally, Eric Hosmer got off to a slow start this season. At the end of May, his triple-slash line was just .261/.320/.333. Coincidence or not, on May 30th the Royals hired George Brett as hitting coach. Whether the reason for Hosmer turning around his season is due to Brett or his own brother, the fact remains this future star is finally hitting like we anticipated in the preseason. Since the calendar turned to June, he's hitting .326/.359 /.519 with 11 HR and 6 SB. In doing so, Hosmer's stock has risen from mid-level first basemen to a borderline elite one. This loooks like a player who's finally figured things out and will be taken in the first 5 rounds of fantasy drafts for many years to come.

Overall then, each owner here addressed some needs. It's a bit strange to see a team that needs runs trading away the best source of that category in the game in Trout; however, E-Z Sliders did beef up their offense with the additions of CarGo, Bruce, and Hosmer. Meanwhile, Say It Ain't So Cano can afford the dropoff in offensive production while receiving some quality innings from Harvey. I've written previously that the focus when assessing a trade should no longer be on value but instead on the categories. From a pure value perspective, though, I think Say It Ain't So Cano overpaid here in acquiring Trout and Harvey, but the name value of superstars tends to do that. Ultimately, however, the number of at-bats for CarGo as well as the number of innings from Harvey will determine who moves up the most in the standings as a result of this trade.

Stock Watch: Open for Business

In one of my fantasy leagues (like you care, I know), I've had a top team all year--first place in my division two weeks ago. Since then, I've lost all my matchups and dropped at least 10 games in the standings (yes, our format is unusual). I say "at least" because I'm afraid to look at the standings page too closely. Clearly, mine is exactly the sort of team that should be making changes, so I'm open for business. Hopefully, not everyone in that league reads this article and finds out how many lemons are hidden on my roster.

With the trading deadline coming up on the 19th (in many leagues at least), I suspect there are quite a few teams out there in desperate need of doing business. Whether you and a trading partner can set out to offset each other's category weaknesses, or you need to swap pitchers for hitters, or veterans for prospects, now is the time to get a deal done. 

Trade For

Alex Rios was just dealt to the Rangers, and he'll see a modest bump in value thanks to the new lineup and even friendlier park. I don't yet know where he'll slot in the batting order, but expect his Runs or RBI's to go up, but probably not both. Don't expect the Ballpark in Arlington to ratchet up his power output, since U.S. Cellular was already a great place to hit homers.

Speaking of White Sox hitters and trades, Adam Dunn is smacking the ball for a great average and OBP this month and just passed through waivers. A new team environment might be just what the slugger needs, and he's got more than enough power not to worry about which park he's hitting in.

Manny Machado and Nick Markakis have endured pretty brutal months, so maybe these talented players will come at a discount just in time to revert to form. Dustin Pedroia's strong brand might keep his price up, but maybe you can persuade a trade partner that his production drop is thanks to that fat new contract and he'll just laze his way through the rest of the year. Okay, maybe not, but it's worth a shot.

Jose Altuve and Nick Franklin have had bad months in the average department, but Altuve has continued to steal (eight bags) and Franklin has kept up the power (four homers). Evan Longoria is the superstar version of that, putting up just a .200 BA in the last 30 days, but still clubbing five homers. Pedro Alvarez spent the last month on the downswing of his boom-and-bust cycle, which tells me he might just catch fire for the pennant run. It's better he does that on your team than on your opponent's.

Ben Zobrist and Brett Lawrie have disappointed their owners all season long, but both are hitting the ball well lately. Maybe they've finally hit their stride. Their upside is definitely worth the risk.

Some big names in pitching to trade for this time. Speaking of big, CC Sabathia is up first. He hasn't been quite right all year, and he's been downright dreadful for the last month (8.33 ERA). The good news is that his FIP is just 5.23 and his xFIP 4.46. Still plenty bad, but much more reasonable. Combined with CC's years of success, there's a good chance he helps a lot of teams down the stretch.

Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez haven't looked like aces for a while (4.94 and 4.97 ERA's), but their strikeout rates are both over 10.00. Strasburg has a healthy 3.27 FIP and an excellent 2.71 xFIP. There's no better time to buy him than now. Gonzalez is the lesser version with a 3.57 FIP and a 3.10 xFIP.

