Vlad's FAAB Values: Week 24
Just three weeks left and those still reading this column are either in their H2H playoffs, are trying to gain on league leaders in roto, or are like me, and are doing their best to hold on to their league leads. After a red-hot stretch of over a month, reality kicked in a bit as both Marcus Stroman and Michael Kopech damaged ratios harshly, while typically reliable early-rounders like Giancarlo Stanton (2-for-17 this week) and Jose Ramirez (3-for-16) have struggled. A bit of a statistical dip is par for the course when a team has been cruising for some time – you just don’t want it to happen down the stretch.
That’s why attention to detail is all the more important at this stage of the game. Reading all of the news you can is imperative to pick up on little things like who may get shut down soon (Strasburg?), who may not return (Manaea), which teams are running the Rays’ ‘opener’ strategy (A’s and Twins) and which pitchers (Royals SPs) may not get two-start weeks because their managers have decided to employ six-man rotations. The last straw, of course, is to be extremely careful with two-start pitchers who may entice us because we need some wins and strikeouts. Be sure you know how much you can possibly lose in ratio categories (ERA, WHIP) before locking in your decisions. There are certainly a few who can make or break our seasons this week.
PITCHERS TO CONSIDER
*percentage-owned in NFBC 12 and 15 team national contests listed
15 TEAM ADDITIONS
Daniel Mengden (RHP, Athletics, 15%)
Mengden is back to being part of this rotation now and has appeared in three games (returning August 27) since spending two months on the disabled list. His last effort was most impressive as he came in to start the second following ‘opener’ Liam Hendricks and fired 4.2 innings of one-hit ball against the Yankees. His next three ‘starts’ (appearances, whatever you want to call them) are all against offenses we can stomach. First up, the Orioles this week. The following week it will be the Angels and Twins. Mengden has been particularly solid at home (.223 BAA, 3.68 ERA, 1.06 WHIP).
Sandy Alcantara (RHP, Marlins, 3%)
Alcantara was someone I loaded up on with conditional one-dollar bids last week, but alas, acquired zero shares of. The 23-year-old rookie prospect dazzled, in what was just his second career major-league game: seven innings of one-hit ball (two walks, six whiffs) against the Phillies. This week’s start lines up on Wednesday against the Mets. He can certainly sting new owners with a rough outing on one of these upcoming starts but is worth the risk of a dollar-or-two bid. More importantly, worth scouting to see if he’s going to be a later-round target for us in 2019 drafts.
Eric Lauer (LHP, Padres, 32%)
I’ll refrain from any ‘lock ‘em up on the inside’ Matt Lauer references here since we’re a family site (wait, who am I kidding). Nevertheless, the Padres’ rookie is someone we expect to be a mainstay in the Padres’ rotation for years to come. He’s a first-rounder from 2016 who has had some incredible game logs amid starts where he’s been absolutely bludgeoned. Last week’s four-inning two-hitter was the former, as he managed eight strikeouts in his shortened outing. How this week’s rotation forms is important to our bidding decisions. Personally, I’d much rather use the left-handed Lauer against the Rangers, at home on Friday than against the Mariners in Safeco Wednesday. If your ratios are within striking distances of people in those categories behind you, you may want to avoid Lauer this week altogether. And for the record, I don’t condone Matt Lauer’s abhorrent behavior.
Andrew Cashner (RHP, Orioles, 18%) – v OAK, v CHW
Cody Reed (RHP, Reds, 65%) – v LAD, @ CHC
Antonio Senzatela (RHP, Rockies, 9%) – v ARI, @ SF
Good luck and godspeed here, my friends. May your gut be on your side. Over Cashner’s last three starts, he’s averaging eight hits, four runs and 2.5 walks allowed. You’re more likely to get hurt than helped running him out here this week. Ross ended up stinging new owners hard. He had the second start of his two-step pushed up (to this week) and got rocked for six runs in his first start. Facing the Dodgers and Cubs will certainly be no picnics.
