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>> Read even MORE of RotoBaller's original 2013 fantasy baseball articles and analysis Fantasy Analysis

>> Read even MORE of RotoBaller's original fantasy baseball advice articles released recently Waiver Wire & Daily Leagues


Power Risers/Fallers for Week 20: Buy or Sell?

Welcome to Week 20 of the 2018 MLB season and a new week of our investigation into the steepest power trenders in baseball, whether those trends are positive or negative. As the season has blown by into August and the MLB trade deadline has passed, the window of opportunity to snag a surging slugger or to rid yourself of a down-and-out disappointment grows shorter with every plate appearance. Most Fantasy Baseball Leagues have already had their trade deadlines come and go, and the only decisions left for Managers to make in terms of personnel are whether players are worth the AB they are receiving and whether a player is worth adding for a postseason push. Getting the jump on identifying the catalytic variables and telling trends in these player's recent offensive performances could be the key factor in the management of your roster in the season's final months. To do this, we'll be taking a look at the batting metrics that influence a hitter's power (Fly-Ball%, Pull%, Hard-Hit%, Exit Velocity) and determining whether you should buy or sell respectively on these surgers and strugglers. Since it's always best to wait and trudge through with the power play from players like Bryce Harper, Charlie Blackmon, Joey Votto, and Mookie Betts, we are going to be focusing on players who have seen a change in their power profile due to a change in batting metrics and has either warranted greater attention for waiver wire pickups or for a potential trade to cash in on what's left before it's too late.  

Power Risers

Ronald Acuna Jr. - (OF, ATL) The heat levels go: mild, hot, blazing, ghost pepper, and then somewhere a little further down the line is where Ronald Acuna sits with his recent offensive performances. Within a span of just the last seven games he has clobbered seven HR with an amazing slash line of .483/.531/1.276 to give him 19 HR and a .992 OPS in 264 total AB this season. Though he strikes out a lot at 28%, that is about all that there is to complain about. He has powered his way to a .288 ISO this year off of 44.6% hard contact and just 12.5% soft contact on batted balls, and gave himself further opportunity to send pitches yard by hitting 40.8% fly balls with a pull rate of 45.1%. Overall, with a 90.8 mph average exit velocity and average HR distance of 413, Acuna's HR/FB ratio is an impressive 25.3%. Ronald Acuna is just 20 years old and was baseball's top prospect as recently as pre-2018. With his August hard contact rate of 54.8% translating to an ISO of .518, he jumped into the history books this week when he became one of two players in the modern era to hit three straight lead-off homers. Whether it has been the minors, majors, or professional baseball in Australia, there has yet to be a place where Acuna has failed to demolish opposing pitchers. He is going to make the race with Juan Soto for National League Rookie of the Year a photo finish, and while there still may be a few questions lingering with some of his young Atlanta teammates, consistent offensive dominance like this is starting to make Ronald Acuna look like a perennial freight train for a contending club. Freddy Galvis - (SS, SD) At 28 years old, Freddy Galvis has never even had a season with an OPS north of .690. Most of this season has been well in line with that standard, with monthly OPS between .611 and .664 from April through July. This, however, hasn't stopped him from going on a tear in August. In 46 AB this month Galvis has a .261/.320/.630 slash line and five HR, including a torrid stretch of three straight games with a dinger from August 12th through August 14th. Is this recent stretch an indicator that he could be a sleepy option for Fantasy Baseball Managers down the home stretch who need power at shortstop? Galvis sports a few underwhelming peripherals. His ISO of .129 is far from intimidating while his strikeout rate of 22.5% is higher than ideal. Also, his GB/FB ratio leaves a little to be desired at 1.24, and his average exit velocity (88.4 mph) and HR distance (390) sit below the league norm and aren't giving him that much-needed assist in pitcher-friendly Petco Park. He, however, counters with several equally positive signs. His walk rate of 7.4% is the highest of his career, and though his pull rate is 38.9%, he has strung together two consecutively better months in that department with July and August rates of 40% and 47.1%. His worst two months in terms of GB/FB tendencies came in the first two months of the season, and since then he has mightily improved and is even hitting fly balls at a 42.4% clip this month. He has produced solid cumulative hard and soft contact rates on batted balls this season of 38.9% and 13.9% though, confusingly, he has produced his lowest hard contact rate of the year (32.4%) in this, his breakout month of August in which he produced his highest ISO of the year (.370) by a substantial margin of .226. Part of this mystery can likely be explained by the fact that Galvis has improved his pull rate so substantially and the fact that he has been able to produce most of his hard and medium contact on batted balls that turned into line drives and fly balls. The Padres have put Freddy Galvis on the field for every single game of the year so far, so it's fair to say that he'll receive ample opportunity moving forward. Though his home field and career history leave some lingering doubts, he could be a Marcus Semien type fill-in shortstop for Fantasy Baseball Managers willing to sacrifice well-roundness and consistency for a sneaky power/speed combo. Marwin Gonzalez - (SS/1B/2B/OF, HOU) With the exception of a good sum of work in June, Marwin Gonzalez has been a far cry from the 23 HR, .907 OPS utility man that was the x-factor on a World Series squad and finished 19th in MVP voting. However, things have been looking up in a big way for Gonzalez since the beginning of August, and he has hit four dingers with a slash line of .349/.417/.674 in 46 AB during that stretch. Some of his peripherals have remained rather consistent all season. His plate discipline figures and pull rate have all remained in the same neighborhood from month to month, and his cumulative walk rate, strikeout rate, and pull rate sit at 10%, 23.9%, and 43.6% respectively. Other figures have fluctuated a little more than one likes to see. His GB/FB ratio bounced around from 0.93 to all the way up to 1.87 between April through July before reaching his best mark of 0.83 so far in August off of a combined 67.7% fly balls and line drives. His batted ball contact has also been up and down. Between April through June he had produced hard contact rates between 23.5% and 45.6% as well as soft contact from 14.5% to 21.6%. This is consistent with his simultaneously fluctuating ISO that ranged between .063 and .211 in that time span. Since the start of August, he has been producing a season-best hard contact rate of 50% on batted balls, which has subsequently given him his best monthly ISO of 2018 at .326, even though his soft contact rate for the month is currently still high at 18.8%. Even with some figures that sit below league average like average exit velocity (88.3 mph) and HR distance (390 feet) Marwin Gonzalez, when at his best, is a well-rounded player capable of a 20+ seasonal HR pace from month to month. Though consistency hasn't been his staple this season, that blow is cushioned a bit by the quadruple-position eligibility and the fact that he goes to work for one of baseball's most offensively devastating batting orders. Even with the regression from his 2017 season this year, his total hard contact rate for 2018 of 35.9% is a 3.2% improvement from last year while his soft contact rate of 18.3% is also a slight improvement by 0.3%, so maybe the greater aversion to grounders since the start of August will turn out to be the big difference maker. Tim Beckham - (SS/3B, BAL) Former highly touted prospect Tim Beckham, like Marwin Gonzalez, is experiencing a hangover from a breakout 2017 campaign that saw him hit 22 bombs with a .782 OPS. He played only five games in July for the bottom-dwelling Orioles, but his months of April and July were ugly. In 84 April AB he managed just one HR and a meager .509 OPS, and in 100 July AB he struck three long balls and sauntered to a .699 OPS. Though these figures are unimpressive, they show one optimistic trait: they demonstrated improvement from month to month, a theme which Beckham continued into August. This month he has already hit four homers with an OPS of .828 and an ISO of .280 off of 34.3% hard contact, all being season-bests. The numbers still support airing heavy on the side of caution when it comes to trusting Tim Beckham. This month he has also produced his highest soft contact rate of the month at a discouraging clip of 28.6%, while his cumulative soft contact on the year of 23.6% isn't a whole lot better. His walk rate (7.2%) and pull rate (43.4%) are good, and his GB/FB ratio has seen some steady improvement, but his strikeout rate is still very high at 26.6% and even with the improvement his GB/FB ratio for August has only descended as low as 1.25. Even with such a low exit velocity of 86.9 mph, he clearly possesses some raw power as evidenced by his average dinger distance of 404 feet. He does not, however, apply consistent enough high-quality contact to batted balls or present enough of a well-rounded game to Fantasy Baseball Managers as can be seen from his low BA/OBP and lack of stolen base attempts after at least grabbing six swipes last season. Infield offense can be found elsewhere at this point in the year without having to make such a roll of the proverbial dice.