Kris Medlen might be my top target in trades right now. Between his disappointing season numbers, the rumors that he might hit the bullpen, and his 5.40 ERA in the last month, I have to think a lot of owners will be happy to deal him away. But he's got a 3.68 FIP and a 2.77 xFIP to go with a K/BB of 5.20. In short, he's pitched really well lately and has gotten terrible results in ERA. It happens. Trade for him. Unfortunately for those of us who want to trade for him, he has won his last three starts, despite the ERA. So if his owner likes wins, this deal might not come to pass. At least, it didn't for me when I tried to finagle him out of my father.

Trade Away

Kyle Lohse is one of my top trade-aways this week, thanks to the differences in his ERA and FIP on the season (3.23 to 4.16, sixth highest among ERA qualifiers) and in the last month (2.37 to 3.87). Since ERA and WHIP are his only strong categories, I'd move him. Lohse had a pretty big differential last year too, so maybe he can keep it up, but the upside isn't worth it in most fantasy formats. (Unless healthy Brewers pitcher is a category.)

Mike Leake is in a similar situation as Lohse, though he's a better bet for wins. With a 2.94 ERA and a 4.04 FIP, he's got the fourth-worst such differential, just a little behind the trade-worthy and oft-mentioned Jeff Locke. Chris Archer is a little banged up right now, but he's coming off a luck-happy run, and Rays pitchers always seem good in trade offers.

Francisco Liriano may be having a renaissance year with the Pirates, but that doesn't make his 4.09 BB/9 over the last month very good. He's a good one to trade off if you need WHIP help, but hang onto him if you need the whiffs. Speaking of strikeouts, Dillon Gee isn't getting any: his K/9 is just 3.57 over the last month, which might be why he's rocking a 4.32 FIP to offset his shiny 1.53 ERA. Zack Greinke is another good arm to move, as his reputation belies his 6.95  K/9. With a 2.29 ERA in the last month, he should look good to trade partners. (And be good--just not ace-level.)

Just as Pedro Alvarez is on the downswing of his cycle, Justin Upton is back to the top of his. It's a good time to trade him for a more stable producer. Please not that my comparison of Alvarez and Upton does not mean that I condone a one-for-one swap of these guys. Upton owners should hold out for a substantial return.

Brandon Belt is hitting the ball with authority...but he's put together months like this before. I say sell. Maybe he's breaking out and maybe he isn't, but if you can deal him for an established player do it. If it turns out he broke out and he keeps hitting through September, you'll have still used him to fill a need.

Chase Headley looks like he's finding his old stroke with a .293/.396/.451 triple-slash line over the last month of play. The key is "looks like," because he's he hit just one home run in that time and sports a BABIP of .434. If you drafted him and you've been waiting for him to hit like this all year...well, the time has come to cash in your chips, because that BABIP could take everything else down when it crashes.

Pick Up

I'm always a little afraid to tell people to pick up Chris Capuano, because he's been a favorite of mine for a long time. (I'm a sucker for lefties that don't throw hard but do strike people out, what can I say?) But this time, I've got a Fangraphs article to back me up, and yeah, it looks like a good month to own Capuano coming up. Speaking of my favorites, Marco Estrada is back from the DL and pitched well in his return. (Yes, I'll probably be picking him up, and other deep-leaguers should too. In a shallow league, I'd probably give it another start before nabbing him.) 

I don't usually suggest one-off pitchers (also known as streamers, I guess), but Bruce Chen has been pitching well and gets to face the Marlins in his next start. It's a match made in heaven. Just don't keep Chen around too long. Michael Wacha may (or may not) be back into the Cardinals' rotation for good, so he's worth an add. He should spend more time on your team than Chen. Charlie Morton has been rather shockingly good lately, with an 8.33 K/BB in the last month.

I don't usually talk relief in this spot, but Dane De La Rosa got the most recent save for the Angels. I have a feeling there will be more.

For hitters, Avisail Garcia looks to be the beneficiary in Chicago of the Alex Rios trade. He doesn't have power upside, but talented rookies could always have a hot month and be worth a lot. Travis D'Arnaud looks like he's coming up for the Mets, so there might finally be some catching help on the waiver wire to go with Yan Gomes, who seems to be able to hit and might get more playing time in the wake of Mark Reynolds' release. 



