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Fantasy Baseball Confidential: Week 12

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 summer solstice is upon us this week! For many of us in the midwest, it’s a welcome respite from the harsh winters that deprive us of that sweet, sweet vitamin D that we need so badly. It also usually means the arrival of more offense when we get a chance to visit our local ballpark. Will that be the case? As of May 31, there were 1411 taters mashed. Compared to that same date in 2021 when there had been 1811 dongs stroked to the cheap seats. 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 12!

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.

  • How many times have I chastised the horrendous Detroit Tiger’s offense in this column? It’s certainly more than once. Last week I mentioned they were at 31 homers for the season with Oakland being the next closest team at 45! Historically bad was an appropriate label for my bozo Tigers. Then, the Tigers did something right. They called up top prospect Riley Greene 45 minutes away from Triple-A Toledo to make his major league debut Saturday against Taylor Hearn and the Texas Rangers. There were fears that the Tiger’s ineptitude offensively would impact Riley Greene’s development in a negative way. WRONG! The Tigers scored a season-high 14 runs in a 14-7 thrashing of the Rangers that felt as close to an exorcism in baseball as you can get! Greene went 2-3 reaching base 4 times becoming the first Tiger to achieve that feat since former Tiger and personal hero of mine Scott Livingstone achieved the feat in 1991. Greene even procured a home run out of the bat of Javier Baez! Now that’s a miracle! For anybody who doubted Greene’s magical powers, the Tigers put that doubt to rest by racking up 7 more runs in a 7-3 victory on Sunday. Now they hit the road to play three in Fenway, where they never have much luck. Have no fear though, because the magical fortitude of Riley Greene knows no bounds!

  • The big news in Pittsburgh is not the long overdue, but highly manipulated call-up of O’Neil Cruz. Nope. It’s Captain Jack Suwinski crushing three homers in a game on Sunday to celebrate the ridiculous delayed arrival of his new teammate! When this season started I had no clue who Suwinski was. I hadn’t heard anybody mention his name in any of the circles I traveled through in the pre-season. Fast forward to today and nobody in Pittsburgh remembers who Sidney Crosby is anymore, because they’re all infatuated with Captain Jack! The kid drafted out of Taft High School in Chicago by the Padres, not the Pirates, skipped Triple-A entirely to make his debut at 23 years old. Suwinski is in the black and gold because Adam Frazier was shipped off to the west coast in a trade that also brought in fellow teammate Tucupita Marcano. After crushing 19 HR combined between both Double-A stops in 2021, he mashed three taters in 13 games with the Altoona Curve. Now he has 11 HR in 47 games in the bigs! Beware his 30% K rate though, which was similar throughout his minor league career. Suwinski may have even been on the waiver wire in certain dynasty leagues to start the year. He also walked 70 times in 111 games in his two combined stops at Double-A in 2021. With an OBP of .278 and a wRC+ of 94 coming into Sunday, I wouldn’t be motivated to add him in redraft. The shallowest I could condone would likely be in a 15-teamer if you’re desperate and hoping to ride the lightning.