Power Fallers

A.J. Pollock- (OF, ARI) Though A.J. Pollock to this point is turning in one of his best offensive campaigns yet (maybe even his best), close examination of a few of his posted figures could cause a little anxiety. Namely, several key figures have been on a steady downward trend since the start of the year. His OPS went from 1.021 in April, to .857 in a May cut short by injury, to .836 in July after missing the entirety of June. Now in August, he has struggled to a .243/.300/.270 slash and zero HR after hitting 15 homers in the previous 134 AB. This caliber of performance at the plate has carried with it the baggage of a steadily decreasing HR/FB ratio as well as ISO. Thankfully, a vast portion of his recent ugly stretch can be explained by just a couple of factors. For one, he has started off August striking out at a stratospheric 35%, which although rather concerning of a figure, it is a stark outlier in terms of Pollock's career tendencies. Also, after keeping his GB/FB ratio under control for most of the season leading up to August, this month his ratio has ballooned all the way up to 3.50 off of 60.9% grounders and just 17.4% taking flight. These figures of stark contrast to Pollock's career norm in what has otherwise been a very successful yet injury-shaken year seem to indicate that he could bounce out of this rut in the blink of an eye. His cumulative pull rate of 49.8% is fantastic, while he has produced hard contact rates between 42.3% and 52.8% every month and solid figures between 8.7% and 15.3% each month in terms of soft contact. His 20-15 power/speed potential may be hampered a bit by the fact that he has taken just one bag of his ten on the season since the start of July, but his exit velocity (90.2 mph) and average HR distance (407 feet) in hitter-friendly Chase Field bode well moving forward. If A.J. Pollock can once again limit his strikeout and ground ball frequency, he could be a lit fuse for Fantasy Baseball Managers needing a spark in the little time of regular season action remaining. Gorkys Hernandez - (OF, SF) With a .738 OPS and 13 HR in 315 AB for San Francisco, Gorkys Hernandez is certainly having the best season of his career from many perspectives at the age of 30. Excluding 2016 in which he only took 54 AB, his 2018 ISO (.171), hard contact rate (40.5%), and GB/FB ratio (1.37) are all career bests and in fact drastic improvements from past performances. Besides that, his pull rate (35.3%), strikeout rate (25.5%), and soft contact rate (19%) remain inadequately high for the hitting conditions presented by AT&T Park. Just in this season, several things have plagued Hernandez in recent months. First, his monthly soft contact has increased every month from 14.3% in April to 28.6% so far in August. His GB/FB tendencies have been erratic, including three particularly dirty months with ratios of 1.72, 2.60, and 3.00 so far in August off of 71.4% grounders. That seems to be what is mostly responsible for his current unsightly August slash of .172/.226/.207, a stretch for which he is homerless. Otherwise, Hernandez has been applying sturdy contact to batted balls. After the slow start he got off to in April, he has ranged from 36.8% to 45.3% in terms of hard contact, with a confusingly high rate of 57.1% for his struggling start to August. In addition, his heavily improved exit velocity of 88.5 mph is finally on pace with the rest of the league, while his 406-foot average distance on dingers indicate he possesses power worth of consideration. He has stepped up his power game this season in addition to grabbing five steals and has demonstrated an ability in the past to steal bases at a significantly greater frequency. Though his August soft contact rate and ground ball percentage have to decrease, and soon, for him to warrant taking a chance on. Those are two figures when combined together at high rates, do not project well for hitting balls into the stands. Odubel Herrera - (OF, PHI) Odubel Herrera has been one Philly not off to the races in the month of August. With a goose egg in the HR department and a slash of .176/.200/.235 over 34 AB, August is the lowest link in the chain of monthly OPS that have been steadily decreasing since he produced a figure of .905 in April. Several present peripherals make you want to walk on eggshells around Herrera. He has been striking out at a clip of 20.3% and seems to struggle with lowering his strikeout percentage in a month without also lowering his walk rate. This year, though his month by month figures have varied little; he sports stagnant batted ball contact figures of 24.9% hard contact, 28.6% soft contact, on 44.4% grounders. Though his pull rate (39.9%) and HR distance (398 feet) sit at league average, his exit velocity of 86.7 mph suggests that he just doesn't hit the ball very hard. Yet, through all of this Odubel Herrera has clubbed a career-high 19 HR already with a .179 ISO which is also the best of his four-year tenure. The fact is, Odubel Herrera has always hit for low hard contact and high soft contact, and despite this managed to continue to improve his HR hitting capabilities. Has hard contact rate sits extremely low at 20.7% for August. To return to hitting HR on a five to seven per month pace, that will have to come up by around 8%. Though the figures are very low when compared to other prominent players, he has demonstrated an ability to hit HR at a nice pace on hard contact rates in the high 20% range. The former All-Star doesn't steal 15+ bases anymore, so he'll have to start doing this in addition to bringing back his usual well-rounded offensive play if he isn't going to cause damage to Fantasy Baseball Managers who choose to deploy him. This might have to be a group effort to get out of a slump on offense: the Phillies have scored the second-least runs in baseball since August began. Kyle Schwarber - (OF, CHC) Kyle Schwarber is another player who has been a regressing component on a regressing unit, as the Cubs have been the seventh-worst run-scoring offense in baseball since August started, and Schwarber owns a .219/.301/.329 slash and just two HR over the last 22 games. We discussed Kyle Schwarber all the way back in Week 7, so let's see what has changed for him since then. The only month in which he has had such offensive issues has been August where he currently holds his lowest ISO figure of the season at .107, but despite this, he has been producing 40.7% hard contact and 14.8% soft contact for the month on a GB ratio of 0.45. He still strikes out a lot (though not as often as 32.1% from July) and his usually high walk rate has dropped by more than 10% over the last two months. The two more telling factors may be his diminished pull rate of 33.3% and IFFB frequency of 27.3% that has led to his lowest HR/FB rate of the year of 9.1%. If you ever need a reminder of Kyle Schwarbers Herculean strength, consult his Home Run Derby showing or feats like 470-foot bombs. Schwarber's current capabilities and limitations seem to be apparent, and with some erratic peripherals that directly impact HR hitting, some down times can be reasonably expected. Though these down times should remain infrequent. His proclivity for moon shots, the hitter-friendly confines of Wrigley Field, and his average exit velocity of 90.6 mph should be enough to power himself and partially the Cubs out of this slump soon. When the club as a whole recovers, streakiness aside, Schwarber's bat will be all the more valuable.

