A Quick Guide To: #SpringTraining

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Spring Questions For All 30 Teams:

Will the Cubs live up to the rampant World Series expectations? Are the D-backs for real? Can David Price make his contract worth it? Are the Royals a dynasty in the making? Do the Blue Jays, Astros and Mets have staying power?

Spring Training preview materials will be loaded with these questions and more, but the obvious truth is that Spring Training itself can’t answer those questions. So the goal in this particular preview, mere days away from pitchers and catchers report dates, is to pose an actual, spring-specific question each Major League club is facing on the cusp of camp.

I’m dedicating this column to the memory of my friend and teammate Tom Singer, who suddenly passed away earlier this week. Tom was one of the more inquisitive and creative minds in the business, and I know he was looking forward to showing up at Spring Training camps and asking unique questions of his own.

Here we go….

NL East

Mets: How carefully should the young starters be eased into the season?

For the Mets, it will be a delicate balance between overworking and underworking Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard after they all saw significant innings increases due to the postseason run. Syndergaard jumped 65 2/3 innings from his 2014 total in the Minors, while deGrom and Harvey jumped 37 2/3 apiece. Because of injury, Steven Matz (15 2/3) didn’t see quite as big an increase, though he, like Syndergaard, is entering his first full Major League season, an adjustment in and of itself. These guys need to be properly prepared for the every-five-day grind, but they should also probably see a less rigorous spring workload than the typical big league starter.

Nationals: Is Trea Turner ready for the big leagues?

The Grapefruit League will be a great test of the Nats’ new-look infield. Anthony Rendon is moving back to his natural position at third base — a fine move in isolation (he grades out better defensively there than at second base). But some scouts believe Daniel Murphy would be far better suited at third than at second base and that Rendon is the better defensive option at second. And then, of course, there’s the big question at short, where the Nats’ options come down to a utility guy (Danny Espinosa) who has spent far more of his career at second, a light-hitting free-agent signee (Stephen Drew) and the top prospect (Turner), who has only played 212 games in what has already been a whirlwind pro career (including 27 with the Nats down the stretch in 2015). Lots of questions in this infield.

Marlins: Can Barry Bonds help Marcell Ozuna’s swing?

New manager Don Mattingly and new hitting coach Bonds pleaded with the front office to keep Ozuna despite the rampant trade rumblings and the disconnect between player and organization last season. Ozuna was one of eight players identified as above-average in each of the five-tool categories by Statcast™, so the potential is off the charts. But his decline in production last season — leading to a controversial stay in Triple-A — was as swift as it was stunning, and spring is an important time for Ozuna and Bonds to develop a positive working relationship.

Braves: Will Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn open any eyes with their spring at-bats?

It’s no secret the Braves would love to move one or both of these guys. So they are destined to receive a steady dose of Grapefruit League at-bats as the Braves try to garner enough interest for a salary dump swap. With Freddie Freeman working his way back from a wrist injury, perhaps Swisher will see some time at first base.

Phillies: Is Tyler Goeddel the next Odubel Herrera?

Last year, Herrera arrived as a Rule 5 Draft pickup and wound up leading the Phillies in WAR (and yes, that says as much about the Phils as it does Herrera). Now, Goeddel is the marquee Rule 5 Draft addition (the first overall pick). That he’ll make the big league club is a foregone conclusion, because the Phillies have nothing to lose by keeping him. The question is how much the athletic but unpolished Goeddel will separate himself from Aaron Altherr, Peter Bourjos and Cody Asche in the battle for playing time in Pete Mackanin’s lineup.

AL East

Blue Jays: Will Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion agree to extensions?

In the lead-up to Opening Day, the new-look front office will have to weigh the attraction of satiating the fan base and ensuring stability in the long-term lineup against the obvious risks that come with power hitters in their mid-to-late-30s. These discussions will take place when all parties arrive in Dunedin, Fla., later this month.

Yankees: CC Sabathia or Ivan Nova?

The last rotation spot is the lone source of genuine positional intrigue in Yankees camp. (That said, Starlin Castro’s continued immersion at second base and first-ever trial at third base, where the Yanks might need him as a Chase Headley backup, is interesting). Sabathia is the former Cy Young Award winner coming off a homer-prone year that ended in alcohol rehab. Nova is the Tommy John alum the Yanks tried to trade. General manager Brian Cashman has said Sabathia’s $25 million salary wouldn’t preclude the Yanks from sticking CC in the bullpen if somebody else (Nova is the obvious candidate, though Bryan Mitchell is another) wins the job outright.

Orioles: What’s the outlook for the outfield?

They’re reportedly making progress with Yovani Gallardo to fill a big hole in the rotation, so let’s focus on the outfield here. Big-bodied Hyun-soo Kim, fresh off signing a two-year contract with the O’s, will arrive from South Korea and try to prove he has the range and athleticism to handle the everyday left-field assignment. Adam Jones was tasked with covering a ton of outfield ground last year, and his performance tailed off in the last two months of the season. At the moment, right field likely belongs to Nolan Reimold, though an O’s team familiar with in-spring splashes could still sign somebody to support or replace him.

Rays: Will James Loney, Desmond Jennings or Brandon Guyer be moved?

It’s a question that presumes a healthy camp, of course, but it would solve a logjam. Dealing Loney would allow Logan Morrison and Steve Pearce to share first, Corey Dickerson to spend the bulk of his time at DH and Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr. to provide dependable defense in the outfield, with Guyer as a bench option vs. lefties. Or the Rays could move Jennings or Guyer and open up more at-bats for Pearce and Morrison. Whatever the case, one presumes the Rays would be seeking relief help in any deal involving their position player depth.

