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Fantasy Baseball Confidential: Week 14

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. It’s the 4th of July holiday in the United States of America, so for once we get a slight reprieve from the grind. Still, I can’t leave you all with nothing. This will be an abbreviated version of the Confidential this week. Essentially, it’ll just be a speed round musings piece. 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 14!

Speed Round Musings

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

  • A highlight for me this week was watching Randy Arozarena go hog wild on the base paths! He has 6 SB in his last 7 games including back-to-back 2 SB efforts Tuesday and Wednesday at home against the Brewers. I was projecting him for about 20 steals this season and he is going to obliterate that mark with 18 already. I would like to see more power to go with that speed, but his early-season ground ball issues along with his reduction in walks and increase in chase rate have stifled him at the plate. He also dropped down a couple of notches in the order the last few games. Despite the negatives, I would definitely look to acquire Arozarena before the bat takes off.
  • There was a lot of panic about Craig Kimbrel after he took a liner off the back from Jake Cronenworth. Manager Dave Roberts of the Dodgers told the media that there didn’t appear to be any structural damage. It’s possible Kimbrel got very lucky which is to say the Dodgers did too because the legitimate options to close after Kimbrel dwindle quickly with the loss of Daniel Hudson looming larger if Kimbrel goes down. He seems to be ok though, so I wouldn’t panic.
  • The Braves have handled Spencer Strider superbly! Are you watching Boston? Atlanta allowed Strider to break camp with them while patiently using him in longer relief chances as he slowly built up to a starter’s workload. And since his 1st start May 30th he has racked up 7 total starts with a 3-1 record, 13.5 K/9, 3.06 BB/9, 3.31 ERA and a 2.41 FIP! In the Pallazzo Podcast Discord we were debating the most valuable pick-up of 2022 and Strider was definitely under consideration. I have to give props to my man Russell Withers for jumping on him during draft season. I picked him up in my 1st FAAB for my Main Event team because of Russell but dropped him two weeks later for fear he was not pitching enough to justify the roster spot. Whoops! Remember when everybody wanted Matt Brash to start the year? Strider was the guy instead.
  • Rhys Hoskins has 4 HR in his last 5 games which is reminding me of his legendary run that helped propel me to my first BYB (home league) title in 2017! What a magical ride that was with his 18 HR in 50 games. With Bryce Harper out Hoskins is stepping up when he is needed. Since June 1 Hoskins has a BB rate of 15% with a 186 wRC+ to go with a .343 BABIP. That can’t last, but a lovely reminder of echoes from that classic debut in 2017 is worth the ride. I’m trading him at his highest point if I’m you.
  • The Marlins have Joey Wendle back in the fold. With Jazz Chisholm Jr. on the IL with a back issue, Wendle will have plenty of playing time to work with. Wendle can swipe bags and has already done so with a SB on Sunday. Flashes of Jon Berti are floating in our head when we think of any Miami Marlin who can steal a base. Wendle is a source of steals and is a better hitter than Berti. Just don’t conflate Berti’s legendary run with Wendle being able to do the same.
  • Riley Greene hit his 1st MLB homer on Saturday with a walk-off shot to dead center! He is the 1st Tiger to have his 1st tater be a walk-off blast since my favorite Tiger of all-time Lou Whitaker did it as a rookie. Whitaker is having his jersey retired on August 6th at Comerica Park! Thought I loathe owner Chris Illitch and the Tigers are mired in pathetic play, I can’t miss this long-awaited tribute for a 2B who should definitely be in the Hall of Fame.
  • The Astros Cristian Javier had a 49% swinging strike rate with his FF last Friday night at home against the Angels! That’s wild! Essentially a two-pitch pitcher, the four-seamer did almost all the work for Javier who has struck 27 batters over his last two starts, with the previous start consisting of 7 no-hit innings and 13 K. Javier has supplanted Jose Urquidy and maybe even Framber Valdez as a lock in a very deeply talented starting rotation. There is also Lance McCullers who pitched a 20-pitch bullpen recently and might return by the end of July barring any setbacks from a strained right flexor tendon that has kept McCullers out all year so far.
  • Brendan Rodgers is taking flight at COORS thanks to a reduction in Ks ( 17% down from 20% last year) and an increase of 5% in his HHR (45%) from 2021. The consistent improvement year to year in contact also bodes quite well for Rodgers as he starts to blossom into an above-average hitter. He might not end up meeting the lofty standards of his prospect hype, but he’s got a bat worth rostering even in 10-teamers soon enough. Hitting 5th with Kris Bryant back in the lineup helps too.
