Monday, July 28, 2014

Sports With The StatMan: How to Listen and Interact

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This Week in Fantasy Sports: Week 31, 2014

This is the companion blog for our Saturday morning fantasy show (#480). Click on the episode on the right margin or listen to the show in any number of ways here.

This Week in Fantasy Sports – Week 31 (July 28-August 3, 2014)

Fantasy Baseball: Week 18 starts Monday

Weekly Best (July 21-27)

1st Star – C Carlos Santana CLE: 59 points (.556/.636/1.333, 15-27, 6 HR, 10 RBI, 8 R, 3 2B, 5 BB, 3 K, SB)
2nd Star – RF Jose Bautista TOR: 43 points (.375/.500/.875, 9-24, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R, 3 2B, 4 BB, SB)
3rd Star – DH David Ortiz BOS: 38 points (.286/.310/.893, 8-28, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 6 R, 2 2B, BB, 6 K)

1st Star – SP Chris Sale CHW: 62 points (2-0, 0.60 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 15 IP, 12 H, 3 BB, 20 K, 2/2 GS/QS)
2nd Star – RP Steve Cishek MIA: 58 points (5 SV, 1.80 ERA, 0.40 WHIP, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 8 K)
3rd Star – SP Jacob deGrom NYM: 52 points (2-0, 0.68 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 13.1 IP, 9 H, 3 BB, 11 K, 2/2 GS/QS)


Impact Injury Updates

  • SS Troy Tulowitzki COL: 100% owned, DL with thigh injury – latest update: getting treatment, eligible to return on 8/3)
  • 1B Joe Mauer MIN: 96% owned, DL with oblique injury – latest update: could start rehab assignment next week
  • OF George Springer HOU: 96% owned, DL with quad injury – latest update: eligible to return Sunday, but has not exercised quad yet
  • 1B Justin Morneau COL: 95% owned, DL with neck injury – latest update: may begin AAA rehab assignment today, should return by mid-week
  • SP C.J. Wilson LAA: 89% owned, DL with ankle injury – latest update: may begin AA rehab assignment today, should return on Saturday
  • OF Starling Marte PIT: 88% owned, 7-day DL with head injury – latest update: eligible to return today, but no timetable for return
  • 3B Ryan Zimmerman WSH: 88% owned, DL with hamstring injury – latest update: reporting he could miss two months
  • SP Michael Wacha STL: 83% owned, DL with shoulder injury – latest update: out until mid-September, may not pitch again this season
  • SP Matt Cain SFO: 77% owned, DL with elbow injury – latest update: on DL since 7/10, undergoing more tests

Other injury updates (by position)

  • Brandon Belt SFO (72%, 7-day DL-concussion, no timetable for his return)
  • Everth Cabrera SDG (43%, DL-hamstring, on AAA rehab assignment, on DL since 7/1)
  • Angel Pagan SFO (64%, DL-back, may begin rehab assignment this week)
  • Dexter Fowler HOU (47%, DL-intercostal, has not resumed baseball activities, may not be back until August)
  • James Paxton SEA (60%, DL-lat, on AAA rehab assignment, pitched third rehab start Sunday, could return by end of the week)
  • Justin Masterson CLE (45%, DL-knee, on AAA rehab assignment, should return Friday)
  • Ubaldo Jimenez BAL (31%, DL-ankle, may begin Single-A rehab assignment 7/29, could return late in Week 19)
  • Jordan Lyles COL (20%, DL-hand, on Single-A rehab assignment, eligible to return 8/5)

Injuries without recent updates (by position)

  • Yadier Molina STL (63%, DL-thumb, may return mid-September)
  • Matt Wieters BAL (32%, DL-elbow, out for season)
  • Edwin Encarnacion TOR (100%, DL-quad, early August)
  • Joey Votto CIN (95%, DL-quad, late August)
  • Prince Fielder TEX (39%, DL-neck, out for season)
  • Brandon Phillips CIN (53%, DL-thumb, early September)
  • Brett Lawrie TOR (66%, DL-finger, early August)
  • Chris Owings ARZ (26%, DL-shoulder, early August)
  • Wil Myers TBY (77%, DL-wrist, mid-August)
  • Michael Cuddyer COL (63%, DL-shoulder, mid-August)
  • Michael Bourn CLE (35%, DL-hamstring, early August)
  • A.J. Pollock ARZ (30%, DL-hand, early August)
  • Masahiro Tanaka NYY (94%, DL-elbow, may return in mid-August)
  • Gerrit Cole PIT (91%, DL-lat, early August)
  • Andrew Cashner SDG (81%, DL-shoulder, mid-August)
  • Jason Vargas KCY (70%, DL-appendectomy, early August)
  • Michael Pineda NYY (51%, DL-shoulder, mid-August)
  • Jose Fernandez MIA (48%, DL-elbow, out for season)
  • Matt Harvey NYM (45%, DL-elbow, may be out for season)
  • CC Sabathia NYY (28%, DL-knee, out for season)
  • Derek Holland TEX (25%, DL-knee, late August)
  • Nate Jones CHW (15%, DL-back, may be out for season)
  • Matt Lindstrom CHW (13%, DL-ankle, early August)
  • Jim Henderson MIL (10%, DL-shoulder, early August)

