July 2012

Pitch or Ditch for Friday, July 20

CORY’S PICKS

M. Gonzalez @ Lowe

Peavy @ Verlander

Iwakuma @ Shields – time to get worried about Shields?

Laffey @ Beckett

Blackburn @ Hochevar

Nova @ Milone – have to roll with Milone at home

Holland @ Weaver

Hanson @ Strasburg – tasty

Nolasco @ Correia – could be 2-1, could be 9-7

Lincecum @ Worley – have to roll with Lincecum

Harang @ J. Santana

Estrada @ Bailey – Bailey’s home/away splits are the anti-Richard

Dempster @ Lohse – keep cashing the checks as long as Lohse is writing them…

Norris @ Cahill

Pomeranz @ Marquis

Updated PoD Category Chart (7/18)

Hey guys,

It’s been awhile since we’ve updated our Pitch or Ditch category chart, so I couldn’t wait any longer! And I’m sure all of you couldn’t wait any longer. Here’s the PDF:

Pitch or Ditch Category Chart 7-18

Here are the changes we’ve made since the last version:

PROMOTIONS

Lohse PoD to grad

Latos PoD to grad

Harrison PoD to grad

Vargas PoD to grad

Jurrjens indifferent to PoD

Quintana indifferent to PoD

Lyles indifferent to PoD

Blackley indifferent to PoD

Fiers indifferent to PoD

DEMOTIONS

Haren ace to grad

Lester ace to grad

Lynn ace to grad

Romero grad to PoD

Big Erv grad to PoD

Bedard grad to PoD

Zambrano grad to PoD

And once again, a reminder as to how the chart works:

We’ve divided all of the current starting rotation pitchers in the Majors into five groups: Aces, Grads (pitchers who should not be dropped and can be started almost all the time), Pitch or Ditch (guys who you should be picking up to start in favorable matchups but do not deserve a regular roster spot), DTMs (guys who we are fed up with and would not start under any circumstances for the time being) and Indifferents (guys who we don’t feel any ill-will towards but who just aren’t that good). Keep in mind that these classifications are very much subject to change throughout the season depending on performance. We’ll be updating the chart every other week. Also, we are basing this on a standard 12-team mixed league.

All feedback is welcome!

-Zach

Pitch or Ditch for Thursday, July 19

CORY’S PICKS

Jimenez @ Price – can’t trust Ubaldo

Williams @ Scherzer

W. Chen @ De Vries

King Felix @ Hochevar – cant trust Hochevar

Quintana @ Buchholz – Quintana is over his head, but roll with it

F. Garcia @ Griffin – tough matchup for Griffin but the results have been impressive so far

Bumgarner @ T. Hudson

Saunders @ Leake

Dickey @ Gonzalez – sweet!

Buehrle @ MaholmMaholm is a roll but do you trust him?

Harrell @ Volquez – I don’t trust Volquez, period

Pitch or Ditch for Wednesday, July 18

CORY’S PICKS

Romero @ Kuroda – can’t trust Romero right now in any remotely tough matchup
Lewis @ Blackley
Wilson @ Fister
Hernandez @ Doubront
Masterson @ Hellickson – Hellickson has been a disappointment
Hunter @ Liriano
Millwood @ B. Chen
Wainwright @ Thornburg
Lee @ Kershaw
McDonald @ Guthrie
Wandy @ Richard – BTW, Richard isn’t only a home/away play anymore…
Young @ Zimmermann
Kennedy @ Latos
Vogelsong @ Minor – has Minor turned it around?
Johnson @ Samardzija – Shark has been awfully inconsistent…

Pitch or Ditch for Tuesday, July 17

CORY’S PICKS

Richards @ Turner

Cecil @ Sabathia

Humber @ Lester

Tomlin @ Moore

Britton @ Deduno

Beavan @ Teaford

Oswalt @ Colon – tough matchup for Colon, but risk him at home

Niese @ Detwiler

Bauer @ Cueto

Zito @ Jurrjens – SF scoring a little more lately, though

An. Sanchez @ Wood

Kelly @ Wolf

Bedard @ Friedrich

Lyles @ Ohlendorf – Lyles worth a look in deep/unmixed leagues

Halladay @ TBD (LAD)

Two-Start Pitchers – Week of 7/16

Hey everyone,

After a week off from two-start pitchers, let’s get back at it. I’ve picked eight guys who I consider to be the toughest decisions. Keep in mind that I’m basing my recommendations on 12-team mixed leagues unless otherwise noted.

