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Fantasy Baseball Confidential: Week 9

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. As the second month of the season draws to a close, some players like Aaron Judge are firmly in the MVP race while others such as Marcus Semien are flirting with the Mendoza line. 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 a bigger budget for Week 9!

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.

  • There is no way in hell I was going to avoid talking about a special SP who has completed at least 8 IP in each of this last 3 starts. The likely candidate to lead the majors in innings pitched this year. The one, the only, Sandy Alcantara!!! I have had an affinity for Alcantara ever since he won me my home league title in September 2019 (BYB H2H SHOUT-OUT) by going the distance in a shutout over the Royals with 8 Ks to boot! Moments like that stick with you forever. They bond you to a player in a very odd, but very unique way. Sandy Alcantara has no idea who I am, but I will never forget him. That’s why his 14 K masterpiece with ZERO walks over Atlanta Saturday was not a surprise to me. He had a similar game last year on September 8th against the Mets where he struck out 14! Unfortunately, he had 1 walk in that outing. The tweet below shows you all you need to know about the Sandy Man. The Sandy Man can! He’s my favorite pitcher in MLB and reminds me a bit of Justin Verlander. Not in his delivery or his stuff. It’s the presence, the consistency, the smooth delivery, and the ability to go deep into games. I have him in almost all my dynasty/keeper leagues and the only reason I didn’t get him in a lot of redraft leagues was only due to his ADP jumping up so high. Even though I admire him, I still have to stick to the plan. Nothing personal Sandy!

  • Did you know Mookie Betts was a hardcore bowler? I feel like this aspect of his life has a segment dedicated to it every time Mookie is a part of the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball telecast. Bowling isn’t fun anymore. I’m not sure it ever was in the first place. Back to Mookie though. His monster week included 4 HR, but it’s actually 6 over the last 7 calendar days. It all started in Philly where he homered in back-to-back games on May 21 and 22. My friend and one of the smartest people I know in fantasy baseball, Crosby Spencer, said it best on Twitter when he reminisced about his first dynasty team with Albert Belle who had his career derailed by a hip injury. A similar fate related to Mookie’s hip had Crosby and myself worried that the best days for the lovable Betts were in the rearview mirror. As of today that doesn’t seem to be the case. When he turns 30 in October, Mookie will be mashing his way to the playoffs once again and everybody who enjoys baseball will be happier because of that. Welcome home, son!
  • Evan Longoria kind of farted around when he first came off the IL in mid-May. Then he belted (Brandon?) 2 yambos against the Mets last Thursday to kick out the jams for the weekend series in Cincinnati. He hit a bomb on Saturday against Luis Cessa and Sunday off Art Warren during a 6-run 8th inning to propel the Giants to victory. A lifetime ago Longoria was the 3rd overall pick of the Rays in the 2006 draft. He helped lead the Rays to the World Series in 2008 and hit this timeless crank-yanker off Scott Proctor to eliminate the fried chicken Red Sox and advance to the 2011 playoffs in the most dramatic way possible. Fast forward to 2022 where he is showing more pop in 14 games than he did in 81 games during an injury-shortened 2021. He’ll be 37 in October and the Giants hold the team option for 2023. If Longoria has anything left in the tank (50% HHR, 6 barrels in 32 BBE) you can bet your bottom dollar that he will sacrifice every last bit of it this season. Longoria has the 2nd most HR among 3B over the last two weeks. He’s chasing a lot more (very small sample size) at 35%, but I think I would rather start him right now over Matt Chapman, Ryan McMahon, Luis Rengifo, or Jake Burger. Wouldn’t you?
  • My bozo Tigers continue to trot out the worst offense in MLB by a country mile (what is a country mile?). Even former flash in the pan Tiger Joel Zumaya has had enough! There is one dude though who bucked the trend by producing actual, tangible offensive output. His name is Harold Castro. Who is this man? Even I’m not that familiar with him. When he first came on the scene in Detroit in 2019, he always blended together with Wille Castro (who I definitely know and am fond of). Two average at best players on a team once on the precipice of the World Series, but now toiling in loserdom with an anti-analytics curmudgeon in Ron Gardenhire at the helm. If I had been more respectful and appreciative at the time, I would have noticed Harold Castro had hit .291 in 369 PA. He still rocked a 79 wRC+ though. In 2021 he got another dose of playing time racking up a .283/.310/.359 slash line in 339 PA. Now through 80 PA he has 3HR with a 147 wRC+ that pairs with his 35.9% HHR. He strikes out 17% of the time while lifting the ball in the air about 10% more often than last year with a negligible LA change. What’s the bottom line? The Tigers have 8 games this week which means he should see a few starts (he started 3 of the last 4 games with all 3HR coming in that span against Minnesota and Cleveland). If you’re looking for middle IF help, roll the dice.
  • I wanted to give credit to and spread the word on a dude who really knows prospects. In fact, he knows the game of baseball very well! His name is Benjamin Chase. I met him when he came on the Pallazzo Podcast Prospects Power Half Hour a few times through my co-host Phil Goyette (who also knows a lot about prospects). Then Benjamin joined the Pallazzo Discord and he started to show all of us how incredibly prescient he is. We did a show in early May about the 9 prospects outside the top 100 that you needed to know about. The first name out of Ben’s mouth was Cal Mitchell of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Sure enough, Mitchell got the call last week and has been in the Pirates lineup ever since. When people like Benjamin show the baseball know-how while also being extremely gracious, that is a reason to celebrate someone. So here’s to a fella who can scout with the best of them, make you laugh and provide an ear to vent to with his heart of gold. Way to go Ben!
  • I still don’t understand the Tommy Pham fracas with Joc Pederson. Actually, I just don’t care. I mean, I have the comprehension to understand this Twitter trolling event come to life, but in the final analysis, I simply don’t have the desire to explore it. The only reason I am mentioning it here is not for clicks (I am not that cool), but rather to share this special moment in MLB history thanks to avid strip club aficionado Tommy Pham.