Hot Pick-Ups


Flavor of the Week (all leagues)
  • 3B Chase Headley NYY (46% ownership): Headley’s trade to the Yankees has paid early dividends and the Yankees need his switch-hitting bat in the lineup and glove at 3B.  He has a track record of playing well and perhaps the pennant race inspires him.
Shallow leagues (8 and fewer team leagues)
  • OF Austin Jackson DET (70% ownership): Jackson is hitting well lately and has a solid lineup surrounding him.
  • 1B Lucas Duda NYM (69% ownership): It is still too early to declare a winner for which team got the better of the Ike Davis trade, it is not too early to declare Lucas Duda a winner in the trade in terms of the playing time he has received and what he has done with those at-bats.
Medium leagues (10-team leagues)
  • 2B/SS Josh Rutledge COL (10% ownership): Troy Tulowitzki’s injury gives Rutledge another chance in Denver.  And, it’s not like DJ LeMahieu has the starting second base spot locked up, so Rutledge could stick.
  • 3B Chris Johnson ATL (42% ownership): He is not a home run hitter, but he has gone on a power binge recently.  He has been valuable for his high average, not his power.  The issue has always been, and continues to be, his lack of walks and his propensity to strike out.
Deep leagues (12 and more team leagues)
  • DH Chris Carter HOU (40% ownership): Carter is still owned in too many leagues, but he has had a good month (.306/.363/.681, 7 HR, 16 RBI) and that upside may help the rest of the way.  But, don’t forget, he is .212/.290/.471 for the season.
  • SS Stephen Drew BOS (12% ownership): There is a trio of players trying to get playing time on the left side of the Red Sox infield, but he is starting to show signs of life with a couple of home runs in the past week.


Flavor of the Week (all leagues)
  • RP Neftali Feliz TEX (15% ownership): He was a reliever before the failed experiment as a starter that culminated in Tommy John Surgery, and he is back to closing now that Joakim Soria was dealt to the Tigers.  Feliz may have had a dip in velocity, but if he has learned how to pitch, there is no reason why he cannot be a solid closer.  Remember, he’s only 26.
Shallow leagues (8 and fewer team leagues)
  • SP Marcus Stroman TOR (76% ownership): If you are still not convinced, allowing one hit in seven innings against Boston on Thursday should help get it through your head that you need to nab him if he is still available.  Stroman is in the middle of a pennant race right now and has only had one start where he has allowed more than two earned runs and pitched less than 6-2/3 innings (3-0 in that span).
  • SP Jacob deGrom NYM (72% ownership): Unless you are an MLB draftnik or a big Met fan, deGrom came out of nowhere to develop as a solid pitcher this year.  Originally drafted as a shortstop, he has a 2.79 ERA and 1.26 WHIP.  What makes him a must-add is his four wins in his last four starts, allowing 2 ER in 27.1 IP with 30 K.
Medium leagues (10-team leagues)
  • SP Jorge de la Rosa COL (38% ownership): The stigma of Rockie pitchers continues, but de la Rosa has won five straight decisions and might be on his way out of Colorado.  Beat the traffic.
  • SP Brandon McCarthy NYY (42% ownership): After being dealt away from the high altitude of Arizona, he is suddenly pitching better in the Bronx.  It is too early to tell and he does have an injury history, but he has been remarkably consistent in his three Yankee starts, with a 2-0 record, 3 ER in 18.2 IP with 17 K.
Deep leagues (12 and more team leagues)
  • SP Vance Worley PIT (15% ownership): Regression alert!  But, before the clock strikes midnight, he might be useful for another few starts.  The trading deadline might bring the Pirates another pitcher, so you may want to look elsewhere unless you are absolutely desperate for wins.  He is 3-1 in six starts with a 3.10 ERA, but he has allowed more hits than innings in his last three starts.
  • SP Matt Shoemaker LAA (29% ownership): His rookie season has been up-and-down, but his overall numbers look okay as a deep-league add or an AL-only add.  He is 8-3 with a 1.22 WHIP, but his 4.13 ERA could be better.  Three of his last five starts have been bad, but he also three-hit the Tigers in seven innings his last time out.