-Zach

Jason Vargas  (@KC, @TB)

Vargas has rebounded nicely since his June 20th disaster outing @ARI, posting a 1.52 ERA over his last three starts. But here’s the key number: 5.09. That’s Vargas’ road ERA this season. The Royals and Rays aren’t elite offenses but they aren’t terrible either. I have a bad feelingt about this. Ditch.

Scott Diamond  (vs. BAL, @KC)

Don’t count on a ton of strikeouts from Diamond, but you can count on a quality start more times than not. He’s 2-0 with a 2.74 ERA over his last three starts and will be facing two middle of the pack offenses. Pitch.

Homer Bailey  (vs. ARI, vs. MIL) 

Homer proved to be an outstanding two-start choice last week but that was against the Dodgers and Padres on the road. He’s been awful at home this year (1-4, 5.86 ERA in eight starts) and the D-Backs and Brewers are both pretty solid offenses. I’m ditching.

Carlos Zambrano  (vs. WAS, @PIT)

Big Z’s last few starts haven’t been pretty but the schedule hasn’t been kind to him (@BOS, vs. STL, @MIL, @STL). He’ll get a bit of a breather next week as the Nationals’ lineup is OK but not great and the Pirates’ offense, although improving, is still sub-par. I could end up regretting this but in 12-team mixed leagues I’ll say pitch.

Joe Blanton  (@LAD, vs. SF)

Yeah, the matchups are tempting but Blanton has simply been too inconsistent to trust. The Dodgers will probably have both Kemp and Ethier back in the lineup and the Giants’ offense really isn’t that bad anymore. In an NL-only I might consider throwing him out there, but no way would I start him in a mixed league.

Bronson Arroyo  (vs. ARI, vs. MIL)

Anyone notice that Bronson is having a pretty darn good season? With five quality starts in his last six outings and, unlike Homer Bailey, a solid home ERA (3.71), I’m pitching him, even though the matchups aren’t great on paper.

Drew Smyly  (vs. LAA, vs. CWS)

After starting the season on fire, Smyly has been a mediocre pitcher since mid-May, as his most recent outing marked his first quality start since May 9th. The Angels and White Sox haven’t been elite offenses this year but both squads have some dangerous hitters in their lineup. In an NFBC-style league (15-team mixed) I might take a chance on Smyly, but in a standard 12-teamer I think you’re better off staying away.

Zach McAllister  (@TB, vs. BAL)

I like what I’ve seen from McAllister so far, especially the strikeouts. Next week will be a good test for him. I think he’ll pass it.

 

Pitch or Ditch for Saturday-Monday, July 14-16

ZACH’S PICKS

SATURDAY

Williams @ F. Garcia

Jimenez @ Laffey – Not risking it with Ubaldo.

Scherzer @ W. Chen – Playing it safe and ditching Chen, though I haven’t given up on him.

Buchholz @ Price – Clay is a toss-up but I’m just not a fan of the guy.

Peavy @ Hochevar

Milone @ De Vries – Taking a chance on Milone even though he’s on the road.

Darvish @ King Felix

Saunders @ Dempster – Dempster was solid in his return from the DL.

Dickey @ Hanson

Lynn @ Leake – Leake not a bad option in deeper formats despite the tough matchup.

Correia @ Estrada – Pirates’ lineup still worth picking on.

G. Gonzalez @ Buehrle

Worley @ Guthrie – Worley hasn’t been overly sharp of late. I’ll ditch him at Coors.

Wandy @ Lincecum – Tiny Tim is a ditch until further notice.

Volquez @ Harang – Edinson has allowed a combined 2 ER over his last three starts spanning 19 2/3 innings.

                                                                                                                                               SUNDAY

Weaver @ Nova – Ivan is on a roll.

Lowe @ Villanueva – I can’t get too caught up in Villanueva over two starts.