Senzatela is the guy I’d feel most confident in among this trio. It will be all about limiting damage at home against the Dbacks before the lovely home start against the Giants. Senzy has allowed ten runs over his last two home starts.
12 TEAM ADDITIONS
Mike Minor (LHP, Rangers, 59%)
A weekly mainstay in the column, any leagues that still have Minor available are likely filled with owners who have truly given up. Minor pitched just five innings in last week’s outing against the Angels (first time he’s pitched so few in his last seven starts) but the end result was good enough (3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K). Now with a lovely two-start week on paper (@ LAA, @ SD), watch him get shellacked – that’s how baseball works, right? Nevertheless, I am playing him on every team and taking on the risk of four combined homers from Mike Trout and Hunter Renfroe (red-hot and a lefty-killah).
Jake Junis (RHP, Royals, 72%)
Technically, Junis should be listed in the ‘dicey’ section below since he was horrendous in the first half of the season (5.13 ERA). He has made fantastic strides since the All-Star break and appears fully healthy - only three HR allowed in nine starts since the All-Star break and he’s averaged six strikeouts per outing over his last six with no more than two runs allowed in any of those starts. Two home starts against the White Sox and Twins is almost a must-start for those in need of strikeouts.
Steven Matz (LHP, Mets, 84%)
Matz has been drinking out of Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler’s Gatorade bottles lately as he has been on the best professional stretch of his career. The highlight-reel outing came against the Giants last Saturday (7 IP – 3 H – 1 ER – 1 BB – 11 K) – a game sandwiched in between two quality starts at home against the Phillies and Nationals where he managed a 15:3 K:BB in twelve frames. A home start against the Marlins should be a walk in the park (no pun intended, and hopefully no more than one walk!). Matz is owned in most formats, but if he’s still somehow available, pounce on him for his final four starts.
Jaime Barria (RHP, Angels, 60%) – v TEX, v SEA (not confirmed)
Lucas Giolito (RHP, White Sox, 61%) – @ KC, @ BAL
Pick your poison here, and in fact, you may be drinking just that in these scenarios. Barria pitched well against the Rangers in Arlington (5 IP – 2 H – 0 ER – 3 H – 5 K) after a very good outing against the Astros the week prior (6 IP – 3 H – 0 ER – 1 BB – 4 K). Just note that Barria has been a different animal at home (4.12 versus a 2.53 ERA on the road).
Similar to Junis, Giolito’s first half was so bad (was literally the league’s worst SP) that there was nowhere to go but up or to the minors. Giolito somewhat salvaged it by nearly doubling his first-half strikeout rate (from 13% to 24%) but still has an ERA above five since the break. His ERA on the road is under 5.00 and if there were any two teams we’d pick for Giolito to face, it would be his projected opponents – the Royals and Orioles.
Teams with seven (7) games:
MARLINS: 4 @ NYM, 3 @ PHI
METS: 4 v NYM, 3 @ BOS
CARDINALS: 3 v PIT, 4 v LAD (all home)
DIAMONDBACKS: 4 @ COL, 3 @ HOU (all road)
ROCKIES: 4 v ARI, 3 @ SF
DODGERS: 4 @ CIN, 3 @ STL (all road)
Five-game week: PADRES: 2 @ SEA, 3 v TEX
- USE: Early bids get the worm, so those who picked up fringe Dbacks’ bats last week in anticipation of this four-game series at Coors Field won’t have to spend the extra buck this week. We’re really only talking about the fringe guys like Nick Ahmed, Jon Jay, Alex Avila and Daniel Descalso since everyone else on this offense is just about 100% owned.
- AVOID: Our only chance to use Giants came last week in that series in Coors Field, but almost all of them disappointed. In full rebuild mode and recently losing their best hitter to pinstripes (McCutchen), the Giants have hands-down the worst group of hitters in the big leagues, and it’s showed (league-worst .243 wOBA last 14 days, and that of course, includes the Coors series). This week gets no better with all six games at home and some tough pitchers on deck (Newcomb, Folty, Anibal, Marquez).
