It’s only April, but last week was the worse week of the season – rain-outs galore and as many DL stints as I can remember. However, you need to remember it is still early so do not overreact. That is easier said than done as most people are prone to overreaction. This type of behavior from your league mates makes for a juicy opportunity. It’s only two weeks in and there are definitely already some names that pop out at me as ripe for either dealing for or away.
After a bad year many might be starting to panic on Miggy. He had very promising underlying stats last year, and I believe 2017 was mostly due to do bad luck and injury. I’ve profiled him a few times over the offseason – most recently here – so I won’t go too deep into it.
Since that analysis Cabrera has had a big spring and is currently in the top 15 in Statcast’s average exit velocity. The only negative to his game is the grounders are through the roof right now, but it’s pretty early to get too worried about that. Miggy was pretty cheap in draft season and his owner might be panicking. I would float some low-ball offers to see if you can steal him.
Castillo was one of the sexiest draft selections coming into the year. He was outrageously good last year and his stuff is otherworldly. The underlying numbers from his debut in 2017 looked like that of an ace. He has rewarded us with an awful start. His velocity is down a smidge, but velocity is frequently down in April. He is still averaging 95.5 MPH, so it’s not exactly like he’s a soft tosser. His stuff is still leading to an amazing 14.6 SwStr% (up from 12.6) even though his overall K% is down.
There’s a chance that the Castillo owner in your league doesn’t know that much about him and just drafted him based on ADP or recommendations from sites like this. It seems to me like Castillo is just having a bit of early season bad luck (52% strand rate) and I would still very much want a piece of owning him. He’s still a top 25-35 SP in my mind. Buy if you can get him for less than that – quite possible given his current 7.31 ERA.
Lopez is one of the more exciting pickups off of waivers from the past two weeks. It’s a bit upsetting that he keeps getting delayed due to postponements, but I am reasonably excited about him. He was the less heralded of the formal Nationals that were dealt for Adam Eaton – everyone was excited about Giolito. Lopez has surpassed him, at least for now (in my mind). Lopez has really good stuff. He pumps in his fastball at 95.6MPH and has a really nice slider. His walk rate is silly high right now at 14.6%, but it is of course very early. I don’t think his control will be that bad. Lopez is also very good at getting infield pop ups, which are almost as good as a K. He has a 13.7% IFFB rate so far in his MLB career, which is excellent and tells you that he’s good about elevating that heat.
I think a lot of people who own Lopez will underrate him as he was not as well thought of as a prospect such as Giolito or some of the other young arms that have come up in the last few years. The White Sox also stink, which will likely deflate his value.And, if he was a waiver wire add in your league the asking price could/should be lower. I don’t think there’s ace upside for Lopez, but I think top 50-60 is pretty likely. That’s very fantasy useful and I don’t think he’s being valued that highly just yet. I also think he will have some bumps in the road so you are likely to have another buying opportunity if you miss this one.
Cole has been outrageously good, arguably the best pitcher in the league so far. A 46.8% K rate including a 17.5% swinging strike rate is a big reason to get excited. Analysts, scouts, and fans have long loved his stuff. I was heavily invested in Cole last year and he did teased a few times, but never fully delivered.
So if Cole is finally making good on his mega upside, why the hell would you sell him? Well, because he is still throwing his fastball 48.5% of the time. The main thing everyone whined about with Cole over the years is that he relied too heavily on his fastball and didn’t throw his breaking pitches enough. Nothing about the early results suggest that has changed. Batters are putting the ball in the air close to 50%. He’s always had issues with homers and 48% fly balls isn’t a good recipe for that.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to give Cole away or to sell him just to sell him. What I’m saying is that there are leagues where Cole is currently being valued like an ace. They think he has finally made the step we’ve all been waiting for and that the Astros are pitching geniuses. There’s a chance you can get a top 40-50 overall player for Cole right now. I would do that and I would not hesitate.
Hamels was one of my favorite pitchers in fantasy for many, many years. Mike Mussina is probably my favorite pitcher of all time and Hamels reminds me a bit of him; he’s an ace that was perenially underappreciated. I was very low on Hamels coming into this year as his velocity was down, his changeup got worse, and he was missing far fewer bats.
He started throwing a slider in the Spring and has been able to put together some good performances so far. Hamels has a 30.6% K rate that’s supported by a 13.5% swinging strike rate. He is giving up a lot of hits and walks though, and a WHIP of 1.55 tells us he is living on the edge.
I really hope Hamels figures out a way to reinvent himself, but I wouldn’t bet on it. He’s throwing 2-MPH slower and I can’t help but think the slider is going to end up being a gimmick the league will figure it out eventually. I would try to capitalize on the big K rates and on the fact that Hamels is still a bit of a brand name. If you can get top 40 SP value back for him it is worth pulling the trigger.
This is another player that is no fun for me to recommend trading and I hope I’m wrong about. I’ve long been a fan of Mr. Pollock and had several shares when he was the de facto fantasy MVP back in 2015. Pollock is off to a white hot start and I think it might be smart to use this start as a selling opportunity.
Pollock is performing very well, but there are a few upsetting trends. First of all, he’s striking out at a 24% clip, which is 9% higher than his career, and this is supported by a 9.8% swinging strike rate. It’s a small sample size, but these kinds of percentages do start to mean something in shorter order than things like ERA for example. Pollock also has a tendency to get off to very hot starts, as he did this last year as well, before falling back to earth. Throw in a humidor and the fact that Pollock has been exceptionally injury prone the last two years, and I think he is a classic sell high. I would aim to sell Pollock as a top 20 OF and would accept offers commensurate with that value.
These are some guys who could potentially centerpiece deals that transform your squad in the early weeks. Go out there and float some offers – you never know.
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