Zach’s Postseason Musings (10/12)
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ALDS Game 2 – Rangers @ Blue Jays
Although Cole Hamels (7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) did not post fantasy ace numbers this season and struggled at times since his trade to Texas, he’s delivered when the Rangers have needed him the most. After pitching a gem against the Angels on the final day of the regular season, he did a fine job against the Blue Jays here. Especially over the past few years, Hamels hasn’t been getting the respect he deserves in fantasy circles and remains one of those pitchers with ace upside who you can draft after the true top-tier starters go off the board. Heading into his first full season in the AL, it’s understandable to be weary of drafting him as your ace, but being that I’m not a believer in spending top dollar on a starting pitcher, he will probably find a home on at least one of my teams next season.
Marcus Stroman (7 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) has pitched exceptionally well since returning from Tommy John surgery, and I’ll be interested to see how highly the market values him in mock drafts over the winter and real drafts in the spring. Remember that we’re talking about a former elite prospect who is still just 24 years of age. Even in non-keeper formats, he can serve as an upper end of the rotation starter as soon as next season.
ALDS Game 2 – Astros @ Royals
Johnny Cueto (6 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K) hasn’t been the lockdown ace the Royals thought they were getting when they acquired him from the Reds at the deadline, going 4-7 with a 4.76 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 13 regular season starts and pitching OK but not great in his first postseason start for Kansas City. I expect that the mediocre second half will lower his 2016 fantasy price to a level (low end SP1/high-end SP2) where he offers some profit potential, especially if he signs with an NL team this winter.
Salvador Perez (2-for-3, HR, 2 RBI) has shown steady improvement in the power department but wasn’t a big help in batting average this season. That said, he won’t even turn 26 until next May and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets the average back up to at least the .270-.275 level. Catchers with 20-home run power who will not negatively affect your batting average are hard to come by. Perez remains a quality No. 1 backstop in all formats.
NLDS Game 1 – Cubs @ Cardinals
Stephen Piscotty (2-for-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI) had little trouble adjusting to the big leagues, batting .305 with seven homers and 39 RBI in 63 games this season. Piscotty’s minor league numbers suggest that this is a player who could be a serviceable OF4 type in 12-team mixed leagues going forward due to a good batting average, some power and some speed. But I also get the sense that he might turn out to be one of those players who is a better real-life player than fantasy player.
John Lackey (7 1/3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, W) continues to be one of the more reliable yet underrated starting pitchers in the game. In his age-36 season, Lackey posted the lowest ERA of his career (2.77) and his highest strikeout total (175) since 2007. A free agent this winter, he figures to receive several multi-year contract offers, and fantasy owners in mixed leagues should not be shy to draft him as a back end of the rotation starter.
NLDS Game 1 – Mets @ Dodgers
Jacob deGrom (7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 13 K, W) could not have pitched much better on Friday night. He’s been the most consistent Mets pitcher all season and has proved that his 2014 Rookie of the Year campaign was no fluke. I wouldn’t have any problem drafting deGrom as my fantasy ace in 2016.
After batting .286 with 13 home runs, 78 RBI, 92 runs scored and 23 steals in his 2013 breakout campaign, Daniel Murphy (1-for-4, solo HR) hasn’t been quite as productive from a fantasy standpoint over the past two years. In mixed leagues, he’s more of a quality starting MI than starting 2B.
NLDS Game 2 – Cubs @ Cardinals
2015 turned out to be somewhat of a lost season for Jorge Soler (2-for-2, HR, 2 RBI) as he was limited to just 101 games due to injury. But the 23-year-old remains an elite prospect with legitimate 30-plus home run potential over the course of a full and healthy season. Even in non-keeper leagues, he’s well worth a mid-round pick. Next year might be the last time that you won’t need to spend an early-round pick for his services.
I thought Matt Carpenter (1-for-4, solo HR) was overrated heading into this year as he was coming off a season in which he scored 99 runs but batted only .272 with eight homers. No way did I expect 28 home runs, including 19 in the second half. Being that his previous single-season high in homers was 11 and taking into account his unusually high 10.1% HR/FB ratio this season, fantasy owners should be very careful not to expect similar power production in 2016. There’s just too much downside in drafting Carpenter at what figures to be a considerable cost.
NLDS Game 2 – Mets @ Dodgers
While Noah Syndergaard (6 1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 9 K, L) wasn’t nearly as dominant as Jacob deGrom, he gave his team a chance to win the game before everything fell apart for the Mets in the seventh inning. Syndergaard has been shaky at times this season but the overall numbers are plenty impressive, especially the 5.4 K/BB ratio and 1.9 BB/9 rate. For now, consider him a solid SP3 in standard mixed leagues, though he can make a run at ace status sooner rather than later.
With 12 homers and a .372 OBP in 91 minor league games this season followed by nine home runs and 26 RBI in 56 games (174 at-bats) with the Mets, Michael Conforto (1-for-3, solo HR) looks like he will be a quality fantasy asset for years to come, and there’s a good chance he sees everyday at-bats in 2016. Draft him in the late rounds and you might just get more than you paid for.
***Division Series Game 3 Musings coming tomorrow