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Fantasy Baseball Confidential: Week 11

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. Another Hallmark holiday is upon us as Father’s Day takes center stage this Sunday. What’s your take on Hallmark holidays? Shouldn’t we be grateful for our fathers all year long? Are we so monumentally busy in this country that we need to be reminded that our fathers are alive and should be appreciated (some more than others of course)? Hopefully Tony LaRussa’s kids give him an extra special day. He needs it. So…let’s see what’s happening on the down-low. Let’s find out what’s strictly hush-hush, on the QT and deserves its own meme for Week 11!

The Day After Yesterday

Here you will find points of reference from this past week that you need to know going forward, so you can be a fantasy baseball kingpin.

  • Let us begin with Mike Trout. The days of Trout stealing ANY bags appear to be over. He had another groin flare-up last week which cost him three days. He sat out the last two against the Red Sox and one against the Mets. It’s worth noting when he came up tight after ripping a double, he had already homered. And when he returned on Sunday he went 3-4 with a double-dong effort! He is still THE premier hitter in MLB. I stand firm on that one despite my passion for arguably more exciting players like Ronald Acuna Jr. or Juan Soto. I drafted Trout for my NFBC Main Event team as my 2nd pick and 17th overall. I buoyed him with Ozzie Albies (who just broke his foot as I am writing this) in case the steals weren’t there this season. The SBs haven’t been there this season. Not even a single attempt! Trying to review the trends with his running ways is a challenge though because last year he only played in 36 games because of a calf injury and 2020 was the 60-game bozo season which will go down in history as the least referenced and most pointless technically completed season in all of baseball’s long, complicated history. That leaves us with going back to 2019 when he stole 11 bases in 13 tries in 134 games played. He was also 27 years old and in his prime. You have to go all the way back to 2018 to find legit SB value when he went 24-26 pilfering bags. If we have to go 4 years back in time, I think we’ve jumped the shark here. I’m calling it now. As someone who still rosters the New Jersey icon despite trading for him just prior to the start of the 2016 season in my H2H keeper league (gave up Kris Bryant and George Springer), I’m telling you now that he will never steal 15 bases in a season ever again. I root for this dude hard because that compact swing makes me feel funny, like when I used to climb the rope in gym class. Let’s all take a moment, realize that the greatest player of his generation is much too fragile to risk losing his bat over running to second base, and be grateful that his swing isn’t going anywhere for awhile. That puts him as a top 30 fantasy asset still because he can fill the other 4 categories in a 5×5 situation. As a basis for comparison, Freddie Freeman was a top 15-20 player by ADP last year. I think I’d still rather have Trout over Freeman.

  • Are we seeing more blow-up starts in 2022 than in previous years? I am going to use 7ER or more as the basis for blow-up starts across all seasons. For some reason my brain views 7 earned runs or more a lot worse than 6. Eric Lauer seemed to be gifted with a tasty matchup with the Washington Nationals last Saturday. The Nats are last in the NL East and appeared to be going nowhere fast. They had just scored 7 runs total in a 3 game sweep at the hands of the Marlins (Marlins can pitch though). But suddenly on Friday they ripped Aaron Ashby for 6ER in an 11-5 victory and then proceeded to rock Eric Lauer’s world tattooing Lauer for 8ER in the Nats 8-6 win. 19 runs in 2 games. Break up the Nats! Lauer had no such starts earlier this year. In fact, he only had one similar start just over a year ago on June 1st 2021 when he was charged with 7 ER in a start against my bozo Tigers of all teams! Not satisfied? No problem. Last Thursday Gerrit Cole decided to implode to the tune of 7 ER in Minnesota. Yet to my chagrin the Yankees still won somehow 10-7. Turn back the clock to 2021 when Mr. Cole met our criteria not once, but twice last year. He was torched for 7 ER on September 19th at home against the team that would become the Guardians and accomplished the same feat once more (it’s always 7 ER exactly) in Tampa on July 29th losing 14-0 to the Rays. This must satiate you. No? Well, you’re in luck because the same night as Cole’s lambasting the Nats were involved again but this time they were taking one on the chin when Stephen Strasburg made his long awaited return to the mound. He got tossed around for 7 ER in 4.2IP in Miami. 2021 was brief for Strasburg as he only participated in 21.2IP before closing down shop. Not before he met our standards once more on April 13th in St. Louis with 7ER on 3HR in 4IP. If the injury-shortened season doesn’t cut it for you, we can go back to 2019 when he logged 209IP the year the Nats won it all. On August 3rd of that year in the dry heat of Arizona, Strasburg was saddled with 9ER rekindling memories of Yu Darvish earlier this year. Want to know if any of the top 5 pitchers according to the Razzball Player Rater have hit our target number in 2022? Verlander came closest with 6ER May 27th, Shane McClanahan is a god among men, Joe Musgrove is so very consistent, Sandy Alcantara is my hero and Tony Gonsolin never goes deep enough to get torched (he’s very good too). This is a multi-segment piece so I can’t spend all day on this topic. All I can tell you is these unfortunate incidents happen every year to some of the best starters in the biz. I am intrigued to look into this in years prior to 2021, but this ongoing curiosity will have to wait.

