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Fantasy Baseball Confidential: Second Half Charge!

Each week yours truly will be sharing various tidbits and revelations that I deem worthy of the attention of fantasy baseball managers of all formats and backgrounds. The All-Star break is in the rearview mirror. Now we focus our attention to the stretch run. Clearly the Blue Jays are ready for a playoff run. Are you? H2H playoffs start in about 6 weeks while your roto hounds are trying to maintain every edge you can in each categorical standing. So… let’s see what’s happening on the down-low. Let’s find out what’s strictly hush-hush, on the QT and for all eyes only in the second half of 2022!

Week 17 Member Berries

I liked the concept of using South Park’s hilarious Member Berries so much that I am keeping it in perpetuity for the week that was. 

  • We only had a few days of MLB action post ASB. The Blue Jays came out against the Red Sox with an appetite for destruction. Axl Rose is proud of Canada’s baseball team. Lourdes Gurriel in particular displayed next-level powers by going 6-7 Friday night! That’s rare territory that only former Tiger’s utility man turned Blue Jay regular Frank Catalanatto achieved in 2004.
  • Steven Matz showed out in his return to the mound Saturday from a knee injury. He struck out 7 over 5.1 IP before injuring his knee covering first base. He tore his MCL, but the Cardinals are feeling alright about his chances of avoiding surgery. I dropped him because I don’t have time to hope for the best with his situation approaching limiting him to September-only most likely. If you have IL spots though, hang tight.

  • The Yankees have to be disappointed with Domingo German’s return last Thursday. They had said previously they were not worried about his lower velocity in his rehab starts. There has to be some worry now. Though his velocity was there, he only induced 5 whiffs over 3 IP. Of course, there are the 5 ER and 2 HR as well. He’s getting another go of it Wednesday in the Subway Series at the Mets. I would be very skeptical of that outing. I need to see more from him before I hand over my trust for the stretch run. If you’re desperate for streamers, buyer beware.
  • You know I can’t ignore Tarik Skubal’s 9-K outing last Thursday in a double-dip against Oakland. Everything I love about Skubal was on full display last Thursday at the dumpiest sports park in professional sports (including minor league baseball and hockey). Skoobs approached 98 MPH, induced 17 swinging strikes, and made the CH count in limited appearances with 3 whiffs on 3 Oakland swings. The second half is going to be a wonderful time in Skoobs’ life. My bozo Tigers stink to high heaven, so I’m going to cherish each remaining start Skubal has in 2022. If he’s on your fantasy team, you will too!

  • The baddest mother in this game (the most terrifying hitter in MLB) is Yordan Alvarez. He came right out the chute ripping a couple dongs against the Yankees and Seattle. Yordan was also a key reason the Astros were able to silence the streaking Mariners who all of us (outside of AL West foes) are rooting for to finally break the seal of the playoffs.

  • Sunday was the second straight start for Kris Bubic that made me sit up and take notice. His last two outings were against AL East contenders Toronto and Tampa. First he was one of the Royals who could actually play in Canada when he threw 7 scoreless against Toronto on July 17, holding down a 32% CSW with 11 swinging strikes. A week later on July 24, he confronted Tampa at home with 7 IP again on 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks with a 22% CSW. The second one wasn’t stellar, but he did go deep into back-to-back affairs against challenging foes. It’s a positive development for a team that has been somewhat garbo lately in developing a plethora of potential staff regulars such as Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch, Brady Singer, and Asa Lacy. Singer I have hope for and Lynch I haven’t left for dead yet either. Bubic would slide in right behind those two, but I could be talked into placing Bubic ahead of Lynch. It’s a very tight… race, if you will with a lot of room for growth in dynasty. Bubic is 4% rostered in Yahoo right now. 15-team fantasy managers should take note of this.
  • Sonny Gray got right against my bozo Tigers. That’s the cure for what ails ya! 60% of the time, they work every time. A 37% CSW is excellent news from a pitcher who had lost his way recently with his last quality outing coming on June 27th at Cleveland. The Twinkies have the Motor City Kitties at home for three games next week, but Sonny will not get a chance to go against them unless his next start against San Diego gets pushed a day. In 69 IP Gray has a 3.52 ERA with a slightly lower 3.36 FIP. I have every expectation that if healthy, Gray should stay right at around those marks for the duration of 2022. If you’re in a playoff race in H2H leagues though, I wouldn’t be mad at you if you sought a buyer who was excited about his last start. If he shows out against the Padres next as well, even I would have to admit there are more reliable starters for the stretch run that will serve your team needs better.