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.

  • The Cubs have 9 games on the docket this week which means streaming a hitter like Christopher Morel could provide volume for week 9. 2 doubleheaders are responsible for this anomaly as it all starts on Monday with a twin bill at home against Milwaukee on Memorial Day in the United States.. Would Ernie Banks say, “let’s play 4” in this case? I doubt it, because Ernie wouldn’t make a lame joke like that. If you’re looking to live on the edge right off the bat because you’re a diehard adrenaline fiend, Matt Swarmer will make his MLB debut as the 27th man for the Monday matinee. Swarmer is a 28-year-old who has pitched well in AAA so far during this young season with a 2.08 ERA and a 9.69 K/9. It appears Swarmer is being rewarded for his solid start and for spending his entire career in the minors with the Cubs organization. I don’t expect much here and even if he does well, it seems like this is a one-and-done doubleheader scenario.
  • Spencer Strider is finally going to start for Atlanta on Monday. The longest he went in a game so far was 4 IP against Milwaukee on May 6 when he fired 69 pitches in that outing. He also topped out at 100.7 MPH against the Brew Crew! Now he will stare down the Diamondbacks in Arizona as Zac Gallen takes the bump for the rattlers, in what promises to be an above-average pitching showdown. The Braves went down via the K 14 times via the arm of Sandy Alcantara (Sandy is my everything) over the weekend. Gallen will do his best to meet that standard as he will likely still be pitching long after Strider has been pulled. But it’s quality over quantity with Strider as he carries a 13.68 K/9 in 24.1 IP. If the 5th inning ends with Strider still on the hill, that will be a surprise to me. He will have to be much more efficient with more pitches in the zone if he wants to hang around. Even if he surpasses 69 pitches, it’s safe to say that he will not go much beyond 75-80 pitches. Wins (and even less so with quality starts) will be harder to come by for this Clemson pitching prodigy, but all other pitching categories in 5×5 roto will likely benefit from Strider’s presence in your lineup.
  • If you’re one of the people who spent more than $10 in FAAB on Victor Robles, you CANNOT say you saw something positive in his profile that compelled you to act. He stole 4 bases in 3 games over the weekend against the Rockies, who own the worst WHIP and second worst ERA in MLB. He’s striking out more than ever with a 28% K rate and by far the weakest HHR rate I have ever included in an article at 13.8%. The Nationals are on the road this week with a series at Citi Field versus the Mets before they swing over to the Queen City to tee off at Great American Ballpark. I can already see it now. He will struggle against the Mets before he tees off in Cincinnati’s bandbox for 4 games. I understand the desperation for SB (I am dead last in my Main Event with 11), so this is in no way a bitter tirade against those who drove up the price to acquire Robles over the weekend.

  • Every week that I write this article I essentially judge players on what they have done, will do or will not do. It’s only fair that I turn my commentary inward, especially when I screw up. As we used to say in the 90s back in my teenage years, if you’re going to dish it, you better be able to take it. The nature of my blunder relates to FAAB bidding. For those of you who are new to this column, I have an entry in the NFBC Main Event. I am in an individual league, which is a 15-team roto standard 5×5 with 23 active spots and 7 for the bench. Each league also competes for the overall title which encompasses every Main Event league totaling exactly 705 entries. The FAAB runs every Sunday night at 10PM EDT. I set up my bids with copies for each player I wanted or planned to drop having redundancies in place just in case certain bids didn’t pan out. One other thing I need to mention is the bench. I drafted Chris Sale and Fernando Tatis Jr. with the hope that they would be back by June. I also added Shane Baz in anticipation of his return in June. To make matters worse I have Freddy Peralta and Jesus Luzardo which means 5 of my 7 bench spots were inactive. There was a glimmer of hope that Luzardo would be back by his IL return date of May 27, so I had him in my lineup because it’s a weekly lineup setting for pitchers. So I already took 1 zero for this past week. I had to pull the plug on Peralta. I think the Brewers hope to have him ready for their playoff run over rushing him back. It’s a 2-catcher league as well and I have Yan Gomes who hit the IL this week in a starting spot. So I needed to make sure I grabbed a catcher to start while adding pitching to prevent taking more zeroes. Here’s where my tomfoolery kicks in. When the FAAB ran just after 10PM Sunday night, I found myself with 3 catchers added to my roster and Houston OF Jose Siri. Now I am carrying 4 catchers with 2 pitchers, Sale and Baz, in my active pitching lineup. How did this happen? All my bids were outdone by the other aggressors in the league. I also should have only dropped Yan Gomes for catchers only instead of the other 3 players I was dropping. That way if one catcher bid was executed the other ones would have been canceled out because Gomes was already dropped for the first catcher added. There is a lesson to be learned here about roster management. Only add a player you want for the guy he needs to swap positions with. Learn from my mistake. Don’t be that guy.

