September 2013

Musings from the Final Weekend

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Miami Marlins

Zach here,

In all my years of following baseball, I’ve never seen a stranger no-hitter than the one Henderson Alvarez threw yesterday. Thanks to his offense in the bottom of the 9th, he escaped from what would have been an incredibly frustrating situation of tossing nine no-hit innings only to be rewarded with a no-decision. Then again, Alvarez’s pitch count through the nine innings was a modest 99, so it would not have been surprising to see him out there in the 10th. I was very high on Alvarez heading into the season and I’m still a fan of his going forward. The 23-year-old definitely carries some upside for 2014. Yeah, the K rate is mediocre, but the walk rate is miniscule, which usually leads to good things. All he needs to do is stay healthy. NL-only leaguers could do a lot worse than shelling out a couple bucks for him in drafts next spring. Even in deeper mixed leagues, he’s worth a dollar as an endgame flier.

Back in May, Jim Johnson was likely one more poor outing away from losing his closer job, but he ended up righting the ship and was outstanding in the second half of the season, pitching to a 1.69 ERA in 27 appearances. Johnson picked up his 50th save of the season yesterday and still finished with a sub-3.00 ERA. Just goes to show how long the baseball season really is.

Steve Cishek is another closer who was on thin ice at one point, even landing on the waiver wire in some mixed leagues, due in large part to the perception that closers on bad teams don’t get saves. Not true. Well, all Cishek did was post a 0.96 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in the second half while converting all 17 of his save chances. The bottom line with closers is that it usually pays off to grab an elite one, but if you pass on the top-tier guys, it doesn’t make much of a difference if you draft the #17 ranked closer or the #25 ranked stopper. They’re all gambles, so you might as well go the cheaper route.

Hunter Pence has been one of the most underrated fantasy commodities for quite some time now. Yeah, he’s a little streaky, but for Roto purposes he’s about as consistent as they come. Pence’s ridiculous month of September (.293 AVG, 11 HR, 32 RBI, 1.060 OPS) resulted in a career single-season high 27 homers, and he fell a mere one RBI shy of posting back-to-back 100-RBI seasons. Oh, and he even swipes some bags as well. I’d be perfectly happy drafting Pence as my #2 OF in a 12-team mixed league. And he’ll be a lot more affordable than most #2 outfielders.

I was slow to come around on Jedd Gyorko, but I’m starting to gravitate towards the bandwagon. Yesterday’s grand slam upped his rookie season home run total to 23 (in just 125 games), and he’s hit 15 round trippers in 243 second half at-bats. Pretty good. Gyorko still strikes out too much and is a liability in the batting average department, but the 25-year-old’s minor league numbers suggest that he could improve significantly in both areas. And we all know that middle infielders with 30 HR type power are extremely hard to find. I’m liking Gyorko a lot for 2014.

Andy Pettitte couldn’t have asked for a smoother final outing of his big league career, as he hurled a complete game gem on Saturday night in Houston. As a Yankee fan, I’ll always remember Pettitte as a guy who would deliver when you needed him most and wouldn’t cave under the pressure of a postseason start. But he’s also a guy who has been a far better real-life pitcher than fantasy pitcher, certainly worth a roster spot but rarely dominant. Pettitte’s finest statistical season came in 2005 with the Astros, when he went 17-9 with a 2.39 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, but that was clearly the outlier, as his career 3.85 ERA and 1.35 WHIP are nothing special.

But sometimes it’s best to not think about everything from a fantasy perspective. Fantasy baseball is fun, but it’s no substitute for the real thing. Andy will be sorely missed, especially around this time of year.

Preliminary 2014 Positional Rankings

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays

Alright everyone,

Here’s what the 411 powers that be (well, basically Cory and I) have come up with. Obviously, it’s extremely early to think about 2014, so we’ll make sure to post an updated version at some point during the off-season.

With 45 MLB games remaining in the 2013 fantasy season, I’ll wish you one final “Good Luck!”