  • Boy oh boy, like a nasty chafing after going on the water rides at Cedar Point on a blistering day, it sure does chap my behind when I lose a category by one statistical metric in H2H. Specifically in this example, pitching Ks. In my 14-team 5×5 (OBP instead of AVG) H2H home league known as Bless You Boys (should be familiar to you regular readers by now), I had a tight matchup that was going to come down to Sunday as it so often does in H2H. I had the king of kings Sandy Alcantara taking the hill, but I needed to secure wins, saves and Ks as I had the ERA and WHIP locked down. My opponent had 4 pitchers going Sunday after he slyly made a mid-week trade to acquire Logan Gilbert, who was scheduled to pitch on Sunday. The manager who traded Gilbert had told me several times that Gilbert was essentially untouchable as I had tried a few times to acquire him. Even though I don’t love keeping pitchers, I would have loved to attained Gilbert’s services on my roster, especially since it’s a keeper league! I want to give full credit to the BYB co-commishes for having a rotating keeper situation. This past season we kept 10 players. After this season we will keep 8 and the season after that it will go down to 6 and then slowly increase by 2 back up to 10 again. It’s a fun twist that brings an additional element to trades and roster management no matter if you’re in the hunt for the title or in last place. Back to Gilbert. It turns out Jonathan India was all it took to change the steadfast Gilbert manager’s mind. Now my opponent had 4 SP going Sunday as I nursed a lead of 5 in the K category. I had to stream as many guys as I could afford to drop to match his 4 starters, so I added Mitch Keller and Chris Archer. Sunday morning even brought me a gift as his streamer Jordan Lyles had been scratched from his start. With BYB implementing daily transactions that apply to the next day’s game, there is nothing my opponent could do about the Lyles cancellation. One thing I need to mention here is my decision not to acquire Alex Cobb from another manager on Saturday night. Cobb was set to come off the IL to start Sunday, but I didn’t want to part with Chris Sale. That seemed to be the mandatory player I had to include to get Cobb for a start. How many of you have found yourself wanting to win a category for the week, but not willing to sacrifice the future to do so? This is one of the more intriguing elements of H2H fantasy baseball. I love it! End result was that I lost Ks by one possibly because my opponent had Gregory Soto. The Tigers were in a save situation until the 8th on Sunday when they extended their lead to 7-3. I figured that meant no Soto for the 9th. Nope! He comes on in a non-save situation, striking out 1 Texas Ranger. That’s the difference! If had traded for Cobb I would have taken Ks, even though Cobb only had 2 of them in his return from the IL. I’m disappointed, but no sour grapes. My opponent outsmarted me. He deserved the win. If you’ve never played H2H in fantasy baseball, I strongly recommend giving it a try!
  • I don’t think I have been giving enough attention to Paul Goldschmidt. His numbers over the last month are astounding! Since May 9 he has a 239 wRC+ to go along with 14 doubles, 14 HR, 47 RBI, and a .389/.457/.778 triple slash. Holy cow! There is no way to sustain this pace for an entire season, but you can bet your bottom dollar that he is a legitimate MVP candidate in the NL. I mentioned on Reddit in the daily Anything Goes thread posted daily in the r/fantasybaseball subreddit, that though Goldy’s effort so far is elite, this will be the last season he plays this well. That rubbed some people the wrong way. Downvotes galore! I wasn’t trying to poop in his cereal, I simply felt that his season to this point is so amazing, that it will be difficult to replicate it again in 2023. I’ll absolutely be rooting for him though. You might think I’m foolish for writing this, but I think right now is an ideal sell-high point for Goldy. You should be able to gain a lot in return. Plus you know he can’t keep this pace up all season. Right? As the maniacal Nino Brown said in New Jack City: it’s always business, never personal.

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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.

  • Lucas Giolito is in hell right now. His next start is against the Blue Jays for the second time this season and I think I will be benching him for this go-around with the birds from Canada. He’s not just having a bad stretch, he has a 1.50 WHIP on the season in 58 IP. Combine that with a 4.78 ERA (4.87 FIP) and you’re stuck with a below average SP right now. I mean, the dude is rocking a 3.86 BB/9! BUT…you know it’s coming. Unless he’s injured, which I don’t see any major indications of in his velocity, he will bounce back. Last year feels like a similar situation for Giolito. We all remember the Patriot’s Day start last year in Boston as a reminder of his early season struggles. Turns out Giolito is more of a night owl. At any rate, he has to be considered a buy-low right now. He will finish with an ERA under 4 with a K/9 over 11. That’s somebody who can help your squad. Yet, after being patient last year, I was expecting the next level to finally come about in 2022. Even if he pulls off a 2019 Jack Flaherty-type second half, this just isn’t the Cy Young year for Lucas. He turns 28 in July, so the next 3 or 4 years could still likely end up being his best, but his two finest seasons were the ones where he kept his BB/9 under 3. Why does he struggle with walks? In May of 2021 Brian Menendez of Five Thirty Eight wrote about Giolito shortening his arm swing bringing his throwing arm closer to his body, which enabled him to be cocked to unload sooner to maximize velocity and find the strike zone with more precision. Has he gotten away from this? Well, in this article from Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun Times, apparently Giolito had just made some adjustments to his mechanics that were impacting the way the ball was coming out of his hand prior to taking on the Astros. Didn’t seem like the tinkering did much good when he got shelled by a title contender in Houston. Maybe it’s just a matter of time? Maybe he’s sad? Maybe it’s Tony LaRussa’s fault? The only thing I do know about Giolito right now, is this: he’s a better pitcher than the results he’s offering at the moment.
  • Josh Bell is good. His 13% K rate combined with a 138 wRC+ means his production is only going to rise. When you see days like Friday when he cranked 3 dongs in a twin bill against the Phillies, you know he has more in the tank. Josh Bell will be traded eventually. Bell’s profile screams free agent on the move. The Nats have no playoff hopes this season. Our desire is that Bell gets dealt to a ballpark that has friendly confines. How about Fenway? What if the Red Sox want to rent Josh Bell as their 1B/DH with that short corner in RF and wait until 2023 for Triston Casas to be their man? Washington has 5 games this week, with two of them being played at Camden in Baltimore. Josh Bell is going to hit 30 home runs this season with a double digit BB rate and elite plate coverage inside the zone and out. Josh Bell.

