Who’s Hot and Who’s Not, and How to React
We are at the point in the Fantasy season where you should start to look at what categories you’re trying to improve in when you pick up a player. Power seems to be in supply no matter where you look, but average and speed, not so much. Strikeouts can be found in abundance, but WHIP is a different story. You need to check your categories at this point in time before claiming or releasing a player. You don’t get any extra credit for dominating a category. It’s also from this surplus that trades can be made for players that can help you move up the standings in a category that you’re struggling in. Here are a few players that may be able to help you and ones that are currently hurting you in certain categories.
- Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers: It seems like the entire Dodgers’ starting pitching staff is on the disabled list and one would think this would’ve sunk the club, but players like Muncy have not only kept them afloat, they have helped the team move up in the standings. Coming into this season, Muncy had 18 career HRs in MLB. Right now, in 45 games, he has hit 13 bombs. Will this power surge continue? Probably not, and you may want to consider selling him while he’s hot as his value couldn’t be any higher.
- John Hicks, Detroit Tigers: The Tigers announced Tuesday that Miguel Cabrera will miss the rest of the season due to a biceps injury. This has opened up a starting job for Hicks. It can be rare in some leagues, especially those that have unlimited or an abundance of DL slots, that a starting job opens up this late in the season. Well, one has now in Detroit. Hicks is not a top prospect, or a must-add, but if you play in a 15-team plus or AL only league, he will have value in FAAB this week.
- Steven Wright, Boston Red Sox: Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. It’s so hard to trust a knuckleball pitcher. They can wreck your WHIP in an instant. Still, it’s hard to ignore that Wright currently has a shutout streak of 22 2/3 IP. His ERA is 1.21 and WHIP is 1.04. He is also striking out almost a batter per inning and with the Boston offense, one would think wins would be easier to come by than for most pitchers. I wouldn’t mind rolling the dice with him until if/when Drew Pomeranz
- Nick Markakis, Atlanta Braves: When it comes to Fantasy MVP, I don’t usually think about the Mike Trouts and Mookie Betts of the world. They are doing what I expected them to do. I think about someone like Markakis. Someone you likely drafted extremely late or picked up on the waiver wire. Markakis is batting .333 heading into Thursday and has been a huge part of the Atlanta renaissance to begin this season. His AVG is a godsend for Fantasy owners.
- James Paxton, Seattle Mariners: Paxton is not only one of the best left-handed pitchers in the American League, but he’s also one of the best pitchers in MLB. Over his last 12 starts he has an ERA of 2.49 and WHIP of 0.94. His K/9 is 11.18 and with SEA contending this season, 15-plus wins aren’t out of the equation. He’s not a sell high, he’s the real deal.
- Michael Conforto, New York Mets: We have heard the rumors now for the past couple of weeks that the Mets are considering sending Conforto down to Triple-A. This may have already happened had Yoenis Cespedes not suffered a setback in his rehab. Once Cespedes returns the Mets will be in a roster crunch. Cespedes will play LF, Jay Bruce RF, and Brandon Nimmo deserves to start in CF. This would seem to leave Conforto on the outside looking in unless they want to move Bruce to 1B or do something silly like not play Nimmo. Then again, this is the Mets we are talking about.
- Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros: Remember when Keuchel was the ace of the Houston staff? Man, that seems so long ago, as he has aged quickly. This is why it’s so hard to trust a pitcher who doesn’t have overpowering stuff. If he’s not hitting his locations, he tends to get hit hard. Keuchel couldn’t protect a 6-0 lead versus Texas over the weekend and his ERA is heading in the wrong direction. It’s 4.45 on the season but 5.82 over his last six starts and 9.00 over his last three. If you can move him for a piece you like, I’d do it.
- Juan Soto, Washington Nationals: This was the biggest worry for Soto owners: With the return of Adam Eaton from the DL last week and Daniel Murphy on Tuesday, someone could be left out of the lineup. The Nats may have tipped their hand as to what they are planning to do in the outfield when Michael Taylor started over Soto versus a left-hander Tuesday. While it’s true that Soto would still remain on the right side of this platoon, the Nats could still decide that it’s best for Soto to play every day in Triple-A than 4-5 times per week in the majors. But Soto did homer twice Wednesday, so he may be able to stave off a move for a little while longer.
- Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees: I hate catchers, I truly do. I say it every time during draft time that I won’t select one early because they get hurt more than every other position. They get hit with bats, balls, runners, and have to squat so many times during the season. It just takes a toll on the body. Throw in that they usually get at least one day off during the week and you just have a recipe for a position to avoid. What I never truly considered was an All-Star suddenly forgetting how to hit. While Sanchez does have 12 HRs on the season, he hasn’t hit one since May 19 and is batting .190. Manager Aaron Boone keeps saying he’s not worried, but his actions say otherwise as Sanchez has rode the bench since Sunday. There’s not much you can do however except hope Boone is right and that talent will eventually prevail, and Sanchez will be in line for a big second half.
- Drew Pomeranz, Boston Red Sox: Pomeranz is currently on the DL with left biceps tendinitis and that may have been addition by subtraction for Boston. Pomeranz was sporting a 6.81 ERA and 1.84 WHIP before the injury. Not exactly numbers that you want out of a starting pitcher now is it? Throw in that Steven Wright is pitching well in the rotation and what guarantee do you have that Pomeranz gets his spot back? None, and I’m not sure you’d want him back anyway.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.