1.   Buster Posey

2.   Carlos Santana

3.   Yadier Molina

4.   Jonathan LuCroy

5.   Joe Mauer

6.   Wilin Rosario

7.   Matt Wieters

8.  Salvador Perez

9.  Wilson Ramos

10.   Brian McCann

Honorable Mentions: A.J. Pierzynski, Jason Castro, Evan Gattis, Miguel Montero

                                                                                                                                                       FIRST BASE

1.   Chris Davis

2.   Paul Goldschmidt

3.   Joey Votto

4.   Edwin Encarnacion

5.   Prince Fielder

6.   Freddie Freeman

7.   Allen Craig

8.   Adrian Gonzalez

9.   Eric Hosmer

10. Mark Trumbo

Honorable Mentions: Mike Napoli, Albert Pujols, Brandon Belt

                                                                                                                                                 SECOND BASE

1.   Robinson Cano

2.   Jason Kipnis

3.   Dustin Pedroia

4.   Matt Carpenter

5.   Ian Kinsler

6.   Brandon Phillips

7.   Ben Zobrist

8.   Chase Utley

9.   Jose Altuve

10. Jedd Gyorko

Honorable Mentions: Daniel Murphy, Howie Kendrick, Aaron Hill


1.   Hanley Ramirez

2.   Troy Tulowitzki

3.   Jose Reyes

4.   Ian Desmond

5.   Jean Segura

6.   Elvis Andrus

7.   Everth Cabrera

8.   Starlin Castro

9.  Alexei Ramirez

10. J.J. Hardy

Honorable Mentions: Andrelton Simmons, Jimmy Rollins, Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera

                                                                                                                                                     THIRD BASE

1.   Miguel Cabrera

2.   Adrian Beltre

3.   David Wright

4.   Evan Longoria

5.   Ryan Zimmerman

6.   Brett Lawrie

7.   Manny Machado

8.   Pedro Alvarez

9.   Pablo Sandoval

10. Josh Donaldson

Honorable Mentions: Kyle Seager, Martin Prado, Will Middlebrooks, Nolan Arenado


1.   Mike Trout

2.   Andrew McCutchen

3.   Jacoby Ellsbury

4.   Carlos Gonzalez

5.   Bryce Harper

6.   Adam Jones

7.   Ryan Braun

8.   Jay Bruce

9.   Jose Bautista

10. Matt Kemp

11. Giancarlo Stanton

12. Carlos Gomez

13. Starling Marte

14. Alex Rios

15. Shin-Soo Choo

Honorable Mentions: Jayson Heyward, Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, Hunter Pence, Matt Holliday, Jayson Werth, Justin Upton, Alfonso Soriano, Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Beltran

                                                                                                                                              STARTING PITCHER

1.   Clayton Kershaw

2.   Yu Darvish

3.   Max Scherzer

4.   Adam Wainwright

5.   Felix Hernandez

6.   Cliff Lee

7.   Madison Bumgarner

8.   Chris Sale

9.   Zack Greinke

10. Jose Fernandez

11. Justin Verlander

12. Stephen Strasburg

13. Cole Hamels

14. David Price

15. Jordan Zimmermann

Honorable Mentions: Anibal Sanchez, James Shields, Gio Gonzalez, Matt Moore, Jon Lester, Mat Latos, Francisco Liriano

Injury Watch: Matt Harvey

                                                                                                                                                      RELIEF PITCHER

1.   Craig Kimbrel

2.   Aroldis Chapman

3.   Kenley Jansen

4.   Greg Holland

5.   Joe Nathan

6.   Sergio Romo

7.   Rafael Soriano

8.   Jonathan Papelbon

9.   Fernando Rodney

10. Jim Johnson

Honorable Mentions: Grant Balfour, Glen Perkins, Edward Mujica, Koji Uehara, Jason Grilli

The Final Pitch or Ditch (Saturday-Sunday, September 28-29)

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Texas Rangers



Kazmir @ De Vries

Archer @ Happ

Parker @ Maurer

Lester @ W. Chen

Ventura @ E. Johnson

Pettitte @ Clemens

Richards @ Holland

Morton @ Arroyo – would you trust Arroyo with your season on the line?

Stults @ Petit

Nelson @ Harang

TBD (PHI) @ Minor

An. Sanchez @ Eovaldi

Jackson @ Kelly

Haren @ McCarthy – risk/reward on both. Pitch if you are chasing wins or K’s, but not ratios

Nicasio @ Greinke


Moore @ Redmond – I don’t trust Redmond vs. good offenses, unless desperate for K’s

Lackey @ Tillman – Tillman will probably be scratched anyway

B. Chen @ Quintana

Jimenez @ Diamond – huge second half for Ubaldo

TBD (NYY) @ Bedard

Vargas @ Darvish

Gray @ E. Ramirez

Cole @ Cueto

Estrada @ Niese – great matchup to finish great 2nd halves for both

Verlander @ H. Alvarez

Miner @ Teheran

Samardzija @ Wainwright – put Shark on ice for the winter

Ross @ Cain

Chatwood @ Ryu – Ryu will be on a short leash

G. Gonzalez @ Miley

                                                                                                                                                ***ZACH SAYS “I just wanted to point out how fitting it is that Pettitte’s final career start comes against Clemens!”

2013 All-Fantasy Team

Hey everyone,

Today marked our final podcast of the 2013 season, so it was only fitting that we dedicated it to the fans, answering a plethora of listener questions (11 to be exact) in addition to unveiling our All-Fantasy team. Here’s the All-Fantasy roster, and good luck to all of you in your quest to take home a fantasy title!