  • Since June 23 Paul Sewald has converted all 5 of his SV chances. He is clearly the guy now after 3 months of flirtation with others in the pen. As much as I want Ken Giles to be the man back there, it seems clear that he will have to earn that chance through Sewald’s demise or an injury. It’s a bummer for me too because I had Sewald more than once on multiple times thinking he was the best RP in Seattle. Servais and the front office just played too many mind games. When the music stopped for this game of musical closers, I was stuck without a folding chair. So it goes.
  • I haven’t fawned over Vinnie Pasquantino like others have on Twitter. There has been a major longing for his arrival in MLB. When Carlos Santana was dealt to the trade-happy Mariners, Vinnie’s moment was here! He started in rookie ball in 2019 and now is in the bigs. He’ll be 25 in October. So he’s getting a bit of a late start on his MLB clock. What’s more important from a fantasy perspective though is his ability to hit for average. In OBP he gets a bigger boost in my view, but I want to see if he’s a .280 or better hitter in MLB. That’s the real mystery for me.
  • Garrett Whitlock is likely to return from the IL as a RP. That stinks for some, but if he gets to close games that makes me happy! My original plan from the moment I drafted him this year was to use him as the closer. I know Tanner Houck is in the mix too, but he gave up an ER on 3K in the 8th against the Cubs Saturday night. Bottom line is his value doesn’t change for me.
  • The Mariners are firing up Kyle Lewis for another rehab stint as he tries to come back from a concussion that stopped him dead in his tracks after a wait to play this year because of other injuries. I love his power and plate discipline but he’s difficult to rely on. Another Mariners OF is Mitch Haniger who isn’t all that close to returning from his ankle injury. He has several agility drills he has to clear before he can run and then hit. I don’t see him coming back before August.
  • Alejandro Kirk is certainly in the top 3 for catcher of the year at this point. Though Wilson Contreras is the likely leader, the value for the point of acquisition for Kirk is vastly superior. With an ADP of 220, he’s been a big boost for those who waited on him. I picked him up as a free agent in May in BYB (my 14 team H2H Cats home league). I was wrong about his injury concerns. At least so far this year. Jinx!
  • The Reds welcome back Nick Lodolo to the rotation Tuesday against the New York Mets. It’s a home start at Great American Ballpark. Lodolo’s back should be good to go.
  • I wrote up about 20 or so names on the Pallazzo Patreon that I expect to pick things up in July. One of them was Josh Rojas. He stunk it up in June with .216/.260/.299 triple slash. Yet, he hits atop that Arizona lineup more often than not. He’s too talented to be that bad. Sometimes I work on the simple premise of what goes down, must come up or the law of averages. Those rules plus maximum opportunities at the plate tell me he’s got production to offer in July.
  • Rowdy Tellez is showing himself to be one streaky dude in his first season at Miller Park. He hit 5 HR in June with all of them coming June 22 or later. He held down a 118 wRC+ (100 is average) for June with a 12% BB rate and a 15% K rate. That’s a pretty promising combo for a mostly exclusive power hitter. I’ve held Tellez all season in 15-teamers and will continue to do so.
  • I added Jake Odorizzi in a few leagues Sunday night because I was looking for decent innings with a 2-start week. This will be his 1st go-around in the hill since May 16. He’s been properly prepared to battle the Royals as he went 5 shutout innings in his last outing at double-A Corpus Christi. The 32-year-old has a career 3.92 ERA that I am banking on in the leagues where I need Ks and Ws.
  • Xander Bogaerts lacerated his thigh Sunday fielding at 2nd base. Word is he is fine and shouldn’t miss any days. Bogaerts is a guy I heavily drafted this season with projections of a borderline MVP season in the cards. He has done everything I expected except hit for power. He has 6 HR on the year which would put 2022 in line with only 2017 when it comes to a power outage over a full season. He had 10 HR in 148 games in 2017. I am expecting a power surge before the year is through. Now is a great time to see if the person who rosters Bogaerts in your league can be persuaded to move on from him.
  • The Oakland A’s have found a closer again. It’s the same guy who should have been closing all along. Lou Trivino converted 3 straight saves over the last week before blowing the save in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners Saturday. Just as the original plan was supposed to go before Trivino pitched horribly, the A’s show off Trivino as the closer and ship him for parts at the deadline. I’m off Dany Jimenez entirely.
  • Sometimes there are so many players, so many stories and so much to keep up on that I realize I haven’t written about certain players I really want you to know about. One of those is Luis Urias of the Brewers. Another player I roster on my home league roster, Urias has greater value in OBP leagues with a career OBP (.330) almost 100 points higher than his career batting average (.237). Dude just turned 25 last month though, so I’m not focusing on career numbers too much yet. His best is yet to come and you should look to add him now before he goes off!
