A version of this article can be seen here, on the SB Nation site ‘Fake Teams‘, a community fantasy baseball resource for which I will be writing with for the duration of the 2016 MLB season!
Jon Gray – I understand. A pitcher who will throw nearly half of his games in the worst pitchers ballpark in baseball is terrifying, but I find myself drawn to the former #3 overall pick. Gray has legitimate swing and miss stuff, posting a K% just north of 30% and a 12.2% swinging strike percentage prior to his start in St. Louis last night. One of the more encouraging factors is his most recent home start against the Mets where he navigated seven innings, only allowing six baserunners, and striking out eight en route to his first major League win. I know he just got beat up in St. Louis, but my perception is looking longer term with Gray. His next start will most likely come in Boston, which means only those with legendary willpower will muster the energy to start him, but if all remains stable, he lines up for two starts against the Reds and Padres the following week.
The verdict? Consider him in deep leagues where you could use a K/IP boost, or are seeking upside. His start last night isn’t encouraging, which means I will be paying close attention to how he handles a great Boston lineup in Fenway before his probable two start week.
Tyler Duffey – With Jose Berrios headed back to AAA, Duffey now slots in as one of the better options the Twins have in their rotation. The 25 year old righty is intriguing because he seems to be a pretty reliable pitcher, allowing more than two runs only once in his four starts and 6+ innings in each of his last three. His repertoire revolves around a four-seam and two-seam fastball, with a knucklecurve warranting 40%+ usage as it is definitely his best pitch.
The verdict? I like him as a cheap streaming option at home tonight against a Blue Jays team that hasn’t seen too much offensive production in recent days. He would definitely be on my 12 team radar if I needed innings, but anything shallower, such as a 10 team league, there are other options I would likely prefer until we get a better sample size from Duffey. His low win upside on the Twins limits his potential to turn into a must-add option moving forward – but things could change so keep an eye on him.
Wade Miley – The lefty, currently working on his 5th full season of production, sees himself in a third uniform for the 2016 season, calling Safeco home with the Seattle Mariners. His ownership percentage is around 13% in ESPN leagues and has seen an uptick recently due to his 4-2 record and back-to-back wins in his last two starts. Yet something just doesn’t seem right to me with Miley. From my point-of-view he seems to either turn in a rough outing with a good K:BB, or quality start with a disappointing K:BB numbers. His strikeout upside in my eyes is severely limited and that makes the need for him to dominate with good control vital for me to even give him a look. His peripherals look stable as well, which means I don’t think he will be better than a 4.00 ERA pitcher come seasons end
The verdict? I can see the reasoning behind playing a matchup here and there with the lefty, but be warned that it likely won’t come with good strikeout numbers. I would shy away from him in all formats.
Steve Pearce – The cover-boy for this piece of mine, Pearce is one of a few AL bats I see who produced last year but fell off the radar for many in the first few months of the season. It was only a matter of time before one of the worst hitting teams in baseball sought out a boost – especially as Logan Forsythe hit the DL with a hairline fracture. While Tim Beckham has been picking up a lot of time at second base, Pearce now has 5 starts there, making him 2B eligible in many leagues, but needing ten total starts to gain in-season eligibility for ESPN leagues. Many may forget that he hit six home runs in September of last year, and while his average comes and goes due to his moderately high strikeout rate, he is probably one of my favorite options for some ‘plug-and-play’ power this Weekend.
The verdict? I’ve already added him on a few of my 12 team leagues for the weekend slate. He faces Anibal Sanchez, Michael Fulmer, and Jordan Zimmermann over the weekend in Detroit.
Trayce Thompson – Klay Thompson’s brother? Sign me up! Dave Roberts has been playing him regularly against lefties through the first weeks of the season, yet his season splits show he is a nearly identical hitter facing either pitcher (chart below). While scouting reports may sing a different tune on his ability to hit right handers, Thompson will be generating some more buzz in the near future as he continues to mash, but don’t expect this home run pace to continue. He doesn’t profile as the 28 home run hitter he is currently pacing to be, and his 31.4% HR/FB percentage will surely come down to earth. It will be very interesting to see his production once he’s not hitting a home run every 4-5 starts, but a high average hitter like Thompson can still provide value.
The verdict? He won’t be 10-team viable until clear playing time is established, but there aren’t many other players I would have on my bench as an option in 12 team leagues. I have no problem giving him a start in a daily lock 10 teamer on a short day, or in place of a struggling player – *cough* Justin Upton *cough*. He will likely start Friday night against the Padres’ lefty Christian Frederich and becomes one of the better streaming options if you want a different bat in your lineup. He likely be a good Draft Kings and FanDuel option as well.
Yan Gomes – The catching position is an absolute wasteland. That is why I am a strong proponent of simply riding hot bats and keeping an eye on cheap power. Gomes fits that mold nicely. After being riddled with injuries for most of last season, a small window has emerged where he may actually be healthy. While everybody on the Indians is swinging a hot bat over their last few games, the Tribe head into Boston tonight and miss David Price by a game. Sign me up for Yan Gomes and his 43.5% pull rate combined with the Green Monster. Yes his average has been terrible, but I’ll take a 2-for-12 weekend with 2 HRs in a Roto league from the catcher position seven days a week.
The verdict? I can support dropping nearly any catcher outside of the top 5-6 and playing Gomes this weekend. It really is a wasteland, one that Gomes should be able to produce in.
Sam Dyson takes over the role in Texas, Luke Gregerson reaches into his back pocket and finds a save in Chicago (keep an eye on Will Harris), and Sean Doolittle continues to breathe down the neck of Ryan Madson. While those are the three main back-end situations to watch for saves hunting, some other arms I’ve been drawn to over the last few games are Tony Watson, Kevin Siegrist, and Matt Bush.
The Pirates situational lefty is scoreless in his last seven appearances with just under a strikeout per inning after struggling through the first month of the season. With one of the most solid track records in the majors, expect Watson to find consistency in the coming months, making him a great option in holds leagues, as well as Roto leagues with games started limits.
Another lefty who in his brief career has had the ability to silence right-handed bats as well, Siegrist has settled in over his last five appearances. Despite a slight lapse late in Los Angeles, he dominated the Rockies on Wednesday and looks poised to make an impact on a Cardinals club that offensively looks like it will hang around the top of the division. Seung-hwan Oh has been Mathney’s 8th inning option in some situations, but if a lefty or two are due up in an 8th inning hold situation, I would be surprised if Siegrist isn’t out there.
Matt Bush will long be known for plunking Jose Bautista in last weekend’s brawl, but the once incarcerated righty is perfect in his first three appearances of 2016. He has always had great strikeout numbers in the minor leagues and I wouldn’t expect that to subside. Dyson is the clear closer right now, but Matt Bush is a nice handcuff as well as strikeout producer if you’re looking for a ratio boost. Did I mention he was the #1 overall pick in 2004?
Enjoy the weekend baseball has in store for us all!
Photo via the Flickr creative commons, thanks to Keith Allison.
Statistics all from Fangraphs.com, including the Trayce Thompson graph.
Again, a version of this article can be seen on the SB Nation site ‘Fake Teams’, a great resource for all fantasy baseball news and information.
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