  • The Marlins called up OF Jerar Encarnacion over the weekend. Unfamiliar with him? Well, let me start by telling you that he crushed the opposition at Double-A in 31 games prompting Kim Ng to promote him to Triple-A Jacksonville. After 26 games there, he found himself in the Marlins MLB lineup Sunday where he proceeded to hit a go-ahead grand slam off Seth Lugo! Jesus Sanchez heading to the IL opened the door for Encarnacion. Jerar is 6’4″ 250! He’s a powerhouse physically. There’s trouble in paradise though as he had a 38% K rate in 260 PA when he was promoted to Pensacola last year. He brought it down to 26% this year showing marked improvement in making contact. At 24 years old he’s already got enough experience right now to be a threat in the batter’s box. The Marlins have a day game Monday in New York before heading home to face the Rockies and the Mets again. Who knows how long Encarnacion stays up, but a tasty matchup against the Rockies pitching staff is reason enough to add him to your starting lineup this week.

  • Are you still thinking about whether it’s worth your time to roster Luis Garcia (the hitter) or Ezequiel Duran? Both of these young whippersnappers are chock full of fantasy goodness! So much so, that both of them might be worthy of being rostered even in 12-teamers. Garcia has flourished as a hitter so far. Sunday is a great example of his consistent ability to produce as he scored 3 times while going 3-4 with a double. The dude never walks and his .338 batting average by way of a .400 BABIP may scare some of you. Yet, there is a clear line of progression in his last 2 stints at Triple-A Rochester that reveal a hitter who got a very early taste of MLB life in the 2020 bozo season and wanted more. It’s fair to assume a reduction in his contact, but I don’t have any doubts about his ability. One of my most trusted prospect advisers, Phil Goyette from the Pallazzo Podcast, recently said on the show that he sees some Juan Soto in Garcia’s hitting profile. As for Duran, the Rangers brought him up from Double-A Frisco after he showed out with a .317/.365/.574 triple slash in 200 PA. Similar to Garcia, he hasn’t walked a lick since his arrival a few weeks ago. It’s a small sample size of 13 games, but his work has resulted in a 140 wRC+ with 2 HR and 2 SB. He does have that pesky 28% K rate to consider as well. The good news here is both Garcia and Duran are playing every day. The concern would be that they are always in the bottom part of the lineup. The other similarity here is both teams only have 5 games this week. I can see why you might want to pass in certain formats, but there is a lot to like with these two dudes. I know I get caught up sometimes in the emotion and passion of newly called up players who perform initially, but there are tangible reasons to be found to add these dudes to your roster.
  • This section is dedicated to a man who has shown me what he’s made of and then some. Manny Machado is having a banner year as the 3B of the Padres! Can you believe it’s been almost 10 years since he debuted as a 19-year-old in Baltimore against the Royals? He went 2-4 in that game just for the record. When he signed his deal with San Diego after his brief stint with the Dodgers in 2018, I thought the Padres would not get the production they saw from Machado in 2018 in which his production resulted in a 141 wRC+, a .297 batting average, and most dubious to me of all, 14 pilfered bags. Prior to that season he had only broken the double-digit barrier for steals one time when he ran wild for 20 steals but was also caught stealing 8 times. With the serious knee injuries he suffered earlier in his career, I wasn’t betting on more frequent SB attempts as he aged, let alone expecting consistent production in that department. That hasn’t stopped him at all though, as he has increased his steal total every season since joining the Friars. Last year he swiped 12 in 15 tries and is 7 for 8 so far this year! And that batting average? .329! Sure that average is likely to come down, but it doesn’t seem far-fetched or absurd by any means. All of this makes his injury yesterday that much more disappointing. As of this writing, it appears to be an ankle issue, which I take as a relief that it’s not a serious knee issue harkening back from the past. This does mean that if/when he hits the IL, C.J. Abrams will likely return to the roster in San Diego. In 30 games at Triple-A El Paso, Abrams has 7 HR, 10SB in 13 tries, and has a 16.6% K rate. Get well soon Manny!

