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The Week That Was: “Luc-Royalty “

Jonathan Lucroy’s raking highlights this week’s Week That Was.

Jonathan LucroyJonathan Lucroy continued his scorching ways Friday, going 2-5 with an RBI.  Over his last 6 games, the Brewer backstop is 12-27 with a dinger and four RBI.  Frankly, this is nothing new as Lucroy has raked all year.  As of now, he stands at a gaudy .337 average on the year.  Two questions:  Will it continue and was it forseeable?  Answers are yes and yes.  Lucroy is hitting against both lefties and righties and has shown growth as a hitter as the walk rate is up, contact rate is up and K rate is down.  Thus, there is no reason for him to take a step back any time soon.  As to whether you should have seen this coming, focus on the facts that Lucroy hit .280 last year despite a depressed BABIP, increased his walk rate, increased his contact rate and reduced his K rate for three straight years as of the end of 2103.  Bottom line – Lucroy is the most underrated catcher in fantasy and maybe in all of baseball.

Tim Lincecum:   Tim Lincecum pitched well again last night, giving up just two runs on three hits and two walks while striking out six.  His overall ratios -- 4.81 ERA and 1.49 WHIP – are like the Beast in Beauty and the Beast: hideously ugly!  However, to be fair, the Ks have been there (8.92 K/9).  The real question with the Freak is what comes next?  The Colton and the Wolfman team (Rick Wolf, Stacie Stern and I) who are neck and neck with Steve Moyer and Lenny Melnick in the LABR NL league, debated last Sunday whether we should cut bait on the Freak.  We decided to hold.  So far so good as he has been solid in both starts this week.  I am a bigger believer in the Freak than my partners.  Here are my reasons:  1) Ray Flowers says so and he is brilliant; 2) the Freak gives you the Ks no matter what happens – he is a lock for 190+ K even when pitching badly; and 3) the Freak was much better in the 2d half last year and given how much better he has been after a slow start this year, the improvement during the year trend looks real.  Owning him in fantasy means downing a lot of Tums and uttering a lot of words you cannot say on broadcast TV, but in deep leagues it will be worth it.

Hector SantiagoHector Santiago will toe the rubber Sunday night against the Braves.  Hector earned the gig by shutting out the A’s over six innings allowing only three hits while striking out eight in his return from the minors. Yes, Santiago stunk up the joint before his demotion.  However, he had 3.56 and 3.33 ERAs pitching in a bandbox in south Chicago over the last two years.  The question of course is whether this gem vs. the A’s was a fluke?  I doubt he will be that good for the rest of the year but I think he presents a buying opportunity, especially in AL-only leagues.  Over the last two years, Santiago posted 3.12 and 2.61 ERAs and WHIPs of 1.26 and 1.16 away from the Cell.  Given that the Angels play in a park much more hospitable for pitchers, there is reason for optimism.  Add in the facts that the velo has been stable and the walks are down and who knows what can happen.  Buy but cautiously.

Rafael FurcalIn news you need to know only if you play in a very deep league, the Marlins activated Rafael Furcal from the 60-day disabled list.  He has missed a ton of time but if he can repeat what he did in 2012 -- .264 with five home runs and 12 stolen bases – he will be a worthwhile add in those deep leagues.  If you are like me and are playing a Wilmer “once a week” Flores type in the middle infield, why not speculate?

Andrew McCutchenAndrew McCutchen just keeps hitting.  For example, Cutch went 2-2 with a home run, two RBI, a pair of walks and a stolen base against the Cubs on Wednesday.  Overall, the number are solid -- .320, 10 HR, 8 SB, 36 R and 38 RBI.  However, those do not tell the story.  Over the last two weeks, the MVP has really turned it on -- .364, 5 HR, 11 Runs, 15 RBI and a swipe.  Why do I point this out?  Do I think there is anyone reading this column that doubts Cutch’s talent?  No.  Do I think that anyone plays in a league where they can buy Cutch at 70 cents on the dollar?  No.  I point this out because those who debated their first round pick should have focused on Cutch – he is in his prime at 27, has been healthy and has 4 straight years of strong production under his belt.  In other words, those looking to lock in solid, reliable production should have focused on Cutch.  He is just proving the point again this year.  For those who are planning for next year, or even planning for their fantasy football season, the message is the same.  Lock in safe value in round 1.  You cannot win your draft in the first round, but you sure can lose it.  Cutch will not lose it for anyone this year.

