Stock Watch


Stock Watch: Buy & Sell Analysis

Stock Watch over the last few weeks of the season will focus on players mostly available on waiver wires, since trading deadlines having passed and teams are focusing on waiver claims that can help during the stretch run of the season or in head-to-head playoff matchups.

Buy

  • Dewayne Wise - Owned in only 9% of Yahoo! leagues, Wise has been on a tear recently with 4 steals, 2 home runs and a .324 batting average in September.  Compare that to the last outfielder on your roster.  Rule of thumb for September fantasy baseball is to ride the hot hands no matter what history tells you their production "should" be.
  • Nate McLouth - Hitting leadoff and playing every day for the surging Orioles following the injury to Nick Markakis, McLouth is hitting .342 in September with 8 runs and 2 steals.  He hit 20 home runs as recently as 2009, and provides a decent power/speed combination. McLouth is only owned in 3% of Yahoo leagues but is performing better than the last hitter on most fantasy rosters.
  • Anthony Gose - Owners looking for speed should nab Gose off waivers as he is owned in only 4% of Yahoo leagues.  Gose has 14 steals on the season, including 4 over the last 6 games.  Gose also stole 69 bases in 587 plate appearances for Toronto's AA affiliate last season.
  • Jed Lowrie - Back from injury and owned in only 19% of Yahoo leagues, Lowrie qualifies at SS and 3B and has 14 home runs on the season in 332 plate appearances.
  • Kyle Kendrick - Excellent since the middle of August with a 1.49 ERA in winning five of his last six starts.  Kendrick starts against Houston on Saturday and should be in all fantasy lineups.  He is the third highest ranked starter in Yahoo leagues over the last 30 days.
  • A.J. Griffin - Sporting a spectacular 1.94 ERA, 1.52 BB/9 rate and 4.82 K/BB ratio in 65 innings, Griffin is a solid mid-rotation starter for the remainder of the season that has been particularly hot as of late with only two earned runs total over his last three starts.
  • Erasmo Ramirez - This Seattle rookie is a good streaming option for home starts (such as on Monday) as he enjoys a 3.49 ERA, 1.86 BB/9 rate and 4.13 K/BB ratio.  Ramirez also has a 3.50 SIERA and 3.59 FIP, and his excellent control and pitcher friendly home park make him a good streamer despite only being owned in 1% of Yahoo leagues.

Sell

  • Mark Teixeira - Owners in daily leagues should be focusing on using as many of their remaining available games for hitters as possible by streaming replacement hitters to cover off days or games when their players are resting.  To achieve this all bench spots are critical.  Oftentimes rankings in cumulative hitting categories are determined by how many games played owners are able to accrue on their team.  Teixeira may return for the last week of the season, but there is no guarantee he will return effectively (if at all).  In the meantime he is taking up a valuable bench spot that can be used to stream hitters (or starting pitchers).  Daily leagues owners with few bench spots should drop their second or third round pick to stream hitters and maximize the games played from their hitting positions. 


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Stock Watch: Buy & Sell Analysis

With trading deadlines having passed teams can focus on waiver claims that can help during the stretch run of the season or in head-to-head playoff matchups. Stock Watch over the last few weeks of the season will focus on players available on many waiver wires.