  • The return of Seiya Suzuki on Monday will bring joy to the masses as summer is in full swing! Missing Suzuki for over a month was disappointing because he got off to such a solid start where he showed us all what he could be in The Show. Hopefully his ring finger is as right as rain so he can resume his elite, top 60 fantasy status. Yep! I think very highly of him. That’s why I rejected an offer for Zac Gallen/Luis Severino/Luis Castillo for him in my home league. Am I a fool for turning that down?
  • Patrick Corbin shocked the world last week with his 12 K performance at home versus the Pirates. He had a 74% swinging strike rate with his slider getting 14 whiffs on 19 swings. He also showed velo bumps with his FF and SNK. His SLD usage went from 27 on June 22nd against BAL to 51 in the Pittsburgh start. Monitor his pitch mix per outing carefully as a change in his pitch selection could elicit meaningful change when it comes to productive results.
  • Ramon Laureano went 2-5 with a double-dong effort last Thursday in Seattle. He’s been low-key since his return from suspension in May. He does have 8 SB in 11 tries. He may not be leaving Oakland via trade this year either because he still has three more seasons of team control before he hits free agency (2026). I know it seems like Oakland wants to sell any possible source of financial pressure on the team bottom line right now. If he stays he gets to rack up the steals for that dreadful squad.
  • The Giants will be without Anthony DeSclafani for the rest of 2022 as he has surgery on his ankle to set a tendon that needs repair. I’m never rostering Tony Disco because he just isn’t a guy I think I have to have to win fantasy leagues. But even though he can no longer help you can rely on his teammate Jakob Junis who is coming back from a hammy issue. He is likely to need a rehab start, but preparing now to move in on him is a wise move.
  • This Darick Hall dude is a lot of fun, isn’t he? A 14th rounder in the 2016 MLB Draft, he’ll be 27 on July 25. He’s been at triple-A since 2021 where he showed modest pop with 14 HR in 120 games. This year though he excelled with 20 HR in 72 games with a 132 wRC+ (he had a 133 wRC+ in 2019 in 132 games at double-A). He hit cleanup in his 1st 3 games. That’s a spot you want to be in for fantasy production.
  • The terror surrounding the demise of Lucas Giolito has subsided as he had a successful two-start week against the Angels and Giants on the road. He pitched 6 innings in both starts with 13 total Ks, 3 total BB and 3ER combined. This was the week Giolito needed and if you happened to acquire him during or before this week, congratulations to you! I was baffled by his troubles, but I wasn’t ready to dump him. Just left him on the bench until further notice.
  • Eddie Rosario is getting close to returning to the Braves. He has been rehabbing after he had surgery to fix blurred vision and swelling in his right eye. He’s making great contact at triple-A Gwinnett and will force Atlanta’s hand soon enough. He never walked enough for my taste, but he can be of use in that lineup with batting average at the very least.
  • Get happy if you like useful offensive outfielders because Tyler Naquin looks ready to return from the IL on Monday for the 4th of July. Make a note of the Reds roster on Monday because a month from now it may look much different after the August 2 trade deadline comes and goes. Naquin is an underrated fantasy option. Grab him!
  • Ranger Suarez hit the IL with back spams for Philly, but I even held onto him in a 12-teamer because I expect him to be back as soon as he can. I think the Phillies are just being extra cautious with their talented starting pitcher. He posted a 3.77 ERA since June 7th and in that same span he also had 22 Ks versus 11 BBs. I’m holding.
  • I like to ignore Nolan Arenado for some reason in fantasy. This year, that was a mistake. The 31-year-old hasn’t come close to his .315 AVG in 2019 over the last two seasons (one of them of the Covid bozo season so that doesn’t really count). In his 2nd full season in St. Louis, he is taking advantage of the banner years from guys like his teammate Paul Goldschmidt and the home ballpark. Though Arenado left comfy COORS with little hope of ever having a home again that friendly to offense, there is data to support the improvement of Busch as a homer-happy ballpark in 2022. Resident xStats wiz Crosby Spencer shared some of what he calls his HR Factors in the Pallazzo Podcast Discord. Crosby has his own channel there and it’s a massively useful resource when it comes to ballpark factors. Essentially, Crosby has found that the Cardinal’s home park ranks 11th overall in homer happiness, but the park still isn’t what Crosby would call a “home run park”. Arenado is still missing COORS, but he might have found a solid substitute to aid his stats as he grows into his 30s.

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