A relatively innocuous start to the second half and then suddenly….BOOM goes the dynamite! Four days into the second half and all hell breaks loose. Ryan Braun is suspended for the rest of the year, Matt Garza gets dealt to the Rangers, Alfonso Soriano is headed back to the Yankees, the Pirates need a new closer, Miguel Cabrera, Matt Kemp, and Josh Hamilton are all hurt, more prospects are on their way up and…oh no….Brian Wilson is coming back? It’s like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the 10 plagues of ancient Egypt and all the earthly disasters caused by global warming all rolled into one. If you haven’t been chatting, texting or Skyping with your league-mates all night on Monday, then prepare for the fallout in the morning. With so much to talk about, Tuesday’s going to be a very busy day.
Let’s start with the biggest and the baddest of news as someone finally grew a pair and the first of the MLB Biogenesis suspensions was handed down. And yes, I said “the first of…” because if a high-profile superstar like Braun is going down, you can bet the underlings will quietly follow one by one. Now obviously this is a major blow to the Brewers and immediately makes them sellers on the trade market, so if you own such hot commodities such as Francisco Rodriguez or Aramis Ramirez, you can bet that they’ll be finding new homes sooner than later.
As for Braun owners, it’s simple – if you’re in a re-draft league, drop him. He’s done. There will be no appeal and he has absolutely no value for the rest of this season. If you own him in a keeper league and you are in contention for a championship, then trade him. Don’t worry about next year. Win it now while you can and worry about next season, next season. If you’re not in contention, then sit tight. Simply hold him and hope there’s enough motivation for him to come back next year and hit like he’s still juicing. And finally, if you don’t own him and you’re in a keeper league, obviously ignore him if you’re in contention – don’t try to be slick. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. But if you aren’t in contention, then there’s no harm in dealing for him. I wouldn’t necessarily deal away anyone you’re thinking about keeping next season, but everyone else should be fair game.
Now let’s move on…
Garza in Texas? Gross! If you’re in an AL-only league, I’d be very leery of picking him up. Obviously there’s the whole move back to the AL after two and a half years in the NL which is always seems to be a negative, but more importantly, the numbers are not on his side. Where to begin? How about the decreased strikeout rate coupled with a slight drop in velocity? How about an increased fly-ball rate which is now about the same as his ground-ball rate? Meanwhile the line drive rate is back above 20-percent. What about a rise in HR/FB to go along with that increase in fly balls? Or maybe you’d like to talk about the increased contact against him coupled with a decrease in his swinging strike rate? Wrap it all up together and factor in the move to the Ballpark at Arlington, an absolute hitter’s paradise, and you’ve got disaster written all over it. Maybe he has a decent start here or there (on the road, obviously), but overall, this has fantasy disaster written all over it.
So Soriano to the Yankees isn’t quite a done deal, but with word coming down that the Yankees are able to use the same luxury tax loophole they used with Vernon Wells’ stupid contract and aren’t going to be monetarily affected next season, it’s more than likely to happen. While I think the move is a positive one for both the Yankees and Soriano, I don’t really see it changing his fantasy value too much. He stays in a hitter’s park and has similar lineup protection. You'll see him man left field for now and when Curtis Granderson returns, he'll slide into the DH spot probably (buh-bye Travis Hafner?). But overall, he’s still a free-swinger so I don’t really see his average getting a boost, so consider him good for his usual numbers.
The early injuries have been absolutely brutal. We’ve already dealt with Jason Heyward sitting idle until Monday, Derek Jeter landing back on the DL and Yoenis Cespedes missing more time with Home Run Derby-it is, but it gets even worse now. Jason Grilli left Monday’s save situation with forearm tightness and while you might be thinking “hey, it’s not the elbow or the shoulder,” it still could be a UCL problem. Word was that he was very dejected sitting in the clubhouse afterwards, so while I won’t speculate, I would say that Mark Melancon is an immediate must-add. If you haven’t done it already, your window of opportunity may have already closed.
Other injuries to monitor include:
Matt Kemp – injured ankle; X-rays were negative but he’s expected to miss at least the series against the Blue Jays. Also keep in mind that if we hear it’s a high-ankle sprain, he could be out even longer.
Josh Hamilton – injured ankle; I’m not really sure of the severity or long-term ramifications of your “ankle locking up,” as Mike Scioscia said, but if you were hoping that he was primed for a rebound in the second half, this isn’t the start you were hoping for, is it?
Miguel Cabrera – hip flexor; I’m guessing that there are a number of first-place owners holding their breath here, praying for this to be a quick day to day thing. He’ll be re-evaluated Tuesday, but you should probably expect him to miss at least a game or two. Even if it’s deemed not serious, the Tigers will err on the side of caution with their superstar.
