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Zach’s Postseason Musings (10/7)

Throughout the postseason, I’ll be sharing my fantasy-angled thoughts on a variety of noteworthy players from each game with the goal of helping you get a jump start on your 2015 draft prep! So keep checking back here every weekday for new posts.

NLDS Game 3 – Nationals @ Giants

-Doug Fister (7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) continues to be one of the most underrated yet reliable starting pitchers in the game. With his move to the NL this year, I expected more strikeouts, figure around 160. But he came nowhere close to that, even factoring in that he spent the first five-plus weeks of the season on the DL Aside from the low strikeout rate, however, Fister owners had absolutely nothing to complain about, as he earned the win in 16 of his 25 starts while posting a miniscule 2.41 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. The two stats that I pay the most attention to when drafting pitchers are strikeout rate and walk rate. I remain hopeful that Fister can significantly raise his strikeout rate in 2015. After all, we did see him fan 159 batters in 2013 while with the Tigers. As for the walk rate, that shouldn’t be a problem being that his career BB/9 stands at 1.73. Fister is a perfect #3 type fantasy SP as long as you first build a solid foundation in strikeouts.

MLB: NLDS-Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals

NLDS Game 3 – Dodgers @ Cardinals

-John Lackey (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K) didn’t exactly make a seamless transition to the NL, registering a 4.30 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in ten starts following his mid-season trade to the Cardinals. But a closer look at his game log reveals that those stats are somewhat skewed by a disaster outing against the Orioles in which he allowed nine earned runs on 13 hits over five innings. Seven of Lackey’s ten starts as a member of the Cardinals resulted in at least six innings pitched and no more than two earned runs. He turns 36 later this month, so age is a concern along with his health history. That said, after missing the entire 2012 campaign due to Tommy John surgery, Lackey has averaged 194 innings pitched over the past two seasons. He made $15.25 million this year but the interesting quirk in his contract is the $500K club option for 2015, which the Cards will surely pick up. I expect his first full season in the Senior Circuit to be a successful one and would feel comfortable drafting Lackey as a back end of the rotation starter in standard mixed leagues.

-Kolten Wong (1-for-4, HR, 2 RBI) is here to stay. He still needs to improve his batting average and on-base percentage but his exemplary minor league track record strongly suggests that he will do just that. A career .305 hitter in the Minors, Wong certainly has the ability to raise his batting average considerably next year. How does a .275 average with 12-15 homers and 25 steals sound? Draft him with confidence as your starting MI in mixed leagues and don’t be surprised if he produces like a top-10 fantasy second baseman.

Zach’s Postseason Musings (10/6)

Throughout the postseason, I’ll be sharing my fantasy-angled thoughts on a variety of noteworthy players from each game with the goal of helping you get a jump start on your 2015 draft prep! So keep checking back here every weekday for new posts.

NLDS Game 1 – Giants @ Nationals

-Moving back to the NL seems to have done the trick for Jake Peavy (5 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K), who went 1-9 with a 4.72 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in 20 starts for the Red Sox this year before posting a 6-4 record, 2.17 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 12 regular season starts for the Giants. Peavy has a $15 million player option for 2015, which he will likely exercise, that is unless he thinks he can secure a multi-year deal for a slightly lower annual rate. But no matter what he decides regarding the contract, staying in the Senior Circuit is probably a good idea.

NLDS Game 1 – Cardinals @ Dodgers

-What was the difference between Matt Carpenter’s 2013 and 2014 seasons? Three homers, 19 RBI, 27 runs and 46 points in batting average. Carpenter was a one-category player this year, and 99 runs isn’t enough of a reason to once again draft him in the early rounds. And the 2-for-5, HR, 4 RBI performance here isn’t going to change my mind. Also note that he’s no longer eligible at multiple positions, and a third baseman who isn’t even a lock for double-digit homers simply doesn’t cut it in fantasy. Stay away.

-Some pitcher’s duel! Don’t worry about Clayton Kershaw or Adam Wainwright. Both will be fine.

MLB: ALDS-Detroit Tigers at Baltimore Orioles

ALDS Game 2 – Tigers @ Orioles

-Nick Markakis (1-for-4, HR, 2 RBI) is more valuable in real baseball than fantasy baseball, as he doesn’t excel in any one area. But he rarely disappoints and rarely misses games. I wouldn’t get too excited about owning him, but if he’s still available in the last few rounds of your 12-team mixed league draft, he’s a pretty safe pick as a fifth outfielder, especially in OBP leagues.

