Wei-Yin Chen gave us his 2nd consecutive successful #MapesFantasySpecial last night, despite not getting a win. Mets Matt Harvey had his start pushed back due to rain, so we’ll see how that plays out tonight. I’m not sure he can get a win against Cole Hamels, but hopefully the peripherals and strikeouts will be there. Here’s what I like for Thursday, September 20th that’s available in more than half of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie was featured on this week’s podcast as a 3UP player and I really like him at home against the White Sox. Guthrie shut down the White Sox just a week and a half ago, tossing eight shutout innings. Even more impressive, Guthrie has had three starts against the White Sox since coming to Kansas City, would you like to guess how many runs he’s given up in 23.2 innings? That’s right, zero! I’ll trust him one more time to get solid numbers, he’s owned in just 15% of fantasy leagues.
If You’re Desperate: Cardinals Jaime Garcia (49% owned) takes on the Astros in a solid matchup, but has been so terribly up and down since returning from injury he might no be worth the chance. Brewers rookie Michael Fiers (45% owned) had 10 strikeouts, last time he faced the Pirates, but has a 5.40 ERA in two starts against Pittsburgh this year. A’s Tommy Milone (44% owned) hasn’t been good on the road this season and takes on Detroit at Comerica. No thanks. Nationals Ross Detwiler (35% owned) has been good this season and could help your WHIP, but don’t expect a ton of strikeouts. If you need strikeouts and can afford the ERA/WHIP hit, Francisco Liriano (35% owned) could get you some strikeouts, but got lit up last time out against KC. Lastly, Giants Barry Zito (21% owned) got beat up by Colorado last time at home, 4ER over 5.1 IP, but is 6-2 in his career with a 2.59 ERA and 1.09 WHIP against the Rockies. The Rockies do have trouble scoring runs on the road, except against Andrew Cashner of course.
If You’re Desperate Rankings: Fiers, Zito, Detwiler, Garcia, Liriano, Milone
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Mapes Fantasy Special’s have been doing quite well since making a comeback on the blog to help you out in your fantasy playoffs. Travis Wood, Clayton Richard, and Wei-Yin Chen have combined for three quality starts, with a 2-0 record, 1.63 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 18 strikeouts in 22 innings. Hope you were able to grab all three. Let’s see what’s in a bag of tricks for Friday.
Looks like I pulled out Padres flamethrower Andrew Cashner! Cashner returned from injury to give up 2ER in 5 innings against the Diamondbacks and now gets a last-place Rockies team at Petco. The Rockies are 28th in MLB in road OPS this season and have had their troubles away from hitter-friendly Coors Field. Cashner also provides some great strikeout potential with 50K in 41.2 IP this season. Cashner is owned in just 14% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
There are some other good options for a spot start tomorrow that are available in 50% or more of Yahoo! fantasy leagues. Athletics Tommy Milone (44% owned) is home against the Orioles who as I type just walked-off against the Rays in the 14th inning and have to travel all the way across the country. Milone has a 2.77 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP at home this season. You can use him before the Athletics hit the road against some tough competition.
White Sox Francisco Liriano looks intriguing against his old team, the Twins, at Target Field. The 33% owned pitcher gave up 2 runs in 6 innings with 8 strikeouts the first time he faced his former team on the road. If you can afford the WHIP hit and need strikeouts, he may be worth the risk. Be warned though that the Twins are the 2nd hardest to strikeout in the Majors this year.
If you’re looking for ERA/WHIP help I’d go Milone. If you’re looking for strikeouts, I’d go Liriano. However, I think it’s Andrew Cashner that will get the best mix of everything on Friday and is available in the most leagues. Good luck in your fantasy playoffs!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
The Twins have had enough of Francisco Liriano. The starter has been arguably the biggest Jeckyl and Hyde pitcher in the Majors. He’s been marvelous at times with a 12-3 record and 2.13 ERA in 2006 or the no-hitter in 2011. He’s been down right awful at times with a 12-20 record and a 5.18 ERA over the past two seasons. It’s the latter that finally caused the Twins to cut bait instead of hoping Liriano would return to his former self.
The White Sox were looking for another starter in the rotation as Cy Young candidate Chris Sale is battling fatigue. Honestly though, you can never have enough starting pitching, just ask the Yankees. It was shocking that the Twins traded Liriano in their own division, but maybe that shows how little they thought of Liriano now. They think that he can’t hurt them.
The Twins picked up two prospects in the deal with infielder Eduardo Escobar and pitcher Pedro Hernandez. 23 year-old Escobar was called up by Chicago this season and has hit only .207 in 87 at-bats. Escobar’s value is in his fielding where scouts have him rated as having above-average range and a fantastic arm. Escobar was the 8th ranked prospect in the White Sox system coming into 2012 by Prospect Corner and 7th by ESPN prospects guru Kevin Goldstein. He will battle Brian Dozier to be the Twins shortstop of the future. Hernandez is also 23, but the lesser of the two prospects. Hernandez got rocked in his 1st start in the Majors giving up 8 earned runs over 4 innings at the Red Sox, but has been good in the minors this season going 8-2 with a 2.94 ERA over 85.2 IP in AA and AAA.