More Risers and Fallers

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Week 20 Start/Sit Matchups - Starting Pitchers

You know what it is--it's my updated starts/sits column for Week 20! Your friendly neighborhood @Roto_Dubs is back again this year with his weekly starting pitcher matchups. This is our fifth year now writing this weekly column, helping fantasy baseball managers pick the best pitchers weekly. Below are the projected starting pitching matchups for Week 20, and our recommendations on whether to start or sit each pitcher.  If you've got any questions about which pitchers can capitalize on a juicy matchup and which ones might be worth putting on the pine against a fierce offense, this is the weekly piece for you. For every week of the fantasy baseball season, we look to analyze all of the projected starting pitcher matchups and put together our optimal lineups. Here at RotoBaller, we believe that it’s key to analyze every SP matchup, each and every week, to help determine which SPs to start/sit and to hopefully find some hidden gems to bolster your teams. Let's set those optimal lineups!  

SP Matchups & Start/Sit Recommendations

This weekly piece considers the pitcher’s opponents, their career stats against the opponent, some ballpark factors and historical splits. With all of this information, we then provide our start/sit recommendations for each starting pitcher matchup for the approaching week of fantasy baseball.
ARI@TEX Zack Greinke SP | ARI START Bartolo Colon SP | TEX SIT
CHW@DET Reynaldo Lopez SP | CHW START Artie Lewicki RP | DET SIT
CLE@CIN Mike Clevinger SP | CLE START Homer Bailey SP | CIN SIT
LAA@SD Andrew Heaney SP | LAA START Clayton Richard SP | SD SIT
MIA@ATL Pablo Lopez P | MIA START Touki Toussaint SP | ATL START
NYM@NYY Jacob deGrom SP | NYM START Luis Severino SP | NYY START
SEA@OAK Marco Gonzales SP | SEA START Sean Manaea SP | OAK START
SF@LAD Madison Bumgarner SP | SF START Clayton Kershaw SP | LAD START
TOR@KC Sean Reid-Foley SP | TOR START Brad Keller SP | KC SIT
WAS@STL Tommy Milone SP | WAS SIT Miles Mikolas SP | STL START
ARI@TEX Patrick Corbin SP | ARI START Yovani Gallardo SP | TEX SIT
BOS@PHI Rick Porcello SP | BOS START Nick Pivetta SP | PHI SIT
CHW@DET Lucas Giolito SP | CHW SIT Blaine Hardy RP | DET SIT
CLE@CIN Corey Kluber SP | CLE START Sal Romano SP | CIN SIT
COL@HOU German Marquez SP | COL START Justin Verlander SP | HOU START
LAA@SD Jaime Barria SP | LAA START Brett Kennedy SP | SD SIT
MIA@ATL Trevor Richards SP | MIA SIT Anibal Sanchez SP | ATL START
MIL@CHC Jhoulys Chacin SP | MIL START Jose Quintana SP | CHC START
NYM@BAL Jason Vargas SP | NYM SIT Andrew Cashner SP | BAL START
PIT@MIN Jameson Taillon SP | PIT START Jake Odorizzi SP | MIN START
SEA@OAK James Paxton SP | SEA START Mike Fiers SP | OAK START
SF@LAD Andrew Suarez SP | SF SIT Alex Wood SP | LAD START
TOR@KC Ryan Borucki RP | TOR START Heath Fillmyer SP | KC SIT
WAS@STL Gio Gonzalez SP | WAS START John Gant RP | STL SIT
BOS@PHI Brian Johnson SP | BOS SIT Vince Velasquez SP | PHI START
CHW@DET Carlos Rodon SP | CHW START Jordan Zimmermann SP | DET SIT
CLE@CIN Shane Bieber SP | CLE START Robert Stephenson RP | CIN SIT
COL@HOU Tyler Anderson SP | COL START Gerrit Cole SP | HOU START
LAA@SD Felix Pena RP | LAA SIT Robbie Erlin SP | SD SIT
MIA@ATL Jose Urena SP | MIA SIT Kevin Gausman SP | ATL START
MIL@CHC Junior Guerra SP | MIL START Kyle Hendricks SP | CHC START
NYM@BAL Zack Wheeler SP | NYM START Dylan Bundy SP | BAL START
PIT@MIN Chris Archer SP | PIT START Jose Berrios SP | MIN START
SEA@OAK Mike Leake SP | SEA START Brett Anderson SP | OAK SIT
SF@LAD Derek Holland SP | SF SIT Hyun-Jin Ryu SP | LAD START
TB@NYY Blake Snell SP | TB START Masahiro Tanaka SP | NYY START
TOR@KC Marco Estrada SP | TOR START Burch Smith SP | KC SIT
WAS@STL Jeremy Hellickson SP | WAS START Austin Gomber SP | STL SIT
ARI@SD Clay Buchholz SP | ARI START Jacob Nix SP | SD SIT
CHC@PIT Jon Lester SP | CHC SIT Ivan Nova SP | PIT START
