M. Gonzalez @ Lester (Gm 1)
Jimenez @ Lackey (Gm 2)
King Felix @ Quintana
Phelps @ Pino
Archer @ An. Sanchez – Archer good enough of late to trust.
Guthrie @ House
Feldman @ Santiago
Buehrle @ Kazmir – All-Surprise team face-off!
Heaney @ Miller – Playing it safe with both.
Samardzija @ G. Gonzalez
Buchanan @ Volquez
Bolsinger @ Harang – Bolsinger not a bad NL-only option though. Harang too unpredictable for mixed league purposes.
Garza @ Bailey – Tough to bench Homer coming off CG SHO.
Haren @ J. De La Rosa – Dan Haren + Coors Field = Scary
Tepesch @ Colon
Hudson @ Despaigne – Keep an eye on Despaigne.
Duffy @ Kluber – Duffy is on a roll.
Gausman @ Peavy – Not a good matchup for either.
Kuroda @ Nolasco
Walker @ Noesi – I’ll give Walker a shot here.
McHugh @ Richards – Wheels might be starting to fall off for McHugh and I don’t like this matchup.
Hutchison @ Mills
Price @ Porcello – Back-to-back shutouts for Porcello. Wow.
Gallardo @ Latos
Lewis @ Wheeler – Wheeler too inconsistent to trust right now in less than ideal matchups.
Miley @ A. Wood – Miley has been excellent on the road this year.
Arrieta @ Zimmermann
Burnett @ Locke – Burnett’s walk rate is concerning but he’s usually good for a quality start.
Alvarez @ Gonzales
Lincecum @ Hahn – Solid matchup for both, which probably means a 10-9 final.
Beckett @ Flande
Greene @ Masterson
Carroll @ Buchholz – Buchholz too erratic to rely on.
Shields @ Odorizzi – Decent matchup for Odorizzi.
Cosart @ Mikolas
Happ @ Weaver
Vogelsong @ Chavez – Too tough of a matchup for Vogelsong.
Correia @ Iwakuma
Tillman @ Strasburg – I have my doubts about Tillman.
Jackson @ Leake – Leake far from automatic lately but I’ll give it a try.
Minor @ Matsuzaka
Hamels @ Estrada – Estrada showing some signs of improvement but home run ball continues to plague him.
Morton @ Wainwright
Kennedy @ Matzek – Not a promising matchup for Kennedy though. Feel free to ditch in shallower formats.
Koehler @ C. Anderson – Anderson fading of late.
As promised, here’s my midseason All-Disappointment team. Remember that in choosing these players, I’m focusing primarily on draft day cost relative to performance, so just because you drafted Jose Veras in the 17th round (as I did) thinking that he could serve as a solid #3 closer only to see him lose his job in April without recording a single save doesn’t mean that he belongs on the All-Disappointment squad because, well, you didn’t exactly invest heavily in him.
Also note that I avoided players who were injured for a significant portion of the first half, so no, Prince Fielder isn’t the starting first baseman even though from a pure stats relative to draft position standpoint, he clearly belongs on this squad.
OK, onto the roster.
C Brian McCann
1B Joey Votto
2B Dustin Pedroia
SS Everth Cabrera (Honorable Mention: J.J. Hardy)
3B Evan Longoria
OF Shin-Soo Choo
OF Domonic Brown
OF Alfonso Soriano
SP Justin Verlander
SP Homer Bailey (Honorable Mention: Matt Cain)
CL Joe Nathan
Brian McCann’s counting stats aren’t too bad, but a .224 AVG from a career .274 hitter? Not good. He did homer yesterday, however, so maybe his bat will finally heat up as the weather heats up and he could take advantage of that short right field porch at Yankee Stadium. I was very high on him going into the season due to his power potential and remain cautiously optimistic. I’d be very surprised if McCann is a member of the end of season All-Disappointment team.
