“Out on the road today I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac
A little voice inside my head said
Don’t look back, you can never look back” ~ Don Henley “Boys of Summer”
I traded Gio Urshela right before this insane power binge he is on. Maybe you did something similar. Maybe you followed my lousy advice on Justin Upton, who may actually not be an imposter. Either way, what’s done is done. Don’t look back, you can never look back.
If you are still reading this column, I’m operating under the assumption that you are either in the playoff hunt or playoffs in a yearly league, or you are thinking long-term in a keeper or dynasty league. If you aren’t one of those and are just reading this because you like baseball advice based on old rock songs, you have my thanks. But, you didn’t come here for my gratitude, you came here for advice, no matter how questionable it may be. So let’s get to it.
I believe in Stephen Vogt. That’s the cry heard from the stands in Oakland during his All-Star years there. He may not be that Vogt anymore, but he’s hitting .283/.346/.530, with 6 home runs in 166 at-bats. Or exactly the same number of home runs as Buster Posey has launched in 140 more at-bats. Vogt’s got the better bat right now, and Statcast says he’s 41st among all players in barrel %. Posey is an icon, but if the Giants are trying to win, Vogt needs to play.
If Scherzer gets healthy, the 5th spot in the Nationals rotation is between Fedde and Ross. While Fedde has the better season stats, Ross has been the better pitcher of late. A 3.80 ERA since the All-Star break, 21 k in 21.1 innings, rolling xwOBA from .446 to .258 in his last 50 plate appearances. He still walks too many, and I can’t guarantee the Nationals will pick him, but Fedde has an ERA over 5.00 in that same span with a k/9 under 5. It seems like Ross is on his way to winning that job.
The Pirates claim they are committed to finding him more playing time. He got a run of several starts, but then Bell had a 2 home run game, so who knows if the plan will hold. That said, with big names like Hoskins and Matt Chapman in dreadful slumps, he’s eligible at first and third base in many leagues and might be worth a look if he gets at-bats.
This has nothing to do with his numbers and everything to do with his team. The Rangers are giving the youth movement a look. Pence is not a part of that and is not playing every day now. It’s not the time of year to be rostering a bat with decreasing playing time.
Derek Law is getting saves in Toronto. After trading 5 prospects for 3 big name relievers, Luke Jackson still got the most recent save in Atlanta’s dumpster fire of a bullpen. Edwin Diaz, Kenley Jansen and Raisel Iglesias have fallen off. Sean Doolittle just had a 4 run blow-up, and the Phillies bullpen blew another game on Sunday.
Your league probably has mandatory relief spots. Instead of trying to wade through the current volatility, grab headliners where you can. Wade Leblanc might not be a sexy add, but he’s much more likely to still be doing his job next week than many closers. Aside from the Yankees and Astros, it’s hard to name a team with a truly settled bullpen. Pick a stat that isn’t saves and use your rp spots for that.
I know you probably shouldn’t actually cut Hoskins, and please don’t if you’re in a keeper league, but I don’t really know how you play him right now. He’s actually walking nearly as much as he’s striking out, which bodes well, but he’s also hitting .186 with 4 home runs since the All-Star break. You probably don’t have a better option, but it’s been brutal.
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