Buy

  • Norichika Aoki - Owned in only 14% of Yahoo leagues, compare the Brewers lead-off hitter's stats to the last outfielder on your active roster. Aoki hit .299 with eight steals and 10 runs in August, and is enjoying a solid season across the board with seven home runs and 22 steals.  His modest .305 BABIP supports the legitimacy of his .288 batting average for the season, and his .77 walk-to-strikeout ratio shows a control of the strike zone that should avoid a prolonged slump during a head-to-head playoff matchup.
  • Adam Eaton - Hit .381 (with an inflated .432 BABIP) while collecting 38 steals and seven home runs in 562 plate appearances for the Diamondback's Triple-A affiliate this season.  Eaton has started the first two games since his recall and already collected three runs with four hits in eleven at-bats. Eaton should be picked up by teams desperate for speed.
  • Mark Reynolds - Finally crossing the 50% ownership threshold in Yahoo leagues at 52%, Reynolds is single handedly carrying fantasy offenses with eight home runs in his last 7 games.  A notoriously streaky hitter, get Reynolds on your team and enjoy the ride in those leagues where he remains on waivers.
  • Mike Minor - Courtesy of a slow start to the season, Minor remains mostly a streaming option in many 1- or 12-team mixed leagues. However, Minor should be a stabilizing force in fantasy rotations with a 2.56 ERA and .93 WHIP in the second half.  Minor is also rocking a 46-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the second half and is coming off a seven-inning shutout performance.
  • Everth Cabrera - Owned in only 5% of Yahoo leagues despite 28 steals and eligibility at both 2B and SS, Cabrera has shifted around the Padres lineup but may get a chance to hit leadoff for much of the rest of the season.  He also is tied for second in steals among Yahoo-eligible 2B and fourth among SS, despite only receiving 361 plates appearances this season due to his later call-up date.
  • Andrew Cashner - Returns Friday night for a home start against the Diamondbacks and should be claimed and activated in all leagues.  The Padres have a pitcher-friendly schedule the remainder of the season and Cashner can provide excellent strikeout numbers.
  • Dan Straily - Scratched from his Triple-A start scheduled for Friday, Straily may return to the Oakland rotation to replace Brandon McCarthy. Straily is another big strikeout pitcher that enjoyed a 3.18 ERA and 12-to-4 strikeout to walk ratio in 17 innings over his first three Major League starts earlier this year.  He also rocked 11+ strikeouts per nine innings in the minor leagues this year.
  • Jason Hammel - After his impressive performance against the Yankees on Thursday in his return to the Baltimore rotation, Hammel has a 3.46 ERA, 3.19 FIP and 8.82 strikeouts per nine innings this season.  Pick Hammel up in leagues where he was dropped following his trip to the DL.
  • Chris Archer - In leagues with deep benches, Archer is worth a stash now in the event he is moved into the rotation to provide rest to Alex Cobb.  Archer struck out 14 batters in 11 2/3 innings earlier this season, and enjoyed a 9.77 strikeouts per nine innings rate in Triple-A this season with a 3.66 ERA.

Sell

  • Ryan Vogelsong - After an excellent first half, Vogelsong has slumped to a 5.20 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in the second half.  Owners cannot wait on Vogelsong to figure out his problems during the head-to-head playoffs.  I prefer Cashner or Minor to Vogelsong for the remainder of the season.


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Stock Watch: Buy & Sell Analysis

Last week's Stock Watch correctly anticipated that the path to Boston's closer job was opening for Andrew Bailey but also recommended selling Andre Ethier right before a hot streak in which he had consecutive 4-for-4 games.  Hopefully this week's edition is less of a mixed bag:

Buy

  • Casey Kelly - After an incredible 39 to 3 strikeout to walk ratio in the minor leagues, including 14 strikeouts to zero walks in 12 innings for AAA, Kelly moved into the Padres rotation this week with a solid six innings and zero run performance.  The Padres have a juicy schedule for pitchers with 15 of their remaining 27 games at home this season, and six of the away games in LA or SF.  Grab Kelly off waivers now but leave him on your bench for Saturday's start in Colorado.
  • Pedro Alvarez - A notoriously streaky hitter, Alvarez is hot again and capable of carrying an offense for a week or two.  Alvarez has three home runs and seven RBIs in his last two games, and is owned in less than half of Yahoo leagues.
  • Ronald Belisario and Brandon League - With Kenley Jansen sidelined indefinitely and potentially missing the remainder of the season (he missed almost a month last season with a heart related condition), owners should be quick to pounce on Jansen's replacement.  The Dodgers have indicated that Belisario and League will share the closer role for now, but either could run with the job.
  • Josh Donaldson - Owned in only 5% of Yahoo leagues, Donaldson has home runs in back-to-back games and is worth rostering as a second or third catcher while he is hot.
  • A.J. Ellis - As owners in daily leagues stream hitters to maximize games played, catcher is the position where hitters can be freely streamed without concern for approaching the standard 162-game cap.  Ellis is a good streaming option as he was dropped in many leagues after a hot start but has turned it on in August by hitting .293 with three home runs and twelve RBIs.
  • Adam Lind - With a demotion to the minors earlier in the season, Lind has become a largely forgotten source for power.  However, Lind is back and hitting cleanup for the Blue Jays yet is owned in only 21% of Yahoo leagues.  Owners fighting for points in HRs and RBIs to finish the year should claim Lind where available.
  • Trayvon Robinson - On the other hand, owners looking for speed should pick up Robinson from waivers.  Yahoo is showing a 0% ownership rate for Robinson, yet he has three steals in the last three games after collecting 19 steals and 9 home runs in 381 plate appearances for AAA this season.
  • Shelby Miller - After beginning the season slowly, Miller has been downright filthy at AAA since July 30 with a 52 to 4 strikeout to walk ratio in 38 1/3 innings pitched.  The Cardinals have indicated they are planning on recalling Miller when rosters expand and the top prospect should be preemptively claimed in leagues where minor league players can be picked up.

