2014 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Week Seven Roundup

Jose Fernandez Fantasy Baseball
Photo credit: Paul Hadsall

After a breathtaking 2013 season which resulted in him taking home the National League Rookie of the Year award, expectations were sky-high for Jose Fernandez coming into his sophomore season. Fernandez had been his usual dominant self in his first eight starts with the Miami Marlins so far this season, but all the positive momentum he has created for the Marlins and fantasy owners alike came to a screeching halt on Tuesday after he was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Although no official decision has been made yet, undergoing Tommy John surgery seems to be a foregone conclusion considering the circumstances. The 21-year-old will face a long road back to the bigs once he goes under the knife, as recovery times for TJ surgeries usually range between 12-18 months. It seems like MLB has a bit of an alarming epidemic on their hands. If Fernandez ultimately decides to have the surgery, he will be the 18th MLB player this year to undergo TJ surgery. Last year there were 19 TJ surgeries over the course of the season. We are only one more torn UCL away from equaling last years total, and the season is only a fourth of the way done. Very scary.

What makes this even more frustrating and confounding for fantasy owners is that the Marlins limited Fernandez to 172.2 innings pitched in 2013 with the hope of preventing this unfortunate situation. Owners who selected the young stud probably didn’t have any arm-related injury concerns since he hadn’t displayed any symptoms and wasn’t overworked by the Marlins in his rookie campaign either. This injury goes to show you is that no amount of coddling is going to prevent prized arms from suffering these catastrophic injuries. It’s truly a shame that so many young pitchers are undergoing the same fate, and there doesn’t seem to be a solution on how to limit this devastating injury quite yet.

With that being said, lets get the week seven roundup started!

Fernandez: Another One Bites the Dust

As mentioned in the opening, it looks as if Fernandez will miss the rest of the 2014 season. The root of his problems came about after he was roughed up against the San Diego Padres last Friday. Over five innings, Fernandez gave up five earned runs against an abysmal Padres offense. Additionally, his velocity was down a couple MPH compared to his normal averages. Now we know why the vaunted flamethrower wasn’t throwing as hard as usual.

As bad as it hurts me to say it, Fernandez can safely be dropped in all re-draft leagues. Prior to his injury, Fernandez was 4-2 with a 2.44 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 70 strikeouts in 51.2 innings pitched. His 70 strikeouts were tied for first with David Price and Stephen Strasburg. He was providing superb numbers and owners will have an extremely difficult time trying to make up for his lost production. Based on Y! rankings, Fernandez has been the 6th best pitcher and 17th best player overall so far. Only Johnny Cueto, Adam Wainwright, Francisco Rodriguez, Max Scherzer, and Tim Hudson are ranked ahead of him.

It’s no time to sulk about his injury though as many other fantasy owners are sure to have already dealt with season-ending injuries and there will be more to come throughout the year. Look towards the waiver wire or trading block and see how you can make your team better for the long haul folks!

V-Mart Open for Business

Victor Martinez set his career-high for home runs (25) back in 2007 and has only eclipsed the 20 homer threshold once since that time, but Martinez seems well on his way to besting his personal record he set seven years ago. As of this writing, Martinez is batting .336 with nine homers, 23 RBI, 17 runs, and a .387 OBP. His two steals are the most he’s ever recorded in a season. His terrific start has led to him being the 28th ranked player in Y! leagues, and he’s providing a huge profit to owners who snagged him in the mid-to-late rounds of fantasy drafts.

V-Mart somehow has more homers (nine) than strikeouts (eight), and his current 5.3% strikeout rate would be a career-best. With a .261 ISO, increased fly ball rate of 39.5%, and a BABIP of only .300, Martinez may very well be able to keep this up to a certain extent all year. Martinez is a career .304 hitter, so his average is certainly one statistic you shouldn’t expect much regression in.

His splits against lefties and righties bode well for future success as well. Martinez is batting 14-31 (.452) against southpaws and 30-100 (.300) versus right-handers. Martinez is one of those rare players who can hit for average and power and that makes him especially valuable for fantasy purposes. I’d be looking to buy on Martinez in all leagues at the moment. Somehow Martinez is only owned in 86% of Y! leagues compared to 100% in ESPN. Guess there are too many yahoos playing on Y!.