  • His playing time is sporadic, but Nelson Velazquez is a promising youngster who few redraft managers likely know, but many dynasty players are already familiar with. I watched him in person last October during the Arizona Fall League while at First Pitch, an event I strongly recommend you attend this year if you can spare the time and money. Nellie came into what would end up being a 15-2 blowout win for the Cubs Friday night over Philadelphia. He hit 2 HR while driving in 5 and then blasted off once more on Sunday while going 2-3 with a walk. There are a lot of bats in Chicago that need reps against MLB pitching, so Velazquez is still not much more than a curiosity at this time in the season. Monitor his playing time.

  • The Rangers have worked miracles with Brett Martin as the closer so far. However, Sunday in Oakland Martin was given some mop-up duty in what was previously an 11-1 game before Garrett Richards got his hands on things in the 8th making it 11-5. After possible future closer for the Rangers Jose Leclerc worked two-thirds of an inning to stop Richards’ madness, that’s where Martin came in to finish things off. Unfortunately, he gave up 3 ER in that lone inning of work by basically allowing those three runs to score in what I think is the worst way possible for a pitcher to surrender them: by giving up three solo homers in one inning! Sean Murphy, Chad Pinder, and sweet ole Tony Kemp went back to back to back solo style off Brett Martin who was just trying to serve up meatballs so the Rangers could close out what was once an 11-1 game. I was not a fan of Brett Martin before this bummer performance (though I did add him in a couple leagues to see if he could rat a couple of saves anyway) and I am even more staunchly against his tenure as the Texas closer now. He’s not overpowering and he can easily be tattooed for dongs. That’s a pretty frightening combination for a closer resume. Even if he rats out a couple more saves, I’m not buying it. Look elsewhere for saves in Texas, like Jose Leclerc or Matt Bush for example.

Ain’t No Future In Your Frontin’

As the Beastie Boys stated in So What’cha Want, “you think that you can front when revelation comes?” Your second-half charge starts now.

  • The new CBA allows for the trade deadline to float from July 28th to August 3rd each year. It falls on August 2nd this season. That’s next Tuesday. Your fantasy team will surely be impacted, especially when it comes to bullpen bingo. You never know when you’re going to get your number called. Lou Trivino, who already stinks, could be a 6th inning RP in New York. Scott Barlow’s time in KC racking up the saves and wins may come to an end as he settles into his new role in nearby St. Louis. There will be closer jobs that open up because of trades. You may even experience this while or shortly after you read this article. These deals don’t have to wait for August 2nd.