-After closing out the regular season in dominant fashion (2.87 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 29 K in 31 1/3 IP), Kevin Gausman (3 2/3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) looked good in his relief outing. The former top prospect is a prime 2015 breakout candidate as he enters his age-24 season.

ALDS Game 2 – Royals @ Angels

-Eric Hosmer (3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI) has yet to live up to expectations, but he was a much more consistent producer in the second half and only turns 25 later this month. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a power boost in 2015, perhaps up to the 25-home run level. Drafting him in the mid-rounds next spring to fill your CI slot is a low risk/high reward gamble.

NLDS Game 2 – Giants @ Nationals

-The obvious MVP of the longest (at least in terms of time) postseason game in history was Brandon Belt, who hit the go-ahead and eventual game-winning homer in the top of the 18th. The not so obvious but even more important MVP was the guy who earned the victory, Yusmeiro Petit (6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K). The 29-year-old righty is coming off a career-best season in which he registered a 3.69 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 10.2 K/9 in 117 innings split between the starting rotation and the bullpen. What I like most about Petit is his low walk rate (2.5 career BB/9), and I truly believe that he can have a great deal of success as a full-time starter. Ryan Vogelsong will become a free agent this winter, so don’t be surprised if the Giants give Petit an opportunity to start in 2015. In that case, Yusmeiro would make for an appealing bargain basement option in NL-only leagues and deeper mixed formats.

MLB: NLDS-St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers

NLDS Game 2 – Cardinals @ Dodgers

-Although Matt Kemp (2-for-4, HR, RBI) is no longer a threat to annually steal 30-plus bases, 2014 was a huge step in the right direction. He played in 150 games, this after averaging only 90 games per year from 2012-2013, while batting .287 with 25 homers and 89 RBI. Kemp was selected at 2.10 in a 12-team mixed league industry mock that I am participating in, and chances are he will be around well into the third round and maybe even the fourth round in many 2015 drafts. I won’t be reaching for him, but there will be a point (perhaps if he lasts past the top-40) where the temptation will win out over my usually conservative approach.

ALDS Game 3 – Orioles @ Tigers

-Bud Norris (6 1/3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) has very quietly put together a fine season. But the strange thing about Bud is that his main appeal from a fantasy standpoint used to be his high strikeout rate. Since the beginning of last season, however, his strikeouts have plummeted, and he finished this year sporting a pedestrian 7.6 K/9. The good news though is that his career-low 2.8 BB/9 contributed heavily towards his career-high 2.67 K/BB. If Norris can raise his strikeout rate even to the 8.0 K/9 level while maintaining his improved control, he could deliver a nice profit in 2015 for those in very deep mixed/AL-only leagues. There are still enough doubters out there to keep his draft day price low.

ALDS Game 3 – Angels @ Royals

-Kansas City’s pair of homegrown corner infielders, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, continued to rake in this game, each picking up their second home run of the postseason. As I’ve mentioned previously, don’t forget about either of these guys next spring. Hosmer could finally be ready to break out while Moustakas is a post-hype sleeper.

-What happened to C.J. Wilson, not only in this game (2/3 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) but this season? I drafted Wilson in multiple leagues this year, considering him a lock for 170 strikeouts and a sub-4.00 ERA. But as we are reminded time and time again, starting pitchers are never locks for anything. What can we expect from Wilson in 2015? Well, things can’t get much worse. The veteran southpaw continues to be extremely durable (at least 31 starts in each of his five seasons as a full-time starter) and remains an above average contributor in the strikeouts category. I’ll gladly take another chance on him at the severely reduced price.

Zach’s Postseason Musings (10/3)

Throughout the postseason, I’ll be sharing my fantasy-angled thoughts on a variety of noteworthy players from each game with the goal of helping you get a jump start on your 2015 draft prep! So keep checking back here every weekday for new posts.

