I’m a patient owner, but over the next two weeks I will make decisions regarding who stays and who goes, as we are reaching the point in the Fantasy season where making up ground in ratio categories can become difficult. If you’re struggling in those, you don’t want to fall too far behind.
- Lance McCullers, Astros: At draft time, the only thing I was worried about McCullers was health. I was just hoping and praying he could make 25-plus starts this season. McCullers has always had the repertoire of pitches to be one of the top starters in the game, yet he just had to stay in the rotation. He has done that thus far to the tune of a 4-1 record with a 2.65 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. I want him.
- Zack Cozart, Reds: I know it’s only May 19, but if you were casting your vote for the best shortstop in the National League over the first seven weeks of the season, it’s either Cozart or Chris Owings of the Diamondbacks. Entering Friday’s play, Cozart is batting .352 with four homers, 18 RBI, and two steals. The power should improve and my only real worry is that the Reds could continue their youth movement and deal Cozart to a more pitcher-friendly ballpark. Until then, I’m buying.
- Jose Berrios, Twins: In 14 starts last season Berrios was awful. He posted an ERA north of eight with a WHIP approaching two. Since being recalled earlier this month by Minnesota, he looks more like the top prospect we all expected him to be. Is he for real this time? Does it matter? If he’s still available on your waiver wire you have no choice but to bid for him this weekend. If not, someone else will. I wouldn’t be worried about an innings cap. He threw 170 innings last season, which means even a conservative estimate would put him around the 200 IP range this year. Berrios had 11 K in his start versus Colorado on Thursday, so the price is only going to get higher.
- J.D. Martinez, Tigers: Talk about someone who is trying to make up for lost time. Martinez missed the first six weeks of the season with a foot injury, an injury that some thought — including me — could be an ongoing problem as he will have to continually push off on that foot all season. It’s not like they can rest him at DH with both Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez on the team. Martinez has five homers in his first six games since coming off the DL and if his owners still have worries about his health, then I’d roll the dice and pay the price to acquire him.
- Keon Broxton, Brewers: He was on the wrong side of this list just a few weeks ago but over his last 14 games he is batting .357 with three homers, nine RBI and four steals with an OPS of 1.015. Broxton was predicted by many to be a breakout player this season and that may finally be coming to fruition. If an impatient owner gave up on him and put him on the waiver wire, I’d scoop him up immediately as he could be a solid source of speed and power from this point forward.
- Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: Is there anything worse than a player who is constantly going in and out of your lineup? Miggy is out once again with an oblique strain, an injury that was easy to predict, as there it’s little doubt that he came off the DL too quickly with the same ailment. The Tigers have stated that they expect Cabrera to only be out of the lineup for another day or two but that would seem to put them in the exact same predicament as last time. If the team and player aren’t willing to let the injury completely heal, then odds are it will re-occur once again. I’d move on from him if I could get a decent price.
- Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox: After having a fantastic 2016 with 30 homers and 111 RBI, Ramirez has been a disappointment this season with only five dingers, 17 RBI, and a .252 batting average. Injury may be to blame here aas HRam has been dealing with a shoulder injury since spring training. He is also a player that could benefit from spending a couple of weeks on the DL to let that shoulder heal completely, yet it’s something that is unlikely to happen.
- Jake Arrieta, Cubs: Usually players in contract years always seem to put up great numbers. That’s not the case so far for Arrieta. He has regressed and looks much more like the pitcher he was for the Orioles than the All Star and NL Cy Young winner he became for the Cubs. His ERA and WHIP are significantly higher than they were last season even though his K rate is about the same. Could an injury be to blame? His fastball velocity is down on average almost two MPH from last season and closer to four MPH from 2015. Perhaps a mechanical adjustment needs to be made or maybe at age 31, Father Time is starting to catch up with him prematurely.
- Tanner Roark, Nationals: I know there are quite a few Fantasy owners that are thinking about cutting bait with Roark. While it’s true that he’s been far from great this season, I wouldn’t be so quick to cut the cord. His last two starts have certainly been sub optimal (11 runs allowed in 9.2 IP) but he could just be going through a slump. Sure, I’m benching him until I see better results, but I’m not releasing him. He still has value for a Nationals team that should cruise to the NL East title and plays in one of the better pitcher’s ballparks, so I still have faith.
- Julio Teheran, Braves: If there is one player who doesn’t like the new home ballpark for Atlanta, it just may be Teheran. His home ERA is 10.50 with a WHIP of 2.00. On the road those numbers melt to 0.71 and 1.07, respectively. Should you release him? That really depends on who you will replace him with but at the very least I’m benching him for home starts. It’s hard to find a reason for these numbers. The new ballpark does seem to play well for left-handed hitters but we’re not talking Coors Field or Yankee Stadium. It would seem an adjustment, either mental or physical, needs to be made as his K rate is actually better at home than on the road. I’m not buying him but with quality starting pitchers being difficult to find on the WW, I might be a little more patient before cutting Teheran loose.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.