Schedule Stars

Favorable schedules

  • Detroit (3 vs CHW, 3 vs COL)
  • Toronto (3 at BOS, 4 at CHW)
  • Arizona (3 at CIN, 4 vs PIT)
  • Cincinnati (3 vs ARZ, 4 at MIA)

Unfavorable schedules

  • Baltimore (3 vs LAA, 3 vs SEA)
  • Tampa Bay (3 vs MIL, 3 vs LAA)
  • Milwaukee (3 at TBY, 3 at STL)
  • St. Louis (3 at SDG, 3 vs MIL)

Two-Start Stars

Starting pitchers to sit

  • SP A.J. Burnett PHL (57% starting): He may be traded this week, which could help his value, but I do not trust Burnett as long as he is pitching for the Phillies.  Also, he is going up against two good divisional pitchers on the road in Bartolo Colon (Monday at NYM) and Jordan Zimmermann (Saturday at WSH).
  • SP Josh Beckett LAD (53% starting): Beckett is 1-1 in July with 9 ER in 13.2 IP.  He has been banged up recently with a hip injury and he is one start removed from the DL.  Go easy in bringing him back to your lineup. (Tuesday vs ATL/Harang, Sunday at CHC/Jackson)

Benched pitchers to start

  • SP Chris Tillman BAL (46% starting): There is not enough love for Tillman.  He has been inconsistent in the past, but you cannot blame his July performance.  He has had four straight quality starts, coming within an out from a fifth in five July starts (0-1, 3.09 ERA, 1.22 WHIP).  Tillman has suffered three no-decisions and a hard-luck loss, but his full season ERA has gone below 4.00 (3.92). (Tuesday vs LAA/Weaver, Sunday vs SEA/Iwakuma)
  • SP Francisco Liriano PIT (44% starting): Two road starts coming up for Liriano this week and he has pitched well since coming off the DL.  He throws in a pitchers park in start #1 in San Francisco (Tuesday at Hudson) and a bad team in start #2 in Arizona (Sunday at Cahill).