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Closer Updates: Mets, Mariners, Pirates, Rockies, Angels, Astros

Closer changes seem always to happen on Saturdays, right after this column goes up. Or am I the only one that notices that? Fortunately, when changes came to the Mets and Mariners last Saturday, the full week in between has given us a chance to straighten out what's going on in those teams' bullpens. Unfortunately, every potential closing option on those teams has already been gobbled up in my daily-changes leagues. Fortunately, that means I didn't get David Aardsma for his blown saves....


Bobby Parnell has a herniated disc in his neck, and but he's eligible to come off the DL as early as August 15th. He also may have season-ending surgery. While the pitcher reportedly and understandably doesn't want the season to end like that, the Mets are likely to care more about their long-term investment in Parnell than in how many saves he can notch this year. Sure, he might be back next week (so don't release him yet), but my money is on done for the season.

Had Parnell's injury led to a DL trip before last week's article, I probably would have suggested you pick up former Seattle closer David Aardsma. Now, as a former Seattlite myself, I wish Aardsma well in his comeback attempt...but after blowing both of his save chances, I'll leave it at well-wishing and keep him off my fantasy teams.

Cue LaTroy Hawkins. Like a bad penny (or a good reliever) this guy just keeps turning up. He never seems to be a team's first choice to close, but he's usually more than capable when he does get the chance. He's owned in just 12% of Yahoo! leagues and 5% of CBS leagues, so chances are he's up for grabs. While he doesn't generate many strikeouts anymore, he does have a miniscule 1.64 BB/9. Hawkins may be closer for the rest of the week, or the rest of the year. It's well worth a waiver claim to hope for the latter.


Sure, I managed to sneak in an update about Tom Wilhelmsen and the Mariners last Saturday, but I didn't expect him to get sent down. That might be the best place for him to sort out his struggles (as opposed to the ninth inning, with the game on the line). During his previous demotion, Wilhelmsen was allowed to be in the committee that replaced him, and he gradually took the job over. This time around is different: if you've still got him, release him.

Also different this time around is that someone has indeed stepped up and into the closer's role. That someone is Danny Farquhar. Farquhar has had an historically strange season this year, including a dazzling 13.62 K/9, a K/BB of 3.93, and a FIP of 1.89. And an ERA of 4.95. That last number is a little deceiving--it was 5.45 on August 1. Maybe the Mariner brain trust read the Fangraphs article linked above, or maybe they just saw the raw data themselves. Or maybe Farquhar's right-handedness is what gave him the edge over Oliver Perez and company. Whatever the reason, it seems clear that he's the guy to own in Seattle. With 39% Yahoo! league ownership and 30% CBS ownership, fantasy owners are getting that idea already. If you still can, pick him up fast, because every minute that goes by is a minute that one of your leaguemates could see this article and get the same idea....


Jason Grilli remains worth holding onto, though his timetable for return is still uncertain. Grilli would like to be back in August, though Pittsburgh management isn't holding out hope for more than an early September return. Though downside exists, Grilli is a must-keep for any fantasy squad hoping for a playoff run. Actually, if you do play in a head-to-head format and Grilli's owner is out of or on the cusp of the playoffs, it might be a good idea to try trading for him now, since he'll have more value to you than his current owner. Conversely, if you're fighting for a playoff slot, the value Grill could give you if you make it to the playoffs might not be as valuable as what he could return in trade.

Mark Melancon update: he's still awesome. Keep throwing him out there until Grilli has come back and saved a couple games.


Rafael Betancourt's original timetable was about three weeks...which is what it's been since he last pitched. Manager Walt Weiss isn't sure when Betancourt will be back, as he's rebuilding strength after his emergency appendectomy. (How are baseball players even in need of this procedure? With all the doctors and trainers around them all the time, you'd think they'd catch more warning signs.)

Rex Brothers continues to close in Betancourt's absence. Like Melancon, hang onto Brothers until Betancourt proves he can save games.