Sell

  • Tommy Hanson - After giving up three earned runs with eight hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings in Petco during his last start, owners in 12-team mixed leagues can drop Hanson to stream starters with good matchups or to claim a needed hitter.  Hanson has pitched more than 5 1/3 innings in only one of his last seven starts, and he has been hit around in all three starts since returning from the disabled list with an ugly 5.74 ERA and 1.85 WHIP.  


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Stock Watch: Buy & Sell Analysis

Last week's Stock Watch recommended claiming Jon Jay, and that has paid immediate dividends, as Jay went 10-for-25 with five runs and a steal since then.

Buy

  • Andrew Bailey - Unscored upon in his first three outings of the season, his path to the closer spot may have opened up on Thursday as Alfredo Aceves had an ugly meltdown by blowing a save while giving up five earned runs, including giving up two runs in the top of the 10th inning after Cody Ross hit a ninth-inning home run to get Boston to extra innings.
  • Tyler Colvin - With Michael Cuddyer back on the disabled list, Colvin has been getting everyday playing time and has been providing serious value to owners with three steals, four runs and a home run in the Rockies' four-game series against the Mets this week. Colvin has hit .362 with five steals, twelve runs and eleven RBIs in August, and is still owned in only 23% of Yahoo leagues.
  • David Murphy - Quietly hitting .312 and owned in only 22% of Yahoo! leagues, Murphy has been hot with seven runs, a home run and five RBIs in the last five games. Murphy has the best walk to strikeout ratio and highest line drive rate of his career.
  • Andrew Cashner - Working his way back from injury, Cashner threw two shutout innings in his last rehab appearance and could provide excellent strikeout rates just in time for the fantasy playoffs. Pluck him off waivers and stash until he returns to the rotation in September.
  • John Axford - He's back in the closer role with the Brewers, as manager Ron Roenicke indicated that Axford would see save opportunities going forward.  Pick Axford back off waivers in leagues where he was dropped after being demoted. Axford was a fantasy stud last season and should be fine going forward as his SIERA is 3.11 on the season and his strikeouts have increased from last year.
  • Daniel Straily - Bartolo Colon's suspension opens a rotation spot back up for minor league strikeout machine Straily.  
  • Zack Cozart - Turning it up since the calendar switched to August, Cozart is hitting .304 with four home runs, nine RBIs and 11 runs this month.  Cozart is hitting out of the lead-off spot in a good offense with a favorable home park, and could provide sneaky value from the MI slot the remainder of the season.

Sell

  •  Anibal Sanchez - After being dealt to the American League, Sanchez has been a fantasy bust with a 6.33 ERA and 1.85 WHIP in 27 innings.  Sanchez's strikeout rate is way down from 9.26 per nine innings last year to only 7.84 this season.  Not surprisingly, hitters are not swinging and missing as much this year as his swinging strike percentage is similarly down from 10.9% to 9.7%.
  • Andre Ethier - In leagues where the trading deadline has not passed, owners should look to take advantage of the disconnect between Ethier's popular name and poor recent production.  Ethier is hitting only .252 in the second half with two home runs, and he is suffering through the worst strikeout rate of his career this season.  


