Cole Hamels : Hamels looked good in his Cubs debut this week tossing 5.2 innings giving up just five baserunners and no earned runs while striking out nine.  On the year, Hamels has a 4.53 ERA and 1.36 WHIP – hardly impressive.  However, he is striking out more than a batter per inning and has some solid peripherals (44% ground ball, 12% swinging strike rate; 60% first pitch strike rate).    With a tilt against Kansas City coming up, Hamels is definitely a worthy pickup.  Will he produce for two months on the north side?  The evidence above can be argued either way but I like a veteran going to a winning situation and transferring to the NL.  I am buying. 

Tommy Milone :  Milone was dealing Wednesday.  The recently promoted National tossed seven strong innings giving up just one run and three hits while striking out nine.  Yes, it was the Mets but still pretty impressive.  That makes 15 K against no BB.  Very impressive.  So now what?  Milone has not had any success in the majors since 2015 (and that was hardly a full season).  Can he continue to be fantasy relevant?  A strong WHIP and more than a K per inning in AAA this year gives some hope.  The advanced metrics (albeit in a small sample) provide more reasons for hope (42% groundball; 14% swinging strike; 74% first pitch strike).  Moreover, his FIP and xFIP actually say he has pitched better than his basic stats.  Perhaps there is something in his changed offerings.  Milone appears to have given up on the sinker and cutter and now features a fastball, slider, change up mix.  It appears to be working but I am not sold yet.  My advice – stash him on reserve cheap if you can.      

Zach Eflin :  Eflin went eight innings giving up just 4 baserunners and 3 runs while striking out six on the way to a win Saturday night.  On the year, the Zach attack (yes, vague Saved by the Bell reference) has a sweet 3.61 ERA/1.11 WHIP combination.  Can this continue?  I say yes.  Check out the advanced metrics:  10% swinging strike rate; 63% first pitch strike rate; a FIP that says the ERA is real; and a nice 11% infield fly rate (basically automatic outs).  Oh, the league is not squaring him up – under a 30% hard hit rate.  I am buying – especially on a Phillies team that is winning.

Joey Wendle :  Those in deeper leagues should look at Joey Wendle .  Sunday, Joey went 3-3 with a dinger, two runs and two RBI.  On the year, Wendle is hitting .292 with a very solid .345 OBP.  In just over 300 AB, Wendle has six dingers, 37 runs and 33 RBI.  I know the real world does not work like this but in 600 AB that is .292 with 12 dingers, 74 runs and 66 rbi.  Not too shabby for a guy you can get for practically nothing.  Oh, and if you wonder whether this can continue, take a look at his last 30 games and you will see a .350+ batting average.  With Daniel Robertson out for the year, Wendle makes a nice cheap pickup especially in deep leagues.  Do it now.

Matt Boyd:  Last week we wrote: “Matt Boyd tossed six innings of two run ball Wednesday while striking out seven and walking none.  After a rough patch, Boyd appears to have righted the ship with two solid outings in a row.  With a home game against Cincy followed by dates in Oakland and against the Twins, Boyd is a pitcher to own in deep leagues.  [Note – Boyd has kept the ball on the ground the last couple of games (almost 50%) and if he can keep doing that, good things will continue to come his way].”  Well, Matty B made us look SMART by tossing eight innings of shutout ball giving up just four hits and one walk while striking out seven.  With a two start week upcoming (Angels and Twins), I will continue to pencil Matty B into my weekly lineups.

And now, the moment you have been waiting for -- Schultz says: “At the beginning of every season, roto-pundits and prognosticators revive the tried-and-true directive to never invest too heavily in a closer. Ignoring the fact that there is always a reliever that comes out of nowhere and sits atop the saves leaders (e.g. Edwin Díaz ) and that Fernando Rodney has developed Rasputin-ish longevity, it only takes a trading deadline move to eradicate all value from  a previously valuable roto-asset.

At the end of July, Keone Kela and Brad Hand had 24 saves apiece and sat within the top-five saves leaders of their respective leagues. With Kela being shipped to Pittsburgh to set up Felipe Vázquez and Brad Hand going to Cleveland to form a potent bullpen with Andrew Miller and Cody Allen , their once-legitimate roto-value had simply vanished. Serviceable ERAs, minuscule WHIPs and productive strikeout ratios will never hurt a team but without adding a save to the statline, the innings they pitch won't move the roto-needle in any league that doesn't acknowledge holds. Schultz sympathizes with those roto-owners that had their roto-bullpens eviscerated by real world wheeling and dealing.

Condolences aside, Kirby Yates should amass saves in whatever close games the Padres manage to win. Jose Leclerc will get the first shot at claiming the Rangers closer role but he's done nothing to put a strong grip on the position. Alex Claudio , Texas' once-and-future closer, has recently come off the DL after suffering an ankle sprain. If Leclerc continues to falter, he'll reclaim the job. If desperate, Jace Fry should close in Chicago until Nate Jones mends (not imminent), Toronto will be next stop on the Ken Giles disappointment tour and the Mets have no choice but to stick with Robert Gsellman in the ninth inning.” 

ResponseI generally agree with Schultz here (yes, you read that correctly).  However, as the SMART system and Rules of Engagement make clear: relievers on good teams are less likely to be traded to become set up men.  Thus, while the Hands and Kelas were at risk, the Chapmans, Kimbrels, Jansens, etc. were not.  Food for thought to