Unlike McCann, Dustin Pedroia’s batting average (.282) is acceptable. But outside of runs scored, his counting stats are brutal. Four homers and two steals through 83 games is unacceptable. Although I haven’t lost all hope in him just yet, as he’s been one of the most consistent fantasy producers over the past five-plus seasons, I have no idea what’s going on with this guy. Don’t forget that after a typical Pedroia first half last season, he faded in the second half, so this downward trend has been an issue for quite awhile now.
Back in March, no one was mistaking an aging Alfonso Soriano for an elite fantasy outfielder, despite the 17 homers he hit in only 58 games following his trade to the Yankees last season. That said, a 25-home run campaign was a reasonable expectation, and the draft day price wasn’t exactly exorbitant. But the fact that he’s currently on pace to finish the 2014 campaign with 12 homers and 45 RBI and has now been relegated to platoon duty earns him a spot on this team.
As always, your feedback is welcome. Are there any players who are better candidates than the ones I selected?
M. Gonzalez @ Lester (PPD)
Whitley @ Gibson
Stroman @ Milone – tough challenge for Stroman but he’s found his groove
Cobb @ Smyly
Ventura @ Tomlin – have to go with Tomlin, right?
Elias @ Sale
Keuchel @ Wilson
Hammel @ Roark – Hammel’s last start as a Cub?
R. Hernandez @ Cole
Cain @ Stults
Lohse @ Simon
Darvish @ Niese
Eovaldi @ Lynn – I still respect the Cards’ offense, results notwithstanding
Collmenter @ Big Erv
Kershaw @ Jurrjens
Peralta @ Happ – Peralta is slowly regressing and the Jays can rake… proceed with caution
Odorizzi @ Nuno
Chavez @ Verlander – only because Verlander was better last time out, but I’m not optimistic…
Vargas @ Correia
Young @ Peacock
T. Wood @ Workman
Mikolas @ Tillman
Skaggs @ Danks – medium risk/medium reward on both… let your categories be your guide
Bauer @ Ryu
Cueto @ Ross – matchup of the night
Matzek @ Fister
C. Anderson @ Morton – love Morton at home
deGrom @ Teheran
Hamels @ Koehler – 10-of-13 QS for Hamels but only 2 wins… yeesh
Wainwright @ Vogelsong
***ZACH SAYS “I’d take the conservative route and ditch Peralta, who is coming off a so-so June (4.22 ERA). To me, the risk of pitching him versus a top-notch offense in an AL park far outweighs the reward. Agree on rest.”
Estrada @ Hutchison – Estrada out of the circle of trust, for now at least
Martinez @ McFarland
Price @ Kuroda
Mills @ Porcello – tough test but Porcello may have finally broken through
Jackson @ Buchholz
Richards @ Noesi (Gm 1)
Weaver @ Carroll (Gm 2)
Shields @ Nolasco
Iwakuma @ Cosart – hang with ‘em
Friedrich @ Strasburg
Miley @ Locke
Matsuzaka @ Minor – hang with ‘em
Burnett @ Alvarez – Marlins are tough at home but A.J. is in a groove
Masterson @ Beckett
Leake @ Kennedy
Gonzales @ Lincecum
Tim Lincecum (vs. STL, @SD)
As frustrating as it is to own Lincecum, due in large part to his unpredictability from one start to the next, regardless of the matchup, it’s awfully tough to bench a guy who is coming off a no-hitter. The vs. STL matchup might seem like an unfavorable one, that is until you realize that the Cardinals lineup has vastly underperformed this year, with the club ranking 12th in the NL in runs scored and dead last in homers. Plus, Tiny Tim is 4-2 with a 3.19 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 10 home starts this season. As for the @SD matchup, well, the Padres happen to be the team Lincecum just no-hit, and this time he gets them at Petco. Listen, I’m not a huge Lincecum supporter, but even I would feel comfortable pitching him next week. Count on him being more than just a source of strikeouts.