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Stock Watch: Buy & Sell Analysis

Last week's Stock Watch recommended claiming Eric Young Jr. as an upside second baseman for the remainder of the season.  With two home runs and a steal this week, Young should be claimed in any leagues in which he remains on waivers.

Buy

  • Gregor Blanco - With Melky Cabrera out the remainder of the season, Blanco should see everyday playing time in the outfield.  Blanco has 19 steals on the season and has some pop with 5 home runs in 350 plate appearances.  Steals and saves are the two scoring categories where points can most easily be obtained this late in the season in leagues where teams are bunched up.  Blanco can have an impact in steals, and can also allow an owner to trade steals to a team right under a competitor in that category by replacing the speedster on his roster with Blanco.  Knocking a competitor down a point in steals has the same impact as gaining a point in the category.
  • Darin Mastroianni - Similar to Blanco, Mastroianni can have a big impact in steals while Denard Span remains sidelined.  Mastroianni has 14 steals and 3 home runs in only 128 plate appearances this season.  He also stole between 30 and 45 bases each season in the minors entering this year.
  • Jon Rauch - After recording saves in the last two Mets victories and bailing out an ineffective Frank Francisco in both games, the Mets may be forced to give Rauch a look at closer.  Rauch has "closer experience" having saved 21 games in 2010, and Francisco may not be entirely healthy.
  • Jon Jay - With 2 home runs, 3 steals and a .392 batting average in August, Jay has been shifted to the lead-off spot in the Cardinals lineup.  Jay is enjoying a career best BB/K ratio of .67, and is taking more walks while striking out less than he has in either of his previous MLB seasons.  This improved batting eye is a good sign that Jay is developing as a hitter and should be able to sustain a batting average in the .290 to .300 range.
  • Doug Fister - Enjoying another second half surge, Fister should receive plenty of run support and is a good bet for wins and helpful ratios the remainder of the season.  Fister has a 1.52 ERA and .86 WHIP in the second half this season after putting together a 2.47 ERA and .91 WHIP in the second half last year.
  • Ben Zobrist - Now has shortstop eligibility in Yahoo leagues after getting a look at the position and performing well defensively.  Zobrist's power/speed combination is quite valuable at the shortstop position.
  • Eric Chavez - Continues his hitting onslaught with 4 home runs and 9 RBIs in August, and is playing nearly every day with Alex Rodriguez out until September.  Yankee Stadium led all of MLB by a wide margin with a home run park factor of 116 for left hand hitters.

Sell

  • James McDonald - The good times are over and it is now time to cut bait in even 14-team mixed leagues.  McDonald has an 8.71 ERA and 2.03 WHIP in the second half, and there are rumblings that he may get shifted to the bullpen so Kevin Correia (!) can remain in the rotation.  With the Pirates chasing a playoff spot they will not remain patient through McDonald's command problems.
  • Jarrod Parker - Parker's ERA has been on a steady climb since bottoming out at 2.46 on July 2nd.  Parker has given up four or more earned runs in five of his last seven starts, and his SIERA sits at 4.29 on the season.  Parker has thrown more innings this year than in any professional season, and now is the time to include Parker in a larger deal to a pitching starved team while his season stats look respectable. 


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Stock Watch: Buy & Sell Analysis

Last week's Stock Watch recommended claiming Kris Medlen where available, and after another strong start this week giving up only one earned run Medlen's stock continues to rise.  