Puig Invasion

There was much ado this offseason about whether or not Yasiel Puig would continue to obliterate MLB pitching with his extremely aggressive hitting approach. Many figured that pitchers would figure out Puig and start throwing more pitches out of the zone which theoretically would cause Puig to chase more and become less successful at the plate. Puig seems to be the one that is one step ahead though, as a look at his advanced statistics point to an altered approach for the Cuban sensation at the plate. Jeff Sullivan discussed this Tuesday over at Fangraphs. You can take a look at the changes in his hitting philosophy by looking at the table below.

Year/Category

2013

2014

BB%

8.3%

11.7%

K%

22.5%

19.0%

FB%

30.7%

35.2%

O-Swing%

37%

26.3%

Swing%

53.2%

46.7%

Contact%

67.7%

74.6%

LD%

19.1%

13.0%

The numbers highlighted in red all indicated improvements compared to his sterling 2013 season. Seeing that he has improved drastically across the board besides line drive rate (which I expect will rise as the season goes on) is especially impressive. Puig is making a concerted effort to be more selective at the plate, and it’s helping him make more contact, which in turn should lead to more hits. There doesn’t appear to be a sophomore slump on the horizon for the Cuban defector as he continues to get even better. It sure is fun watching Puig’s signature bat flips after he launches a homer.

GIF credit: CBS Sports
GIF credit: CBS Sports

The 23-year-old is once again terrorizing just about every pitcher in his path. Through 35 games, Puig is slashing a remarkable .324/.416/.561 with seven home runs, 31 RBI, 19 runs, and four stolen bases. Those numbers equate to Puig being ranked the number 17 player in Y!. Puig is oozing with talent and he’s putting it to good use so far this season. While he may not finish as a top five outfielder like he is now when the season is all said and done, I see Puig having no problem providing top ten value at the OF position the rest of the way.

Rosenthal Struggles Continue

Prior to the season, many (including myself) viewed St. Louis Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal as a shoo-in for top 5-10 value at the closer position for the upcoming season. With his past dominance in the regular season and especially the postseason, many owners probably felt all warm and fuzzy inside after they selected Rosenthal to provide 30+ saves with an abundance of strikeouts and low ERA and WHIP. Fast forward to now and those rosy outlooks on Rosenthal are proving to be a bit misguided so far.

Asked to protect a one run lead on Tuesday night, Rosenthal promptly blew his first save of the season against the Chicago Cubs. It’s actually surprising this is his first blown save. Through his first 17.1 innings pitched, “Rosey” has a 5.19 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, and 21:11 K/BB ratio. Those numbers certainly stand out…for all the wrong reasons. His ERA is almost double what he posted in 2013 (2.63) and his WHIP from 2013 (1.10) is up significantly as well.

His main problem seems to stem from an inability to locate his pitches. Rosenthal has walked a batter in seven of his last eight appearances and has already handed out 11 free passes after surrendering only 20 walks all of last year in 75.1 IP. His walk rate is a ghastly 13.9% and his strikeout rate has dipped form 34.7% in 2013 to 26.6% this year. Even more concerning is his continual drop in velocity as his average fastball velocity is down one MPH from last year. Allowing opposing hitters to smack line drives at an 32.6% rate isn’t going to help matters much either.

All these statistics don’t paint a pretty picture of Rosenthal’s body of work up to this point in the season and you should be somewhat worried about his slow start. Jason Motte‘s return to the bullpen is right around the corner, and if Rosenthal continues to struggle in the 9th inning, Mike Matheny may have no choice to insert Motte back into his old closers role, especially if the Cardinals continue to flounder in the standings.

That’s complete speculation though and right now I still wouldn’t be too worried about Rosenthal’s job security the rest of the year. Matheny is very loyal to his players and it would be surprising to see Rosenthal not get a lot of leash unless he completely unravels. A bad month shouldn’t be enough to sway the manager to make a change after two plus years of tremendous work. It doesn’t make sense to try to trade Rosenthal low with his value at his lowest so all owners can do is hang on and weather the storm. Brighter days lie ahead for those with the patience to stomach his current troubles.

