Well, here we are, starting year 21, and Z and I are in Manhattan getting ready to draft our Fantasy Sports Trade Association Football Team for the coming season.
Hah. We still have over three months of baseball to go, and last week I kind of took a bye, so, let's get started with a question.
Who were the best two starting pitchers last week? Clayton Kershaw? Chris Sale? John Lackey? Jordan Zimmermann?
Well, Jon Lester did have a monster cycle with two wins and a 0.00 ERA over 15 frames, but how about Trevor Bauer (1-0, 1.72, with a 1.02 WHIP over 15.6 innings), Matt Shoemaker (0-1, 2.30, with a 0.77 WHIP over 15.6 innings) and Tyler Chatwood (2-0, 2.45 with a 0.95 WHIP over 14.6 innings)?
Probably no troika of hurlers can better exemplify the ups-and-downs and insanity that goes with managing a baseball squad, for if you think the schizo careers of these guys make us crazy, imagine trying to work through it as Theo Epstein. Still, the lesson is in most leagues it is impossible to win with a set lineup you selected on draft day. If you want to stay among the big dogs in your league, it means being on top of who is hot, who is not, and ideally trying to figure this out a little ahead of the curve, adjusting your lineup accordingly.
One name who might indeed intrigue--as well as drive us whacky as he develops--is Jameson Taillon, a high school first-round selection of the Bucs in 2010. A top 100 prospect every year since his draft, the 24-year-old has a 20-23 mark with a 3.49 ERA over 442.6 innings with 417 whiffs with 2014-15 lost to injury. Taillon did get his first start against the Mets on Wednesday, going six innings, allowing six hits and three runs. Though he was sent back to Triple-A, expect the 6'5", 240-pound righty back getting every opportunity to realize his potential. Just be mindful of the lumpy road the previous paragraph implies and stash him on your reserve list if you can.
Oakland has been having huge mound issues, so they sought help from Daniel Mengden, a fourth-round pick of the Astros in 2014 whom the Athletics copped along with Jacob Nottingham for Scott Kazmir. The A's swapped Nottingham to the Brewers (for Khris Davis), but after going 15-5, 2.78 over 210 minor league innings which includes a 3-1, 1.39 spread at Nashville this year over seven starts, Oakland gave Mengden a shot. The righty responded with 5.2 solid innings, making a mistake only to Jay Bruce. Oakland, in a pitcher's park, will give Mengden the ball until he gives the team a reason not to. Ride accordingly.
Got Smoke? That likely means you discovered the Astros' Michael Feliz, a 22-year-old Dominican reliever who whiffed 419 over 419.2 minor league innings, but this year has put down 42 hitters on strikes over 29.1 innings, with a 4-0, 3.38 record that includes a 0.85 WHIP. Feliz might be a future closer but for now, in a deep league, he is a perfect stabilizer who can get whiffs. Grab him if you can/need to.
Arizona brought back outfielder Peter O'Brien, a former second-round selection of the Yankees in 2012, swapped for Martin Prado in 2014. O'Brien hit .280-109-363 as a minor leaguer over 1760 at-bats, and though he has hit 59.7% of his hits for extra bases, 112 walks to 492 strikeouts (.327 OBP) looks problematic to me.
Probably the most promising hitter promoted this week has to be the 2014 #1 pick of the Pale Hose, Tim Anderson. A speed burning shortstop, Anderson has hit .301 as a minor leaguer with 220 runs scored over 1374 at-bats with 94 steals, 26 triples, and 62 doubles, Anderson has been called upon to fill the void left with the release of Jimmy Rollins. Anderson does have it all, save he too suffers from lack of zone command with 64 walks to 332 whiffs and a not too stellar .327 OBP for a guy with a .301 average. Still, Anderson looks exciting and should not be dismissed.
In case you did not notice, I have long been a fan of Wilmer Flores, who has just returned to the Mets lineup. Over the past three weeks, Flores has hit .368-0-3 over 13 games and 38 at-bats. The 23-year-old clobbered 16 big flies last year over 483 at-bats and though he does have on-base issues (46 walks to 133 whiffs and a .297 OBP), give him time and I think the utility infielder establishes himself.
Please do feel free to comment, and don't forget you can tweet me @lawrmichaels