What are the Giants doing in the bullpen? Which youngster on the hill would you rather have – the righty from the Blue Jays or the righty from the Mariners? Do the Cubs have an outfielder that you should be starting in nearly all formats right now? Is that big first baseman with the Cardinals really this good? Do the Mariners have a middle infielder that has finally found his game? Is the Ray's newest starting pitcher to join the rotation someone you should be adding? And what of this guy on the Twins whose name sounds like some type of jam you spread on your English muffin?
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WHICH YOUNG ARM: Marcus Stroman vs. Taijuan Walker?
I believe most would agree that Walker has the bigger arm, i.e. he is the bigger talent. However, that doesn't mean he's the better own at the moment, though to be fair we're using extremely small sample sizes in what follows.
Walker has made two starts. He's lasted only 10 innings but he does have a solid 3.60 ERA and nine strikeouts. Unfortunately he's also saddled with seven walks, and that's scary bad. That's odd for Walker, and I'm betting it's a sample size thing given that his walk rate in the minors this season was 2.70 per nine, not 6.30 as it is right now with the Mariners. For more, check out his Player Profile.
Stroman has been on fire as he's finally settled into the starting rotation with the Jays. He's also performed at a level that his talent dictates he could. Check out the numbers his last seven starts: 2.08 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 8.10 K/9 and 2.28 BB/9. Over those seven starts he's allowed no more than three runs in any outing, and six times he's posted a “quality start.”
At the moment there's little debate who you want to running out there. For the rest of the season? Check out my July update to the Player Rankings.
THREE HITTERS TO TAKE NOTE OF
Matt Adams and Oscar Taveras have started to take over for Allen Craig who is struggling to find a spot in the daily lineup. Can't blame the Cardinals. Taveras is an elite talent and Adams is producing batting .328 on the year and he's hit six homers over his last 22 games. But who is Adams? Is he a .328 hitter? Heck no. The .377 BABIP and 24.1 percent line drive will certainly recede in the second half. Long term one would think the Cardinals would be happy if Adams was a .280 hitter. Dude never walks either, and that makes me very nervous. He has eight walks this season and 31 over his last 570 at-bats. That's flipping pathetic. Even with all his success this year his OBP is a mere .013 points above his batting average. When his average falls, his OBP will as well, and then his runs scored will likely slow even further. Speaking of that, how valuable is a guy who is on a 150 game pace for 56 runs scored? Sell high with Adams is likely the best course of action, though I wouldn't be surprised if his power output improved in the second half.
Chris Parmalee is batting .262 with four homers and 12 RBIs in 39 games. Unless you're in an AL-only league I understand why you could care less. Still, it bares pointing out that he's been in quite a groove of late. Over his last 16 games, spanning 61 plate appearances, Parmalee is batting .373 with a .393 OBP and .508 SLG. Pretty solid stuff. He's only gone deep once, had just four RBIs and has scored only five times. Hell, maybe he is still only an option in AL-only leagues.
Justin Ruggiano is a player that I mentioned this offseason could be an impressive performer if given a chance to play daily (see his Player Profile). Unfortunately Ruggiano was hurt for a good deal of the year so his overall numbers will disappoint this season. However, he's finally healthy and, frankly, he's smoking right now. Ruggiano has a hit in eight of nine outings, and over his last eight games he has recorded at least two hits six times. I know, right? Justin has hit .441 in that time as he's gone deep twice with nine RBIs and six runs scored. He's white hot and should be added in virtually all formats. He's not running yet though, he has zero thefts and three caught stealing on the year, so until he gets that part of his game on track his overall fantasy value will likely be muted since it's unlikely he will hold on to his current .286 batting average the rest of the way.
I CAN FINALLY HIT, HONESTLY
Brad Miller is batting .209 on the year. Awful. Brad Miller has a .276 OBP. Awful. Brad Miller has a .339 SLG. Awful. So why mention him – is it just to bag on the guy? Nope. Miller had eight homers in 306 at-bats last year. He's got eight homers in 52 fewer at-bats this season. That's also not why I mention Miller. The main reason I'm bringing up Miller's name is that he finally has started to resemble the hitter we thought he was coming into the season. Over his last 30 games Miller has hit .284. Nice. He's also hit five homers, driven in 13 and scored 15 times. That's certainly not elite levels, but if you're in a mixed league and need a boost up the middle Miller might be a name to add off waivers.
First off, Howard Bender writes our Closer Report. Given the importance of that spot in fantasy baseball, you should bookmark the page. His piece from Saturday talks about the NL and obviously that includes his thoughts on the Giants situation. As Howard points out, there is a line of thought that the Giants might be inclined to add a bullpen arm, potentially one that could close, as they push for the playoffs. As for right now...
Santiago Casilla has taken over the 9th from Sergio Romo (Bruce Bochy announced that Casilla is the closer with Jeremy Affeldt settling into the setup role as he's able to work more than one inning at a time if needed). My first thought is that Romo will likely take back over once he proves to be “right.” At the same time, the guys been a mess since June 13th: 14.85 ERA, 2.40 WHIP, 1:1 K/BB ratio over 6.2 innings and eight outings. He's never been worse leading to thoughts that he might be injured. Could be that his arm is just worn out too. All those sliders take a toll.
For now it's Casilla, the man who has a pitching arm that is at least a third bigger than his non-throwing arm (I'm serious. It's crazy. His pitching arm is way bigger). Casilla has been very effective since he joined the Giants. Check it. Over 253.2 innings with the Giants he has a 2.06 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 7.73 K/9. After dealing with injury this season he's been on a ton with a 1.08 ERA and 0.84 WHIP over 33.1 innings. His K/9 rate is a nine year low at 6.48, but he's also walking fewer than ever before. If he can maintain his 2.70 BB/9 mark, nearly a batter an a half below his career rate, he may never give back the 9th inning job. Note that only once since 2006 has he had a BB/9 mark under 3.50...
IT'S ABOUT TIME
Jeremy Hellickson is ready to return to the Rays' rotation Tuesday as he takes the spot of the beleaguered Erik Bedard. Hellickson hasn't made a start this season in the big leagues due to an elbow that was surgically repaired. He's had a few setbacks as he worked his way back to the bigs, and it's not like he was great in the minors either (1-4, 7.23 ERA, 2.30 WHIP over five starts in Triple-A). OK, he's been brutal in the minors. Not like Bedard was doing much of anything though, other than putting people to sleep in the stands by tossing 105 pitches to get through five innings. At the moment Hellickson is noteworthy to those in AL-only leagues. Those of you in mixed leagues would be advised to take a cautious approach. For more on Hellickson see his Player Profile.