COL@ATL Jon Gray SP | COL START Julio Teheran SP | ATL START
DET@MIN Francisco Liriano RP | DET SIT Ervin Santana SP | MIN SIT
LAA@TEX Taylor Cole RP | LAA SIT Ariel Jurado SP | TEX SIT
NYM@PHI Corey Oswalt P | NYM SIT Ranger Suarez SP | PHI SIT
NYM@PHI Steven Matz P | NYM SIT Zach Eflin SP | PHI START
TB@NYY Blake Snell SP | TB START Masahiro Tanaka SP | NYY START
TOR@KC Sam Gaviglio SP | TOR SIT Glenn Sparkman SP | KC SIT
WAS@STL Tanner Roark SP | WAS START Luke Weaver SP | STL SIT
ARI@SD Robbie Ray SP | ARI START Joey Lucchesi SP | SD START
BAL@CLE David Hess SP | BAL SIT Carlos Carrasco SP | CLE START
CHC@PIT Cole Hamels SP | CHC START Trevor Williams SP | PIT SIT
COL@ATL Kyle Freeland SP | COL START Sean Newcomb SP | ATL START
DET@MIN Matthew Boyd SP | DET START Kyle Gibson SP | MIN START
HOU@OAK Charlie Morton SP | HOU START Edwin Jackson SP | OAK START
KC@CHW Jake Junis SP | KC SIT James Shields SP | CHW START
LAD@SEA Walker Buehler RP | LAD START Wade LeBlanc RP | SEA SIT
MIA@WAS Dan Straily SP | MIA SIT Max Scherzer SP | WAS START
MIL@STL Freddy Peralta SP | MIL SIT Jack Flaherty SP | STL START
NYM@PHI Noah Syndergaard SP | NYM START Aaron Nola SP | PHI START
SF@CIN Dereck Rodriguez SP | SF START Anthony DeSclafani SP | CIN START
TB@BOS Tyler Glasnow SP | TB SIT Brian Johnson SP | BOS SIT
TOR@NYY Marcus Stroman SP | TOR SIT Lance Lynn SP | NYY START
ARI@SD Zack Godley SP | ARI START Clayton Richard SP | SD SIT
BAL@CLE Alex Cobb SP | BAL SIT Adam Plutko SP | CLE SIT
CHC@PIT Mike Montgomery RP | CHC SIT Joe Musgrove RP | PIT START
COL@ATL Antonio Senzatela SP | COL SIT Mike Foltynewicz SP | ATL START
DET@MIN Artie Lewicki RP | DET SIT Kohl Stewart SP | MIN SIT
HOU@OAK Dallas Keuchel SP | HOU START Trevor Cahill SP | OAK START
KC@CHW Brad Keller SP | KC SIT Dylan Covey SP | CHW START
LAA@TEX Andrew Heaney SP | LAA START Drew Hutchison RP | TEX SIT
LAD@SEA Rich Hill SP | LAD START Erasmo Ramirez SP | SEA SIT
MIA@WAS Wei-Yin Chen SP | MIA SIT Tommy Milone SP | WAS SIT
MIL@STL Wade Miley SP | MIL SIT Miles Mikolas SP | STL START
NYM@PHI Jacob deGrom SP | NYM START Jake Arrieta SP | PHI START
SF@CIN Madison Bumgarner SP | SF START Matt Harvey SP | CIN SIT
TOR@NYY Sean Reid-Foley SP | TOR SIT Luis Severino SP | NYY START
ARI@SD Zack Greinke SP | ARI START Brett Kennedy SP | SD SIT
BAL@CLE Andrew Cashner SP | BAL SIT Mike Clevinger SP | CLE START
CHC@PIT Jose Quintana SP | CHC START Jameson Taillon SP | PIT START
COL@ATL German Marquez SP | COL START Anibal Sanchez SP | ATL START
DET@MIN Blaine Hardy RP | DET SIT Jake Odorizzi SP | MIN START
HOU@OAK Justin Verlander SP | HOU START Sean Manaea SP | OAK START
KC@CHW Heath Fillmyer SP | KC SIT Reynaldo Lopez SP | CHW START
LAA@TEX Jaime Barria SP | LAA SIT Martin Perez SP | TEX SIT
LAD@SEA Clayton Kershaw SP | LAD START Marco Gonzales SP | SEA START
MIA@WAS Pablo Lopez P | MIA SIT Gio Gonzalez SP | WAS START
MIL@STL Chase Anderson SP | MIL SIT John Gant RP | STL SIT
NYM@PHI Jason Vargas SP | NYM SIT Nick Pivetta SP | PHI START
SF@CIN Andrew Suarez SP | SF SIT Luis Castillo SP | CIN SIT
TOR@NYY Ryan Borucki RP | TOR SIT J.A. Happ SP | NYY START

  [jiffyNews category_include='698' headline='More Weekly Lineup Prep']

Week 20 Waiver Wire - Starting Pitchers

Who's ready to take advantage of leagues whose owners are slipping on baseball in lieu of prepping for the fantasy football season? I know I am! Don't be that owner who puts in a considerable amount of work between March and July, only to let your season slip away due to the buzz of football. Now let's leave the football helmet over there and pick up a batting helmet as we step into the cage against these premier adds. If you want to chat more about additional arms/bats/whatever, you can find me on Twitter @NMariano53 and ask any follow-up questions. We're using Yahoo ownership levels and cutting things off around 30% this week. Here are my starting pitcher waiver-wire targets for Week 20.  