Verlander @ Tillman

Beckett @ Shields

Sale @ Mendoza

Parker @ Duensing

Harrison @ Iwakuma

Strasburg @ Nolasco – Nolasco has looked pretty good of late.

J. Santana @ Sheets – Sheets definitely worth monitoring but I’m not about to pitch him for his first start in a long, long time.

Burnett @ Gallardo

Cahill @ Garza

Hamels @ Pomeranz

Harrell @ Cain – Giants’ lineup not the pushover they once were and Harrell came back down to earth his last time out.

Marquis @ Billingsley

Westbrook @ Cueto – I’m still very wary of Westbrook. Too blowup prone.

                                                                                                                                              MONDAY

Big Erv @ TBD (DET) – Much like Lincecum, Erv is a ditch until further notice.

Alvarez @ Hughes – Alvarez is high risk, medium reward.

Floyd @ Cook

McAllister @ Cobb – I’ll roll the dice on McAllister. Cobb strictly an AL-only play.

M. Gonzalez @ Diamond – Diamond is hot!

Vargas @ J. Sanchez – Vargas has gotten back on track since disaster outing @ARI.

TBD (ARI) @ Arroyo – Hard to sit Bronson right now.

Jackson @ Zambrano – I’ll take a chance on Big Z.

Lohse @ TBD (MIL)

Karstens @ Francis

Norris @ TBD (SD)

TBD (PHI) @ Capuano

Midseason All-Surprise, All-Disappointment and All-Fantasy Teams + Grades

Hey everyone,

On today’s podcast, we unveiled our midseason all-surprise, all-disappointment and all-fantasy teams and graded Mike and Cory’s preseason overrated and underrated teams. Here’s the printed version. Catch the podcast for the discussion. Keep in mind that I did the grading and I’m a very tough grader!

-Zach

                                                                                                                                             ALL-SURPRISE TEAM

C    Carlos Ruiz

1B  Mark Trumbo

2B  Jason Kipnis

SS  Ian Desmond

3B  Edwin Encarnacion

OF  Carlos Beltran

OF  Melky Cabrera

OF  Josh Reddick

SP  R.A. Dickey

SP  James McDonald/Chris Sale/A.J. Burnett/Chris Capuano/Jason Hammel

RP  Fernando Rodney

                                                                                                                       ALL-DISAPPOINTMENT TEAM

C  Carlos Santana

1B  Adrian Gonzalez

2B  Rickie Weeks

SS  Erick Aybar

3B  Ryan Zimmerman/Kevin Youkilis

OF  Justin Upton

OF  Cameron Maybin

OF  Alex Gordon/B.J. Upton/Shane Victorino

SP  Tim Lincecum

SP  Dan Haren

RP  Heath Bell

                                                                                                                                      ALL-FANTASY TEAM

C    Carlos Ruiz

1B  Miguel Cabrera/Joey Votto

2B  Robinson Cano

SS  Ian Desmond

3B  Edwin Encarnacion/David Wright/Jose Bautista

OF  Andrew McCutchen

OF  Ryan Braun

OF  Mike Trout/Josh Hamilton/Carlos Gonzalez

SP  R.A. Dickey

SP  Justin Verlander/Matt Cain

RP  Craig Kimbrel/Fernando Rodney/Kenley Jansen

                                                                                                                                     MIDSEASON GRADES

SIANO OVERRATED

C – Joe Mauer  B

1B – Lance Berkman  B+

2B – Dustin Ackley  A

3B – Kevin Youkilis  A-

SS – Starlin Castro  D

OF – Michael Morse  INC

OF – Melky Cabrera  F

OF – Yoenis Cespedes  D

SP – Yu Darvish  D-

SP – Jeremy Hellickson  B+

CL – Andrew Bailey  A

 

SIANO UNDERRATED

C –  Wilson Ramos  INC

1B – Ike Davis  C-

2B – Kelly Johnson  B-

3B – David Freese  A

SS – Marco Scutaro  B

OF – Chris Heisey  F

OF – Lorenzo Cain  INC

OF – Dominic Brown  F

SP – Derek Holland  C-

SP – Mike Minor  F

CL – Jason Motte  A

 