Red Sox: Can Hanley Ramirez handle first base?

The Red Sox don’t have any position battles, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have position issues. Hanley’s position switch last year — from shortstop to left field — wasn’t subjected to any truly challenging plays during the spring schedule, but obviously the ball is going to find him at first. Because they’re paying Ramirez a ton of money, the Red Sox have no choice but to hope this works — and the same goes for Pablo Sandoval at third. The Panda’s physical condition will, naturally, be a spring storyline all its own.

NL Central

Cardinals: What is Yadier Molina’s timetable?

Molina will spend camp’s early days not swinging the bat or catching bullpen sessions, but building strength back up in his left thumb after having a second surgery this winter. Because there’s no telling how long that process will take and how much it will affect his season preparation, it’s hard to know if Molina will be ready by Opening Day. To say getting him back in a timely matter is important for the Cards is, of course, an understatement.

Pirates: How well is Jung Ho Kang progressing?

Because of the division’s demands, the decisions to deal Neil Walker and non-tender Pedro Alvarez, and the lack of additions of bankable depth options, the Pirates can ill-afford any medical setbacks for Kang, who suffered a fractured tibial plateau and torn lateral meniscus on an ugly takeout slide by Chris Coghlan last September. The move to third base (with Jordy Mercer at short and Josh Harrison replacing Walker at second) will limit Kang’s lateral movement when he returns. As of now, the Pirates are expecting him back in April, with Sean Rodriguez (last seen assaulting a water cooler) filling in and Minor League free agent Cole Figueroa competing for a bench job.

Cubs: Can Kyle Schwarber improve in left field?

As much as we love this Cubs lineup, there’s no denying there are defensive concerns in the outfield, where Jorge Soler had some surprising struggles in ’15, Jason Heyward is moving from right to center and, most importantly, Schwarber was a mess during the NLCS. Schwarber has been working on his first step and flexibility this winter, and that work will be put to the test in Arizona. But his efforts in left coincide with his work behind the plate, where he still hopes to remain an option long-term. Combine all of this with Schwarber’s bid for more at-bats against left-handed pitching, and the kid’s got a lot on his plate.

Brewers: How’s Ryan Braun feeling?

Not that the Brewers are making an earnest effort to contend in 2016, but Braun could stillpotentially play himself into a viable trade chip (provided the Brew Crew is willing to eat some cash, of course) if he’s healthy and producing the way he did for much of ’15. Braun had surgery for a herniated disc in the offseason, but he won’t have a clear idea of how well his back is responding until the regular swings that come in the Cactus League.

Reds: Will a market develop for Jay Bruce?

He only remains in Cincinnati as a function of the unusually deep and late-developing free-agent outfield market this winter, because the Reds, now in full-on rebuild mode, were motivated to move him. Most likely, Bruce will start the season with the Reds and try to piece together enough of a bounce-back campaign to become July trade bait. But all it takes is one spring injury elsewhere to suddenly make the idea of dealing for Bruce more palatable for a contending club. The Reds also have to hope Zack Cozart’s grisly knee injury last year hasn’t affected his defense at short, because he, too, could play himself into trade-chip status.

AL Central

Royals: Can Christian Colon steal playing time from Omar Infante?

In the third year of a four-year deal, Infante will make $7.75 million, and there was a time when that fact alone would settle him into a starting spot for this small-market club. But you might have noticed things are a little different in the realm of the Royals these days, and they’re calling this a legitimate position battle between Infante and Colon, who drove in the winning run in the World Series Game 5 clincher. (Top prospect Raul A. Mondesi will also get consideration but is far more likely to start the season in the Minors). Sure, the Royals are paying Infante a good amount of money, but, hey, they took Colon ahead of Matt Harvey in the 2010 Draft! One way or another, they’ll look for better returns on both of these investments.

Twins: Will Miguel Sano stick in right?

Byung Ho Park’s transition to the bigs is also a major matter in Minnesota, but Sano’s defensive work — directly related to Park’s arrival — will be a more pressing spring concern. Torii Hunter will be in camp as a special assistant to work with the 6-foot-4 Sano in the outfield, and the Twins’ lineup alignment demands that this experiment be successful. Sano was tasked with dropping 20 pounds this winter. Citing a desire to maintain his power, he dropped just five. He’s agile for his size, but this is undoubtedly a big test for him.

Indians: Will Michael Brantley continue his rapid recovery?

He’s the key to the whole darn thing for an Indians team projected by FanGraphs to have the best record in the division despite a less-than-dynamic winter. Brantley didn’t have surgery on his lead shoulder until early November, which means you can count him out for Opening Day and likely all or most of April. But because his recovery has progressed so well so far, Brantley must avoid the temptation to do too much too soon, lest he suffer a setback that crushes a Tribe club already prone toward slow starts.

White Sox: What’s up at short?

Tyler Saladino played terrific defense at third base for the Sox down the stretch last season, but his 68 OPS+ detracted from his value. So it’s an open question whether he’s ready for prime time at a prime spot, and he could be pushed in camp by top prospect Tim Anderson. The other, still-lingering question here is whether the Sox will wind up too tempted by Ian Desmond’s reduced price tag to pass him up. With a protected top-10 Draft pick, the White Sox are better positioned to sign Desmond than many others in the market.

Tigers: Can Bruce Rondon work his way into the bullpen plans?