Starting Pitcher Waiver Wire Targets

German Marquez (COL - SP): 27% owned Marquez entered Tuesday night’s start against Houston with a 2.95 SIERA over the last 30 days -- good for eighth-best out of 83 qualified SPs. His 2.49 xFIP over that span makes him one of just six to skirt under the 2.50 mark out of 114 SPs with >20 IP. Justin Verlander tops that list, and guess what? Marquez just beat him and the defending world champs on Tuesday night. And even when Marquez hasn’t been sharp, he’s still been useful -- he struck out a season-high 10 Pirates on Aug. 8 despite getting dinged by 10 hits and two walks over six innings. He heads to Atlanta for his next start in pursuit of his eighth QS in nine outings. Be there or be square. Tyler Glasnow (TB - SP/RP): 27% owned The Rays clearly had a plan for Glasnow and boy, has he executed it. Big G’s first appearance was a typical three-inning open, but the last effort saw him toss 79 pitches over five innings. Okay, now we’ve got more than just strikeouts and ratios here, we could get wins! Of course, combining for 12 IP, 3 ER, 3 BB, 20 K line in three open/starts is mighty fine without the Ws anyhow. After throwing strikes at a bleh 59.5% clip for Pittsburgh in ‘18, he’s attacked the zone at a 69.7% clip for Tampa Bay, much to the dismay of opposing batters. Jeremy Hellickson (WAS - SP): 26% owned It’s hard to buy into any piece of the Nationals right now, but Hellickson is doing his best to look good to prospective waiver-wirers. He made headlines by getting charged with two earned runs despite not allowing a hit over 5 ⅔ innings against the Cubs in his last turn, as that vaunted bullpen of theirs could not pick him up. He has a 3.67 ERA/1.04 WHIP over the last month and he pitches in the weakest hitting division in baseball. Edwin Jackson (OAK - SP): 24% owned Jackson’s proudly won three straight games without allowing an earned run, most recently going 7 ⅓ innings against the Angels. Absolutely no one is buying the 2.48 ERA and 1.03 WHIP at face value, but his career-low .224 BABIP and high 80% strand rate don’t jive with an elevated 23.5% line-drive rate. I can appreciate the lower walk totals (7.9% would be his lowest mark since 2013) and I believe Oakland’s roomy park will help him maintain a lower 8.3% HR/FB rate, but that only goes so far. His .156 BABIP/97% strand rate at home is quite something. He’s worth an add but tread carefully for his next start against Houston. Matthew Boyd (DET - SP): 21% owned Boyd is a top-50 overall player per Yahoo’s 5x5 system over the last month, which has come by way of a 2.37 ERA/0.89 WHIP and three wins. He’s managed to increase his fastball velocity from an early average of 89-90 mph to above 92 mph in August, yet his breaking pitches have stayed roughly the same. His splits are noticeable, with a 2.80 home ERA (4.93 xFIP) and 5.60 road ERA (4.44 xFIP) but what I care most about is the 22.9% K-BB rate in July and an incredible ~4% walk rate between July and August (half of his April-June mark). Some of this is luck, but he’s a fly ball pitcher in Comerica Park who is showing improved control and more life with the heater while maintaining effectiveness with his breaking pitches. That’ll do for a stretch-run waiver add. Derek Holland (SD - SF): 17% owned The end result didn't look good, but Holland had notched a quality start before his bullpen shattered it into itty-bitty pieces during his last start against Pittsburgh. After logging a strikeout to open the seventh inning, he was suddenly at 105 pitches after a walk and single, which would eventually lead to Francisco Cervelli launching a grand slam off of Pierce Johnson I say this because I worry any non-stellar outing from Holland serves as automatic confirmation that his recent hot stretch was a fluke, which it wasn't (and still isn't). The southpaw's 3.12 ERA, 3.20 FIP and 3.25 xFIP with 77 strikeouts in 66 ⅓ innings since June began remain outstanding and rooted in a change in positioning on the pitching rubber, so I'm still buying. Anthony DeSclafani (CIN – SP): 8% owned DeSclafani still doesn’t look like his 2016 self on the whole, but his last two starts have shown glimpses. Tony Disco delivered seven innings of one-run ball against the Nationals before blanking the D-backs over seven frames alongside a season-high nine strikeouts in his latest outing. Not only did he walk just one between the two starts, but he also didn’t allow a homer after giving up a whopping 15 moonshots over his first 10 starts of ‘18. Touki Toussaint (ATL - SP): 8% owned Toussaint’s major-league debut went swimmingly, as he coasted through six innings and could’ve gone longer had his spot in the order not come up with runners in scoring position. He picked apart the Marlins and featured all of his four-pitch arsenal by throwing 25 curves, 21 four-seamers, 20 splitters and 16 sinkers. He only mustered four strikeouts and six whiffs overall, which is a bit sad considering his potential, but that’s damn good for a debut -- even if it was the Marlins. While he’s back in the minors now, his is a name to keep in mind in case another spot start opportunity emerges. Zach Davies (MIL - SP): 6% owned We don’t know whether Davies will be returning to a slot in the starting rotation, but those in deep waters may want to jump ahead of that potential news given Milwaukee’s strong team environment (namely, the offense and the bullpen). Davies hasn’t had a strong rehab campaign thus far (12 strikeouts, eight walks, 10 earned in 14 2/3 IP) but his window is up on Aug. 25, so the decision deadline draws nigh. His next start comes on Thursday, so just peek in and see if he looks markedly sharper. If not then feel free to ignore him. John Gant (STL - SP): 4% owned Gant helped himself with a homer off of Gio Gonzalez on Tuesday night to fuel his second straight victory, as the Cardinals continued to kick the Nationals while they’re down. The righty isn’t more than a streamer thanks to a mediocre 65-to-31 strikeout-to-walk ratio -- he can’t overwhelm opponents -- but those who streamed him against the Marlins and Nationals know what I’m talking about. And to his credit, he’s only walked four batters over his last three outings. He’ll look to make it three wins in a row against the Brewers on a Sunday. Jalen Beeks (TB - SP): 1% owned Don’t let the seasonal line fool you, Beeks is another name that’s been quite effective in Rays threads thus far. Tampa Bay scooped the southpaw from Boston after he stunk up his MLB debut against Detroit, but he’s now strung three strong appearances together. Tuesday night saw him enter in relief after Hunter Wood opened against the Yankees, with Beeks setting down the first nine Yanks he faced and winding up with eight punchouts over five frames. This was the first time we saw that monstrous 12.06 K/9 from Triple-A rear its head in the bigs. Those seeking cheap K’s should monitor his usage very closely.  

More Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers

[jiffyNews category_include='6916']

NL-Only Waiver Wire Team of the Week: MLB Week 20

Every week in baseball, a significant player will hit the disabled list, slip into a slump, or get traded out of a good spot. How fantasy owners adapt to these situations can make or break the season as a whole. One lousy add might not hurt the long-term standing of a team, but failing to take advantage of breakouts or impact bats before others sure can. The primary challenge of playing in an NL or AL-only league is often the lack of options regarding adding and subtracting players when needed. In mixed leagues, the players on the waiver wire are usually starting for an NL-only staff. So then how does one wade through the names of players that even regular fantasy players have never heard of, and that often will not even start for their teams,to begin with? That is where this series comes in. Instead of owners spending time digging the waiver wire of 0% owned players, this article will give owners a player at each position to fill the gap, or at the least, keep an eye on to add or stash. Not all of these players will replace that injury, but offer the best option off the scrap heap. Often the players advocated for here are long shots due to the nature of shallow leagues. No quick fixes, but some upside that could turn into much more.  With that onto the island of misfit fantasy toys.  

NL-Only Team of the Week

C - Devin Mesoraco (C, NYM) - 4% owned After his mid-season move to Queens, Mesoraco has received enough playing time to keep him on fantasy radars but has not been good enough to secure a move away from the club. To date, with both the Mets and Reds, he is slashing .220/.303/.383 with nine homers and 28 RBI. The good news for fantasy owners is that in July he hit .240, posting his best numbers so far. While not great production, catching is the worst position this year by far, and any output is valuable off the waiver wire. Most productive catchers are owned in all leagues, so in deep leagues, this is the risk to take. Besides, Mesoraco has a decent walk rate at 9.1% this year, so there is there still some hope the skills play up.  In a weak pool, take the risk of past track record. 1B - Mark Reynolds (1B/3B, WAS) - 4% owned This campaign for Reynolds has been a mixed bag, but he is still posting a 127 wRC+ which could come as some surprise to fantasy owners. Where Reynolds gets the most value is with his power numbers, and in 57 games he has 11 homers but only three doubles. The rest of the line is good as well, with a .264/.347/.514 slash to date. Even more surprising, Reynolds has dropped his K rate from 29.5% last season to a 25.7% line this season. Not great, but improvement is an improvement. The other good news is that his walk rate is actually up a point as well, showing that it was not just Coors that helped add a floor to the profile. While not a regular in the lineup, if the Nationals fall out of it officially, he could be seeing more ABs the rest of the way. If not, this is a safe play at the corner with power upside for most teams. 2B - Kolten Wong (2B, STL) - 1% owned Wong will be one the key players to watch as the team changes managers and perhaps the front office moving forward, but at least, for now, there is a not a trade demand on the table from player and agent. Maybe some of that is due to the .223 batting average this campaign, which is reflected by the 1% ownership rate. And yet, this creates an opportunity for owners, as hidden within that average is .282 line in the second half. In fact, Wong looks to be a different hitter after the break, with no homers but only five strikeouts in 12 games so far. Without digging too much into the film, it looks that limited ABs have paid off, and Wong is not selling out for power as he was in the first half of the season. If this keeps up, the batting line should return to the .280 career average, and be a fantasy steal off the waiver wire.   3B - David Bote (3B, CHC) - 2% owned Appearing on the fantasy radar even before a walk-off grand slam versus the Nationals, Bote is an intriguing player who perhaps has no future in Chicago long-term, but might be worth the add next season based on where he ends up. To date, through 34 games, he is slashing .329/.418/.539 with three homers and three steals. The power is the most exciting piece, as before 2017 in the minors he showed little to no power. Then at Double-A he hit 14 homers in 127 games, and to start this year, at Triple-A, he hit 13 in 61 games. The good news is that he was able to add this power without much of a drop in the batting line, and this should bode well for fantasy owners looking to add a short-term piece to the hot corner. There is no way to expect him to keep hitting above .300 the rest of the way, but with that lineup, he will get pitches to hit and will be the beneficiary of plenty of other hitters. This seems like a low-upside play, who in his prime might hit a dozen homers, but with a decent batting average could be a valuable piece at third. Buying now seems to be a safe bet. SS - Freddy Galvis (SS, SDP) - 3% owned Cooling off since the hot start in San Diego, Galvis looks to be nearing the end of his time in a starting role in the majors, even as he is only 28. That being said, for the time being, until some prospects are called to the club, Gavlis is the sure starter with the Padres, and this adds some value to what there is in the batting line. In 120 games to date, Galvis is hitting .237/.296/.355 with eight homers and six steals. This puts him on a pace to pass last year’s power totals but should fall short with speed on the bases. The other interesting line is that Galvis is both striking out and walking more, with both numbers up a few points, but still hitting for less power than last year as well. The reason to add the rest of the way is the .278 batting average so far in the second half, which offers a marked improvement on the beginning to his time with the Padres. If he can keep that up, this is an above average hitter with a starting role, who could run into some more power. OF - Chris Bostick - (OF, MIA) - 0% owned When he last appeared on this list, Bostick was at Triple-A for the Pirates and on the bubble for a call. Now, he has been dealt to the Marlins, where he might slot right into the starting line-up with their offensive issues to date. In the minors this year, he was slashing .295/.351/.436 with four homers and six steals. While more of a batting average play that any of the counting stats, he does score a bit with 32 runs in 78 games. To be honest, it was a surprise to see him dealt to Miami for cash, as he looks to be a legitimate OF4 in the bigs, with more upside as he grows into his frame. He is only 25, so that speed should stick around for a bit, even if he might never steal more than 15 in a campaign. This is an easy buy-low, as he might be a starter by the end of the week. OF - Alen Hanson (2B/SS/OF, SFG) - 2% owned How Hansen has fallen, as at the start of the year, backed by a good month, he was the fantasy darling. And now, available in 98% of leagues, which seems to be a bit of an overreaction from the community. The season-long stat line is still appealing with a .281/.305/.476 slash through 73 games. Add to that six steals and homers, with 31 runs, and this is not just an empty batting line that might scare some owners away. At the same time, while he features as an outfielder here, with the ability to slot in on the infield as well, the lack of standout counting numbers mean that he is still valuable. Even better? A .292 batting average in August could say that he is rebounding to the breakout May.  If not, Hansen still looks to be a safe add. OF - Adam Frazier (2B/OF, PIT) - 2% owned Another player in the Hansen mode, Frazier lacks standout numbers but still offers more production to fantasy lineups than most might think. First, if you can play second and the outfield, this list will find a slot for you. That flexibility is worth its weight in gold, as owners can cover three plus positions with one bench slot. Second, Frazier has been good in the box with a .285/.350/.435 slash in 73 games supported by 30 runs. Even with a short demotion to the minors, Frazier is a worthy player to have, and even more when his stats seem overly skewed by one bad month. In May he hit .212 but has not fallen below .250 in any other month this season. Take out that May, and he is a .300 hitter with 0.5 runs a game, making him a top-eight fantasy second baseman in the national league. When he available in 98% of leagues, owners should jump on this, and slot him right into a starting role.   P - Dylan Floro (RP, LAD) - 1% owned With the Kenley Jansen news from Colorado this week, the Dodger bullpen looks to be in a bit of flux. It would seem that Josh Fields has the inside track to the interim closer role, but owners should hedge by adding Floro as well. To date, in 51 innings, he has posted an ERA of 2.68 with 7.76 K/9 in support. The walks are a bit high at a flat three but with only 0.53 HR/9 those offers to real red flag with a late-inning role. While never posting a save in the majors, he did have seven while at Triple-A with the Rays in 2016, so there is some track record. Floro has been effective this season and might work his want into that late-inning role if others continue to struggle. For owners chasing saves, this is the dart to throw.   P - Jesse Biddle (SP/RP, ATL) - 3% owned After a month away, Biddle is making a return to the list, and the young lefty seems to have the rest of the season to prove his worth to the club. After spending eight years in the minor with three teams, Biddle looks to not only have a path to playing time but also is performing well enough to keep that role. In 45 innings this campaign he is striking out 9.20 per nine innings, and only allowing an ERA of 2.60. The other good sign is that his GB% is up 12 points from his minors average, and while this might regress a bit, if it keeps, then Biddle is an intriguing option to pair with A.J. Minter for the Braves. The one concern is that even in the minors, Biddle tends to a walk a bunch, but another spot that has seen movement in the right direction since he made the team. Another pitcher with a plus 50 GB%, Biddle is a clear buy-low with some ratio upside. P - Sal Romano (SP, CIN) - 2% owned Finding a starter for the list this week was somewhat tricky, which means that Romano with his 4.96 ERA is the best option for desperate owners. And yet, there are a few reasons to be hopeful for fantasy production down the stretch. First, Romano is quite effective against righties with .226 average so far this year. Against lefties, the numbers are not as good, with a .291 average, but owners can look to matchups for some help in determining Romano’s usability. Second, the strikeouts are up from the beginning of the season when he was averaging 4.94 K/9 in April, and now is posting a 6.35 line. While not great, this is close to a two per game improvement, so something is changing in the approach. While there will not be many wins to be had, it does look like Romano is a better pitcher now than earlier in the year. Worth a dart at the very least.   [jiffyNews category_include='6916' headline='More Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers']