Fantasy Focus: Job Security

Hitter Notes

  • The Tony Cruz experiment looks to be short-lived.  A.J. Pierzynski has been signed by the Cardinals and Cruz will slip back to a backup role while Yadier Molina is on the mend for the next six weeks.
  • Baltimore’s catching situation is one to avoid.  Caleb Joseph (.197-3-12) has gotten more of the starts and Nick Hundley (.232-3-13) has hit better.  It will be tough to solidify the position at the deadline, but they need to do better here in the wake of Matt Wieters’s season-ending elbow injury.
  • Stephen Vogt (.359-4-22) has hit his way into an everyday spot in the lineup, but the strong play of Derek Norris makes manager Bob Melvin have to play Vogt at first and in the outfield.
  • Ryan Howard may start to lose playing time to Darin Ruf.  It has not happened yet, but Howard may sit against lefties in a traditional platoon.
  • The days of Jake Goebbert getting a shot at first base in San Diego are done for now, as Yonder Alonso will get his starting spot back after Alonso was activated from the DL over the weekend.
  • While Brandon Belt is on the DL with a concussion, Buster Posey and Michael Morse are established veterans who can play first.  No one else should be on your fantasy radar.
  • With Edwin Encarnacion on the DL, Jose Bautista is getting some time at first.  But, Juan Francisco’s value goes up with Encarnacion out.
  • Emilio Bonifacio is a placeholder in more than one way in Chicago.  The Cub second baseman is holding a place for Arismendy Alcantara now and Addison Russell in the future.  He also plays centerfield, as Alcantara also does, but once Javier Baez and Addison Russell are up, Bonifacio will see the end of his fantasy lifespan in Chicago.
  • Jedd Gyorko will return on Monday to the Padres lineup and new acquisition Yangervis Solarte will move from second base to third base.
  • Kolten Wong (.250-6-24, 14 SB) has played well since coming back from the minor leagues and he did not return to sit on the bench. 
  • Chase Headley will get every chance to succeed at third base, so Zelous Wheeler will not play there much going forward.
  • Xander Bogaerts is spending most of his time at third base lately, since Stephen Drew is playing better at shortstop.  Will Middlebrooks is still on a rehab assignment and Brock Holt also plays in the outfield.
  • Didi Gregorius (.231-3-11) is manning the shortstop position in Arizona until Chris Owings comes back, but Owings’s return from his shoulder injury has been delayed due to soreness.
  • Josh Rutledge (.307-3-19) will take over for Troy Tulowitzki during his stay on the DL.  Rutledge can also play second base and while there is no indication DJ LeMahieu’s job is in any jeopardy, if Rutledge takes off with this opportunity, Rutledge may push LeMahieu for playing time.
  • Jordy Mercer (.249-6-33) was an easy pick to lose playing time to the do-it-all Josh Harrison, but he has hit .321/.382/.397 in July and Harrison has to look to the outfield to get at-bats.
  • Jonathan Villar was sent down at the end of last month and he may not be down there for long, but Marwin Gonzalez is doing what he can with the opportunity, batting .274, including .290/.323/.387 in July.
  • Danny Santana came back from the DL, but Eduardo Escobar has continued to play shortstop, while Santana took residence in the outfield.
  • Ryan Ludwick (.261-6-27) has gotten a little more playing time in the past week than Chris Heisey (.232-4-14) and without Joey Votto in the lineup, Ludwick’s power is needed in the lineup more than Heisey’s speed.
  • The trading deadline may do what Don Mattingly has not been able to do all season long: settle the four-man outfield rotation.  Yasiel Puig is the only constant, though Matt Kemp has played when healthy.  But, we should find out how often (and where) Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford will play and whether Joc Pederson will get a chance.
  • If your last name is Young and play in Queens, the Mets have a spot for you in left field.  Eric Young has played there more often this year, on the basis of his leadoff skills, and Chris Young has lost out because the power he was supposed to bring seemed to have been left in Oakland.  Chris Young has played more often to showcase him in a potential deal, but his value is rock-bottom.
  • Grady Sizemore is getting some at-bats against righthanders in Philadelphia. If Marlon Byrd is moved, Sizemore might get even more of an audition for 2015.
  • Starling Marte is out with a head injury, so Josh Harrison is playing the outfield, but Marte might be the odd-man out if Jordy Mercer continues to hit at shortstop.  Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco are not going anywhere.
  • Carlos Quentin looks to be going on to the DL for the Padres, so Chris Denorfia’s stock goes up for the next couple of weeks.  Cameron Maybin is serving out a 25-game suspension for amphetamine use.
  • Gregor Blanco still has some runway in center field for the Giants before Angel Pagan returns from injury.  Pagan is scheduled to start a rehab assignment next week, so Blanco should have another 10-14 days.
  • Jon Jay (.289-1-24, 6 SB) is getting the bulk of the playing time in center field over Peter Bourjos (.227-3-13, 8 SB), but with Allen Craig hitting so poorly (.133/.204/.222 in 45 July at-bats), Craig may lose playing time if his slide continues.
  • Steve Pearce is still the starting leftfielder, but he is 2 for his last 20 and his average has dipped under .300 (.299-11-31).
  • Brock Holt has found a place in left field, but can sub at second or third, while Daniel Nava (.258-2-13) sits and Jonny Gomes (.240-6-32) is all but on his way out.
  • J.D. Martinez and Rajai Davis both lay a claim to left field in Detroit.  Martinez came on in June and Davis has missed a few at-bats, but including the DH spot, both do play.