I wasn't shocked when Ernesto Frieri hit his current string of futility; if anything, I'm surprised that a new closer hasn't emerged. It seems like the Angels were hoping Frieri would be the guy that emerged from the committee situation, but that hasn't happened. On August 2nd, Frieri pitched a scoreless inning, struck out the side, and got the save. That outing was one of just two times he's finished the inning in his last seven appearances, also the only times in that span in which he's managed not to give up runs. So, it's been pretty bad.

Though no one else has stepped into the role, the Angels are probably thinking more seriously about letting Dane De La Rosa, Michael Kohn, or Kevin Jepsen take things over. If you've stashed one of these guys, hang onto him. And if you've stashed Frieri, keep him on your bench.


With Jose Cisnero headed to the minors, who will close for the Astros? Helpfully, their website doesn't list a closer. Josh Fields might be the guy, since he's actually gotten a save. But he's also blown one by allowing three runs to the Red Sox. The meltdown is more recent, so maybe he's closing and maybe he isn't. If Fields isn't the guy, Chia-Jen Lo might be. He's got an intriguing minor league track record, and Houston might want to see what they've got in him. Or maybe they won't even need a closer.


Farquhar is the top add this week. Without much real competition for the job, he's more or less a full closer, and one who's generating tons of strikeouts. LaTroy Hawkins follows quickly after. Though he isn't elite, he has a decent chance of closing out games for the rest of the season. You've got plenty of options if you want to get involved in the messy situations in Los Angeles or Houston. I'd make De La Rosa my first choice from among those groups, but the whole thing is up in the air.

For the latest updates on the messy situations in Houston, LA, and every ninth-inning change, check out @CloserNews on Twitter. It may be only 140 characters, but it's up-to-the-minute.

RotoAuthority League Update: So Who's Going to Win?

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.

When I projected the final standings a couple of weeks ago, it became clear that the RotoAuthority League has become a two-horse race between Smell the Glove and Yu at the Animal Zoo. Since we all know you play to win the game, let's analyze the current standings to see which team is more likely to take home the title.

For each squad I've provided the categories of greatest strength and weakness. Then, I've included the current score as well as a series of possible point totals for each team at the end of the season. First, I've gone through each category and determined realistically the highest possible score if everything went right for each team down the stretch. Then, I've accounted for the opposite scenario and listed the lowest possible score if things fell apart. Lastly, I've used rest-of-season projections to come up with a point total that I feel is the most likely end result.

Smell the Glove

Surplus: HR, RBI

Deficit: ERA, WHIP

Current Point Total: 104

Highest Possible Point Total: 112

Lowest Possible Point Total: 90

Most Likely Point Total: 98

First of all, Tim Dierkes's Smell the Glove has already locked up first-place finishes in HR and RBI; based on projections, this team should also run away with SB. Then again, Dierkes can only go down in runs, wins, saves, and strikeouts. Ultimately, though, it's going to be pitching that will decide the fate of Smell the Glove, as wins and the ratio categories offer the greatest potential movement in the standings.

Despite currently standing atop the league, Smell the Glove may actually find it quite challenging to win the league. Dierkes should pick up a point in SB and then maybe another in AVG. On the pitching side, moreover, this team has the potential to gain as many as three points in ERA and four more in WHIP. Accordingly, the ceiling for this club is sky-high at around 112 points.

Unfortunately for Dierkes, however, there's more downside than upside to how this team may finish. Smell the Glove could lose two points each in runs, ERA, and WHIP; another one in AVG; and as many as six in wins. As an aside, it's a shame that wins -- the category over which a fantasy owner seems to have the least control -- may significantly influence who ends up as the league's champion. At any rate, the floor for this squad is about 90 points, significantly lower than that for Yu at the Animal Zoo, as you'll see below.

The projections do foresee a better outlook than that, though, and I have Smell the Glove pegged for 98 points at season's end.

Yu at the Animal Zoo

Surplus: W, ERA, WHIP

Deficit: HR, RBI

Current Point Total: 101.5

Highest Possible Point Total: 109

Lowest Possible Point Total: 96

Most Likely Point Total: 103

It's a tad ironic that the two squads who are running away from the pack would actually make for excellent trading partners. Yu at the Animal Zoo has dominated ERA and WHIP all season long; those are the make-or-break categories for Smell the Glove. Along those same lines, Yu at the Animal Zoo could use some power, which Smell the Glove has in excess. Of course, at this stage in the game the last thing each owner wants to do here is anything that would directly improve the other roster, so I can guarantee that these clubs won't be trading with one another.