Relief Pitchers Deeper Dive - Week 20

Today and every Tuesday moving forward throughout the 2018 MLB season, we will take a deep dive into some of the lesser-owned relief pitchers on the market that are worth keeping tabs on. This can be a good tool for those in deeper holds leagues, although any pitcher in a position to make a move on their respective team's closer job will get priority. Below are my relief pitchers to target for Week 20 of the fantasy baseball season. Let's get to it.  

Under-the-Radar Relievers to Watch - Week 20

Koda Glover, Washington Nationals - 15% owned After battling shoulder tendinitis for much of the year, Glover finally returned to the mound just over a month ago and impressed in eight games with the Nationals Triple-A club (11.25 K/9, 2.25 BB/9, 1.58 FIP). He was recalled to the big club when interim closer Kelvin Herrera was placed on the DL and so far has looked fine in two outings. Fine enough so that he may be in line for the Nationals next save chance, this after Ryan Madson imploded in spectacular fashion Sunday night and is also reportedly dealing with a back issue. Glover, pegged as the closer of the future last spring, has some experience closing at the MLB level and while his stuff has yet to translate to get tons of swings and misses at the highest level. Despite allowing a walk-off HR to the only batter he faced last night, he still has the most closing experience in that bullpen and there's still enough upside in his arm to make him an intriguing flier for those hunting for saves. Justin Anderson, Los Angeles Angels - 2% owned. Previously hyped up to take the Angels closer job and run with it back when Keynan Middleton went down, Anderson struggled mightily with his command, posting a BB/9 rate of 5.71 over the first half of the season. Now, while a small sample size, Anderson has only walked one batter over his previous six innings, allowing three hits and no runs while striking out eight over that stretch. With the Angels out of contention, the team could give him an extended look at save situations and potentially move on from Blake Parker. Dylan Floro, Los Angeles Dodgers - 1% owned Since being traded to the Dodgers in early July, Floro has flourished in his 14.2 innings, allowing just five hits, five walks (three came this past Sunday) and four runs while striking out 17. It's a bit surprising considering his career numbers and his journeyman status, but its still a nice breakout for the reliever, who now finds himself working in high leverage situations for the Dodgers. With Kenley Jansen out close to a month, Floro and Scott Alexander are really about the only relief options manager Dave Roberts can trust at the moment.   [jiffyNews category_include='6916' headline='More Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers']

Nick's Waiver Picks - Get 'Em While They're Hot (Premium Content)

All other Premium Tools can be accessed on the premium dashboard. With roughly a month and a half left in the fantasy baseball season and many trade deadlines passing in the coming days, it is truly waiver-wire crunch time. You cannot put a blanket over your head and ignore the fact that you're either +100 or -100 in innings, or slipping in average and steals while you continue to pad your league-leading homer margin. Be resourceful and honest about your team needs and address them with aggression! Let's see what the free-agent orchard has for us this week. Ownership rates are being taken from Yahoo. Without further ado, here are my waiver wire targets for Week 20. As always, you can find me on Twitter @NMariano53 to ask about anyone not mentioned here.  

