Rounding Out The Rotation With Flair
Newcomer Trevor Cahill seems to have locked up a rotation spot with the San Diego Padres. Cahill has been quite effective over his last two Spring Training starts, racking up 15 strikeouts over 10 innings pitched while allowing just 3 hits and 2 runs. He did have 6 walks over that stretch, which is something that continues to plague him at the major league level. Cahill stopped throwing his cutter when he moved to the bullpen the last two seasons, but he's been working on throwing it again this spring. Cahill is a nice late round grab to slot in your relief pitching spot, if you decide to punt saves.
Blashing His Way Into Playing Time
Young slugger Jabari Blash continued his torrid spring on Sunday when he went 3-for-4 with a grand slam and a double. For the spring, the left-fielder is now slashing .265/.383/.674 with 6 home runs, 17 RBI and 13 runs scored in 49 at-bats. Blash is taking advantage of the extra at-bats with Alex Dickerson on the sidelines for the next month and has almost assuredly locked up some type of role with the big club. Blash played in 38 games at the major league level in 2016 and showed serious contact issues (59.9%), which led to a bloated 41% strikeout rate and low .169 batting average. Petco Park doesn't play well for the type of hitter he is, but despite the poor contact skills, he does possess a knack for drawing a walk. He posted a 13% walk rate last season and routinely posted walk rates in the mid-teens in the minor leagues. Only time will tell if his contact issues come back in 2017, but for now, he should see some at-bats in the first few weeks of the season and could be a cheap source of power.
Making the Moss of His Situation
The Royals went out of their way to add some boppers to their lineup this offseason. Additions of Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss were designed to complement the speeders at the top of their batting order and while Soler has been a bit of a slow-starter this spring, Brandon Moss has been productive. Moss is hitting .283/.377/.435 with 2 HR and 8 RBI in 46 at-bats. Moss is expected to be the team's primary designated hitter this year and will likely hit near the heart of the Royals batting order. Moss is going to be a drag on batting average (67% contact rate & 17% SwStr%), but when he does make contact, he hits it extremely hard (40% hard hit rate) and he hits it in the air (53% flyball rate). That's a recipe for low batting average and a lot of homeruns. He has a place in NL-only leagues, but with the league wide power surge, his 30+ homerun power is no longer as coveted as it used to be.
What To Expect From Danny Duffy:
Danny Duffy has been rising up draft boards all spring, but was his 2016 season repeatable? We've heard for years that Danny Duffy had the raw ability to be a top-of-the-rotation arm and it seems we finally caught a glimpse of that in the first half of last year. Unfortunately, it's what happened in the second half of last season that raises some concern. After dazzling from May through August, Duffy had a nightmare September that resulted in a 5.50 ERA and 1.50 WHIP with 9 home runs allowed. Considering that Duffy had never thrown more than 149 innings before last season, a reasonable explanation for the sharp drop off in performance can be attributed to fatigue. After being used as a work horse for the better part of 4 straight months, it's quite possible that Duffy just ran out of gas. So fast forward to 2017, does that mean Duffy will face the same struggles this year? There's no way to be sure, but what we do know is that Duffy entered the off-season knowing he had a place in the rotation and was able to mentally prepare for that role all winter. Last year, Duffy entered the 2016 season as a reliever and was converted to a starter after a few weeks into the season. This small change in approach can impact conditioning and training regimens, making me a little less concerned about the dropoff from last year continuing into this season. Was Duffy a little unlucky in the first half? Absolutely! His 84% strand rate is unsustainable even for a pitcher like Kershaw, but even with a little pull back there, he's more than able to return value in the 7th-8th rounds of drafts this spring.
Is Brett Anderson Draftable?
The battle between Brett Anderson & Mike Montgomery officially came to an end this week when manager Joe Maddon named Anderson the team's 5th starter. Anderson was the logical choice given his lack of experience pitching out of the bullpen and Montgomery's success in that same type of role. Unfortunately, health is a skill and it's one that Brett Anderson has failed to master up to this point in his career. While he's healthy, you can expect a ton of ground balls and not a lot of strikeouts. Any starting pitcher for the Cubs has to be considered, but his lack of strikeouts can set you far enough behind in that category that his average contributions to the ratio categories won't be able to overcome. Montgomery remains the more appealing fantasy option and will likely be Maddon's number one option to turn to for a spot start. At this point, Brett Anderson likely does more hurt than good for your fantasy roster and should be ignored.
Finding Value in Centerfield:
After missing about a week of action due to a sore neck, Albert Almora Jr. returned to the Cubs lineup on Sunday with a bang. Almora crushed not one, but two home runs in Sunday's game action. The right-handed Almora and recently signed left-handed Jon Jay are expected to come together to form a platoon at the bottom of the Cubs lineup. Both Almora and Jay profile to be low power, high contact type of batters, with Jay being a little more developed when it comes to on-base skills. Joe Maddon seems committed to batting Kyle Scwarber lead-off against right-handers, so the opportunities for Jay to hit leadoff will be few and far between this year. Don't fall into the trap of drafting either Almora or Jay too early simply because they are Cubs, but in OBP formats, Jay does carry a certain about of appeal. He should be in position to score a ton of runs if he bats 9th in front of Schwarber, Bryant, and Rizzo.