    • I am officially renouncing my passion for Yoan Moncada. Moncada reminds me of a girl I was absurdly and unhealthily obsessed with when I was a senior in high school. Let’s call her Sally. My passion was misguided. Immaturity ruled the time period. I thought if Sally loved me back, I would finally be happy. How naive that version of Mike Govier was. Even though I’ve grown a little bit since then, I find traits of my all-or-nothing approach with Sally in my continued drafting of Yoan Moncada. Like many of you out there, I didn’t want to miss the boat when he finally popped. I attached myself to that historic .406 BABIP in 2019. Right now some of you reading this know EXACTLY what I mean. As a recently more developed human, the infatuation of my youth has given way to a more sustained, meaningful, and deeper connection with the current love of my life. Though my initial fire for my high school crush may have burned hotter in some ways, the love that I have come to appreciate with my current partner Leigh Ann has been more of a slow, but steady burn. After nearly 3 years of commitment to her, I find myself unable to picture my life without her. A strong foundation of respect, admiration, and love slowly revealed itself to me over time as opposed to the instant gratification, surface level, love at first sight rom-com myths that I attached to Sally in high school. Yoan Moncada is Sally and Sally is Yoan Moncada. Who then is the Leigh Ann in this tale? Well, it’s none other than Moncada’s teammate and positional rival, Jake Burger! Though I noticed Burger only last year, his story is one of patience, perseverance, and passion much like the journey Leigh Ann and I have been on (we actually dated for 4 months in 2011 before we rekindled in 2019). Burger was a 1st round pick in 2017, tore his Achilles, lost valuable minors time to the 2020 bozo season, and finally made his debut last year in 15 games with the pale hose. The story gets better though. He has actually found grace and appreciation in his injury experience. The mental health angle built into his challenging quest beyond just dealing with his major injury has been a blessing that he shares openly. Then Moncada goes on the shelf prior to the start of 2022. Burger gets the opportunity to be the starting 3B for the Sox on opening day. How do you not come to admire and respect that? Fast forward to last week in 27 PA over 6 games he hit 3 taters, scored 8 runs and rocked a 280 wRC+! It’s easy to root for him and he has a retro, but quality branding opportunity at the ready for his loyal followers: Burger Time. I wish Moncada all the best, just as I do Sally, but this story will come full circle when Leigh Ann and I watch Jake Burger mash my Detroit Tigers in person this summer.
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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?” Prepare ahead of time, because you can’t front on that.

  • All I can think about right now is Ozzie Albies being lost for a long time just after he had started to hit the ball with authority. This has been a soul-shattering experience and I have no words for you other than WHY GOD WHY!?!?!?!

