Who’s Hot, Who’s Not, and How to React in Fantasy Baseball
This is a fun time of year, as several top prospects have been getting the call to the big leagues. Everyone loves the rookies. Why? Because they haven’t failed yet and given us a reason to dislike them. I can’t begin to preach enough caution when it comes to rookies. Baseball is a difficult game full of adjustments. Just because a young player starts off hot, doesn’t mean he will stay that way for the remainder of the season. He could just as easily see himself back in the minors, don’t assume a rookie will help you win a championship.
- Nick Pivetta, Philadelphia Phillies: Pivetta struggled in his rookie season to the tune of a 6.02 ERA and 1.51 WHIP, which scared most Fantasy owners away at draft time. That seems to be a mistake, as he is currently on a streak where he has given up only one run over his past three starts (19 IP). Is this just a hot streak or a sign of things to come? In 10 starts this season he has failed to go at least five IP only twice. He’s unlikely to ever be an ace, but he can be a useful piece going forward. That being said, I wouldn’t be going out of my way to acquire him and if someone were to come with you with an offer for Pivetta that you are thinking about accepting, I wouldn’t be against moving him either.
- Scooter Gennett, Cincinnati Reds: Last season Gennett hit 27 HRs, drove in 97 runs and batted .295. Some thought that may have just been a magical season, something he could never repeat again. Well, apparently, he can, or possibly even do better. He’s on pace to once again hit 27 HRs, drive in about 100 runs, but now his average is well over .300. How nice it is to play your home games in Cincinnati? While the average may come down over the long season, the power is legit. I’d keep him.
- Matt Harvey, Cincinnati Reds: No matter how things work out for Harvey in Cincinnati, the Mets made the right decision in trading him. At best he needed a change of scenery and at worst he was becoming a major distraction. Still, they can’t be happy about how well he has performed since the trade. Harvey has put himself back on the Fantasy radar. In his last first three starts for the Reds (14 IP), Harvey has only allowed four earned runs. Granted, this is a small sample size, but Harvey may be worth picking up off the waiver wire just in case he does find more of his old magic.
- Alex Reyes, St. Louis Cardinals: Once Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny made it clear that Reyes would join the rotation upon his return to the Cardinals (next week), Fantasy owners should have been hoping and praying that he was available on their waiver wire. Reyes was/is one of the top pitching prospects in MLB and has seemingly been striking out players at will in Triple-A. Could there be bumps in the road this season coming off Tommy John surgery? Yes, and he is worth the risk.
- Juan Soto, Washington Nationals: It was almost a foregone conclusion that Soto would hit his first Major League HR in his first Major League game. This has been a fairy tale season so far for him. He’s only 19 years old and needed several things to happen in order to get called up to Washington. Soto needed multiple injuries to the right people. Soto needed to rake in the minors. Soto also needed the Nationals not to play up to their ability or for a team or two in the NL East to be better than advertised. All of these boxes were checked, and Fantasy owners now will reap the benefits.
- Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies: Not everything is rosy in Philadelphia. Manager Gabe Kapler seems to enjoy keeping Fantasy owners on their toes about who might close out any particular game. Neris has blown three of his 12 save chances. That’s not terrible, but it certainly doesn’t instill much confidence either. The bigger problem for Neris’ owners is Seranthony Dominguez. He looks like the real deal as a top-notch reliever and it may only be a matter of time until Kapler trusts him enough to make him the full-time closer. If you have Neris and Dominguez is still available on the waiver wire, you should give serious consideration to claiming him.
- Willy Adames, Tampa Bay Rays: Why is Adames on this list after hitting a HR in his first MLB game off of Chris Sale on Tuesday? Because the Rays have let it be known that his recall will be short-term and he is expected to be sent down as soon as Joey Wendle returns from the paternity list. Adames is a top prospect who probably deserves to play now and would help the Rays, but don’t blow your FAAB budget on him just yet.
- Seattle Mariners: The Seattle offense is a small disaster right now. Unless you live under a rock, you know that Robinson Cano has been suspended for using a banned substance and is out until Aug. 14. Dee Gordon is expected to miss at least two weeks if not more with a broken toe. Nelson Cruz has missed four of the last six games with an elbow injury. Mitch Haniger had to leave the game Tuesday after getting hit on the wrist by a pitch. Although the X-ray results were negative, there is still no timetable for his return. Jean Segura also was slow getting up after diving head first into the catcher with the eventual game winning run Tuesday. He stayed in the game, but the way life is going right now, I wouldn’t bet on his health either. That is pretty much the Mariners’ Top 5 batters who all have issues. Fantasy owners should be starting almost any SP against this offense right now.
- Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees: Well, maybe not Tanaka versus Seattle, as he has his own issues. Tanaka may be 5-2 on the season but he is sporting a very unhealthy ERA of 4.95. Fantasy owners should probably be thankful if you can just get a quality start out of him at this point. Just like last season, he is extremely HR prone. This year as he is on pace to once again give up 30-plus dingers. His BB/9 is up while his K/9 is down. His BABIP is a career low .254 right now which would seem to indicate that these numbers could get worse. If you can trade Tanaka for something you can live with, you should seriously think about doing it.
Danny Duffy, Kansas City Royals: If the Royals did want to trade Duffy to get as much valuable as possible from him, then they probably shouldn’t have waited so long. It’s unlikely anyone is giving up much value for a SP with a 6.88 ERA and 1.73 WHIP. Kansas City will keep him in the rotation, hoping he can turn his season around and return some value. You should not be keeping him in your Fantasy lineup hoping for the same thing.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.
Matt Harvey Featured Image: (AP Photo/John Minchillo)