In my draft recap I noted that Yu at the Animal Zoo could do well in the pitching categories. Well, I certainly sold this owner short. This pitching staff has been nothing short of fantastic. Believe it or not, Yu at the Animal Zoo has actually locked up four of the five pitching categories. In fact, the only pitching category this staff isn't leading is saves, and it's in second. What's more, the rest-of-season projections actually see this club passing up Smell the Glove in saves and winning that category, too. That's right: Yu at the Animal Zoo has a very good chance to win all five pitching categories.

Naturally then, it's the offense that will determine if Yu at the Animal Zoo takes home the title. This team has the chance to gain a point each in runs, RBI, AVG, and saves and then up to three in HR. Thus, the high water mark for Yu at the Animal Zoo seems to be about 109 points. While that may appear great, remember that Smell the Glove actually has a higher ceiling.

With the pitching categories locked up, however, the floor for Yu at the Animal Zoo is quite high. This team can really only lose a point each in runs, HR, RBI, and SB and then possibly two in AVG. All of that adds up to a floor of 96 points, really putting the pressure on Smell the Glove.

Finally, as I pointed out a couple weeks ago, the projections love this squad. I actually see Yu at the Animal Zoo gaining one point as the most likely scenario. If that proves to be the case, this team would finish at 103. The highest point total all-time in the RotoAuthority League is 103.5 by Men With Wood in 2011, so we're clearly looking at one of the most dominant performances in this league's history.

Overall then, while Smell the Glove has a higher ceiling, Yu at the Animal Zoo has a higher floor. Indeed, Dierkes has his work cut out if he's going to become the league's first two-time champion. 

Stock Watch: The Real Trading Deadline

Major League GM's now have to try passing their players through waives if they want to make any moves. We learned last year that big trades can still happen in the Big Leagues, but still, their choices have been severely limited.

Ours are about to be gone altogether.

That's right, the real trading deadline is August 18 -- the fantasy deadline. It may vary from league to league, but that's the average in my representative sample.* I've made the mistake of letting the deadline sneak up on me before, but with a slate of teams on the fantasy playoff/money bubble, I feel kind of like the Orioles: I need to make some deals. Chances are, you've got some holes to fill too.

Whether you drafted Albert Pujols in the first round (did that) or you've got Nelson Cruz and Everth Cabrera waiting for Biogenesis suspensions, or Jose Veras and Ernesto Frieri were the last closers left on your team, chances are you've still got some holes to fill. Get your trades in while you can.

For this reason, Stock Watch will be focusing on trade targets for the next couple weeks, but shift exclusively to waiver wire catches after that. 'Cause what good will trade suggestions do after that?

Before we get right into the Trade For's and Trade Away's, what you really want to deal for and give up depends highly on the situation. I just completed a trade of Mike Trout for Clayton Kershaw and Austin Jackson because I was leading most hitting categories and running away with a minimum of second place in steals...and dead last in ERA. In another league, I shipped off Adam Wainwright and change for Troy Tulowitzki and someone else because I had the opposite problem. 

Trade responsibly (or don't), but check out last week's article and the one from the week before for mildly out of date category-specific advice. (Canny readers will note that steals and saves are absent from these articles; this author trusts your ability to identify which players will produce in those areas.)

*My three Yahoo! leagues comprise this statistical survey.

Trade For

Jose Bautista and Prince Fielder are the biggest trade targets, with Fielder coming off a lousy month, and Bautista's batting average fluctuating again towards its nadir. Neither slugger will come at bargain price, but a modest discount might be possible.

Nationals teammates Adam LaRoche and Anthony Rendon were supposed to spend July improving, but both were snakebit by .175 BABIP's. Both are talented players and could be had for low cost at the moment.

Mike Moustakas and Jason Heyward are both showing signs of life; those interested in taking a risk could pry them from owners happy to sell high.

J.J. Hardy and Brandon Phillips have been high-value players all year, but low BABIP's in recent weeks make them viable trade targets.