  • Juan Soto is not leaving the premises of Washington. For now. He’s too unique in history to just be shipped off when you still have plenty of time to reach a deal or sell him in the offseason. I will be shocked if Soto gets dealt. He’s that good. It would be that short-sighted to do so. Then again, Mike Rizzo will do what he’s told. There are too many machinations behind the scenes in elite rooms of power that I have never come close to sniffing for anybody to have a strong handle on the ways of this mysterious, hifalutin world.
  • I want to give a shout-out like I always do on the Pallazzo Podcast to one of our loyal Pallazzo Podcast Discord peeps: Meta. Recently Meta opined in the Discord about the struggle of coming to understand trades and how to value non-keeper players in a keeper league. Also meaning players who have expiring contracts or are too expensive to keep based on price. His immediate conclusion was experience tells all. I told him that of course, year over year experience of seeing how the other managers in your league value players helps to inform your decision of which players to offer and at what price without getting burned on the deal by giving up too much or acquiring too little. I also told him that a crucial component of trade offers in fantasy is realizing that if an incoming trade offer seems totally bogus to you, that doesn’t mean you should take great offense to it. Trade negotiations in fantasy do have the potential to be much more personal than trades in real-time MLB. The illusion has become the real. My advice to Meta was to make sure there is no offense taken when you feel like you have been lowballed with an offer for Pete Alonso. Just reject the trade and counter or consider rejecting and tell the other manager that last trade offer was bogus. I know there are always managers in every league who get chastised for weak trade offers. I suppose that’s part of the reality of what can often be a challenging peer pressure environment encompassing a fantasy league’s group text thread. If you’re looking for more ways to find a common value system, salary cap calculators can be useful for finding the through line of value for players even if you don’t use a salary cap system to draft. They also help to see the value of a player in-season despite how little or how much they have produced.
  • I feel like a total doofus for violating one of the key tenets of my own fantasy baseball platform: when a pitcher has an arm injury that causes them to miss time but they suddenly return a month or so later supposedly healthy, do not believe the player or the team. Make them show you he is healthy with consistent outings. Right now Max Meyer has me pinching myself because he fits this exact profile. I was about as staunch as one could be for Meyer around May of this year. Then I heard about the ulnar nerve issue in his elbow and I immediately abandoned any redraft plans for him in 2022. Yet, when he got the call before the ASB there I was spending triple-digit values of my FAAB money for him. My partner in the NFBC Tag Team league run by general good guy Matty Davis is none other than Fantrax master Eric Cross. Eric and I talk out our FAAB plans every Sunday. He was against spending triple digits on Meyer while I wanted to go bigger. We ended up listening to Eric and we were outbid. I owe Eric all the credit for avoiding that mistake. I just wish Eric was co-managing some of my other teams with me too. Meyer is toast this year and I will be surprised if he pitches again in 2022.
  • Mike Trout is bumming me out with his latest rib/back spasms injury. Is it any coincidence that he had just stolen his first base of the season about a week before this developed? The correlation is completely absurd, but I’m making it anyways. Stop stealing bases, Mike. Just hit 40 HR with a .450 OBP and I’ll be fine with that. Speaking of Trout, I wanted to update you in reference to Bless You Boys (BYB) my H2H cats home league which I write about from time to time every week. I am in first right now with our trade deadline coming up at the end of the business day Thursday. Pitching is my concern despite being a lock for the playoffs. You can stream a lot of starting pitchers during the year because we have 100 total moves allowed for the regular season. Once we get to the playoffs though, we only have two moves for the week. Generally, teams with strong pitching staffs stand a better chance because you can’t out stream those teams come playoff time. We also keep eight at the end of this season, so I am trying to decide if trading Mike Trout now is worth it or not. He’s been my keeper since 2016. We’re very close Trout and me. It’s also an OBP league where he is more valuable. I have Acuna, Arozarena, Suzuki, and Nimmo still for my OF. Would you trade Trout for a couple of starting pitchers? Whoever these pitchers are, they likely won’t be kept because I already have Cole and Alcantara along with my six hitters picked out. What’s the limit on the value of a title at the expense of holding certain players in keeper leagues? Let me know in our comments section at the bottom of this page where you stand and what your strategy is heading into the final few weeks before your H2H playoffs.
  • When it comes to players who will be moved by the deadline, is Daniel Bard going to be added to another roster or will the Rockies continue to live up to their reputation as bumbling buffoons? Who out there is a Bard Man? I outlined in my all-star break edition that he has a recent history of slipping in the second half. He’s not at Brett Martin levels or anything like that because he can still get swings and misses in combination with ground balls. If he leaves the Rockies your options to replace him if he is no longer closing in his new destination are not ideal to say the least.
  • I am really curious to see which players the Diamondbacks end up moving. They’re only 10 games under .500. They have been a pretty resilient team this year with a lot of fun fantasy pieces on offense. Josh Rojas got a late start to his career, but he’s 28 already. He could be gone. Carson Kelly (who I told you guys was a great buy-low target when he returned from injury) is crushing the ball and could be a big boost for a team like the Rays who will not have Mike Zunino back this season. I think Kelly is a classic Tampa Bay Ray player. He has solid plate discipline, can be platooned, and will be a difference maker when he plays. The other mystery is Corbin Carroll. Will he arrive in the The Show before the season ends? Will trades be made to create an opening for playing time? I am thinking Carroll doesn’t debut this year as they save him for his smash debut arrival in 2023.
  • There are so many Vinnie Pasquantino lovers out there, but my guy in KC is Nick Pratto! He is a classic plate discipline lefty first baseman who can crank yambos out of the park. It was really sad that Edward Olivares had to be lost to that pesky quad again, but having Pratto return makes me happy. He will make you happy too. Especially in OBP and OPS where he has more value. I have a feeling sticks around for the rest of 2022.