Well, obviously we’ll be playing close attention to the statuses of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. But they’ve both had a healthy offseason, so, at this point, there’s little reason to doubt they’ll be in the Opening Day lineup and, hopefully, ready to produce. But Rondon’s dismissal from the club due to a lack of effort makes him an interesting figure in camp. The Tigers’ bullpen has a new closer in Francisco Rodriguez and better balance overall, but there’s always room for a motivated flamethrower. We’ll soon learn for sure if Rondon is committed to winning the respect of his teammates.

NL West

Dodgers: Will Hyun-Jin Ryu be ready by Opening Day?

And if so, what does that mean for fellow lefty Alex Wood? The Dodgers have assembled rotation depth to allow Ryu to ease into action, rather than rush back from labrum surgery. So the most likely outcome is that he starts the season in extended Spring Training or on a rehab assignment. But the Dodgers could also be tempted to take advantage of Wood’s ability to be optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Giants: How is Joe Panik’s back?

He’s 25 years old and coming off an All-Star season. But that season was cut short by back woes. Doctors have not discovered any structural damage, so Panik did not have surgery. But only time and performance will dictate whether this will be a persistent problem for a club all too familiar with back issues involving their second basemen (see: Sanchez, Freddy and Scutaro, Marco).

D-backs: Can Yasmany Tomas acquit himself in the outfield?

In their bold bid to take a major competitive step forward, there’s no denying the D-backs sacrificed defense by involving Ender Inciarte in the Shelby Miller swap. The question is how much. Tomas enters the year as an everyday corner outfielder (Arizona is still unsure whether he’ll remain in right or swap spots with left fielder David Peralta) after proving he can’t handle the hot corner. Tomas has indicated he’s more comfortable in right field, though the D-backs might prefer to have the better defender there and use this spring to get Tomas acclimated to left. And oh by the way, Tomas, who had a .707 OPS last season, needs to hit, too.

Padres: Can Andrew Cashner limit walks and neutralize lefties?

Yeah, yeah, the spring results don’t matter. But scouts are in the stands for a reason. Cashner is a guy with ace-quality potential when he’s right — and that’s a big deal for a Padres team either hoping to surprise some people in the NL West or use Cashner as a valuable trade piece midseason (or even sooner). Last year, Cashner’s effectiveness against left-handed hitters spiraled (.383 wOBA vs. a .294 mark a year earlier), and his overall walk rate jumped to 8.2 percent.

Rockies: What will Jose Reyes’ punishment be?

In invoking punishments under the sports’ domestic violence policy for the first time, Commissioner Rob Manfred has big decisions to make with Reyes, Yasiel Puig and Aroldis Chapman. But Reyes is the only member of that group who is facing a criminal procedure. He has pleaded not guilty to domestic abuse charges, and his trial is slated to begin April 4 (Opening Day, of course). Manfred can make his decision independent of those proceedings, and there’s no telling how stiff the penalty will be. Reyes is the Rockies’ highest-paid player and a guy they hoped would rebuild his offensive value (and, ergo, his trade value) at Coors Field. Right now, there’s no way of knowing when or if he’ll be on the field in 2016.

AL West

Rangers: Can Jurickson Profar get back in baseball shape?

We’ll venture away from the obvious intrigue surrounding Yu Darvish’s timetable, because, by all accounts, he’s still on track for a May return. Profar provides intrigue of his own. This is a guy who was once considered the top prospect in the game, but hasn’t played a single inning in the field the last two years because of shoulder issues that eventually required surgery. Profar’s bat action as a designated hitter in the Arizona Fall League caught the attention of scouts, and several teams contacted the Rangers in an attempt to buy low on the middle infielder. The Rangers wisely held onto him, and they’ll ease him back into action in the field this spring. His odds of making the big league club are slim to none, barring injury to somebody else. But the Rangers are about to see if Profar can emerge as an important depth piece in their bid to win the AL West again.

Astros: Will Evan Gattis be ready for Opening Day?

It was revealed this week that Gattis required surgery for a sports hernia, sidelining him for four to six weeks. That’s going to hurt his ability to get his timing back before the end of Grapefruit League play, so the Astros will dole out more playing time to Jon Singleton, Matt Duffy, A.J. Reed, Tyler White and Preston Tucker. While the Astros, in letting Chris Carter walk, might generally be trying to get away from the all-or-nothing approach that was one of their calling cards in ’15, Gattis is still clearly a key cog in this offense. He was also hopeful of increasing his value to the team beyond his DH duties, losing weight and doing catching drills in the offseason.

Angels: What’s Albert Pujols’ timetable?

The Angels are getting crushed in many corners for not doing more to improve their production potential around Mike Trout, opting instead for a more contact-heavy approach. Maybe the Halos have it right, but there’s little denying that their lineup look demands healthy and productivity from Pujols, who is working his way back from November surgery on the plantar plate of his right foot. Pujols is already hitting off a tee but is not expected to resume full baseball activities until March, putting Opening Day in jeopardy. Pujols rushed back to action too quickly in 2013, to the point that it affected his performance, and the Angels don’t want that to happen again.

Mariners: Can James Paxton win a rotation spot?

Technically, it’s Taijuan Walker, Nate Karns and Paxton for two spots, though you’d have to imagine the 29 starts and the progress Walker made as ’15 evolved give him the inside edge on one of those. Karns was Dipoto’s first addition in a busy offseason, but Paxton is the guy who was long lauded as one of the M’s prominent prospects. Injury issues have limited Paxton to 30 career starts over parts of three Major League seasons, but the left-hander has dropped some pounds and will come to camp intent on proving he’s ready to turn his potential into production. Other guys potentially in the mix for that last spot are Mike Montgomery, Joe Wieland and Vidal Nuno. Paxton seemingly has the most upside of those options, but he’s got to earn it.