Jurickson Profar may get increased playing time for the rest of the season if Nelson Cruz is indeed suspended for 50 games. He may or may not capitalize on it, but it's worth checking out.

Speaking if suspended players, if you're looking to replace some of Everth Cabrera's steals, consider Eric Young, who nabbed 13 in the last month. Actually, he's probably on the waiver wire. Too bad he won't give you that sweet 2B/SS eligibility....

Tim Lincecum, Gio Gonzalez, Mat Latos, and Chris Sale have all been putting up great strikeout numbers recently and good or better xFIP's. Also, they've all put up mediocre or worse ERA's in that timeframe. Don't expect consistency from Lincecum or Gonzalez, or wins from Sale, but any of these pitchers look like good bets for the rest of the season.

For the cost-conscious, Ivan Nova has pitched quite well lately, but doesn' come with much reputation. Ian Kennedy has not pitched terribly well, but getting traded to San Diego should help his rate stats.

Trade Away

If this list ends up looking a lot like the best players of July, don't be shocked. I'm not predicting that most of these guys have their value crater--just that they're probably worth more now than at other points in the season

Jonathan Lucroy and Brian McCann are good catchers, but slugging over .600 is probably more than we should expect in August.

Kyle Seager and Hanley Ramirez were two of the top three hitters by WAR (Fangraphs-style), with the other being Mike Trout. Seager is a great trade candidate if you actually have 3B depth, because chances are most of your league has a serious need at the position. Ramirez is trickier, because he's been carrying fantasy teams since his return from injury, and he's got first-round history. I'm not trading him unless I get superstar-level return.

Jose Iglesias might be the odd guy out on this list, as he hasn't hit very well of late. I'd deal him anyway, because his hot start may still be remembered and the trade to Detroit isn't likely to help his luck return.

Colby Rasmus has been unbelievable lately. I mean, really. I don't believe he'll continue hitting like this. Your trade partners won't either, but they might be tempted to take the risk. Veterans Jayson Werth and Torii Huner might have more value, and are similarly unlikely to continue hitting with the best players in baseball. 

The best outfield trade chip might be Wil Myers, as there's nothing like a stud prospect tearing the cover off the ball to net a large return in trade.

Matt Harvey, Shelby Miller, and Jose Fernandez are all likely to face innings limits or restrictions of some kind. I don't know the details of such plans, but I know I'd rather these guys play for other teams when we find out.

Matt Moore and Jeff Locke have had success thus far with matching BB/9's of 4.15. They may continue to be good, but walk rates like that are better left to other peoples' fantasy teams unless they come with elite strikeout numbers.

Mike Minor, Patrick Corbin, and Hiroki Kuroda are good pitchers coming off too-good-to-be-true months. Deal them to your pitching-needy leaguemates.

Pick Up

Rookie Junior Lake is smacking the ball around the park for the Cubs with SS/OF eligibility. He's well worth a pickup anywhere he's still available.

Oswaldo Arcia is back from the minors, where he was hitting well. He could perform as a 5th fantasy OF.

Xander Bogaerts may hit the Boston's lineup sometime soon, with Iglesias traded to Detroit. Top shortstop prospects are always worth adding to your team.

Back from Injury

They probably aren't on your waiver wire, but Curtis Granderson and B.J. Upton are back from the DL. Those in shallow leagues should check on their availability, while those in need of some more risk and potential may want to trade for them just in case they come back hot.

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Closer Updates: Astros, Angels, Tigers, Cubs, Brewers, and Who the Heck is Jose Cisnero?

In the aftermath of a trading deadline that displaced just two closers, the same question is on everybody's mind: who the heck is Jose Cisnero?


We all know the facts: Jose Veras was traded to Detroit and into a setup role, and Cisnero has the lead (in popular opinion, at least), in a committee situation. Veras taught us that even Houston isn't so bad that their closer isn't valuable, so there's a mad scramble to pick Cisnero up—in fact, he's already owned in 12% of CBS leagues and 16% of Yahoo! leagues; expect that number to go up this weekend as weekly formats get their picks in.