Buy

  • Eric Young, Jr. - Started four of the last five games as injuries and trade have opened up playing time.  Young is enjoying a nice season with a .299 and 12 steals in 152 plate appearances, and has a chance to establish himself as the Rockies' lead-off hitter for the remainder of the season.  Young's batting average is inflated by a .355 BABIP but the speed is for real.
  • Manny Machado - Another middle-infield eligible player that could provide sneaky value over the remainder of the season, Machado was called up by Baltimore to provide an offensive boost at 3B for their playoff run.  Machado has been rated the last two seasons by Baseball America as a top-15 MLB prospect, and he has shown a power/speed combination in the minors that is certainly intriguing to fantasy owners.  Machado has also demonstrated a good eye at the plate with 48 walks to 70 strikeouts this season at AA, which is a good sign for a future bump to his minor league career batting average of .263.
  • Jean Segura - Continuing with the middle infield eligible theme, Segura was also recalled this week and may pay dividends to fantasy owners this season.  Segura is a less-heralded prospect (ranked #55 overall by Baseball America before this year) than Machado, but his minor league statistics have been more impressive as Segura is three years older and was given more time to develop before being recalled.  Segura had stolen 37 bases with seven home runs in 451 minor league plate appearances this season.  Since Segura is currently hitting 8th in a National League lineup, Machado should be targeted before Segura.
  • Jim Henderson - Saved consecutive games for the Brewers this week, and may be given an opportunity to run with the job after previous closers John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez both struggled with 5+ ERAs.  Henderson has a 10/1 K/BB ratio in seven innings for Milwaukee, and has put up big strikeout numbers in AAA with 56 strikeouts in 48 innings this season.  Henderson's ERA in the minors was 1.69 with a 2.91 FIP.
  • Alex Cobb - Gave up one run in seven innings with seven strikeouts against Toronto in his last start, and has thrown three consecutive quality starts.  Cobb's 4.32 ERA does not jump off the stat sheet, but he has a 3.33 FIP and 3.59 SIERA.  Take a chance on Cobb in his next start at Seattle.
  • Grant Balfour - Pitching much better recently with no earned runs allowed in July and one earned run in five August innings, Balfour may shift back shortly into a closer role as Ryan Cook has allowed nine runs and blown four saves over his last eight appearances.  With Oakland in the midst of a playoff run and every save given heightened importance, their patience in Cook will be tested.

Sell

  • Mike Fiers - The Brewers have announced that they will "monitor" Fiers' innings, and the Brewers' beat writer speculates that Fiers may only have 35 innings left this season.  Even though Fiers has been a dominate stud and waiver wire gem, owners may want to explore selling Fiers before a shutdown becomes imminent.  Owners in head-to-head leagues should also be concerned that Fiers will not be available for the fantasy playoffs.
  • Dexter F0wler - After starting the season on a relative home run and RBI binge, Fowler's power production has predictably fallen off the table with only five RBIs in July and none so far in August.  Fowler's walk, strikeout, line drive, ground ball and fly ball rates are close to his career rates, and his batting average is more the product of a slightly inflated BABIP rather than an advanced hitting approach.


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Stock Watch: Buy & Sell Analysis

The non-waiver trade deadline has passed, and the deals that were made could have an impact on many fantasy baseball leagues across the country. Hopefully you sold high on Ryan Dempster's excellent first two-thirds of the season when recommended by Stock Watch a few weeks ago. Dempster's first start in Texas was nothing short of a disaster, as he allowed eight earned runs on Thursday.

Buy

  • Carlos Santana - Hitting .302 with six homers and 16 RBIs since the All-Star break, Santana's yearly production still is way down from pre-season expectations, and he may be available from an owner that endured his miserable first half.  Santana is actually walking more and striking out less, with an improved line-drive percentage compared to last season. 
  • Kris Medlen - Injuries to Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens have opened up a rotation spot for Medlen, and his first start did not disappoint with a win and only one earned run in a rain-shortened five innings.  Medlen had a 3.86 ERA and 62/16 K/BB ratio as a starter in 2010 before undergoing Tommy John surgery. Expect his miniscule 2.43 ERA to rise somewhere between his 2.91 FIP and 3.55 SIERA when his 4.1% home run per flyball ratio increases, but he remains a worthwhile member of a 12-team mixed league rotation.
  • Greg Holland - Moved into the closer role with the trade of Jonathon Broxton, Holland has the skills to run with the job given his 2.62 career SIERA and 2.53 career FIP.  Holland has been a strikeout machine this season with 12.39 punchouts per nine innings.
  • Josh Rutledge - Colorado will need to find a place to play Rutledge every day even after Troy Tulowitzki (maybe) returns later this season.  Rutledge has home runs in four straight games entering Friday and is sporting an insane .347 ISO.  He also contributes a bit in steals as he swiped 16 bags in the minors last season and 14 this season in 379 plate appearances before his call-up.
  • Rajai Davis - The Travis Snider trade means that Davis should see everyday at-bats for Toronto.  Davis is widely available in Yahoo leagues (13% ownership) while quietly enjoying a 28-steal and six-home run season.
  • Daniel Straily - After blowing away minor league hitters this season with a 2.60 ERA and 175 strikeouts against only 37 walks in 138 1/3 innings, Straily is getting a chance to crack the Oakland rotation beginning Friday night.  Straily is not yet available in Yahoo leagues but should be claimed immediately after he is posted.