Moss the Boss

When Oakland Athletics slugger Brandon Moss makes contact, he tends to put the ball into orbit with some monster home runs. Moss was at it again on Tuesday night as he hit two more homers to go along with another five RBI. His slash line is up to .279/.361/.515 to go along with eight homers, 33 RBI, and 18 runs. His 33 RBI are tied with Troy Tulowitzki and Nelson Cruz for second most in the AL.

Prior to last year where he broke out for 30 HR and 87 RBI, Moss had always been known as more of a platoon player who would start against righties. What makes Moss’ strong start to the 2014 season all the more encouraging is that he is 8-25 (.320) against left-handers so far. It’s a small sample size so it’s probably too early to draw any conclusions on whether he can keep it up, especially since he only hit .200 in 80 at-bats versus southpaws last season.

A few stats that stand out in Moss’ profile is his strikeout rate (19.4%), which has decreased more than eight percentage points from last year. Moss is also making contact at a 75.5% clip, five percent better than last year. There is no way Moss should be unowned in 17% of Y! leagues. You know what you are likely going to get with Moss, 30+ HR, 85+ RBI, 70+ runs, and an average somewhere in the .260-.275 range. Those numbers make him a fine OF3, 1B, or CI depending on how you choose to utilize him in your format. If you are targeting power in a trade, Moss might be your guy. His name doesn’t elicit the same buzz as other big name players might, but his production is almost just as good and you can get him for a lower price.

Tidbits: Alex Cobb (oblique) is aiming to return on May 22 against the A’s. CC Sabathia  will be sidelined until at least July after being reexamined by a knee specialist. Tony Cingrani is expected to return on Saturday for his start in Philadelphia. Jaime Garcia is set to return on Saturday for a start versus the Atlanta Braves at home. Garcia has historically been much better at home than on the road and the Braves have a strikeout-prone lineup, stream him. Carlos Gomez is day-to-day with lower back tightness and missed Wednesday night’s tilt versus the Pirates. He also dropped his three-game suspension appeal and will not return to action until Sunday. Carlos Beltran has been diagnosed with a bone spur in his right elbow and has been placed on the 15-day DL. New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman says Beltran is facing a 6-12 week absence if he has to undergo elbow surgery. Brace for the worst. Against the Braves, Tim Lincecum had his best start (7 2/3, 1 ER, 11 K) of what has been a lackluster start to season for him so far. Ryan Braun (oblique) was activated from his 15-day DL stint on Tuesday night. He was pulled after 6 innings by manager Ron Roenicke, a plan they had put in place before the game. Casey Janssen made his 2014 debut by earning a save and reclaiming the closers role in the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen. He’s already dealt with a couple injuries that have delayed his start to the season, so enjoy what you are able to get out of him. Adam Eaton (hamstring) is expected to be activated from the 15-day DL on Sunday. Get him back into all lineups ASAP. Garrett Richards threw seven scoreless innings against the Phillies on Wednesday, as he moved to 4-0 and improved his season numbers to 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. If he’s available, pick him up now. Jose Abreu hit his 15th homer of the season, which leads MLB, and he increased his RBI total to 41. Ho-hum. David Price has a 70:6 K/BB ratio but a 4.02 ERA. His 3.07 FIP incidates his ERA will go down sharply soon and he’ll be back to dominating. Start buying on him before it’s too late. Drew Pomeranz threw five shutout innings versus the White Sox on Tuesday. He is available in 75% of Y! leagues and 88% of ESPN leagues. A 3-1 record, 1.14 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 24:8 K/BB ratio in 23 2/3 innings means he should be picked up in mixed leagues for the time being. Francisco Rodriguez added to his league leading save total (16). Over the last two days, David Ortiz hit four homers and drove in six runs as he raised his average to .305. His 11 home runs are tied for second best in MLB. Big Papi is heating up, just as we all knew he would.

Thanks to FanGraphs and Yahoo for providing the statistical information. Be sure to comment below if you have any remarks or questions about anything discussed in this article. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @MattMoczy and I’m more than willing to answer any questions you may have.

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