Breakout or Fakeout: Should you Target These Hot Starting Pitchers?

Let’s take a look at a few pitchers who may be available in your league who are off to hot starts. One key to success in fantasy leagues is to quickly identify the true breakout players early in the season, and separating them from the fakeout players — those whose success is a mirage. Last season saw unexpected breakouts from Matt Shoemaker, Collin McHugh and Jacob deGrom. The owners who snared them received a very nice boost to their championship hopes, whereas those owners who grabbed Dan Haren, Aaron Harang or Martin Perez after their hot starts ended up getting burned. So what we need to do is determine whether each of these pitchers is likely to continue their success.

Odrisamer Despaigne, Padres — 1 Win, 0.77 ERA, 0.34 WHIP, 4 Ks in 11.2 innings.

The 28 year old Cuban defector started the season in the minors but was promoted after Ian Kennedy went down with an injury. Despaigne pitched 96 innings for the Padres last year and put up a tidy 3.36 ERA. That is the good news. The bad news is his xFIP was 4.01, and xFIP is a much better predictor of future ERA than previous ERA is. Despaigne also exhibits a very low strikeout rate 5.75 K/9 for his career. That is a problem for two reasons. The first is that pitchers with strikeout rates that low are incredibly unlikely to put up good ERAs for long. The second reason is that strikeouts are a key fantasy scoring category and Despaigne is not going to help you there. Despaigne does not have anything close to overpowering stuff. He is a smoke-and-mirrors junkballer similar to Livan Hernandez or Bronson Arroyo. Despaigne plays half his games in a very pitcher-friendly ballpark and the Padres have made huge upgrades to their offense, two factors that will help Despaigne. Verdict: Fakeout. Won’t be terrible but should not be targeted for your team. Decent injury replacement. Can be used as a streamer in two-start weeks at home.

Nick Martinez, Rangers — 2 Wins, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 6 Ks in 14 innings. Continue reading

Going Deep: Recap of a 20 Team Dynasty MiLB Draft (Picks 41-50)

We’ve reached the penultimate installment breaking down an offseason minor league dynasty draft of a man who will soon be issuing a sandwich power ranking column that will draw the ire of just as many Facebookers as his normal MLB Power Rankings on Fox does, Craig Goldstein. Hopefully the players drafted are of interest to you in your league, and this information can be used as a resource for your future drafts. Part one featured the rundown of the rules, particularly of note that no in-season adds of minor leaguers are allowed in this league, which certainly makes for a more entertaining offseason draft:
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The Ottavino Evolution

The Colorado Rockies made it official today, according to the Denver Post, that Adam Ottavino would take over as the teams closer for the foreseeable future. It should come as no surprise that the Rockies made the move away from 42-year old LaTroy Hawkins, who is retiring at the end of the year after 19 seasons, but it is a bit surprising that it ends up being Ottavino taking the reigns this soon.

In our 2015 TDG Consensus Dynasty Rankings, the 29-year-old right-hander graded out as our 47th ranked relief pitcher. He was the Iggy Azalea of our relief pitcher rankings. He doesn’t fit the prototypical mold of a late-inning reliever, but had pitched too well the previous year to be ignored.

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Roman Quinn and dreams of steals

Currently Billy Hamilton is on pace to steal something close to 160 bases on the year.  This begs the question of what we can do against such madness.  The first instinct is to hold on to our Eric Young Jr.s tight and pray that they don’t kill the rest of our teams too bad.  The total number of steals has fluctuated greatly over the past few seasons, but in fantasy many players who provide value in stolen bases don’t necessarily help in other categories, and in worst case scenarios they struggle to hold on to major league jobs long enough to even get the opportunities that they need.

Last year we saw the return of one of the great speed hopes in the minor leagues in Phillies shortstop Roman Quinn.  Quinn broke on to the scene in 2012 when he hit well in short season and put up 30 stolen bases in 66 games.  He then followed that up with 32 in 67 games in 2013 before a pitch broke his wrist.  While rehabbing he then tore his Achilles and missed the beginning of the next season.  The big concern was whether his speed would come back, especially after he only stole 3 bases in his first 21 games back.  However, over the course of the year he put up numbers close to his previous totals, before then leading the Arizona Fall League in stolen bases.