Pitcher Notes

  • Vidal Nuno (2-7, 4.97 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) does not have a firm grip on a rotation spot for Arizona, but any challengers would come from the minors, maybe in the person of Archie Bradley if he can get healthy.
  • The Cubs could be selling players, so if you hold Cub minor league pitchers, be prepared if Edwin Jackson is dealt.
  • Gerrit Cole should be returning to the Pirate rotation in a week or two and Pittsburgh may improve their rotation at the deadline.  Vance Worley is due for a regression and a possible loss of a rotation spot soon.
  • The Padres have had two impressive youngsters in Jesse Hahn (6-2, 2.12 ERA, 1.05 WHIP in 8 GS) and Odrisamer Despaigne (2-2, 1.66 ERA, 1.11 WHIP in 6 GS), one may have to go when Andrew Cashner returns in the next couple of weeks.  Ian Kennedy could be dealt and Eric Stults (3-13, 5.22 ERA, 1.45 WHIP) and his rotation spot is on thin ice.
  • Carlos Martinez is being moved back to the bullpen in St. Louis, so the Cardinals may expect to beef up their rotation at the deadline this week.
  • Baltimore can upgrade their rotation and Miguel Gonzalez would be my pick for a lost rotation spot.  Even if Gonzalez survives the deadline, when Ubaldo Jimenez returns, Gonzalez is a better bet to lose his position than Kevin Gausman, who is the future and pitching well (4-3, 3.67 ERA, 1.41 WHIP).
  • Allen Webster was called up when Jake Peavy was dealt to San Francisco over the weekend.  Rubby De La Rosa already has a foothold in the rotation (3-3, 3.54 ERA, 1.22 WHIP in 8 GS).
  • Josh Tomlin (5-7, 4.47 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) was sent down by the Indians this weekend, as Zach McAllister (3-6, 5.65 ERA, 1.48 WHIP in 13 GS) was activated from the DL.  Tomlin started well, but has not pitched well recently and McAllister, at 26, is three years younger and might have more potential.
  • The lack of wins clouds things, but Hector Rondon seems to be the closer of the moment with the Cubs, owning both Cubs saves this month.
  • In the offseason, as soon as LaTroy Hawkins was signed by the Rockies, his stay as the closer was supposed to be temporary, until the keys to the ninth-inning castle would be turned over to Rex Brothers.  Hawkins might be dealt at the deadline, so Brothers’s time to close could be near.
  • Mark Melancon took over the closer role when Jason Grilli was injured.  Grilli was ineffective when placed back in the role for Pittsburgh, Melancon was named the closer, and Grill and was dealt for Ernesto Frieri.  Frieri, who was on the outs as a closer in Anaheim, has played second fiddle to Melancon, who has some security in his role.
  • If Joaquin Benoit survives the trading deadline, Benoit would be the ninth-inning guy in San Diego.  If not, Dale Thayer and Alex Torres would be the next in line for the closer spot.
  • Sergio Romo was taken out of the closer role in San Francisco and Santiago Casilla, long a setup man for Romo, is getting his shot.  Casilla (7 SV, 1.16 ERA, 0.85 WHIP in 38.2 IP) has acquitted himself extremely well and even if Romo figures it out, it is no guarantee he gets his job back.
  • After Jim Johnson’s struggles and trade to Oakland, the Orioles might have finally found their closer in Zach Britton (20 SV, 1.71 ERA, 0.89 WHIP).  Tommy Hunter was hurt and struggled upon his return, so unless the O’s upgrade their bullpen, Britton is the guy.
  • The White Sox closer situation has been a complete mess.  Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom got hurt and Ronald Belisario has been ineffective.  You could imagine Robin Ventura being a little gunshy in naming another closer, so we are left to what actually happens in games to read the tea leaves.  Jake Petricka was making the most of his chances, but Zack Putnam was cutting into Petricka’s opportunities.  Enter Putnam’s shoulder injury.  If you have to go for a White Sox reliever, make it Petricka (5 SV, 2.06 ERA, 1.26 WHIP in 52.1 IP).
  • The Tigers traded for some bullpen security when they acquired Joakim Soria (17 SV, 2.67 ERA, 0.95 WHIP) from the Rangers.  Joe Nathan, if he was not pushed before, will be now, but he is pitching better (21 SV, 5.73 ERA, 1.49 WHIP).
  • Huston Street was acquired by the Angels from the Padres and continues his fantastic season (27 SV, 0.97 ERA, 0.76 WHIP), pushing Joe Smith (15 SV, 2.08 ERA, 0.84 WHIP) back to his patented eighth-inning role.
  • If David Robertson gets dealt by the Yankees, Dellin Betances will assume the closer’s role, but otherwise, the rest of the season will be a steady diet of Betances (4-0, 93 K in 63 IP, 1.43 ERA, 0.73 WHIP) in the eighth and Robertson (26 SV, 2.50 ERA, 0.98 WHIP) in the ninth.
  • Tampa Bay’s bullpen has shifted from Grant Balfour in the beginning of the season (11 SV, 5.17 ERA, 1.54 WHIP) to Jake McGee (11 SV, 1.53 ERA, 0.85 WHIP) now.  The Rays have improved, so roll with McGee, who is still available in almost half of leagues.
Legend: ownership/starting percentages are based on fantasy leagues

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