All stats are current as per the morning of 6/4/15
Carlos Carrasco, SP, Indians
Carlos Carrasco was looked upon as a breakout candidate this preseason after his sparkling second half in 2014, in which he compiled a 1.72 ERA, .90 WHIP and struck out 86 batters in 78.2 innings. With a 2.38 ERA through his first three starts it looked like Fantasy owners who invested in him had made the right choice. Unfortunately, Carrasco’s 2015 season took a turn for the worse, as he pitched miserably and lost three of his next five starts while compiling a 5.91 ERA. The good news is that in his last three starts he looks like the pitcher we saw during the second half of last season, pitching to a 1.71 ERA and striking out 23 batters in 21 innings. Carrasco’s Fantasy owners are still hurting from his early season slump and you might be able to pry him away from a disgruntled owner at a discount. You already know that he has a history of pitching well in the latter parts of a season, and despite the roller coaster ride he’s put his Fantasy owners on this year, his peripherals are very good. His K/9 rate has improved to 10.35 this season; his First Strike Pitch rate has also increased and ERA stand-ins like FIP, xFIP and SIERA all agree that his current overall 3.92 ERA is at least a full run higher than it should be. Make a Carrasco owner a fair but cut rate offer. Who knows, he or she might just accept it.
A.J. Pollock, OF, Diamondbacks
Despite the fact that many fantasy experts were touting him as a breakout Fantasy outfielder this preseason, and that he’s met their expectations with his great start, A.J. Pollock is still not exactly a household name. In his first 51 games, Pollock is batting .318 with seven home runs, 37 runs scored and 13 stolen bases. His batted ball numbers have vastly improved in the past year, as he has increased his line drive and HR/FB rate and is hitting the ball to all parts of the field. He has an outstanding OBP of .370 and with thumpers like Paul Goldschmidt and Yasmany Tomas hitting behind him, he will likely continue to score runs, which is often a forgotten category, at an above average pace. The Diamondbacks trade of Mark Trumbo should allow Pollock to gain more at bats, and by season’s end I expect him to compile a batting average near .300 with 12 to 15 home runs, close to 90 runs scored and 30 plus stolen bases. Those are the kind of numbers you would expect from players like Michael Brantley or Jacoby Ellsbury, but you would have to give up a lot more in a trade for those players.
Jhonny Peralta, SS, Cardinals
If you take away the 2013 season in which he was forced to miss time due to his PED suspension, Jhonny Peralta has played in at least 141 games in 10 straight seasons, no small feat for a major league shortstop these days. Peralta served his punishment, but unfortunately, that incident may have tarnished his reputation and made Fantasy owners reluctant to draft him. How else would you explain a 200 preseason ADP for a guy who hit 21 home runs and drove in 75 RBIs at a time when power is at such a premium? That ADP means that he wasn’t picked up until the beginning of the sixteenth round of the average 12-team draft even though he put up those numbers while playing at a weak Fantasy baseball position. With just about a third of the season completed, Peralta has taken his game to an even higher level, batting .310 this season with a .202 ISO and .379 wOBA. His eight home runs and 31 RBIs put him on pace to surpass his numbers from last season. He doesn’t have the reputation that precedes players like Troy Tulowitzki and Ian Desmond. What he does have, is better stats than those two higher priced shortstops, who were gone by the second round of your draft, and you’ll be quoted a lower asking price for him in potential Fantasy trades.
Jay Bruce, OF, Reds
On May 14, Jay Bruce was batting .162. Since then he’s been turning the Reds’ fans boos for him into cheers of Bruuuce by acting like “the Boss” and taking a charge to his offense. He has batted .395 with two home runs and seven RBIs since that date. When you draft a guy like Bruce you expect home runs and RBIs, and you also expect a mediocre batting average in the .250 range. Before last season, Bruce had six straight seasons in which he hit at least 21 home runs and three straight seasons in which he drove in between 97 and 109 runs, but the bottom fell out from under him in 2014. Bruce was mired in a season-long slump and batted .217 with just 18 home runs and 66 RBIs. Fantasy managers expected a bounce back season from him but, unfortunately, his 2015 season picked up right where 2014 had left off. His recent play shows there might be a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. His ISO, slugging percentage and wOBA are all higher than last year’s numbers, and his BABIP is slightly under his career nor,m providing hope that he might be able to raise that current overall .230 batting average a few notches higher. My advice is for you to buy him now that he’s hot and while his current overall numbers make it look like he’s not.
Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, Red Sox
If you are going to try to sell something and get the biggest return for it, you are going to have to sell it at its peak. With two sparkling outings in which he has notched two wins and struck out 14 in 14.2 innings, I don’t think that Eduardo Rodriguez’s value can get any higher any time soon. Will the Red Sox stick with a six-man rotation, allowing them to keep Rodriguez in their rotation for the long haul? Will they send him back down to the minors if he has a couple of bad starts? That’s a concern you won’t have to worry about if you trade Rodriguez now based on the high value generated from the fruits of his two great starts. These days, when you have a dynamic pitcher that you can trade for a bat, you need to strike while the iron is hot because offense is hard to come by and not readily available in the trade market. Just check your league’s message board. Doesn’t it seem like everyone is offering pitching for hitting these days? In one of my leagues I’m offering Cory Kluber, Gerrit Cole, Jordan Zimmermann or Carlos Carrasco for offense and I’ve only gotten one bite. Is there any guarantee that Rodriguez will be the next Doc Gooden or Pedro Martinez? Well, there’s a chance, but not a real good one. Rodriguez throws but he has had control issues throughout his career. How long before he has his first major league hiccup and what will that do to his trade value? You can always still start Rodriguez in your daily game when the matchup is favorable, but for now, use the buzz surrounding this dazzling lefty and sell him high before his first bad start pops your balloon. Time is ticking away.
Masahiro Tanaka, SP, Yankees
As Masahiro Tanaka’s most recent start, after a five week stay on the disabled list, demonstrates, when healthy he is a top of the line Fantasy Baseball pitcher. Unfortunately, the “when healthy” part is what should concern you if you own shares in Tanaka. He was the Yankees’ ace last season until he suffered a small ligament tear in his right elbow. The tear was treated with rest and rehabilitation, but it seems that whenever Tanaka’s name gets mentioned, the conversation always ends up with someone saying “oh that guy? He’s gonna need Tommy John surgery.” Now I’m no doctor, never played one on TV or even a school play, but from what I’ve read, a team of doctors, including the famed Dr. James Andrews, determined that the tear in Tanaka’s elbow was not significant enough to require Tommy John surgery. It may in the future, but as of last season surgery was not recommended. Was Tanaka’s ligament given enough rest last season so that it was able to heal? Was his latest stint on the DL due to right wrist tendinitis and right forearm strain the result of a change in his mechanics designed to protect his elbow? Even though his pitches were being clocked in the mid 90s in his last start, are you confident that this will be Tanaka’s last visit to the DL this season? If those kind of questions keep you up at night, pray for him to have another good start, put him on the block, and sell him as high as you can.