Athletics: What is the rotation beyond Sonny Gray?

Oakland has probably one of the most — if not the most — unsettled rotation situations in the big leagues. The A’s signed Rich Hill with the intent of inserting him into the rotation, though he hasn’t been a regular starter at this level since 2009. After Gray and Hill, it’s a wide-open competition involving Kendall Graveman, Jesse Hahn, Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolin and possibly even Jarrod Parker (who is attempting to come back from two elbow surgeries) and Sean Manaea (a promising trade acquisition who hasn’t pitched above Double-A but who manager Bob Melvin has called a “wild card” in the rotation battle). Should be fun to watch this evolve.

Source: A Spring Training question for all 30 MLB teams.

Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations Entering 2016 Spring Training:

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Rejoice! Spring training is almost upon us, bringing to an end what has been a hectic offseason, one that saw a slew of starting pitchers change uniforms, whether via free agency or trade. Keeping up with what your favorite team’s rotation looks like, much less the competition’s, has been challenging at times.

Read: Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations Entering 2016 Spring Training

#BackToTheFuture and 5 Other Dimes

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1. Murphy’s Law

It appears Back to the Future II was wrong about the Cubs.  It was fun while it lasted, and how ’bout that Daniel Murphy.  I’m not sure, but he might be the first player ever to hit a HR in the postseason off of three Cy Young winners…Channeling his inner Carlos Beltran, Murphy has now tied a record by hitting a HR in 5 straight games off of guys like these: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta.

In honor of #BackToTheFuture, I’ll give you this:  The last time a club had Theo Epstein as their GM, that also went 80yrs without a World Series, and was also down 0-3 to a team from New York in the LCS – that team then won the next 8 games to erase a curse…….not saying, just saying.

  • Mets playoffs: Breaking down Jason Hammel, Cubs’ Game 4 starter – spite trailing 3-0 in the National League Championship Series, the Chicago Cubs are sticking to their plan and starting Jason Hammel against the Metstonight in Game 4. Their alternatives would have been Jon Lester, pitching on three days of rest, or perhaps Jake Arrieta, pitching on two days of rest. The 33-year-old righty might not be in the game for long—by design—as the Cubs……(continue reading)

  • ROYALS ROUT BLUE JAYS 14-2, 1 WIN FROM WORLD SERIES RETURN –  Whether it’s a long ball by Ben Zobrist, a slashing single from Lorenzo Cain or another exhilarating trip around the bases for Alcides Escobar, these Kansas City Royals are relentless — and one win from a return trip to the World Series.  Zobrist hit a two-run homer on knuckleballer R.A. Dickey’s fourth pitch of the game, Alex Rios connected an inning later against his former team and the Royals romped past the Toronto Blue Jays 14-2 Tuesday for a 3-1 lead in the American League Championship Series……(continue reading)


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2. All We Are, Is Dust In The Wind Dude

Has there been any bigger flash-in-the-pan than Puig?  I still think he has a lot of talent and might need a new venue and new year.  So what better way to look at next year then some trade rumors.  Matt Fitzgerald breaks down the buzz of who might go where

  • MLB Rumors: Analyzing Trade Buzz on Yasiel Puig, Stephen Strasburg and More – The MLB offseason has officially begun for every team save the final four in the playoffs, so trade speculation will continue swirling from now through the Fall Classic and well into the winter.  If the caliber of players making headlines in the latest trade buzz is any indication of what’s to come, it could ignite a captivating series of transactions as front offices work to retool their rosters.  Three big names who have experienced……(continue reading)

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3. What #NFL Team Are You Stuck Watching

For those of you that still do not have the RedZone channel, and suffer from being skinny arms Peyton Manning – you’re stuck watching whatever game the networks tell you to watch.  Thankfully, the fellas at FiveThirtyEight.com broke down the #NFL’s broadcast deal.  You might be surprised who the NFL pushes us to watch as an alternate to your local 11.

  • Which NFL Team Are You Stuck Watching Every Sunday? – Like millions of other Americans, I watch the NFL on a regular basis. However, just like millions of other viewers, most Sundays I am not sure which games will be on my television. I live in Austin, so there’s a good chance I’ll get to see the Cowboys and Texans, but beyond that, there’s no way for me to know what to expect. Because of the nature of the league’s broadcast deal, and the realities of “regional coverage,” every Sunday the league’s national broadcast partners Fox and CBS assign different games to different markets, based on……(continue reading)

4. There Is Always Room at the Top

It’s time to count all your chickens before they’ve hatched and that is exactly what Rivers McCown has done for the Washington Post.  He has broken down the top 10 teams and their chances at the elusive College Football Playoff.  We have yet to have Halloween, but can still enjoy a snickers here and there, can’t we?

  • College Football Playoff Projection: Here are the 10 top teams in the nation right now – With most of this week’s games looking like they’ll play true to form — which seems to be a rarity this college football season — it’s worth looking ahead to what the top of the Playoff Selection Committee’s rankings might look like when they’re unveiled next week. At least, here’s what they should look like, right now, and what potential obstacles remain for each team before the season’s end……(continue reading)

5. Dime Bag

The NBA season is almost upon us and the SB Nation has broken down a team-by-team preview for the 2015 season for you.  SPOILER ALERT: No one picks the Nuggets to win it all.