ALDS Game 1 – Tigers @ Orioles

-When I drafted Nelson Cruz to fill my OF3 spot in the Mixed Tout Wars auction this season, I was hoping for around 25 homers and 85 RBI. Instead, I got a career year from him, and if I had to name an MVP of my third place squad, he would be the guy, edging out Jose Altuve. Anyway, Cruz got the scoring started for the Orioles yesterday, taking Max Scherzer deep for a two-run homer. I think it’s safe to say that Cruz will cost more than $10 to roster next season. How much more is anyone’s guess, but it will probably be too much for my liking.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays

-J.J. Hardy is coming off his most disappointing season in quite some time, managing only nine homers. But the good news is that six of those nine homers came in the second half, including a red-hot month of August in which he posted a .322-5-18 line, and he homered yesterday. An impending free agent, Hardy’s fantasy stock might take a hit should he leave Baltimore, but a middle infielder with legitimate 20-plus home run power is plenty valuable. I like him as a late-round bounce back candidate.

-J.D. Martinez’s breakout season has to be considered one of the bigger surprises of 2014. After hitting a combined 24 homers over his first three big league seasons, he swatted 23 longballs this season before homering yesterday. The natural reaction would be to dismiss this year’s performance as fluky, but he has shown decent power in the past and is still just 27 years old. For now, consider him a fourth or fifth outfielder in mixed leagues. Let’s see if the Tigers decide to bring him back next year.

ALDS Game 1 – Royals @ Angels

-Very quietly, Jason Vargas posted a stellar stat line this season. He’s not a big strikeout guy, but at the same time, he won’t get himself into trouble via the walk (1.97 BB/9 this year). The Royals’ lefty was solid last night and is the perfect middle of the rotation innings-eater type. Unfortunately, his value is greater in real life than it is in fantasy. He remains strictly a Pitch or Ditch option when the matchup is right.

MLB: ALDS-Kansas City Royals at Los Angeles Angels

-We’ve been waiting a long time for Mike Moustakas to reach his potential. We’re still waiting. “Moose” batted a miserable .212 this season but did rack up 15 home runs and hit a huge go-ahead homer last night. Is a breakout 30-home run campaign in his immediate future? Maybe. But I need to see more consistency before I can comfortably draft him in a mixed league.

Zach’s Postseason Musings (10/2)

Throughout the postseason, I’ll be sharing my fantasy-angled thoughts on a variety of noteworthy players from each game with the goal of helping you get a jump start on your 2015 draft prep! So keep checking back here every weekday for new posts.

NL Wild Card Game – Giants @ Pirates

-Edinson Volquez deserves a lot of credit for his surprisingly impressive 2014 season, but he’s still DTM. Last night’s performance proved why. A line of 5 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K doesn’t quite qualify as a disaster outing, but it goes to show that this guy simply cannot be trusted long-term. An exceptional strikeout rate used to be the main reason why he was fantasy relevant. But the K rate has steadily declined each year since 2010. Drafting him in mixed leagues next season says that you are confident he will again post an ERA in the low 3’s. As for repeating his 1.23 WHIP, good luck with that. Volquez’s walk rate remains mediocre at best, so you would be counting on another sub-8.00 hit rate. Good luck with that.

-Madison Bumgarner (four-hit shutout) is good. In fact, he’s a no doubt fantasy ace. But you probably knew that already.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks

-The enigma also known as Brandon Belt had a big night, going 2-for-3 with three RBI. That said, it’s been another disappointing year for the former top prospect, who teases us with games like these only to let us down in the end. The good news is that he’s still only 26, so there’s some time left for him to get his act together. I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to target Belt in drafts next spring, but if he’s still hanging around in the last round or two of your 12-team mixed league draft, he’s a decent low risk/high reward pick.

-Brandon Crawford managed only one hit in five at-bats last night, but he made that one hit count, becoming the first shortstop in history to launch a postseason grand slam. Crawford is coming off his finest offensive season to date (.246 AVG, 10 HR, 69 RBI, 54 R, 5 SB), but that’s not saying much. From a pure production standpoint, he put together a year that was worthy of a starting MI spot in deeper mixed leagues, and he could very well post a similar line next season. But a middle infielder with a low batting average, minimal SB potential and limited upside simply doesn’t interest me.

Zach’s Postseason Musings (10/1)

Hey everyone,

Throughout the postseason, I’ll be sharing my fantasy-angled thoughts on a variety of noteworthy players from each game with the goal of helping you get a jump start on your 2015 draft prep! So keep checking back here every weekday for new posts.