The key to this deal though is if Liriano just needs a change of scenery to rekindle his former magic. Liriano has shown that he can still strike batters out with a great 9.8 K/9 this season, but with that comes the wildness. The past two seasons have been the worst for Liriano’s control as he has given up 5.0 BB/9, that stat has been the biggest in contributing to Liriano’s woes the past two years. It will be an interesting project for White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper to try and be the one to fix Francisco Liriano.
The way I’m seeing the trade presented right now, I think the Twins got the better end.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
We’re 11 days from the trade deadline, and the only move of any significance that has been made is Carlos Lee to the Miami Marlins. Yawn.
That doesn’t bode well for our brilliant, new, yet under-utilized blog segment, “Grade That Trade!” But seeing as how there are so many potential trades just knocking on the door right now, baseball fans should be excited about the wheeling and dealing that’s bound to go down in the next week or so.
For the purpose of this blog, I’ll stay away from big fish like Cole Hamels, Zach Greinke, Ryan Dempster and Josh Willingham. These are the lesser-known guys who I think will be on the move.
Here are five players I guarantee will be traded before the deadline ends:
Rodriguez failed his latest audition miserably, giving up five earned runs in four innings against the Padres, and dropping his record below .500 (7-8). He has been one of the more consistent under-the-radar starters in MLB for a while now, and with the ‘Stros in full-on rebuilding mode, this should be the year he is moved. Rodriguez would be a great middle-of-the-rotation addition for a team desperate for a late-season run at the playoffs.
Jeremy’s Prediction: Rodriguez goes to the Orioles for Jake Arrieta and a minor league pitcher. Though the contract is a bit hefty, the O’s add a 3rd solid starter behind Wei-Yin Chen and Jason Hammel to try and regain a lead in the Wild Card.
Another lefty on the market here has started gaining a lot of attention among contenders, based on superb performances recently. Liriano has certainly had his ups and downs, but the last two starts especially have shown teams he still has something to give. He struck out 25 batters combined in those starts, and if not for two bad pitches (a grand slam to Jonny Gomes and a two-run homer to Adam Jones), he would have had an unblemished ERA.
Jeremy’s Prediction: The Yankees scoop up Liriano in a deal for two minor league pitchers. The Twins get a couple starters to develop, and the Yanks get immediate help that they need with Andy Pettitte shelved and Freddy Garcia struggling.
Apparently, no potential trade piece is demanding of a higher price than Headley. It makes sense. He’s just entering his prime, has a lot of power from both sides of the plate, and is still under team control until 2015. But Padres’ GM Josh Byrnes might stop playing hard to get as the deadline gets closer. A lot of teams still in the hunt could use an extra bat in the middle of the lineup.
Jeremy’s Prediction: The Pirates, desperate to add a bat, put together a good package of prospects that doesn’t include Jameson Taillon, Gerrit Cole, or Starling Marte to land Headley. Inserted into a lineup with Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker, the Buccos suddenly look even more dangerous down the stretch.
The Jays are convinced that Adeiny Hechavarria is ready to make the leap to the Majors, so Escobar is expendable. I have to assume Toronto is in the market for young pitching, considering the unfortunate Tommy John epidemic that has hit their staff this season. The best fits for a trade for Escobar are probably Pittsburgh, Seattle and Oakland. All three have good pitching prospects and gaping holes at shortstop.
Jeremy’s Prediction: Billy Beane decides to capitalize on his surprisingly successful 2012 roster and make a run at the Wild Card (the A’s are only a 1/2 game back as of July 20th) by trading two pitching prospects to Canada for Escobar. The A’s add a little more pop to the lineup, the Jays have some more talent down on the farm to develop and *hopefully* keep healthy.
This is an interesting option. The M’s are less likely to give up Vargas without a fight, now that they’ve gotten interest from a number of playoff contenders in need of pitching. My thought is that Seattle is overflowing with minor league pitching talent, but still hurting for some hitting. They have a ton of pieces, but a Vargas-for-AAA-hitter swap would do wonders for the Mariners’ future.
Jeremy’s Prediction: In somewhat of a surprise, the Cardinals jump head first back into the NL Central race by acquiring Vargas for slugger Matt Adams. St. Louis can afford to give away a high-potential first baseman for two reasons: He struggled in his call-up this year, and they have Allen Craig. If Adams pans out, the Mariners are sitting pretty in a couple years.
– Jeremy (@Jamblinman)