Corey Dickerson:  Corey Dickerson had a nice game Thursday, going 2-3 with two doubles and a run scored.  With Cargo and Cuddyer in the infirmary, Dickerson has every chance in the world to cement his spot in the lineup for the rest of the year.  Thus far, CD is hitting .339 with 8 dingers, 4 swipes and 23 runs and RBI.  Given how hot he has been, it is a wonder he has not played more (only 121 AB thus far).  It is not all Coors by the way.  CD is hitting .305 on the road and has hit more homers on the road than at home this year.  Bottom line – the counting numbers have been depressed by his name being omitted from the lineup card.  That will not continue.  Buy while you still can. 

Lance LynnLast week we wrote “Lance Lynn had another mediocre outing Friday.  On the plus side, he gave up just two runs while striking out six in five innings against the offensive juggernaut that is the Jays.  On the negative side is the four walks he allowed – walks that come back to haunt you against good teams and of course drive the ever important WHIP northward.  Thus far this year, Lynn has a respectable 3.49 ERA but an ugly 1.41 WHIP.  The question is whether this is who Lynn is or is there upside in them there hills?  My answer:  there is upside.  The velocity is steady and he is getting more grounders.  The Cardinals will win a lot of games this summer and so will Lynn.  Hold.”  I hope you listened!  Last night, Lynn was brilliant.  He twirled eight shutout innings and allowed just two hits with no walks and eight strikeouts out-dueling Jordan Zimmermann in a classic 1-0 match-up.  That Lynn faces the Mets next week is all the more reason to buy while or if you still can.

And last and but not least, this from the Baron of the Bottom of the Page.  Schultz says:  “With all roto-eyes focused on Gregory Polanco and savvy roto-minds gauging his potential value on the Troutian Savior Scale (trademark pending), the Pirates' outfielder surely helped his cause with a breakout performance in Miami Friday night. While shiny new things are always cause for excitement, it causes us to shelve our old toys that once gave us so much excitement. There's surely a Toy Story analogy here but Schultz is going leave that one for you to come up with on your own.
Sitting up on the shelf with Woody and Buzz Lightyear (who shouldn't be confused with BuzzUniverse, a wonderful New Jersey jamband of recent vintage) would be Oscar Taveras. If it seems like only two weeks since roto-heads lost their minds over the recent call up of the St. Louis phenom, it's because it was just that long ago. The future roto-stud failed to hit the ground running or provide a significant dent in anyone's collective statistics. With Matt Adams returning, the Cardinals felt no need to keep the youngster around and sent him back to the minors. Nonetheless, this kid is the real deal and will contribute very very soon. If you have the ability the stash Taveras on your bench, it might be worth doing so. Even the savior we reverently call Trout failed in the majors during his first brief go-around.
With the imminent return of Mat Latos, another one of our former favorite roto-things, Tony Cingrani, will be shunted to the bullpen or relegated to the minor leagues. Last year, the Reds' lefty showed immense potential with a penchant to be a significant factor in the always vital strikeout category. Instead of making that leap to the level of roto-stud (or at least valued roto-asset), Cingrani took a gigantic leap backwards. Quite possibly, the league figured him out over of the off season or he's just mired in the miasma of a sophomore slump. Barring an injury to Aroldis Chapman that leads to a fluky set of events that ends with Cingrani closing, he's about to lose all of his value. Again, if there's room to stash him on your roster, patience may be the rule to follow. If you decided to cut bait, no one think less of you.
The shiniest of all pre-season roto-prospects is presently languishing on the minor league disabled list of the Cleveland Indians. When the Tribe sent Danny Salazar to the minors, ending a horrific string of starts, optimistic roto-minds looked forward to him regaining his form and returning this summer to dominate the second half. Well, Salazar got rocked in the minor leagues and is now sitting with a strained right triceps. At this point, holding on to Salazar for sentimental value has its charms. It hurts this Tribe fan to say though, it's holding onto a lottery ticket and hoping it hits.”

Response:  Am I the only one who laughs when Schultz refers to himself in the third person?  I hope not because it IS funny.  As to the baseball analysis, there is a lot to like here.  I would just add that those who invested heavily in Cingrani should have seen some warning signs like the fact that he throws one pitch so often the league was more likely to figure him out, like his unsustainably low .249 BABIP in 2013 and the fact that he rarely pitched deep into games.  Just sayin.

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