  • I feel I have to address Jon Berti here. He had 7 SB this week! He’s taking his fantasy managers to new heights in roto leagues just by swiping bags. He even had 3 in one game this past week. Everyone is in love with Berti and rightfully so! The Marlins have 7 games this week, so he might steal 10 or more. Who knows!? I have personally benefitted from Berti’s elite hustle, but it might not last. The Marlins are expecting Joey Wendle and Brian Anderson to go on rehab assignments this week. Berti has earned his spot right now, but Wendle was brought over in the offseason from Tampa while Brian Anderson has always been an underrated 3B with a career wRC+ of 112. He’s an above-average player for his career. I hate to even write these words, but you might want to look at trading Berti this week while he’s at his zenith. Or you can just use him up for every steal he’s worth until he loses playing time. Honestly, I see both sides.

  • The Cubs are benefitting from showing patience with Justin Steele. He had 2 solid outings this past week at San Diego and at home against Atlanta. When the week started not many people were interested in his 2-step due to both offenses looking like world-beaters. I only started him in my Main Event because I was desperate for pitching. Outside of his May 26th disaster at the best ballpark for hitters in the majors, he’s been pretty reliable. In fact, his FIP shows that he should be even better as it’s almost a run better at 3.48 compared to his 4.27 ERA. His lone start this week will be at Pittsburgh. If you’re in a streaming situation, you definitely wanted to snag him for that one. That FIP is really eye-opening!