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What You Need To Know for Both #ALDS Game 5’s Today – #OwnOctober

1. I Got a Feevah, For More Baseball

It doesn’t matter that the Cubs were 0-11 All-Time in the post-season, if they lost the first game of the series.  It doesn’t matter that the Cubs were 0-4 All-Time in series clinching games, at home.  It didn’t matter when they won their first game giving up 3 HR’s to the opposing team in the post-season.  It just doesn’t matter – anymore.

It feels different today doesn’t it?  Beating the Cardinals, overcoming history, it all feeeels different, right?!  I’m not a Cubs fan, but are friends with many, and although the AltX.Logo.whitemoment feels good now and things have been accomplished that have never been done before – you just hope, and have a lot of prayer, to make it thru the witchcraft that has been your history.  But man for right now, enjoy this, just know, you are not thru the woods yet Cubs fan – hopefully no one goes and gets a tattoo or anything else that might upset your #KarmicResponsibility.  There’s still more games to play.

  • Meanwhile, how about Theo Epstein – should he be the focal point of Moneyball 2: Curse Killer?
  • How about today’s games, both Game 5 showdowns.
  • Harold Reynolds must be as popular in Toronto as Chase Utley is in New York, right?
  • It’s awesome that beginning this afternoon, we’ll have two elimination games
  • Gotta love this October so far, eh?

Here is a preview of the games between the Rangers/BlueJays and the Astros/Royals.  Remember to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter – there are a lot more nuggets of info that we don’t have time to always prepare for you here – and as always tell your friends – share us with the world:

  • ALDS Game 5 previews: It’s win or go home for all four AL playoff teams

    For just the third time in the wild-card era, both American League Division Series have come down to a single-elimination Game 5. In the entire history of best-of-five playoffs in Major League Baseball, there have been 36 series that went a full five games; exactly half of those series have been won by the team that failed to clinch in Game 4, and one shy of half (17 of 36) have been won by Game 5’s home team. Momentum and home field advantage have proven meaningless.

    The American League Championship Series starts Friday night and could still consist of any of four matchups. By midnight tonight, we should know which of those four pairs will indeed be playing for the pennant……(continue reading)

 

 

In October, Anything is Possible

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Ken Rosenthal, in Just a Bit Outside, wrote: “OK, so we didn’t get chaos, entropy or any other form of Monday madness. There will be no game No. 163, no three-team tie, no pushing back of the postseason schedule. The outcomes of Sunday’s games neatly restored order, with the most deserving teams, the Rangers and Astros, claiming the final two playoff berths.”  But, what does it all mean this post-season?  Are the Royals back? Should everyone watch out for the Rangers?  Will the young Astros be intimated in Yankee Stadium?  Should we worry about the Mets?  Are the Cubs the most dangerous team?

Ken Rosenthal breaks all of those things down in his piece: Anything is Possible this Post-Season

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Rosenthal writes:

Will I pick them to upset the Blue Jays? Probably not. But I would not be surprised if the series goes five games.

What I like about the Rangers right now is that their stars are performing at elite levels. Start with left-hander Cole Hamels, who threw a three-hitter Sunday to help clinch the AL West title. Hamels, thanks to the Rangers’ collapse on Saturday, will be available for Games 2 and 5 rather than 1 and 4 (the latter on short rest).

The Rangers have won the last 10 games that Hamels has started, not that it will necessarily matter against the Jays, whose .815 OPS against lefties led the majors. Both of the Rangers’ top starters, Hamels and Derek Holland, are left-handed, and uh, the Jays treat right-handers no better. Their .791 OPS against righties also led the majors, though Rangers righty Yovani Gallardo has pitched 13 2/3 scoreless innings against them this season.

The only way for the Rangers to stay with the Jays might be to slug with them, and suddenly that appears possible — Texas led the majors in runs per game after Sept. 1. Third baseman Adrian Beltre, who is dealing with a jammed index finger and sprained thumb on his left hand, has 38 RBI since that date. Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo and even Josh Hamilton all look like forces again.

October is going to be a great month, after-all ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!  Just ask Ben Larson (h/t Dennis Wierzbicki):

A Cubs fan named Ben Larson, who is a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, emailed one of his professors to see if the teacher could do him a big favor by moving a midterm exam scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 8. As Larson explained over email, he and his family scored tickets to the one-game playoff against the Pittsburgh Pirates and planned to drive to the game. With the game on Wednesday, he wouldn’t be able to take a test Thursday.

Luckily the professor offered to come through for him:

Shoot, if we all had known our teachers would be this accommodating, how many of us would have tried to pull this maneuver?

We knew Cubs fans were loyal and sometimes a disgusting bunch, but one thing you cannot deny is their passion. This is awesome.

“I usually take a two-hour nap from 1 to 4” – OR – “Pair up in threes” – #RIPYogi

It’s Deja-Vu all over again…

It is inevitable.  The older I get, the more heaven seems to load up on talent – it’s a helluva team up there.  Yogi, went from Northern Italy, to St.Louis, to New York, to one of the best catchers of all time.  For my money, it is him and Roy Campanella for the title, to quote Casey Stengel: “you can look it up.”  Need more proof – how many baseball players have a cartoon character named after them?

With that said, Yogi Berra passed at the age of 90, Tuesday evening. Yogi died 69 years to the day after he had made his major-league debut, on Sept. 22, 1946; against the Philadelphia Athletics, Yogi went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in a 4-3 Yankees win. Yogi won 10 World Series titles as a player.  That is an all-time record, and one more than the great Joe DiMaggio.Logo_alt#2

Berra’s record of 75 World Series games played may never be threatened, much less actually broken. Consider Derek Jeter, who played 20 years for maybe the best team of his era, wound up playing 38 World Series games, barely half of Berra’s total. The only active players who have appeared in more than 15 World Series games are Yadier Molina (21), Matt Holliday (16), Buster Posey (16) and Albert Pujols (16). Furthermore, if the 28-year-old Posey (the only one of them not yet 30 years old) plays in the next eight World Series (through 2022), and all of them extend to seven games, he would still be three games shy of Berra’s record.