Sell

  • Chris Sale - Following a well-deserved All-Star performance the first four months of the season, Sale's velocity has diminished recently and Chicago is in the midst of providing him an extended rest between starts.  Sale has pitched over fifty more innings this season compared to last year and he may require continued rest throughout the remainder of the season or an innings cap to protect his arm during his first season as a starter.
  • Bobby Parnell - With Frank Francisco returning from injury and Parnell failing to establish himself as a reliable closer, Parnell's shelf life for save opportunities has likely closed.  Parnell is safe to drop in 12-team mixed leagues if Francisco is immediately inserted into the closer role. 


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Stock Watch: Buy & Sell Analysis

Last week's Stock Watch recommended claiming Ben Sheets where available, and he has continued to impress since his return to the Majors with six more shutout innings and a win against Washington.

Buy

  • Adam LaRoche - A notorious second-half hitter with a batting average nearly 50 points higher after the All-Star break, LaRoche has now homered in three straight games. LaRoche is enjoying a productive season from the clean-up spot, and has the highest line-drive percentage of his career.  
  • Justin Ruggiano - With Emilio Bonifacio shifting to second base after the trade of Omar Infante, Ruggiano should be in line for everyday at-bats. Ruggiano has both seven home runs and steals in only 137 plate appearances, and he showed a good power/speed combination for the Rays' Triple-A minor league club with 15 home runs and at least 23 steals in both 2009 and 2010.
  • Starling Marte - Another power/speed combination hitter, Marte homered in his first career at-bat Thursday and has raked at every level of the Pirates system.  Marte had 12 home runs and 21 steals in 431 plate appearances in Triple-A before being called up, and produced 12 home runs, 24 steals and a .332 batting average for the Pirates' Double-A affiliate in 2011.
  • Peter Bourjos - With the Angels looking to acquire help for the stretch run, Bourjos has been mentioned in trade rumors that would result in him starting for the club that acquires him.  Bourjos is coming off a season in which he hit 12 home runs with 22 steals, and would be a productive fourth or fifth outfielder in 12-team mixed leagues with everyday at-bats.

Sell

  • Matt Harrison - Enjoying a 3.02 ERA and 12 wins following a season of 14 wins and a 3.39 ERA, now is an excellent time to sell high.  Harrison's strikeout rate has decreased from last year to only 5.40 strikeouts per nine innings, and he has historically been a better pitcher in the first half.  Last year his August ERA was 6.07, and his career ERAs in August and September are 4.97 and 4.74 respectively. Harrison's SIERA sits at 4.21, and it would not be a surprise for him to have a matching ERA the rest of the season.
  • Matt Harvey - After dominating the Diamondbacks Thursday night, Harvey is going to a popular name in fantasy circles this week.  Those owners in re-draft leagues that are fortunate enough to have claimed Harvey off waivers should be looking to sell to an owner that will overpay for rookie hype.  Harvey showed typical control issues for a young starter this year in Triple-A, as he walked nearly four batters per nine innings, and may initially struggle in the majors as he learns command.  Stock Watch also recommended selling Trevor Bauer in re-draft leagues for many of the same reasons. RotoAuthority's Mike Axisa recently warned about the Mets' poor defense potentially inflating Harvey's WHIP and ERA, as well.
  • Dee Gordon - Those sitting on Gordon to return from the DL should be looking to deal him to steals-starved owners, as a report has surfaced that Gordon may return to a bench role following the Dodger's acquision of Hanley Ramirez. As only a one-dimension player when he is starting, Gordon can safely be dropped in 12-team mixed leagues.