  • I know Cleveland has a pretty clear structure to their bullpen, but I wanted to give James Karinchak a spotlight. He struck out four in 1.2 IP Monday night giving him 16 K in 8.2 IP since his return this year. There was a lot of talk about him being overly reliant on the sticky stuff last year. If he has moved on from that or he is just being more clever now, this is a live arm to watch for saves+holds and K9 leagues.

  • There was a part of me who became convinced that Ranger Suarez was going to be much more effective in the second half than the first. Sometimes you walk too many guys or your FF is really easy to hit for a while. Then, like magic, things change! I know this is the last thing analytics-focused players want to read, but sometimes the game is really harsh on a player for a while before relenting. I think the game is relenting on Ranger. He gave up zero ER in 5 IP Monday night against Atlanta to start what the people in the biz like to call a two-step. Next up is at Pittsburgh at the end of the week. I see no danger for Ranger…I couldn’t help myself.
  • I see more and more questions pop up about O’Neil Cruz for redraft purposes in 2022. He has a .250 OBP so far which is not tenable in 10 or 12-teamers. He does crush the baseball though and can nab some bags. He had two swipes over his last five games heading into the ASB. I did not draft Cruz anywhere for redraft purposes in 2022. I just thought it would be a process for him. I felt there could be moments where he has big games, but the consistency just isn’t the desired one I need for redraft leagues. So I am going to stick with that original premise. He’s going to wow us with incredible throws and massive dongs, but that’s not going to bring in consistent production for you day to day. I am only interested in him for redraft purposes in 15-teamers and deeper.

  • Marlins rookie JJ Bleday got the call to the bigs for his MLB debut over the weekend. He started for the first time Sunday going 2-4 with a stolen base. He’s playing four games in Cincinnati this week which is a heavenly treat for any offensive player. Jazz Chisholm Jr. is likely not to return until late this year, if at all. Jon Berti is still on the shelf with a groin strain. The Marlins are not going to be playoff bound this season either. Put all that together and what you have is an opportunity for Bleday to be a regular for the rest of 2022. I’m into adding him now in 15-teamers with a cautious eye of optimism for any of you managing teams in shallower leagues.

  • Word on Sal Perez is he might be blowing by his expected timeline to return from a thumb injury. He will start a rehab assignment Tuesday! So if you can spare the room to hold him on your bench, go make that happen. I was on Justin Mason’s Podapalooza 2022 last weekend for a panel that focused on hits and misses so far this year. I stated Perez was one of my hits because I was completely avoiding him after his ridiculous 2021. That doesn’t mean I am ignoring him now though. I am all about this action.

  • As we all make our second half charge counting down to the first week of October, remember each format has different decisions to focus on. In roto 5×5, identify four categories where you can make a meaningful 20-point gain by season’s end. Remember that even if you’re 25 points back from first in roto, you can still make this happen. I have seen it with my own eyes! For H2H, if you’re outside the playoff bracket looking in, first break down your schedule. If it’s categories, how many would you have to win each week to make the last playoff spot? That’s all that matters now. Just get in! In all likelihood, if you get in you will blow up the bracket and knock out the regular season’s champ. I’ve seen it done way too many times. If you’re in points H2H, the same idea applies except focus on which points you are continually coming up short in and consider a trade or two to make ends meet. As of July 26th, 2022 I want to see your screenshots of what place you are in now so we can see where you end up by season’s end. I will celebrate all those that came back to make the playoffs or finish top three in their roto leagues in my last article of the season. DM me on Twitter or leave a comment at the bottom of this article. Cheers!
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