It’s time for another edition of Ball Street. If you told me the Cubs would be Tanaka’s first loss of his MLB career, I’d have died laughing. Now it seems the Cubs are the Astros of yesteryear: in 2014 they’re a horrible team that somehow manages to beat an undefeated pitcher and take 2 of 3 games from the Cardinals.
Stocks on the Rise
Trevor Bauer – He’s still a good prospect, and he could be a very solid play for redraft leagues if he can manage his walk rate. This year in the minors his BB/9 is the best it’s ever been, so here’s hoping he’s figured it out. As a bench arm at the least, and a #4 or #5 SP at the best, he’s a nice pickup before the hype picks back up.
Victor Martinez – I’ve been targeting V-Mart since he returned after missing all of 2012. However, this power explosion is particularly nice. He’s boasting a career best SLG, and even if it doesn’t hold up all season (his HR/FB is 19.3%, likely too high to maintain), he’s sporting his best K/9 ever and his best BB/9 in the last four years. The Tigers certainly aren’t missing Fielder given Martinez’s HR production.
Stephen Drew – He’s not a top-10 SS, but he does have some power when he’s healthy, and he’ll throw in a handful of SB to boot. For AL-only leagues there’s a chance he’s been stashed all year, but in mixed leagues he could be a great grab if your MI or SS has been struggling or injured.
Jason Hammel – Theo Epstein has found 2014’s version of Scott Feldman. Hammel isn’t amazing, but he’s putting up solid numbers this season. He’s getting lucky in BABIP, but he’s also got a career best in BB/9 and HR/FB, and his FIP and xFIP indicate hope that this ERA is nearly sustainable. He’s throwing his slider more than ever this year, and it seems to be working for him, because he’s got a career high in swinging strike percentage and swings outside the zone.
Nick Franklin – He’s played well in the minors this year, and Brad Miller isn’t doing Seattle or his owners any favors. There’s a chance Franklin could oust Miller from a full-time gig, and if he does, he’s a great pick for a MI slot.
Stocks on the Decline
Travis d’Arnaud – The concussion issue is still lingering, and he wasn’t doing that amazingly to begin with. He has a bright future, but for redraft leagues, it’s time to cut bait and find a veteran catcher in the free agent pool who’s doing well.
Cliff Lee – It may not be a long-term DL stint, but at this point any time a pitcher goes on the DL with a problem anywhere near his elbow, managers start sweating. He’s a proven veteran who can probably adjust to the injury even if his velocity is affected, but at this point in the season, if I’m competing for a championship, then I’m looking elsewhere for my ace.
Ryan Zimmerman – Just when you think he may have kicked the injury bug, he hurts his thumb, and the reports say he’s healing “slowly,” at least compared to the average time of this injury. Thumb injuries can also affect a player’s grip on the bat, so I’m not holding out hope that he returns to full form immediately after being activated.
Prince Fielder – He’s battling neck issues right now, and maybe they’ve affected his game, but it’s hard to write off all of 2014’s poor start based on that injury alone. His walk rate is still solid (along with a career best BB/K), and though his BABIP is a bit low, it’s not anemic. The problem is a 50% ground ball rate, along with a career low HR/FB. Maybe you can find a Fielder fan who trusts in a resurgence, but at this point I’d take 70 cents on the dollar to move him if I was pushing for first place.
Andrew Cashner – He’ll never be the fireballer that the Cubs drafted, but there was hope he’d be a very solid #3 or #4 pitcher. However, now he’s being rested and will have to rehab after that. More elbow scares in Starting Pitcher Land.