AROUND THE LEAGUE:
Steven Matz (NYM) - The big news out of Mets camp on Sunday was the scratching of Steven Matz from his Monday start. The team cited elbow soreness as the reason, but otherwise provided few other details. Perhaps on the positive side, the team is not planning to send him for an MRI, but will instead rest him for the rest of this week. With Opening Day less than a week away, it's within reason that Matz will not be healthy to start the year. Matz was subpar in 4 starts during spring training and will finish with a 4.26 ERA to go along with 7 strikeouts and 4 walks in 12.2 innings pitched. It's worth mentioning that Matz had off-season surgery to remove bone spurs from this same elbow and the surgery was deemed a success, at the time. It's unknown if this pain is similar or related to the pain he felt last season related to that issue. Typically, the surgery to remove bones spurs is routine and once it's done, there are no lingering issues. More to come here.
Matt Harvey (NYM) - "The Dark Knight" looked ready for the start of the season on Sunday, tossing his best start of the spring. Matt Harvey went 6 innings and allowed 5 hits and 2 runs while striking out 4. The best news was actually that the right-hander touched 97 MPH with his fastball and was consistently sitting between 93-94 MPH. If your draft is in the upcoming week, Matt Harvey pops as a potential under-the-radar steal with top-of-the-rotation upside.
Kolten Wong (STL)- After his manager told reporters that he would consider platooning someone with Kolten Wong at second base, Wong responded to the St. Louis Dispatch on Sunday saying that he doesn't want to be "wasting my time" with the Cardinals (if they don't commit to him at second base) and would "100 percent" rather be traded than be a regular player. He also went on to say that he feels like his time in St. Louis is "almost limited". Manager Mike Matheny makes questionable lineup decisions from time to time, but he may be barking up the right tree in this case. Wong has done little to provide himself at the major league level, despite being tagged with the coveted "future 20/20" tag.
Robert Gsellman (NYM)- With the news of Steven Matz's injury, Mets manager Terry Collins went ahead and also announced what everyone has speculated all spring - Robert Gsellman will serve as the team's fifth starting pitcher to begin the year. Gsellman burst onto the scene last year in a cameo for the Mets at the end of the season, flashing mid-90's sinkers and cutters that induced groundballs at a mouth-watering 54% clip. However, his 23% strikeout rate may have been a little overstated considering just a league average 9% swinging strike rate and not much of a track record of being a strikeout pitcher in the minor leagues. In fact, Gsellmen never managed to exceed a 20% strikeout rate in the minors except for 4 years ago in Low-A ball. If you're going into the season with the expectation that Gsellman can be a spot-starter for your team, then your expectations are in line with what you'll see from the results. If you're expecting much more, you're likely invested too heavily.
Grant Dayton (LAD) - While the Dodgers already have one of the most dominant closers in the game in the form of Kenley Jansen, they also have one of the most dominant left-handed set-up men. The 29-year old southpaw was acquired from the Marlins and didn't make his major league debut until after his 28th birthday in 2016. Dayton has always been a dominant strikeout pitcher, but he struggled with his control early in his minor league career. That changed last season when he was able to drop his walk rate down to just 5% while also posted a ridiculous 45% strikeout rate. Those stats were enough to get him the call last August and he went on to become the second best arm in the Dodgers bullpen. His 39% strikeout rate was more than supported by his 15% swinging strike rate. Dayton's primarily a fastball pitcher, which he throws about 80% of the time and generates whiffs on abut 20% of those pitches, however, he also mixes in a 75 MPH curveball that comes in 18 MPH slower than his fastball. Let me say that again, Grant Dayton's has an 18 MPH velocity differential between his fastball and curveball. Dayton has continued to pitch well this spring and will enter the year as Kenley Jansen's primary set-up man and handcuff, but if you draft him, you need to understand that you'll most likely only be getting him for the statistics other than saves. Even still, he's an under-the-radar middle reliever than could put up gaudy numbers this season.
Tyler Saladino (CWS) - While being tabbed the "stopgap" between the beginning of the season and the point in which a team's top prospect is ready to be called up is rarely an appealing role, Tyler Saladino seems to be embracing it this spring. Saladino has been tearing the cover of the ball, hitting .340/.415/.635 in 47 exhibition at-bats. He has 7 extra-base hits with a .50 batting EYE over that stretch. He's going to start the season as the White Sox primary second baseman and is likely eligible at both second base and shortstop for your fantasy team. He's an intriguing middle infielder option as a late round flier in your drafts this week.
Steven Wright (BOS) - It wouldn't be a Red Sox rotation without the presence of at least one knuckleballer. Steven Wright has locked down a job in the starting rotation this spring with 3 appearances and no earned runs allowed in just over 9 innings pitched. Wright seems to be healthy coming into the year and will look to build on his breakout 2016 campaign when he managed a 20% strikeout rate with 13 wins in 24 games started. Even more impressive was his low 0.69 HR/FB ratio ad miniscule 28% hard hit rate. Wright isn't a sexy name and he's going to be hard to ever top last season's strikeout totals, but he's a serviceable arm that can be deployed in the right spots throughout the season. He's more of an AL-only option than a mixed leaguer.