And finally, let’s touch on the possibility of Brian Wilson and his irritating douche-baggery returning to the majors, God help us all. Two Tommy John surgeries later, Wilson threw in front of Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti Monday and was supposedly looked “game ready.” Righetti refused comment, but Andrew Baggarley of CSNBayArea.com wrote, “Wilson had terrific stuff, according to a source who saw him pitch. There wasn't a radar gun on him but was estimated to top out at 94 mph with movement on his cutter. He showed good feel for a changeup, too.” Wilson’s actually a free agent, so it’s not like the Giants have an exclusive here. If he really does look strong and is capable of pitching out of the pen this year, other teams are sure to be involved. Maybe he gives the Giants first crack, but they didn’t exactly part ways on good terms when the team non-tendered him last year. Sergio Romo owners should stay alert, but I don’t know if the Giants push him back to set-up duty after a successful run as the team’s closer.
A lot to digest, isn’t it? Well, stay on top of all the latest news because the ride looks like it’s only going to get bumpier.
Now here are the fantasy stat highlights from Monday…
Fantasy Beast(s) of the Day
|Matt Moore, TB||9.0||1||2||0||0||1||4||0.00||0.33|
|Bronson Arroyo, CIN||9.0||1||7||0||0||0||6||0.00||0.78|
Yes, that’s right….co-beasts yet again. Tossing a complete-game shutout is certainly worthy of the accomplishment and both Matt Moore and Bronson Arroyo looked absolutely dominant doing so. Moore looked spectacular as he continuously put the Red Sox down in order with the only Boston hitter touching second base in the seventh inning and that only happened because of a wild pitch. The increased use of his change-up has been the key for him lately and that pitch is looking better and better with each passing start.
With Monday’s performance, Arroyo now has eight quality starts in his last nine outings. He’s not the greatest when it comes to WHIP and his strikeout rate is down, but he’s keeping runs off the board and has been a huge boost for many fantasy owners who scooped him up. You’ll still have to deal with the occasional blow-up, but overall, he should be a decent arm to have in your stable for the stretch run.
|A.J. Ellis, C LAD||4-6, 3 R, HR, 5 RBI|
|Jayson Werth, OF WAS||2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI|
|Andrew McCutchen, OF PIT||2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI|
|Max Scherzer, SP DET||W, 2.25 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 5 K|
|Yu Darvish, SP TEX||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, 4 K|
The outburst for A.J. Ellis was big for fantasy owners, but let’s not kid ourselves here. He’s not hitting like he did last year and with just five home runs and 32 RBI, he’s second-catcher in a two-catcher league material at best. He’s money in an OBP league, but that’s about his strongest asset.
Welcome back to the party, Jayson Werth. Again, taking certain things with a grain of salt, but how do you, as a fantasy owner, not get a little giddy about back-to-back two-homer nights? Just to feed into your obsession – he’s 4-for-7 with four home runs, six RBI and four runs scored over his last two games. I may not own him, myself, but my wife does and boy is he putting her in a good mood!
And speaking of a good mood, how are you Andrew McCutchen owners doing right now? Feeling pretty good, I bet. And why wouldn’t you? The guy is now 10-for-25 (.400) over his last six games with five home runs, eight RBI, five runs scored and a stolen base. It may have been a slow first half, relative to his previous years’ production totals, but he’s making up for a ton of lost time (and stats) here in July.
OK, do I need to say more about Max Scherzer and Yu Darvish? Probably not. They’re must-starts regardless of match-up and your thought process should stray from that at all.
|Juan Francisco, 3B MIL||0-4, 3 K|
|Jhonny Peralta, SS DET||0-5, 3 K|
|Jedd Gyorko, 2B SD||0-4, 3 K|
|Josh Johnson, SP TOR||L, 22.50 ERA, 4.00 WHIP, 2 K|
|Tim Lincecum, SP SF||L, 19.64 ERA, 2.73 WHIP, 2 K|
Real quick here…
Juan Francisco makes back-to-back appearances in this section and is now on a 0-for-13 stretch with eight strikeouts.
Maybe the Blue Jays refusal to trade Josh Johnson isn’t from a false sense of how good he is, but really because no one is even remotely paying regular price for his potential disasters.
Looks like the real Tim Lincecum showed up to face the Red on Monday. That no-hitter suddenly feels like years ago. This is who he really is nowadays, folks. Accept and move on.
Eric Chavez, 3B ARI – hip (day to day)
Gerald Laird, C ATL – hand (day to day)
Paul Maholm, SP ATL – wrist (15-day DL)
Gordon Beckham, 2B CHW – wrist (day to day)
Corey Kluber, SP CLE – hip (questionable for July 26 start)
Miguel Cabrera, 3B DET – hip flexor (day to day)
Josh Hamilton, OF LAA – ankle (day to day)
Matt Kemp, OF LAD – ankle (day to day)
Carlos Gomez, OF MIL – elbow (day to day)
Yoenis Cespedes, OF OAK – wrist (day to day)
Jason Grilli, RP PIT – forearm (day to day…for now)
Wil Myers, OF TB – wrist (day to day)
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. You can find his personal musings on RotobuzzGuy.com and for questions, thoughts or comments, you can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at email@example.com.
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