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Stock Watch: Buy & Sell Analysis

Last week's Stock Watch recommended selling at peak value on C.J. Wilson based on his relatively poor K/BB ratio giving him a lofty SIERA. After giving up seven earned runs in his start this week, Wilson's SIERA sits at 4.22 with a 3.63 FIP. Wilson remains an excellent sell-high candidate based on his 2.82 ERA.

Buy

  • Ben Sheets - The Braves bypassed sleeper Kris Medlen and disappointing prospect Julio Teheran for Sheets and were rewarded with six shutout innings in his first start. Sheets' average fastball was clocked at 90.9 in his first start, which is two MPH down from his last (semi-) healthy seasons in 2007 and 2008.  Still, in a small sample size Sheets has struck out 15 batters to 2 walks in 16 2/3 innings between Double-A and the Majors, and since he's pitching in the National League, he should be claimed off waivers in leagues where he is unclaimed.
  • Michael Fiers - Fantasy owners are beginning to take note of Fiers' dominant ways this season, as his ownership percentage in Yahoo! leagues has creeped up to 48%.  Fiers' 2.01 ERA is legitimate based on his excellent 54/13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in only 53 2/3 innings pitched and sparkling 2.26 FIP.  Fiers only averages 88 MPH on his fastball, and there is a risk that hitters will adjust after seeing him another time through the league, but enjoy the ride while Fiers continues to deal.
  • Todd Frazier - With Joey Votto out of the Reds lineup, Frazier should see every day at-bats and take advantage of a favorable hitting ballpark.  Frazier has legitimate power that is shown by his .277 ISO on the season (which would rank 10th in MLB if he had enough plate appearances to qualify).
  • Justin Smoak - He may be entering a hot streak as he has home runs in two of his past four games.  Smoak has the lowest BABIP in MLB among qualifying hitters at .217, and his power potential (particularly when Seattle is on the road) is worth claiming in 12-team mixed leagues.
  • Coco Crisp - Nothing has gone right for Crisp this season, but he is coming off a 49-steal season and is only owned in 27% of Yahoo leagues.  Crisp has shown signs of life with four hits and two steals in his last two games.
  • Sergio Romo - Santiago Casilla has been a train wreck lately with five blown saves in his last seven chances.  Next in line should be the filthy Romo and his 0.66 (!) ERA.
  • Drew Storen - Back with the Nationals and threw a clean inning in his first appearance of the season yesterday.  Storen is back at a time when Tyler Clippard has shown some chinks in the armor with five earned runs in his last two innings. After the Nationals announced that Clippard would remain in the closer role, many owners cut Storen, but he should be claimed in leagues where he can be benched in the short term in the hopes that he works his way back into the ninth-inning job.
  • Steve Cishek - When Cishek was bypassed for a save chance on Monday for Mike Dunn, many owners figured that a closer committee was in place.  However, Cishek was dealing with a bout of the flu and all indications are that he should get the Marlins save chances going forward.  Recent trade rumors involving Heath Bell may further signal that the organization has soured on Bell and is ready to let Cishek run with the job.

Sell

  • Ryan Dempster - Dempster is a hot commodity on the MLB trading block and may be wearing a new uniform as soon as this weekend.  Hopefully you can get a nice haul for Dempster like the Cubs are trying to do by selling high.  Dempster's strikeouts per nine innings this season sits at 7.34, which is his lowest strikeout rate since 2003.  In addition, Dempster is benefitting from the highest left on base percentage among qualifying starters in MLB at 85.5% (his career rate is 72.2%).  Dempster's SIERA of 3.82 is about what you should expect going forward this season.