Tommy Joseph (PHI) - With the Phillies youth movement underway, Tommy Joseph is poised to take over first base on a full-time basis in 2017. Joseph is an intriguing power prospect thanks to his high pull percentage (42%) and his hard hit rate (37%) that he achieves without drastic sacrifices to contact ability (78% contact rate). He's also an interesting case study in terms of split statistics. While he tends to hit for a better average and more contact against lefties, he hit twice as many home runs against right-handed pitchers last year, despite posting a batting average that fell 33 points between his performance against southpaws. Digging is further, we see that his pull percentage was actually significantly lower against righties than lefties (48% vs 39%) despite modest gains in hard hit rate (34% vs 38%). There's upside here, but also plenty of downside.
Yulieski Gurriel (HOU) - The depth of the third base position seems to get bigger every day. Yulieski Gurriel is the latest addition to the list of "draftable" third baseman for mixed leagues. The 32 year old was signed by the Astros out of Cuba last season and played a handful of games with the big club at the end of last year. In his brief 36 game stint, Gurriel rarely struck out. Out of 137 plate appearances, he walked back to the dugout empty-handed just 12 times. That translated to a strong 84% contact rate, which should help keep his batting average afloat. Unfortunately, we also rarely saw him make particularly strong contact, hitting the ball hard 29% of the time, which is about league average. As a result, he's going to come with a lower home run total than what you would normally want from a corner infielder, but he'll man first base for the Astros to begin the year and consequently, will gain dual 1B/3B eligibility in most leagues after the first few weeks of April. Given his advanced age, he's more developed at the plate than most other "rookie" batters, but there's still a learning curve for the major leagues, so it's important to set the appropriate level of expectations.
Jharel Cotton (OAK) - If you were out of contention by September last season, it's quite possible that you had no idea who Jharel Cotton was before the Spring Training media news machine picked him as the darling of March. So now that you know that he's likely going to be part of the Athletics opening day rotation, is he truly worth a mixed league pick? The short answer is "yes"! At 25 years old, Cotton spent a little more time developing than some of the other top prospects that are being talked about, but that's mainly a product of being labeled as not having the "right" body to be an effective starting pitcher. His 5'11''195 pound frame reminds you a bit of Marcus Stroman, but it certainly hasn't stood in the way of his effectiveness in the minor leagues, routinely posting strikeout rates approaching 30% and walk rates well below the major league average during his 5 seasons on the farm. All of Cotton's pitches rated favorably in his short stint with the A's last year, but it was his change-up that really set him apart. Thanks to a 15 MPH differential between his fastball and change-up, he was able to keep hitters off balance, which is turn, helped lead to a 28% hard hit rate. Cotton is a heavy flyball pitcher, but with his favorable home ballpark, many of those flyballs turn into harmless flyouts in the Oakland Coliseum. He may have a more difficult time keeping those balls in the yard on the road, however. Cotton is currently going in the 22nd round and does seem like a nice upside pick in the latter part of your draft.
Fantistics Draft Advisory Software
Helping you win your Fantasy Baseball League in 2017!
Primary Draft Indicators (auction Leagues):
EAV$ - Expected Auction Value (EAV$). EAV is an algorithm developed to mimic the non linear decline in auction prices during the span of a fantasy draft. The total EAV$ above your min bid, will tie in to the total amount of $ in your auction.
INF$ - Inflation Adjusted Value is based on Prices paid verses EAV$ from the start of the draft or when Keepers are entered into the software. Thus as players are selected, the discount or premium paid for players would continue to be tallied up and the Inflation/Deflation indicator will be applied to each of the remaining players to be selected. Using INF$ during your draft, will allow you to ascertain value. Also the inflation indicators at the bottom right hand corner of your screen will allow you to monitor overall inflation/deflation during your draft.
Primary Draft Indicator (draft Leagues):
TOP 100 VAM RANKING- Value Above Mean - Is our proprietary Position Scarcity Model that produces the optimal rank based on your scoring criteria. It combines both the principles of position scarcity, and our probability of predictability for each position. Use this ranking for the top 80-100 sections in your draft, as there is a clear advantage in using this methodology (20-30% more efficient). After these top 80-100 players are off the board, consider your positional needs and use the EAV$ as the primary sort criteria to find the most valuable players remaining.
Use the SEARCH feature in a draft to quickly locate players, in most cases you can find a player with only 3 or 4 character strokes.
Make sure that you have the latest download of our projections. Click on WEB UDPATE icon in the software and download the latest projections. The date present at the lower left hand corner should indicate the most recent projections download.
Make sure that all the settings in the League Setup section are correct! Additionally if your league does not define the Starter/Relievers then we recommend that you do. For instance if your league starts 9 Utility pitchers, then we recommend a 6 Starter / 3 reliever split setup in the software.