  • Losing Tyler Stephenson is a drag, but Carson Kelly is here to save the day! Now you may stop reading this to go look at his 2022 stats. Don’t bother. There is nothing there of value or use to you. Don’t waste your time looking at his Fangraphs page. Instead, focus on what he did prior to the broken wrist in 2021 that coincided with the Dbacks’ 16th straight loss. Consider what he could potentially do for you now. Last season from April 1 until June 19, Carson Kelly authored 8 HR, 22 R, 26 RBI, a 15 %BB, .260/.385/.460, and a 126 wRC+. That is certainly a starting catcher in roto leagues with 2 catchers, 15 teamers, H2H Cats, and almost any size OBP league. Kelly will never be the batting average stalwart that Stephenson is, but he can provide solid run production stats while costing you almost nothing. Kelly pinch-hit on Saturday, but has started at catcher twice the last two nights. Kelly may have been picked up in the sharpest of leagues over this past weekend, but should still be highly available as he is only rostered in 7% of Yahoo leagues. And don’t fret about Daulton Varsho catching. He will play in the OF plenty, but you can also expect Varsho to switch over to catcher in-game plenty as a defensive replacement. At a position where it is so difficult to find players who start 5 days a week, Kelly’s value increases even more in my book. They want to show him off if they are going to trade him for whatever the hell the Diamondback’s plans are. Sellers? Buyers? Rebuild? Rebrand? Reboot? I find their schemes baffling.
  • On the Pallazzo Podcast Prospects Power Half Hour every Wednesday, Phil Goyette and myself (and starting this week the prospect soothsayer himself Benjamin Chase will now be a show regular) talk dynasty fantasy baseball and prospects for 30 minutes. Then we skeddadle. One of the players who isn’t all that common amongst your typical prospect chatter is Kyle Stowers of the Orioles. Originally brought to my attention by the always underrated Phil Goyette, I came to immediately appreciate the profile that Stowers offers in fantasy. Stowers is your classic plate discipline maestro. He has carried a double-digit BB rate at every stop he’s been at after his professional debut at low-A Aberdeen. Stowers debuted Monday because the Orioles needed an OF to fill in for Anthony Santander who was placed on the Restricted List which is MLB code for: I’m so against the Covid-19 vaccine that I will miss all the road games our team plays at our division rival Toronto. He will likely head straight back down to triple-A Norfolk, but he will be back when there is either an OF injury or Santander finally gets dealt. When that happens the O’s could roll with the blossoming outfield of Stowers, Mullins, and Hays. Obviously, Stowers is most likely rostered in dynasty leagues, but if you’re in a redraft OBP league especially, this is an excellent selection to slide into your NA slot if you have one.