SCHWARTZ OVERRATED

C – Mike Napoli  A-

1B – Ryan Howard  A

2B – Dustin Ackley  A

3B – David Freese  F

SS – J.J. Hardy  A

OF – Andre Ethier  C-

OF – Emilio Bonifacio  INC

OF – Carlos Quentin  B+

SP – Josh Johnson  B+

SP – Matt Moore  A-

CL – Andrew Bailey  A

 

SCHWARTZ UNDERRATED

C –  Wilson Ramos  INC

1B – Paul Goldschmidt  A-

2B – Jose Altuve  A

3B – Edwin Encarnacion  A+

SS – Tyler Pastornicky  F

OF – Brett Gardner  INC

OF – Michael Cuddyer  A-

OF – Alex Presley  D

SP – Jon Niese  A-

SP – Brandon McCarthy  A-

CL – Rafael Betancourt  A

Pitch or Ditch for Friday, July 13

ZACH’S PICKS

Wilson @ Kuroda

Fister @ Hammel

Masterson @ Romero – Masterson coming off terrible outing and @TOR is always a scary matchup.

Morales @ Hellickson – Morales a risky play but I’ll take a shot.

Quintana @ B.Chen – I’m fully aboard the Quintana bandwagon, for now.

Griffin @ Liriano – I like the matchup for both.

Holland @ Millwood

Kennedy @ Maholm

Wainwright @ Latos – Latos seems to be back on track.

Zimmermann @ Johnson

Young @ Hudson – Four straight quality starts for Young.

McDonald @ Greinke

Lee @ Friedrich

Richard @ Kershaw – Richard slowly but surely figuring out how to pitch well on the road and Kemp and Ethier (if he plays) might be rusty.

Lyles @ Bumgarner – Lyles strictly an NL-only play until further notice.

Zach’s Midseason Tout Wars Review

Hey everyone,

Hope you’re all enjoying the few days off from constantly checking box scores and making tough lineup decisions. As we’re at the unofficial midway point of the season, I figured I’d post a midseason review of my squad in Mixed Tout Wars. I know that Big Barry from the UK was anxiously awaiting this, so here we go!

Before I get started, just a reminder to Click Here to read my post-draft piece from back in March.

Being that it’s my rookie year in Tout, I’m keeping my expectations in check. While in most of my other leagues I’d be very disappointed finishing outside the top 3, a finish in the top half of Mixed Tout Wars would suit me just fine. And middle of the pack (anywhere from 7th to 10th out of 15) is right where I’ve been all season.

Coming out of the draft, I liked my hitting but felt that my pitching was extremely weak. Amidst the lightning-fast paced auction, I made some mistakes in money management that prevented me from scooping up a bunch of those $5-$10 starters. So my rotation consisted of two aces (CC Sabathia and Matt Cain) and a group of $1 guys, three of whom I still own in Ryan Vogelsong, Ivan Nova and Edinson Volquez. Well, it turns out that my starting rotation is actually the strength of my squad while all of my bust players are on the hitting side. I guess I’m a lot better at identifying undervalued pitchers than I am at choosing hitters who actually live up to expectations. So without further adieu, here are the award winners:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Best Value Picks

1. Ian Desmond ($5)

Strapped for cash, I desperately grabbed Desmond towards the end of the auction, viewing him as the last acceptable starting MI option left on the board. I thought that he could at least give me 20-25 steals and double-digit homers. Instead, I got a shortstop who is on pace for 33 homers, 100 RBIs and 21 steals! No way am I counting on Desmond to continue slugging home runs at this rate, but even if he finishes the season with 25 homers and 20 steals, I’d be raking in a huge profit.

2. Ryan Vogelsong ($1)

I was definitely of the majority opinion that Vogelsong was bound to regress after coming out of nowhere in 2011, which is why I was shocked that I actually wound up with him. I was limited to $1 bids when filling out the back end of my rotation, and Vogelsong just fell into my lap as I scanned further and further down my cheat sheet. Honestly, I really wanted no part of him. Funny how things happen. Outside of Matt Cain, Vogelsong has been my most dependable starter, and I’m gradually becoming a believer.

3. Ivan Nova ($1)

Another one of my end game $1 specials. As we always say, don’t chase wins but don’t be afraid of them either. Nova’s ERA and WHIP are still nothing to go crazy about, but he is pitching better of late and I love the increased K rate. I was very close to dropping him on a number of occasions, but he’s bought himself some more time. All in all, this was $1 well spent.