What do we know about Cisnero? Well, he's right-handed and throws about 93mph. (Also, he's 6’3” tall and weighs either 185 or 230lbs but you didn't really care about that, did you?) On the season, he's pitched to a 3.40 ERA with a 3.44 FIP and a somewhat worse 4.00xFIP. He's striking out 8.72 batters per nine innings, with a 4.04 BB/9. So, he’s decent enough. If you never heard of him before this week, I don't blame you.

If Cisnero isn't exactly a household name, the other guys in the Astros' pen are really far under the radar. You know that, if this article is their chance to shine. Travis Blackley, Chia-Jen Lo, and Wesley Wright could be in the mix for saves as manager Bo Porter sorts out his options. So could anybody else, theoretically. Since the 'Stros won't be getting that many leads to protect, keep an eye on everyone's performance in low-leverage situations, since those will comprise most of Porter's chances to evaluate his staff.


A week ago, Ernesto Frieri seemed like a pretty safe closer. One who gave up more than his share of walks, to be sure, but pretty safe all things considered. After a disaster week, the Angels are rolling with a committee. It isn't time to cut Frieri yet, since, like Tom Wilhelmsen before him, he might emerge from the situation with a job if the Angels decide there just aren't more fish in the sea after all.

His biggest competition, however, does deserve to be picked up. Dane De La Rosa (just 2% owned in Yahoo! Leagues and 1% in CBS leagues) seems most likely to run with the job if given a chance. He throws over 94mph and has put up a much better FIP (2.94) than ERA (3.93) this season, while his xFIP splits the difference (3.30). He’s got an 8.23 K/9 and a 2.88K/BB. 

Watch for the Halos' other bullpen options, who could include Michael Kohn (3.00 ERA and 9.27 K/9, 94+mph fastball) and Kevin Jepsen (4.23 ERA, 9.43K/9, 95+mph fastball).


Supposedly, the Tigers had been looking for a full-time, "proven closer." Then they saw the price tags  and now they've changed their tune about closer Joaquin Benoit. He's definitely the closer, making at least one Internet author regret not pursuing Benoit more aggressively in trades. Jose Veras is no more a threat to Benoit's job than Detroit's internal options were.


Pedro Strop, you were this close to closing for the Cubs! Until every other team in baseball remembered that they didn't really want Kevin Gregg before the season started for the price of a minor league contract, let alone for a decent prospect. So Gregg gets to stay in the closer's seat. Hopefully, you didn't drop him prematurely. If someone else did, snatch him right up. While Gregg could be dangled for trade in August, his low salary makes him unlikely to pass through waivers, so my guess is he stays put. As for Strop...wait till next year.


After Francisco Rodriguez was dealt to the Orioles, John Axford and Jim Henderson were supposed to be battling it out for saves. That battle doesn't seem particularly fair when one pitcher gets two save opps in the same day, but that's what Henderson got on Tuesday. He converted both saves, and has to be considered the leader in the closing competition, if not the official closer. Maybe the Brew Crew wants to keep Axford's arbitration price down, or maybe they'd just rather go with the better pitcher. Nothing appears to be official yet, so hang onto the Ax Man just in case something changes. If Henderson is unowned, pick him up. He makes a good trade target, as you might be able to get a discounted price because of the job-share situation. Another reason to own Henderson going forward is that Axford's high salary means that only teams that want him will claim him on waivers in August, making a trade potentially more likely for him than for someone like Gregg.


For me, Jim Henderson is the top add, and he’s available in more leagues than I expected (owned in 63% of Yahoo! Leagues and 49% of CBS leagues). Dane de la Rosa is next for me. I know he's got an incumbent to face, unlike Jose Cisnero, but both are technically in committees. Given that, the Angels are better than the Astros by a lot, and whoever closes for them will get more opportunities to get saves. It doesn't hurt that de la Rosa seems to be a somewhat better pitcher. Don't get me wrong, though—Cisnero should definitely be owned.

 Update: Tom Wilhelmsen has been removed from the closers role again (at least for now), and the Mariners have several options to turn to, including Oliver Perez, Charlie Furbush, Yoervis Medina, and Danny Farquhar. No pitcher emerged as a real replacement for Wilhelmsen the last time he was removed from the ninth, so none of the four are an immediate pickup outside of deep leagues in which every last save is gold.

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