  • I read plenty of buzz in written pieces from Jeff Zimmerman and Vlad Sedler (the gold standard for FAAB analysis) Sunday talking up the dearth of available starting pitching currently on the waiver wire. When perusing our very own Marty Tallman’s 2-start pitching breakdown, I was less than enthused by the possibilities. However, if you’re desperate enough, you could sift through the waiver wire refuse while possibly talking yourself into a few lads. Luke Weaver is one example. His season debut on the bump in Philly Sunday wasn’t heart-stopping entertainment, but it was intriguing. Weaver took over after the Dbacks opener, going 3 strong to secure his first win of 2022. He induced 3 whiffs on 9 swings with his CH while maxing out at 96 MPH (I’m stretching here). Weaver is 28. He’s only pitched over 100 innings once (136 in 2018). It’s unclear whether he will be a legit starter in the rotation or will be part of bullpen games pitching 3-5 innings. The Twins are looming next on the schedule, but my bozo Tigers’ delectable offense lines up for him to pitch against in about 10 days. Another guy who isn’t glamorous, but is likely on your waiver wire is a guy I streamed for my Main Event team this week: Justin Steele. Over 7 strong against the streaking Friars from San Diego Monday night, he surrendered 6 hits, an earned run and 3 Ks. Steele threw 54 FF with 8 of them being called strikes. This start may have been more lucky than good. Lastly, how about Mike Minor? Yep, he’s still doing his thing finishing out that laughable contract he originally signed with the Royals. Minor came back officially June 3rd with his third start of the season Monday night against Arizona providing him with his first win of 2022. In fact, this was his second straight start against the Dbacks. Minor hasn’t been very good so far. Even his start Monday night was peppered with 8 hits and 2 walks. He did go 6.1IP though on 98 pitches. He offered a heavy dose of FF/SLD throughout returning weak swinging strike percentages, but offering a modest 28% CSW. Minor is 34 years old and his best day are behind him. Yet, if he can be an innings eater who goes 6-7 innings in any given outing, then you MAY have a player who is serviceable in 15-teamers with the hope that if he pitches well enough, a better suitor will come along to provide a better ballpark to pitch out of at home. That’s the biggest caveat of all when it comes to any Reds pitcher. Remember, in 14 teamers and deeper, we’re looking for guys like these to eat innings right now. The struggle is real.
  • Which crimson-colored bullpen hell do you prefer? The Red Legs or the Red Sox? Both of these squads have been laughable as supposed relievers. The only relief the bullpen arms on these two teams provide is the comic relief on Twitter that usually accompanies another blown save after a loss. The Red Sox likely deserve the most vitriol (GM Chaim Bloom and manager Alex Cora specifically). In 2021 they beat the hated Yankees in the AL Wild Card game before bowing out in the ALDS. Most Beantowners were expecting the Red Sox to take things up a notch all the way to eleven in pursuit of another World Series ring. With vets like J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Nathan Eovaldi and Trevor Story on board, the Sawks were poised at the very least for a fierce AL East battle. That’s why their bullpen woes have been so baffling! You may be asking yourself: who cares Mike? This is supposed to be an article about fantasy baseball, not baseball. Well, this all ties back into fantasy. The chaos comes down to the mismanagement of two heavily rostered fantasy gems in Garrett Whitlock and Tanner Houck. It’s acceptable to be fluid with roles on a pitching staff for certain guys as long as the team within knows the eventual overall game plan. Yet, it has never seemed like the Red Sox had a clear path in 2022 for Whitlock or Houck. Whitlock began the season in relief over his first 4 games with the apex of that period being a save to secure a home win over the rival Blue Jays before becoming a starter. When Whitlock became a starter though, that’s when his brother in aimless arms Houck left the rotation after pitching reasonably well. Shortly after that decision, Houck surrendered a ghastly 7 ER in relief at Fenway against Ohtani and the Angels. Then Bloom and Cora put Houck back in the rotation once more before finally relegating him to strictly relieving (though there were rumors he might start this past Sunday). All the while, the Red Sox have been relying on a bunch of hot garbage (no offense to them personally) to hold down the back end. I will spare going through all the names, but wild thing (meant in the least cool way possible) Matt Barnes was heavily involved. The Red Sox have blown 14 saves this season. That means as a whole they are 12 for 26 in save opportunities this season. Oddly enough, that’s only one more blown save than division rival Tampa Bay who has 13 BS, but at least they have 6 more saves. There are three teams with fewer saves than the Sox (Mariners, Royals, Nationals). Now Whitlock is on the shelf with a hip issue, but at least Tanner Houck has gotten involved in closing duties with 2 saves over the last 4 days. In fact, Houck has given up a single ER over 19 IP since May 15. Whitlock and Houck are talented up-and-coming pitchers, I just question the management of these young bucks. Seems fishy to me. As far as the Reds, it’s just a hellish nightmare where you never know who is going to close next. And when that pitcher such as Tony Santillan comes on in the 9th, most fantasy managers already have their angry, bitter tweet about the blown save ready to go. What’s funny too is the Reds have the same number of saves as a team as the Red Sox do (12). Throw in David Bell’s endless desire to use a bullpen by committee and you likely end up rostering a RP that you wouldn’t wish on anybody else in your league. Having said all that, journeyman Hunter Strickland miraculously secured the save Monday night for the Reds in Arizona. It’s moments like this that remind us all to draft Josh Hader next year no matter how early it has to be done.

Speed Round Musings

The musings you find in this segment are just my thoughts. Assume total bias on my part in this section.