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Stock Watch: Buy & Sell Analysis

Nothing increases a player's value more in a standard eight- or 10-category league than when a reliever moves into the closer's role.  This month's trading deadline provides the best opportunity to pick up future closers from the waiver wire and either move up in saves or make a deal to solidify your roster in other areas (I recommend dealing a closer to a team that is right below your opponent at the top of the standings in saves so your opponent drops in saves while you increase points in other categories).  This week's Stock Watch will emphasize relievers you should be claiming off waiver wires because they may soon jump into the closer's role:

Buy

  • Mat Latos - After giving up only two earned runs in his last three starts covering 25 innings, Latos is finally out of his season-long funk after an offseason trade to the Reds.  With a 4.13 ERA on the season, perhaps Latos can still be acquired on the relative cheap from a disgruntled owner that suffered through Latos' terrible start to the season. Last year Latos had a slow first half before compiling a 2.87 ERA and 1.00 WHIP after the All-Star break (however, the opposite was true in 2010).  Compared to last year, Latos is walking fewer batters and (predictably) giving up substantially more home runs with a HR/FB percentage that has nearly doubled after his move from the Padres to the Reds. Settling into his new surroundings, I expect Latos' second-half ERA to be in line with his current SIERA of 3.63, which is exactly half a run lower than his ERA.
  • Max Scherzer - Has the second highest K/9 innings rate (11.19) and the second highest BABIP (.349) among qualifying starters.  Scherzer has five straight quality starts that has brought his ERA all the down from a 5.88 mark on June 6 to its current 4.72.  Here is another starter that may have left owners who drafted him with a bad taste in their mouths after his slow start.  Scherzer's 3.08 SIERA shows the upside that exists with a BABIP correction despite pitching in front of the Tigers' poor defense.
  • Michael Brantley - Owned in only 27% of Yahoo leagues, Brantley should see increased RBI opportunities as he hit between fourth and sixth in the Indians last series of the first half.  Brantley has two home runs and seven RBIs in 27 July at-bats, and he offers a decent power/speed combination with an improving batting average that has spiked based on a substantial reduction in strikeouts this season while keeping his walk rate steady.
  • Juan Carlos Oviedo - The Marlins have finally moved to a closer committee after Heath Bell's latest blown saves.  The pitcher formerly known as Leo Nunez has closer experience and could see save opportunities by the end of the month. Ozzie Guillen recently mentioned Oviedo as a candidate for saves.
  • David Hernandez - With the Diamondbacks shopping Justin Upton and seemingly willing to make trades targeted at 2013 and beyond, J.J. Putz may be dealt since Hernandez is waiting in the wings to assume the closer job under a recently extended contract that bought out two arbitration years.  Hernandez has been filthy this season while striking out 57 batters in only 37 1/3 innings and rocking a 2.38 SIERA.
  • Luke Gregerson - Only owed in 3% of Yahoo leagues, Gregerson's strikeout rate has returned to a dominant 9.46 per nine innings this season.  While Dale Thayer has predictably fallen flat lately, Gregerson has only given up four earned runs in 17 1/3 innings since June 1.  With Huston Street likely being dealt by the Padres, I anticipate Gregerson getting the first shot at closing.
  • James Russell - Here is a a deep sleeper for saves that I anticipate getting a chance over the final few months of the season if Carlos Marmol is dealt. Russell received the save opportunity when Marmol was unavailable on July 2, and he has an excellend 2.38 ERA on the season.
  • Wilton Lopez / Brandon Lyon / Matt Belisle / Rex Brothers/ Greg Holland - These relievers all could be closing for their respective teams by Aug. 1, but it is unclear if they would step into the role.  Holland has not been regularly used in the eighth inning, and Lopez/Lyon (I prefer Lopez) and Belisle/Brothers (I prefer Belisle) would be competing for the job.

Sell

  • C.J. Wilson - After enjoying a spectacular first half, now is the time for pitching-rich owners to see what they can get for this "ace" pitcher.  Wilson's strikeouts are way down (7.11 K/9 compared to 8.30 last year) and his walks are way up (3.96 BB/9 compared to 2.98 last year).  His success can be partly attributed to a .242 BABIP that is nearly forty points below his career average.  ZiPS projects a 3.48 ERA for the remainder of the season, which is far below his current 4.28 SIERA.


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