C – Y. Molina (honorable mentions to W. Rosario, J. Lucroy)

1B – C. Davis (honorable mention to P. Goldschmidt)

MLB: Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees

3B – M. Cabrera

2B – R. Cano (honorable mentions to J. Kipnis, M. Carpenter)

SS – J. Segura (honorable mentions to I. Desmond, E. Andrus)

OF – M. Trout

OF – A. McCutchen

OF – J. Ellsbury (honorable mentions to A. Jones, H. Pence, A. Rios, C. Gomez)

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies

SP – C. Kershaw

SP – M. Scherzer (honorable mentions to Y. Darvish, J. Fernandez, A. Wainwright)

CL – C. Kimbrel (honorable mentions to G. Holland, M. Rivera, A. Chapman)

FANTASY MVP: Miguel Cabrera, with Mike Trout and Chris Davis close behind

Pitch or Ditch for Friday, September 27

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Minnesota Twins


Buchholz @ Feldman

Hellickson @ Dickey – Dickey is finishing strong, it appears

Wilson @ Ogando

Shields @ Sale

Kluber @ P. Hernandez

Warren @ Oberholtzer

Colon @ King Felix

Burnett @ Bailey – NL Wild Card preview!

Gallardo @ Torres – nice matchup to finish disappointing year for Gallardo

Alvarez @ Koehler

Lee @ Medlen

T. Wood @ Lynn

Strasburg @ Corbin

McHugh @ Kershaw – can Kershaw finish with a sub-2.00 ERA?

Smith @ Vogelsong

Pitch or Ditch for Thursday, September 26

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at San Diego Padres


Cobb @ Nova
Buehrle @ M. Gonzalez
Williams @ Garza – tough call on Garza, who was scuffling before rebound vs. KC last time
Guthrie @ Rienzo – grab Guthrie only if chasing the win
McAllister @ Albers
Cahill @ Erlin Erlin has allowed more than 3 runs only once
Cloyd @ Hale
Hellweg @ Gee
Volquez @ Lincecum – 2008 was a looooong time ago

Pitch or Ditch for Wednesday, September 25

***First, a reminder that our final podcast of the 2013 season will be coming your way on Thursday, and we’ll devote a good chunk of time to listener questions. So send in all your keeper questions through Twitter (@fantasy411) or you can post them right here on the blog.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Pittsburgh Pirates


Straily @ Weaver

Price @ Hughes

Rogers @ Norris

Axelrod @ Salazar – maybe Salazar gets more than 80 pitches in his final start?

Keuchel @ Perez

Scherzer @ Correia

Big Erv @ Iwakuma – last start of the year for Iwakuma

Matsuzaka @ Reynolds

Zimmermann @ S. Miller

Liriano @ Arrieta

Lohse @ Maholm

Hamels @ Hand

Peavy @ Oswalt

Nolasco @ Zito

Delgado @ Kennedy – chase K’s with Kennedy but only if ratios are safe

Pitch or Ditch for Tuesday, September 24

***First, a reminder that our final podcast of the 2013 season will be coming your way on Thursday, and we’ll devote a good chunk of time to listener questions. So send in all your keeper questions through Twitter (@fantasy411) or you can post them right here on the blog.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers


Redmond @ Tillman – both are risk/reward so let the categories guide you

Santiago @ Jimenez – Ubaldo leads the AL in ERA since All-Star

Moore @ KurodaKuroda 5.14 ERA in his last 9 starts

Peacock @ Darvish – chase K’s with Peacock but ditch otherwise

Fister @ Diamond

Griffin @ Vargas

B. Chen @ Paxton – why not Chen, why not now?

Thornburg @ Garcia

Niese @ Leake – still not trusting Niese on the road vs. top offenses

Miner @ Alvarez

Cole @ Rusin

G. Gonzalez @ Wacha – we’ll forgive Wacha for the Coors meltdown

Lackey @ ChatwoodChatwood in Coors vs. the Red Sox? Uh, no

Miley @ Ross

Ryu @ Cain

Pitch or Ditch for Saturday-Monday, September 21-23

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Los Angeles Angels



Vogelsong @ Nova

TBD (BAL) @ Cobb

P. Hernandez @ Parker – good chance for Parker to rebound from LA debacle

Clemens @ Kazmir

Sale @ Porcello

Buehrle @ Buchholz

Garza @ Guthrie – good chance for Garza to rebound from PIT debacle

Saunders @ Williams – Williams is rolling and it’s a strong matchup

Medlen @ T. Wood

Koehler @ Strasburg

Gee @ Cloyd – Gee has been on a roll longer than the Phillies have been

Bailey @ Burnett – for postseason survival!

