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Friday 15th Dec 2017

Wow, here we are at another second half of a season that has been largely a disappointment for my season-long teams. I have to admit that injuries have largely been deadly (as in my Scoresheet outfield of Alex Gordon, Steven Souza and Marcell Ozuna, or my LABR team with Josh Harrison, Martin Prado and Ozuna sort of say it better than I can) but poor performances (like Ozuna) and misplaced expectations (are you listening Mike Zunino?) have also paved the way to standings disaster.

Still, the beauty of baseball is largely within the optimism the next pitch, out, inning, game, series, season, and on, and well, we are at the second half where I still have hope for my bottom rung teams.

Anyway, since we are at the mid-way point, there are some players I hope can pick it up (some of them I even own) and get their game together for the latter portion of 2015, and since my tradition the last 19 seasons has been to list the players I think will have a strong finish, there is no reason to stop now. So, here are indeed some of the players I am watching.

Robinson Cano: Huh? .254-8-34 from the best hitting keystone player over the last bunch of years? True, everyone has an off year now and again, and most players would probably kill for a chance at a .254-16-64 year (doubling the numbers), but Cano is indeed better than most players. His two-homer game Saturday might already be a harbinger for a career .306 hitter who has knocked the pill at a .299-4-10 clip over his last 67 at-bats.

Matt Kemp: Kemp is not as much of a "WTF?" as Cano, but odd in that Kemp's .254-9-50 is eerily close to the numbers of Robinson. It seemed that following his monster (.309-17-54) second half last year, Kemp was ready to return to first-round draft status, but at this point third-round seems generous. However, there are those guys (this could be a theme) who are second-half players, and since Kemp rocked it last year, he is a good gamble if you need to make a move.

Kyle Schwarber: I confess man-love for the best hitting Cubs prospect of all, but with Miguel Montero down, Schwarber will now collect full-time play, I am guessing for the rest of the season, irrespective of what happens with the return of Montero. But Schwarber will play, and the dude will hit. After all, he has hit everywhere else he has played, including his thus far brief stint in the Majors (.407-1-6 over eight games).

Ervin Santana: Santana really hobbled several of my teams with his untimely suspension, but his seven shutout innings over the Athletics this past week suggests he is still a solid enough hurler, and he's not the kind of pitching risk that Jose Fernandez and Patrick Corbin are, where the player is trying to right himself following an injury.

Mike Fiers: Another player who has been getting it together after a horrible start, Fiers is 2-0, 2.00, with an 0.869 WHIP and 17 whiffs over 27 frames his last four starts. Fiers was 6-4, 2.09 with an 0.835 WHIP over ten second half starts last season with 71 strikeouts across 64.6 innings.

Carlos Santana: Puzzling when a guy with 60 walks to 59 whiffs and ten homers can only wrangle a .226 batting average. It is sort of like a pitcher with a 1.35 WHIP and a 2.98 ERA where the numbers seem to scream for a correction. Right?

Anibal Sanchez: Kind of a pitching parallel to Santana (as in Carlos), Sanchez has a great 1.20 WHIP, but a 4.55 ERA. The Tigers are underperforming thus far this year, but I do think they will step it up the remainder of the season, and Sanchez's numbers will improve accordingly.

Mark Trumbo: We all know what Trumbo is capable of, and it isn't like he has to hit .309-35-115 (though that would be nice). But a second half of .255-15-35 is totally reasonable, and the outfielder is hitting .341-1-4 over his last 13 games. Over that period, the whiffs-to-walks (11-to-2) are indeed worrisome, but Trumbo is making nice contact, and if he relaxes, and Cano picks it up, Seattle could have a nice run with Trumbo a major part of the equation.

DFS Watch: OK, we are willing to adjust to the fun market of Daily Games. In fact, you know we play FantasyScore and participate in the FanDuel Tout Wars contest, so let's add to our daily MastersDaily coverage and simply pick a couple of series/games/starts this week that look good.

Pitchers to Watch: Forget the double starts this week as the bottom of every rotation is getting the shot the early portion of the week, although that does portend some juicy hitting numbers. When I look at the coming match-ups, I do like to look for potentially good two-start pitchers, but truthfully, no one tickles my fancy. 

Zack Greinke pitches Saturday, and Clayton Kershaw on Sunday against those very Mets, and I love both of those plays, no matter how expensive. 

Hitters to Watch: If you want to stack a game, somehow the Scott Feldman versus Jeremy Guthrie game next Friday seems like a really fun way to go. For the first part of the week, the Texas at Colorado affairs similarly look like the harbinger of juicy hitting stats.

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