AL Wild Card Game – Athletics @ Royals

MLB: AL Wild Card-Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals

-Through his first 249 big league games, Brandon Moss hit a combined 15 homers. Over his last 376 games, he’s tallied 76 longballs. I have to admit that I was skeptical about Moss up until this season, but his two homers and five RBI last night only reinforces the belief that he’s simply a late-bloomer and a safe bet to continue producing 20-plus HR seasons as long as he continues to receive everyday at-bats. And everyday at-bats shouldn’t be a problem, as he actually had more success this year against lefties than against righties. Yeah, Moss is a batting average liability, but in this era of declining power, a guy whose floor is 20 home runs carries plenty of mixed league value. I’m not too concerned about the second half fade. He’s a very streaky hitter, so you will need to accept the ugly with the good.

-Brandon Finnegan is the real deal. After excelling following his September call-up, he looked absolutely dominant for much of Tuesday night’s relief outing. He did give up a run in his 2 1/3 innings of work, but it was a cheap run, as a walk to Josh Reddick led to a sac bunt by Jed Lowrie before Jason Frasor came in and allowed the inherited runner to score thanks to a wild pitch followed by a single. Selected by the Royals in the first round of this year’s draft, Finnegan only has one season of professional experience under his belt. But his minor league numbers, pitching as both a starter and reliever, are off the charts. It will be very interesting to see what the Royals decide to do with him next year. At this point, I can’t imagine him not making the opening day roster. He’s obviously an attractive target in long-term keeper/dynasty formats, even if he begins 2015 in the bullpen.

The Final Pitch or Ditch (Saturday-Sunday, September 27-28)

***Click HERE to listen to our season wrap up podcast. We unveil our All-Surprise, All-Disappointment and All-Fantasy teams and welcome in several special guests.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Arizona Diamondbacks

ZACH’S PICKS

SATURDAY

Tanaka @ Kelly – Kelly not a bad gamble if you’re chasing wins and K’s.

W. Chen @ Happ

Colome @ Carrasco – Carrasco 2 ER or less in eight of his last nine starts with plenty of strikeouts.

Nolasco @ Lobstein – Lobstein worth considering in very deep mixed/AL-only leagues.

Duffy @ Danks

Samardzija @ Holland

Wilson @ Paxton – Hard to be confident in Wilson at this point. I’ll give Paxton a mulligan for his last start.

Liriano @ Simon

Eovaldi @ Strasburg – Matchup too tough for the inconsistent Eovaldi.

Stults @ Peavy – Peavy since joining Giants (11 starts): 2.20 ERA, 1.02 WHIP.

Harang @ Burnett – Harang: 21 IP, 3 ER, 24 K over his last three starts.

Wada @ Peralta – Still not trusting Wada.

Deduno @ Montero – Montero a bit risky but this is a favorable matchup.

Lynn @ Miley – Miley an automatic ditch at home.

Butler @ Haren

SUNDAY

Cobb @ Salazar – Salazar has been inconsistent lately but I’ll take a chance on him here.

TBD (BAL) @ Dickey – Dickey 4-0 with a 2.65 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in September.

Gibson @ Price

Pineda @ Buchholz – Not a fan of Buchholz, and that won’t change anytime soon.

Ventura @ Bassitt – Bassitt a decent lottery ticket in deeper leagues.

Gray @ Martinez

Rasmus @ King Felix

Cole @ Cueto – Cueto going for win #20!

Tropeano @ Colon – Colon has been up and down this year but you gotta like the matchup.

Alvarez @ Zimmermann

Al. Wood @ Hamels

Hendricks @ Fiers – Both have been revelations.

Erlin @ TBD (SF)

Bergman @ Greinke

Wainwright @ Collmenter – Collmenter at least 6 IP and no more than 2 ER in each of his last six starts.

Pitch or Ditch for Friday, September 26

***Click HERE to listen to our season wrap up podcast. We unveil our All-Surprise, All-Disappointment and All-Fantasy teams and welcome in several special guests.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Texas Rangers

CORY’S PICKS

Archer @ Kluber
Tillman @ Hutchison
Swarzak @ Porcello
Capuano @ Wright
Kazmir @ Tepesch – Kazmir has been shaky lately but the Rangers offense is not scary
Guthrie @ Noesi
Weaver @ Iwakuma – Iwakuma has collapsed lately
Cosart @ Fister (Gm 1)
TBD (MIA) @ Hill (Gm 2)
Big Erv @ Williams
Worley @ Leake
Peacock @ Niese – Peacock worth a shot if chasing K’s in the endgame
Jokisch @ Nelson
Wacha @ Cahill
Lyles @ R. Hernandez
Kennedy @ Vogelsong

End of Season Teams + Podcast

Zach here,

Yesterday was a busy day in 411 land as the podcast made a return, just in time for our trademark end of season awards show! Click HERE to listen, as we unveil our All-Surprise, All-Disappointment and All-Fantasy teams while welcoming in several special guests.