Teams with seven (7) games:
ROYALS: 3 v CHW, 4 v MIN
TWINS: 3 v NYY, 4 @ KC
ANGELS: 3 v TEX, 4 v SEA (all home)
- USE: The red-hot Royals (league-leading .373 wOBA last two weeks) have one of the better set of matchup among AL teams this week. They will face some volatile White Sox (Giolito/Rodon, then either Covey or Santiago) followed by four games against the Twins taking on rookies Stephen Gonsalves and Kohl Stewart (combined 28 ER in 33 IP).
- USE: Almost have to jump on any team getting a series with the Orioles as their collective starters’ ERA is baseball’s second-worst mark (5.41). Not to mention the league’s worst HR/9 mark (1.71). That’s why both fringe White Sox and Athletics offensive players are worth consideration this week.
- AVOID: It’s not like you’re in the hunt for a league title with many Tigers on your team. Either way, it is a good week to avoid them as they’ll face two of the league’s top pitching staffs. First, some Verlander and Cole (HOU) followed by Kluber, Clevinger and maybe even Bauer (CLE).
HITTERS TO CONSIDER
Francisco Mejia (UT, Padres, 3%)
The Padres finally promoted Mejia on Tuesday after acquiring him for reliever Brad Hand at the trade deadline. He had a pinch-hit plate appearance that day then smashed in his first start against the Reds on Thursday. Mejia hit seventh, crushing two bombs, then hit second in the lineup on Friday. He will eventually get that catcher eligibility but it won’t be for another eight games, so those adding him may only enjoy Mejia in their catcher spot for the final week of the season. He is the top free agent bat this week.
DBacks @ Coors: Nick Ahmed (SS, 77%), Daniel Descalso (2B/3B/OF, 41%), Alex Avila (C, 6%)
All three are worth a spin for the four-game series in Colorado, though none are particularly exciting. Avila serves his own purpose as a C2 fill-in, and if I had to choose between Ahmed and DD, my lean is Descalso.
Nick Delmonico (OF, White Sox, 44%)
Nicky D and his fellow White Sox’ lefty bats have a soft road schedule against two of the league’s worst-combined rotations + bullpens (Royals, Orioles). Delmonico has been running cold of late, with just two hits in 18 September at-bats (a double and a homer) but should warm up this week and has been hitting out of the cleanup spot against right-handed pitchers.
OTHERS TO CONSIDER
- Jake Cave (OF, Twins, 53%) – Shockingly making people ask: Buxton who?
- Ehire Adrianza (3B/SS, Twins, 6%) – Batting Average fill-in if Miguel Sano misses time.
- Wilmer Difo (2B/3B/SS, Nationals, 32%) – Playing daily with Daniel Murphy out of the picture. Boasting a .406 wOBA and two bombs this month, hitting out of the seven-hole.
Johan Camargo (SS/3B, Braves, 82%) – Hitting .340 with four homers and nine runs over the last two weeks. Settling in as the number-two hitter in front of Freeman (instead of Albies) and I don’t even care who he’s facing. I’m just playing him (in case you’re curious, 3 @ SF, 3 v WAS).
Joey Wendle (2B/3B/OF, Rays, 71%) – Could have been the AL Rookie of the Year if not for a superstud named Shohei. Wendle’s picked up the pace with the swipes (four in the last two weeks)
Wilmer Flores (1B/2B/3B, Mets, 35%) – Ice cold lately (two homers since August 1; 18% hard-hit rate in July) but this baseball stuff is so cyclical. As long as he’s not hurt (and he doesn’t appear to be), the tides will turn for him soon enough. Four games against Marlins pitching may just do the trick.
White Sox power: Matt Davidson (1B/3B, 45%) and Daniel Palka (OF, 29%) – Hard to find a good power boost this late but Davidson and Palka are both in the mix for 12-teamers for most of the same reasons Delmonico is and why Franmil Reyes was in play last week: we’re simply looking for flyball power hitters in good hitters’ parks against subpar pitchers. Fantasy 101.
Good luck this week.