Speed Round Musings

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

  • Lorenzo Cain was DFA’ed by the Brewers. The move came right after Cain attained 10 years of MLB service. That means he will qualify for a pension. Classy move by the Brew Crew. I think that could be it for Cain and if it is, his defense was his signature.
  • The Mariners have Ken Giles back in the fold and he should be activated this week for his first MLB action since 2020 with Toronto. Seattle’s record and lack of consistency with a closer feel to me like Giles has been the heir apparent for a while. Add him now!
  • The Red Sox have seemed to get out of their own way and let Tanner Houck take over the main closing duties. He has two straight saves where he got one out to preserve the wins. Both were because other relievers almost blew it though. It’s his show now. Finally.
  • Joey Votto hasn’t done much of anything lately. I am holding firm with him though. He still has a solid 41% HHR and he plays in the most advantageous ballpark for hitters in the big leagues. Remain calm.
  • I want to shout out a person on Reddit who brought a possible Rowdy Tellez platoon to my attention. Tellez sat twice against two LHP this week. The Brewers have also been floundering, so it could be more than that as Tellez is average against lefties. Watch out.
  • I had some fun with Dave Potts on Twitter last week for his bid on Seranthony Dominguez of $155 in our Main Event. I was having some fun with the tweet, but I’m not sure it came off as funny. Bottom line is he is the best closer option in Philly now.
  • The Rays should be sending out Wander Franco soon for a rehab assignment. In redraft leagues, I would be looking to sell him as soon as he gets on a roll. Take advantage of that and trade him for a more reliable fantasy asset.
  • Word around the campfire is Garrett Whitlock will be back this weekend from his hip issue. No rehab stint required. Hopefully, everything works out that way. I am still heavily invested in him. Can’t bail now.
  • Daulton Varsho is going to be ok after bruising his heel running to first base Saturday night. Apparently, this is common for him and he has no worries about it. Neither should we.
  • Cleveland will have the Franimal back this week. He’s been mashing on his rehab assignment. I picked him up in a 12-teamer Sunday night and I’m expecting a completely different player than the one we last saw this season. I’m buying for sure!
  • The Twins welcomed back Sonny Gray from a pectoral strain. He went 5 scoreless with 3Ks. It wasn’t dominant in Seattle, but it was a solid return from the IL. If I were you I’d be heavily interested in trying to acquire him. This will be a great year for him.
  • The Rangers have Jose Leclerc on their active roster for the first time in forever. He has value in SV+HLD leagues.
  • It wouldn’t be my article if I didn’t mention Jesus Luzardo again. I did a poll on Twitter asking whether people thought he would come back soon, after the break, or not at all. The results were in favor of him returning after July 18 with 66% of the vote.
  • Kyle Stowers made his MLB debut with a double in Toronto! Stowers is a favorite of ours on the Pallazzo Podcast Prospects Power Half Hour. He didn’t stay long, but he will be back. People in OBP leagues should take note.
  • It’s a real shame about Mookie Betts. He had seemed to put the hip fears behind him until he collided with Cody Bellinger this week. A hairline rib fracture might keep him out until mid to late August. You need to hold him for now in redraft leagues.
  • The Royals should have Edward Olivares back any day now. His rehab has gone well in Omaha. Let’s hope there isn’t a setback so we can finally enjoy the fruits of his special talent. Power, speed and everything in between. Go pick him up if you still can.
  • Luis Patino has moved his rehab to Triple-A Durham to build up to a starter’s role. Should be a couple of weeks still before he arrives.
  • The Jays Matt Chapman has been dealing with a sore wrist. But the good news is he going to play through it. He had a strange week. He sat out Monday, then hit a homer in two straight before sitting Thursday only to return Friday. He still mashes the ball and in that lineup which should be even better than it is, I am being extra patient hoping it all comes together in the summer.
  • I mentioned Carson Kelly last week as a cheap add. He is working out the kinks while he hits leadoff. Yes, that’s correct! Kelly hit leadoff Friday night. If we get more of that while the Dbacks audition him for a trade, that’s a big bonus to his current value.
  • Jack Flaherty made his 2022 debut against the Pirates last Wednesday. He struck out 3 in 3IP, walking 2 and giving up 3 hits. I have no interest in Flaherty right now. I just don’t trust his shoulder.
  • I have been so pleased with Andres Gimenez this year. One of my most drafted players carries a .304 batting average into this week. He has cooled from his recent hot streak, but he’s hitting .353 against LHP in 36 PA in 2022. That’s such a win for his growth!
  • The Red Sox confirmed that Chris Sale will be a starter when he returns. If you have been holding like I have, stay the course with him. I know he’s fragile, but there’s still life left in that arm yet. Coming back from TJ is never easy.
  • The Padres are starting to benefit from trading for Luke Voit. He hits fourth every game, which is a great spot to be in. He also has 4 bombs over his last 8 games. We saw in 2020 how Voit can homer in bunches. He’s always an injury risk, but his power is stellar.
  • Many of you got all jazzed up when Yoan Moncada went 5-6 with a dong while driving in 5 against the Tigers in a 13-0 victory. Then he got hurt again and now could be looking at another IL stint. That day was a mirage and chasing his potential will kill your squad.
  • Over the last eight days, Mike Trout has seven homers. I know he will never steal a base again, but man can he hit the baseball still. Wow!
  • Sixto Sanchez threw 88 MPH recently in a bullpen session in Jupiter. He’s slowly working his way into possibly being a part of the Marlins plans before the season is through. Does 88 impress you though?
  • Cubs pitcher Adbert Alzolay is nowhere nearer to returning. I love his slider, but we’re going to be waiting still for awhile it appears.
  • The Yankees are playing elite baseball. Gleyber Torres is very much a part of that. He had a monster weekend in Toronto going 7-11 with 6 runs scored and this homer below. He still seems to sit twice a week, but it doesn’t really matter. The output is there.

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