Nick's Premium Waiver Wire Targets - Week 20


I don’t anticipate Aledmys Diaz (20% owned) to keep up such a torrid power pace as thwacking six homers and chipping in two steals in two-week spurts, but he’s getting regular playing time and offers modest pop for an MI. He rewarded those with faith by going deep on Saturday (his 15th on the season) after four homerless games, but he seems destined to stay in the bottom half of Toronto's order no matter what he does. Still, he's basically a lock to shatter his previous career-high in homers (17) and should be viable in 12-teamers. Let’s assume that the Padres didn’t just get a ridiculously lucky stretch of juiced balls and Hunter Renfroe (9% owned) and Franmil Reyes (10% owned) might be coming into their own. Renfroe had a nice seven-game hit streak that crescendoed with four consecutive homers before ending on Friday (he responded with two hits on Saturday) while Reyes was called up once Wil Myers hit the DL and had gone on a 9-for-18 stretch with three dingers before going 0-for-4 on Saturday. Renfroe is more interesting to me as long as he plays against righties and continues to bat third, whereas I think Reyes will somehow be notably more hit-or-miss than Renfroe and will be pushed from the lineup more readily once health returns. The Rays have lots of underowned assets, with Willy Adames (3% owned) socking two homers and swiping two bags while batting .333 (13-for-39) over the last two weeks. This is probably the high point of his average, but the pop and speed can play. This is assuming that Adalberto Mondesi (10% owned) is already scooped, because he’s just awesome, man. He shook off a minor shoulder injury last weekend to smack a homer with three steals over the last week and six steals in the previous two weeks. Only Trea Turner and Mallex Smith are running at a higher clip lately, yet Mondesi’s ownership rate still languishes. Sad times. And how about Tim Beckham (13% owned) finding himself again? We’ve got hitters like Trey Mancini and Mark Trumbo showing signs of life alongside respectable ownership spikes, yet folks are still slow to buy back into Beckham. I get it, but he’s notched a hit in eight out of 10 games this month with three homers in his last five contests while hitting out of the two-hole. If Mancini (29% owned) is available in your league then you should rectify that -- he combined to go 4-for-7 with a homer during Saturday's doubleheader, hitting cleanup in the nightcap. The Cardinals had to struggle through watching Dexter Fowler try to hit this season, but he’s out with a fractured foot. This leaves Marcell Ozuna as the only high-owned outfielder left (let’s not kid ourselves that Jose Martinez is a real outfielder), which means both Harrison Bader (7% owned) and Tyler O’Neill (5% owned) should have real playing time moving forward. O’Neill needs to get healthy first, but he’s already begun a rehab assignment and should come back on Tuesday. Bader has bashed a home run in two straight contests and stole his 12th base on the season in the game before that, so those seeking speed in the outfield without surrendering pop or average should turn his way.  


Whether the Astros are able to slide Brad Peacock (29% owned) into their starting rotation for a couple of turns while Lance McCullers is out or not, his performance warrants Collin McHugh-like adding. In just 10 ⅓ innings over the last month, Peacock has strutted his stuff by way of 20 strikeouts, a 1.74 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. And Jeremy Hellickson (25% owned) made headlines by being tagged with two earned runs and the loss despite giving up no hits over 5 ⅔ frames. He simply lost the strike zone in the sixth and his bullpen couldn’t bail him out, though he remains an underrated arm in the most pitcher-friendly division in baseball. The A’s took notes from our weekly SP waiver-wire piece and added Mike Fiers (24% owned) to their rotation at the deadline, no doubt being impressed by his added velocity and stretch of five consecutive quality starts. That’s omitting his injury-shortened outing, which I feel is fair to do. The Coliseum (man, I don’t like writing that name) is a homer-prone pitcher’s best friend and should help him coast to a strong finish in 2018. He struck out eight Dodgers over 5 ⅓ innings of one-run ball in his A’s debut and gets the Mariners at home next. And then we find two interesting names at 20%. Both Tyler Glasnow and Matthew Boyd are sitting here, available in four out of five leagues with different skill sets to offer. Glasnow is the electric strikeout artist, posting a combined 7 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 14 K line in two “starts” (opens?) for the Rays. Even if all he does is give you two four-inning shots in the arm per week, I’m absolutely in if double-digit strikeouts and strong ratios are rolling in. Boyd is another velocity jumper stuck on a subpar team who has held hitters to a .191/.263/.319 triple slash at home (2.93 ERA), but has had less luck on the road (5.60 ERA, .250/.324/.416 line). After a hot start, he saw poor results in June (6.32 ERA) that bled into the All-Star break. Then he dominated Boston, Kansas City and Cincinnati to start the second half before a two-homer, four-run outing against the Angels. His 2.59 ERA (2.75 FIP) and 20.6% K-BB rate in these four starts show a man who has bounced back. The Marlins don’t have much to offer, especially after trading Justin Bour, but Trevor Richards (11% owned) has grown into his stellar changeup lately after a rocky start to 2018. He still struggles with command -- he walked seven hitters on July 8 and six back on April 20 -- but the two homers he gave up in his last start on Aug. 8 are the only homers he’s surrendered in his last six outings. With 28 strikeouts in his last four starts (23 ⅓ IP), Richards should be on mixed-league radars. As if the Braves haven’t already flexed on other teams enough with its absurd pitching depth, it appears that Touki Toussaint (3% owned) is coming up for a spot start on Monday during a doubleheader against the Marlins. While we’ve already seen Kolby Allard fail to impress in the same favorable matchup, Toussaint is much different pitcher. Allard banks on command while Toussaint possesses top-of-the-rotation stuff in a more volatile package. He has 139 strikeouts over 117 ⅓ IP between Double- and Triple-A with an ERA under 2.75, meaning he could toy with the Marlins for 10-plus K’s. Here’s a neat list of relievers available in <30% of leagues who have a crack at the ninth, in the order I’d add them in: Jose Leclerc (25% owned), Robert Gsellman (23% owned), Mychal Givens (17% owned), Trevor Hildenberger (7% owned), Drew Steckenrider (10% owned), Wily Peralta (25% owned), Thyago Vieira (1% owned).


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