  • Brad Miller is back, but Ezequiel Duran isn’t going anywhere. This dude can ball! Showing power and speed at the hot corner, Duran has 97th percentile speed with 20 HR potential. Duran has replaced Matt Chapman on my Main Event team at 3B.
  • Jesus Luzardo finally threw a baseball on Monday. It’s a long road to build back up to being a starter. If there are no setbacks, he might be back in late July or early August. That’s several steps away though, at this time. I dropped him in 15-teamers.
  • Julio Rodriguez has 17 SBs! What a boost to your roto team his output has been. Take it from me. My Main Event team has 18 SBs on the season! Anybody who told you that they called a possible 30 SB season for J-Rod is a fraud.
  • It’s been a minute since I praised Ty France. Even when he’s not producing splashy game lines, he’s providing those that roster him with steady output. His longest hitless streak this season is 3 games. That happened once this year. Viva La France!
  • With Kolten Wong on the IL, Christian Yelich is locked into the leadoff spot. Apparently, he thrives there because since Wong went out June 7, Yelich has 2 SB and 11 hits in 27 PA.
  • It’s June 13 and Cubbie Patrick Wisdom still has a 52.5% HHR. He also has 3B/OF eligibility depending on the platform.
  • My bozo Tigers can’t hit, but they usually have solid pitching. Alex Faedo’s production so far is an example of the work that pitching coach Chris Fetter has been putting in. Fetter came from the University of Michigan after their epic run to the College World Series final in 2019. Without my bias, I still think Fetter is a top 5 pitching coach in MLB. Plan accordingly.
  • The Braves don’t want to rush Mike Soroka back from his rehab. He’s going to take as long as he needs. If you can spare the roster spot, go get him this week. Otherwise, don’t expect him back until late June or the beginning of July.
  • I haven’t heard much chatter about Josh Lowe returning to the Rays. At Durham he has a .289/.370/.504 slash line with 5 HR and 5 SB in 32 games.
  • The clock is ticking on Dany Jimenez as the closer in Oakland. Since his last save on May 25, Jimenez has given up 3ER or more three different times. A.J. Puk is my choice over Domingo Acevedo with Lou Trivino again a possibility.
  • After Mackenzie Gore was ripped by the Rockies at Petco last weekend, it’s worth keeping an eye out on Nick Martinez as the season progresses. The Padres, barring an epic meltdown, will be in the playoffs. Limiting Gore seems inevitable.
  • Juan Yepez went 3-5 with a HR Saturday. He set a high standard for himself when he first came up and I think fantasy managers bailed on him because he was average. He’s got a 20% K rate with a 127 wRC+. I think he stays up for good.
  • With a .208 BA, Jesse Winker still continues to struggle. Even since June 1, he’s at .191 over the first two weeks of this month. He’s swinging in the zone 6% more than he did in 2021 and he’s worse! If he can’t hit pitches in the zone, he’s in big doodoo.
  • With Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta sidelined until further notice, will former 1st rounder Ethan Small get a legitimate crack at consistent playing time? He made his debut May 30th in Chicago with minimal fanfare. The Brewers need a pick me up in that rotation badly. Small is a stash right now if you have the room for him.
  • The Royals should be gaining Edward Olivares very soon as he continues to rehab at Triple-A Omaha. The steal potential alone is appealing, but this dude can hit. I’ve been waiting on his output since 2020 when he was dealt from San Diego for Trevor Rosenthal. The Royals have nothing to play for this season. That should benefit Olivares.
  • The Marlins were in need of Braxton Garrett’s services recently and he delivered right on cue by beating the Astros with 5.2 IP free of any earned runs. He racked up 5Ks thanks to a 34% CSW that pairs nicely with a 33% swinging strike rate.
  • Chris Sale faced live hitters for the first time in his recovery from a stress fracture in his rib. Whether he is starting or relieving Sale has plenty of appeal when he takes the bump for the first time in 2022.
  • Seiya Suzuki still has issues with his finger. He’s been out since May 26 but hasn’t homered since April 17. I drafted him with my 1st pick in my home keeper league. It’s OBP, which matters. I want to see more before I make a ruling on him.
  • Through 11 games in June, Adolis Garcia has 4 HR, 9 RBI, 4 SB, .407 wOBA, and 171 wRC+. Is there a streakier hitter in MLB?
  • Can I just take a moment to thank Austin Riley for answering the call after his breakout 2021? Thanks Austin!
  • Remember former SP Matt Moore? He’s a reliever in Texas now. He got his 1st career save Monday night. He also got the win last Saturday night while striking out 5 dudes over 2IP. Moore the RP makes so much sense to me. Pick him up!
  • He doesn’t play enough, but Dylan Moore has a steal in back-to-back games. He has 6 SB on the season, but he doesn’t play so he’s really not going to be helpful to you in any other capacity. Don’t chase the dragon!
  • Clint Frazier is toast in Chicago. It’s always better to be the toast of the town than toasted as a player. What could’ve been.
  • Sandy Alcantara is my hero! There is seriously nobody like him in MLB right now. He can go 9 EVERY time out. This is what happens when he gets pulled in the 8th inning:

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