Not everyone makes the Hall of Fame, fewer still become icons – Lawrence Peter Berra’s legacy transcends baseball.  He was one of the greatest players, for one of the greatest teams, in all of sports, and for the lucky ones who knew him, they say he was a better person.  Beyond his success on the field, was the quality of the man.  So, when you come to the fork in the road, take it, because if the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.


In memoriam – more Baseball

Here is last night’s #DraftKings Perfect Lineup – 9-22-15…maybe I should have took the other side of the Mets v. Braves game for the #sleeper pick.

92215_perfectlineup

Baseball’s first 20-game winner

Jake Arrieta became baseball’s first 20-game winner and he did it with style, tossing a three-hit, complete-game shutout and striking out 11 in the Cubs’ 4-0 victory over the Brewers. He became the first major-leaguer whose 20th victory of a season was a shutout with double-digit strikeouts since 1993, when Jack McDowell’s 20th win met those parameters.

Arrieta became the first Cubs pitcher to become the majors’ first 20-game winner in a season, with all the victories coming for the Cubs, since Larry Jackson did that back in 1964. (In 1984, Rick Sutcliffnulle was the first big-leaguer to reach 20 wins, and he won his 20th while pitching for the Cubs; but Sut had won his first four games that season while pitching for the Indians.)

Arrieta lowered his season ERA to 1.88, second-lowest in the majors to Zack Greinke’s 1.65. But Arrieta is putting some pressure on the Dodgers’ right-hander: in each of Arrieta’s last five starts, he has thrown at least eight innings and has allowed no more than one run. The last major-league pitcher who strung together five straight games like that was Roger Clemens in 1997; the last to do so this late in a season was Orel Hershiser in 1988, when he tossed five straight shutouts and then a 10-inning scoreless outing in his last six starts of the season, fashioning the major-league -record 59-inning scoreless streak that Greinke had challenged earlier this season.

It’s a Bird in Toronto

Greg Bird’s line-drive three-run homer in the 10th inning cut through the tension at Rogers Centre and lifted the Yankees to a 6-4 victory over the Blue Jays. It was the 10th home run of the season for the Yankees rookie, who replaced the injured Mark Teixeira down the stretch. Bird became the first Yankees rookie to hit an extra-inning home run in a road victory since July 14, 1962, when Tom Tresh belted a two-run homer in the 10th inning off Angels rookie (and future Cy Young Award winner) Dean Chance in New York’s 9-8 win at nullDodger Stadium. (The Angels were the Dodgers tenants for four years in the early 1960s.) Tresh filled in for Tony Kubek that year when Kubek, the Yankees regular shortstop, spent most of the season in military service.

Bird has now hit eight home runs in September, tying Chris Davis for the highest total by any American League player this month. Bryce Harper leads the majors with 10, while Nolan Arenadoand Yoenis Cespedes have smashed nine.

Edwin Encarnacion homered in the bottom of the tenth, his 35th of the season, joining teammates Josh Donaldson (39) and Jose Bautista (36) at that level. Prior to this season, the last big-league team that featured three players with at least 35 home runs was the 2006 White Sox, with Jermaine Dye (44), Jim Thome (42) and Paul Konerko (35). The lone previous season in which a Toronto trio achieved that feat came in 1998; the three players were Jose Canseco(46), Carlos Delgado (38), and Shawn Green (35).

Crazy-ness in Detroit

Fans leaving Comerica Park on Tuesday night must have been thinking of that old adage: there’s a chance at the ballpark you’ll see something that you may not have seen before. Here’s the recap of the Tigers-White Sox game:

Detroit starter Daniel Norris, in his second game since returning from a recent injury, was removed from the game after he retired Chicago’s first 15 batters of the game. His was the first perfect-through-five start by a Tigers rookie since Armando Galarraga did it – no, not in his 8.2-perfect-innings effort against Cleveland in 2010 – but in 2008 against the Royals. The last major-leaguer to be taken out after at least five innings with a potential perfect game still intact was Houston’s Bob Knepper in the final game of the 1986 season, as the Astros readied their starters for that year’s postseason.single logo_small

After four relievers extended the potential no-hitter through one out in the ninth inning, Tyler Saladino ruined the bid with a triple. He became only the second major-leaguer in the last 20 years to spoil a potential no-hitter with a ninth-inning (or extra-inning) triple, the other being Baltimore’s Jerry Hairston, Jr., against the Rangers in 2002. The odd thing: Hairston’s blow leading off the ninth also ruined a potential combination no-hitter in a game in which Texas starter Aaron Myette was ejected after throwing two pitches, Todd Van Poppel pitched two innings, and then Joaquin Benoit threw no-hit ball until Hairston’s triple.

The Tigers won, 2-1, in the 10th inning, on a walkoff triple by Rajai Davis, the second walkoff triple in the majors this season (Pittsburgh’s Pedro Florimon had the other on August 18). The last Tigers player with a walkoff triple was Ramon Santiago in 2011, but prior to him you have to go back to Mickey Stanley in 1968.