Lynn @ Gallardo – your guess what Gallardo might do, though

Cahill @ De La Rosa

Kershaw @ Smith


Petit @ Pettitte – Pettitte’s last home start is a strong one

Bedard @ Kluber

E. Johnson @ An. Sanchez

Dickey @ Doubront – if you trust Dickey, you might as well…

Feldman @ Hellickson

Ogando @ Shields

King Felix @ Wilson

De Vries @ Gray

Flynn @ Haren

Torres @ Lee

Arroyo @ Locke – Reds aren’t great vs. LHP but Locke is too shaky lately

Teheran @ Jackson

Greinke @ Cashner

Corbin @ Nicasio – Corbin struggling too much for Coors

Kelly @ W. Peralta – have to stick with Peralta while he’s hot


W. Chen @ Archer

Lyles @ Holland

Happ @ Quintana

Verlander @ Pelfrey

Milone @ Richards

Ventura @ Maurer

Estrada @ Minor – Estrada hot, but too homer-prone to trust in Atlanta

Harang @ Cueto

Halladay @ Eovaldi

Morton @ Samardzija – Shark was better last time but I’m hesitant

Roark @ Wainwright – Roark’s numbers demand a roll of the dice

McCarthy @ Stults

Two-Start Pitcher Notes – Week of 9/23

Hey everyone,

Alas, we’ve come to the final edition of my two-start pitcher notes for the 2013 season. There’s a rather low number of borderline calls for next week, so hopefully you already have a bunch of no doubt two-start options on your roster.

A reminder that our final regular season podcast will come your way next week (date TBD), and most of the show will be dedicated to answering listener questions, so if you have any tough keeper decisions, let’s hear them! You can either post your questions right here on the blog or through Twitter (@fantasy411).

Good luck down the stretch!


Alex Wood  (vs. MIL, vs. PHI)

After kicking off his big league career in dominant fashion, Wood has hit a speed bump this month, going 0-1 with a 8.49 ERA and 2.57 WHIP in three September starts. Although I’d lean towards pitching him, as these matchups aren’t too scary, it’s entirely possible that the 22-year-old is simply running out of gas, as the 137 innings he’s thrown between the Minors and Majors this season represents a 84 1/3 inning hike from last year. Let the categories guide you here. If you’re in a tight ERA/WHIP race, you might want to play it safe and ditch. Otherwise, I think Wood is worth starting thanks to the wins and strikeouts potential.

Wei-Yin Chen  (@TB, vs. BOS)

This guy has frustrated me to no end ever since he returned from the DL back in mid-July. Yeah, he’s capable of throwing a gem on any given night, but a few rough outings have inflated his ratios. On the bright side, Chen has allowed three runs or less in 17 of his 21 starts this season. Unfortunately, his worst performance of the year came against the Red Sox at Fenway (3 2/3 IP, 8 ER on August 27). He was better in his Fenway Park rematch his last time out but still gave up 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings. The Red Sox clearly have his number, and for that reason alone I’m benching Chen. And it’s not like @TB is an easy matchup either.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers

Marco Estrada  (@ATL, @NYM)

Estrada’s second half stat line (2-0, 2.62 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 42 K’s in 44 2/3 innings over seven starts) is simply outstanding, so there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t pitch him next week. The only reason why I’m even including him on this list is that he’s always been very home run prone and the Braves lead the Senior Circuit in homers this season. But the reward here outweighs the risk. Estrada is simply pitching too well right now for you to consider benching him. Oh yeah, and then there’s the @NYM matchup. You’ve gotta like that one!

Brandon McCarthy  (@SD, vs. WAS)

McCarthy struggled upon returning from his lengthy DL stint, but it looks like he’s finally gotten his act together, with four quality starts in his last five outings. What makes next week risky is that the Nats rank 2nd in the NL in runs scored since the All-Star break and 1st in the NL in homers since the Midsummer Classic. But McCarthy has done a good job keeping the ball in the yard this season (11 HR allowed in 122 IP), so the risk is somewhat mitigated. As for the Padres, McCarthy has dominated them to the tune of a 2-0 record and 0.64 ERA. In mixed leagues of 12 teams or more, I’ll say pitch.

Eric Stults  (vs. ARI, @SF)

Even though he’s faded a bit lately, Stults is still a pretty safe bet to turn in a quality performance. Not a lights out performance, but a quality performance. He walks very few and boasts a strong 123-to-38 K/BB ratio for the season. The main issue I have with next week, however, is that Stults is a combined 2-4 with a 5.59 ERA versus the Diamondbacks and Giants this year. Add in his low strikeout rate and there’s not a whole lot of upside here. I’d only use Stults in deeper mixed leagues. In 12-teamers, I’d pass.