All of this talk of speed is less relevant for Quinn than two other factors that have emerged recently, his power and defense.  Lets start with the defense.  Much like Hamilton, Roman Quinn is now a center fielder, unlike Hamilton he might have been able to handle shortstop, but this guy named J.P. Crawford came along and forced him to a position where his speed works.  So far the returns have been as good as expected, Quinn flies around the outfield.  His routes are a bit rough but the speed works, and this is important, because the path to the outfield in Philadelphia is wide open.  Right now Rule 5 pick Odubel Herrera has taken over for Ben Revere (now in left field), but he is no lock to hold on to the job or a spot in the majors.  In addition to the way being open, the Phillies are looking for young players and are looking for speed and defense while they rebuild their major league roster.

Now that we have a defensive path, we need an offensive path.  As you may or may not know, Roman Quinn is a switch hitter, he has only been a switch hitter since the year before he was drafted.  He is a natural right handed hitter, which causes a problem because scouts aren’t sure how well he will hit from the right side.  The good news is that they like his left handed swing more even though the numbers haven’t been there, and while Quinn may have abandoned shortstop for a return to the outfield, a stop to switch hitting is not in the works.  On the contrary, Quinn has become more confident from the left side.

Right Handed Left Handed
2012 72 7 13 0 195 21 48 1
2013 64 9 9 1 196 18 55 4
2014 98 8 14 1 229 28 66 6
2014 (AFL) 28 2 4 1 64 14 12 1

So far in 2015 Quinn has 3 XBHs (2B, 3B, HR) all have been while hitting left handed

From his left side Quinn has enough power to be a consistent addition to his speed stats.  As he should add more walks from the left side long term as pitchers respect his power potential.  At his best Quinn could hit 10+ home runs a year and steal 30 to 40 bases.  The combination of offensive improvement and defensive base gives him a much better change than there was a year ago.

Lets top all of this all off by mentioning that Quinn must go on the 40 man roster this year so a September call up could happen and that is path to the majors isn’t that far away.

Chris Tillman’s Smoke And Mirrors

In every auction, the law of supply and demand eventually results in a bizarre price or two. As scarcity at a given position increases over the course of the auction, owners with dollars to spend become willing to deviate from their pre-draft valuations in order to fill a need. In my last auction of the year, one such player whose price I scoffed at was Chris Tillman. Even though starting pitching was especially scant in this particular draft, I was surprised when a bidding war of sorts broke out for Tillman.

Assuming you incorporate some level of regression to the mean when building your auction values, players who consistently outperform their peripherals are the hardest to properly value. Matt Cain and Jered Weaver are two prominent examples and I almost always refrain from bidding on these types and let someone else pay the going rate while I (rightly or wrongly) wait for the other shoe to drop. Tillman is certainly not as good as Cain and likely won’t match Weaver’s peak years either but he has pitched 500 innings over the last three seasons, with a 3.42 ERA to show for it. Was I missing something?

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Foreign NBP Players to Watch For in 2015

I’ve introduced 30 best NPB players who have chances to play in the big leagues in the near or distant future. In this post I’m going to dig deeper into the NPB mine, but this time for non-Japanese players. There are a number of former minor league journeymen, washed up prospects, and diamonds in the rough we’ve yet to know. I believe that some of these guys could be the cores of your dynasty teams.

Randy Messenger, RHP, Hanshin Tigers

The 33-year old right hander last pitched in the majors in 2009, has been a member of the Hanshin Tigers since then. It was lack of whiffs that prevented him from being a productive big leaguer, as he struck out just 5.8 per 9 in 184 career innings at the MLB level (and 6.0 in the minors). In 5 years with Hanshin, Messenger has shown improvement in the area. His K/9 has gone from 5.4 in 2010 to 9.8 in 2014. He’s also cut down a full walk per 9 in the NPB compared to his MLB days, gone from 3.9 to 2.9 BB/9. His current contract expires after 2015, and rumor has it that some MLB teams are looking after him. We may see him in the back end of an MLB rotation this time next year.

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Five Moves that Should Be Made: The Art of In Season Management

While this title might be a little misleading because it’s not really any kind of art more than it is just setting yourself in a routine to be diligent about searching for options.  Scouring the waiver wire for upgrades to your team is important in any kind of league that you play in but as your league gets deeper, especially in dynasty formats, it becomes the most important way to improve your club.  It is important to remember that your work does not end with your draft and if you are serious about winning your league resting on a job well done during draft day is not going to cut it.

I have been playing in a 16 team mixed dynasty league for the last five or so years with a pretty small amount of bench spots—just ten.  These ten bench spots have to be used judiciously to either stash prospects, keep reserves, or platoon players.  Yesterday, as I went through all of the rosters in our league and kept a lookout for players that were owned that shouldn’t be and players that were un-owned that would represent upgrades.  Below are the moves that I think each team should make using real players available on our waiver wire.

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