The Week That Was: “Is the Bryce Finally Right?”
Bryce Harper finally, finally starting to produce highlights this week’s Week That Was.
Bryce Harper: Bryce Harper went 2-4 with two RBI Friday. There is nothing he can do to ever earn what he cost back at the draft tables in March. That said, he could be the key to many fantasy titles if during the next six weeks he hits like he has over the last six games: 8-23; two homers seven RBI and three runs scored. Advice: If you need to make a bold move, why not buy low on a guy who has the talent to put your team on his back and climb the mountain to a fantasy title. Invest.
Lance Lynn: Lance Lynn continues to silence his critics. Friday, he notched his 13th win while allowing just one run on six hits and striking out six. Thus far, Lynn has a sweet ERA of 2.91 and a strong 139:55 K:BB rate. The WHIP is a tad high at 1.29 but it has been 1.18 over the last 14 days and 1.22 over the last 60 so there is every reason to believe it will continue to fall. Given his success, the team he pitches for and the stable 92+ average fastball velocity, there is every reason to believe Lynn will continue to shut those disbelievers up.
Josh Willingham: From invest to divest. Yes, Josh Willingham had three RBI and a run scored on Friday. However, that is not a reason to believe he can turn things around. If you buy Josh you are just hoping and as the Wolfman says every Tuesday night on Colton and the Wolfman on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio, “hope is not a management strategy”. Thus far this year, Willingham is hitting .210 after posting a similarly putrid .208 last year. In fact, he has hit over .260 exactly one time since 2006. With a K rate up over 28% and a contact rate down to 65%, there is really no reason to invest other than hope. Pass.
Jake Marisnick: Jake Marisnick had a nice night at the plate Friday, going 2-5, including the game winner in the 10th inning. Don’t look now but Jake is raking --.315 and five RBI this month. The question is what lies ahead for the last 6 weeks? The low walk rate and high k rate are concerns but Jake has raked at a .309 clip for the last 30 days so he does not seem to be slowing down. On the other hand, he as not hit .300 since A ball in 2011. I have nothing to base this on other than a gut reaction but I do think he will continue to produce, especially for those in AL only leagues.
Avisail Garcia: Avisail Garcia completed his remarkable return from the DL Saturday going 2-4 with a run and a rbi. Garcia represents a huge buying opportunity if he is indeed still sitting on your waiver wire. First, there is no way that the Chisox bring him back unless he is 100 % healthy so no worries there. Second, Garcia is a guy who despite his tender 23 years of age, has already been battle tested in MLB playoff action. Third, since starting the 2011 season at AA, he has hit well over .300 at every level in every season. I think you get the point. Oh, and if you are in a keeper league, shame on you if Garcia is still out there on your wire unless your league forbids FAAB of injured players.
Mike Fiers: Mike Fiers was on fire Thursday, tossing six scoreless innings while allowing just three hits and one walk. Oh and he just happened to strike out 14. Fiers has returned with a vengeance and boasts a gaudy 19:2 K:BB rate over 14.0 innings. Of course the real issue is whether he can continue to produce down the stretch. Well, there are certainly reasons to think so. First, Fiers 2014 AAA line is pretty darn impressive: 102 innings; 129/17 K/BB ratio; 2.55 ERA; 1.02 WHIP. Second, he has had MLB success in the past, posting a 3.74 ERA and a K rate over 9 in 128 innings in 2012. Of course, the .221 BABIP and 93% strand rate will not continue so some correction will occur. All in all, the Week That Was recommendation here is to bid with your head, not over it.
Jason Heyward: Jason Heyward continues to show flashes of why there was so much optimism this spring, going 2-4 with a stolen base against the Dodgers on Thursday. After a very slow first half, Heyward is hitting .330 with 15 RBI and 17 runs over the last 30 days. Remember that he just turned 25 last week despite seemingly being in the big leagues forever. This is the classic post-hype sleeper. Do not sleep on this opportunity for this year or next. Buy!
And last and but not least, this from the Baron of the Bottom of the Page. Schultz says: “As the baseball season hits its home stretch, the free agent pickings tend to become quite slim. Unless you are in a league with owners that thoughtlessly drop useful players for reasons that make sense only to them, the waiver wire is mostly filled with lottery tickets, some with a decent chance of paying off. Last year, Billy Hamilton and his 13 September stolen bases paid tremendous dividends to those poised to make a big move in that category. Javier Baez and Rymer Liriano are destined to be productive roto-assets. However, for them to have any value this year, they truly need to hit the big leagues running. Even our roto-saint and savior Mike Trout failed miserably in his first September go-around. They are worth the gamble but gambling is exactly what you'll be doing, so wager accordingly.
Given that the White Sox proclaimed his torn labrum to be a season-ending injury, many - even in keeper leagues - likely dropped Avisail Garcia. Confounding all Monday Morning roto-medical experts, it seems that rumors of Garcia's demise may have been exaggerated and he may return to the Sox' outfield as early as this weekend. If healthy, Garcia has the combination of power and speed that prompts roto-addicts to salivate like a Pavlovian hound. He's worth a shot should he be available.
Pessimistic owners in your league, especially redraft leagues, may have been quick to give up on Wil Myers, Brandon Phillips and Yadier Molina. While they will all make their returns in 2014, hitters recovering from hand and wrist injuries tend to struggle upon their return. Who would have thought hand strength, wrist flexibility and timing would so important to a hitter?
One last thought that has no underlying basis to it other than it would seem to make sense: Justin Verlander - Tigers closer. Discuss amongst yourselves.”
Response: Well, the Carlton the Doorman of fantasy sports will look brilliant if Verlander goes to the pen. If he doesn’t, then Schultz says “I was just speculating out loud.” That’s built in deniability Schultz style. Nice!
It’s Never Too Early For Football: I know that while you read this column for fantasy baseball, you are also starting to get ready for your fantasy football drafts next month. Without the truly amazing Fantasy Alarm Fantasy Football Draft Guide, well … wait, draft without the guide? Who would do that? Get the draft guide here: fantasyalarm.com/draftguide.php