I don’t know about you, but fantasy playoffs have started in one of my leagues, with two more kicking off next week. It’s always a bit sad when you’re out of the running, but this is a good time to check your standings, H2H Breakdown, and Power Rankings. Sometimes you just have bad luck with a team, whether it’s injuries to your studs, unlucky H2H matchups in the playoffs, or a full season of facing more points than other teams. For example, in one points league I’m 22-18, and two teams are 25-15. I scored more points than one of them, and I’m only behind the other team by an average of 21 points per week (e.g., one good SP start). Why is my record worse than theirs? It’s because I’ve faced the second most points by opponents in the season: my opponents score 20-25 more points per week than those teams have had to face. Oh well. As a Cubs fan, I’m used to saying, “Wait till next year. Speaking of next year, I’ll also start looking into potential keeper value for players for the rest of the season.
Curtis Granderson – The old veteran has had a nice two weeks, and a solid August overall. He’s sporting a nice BA, which he only does for short stints, not over a full season. That nice average is supported by a high BABIP, which in turn is supported by a very high LD%. His HR/FB was crazy in August, in line with his career years of 2011-12. I’d be willing to use him for the stretch run while he’s healthy and on a roll. Regarding keeper value, he’s too old to bother in all but the deepest of NL-only leagues.
Stephen Piscotty – I like him for fantasy value going forward, and it’s not just because I’m reminded of tasty biscotti when I see his name. He has had a strong BA for his entire call-up. Though his good LD% helps support it, there’s still some BABIP luck involved, so it’s hard to expect .300 for 2016. His August HR/FB is solid and not lucky, so 20+ HR for a season should be attainable. He hits a few too many grounders for my liking, but his running speed is good and helps offset the risk there. He’s still learning, but clearly the Cardinals know how to develop players, and moving forward I like him as a #3 OF in 2016.
Joe Ross – The youngster had a few starts in June and July, but in August he notched six starts. How has he fared? Well, his walk rate has gone up from crazy-elite to just elite, with a 1.7 BB/9 in his first full month. A solid 8.2 K/9 in August, along with a swinging strike rate above the MLB average, bodes well for his future. He has a bit of a ground ball tilt, so the slightly lucky season BABIP could be sustained for a full season, but it’s fair to expect some WHIP regression in 2016 as teams study him more. This is an arm I’ll be gambling on in the mid to late rounds in 2016.
Mike Fiers – When you look at his season ERA, it’s okay but not great. Then when you look at his monthly breakdown, you see he’s improved every month of the season after a bad start. He had a great K/9 in the first two months, and though that’s come down, his walk rate slightly improved. After profiling as a flyball pitcher last year, he’s evened it out (40% for GB and FB), which helps mitigate home runs. The good news is that there are no red flags in his game, so you can expect more of the same from Fiers. The bad news is that he’s not overly young, and there are also no indications that he’ll break into a new level in 2016. Still, he seems to be an underrated arm when it comes to filling up your rotation.
Matt Wieters – Remember that catcher who could put up a .250 BA with 20 HR? Yeah, me neither. Wieters has been working his way back from TJS, and he had a minor issue with his hamstring, so you want to write off the struggles. However, his best month was his first month back from surgery. The power has disappeared, and despite a high BABIP his average isn’t good. I’d write him off for this season but hope that an offseason of rest will have him ready to contribute in 2016. The silver lining is that even though his 2014 and 2015 AB are limited, he seems to be showing a new, stronger LD%, which will help bolster his BA and hopefully prevent him from sliding back to 2013’s .235 line.
Jed Lowrie – Now two years removed from his breakout season, it seems Lowrie isn’t going to prove doubters wrong in 2015. He hurt his thumb and missed significant time, but now Correa is entrenched at SS, and Lowrie has been bouncing around the infield with very unimpressive results in August. There are indications of extreme bad luck in BABIP, given his GB% isn’t bad and he has a respectable LD%. He makes pretty good contact and takes walks. Lowrie may bounce back some more this season. However, at this point most fantasy owners shouldn’t even be rostering him for 2015 production. Perhaps if you have him signed to a cheap contract in a salary league for 2016, it’s worth rolling the dice, but I’m not going to gamble on a player who has only 1.5 strong seasons, is going to be 32, and hasn’t often been healthy.
Matt Garza – I’ve gotta say, I expected more than this from him. I always believed his stellar 2011 was an outlier, but you can’t say 2015 is one as well, on the opposite end of the spectrum. This is not bad luck — this is a full decline in skills, and Garza is done being useful to fantasy teams. Five straight years of K/9 decline and swinging strike rate. Three years of rising BB/9. He has had a 15% and a 16% HR/FB in two of the last four years. There’s a touch of bad luck to his BABIP and strand rate, but not enough to explain away this disaster of a season. He was on the DL for shoulder tendonitis, so the urge to claim injury affected his full season is tempting, but the long trends of his metrics don’t agree. Avoid him at all costs in 2016. I wouldn’t take him with the last pick in a 30-round draft.
Robbie Ray – Ray’s monthly ERA has increased every month — the opposite of Fiers. He’s a young pitcher, so it’s possible teams are figuring him out a bit. He also seems to have some bad luck in the second half regarding BABIP and strand rate. However, the decline in his being roster worthy is also due to a regression in skills. His walk rate has soared to 5.4 in August, and when you put more men on the bases, bad things will happen — especially now that he’s giving up homers this month (13% HR/FB). Ray is too risky to use in your playoffs unless you have a very deep roster. I actually like him for 2016, and if he can keep his GB% gains from August and get his BB/9 back to near 2.5, he’ll provide a profit based on where I anticipate his ADP will be.
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