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Thank you all for the warm welcome to the Week That Was new home at Fantasy Alarm. We are proud to grace these pages right next to the great Ray Flowers, inimitable Jeff Mans and the bevy of brilliant writers here at the Alarm. Ok, enough nonsense, on to the news of the week and the second Fantasy Alarm installment of the Week That Was:
Chase Headley: Chase Headley emerged from his slumber with the energy of Harvey Korman in the Mel Brooks classic Blazing Saddles objecting to being called Heddy. Last night, the Padre 3B went 2-4 with a home run, three RBI, and a run scored. Headley who battled injury issues last year and this spring appears healthy, is in a contract year, and should be poised to return significant value. Yes the .167 is ugly but it is early. Given his track record and given that his contact rate is up and his strikeout pct down so far this year, I say the .167 is a fluke that will soon be nothing more than a speck in the rear view mirror. Buy low now while you still can!
Rick Porcello: Rick Porcello was not as effective Friday as he was in his first start of 2014. That said, his stat line was still a mixed bag -- the good: no walks and 5 K over 6.1 innings; the bad: 5 ER over 6.3 innings. For some reason the Tigers weakened their corner defense by moving Miggy to 3B and VMart to 1B with an extreme groundball pitcher on the mound. Ugh. In all honesty, I did not see the game but it appears that at least the last run charged to Porcello was avoidable. Bottom line - I still believe in Porcello big time. He came into his own in the second half last year and should continue to build on that growth. At just 25 with 4 MLB seasons under his belt, there is room for a lot more growth. Plus, with the Tigers, the wins will come. Buy!
Edward Mujica: Edward Mujica was the surprise BoSox closer Friday and he delivered a perfect ninth inning with one strikeout. This situation bears watching. According to reports, Koji Uehara was unavailable after he felt stiffness in his shoulder. Uehara may not be hurt now but the odds of him spending real time on the shelf are quite high. The Chief saved 37 games last year and it would not surprise me to see him register at least 10 and possibly 20 saves this year as Uehara at 39 years of age and with a LONG injury history gives way early and often. Buy!
Aroldis Chapman: In the feel good portion of WTW, we are glad to see reports that Aroldis Chapman will throw his first bullpen session Monday. As human beings, we are all rooting for Chapman to recover from that brutal beaning and return to the mound and his successful career. From a fantasy baseball perspective, the speed of Chapman’s recovery means that a huge bid on Jonathan Broxton is likely unwarranted. Keep your FAAB powder dry in all but the deepest NL-only leagues.
Jim Johnson: In a development predicted right here in the Week That Was last week, Jim Johnson is out as Oakland closer. Can you blame the A’s? Johnson has given up seven runs in 3.1 innings this year with three blown saves. Yes, we do get things wrong but when we nail it, well, it is fun to say so. Last week we advised as follows: “Jim Johnson has been, well, bad to start his Oakland career. So far, the former O closer has given up five runs over his first two appearances, blown one save, lost two games, walked 3 and struck none. It is hard to imagine a more inauspicious beginning. The velocity has been the same as last year, so that is not the issue. Of course, the sample size is small but unlike in Baltimore, there are a bevy of closer-worthy pitchers ready to take on the ninth inning if Johnson continues to fail. Each of Luke Gregerson, Sean Doolittle, and Ryan Cook can close at the major league level and I doubt the A’s will live through the 9 blown saves and 8 losses Johnson registered a year ago. Speculate on any of the three Oakland set-up men if you need saves.” I hope you did so!
Dallas Keuchel: Dallas Keuchel pitched very well Friday, giving up just one run on five hits with six strikeouts. Will he be a consistent big time winner this year in Houston? No. Can he be an under the radar solid back of the rotation starter in deep leagues? I think so. In 2013, Dallas upped his K/BB up to a very respectable 2.37 and posted an extremely strong 2.57 GB/FB ratio. If he keeps those metrics up and reduces the inflated .346 BABIP of a season ago, a solid 2014 season will be had. I am buying but with full knowledge of the risks.
Dayan Viciedo: With the unfortunate season ending injury to Avisail Garcia, Dayan Viciedo is poised to play every day and is a very good potential source of cheap power. Viciedo, who is only 25, already has over 1,000 MLB at bats under his belt. Given that Dayan has already posted a 25 HR season and has shown much more patience in this young season, there is every reason to think there is solid value here that could well be available on your waiver wire. Buy.
And last and but not least, this from the Baron of the Bottom of the Page. Schultz says: “For the most part, there's a pretty broad overlap between "good baseball player in real life" and "good roto-baseball player in fantasy life." In the same way that Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout fight over MLB MVP, roto-pundits argue over which one is truly the topmost fantasy star. This unanimity of thought pretty much comes to an end when we start to discuss closers, where the connection between top-flight pitcher and quality roto-player starts getting a little dicey. The use of saves as one pitching category in a 5x5 league or the inflated value the stat garners in any points leagues has the tendency to skew perception as to a pitcher's real-life capabilities.
Submitted for your approval as Exhibit A (read that in a Rod Serling voice or else it seems kind of stupid) is former Oakland A closer Jim Johnson. Just two weeks ago, many overpaid for Johnson because they mistook his 101 saves from 2012 and 2013 as evidence of an elite closer. While his ERA - under 3.00 for both those years - didn't betray any signs of weakness, his 1.28 WHIP and 9 blown saves (roughly 1 out of every 6) should have given smart roto-owners pause. Somewhat ironically, Johnson's implosion comes with Oakland, the team that took the air out the closer myth by creating closers for the sole purpose of trading them for someone more valuable.
The list of relievers that remain closers for more than 3 years is much shorter than you imagine. For the most part, once a closer finds success, teams spend the off-season scrutinizing how it happened. Having studied the closer's habits like Marlon Perkins, they are ready to pounce on the closers that can't adapt. It makes Mariano Rivera's dominance that much more impressive. Even when teams knew what Mo would throw, they couldn't touch it.
Keep all of this in mind when the Cubs run out of patience with Jose Veras or when the White Sox and Astros finally resolve their closing situations. Enjoy the saves that will surely come from owning the pitcher that gets to pitch the 9th (my hunches: Pedro Strop, healthy Nate Jones and the zombie-corpse of Chad Qualls) but don't make the mistake of confusing that with owning great pitching talent.”
Response: Darn, I hate it when Schultz submits really good stuff! Great work my friend.