Just so you have it in writing, below are the complete rosters.

ALL-SURPRISE TEAM

C: Devin Mesoraco

1B: Jose Abreu

2B: Jose Altuve (Honorable Mention: Anthony Rendon)

3B: Todd Frazier

SS: Danny Santana

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins

OF: J.D. Martinez

OF: Corey Dickerson

OF: Charlie Blackmon (Honorable Mentions: Michael Brantley, Marcell Ozuna)

UT: Josh Harrison (2B/3B/OF)

SP: Corey Kluber

SP: Tanner Roark (Honorable Mentions: Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker, Phil Hughes, Jake Arrieta, Collin McHugh, Dallas Keuchel)

CL: Francisco Rodriguez (HM: Zach Britton)

ALL-DISAPPOINTMENT TEAM

C: Joe Mauer

1B: Chris Davis (Honorable Mention: Eric Hosmer)

2B: Jason Kipnis (Honorable Mentions: Jedd Gyorko, Aaron Hill)

MLB: New York Mets at San Diego Padres

3B: David Wright

SS: Jean Segura

OF: Ryan Braun

OF: Shin-Soo Choo

OF: Jay Bruce (Honorable Mentions: Josh Hamilton, Bryce Harper, Desmond Jennings, Michael Bourn, Coco Crisp, Jason Heyward, Alex Rios)

SP Justin Verlander

SP: Mike Minor (Honorable Mentions: Matt Cain, C.J. Wilson)

CL: Ernesto Frieri (Honorable Mentions: Jim Johnson, Grant Balfour, Jason Grilli, Sergio Romo)

ALL-FANTASY TEAM

C: Buster Posey

1B: Jose Abreu

2B: Jose Altuve

3B: Miguel Cabrera (Honorable Mention: Todd Frazier)

SS: Ian Desmond

MLB: Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels

OF: Mike Trout

OF: Giancarlo Stanton

OF: Michael Brantley (Honorable Mentions: Carlos Gomez, Nelson Cruz, Jose Bautista, Andrew McCutchen)

SP: Clayton Kershaw

SP: Johnny Cueto (Honorable Mentions: King Felix, Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Adam Wainwright, Madison Bumgarner)

CL: Craig Kimbrel (Honorable Mention: Greg Holland)

FANTASY MVP: Mike Trout

Pitch or Ditch for Thursday, September 25

***Click HERE to listen to our season wrap up podcast. We unveil our All-Surprise, All-Disappointment and All-Fantasy teams and welcome in several special guests.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Miami Marlins

CORY’S PICKS

Wilhelmsen @ D. Norris

Gausman @ Kuroda

May @ Scherzer

Hellickson @ Webster – Hellickson has been pretty bad lately

Hammel @ Lewis

Shields @ Quintana

Gallardo @ Holmberg

Buchanan @ Koehler – loving Koehler at home vs. a depleted offense

Gee @ Treinen (Gm 1)

Wheeler @ G. Gonzalez (Gm 2) – Wheeler a major target for 2015

 

Volquez @ HaleVolquez is DTM, but maybe not DTyou?

Cashner @ Petit

Pitch or Ditch for Wednesday, September 24

***Click HERE to listen to our season wrap up podcast. We unveil our All-Surprise, All-Disappointment and All-Fantasy teams and welcome in several special guests.

MLB: Houston Astros at New York Yankees

CORY’S PICKS

Norris @ Greene – outside of one meltdown, Greene has been pretty useful

Sale @ Verlander – Verlander’s still capable of a big game once in a while but can you count on that?

Nuno @ Hughes – Hughes is about to set the MLB record for K-BB in a season!

Santiago @ Lester – wow, Santiago’s resurgence was short-lived

Vargas @ Bauer – Vargas has been awesome on the road this year but awful his last two times out

Walker @ Buehrle – risk/reward call on Taijuan

Odorizzi @ Ranaudo

Feldman @ Bonilla – Feldman finishing strong

Gee @ G. Gonzalez

Locke @ Teheran

Lohse @ Corcino

Kendrick @ Hand

Lackey @ Arrieta

Flande @ Wieland

Hudson @ Kershaw – Hudson’s been awful in September

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