4. Matt Cain ($16)

I valued Cain at around $20 going into the draft, so I knew I got him at a good price. I didn’t know that he would be this good. We’re looking at a $10 profit here, and I honestly don’t anticipate a major regression.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Biggest Busts

1. Justin Upton ($40)

What a disaster! I was so high on Upton that when I got caught in a bidding war I landed up spending $7 more than I had originally budgeted for him. He was the guy I had to have. So far, J-Up is performing like a $10 player. And that’s being generous. This is what can happen when you lock yourself into a certain player in auction drafts. Always be flexible. Lesson learned.

2. Kevin Youkilis ($21)

Going into the season, the general opinion on Youkilis was an overly negative one. He was old and injury-prone and simply wasn’t worth it as he would not come at much of a discount on draft day. I decided to gamble on a bounce back and figured I could get Youkilis at a bit of a discount just because everyone else would be afraid to take him. I was wrong about the bounce back and wrong about the discount. Youk’s production has gone up since his move to the Windy City, but he still has plenty of work to do if he plans on earning the 21 bucks I shelled out for him.

3. Erick Aybar ($13)

Aybar or Rollins. Those were my two targets at the shortstop position. I didn’t want to spend big but also didn’t want to be too cheap. When the bidding for Rollins went up to $20, I pulled out. I was thrilled to get Aybar for seven dollars less. Hitting atop a strong Angels’ lineup bolstered by the signing of Albert Pujols, Aybar was a lock to give me a solid average to go along with 30 steals and a ton of runs. Oops. Instead, Erick has been one of this year’s biggest busts. Why am I currently in second to last place in steals? Look no further than Aybar, who is on pace to finish the year with a mere nine swipes.

4. Delmon Young ($12)

I’ll admit it. I was fooled by Young’s 40-game stretch following his trade to the Tigers last season in which he launched eight homers and racked up 32 RBIs. Clearly, that was a fluke, as Delmon’s inconsistency and prolonged cold spells have been infuriating. There’s a good chance I won’t be drafting Young again. Ever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Best FAAB Pickups

1. Will Middlebrooks ($7)

When Kevin Youkilis landed on the DL, picking up Middlebrooks was the logical move. I’m glad I followed logic. The rookie third baseman has exceeded all expectations, batting .298 with 10 homers and 37 RBIs through 48 games. He looks like the real deal and should be a mainstay in the Red Sox lineup for years to come.

2. Santiago Casilla ($24)

Spending almost one-quarter of your FAAB budget on one player in mid-April is always very risky. But for me, this was a case of desperate times calling for desperate measures. Coming out of the draft with only one closer, I had to make this move, and luckily it has worked out nicely. Casilla is struggling of late and there are rumblings than Sergio Romo could soon take over the ninth inning role, but Giants manager Bruce Bochy has publicly stated that he’s sticking with Casilla. Even if he loses the job tomorrow, I won’t regret this purchase one bit. His 21 saves are mine to keep.

3. Andy Pettitte ($5)

This was looking a lot better before Pettitte got injured, but five FAAB dollars is still a small price to pay for a 3.22 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 59 strikeouts over 58 2/3 innings. Tout Wars allows for an unlimited number of DL spots, so I can just stash him and hope he returns in time to make a meaningful contribution down the stretch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Worst FAAB Pickups

1. Johnny Damon ($10)

I really don’t know what I was thinking here. For some reason, I assumed that Damon would pick up right where he left off last year despite missing all of Spring Training as he searched for a contract. Huge mistake. I was so frustrated by Johnny’s early-season ineptitude that I cut him only a few weeks after adding him to my roster. And now he’s batting an impressive .306 over his last 15 games. Maybe I should have held onto him a little longer.

2. Franklin Gutierrez ($7)

This one is a little unfair as Gutierrez got re-injured just days after I acquired him. But seven FAAB bucks could make a difference late in the season, and if I miss out on a high-impact player because I overpaid on a guy who gave me only a few games, well, that would be depressing.

Be sure to check out the Tout Wars website for more info, including daily updated standings for all three leagues.

-Zach

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