Rick Porcello (vs. OAK, vs. TB)
Porcello is another guy who I’ve been very skeptical about over the past few years, but 2014 has easily been his best season to date, and remember that he’s still just 25 years of age. Next week will be an interesting one for Porcello as he will face both the highest scoring and lowest scoring teams in the AL. Yeah, the vs. OAK matchup is unsettling, but considering that Porcello has allowed three earned runs or less in 11 of his 15 starts this season and factoring in his ultra-favorable matchup at home against the Rays, I think pitching him next week is a risk worth taking.
Jake Arrieta (@BOS, @WAS)
Check out Arrieta’s last four starts: 3-0, 1.00 ERA, 0.56 WHIP, 36-to-2 K/BB ratio. That’s pretty much all you need to know. I don’t really care that these matchups aren’t the greatest. Arrieta is a former top prospect who had a hard time making the transition to the big leagues. Until now.
Wade Miley (@PIT, @ATL)
I own Miley in a couple of leagues this year and definitely expected better than a 4.78 ERA through 17 starts. Although 17 homers allowed in 17 starts is simply unacceptable, Miley has posted a career-best strikeout rate. Also, he’s allowed more than four runs in a start just twice, so there isn’t a huge risk of a disaster outing. But the key for next week is that both of his starts will come on the road, where he sports a solid 3.63 ERA, this compared to his 5.64 mark at Chase Field. In a shallow mixed league, there are probably better two-start options available on the wire, but Miley is someone who I’d consider spot-starting in mixed leagues of 12 or more teams.
Dan Haren (vs. CLE, @COL)
Haren is a longtime favorite of mine, so it’s pretty depressing to come to grips with the fact that he’s no longer a top half of the rotation caliber fantasy SP. But he has pitched well enough to remain mixed league relevant, though the drastic strikeout decline is concerning. I’ve been starting Haren every week so far in the two leagues where I own him, but next week, he will be taking a seat for the first time. Considering that Haren has always had trouble limiting the longball, even in his prime years, the @COL start has disaster written all over it. And even though he will be facing the Indians at home, Cleveland actually ranks in the top-5 in the AL in runs scored. The bottom line is that in mixed leagues, the risk outweighs the reward.
Zack Wheeler (@ATL, vs. TEX)
So he teases us yet again. Less than a week after shutting out the Marlins, Wheeler took the mound at Citi Field and got lit up by the A’s. He shouldn’t feel too bad though, because many pitchers have gotten lit up by the A’s this year. Hopefully, you didn’t start him for that one. And I wouldn’t start him next week, even though the matchups aren’t particularly tough. For Wheeler, the consistency just hasn’t been there, especially of late.
Sale @ Stroman – Stroman bounced back nicely his last time out.
Santiago @ Ventura – Still a fan of Santiago though.
Bedard @ W. Chen – Chen is 3-1 with a 3.31 ERA at home this year.
Hughes @ Darvish – Hughes coming off rough outing but it’s too tough to sit him.
Scherzer @ Keuchel
Lester @ Tanaka
Tomlin @ Elias – Tomlin very shaky lately. Will give Elias a shot.
G. Gonzalez @ Beeler (Gm 1)
Treinen @ Samardzija (Gm 2)
Big Erv @ R. Hernandez (Gm 1)
Hale @ O’Sullivan (Gm 2)
Niese @ Cole
Chacin @ Garza – Garza has been outstanding this month (2.38 ERA).
Gray @ Eovaldi
Lynn @ Greinke
Simon @ Cain – I know, I’m probably crazy to pitch Cain.
Collmenter @ Stults – Collmenter a decent gamble in deeper leagues though.
Quintana @ Buehrle
Cobb @ M. Gonzalez – Gonzalez deserves serious consideration here but not a whole lot of upside in pitching him.
Wilson @ Guthrie
Smyly @ Feldman
Gibson @ Lewis
TBD (CLE) @ King Felix
Lackey @ Whitley – The regression has already begun for Whitley.
Milone @ Heaney – I do like Heaney but this matchup scares me.