Mike and Albert

Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning, in a gripping 4-3 victory in Houston. The home runs were the 40th of the season for Trout and the 36th for Pujols – it was the first time that baseball had seen back-to-back homers by a pair of players, each of whom had already belted 35 homers that season, since 2006 – when Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome of the White Sox did it.

Jimenez with the bat

Ubaldo Jimenez lifted his September record to 3-0 (he had previously beaten both the Blue Jays and the Yankees) and added a nice little cherry with an RBI single as the Orioles shut down the Nationals, 4-1, and, coupled with the Astros’ loss, shaved a game off Houston’s Wild Card lead. Jimenez’s single produced the first run of the game, and Baltimore never relinquished the lead. He became the second American League pitcher this season to be credited with both a victory and a game-winning RBI in the same game; back on July 21, Tampa Bay rookie Nathan Karns hit a home run for the game’s only run in his victory over the nullPhillies.

Jimenez became the 25th American League pitcher in 19 years of interleague play to achieve that daily double – but the amazing thing is that of the 25 pitchers who did it, seven of them have at least one Cy Young Award on their mantles: David Cone, CC Sabathia, Johan Santana,Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez, Max Scherzer and R.A. Dickey. Even more remarkably, among the other guys who did it was Jon Lester. As we all know, Lester didn’t get his first major-league hit until this season, but in a game at San Francisco in 2010, he was credited with the game-winning RBI in his victory for the Red Sox with a sacrifice fly.

The RBI was the second of the season for Jimenez, who knocked in a run in a game at Philadelphia on June 17. Since the designated-hitter rule was enacted in 1973, severely limiting their opportunities to hit, only eight other American League pitchers have driven in a run in two different games in the same season. But three of those eight others also pitched for the Orioles -Mike Mussina in 1999, Kris Benson in 2006 and Zach Britton in 2011.

Rangers perform sacrifices

Mitch Moreland hit a game-tying two-run homer in the sixth inning, but other than that, it was mostly a rat-a-tat-tat attack of sacrifice bunts (three), sacrifice flies (four) and heads-nullup base-running that allowed the Rangers to beat the A’s, 8-6. Sacrifice flies have been recorded as a category separate from sacrifice bunts since 1954, and over those 62 seasons, there have been only two other major-league games in which a team had at least three sacrifice bunts and at least four sacrifice flies. The Astros used that combination to help beat the Braves, 7-5, in 2009, while the Braves found that four sac flies and three sac bunts weren’t enough to win in a 12-inning contest that was won by the Padres, 11-10, in 1991.

Goldschmidt’s has 30 HRs include 7 vs. Dodgers

A. J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt hit back-to-back home runs off two different Dodgers pitchers in the seventh inning and the Diamondbacks went on to rout the Dodgers, 8-0. Pollock’s home run chased starter Alex Wood, and Goldy’s greeted reliever Chris nullHatcher. It was the 30th boundary belt of the season for Goldschmidt, who also has 21 steals. He became the fourth player in Arizona’s 18-year major-league history to be admitted into that 30/20 club, joining Chris Young(2007), Mark Reynolds (2009) and Justin Upton (2011). It was Goldschmidt’s seventh home run against the Dodgers this season, the most by any Dodgers opponent in a season since 2004, when Barry Bonds and Vinny Castilla each hit eight and Jeromy Burnitz seven. Still some distance away from the record of 13 home runs hit against the Dodgers, then in Brooklyn, by the Milwaukee Braves’ Joe Adcock in 1956.

Iwakuma brings it in K.C.

Hisashi Iwakuma blanked the Royals and struck out 10 batters over seven innings in the nullMariners’ 11-2 win at Kansas City. Iwakuma became the third different Mariners pitcher this season, joining Mike Montgomery and Vidal Nuno, to win a game in which he did not allow a run and had a double-digit strikeout total. Only two other major-league teams have had three different pitchers provide such victories this season-the Indians (Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber) and the Nationals (Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez).

Cardinals win another low-scoring game

The Cardinals took a 3-1 decision from the Reds on Tuesday, marking the 31st time this season that they have won a game in which they scored no more than three runs. Only one other major-league team in the last 20 seasons has won as many games of that type (the Giants won 31 such games four years ago). And in the long history of the Cardinals’ franchise, the only other year in which they won as many as 30 games in which they scored three-or-fewer runs was 1968. In that season – the one in which Bob Gibson fashioned his other-worldly 1.12 ERA – St. Louis won 41 games in which they scored no more than three runs (with Gibson having started 14 of those games).

Mahtook(LSU) blasts Fenway

Rookie Mikie Mahtook belted a two-run homer in the eighth inning to put the icing on the Rays’ 5-2 victory at Fenway Park. Mahtook has now hit five home runs this season; his previous blasts came in games at Toronto, Seattle, Chicago (against the White Sox) and nullDetroit. Mahtook, Washington’s Denard Span and San Francisco’s Gregor Blanco are the only players this season who have hit at least five home runs, all on the road.

By the way, among the players from the past whose first five major-league homers came away from home are Hall-of-Famers Eddie Mathews, Reggie Jackson, George Brett, Frank Thomas, Willie Stargell (first six) and Hank Aaron (nine). But none of those Hall-of-Famers holds a candle to the all-time major-league record-holder for home runs, all on the road, from the start of a career. That would be Johnny Hodapp, an infielder who, while playing with the Indians, hit 22 home runs, all on the road, from 1927 to 1931. The streak ended when, after being traded to the White Sox in 1932, his first home run with his new team was hit at Comiskey Park.