Speed Round Musings

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

  • Edward Cabrera is back in the bigs this week! He gets to start at Coors though, so maybe bench him until his next opportunity anywhere but there.
  • Did you know Jeff McNeil is one of my favorite players? He rested his tired legs Sunday, but overall he’s hitting .317 with a 143 wRC+. Cherish him.
  • Mike Trout will be in the MVP discussion all season, but sadly his fantasy MVP days are over without any SB. He is yet to even attempt one. Sigh…
  • Sonny Gray left his stellar Sunday start with a right pectoral issue. As of now it’s unclear if it’s serious. He is a legit Cy Young candidate this year.
  • It’s good to see the elder statesman Joey Votto producing again. Since his return May 20th he’s tattooing yambos while getting on base. He’s back!
  • 21-year-old Michael Harris had 11 SB in 14 tries at Double-A before his promotion to Atlanta. I witnessed a $288 FAAB bid for him Sunday night.
  • Patrick Wisdom was not a flash in the pan. He crushes the baseball with a 55% HHR. Dude plays daily and will hit 30HR before 2022 is done.
  • The excitement surrounding Sheldon Neuse earlier in the year has faded. A groin injury limited his SB and now that 20/20 dream looks mostly dead.
  • Mackenzie Gore is a lock in the rotation. He had a 39% CSW with 2H over 7 shutout innings Sunday against Pittsburgh. The only fear is IP limits.
  • I am so into Edwin Rios that I wrote a song about him last year. He played all 7 games this past week while Justin Turner sat 2. It’s all happening!
  • The Trent Grisham debacle might come to an end soon. He sat twice last week, but hit his 2nd homer of the season on Sunday. Signs of life or fraud?
  • Shout-out to Joe Gentile for telling me Adrian Morejon added 3 inches of rise to his fastball as he rehabs and should help the Padres bullpen soon.
  • There was a moment over the weekend where Bobby Dalbec actually impressed people with 2 dongs in 3 games. He is widely available right now.
  • I want to praise Triston McKenzie who has gone at least 6 IP in each of his last 5 starts. The Ks are down but so are the walks: 4.35 to 2.29 BB/9.
  • Texas Ranger Kole Calhoun has quietly mashed. Since May 9th he has 6HR, 18R, 15RB with .375/.410/.700 slash line in 78 PA. Good for him!
  • Don’t forget that Riley Greene is getting closer to returning as he began his rehab last Friday. He will definitely start once he arrives in Detroit.
  • The Twins are getting a boost from Trevor Larnach who mashed 3 taters over his last 5 appearances. His playing time looks secure. Go get him.
  • Boston’s closing situation is hell on earth right now. They need a trade to get out of this quagmire they’re in. Lou Trivino maybe? Melancon?
  • All systems go for Kyle Lewis who will have every chance to play with Haniger and Kelenic out of the picture. Just be weary of the injury threat.
  • What do the Pirates have against O’Neil Cruz? Other Pirates are getting the call to the MLB roster. His arrival must be imminent. Plan accordingly.
  • He’s seeing less time on the diamond, but Dairon Blanco of the Royals is oozing SB potential. Add him to your watch list in case he sees more time.
  • I still feel that Paul Sewald is going to get more save opps in Seattle over the others. There just haven’t been many to convert. Great RP spec add.
  • Someone in the Pallazzo Discord asked about trading for Josh Bell. His 11% K rate with 4% increase in contact rate is fun. He’s got power coming.
  • I wrote a few weeks ago that Jesus Luzardo should be ok. I was lied to. I’m officially worried now with my finger hovering over the drop button.
  • The Yankees are really good, which bums me out as a midwesterner, but I’m happy for Gleyber Torres who might hit 30 homers this season.
  • How about 3 cheers for my main man Brady Singer! He has a 1.42 BB/9 in 25.1 IP. One issue: he only threw 8 CH in his last start. Monitor the usage.
  • Bummer for Royce Lewis who made that sweet grab below in his first MLB start in CF. He hit the IL after the game, but it’s only a bone bruise. Phew!

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