Harang @ Buchanan – This matchup doesn’t scare me, but Harang does. In mixed leagues, I’d play it safe.
Colon @ Volquez – Colon is 4-0 with a 1.75 ERA in June.
J. De La Rosa @ Gallardo
Bailey @ Hudson – Taking a short-term break from Bailey.
Miller @ Kershaw
Bolsinger @ Despaigne – Bolsinger a sneaky play in NL-only leagues.
Archer @ Phelps – Favorable matchup for Phelps.
Saunders @ Jimenez
Kazmir @ An. Sanchez
Arrieta @ Peavy – Challenging matchup for Arrieta but he’s been lights out lately.
Richards @ Noesi
Duffy @ Pino – Duffy is on a nice roll as well.
Walker @ McHugh – Very tempting to pitch Walker here but let me see one start first.
Flande @ Zimmermann
Wheeler @ A. Wood – Wheeler is back in my doghouse.
Kluber @ Haren
Latos @ Hahn – Keep an eye on Hahn though.
Colome @ Gausman (Gm 1)
Odorizzi @ Tillman (Gm 2)
Workman @ Nuno
Danks @ Dickey – both are erratic and facing big offenses, but Dickey is solid at home
Correia @ Tepesch
Shoemaker @ Vargas – Shoemaker will eventually return to pumpkin status, but for now…
Verlander @ Peacock – admit it, you thought twice about Verlander too, right?
Bauer @ Young
Roark @ Hammel – Hammel’s last start with Cubs?
Teheran @ Kendrick
deGrom @ Cumpton
Chavez @ DeSclafani – Marlins are tough at home but Chavez is hanging in there
Matzek @ Lohse
C. Martinez @ Ryu
McCarthy @ T. Ross – last chance for McCarthy, vs. league-worst offense
Cueto @ Bumgarner
***ZACH SAYS “I have zero confidence in McCarthy, regardless of the matchup, so I’d play it safe and ditch. Odorizzi scares me too in tough pitching environment but in deeper leagues, I’m OK with going for it. Agree on rest.”
It’s that time again! Time for the midseason All-Surprise and All-Disappointment teams. So, to continue the 411 tradition in the post-podcast era, here’s my All-Surprise squad. Next week, I’ll unveil my All-Disappointment team. Feel free to chime in and even share your own choices in the comments section.
C Devin Mesoraco (Honorable Mention: Derek Norris)
1B Jose Abreu (Honorable Mention: Justin Morneau)
2B Brian Dozier (Honorable Mention: Anthony Rendon)
SS Dee Gordon
3B Lonnie Chisenhall
OF Nelson Cruz
OF Charlie Blackmon
OF Michael Brantley
SP Scott Kazmir
SP Mark Buehrle (Honorable SP Mentions: Collin McHugh, Jesse Chavez, Tanner Roark, Alfredo Simon, Dallas Keuchel)
CL Francisco Rodriguez
Keep in mind that “All-Surprise” is a fairly loose term. On one hand, you have Blackmon and Chisenhall, who went undrafted in just about every mixed league. But then there’s Abreu, who we thought would be a legitimate top-15 first baseman but didn’t quite expect 22 homers and 60 RBI over his first 64 major league games. I considered Nelson Cruz to be a quality third outfielder in 12-team mixed leagues and a good bet for 25 home runs, not a top-5 OF with a legitimate chance to reach 40 homers. I liked Michael Brantley a lot this year as an underrated fantasy contributor who could maybe bat .280 with 85 runs, 15 homers and 15 steals. Instead, he boasts a .323-11-49-51-9 line through 73 games. Yes, Kazmir was drafted in the majority of 12-team mixed leagues as a serviceable back end of the rotation type, not a fantasy ace, or at worst a #2. The bottom line is that the range of options to fill out this roster is a rather wide one.
***Note that even though Dee Gordon has been playing second base this year, he’s still shortstop eligible, so in order to make room for Dozier at 2B, I moved Gordon to SS.