Marte + Ramirez and 75 RBIs

Starling Marte knocked in two runs and Aramis Ramirez one, lifting the season total of nullRBIs for each player to 75, in the Pirates’ 6-3 win over the Rockies in Denver.  Andrew McCutchen leads the Pirates with 95 RBIs, and though Ramirez has not produced all of his RBIs for the Pirates, Pittsburgh is one of the two National League teams that have at their disposal three players who have 75 RBIs this season. The other such team is Cincinnati, with Todd Frazier (88), Jay Bruce (83) and Joey Votto (75).

nullErvin = Johan

Ervin Santana came through again for the Twins on Tuesday night, holding the Indians to one run over seven innings and earning well-deserved credit for Minnesota’s 3-1 victory. Santana is now 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA over his last five starts, with 39 strikeouts in 36 innings.

Old minor-leaguer clocks home run, sends Mets to defeat

Hector Olivera clocked a three-run, go-ahead homer with two outs in the sixth inning and the Braves went on to defeat the Mets, 6-2. Olivera, a 30-year-old rookie, became the second 30-year-old rookie in the last 11 days to smash a home run against the Mets; on September 12, Olivera’s teammate Adonis Garcia connected. Prior to the last two weeks, only four rookies on the far side of 30 have homered against the Mets over their 54-year existence, the oldest being the Phillies’ Chris Coste, at 33, in 2006.

What You Need to Know to #win Tuesday Night, #DraftKings #FantasyBaseball

Encarnacion is on FIRE!  Seriously, he is raking more than Groundskeeper Willy and I doubt it ends tonight against Cody Anderson.  It seems like yesterday we were complaining about the weather being to cold and could not wait for leisurely attire, with Boat Drinks – September all ready?!  I re-tweeted an earlier article from back in February today, check it out it was pretty accurate, except that bit about the Rockies – cripes – Now on with the show, and if you want to try your hand tonight click the link and get started – I know the highest O/U is in Colorado tonight, but I think Seattle and Houston could provide an equally impressive display of batted-fireworks as well.

Heaviest Favorites – according to Vegas

Jonathon Niese vs. Philadelphia Phillies (-221) – On a night where we have quite a few quality starting pitchers taking the mound tonight, Niese gets the nod as the favorite against the Phillies. Interesting choice I must say, but this is why Vegas is worth about 348 billion dollars and I’m not – yet. Anyways, I found this one interesting because Niese has been anything but solid lately. In his last three starts, Niese has scored a combined 19.8 points. Yes, that’s all three starts combined. His last start, was even against the Phillies, the team he’s so heavily favored to beat tonight. During those three starts, Niese has given up 15 runs on 21 hits in just 17 innings with a 13:9 K:BB ratio. Does this sound like a guy you want to be investing your salary cap into tonight? Granted, Niese is very cheap tonight at $6500. Not too shabby for a guy who owns a 3.95 ERA on the year with a 1.36 WHIP and a K/9 of 6.1. If you read this article on the regular, you’ll know that the Phillies are hitting well since the All-Star break, owning a .327 wOBA, good for 8th during that time span. So with Niese tonight, he certainly his a cheap price tag to reach his value, it’s just a matter of if he can actually do it or not. cropped-logo_1260147_print-1-e14180934753933.pngHonestly, I won’t hold my breath on this one.

Marco Estrada vs Cleveland Indians (-185) – Estrada may not be the most enticing name on the slate tonight, but he’s certainly pitched well enough to be. Estrada enters tonight with a 3.19 ERA to go with a 1.09 WHIP and a K/9 of 6.9. He faces the Cleveland Indians, who have been hitting well in the second half, just behind the Phillies, with a .326 wOBA during the time, good for 9th in the league. Estrada continues to give us what we pay for at the $7000 tier level, a mid to high teens score with a decent amount of strikeouts and good command. The Indians don’t strike out a lot, owning a 19.6 K% in the second half, but Estrada really isn’t that type of guy either. It’s not a stretch to except maybe four or five strikeouts from Estrada tonight, as he’s usually very consistent with that. Of course as always, with the absurd amount of runs the Blue Jays are scoring, it’s pretty safe to say that Estrada is also a good bet to nab a win here, as the run support has been high for all the Blue Jays starting pitchers. Playing at home tonight, look for Estrada in terms of some salary relief, as you load up on some of these premium pitchers tonight.

Johnny Cueto vs. Detroit Tigers (-150) – The only problem with some of these elite pitchers going tonight, is that they face some fairly tough matchups tonight, or their price is sky high. A couple of these sky high prices, in my opinion, will still be worth it, it’s just a matter of identifying who. Cueto could be one of them, if he can right the ship tonight. Cueto is coming off two disappointing starts in a row now, one against the Boston Red Sox and one against the Baltimore Orioles. The Red Sox one, I wasn’t overly surprised about, since they’re hitting so well lately. The Orioles I was, since they have such a high K% and their wOBA in the second half of the season is near the basement in the league. Tonight, Cueto gets the Tigers, who are also near the bottom of the league in wOBA in the second half at 19th, with a .314 wOBA. The Tigers are also striking out at a decent pace, with a 20.9 K%. Cueto isn’t excessively high price wise tonight at $10,100, especially compared to some of the other pitchers priced above him in some less than stellar matchups. I think with how poorly Cueto has pitched lately, his won’t be as highly owned across the board as he normally might be. For tonight ,I think I’d use Cueto only in tournaments, maybe not cash. Even though the Tigers are hitting nearly as well as they were in the first half of the season, they still have some serious talent on that team.

Top Overall Game per O/U

Arizona Diamondbacks at Colorado Rockies (Coors Field) – 10.5 Over/Under – The night game checks in just like the day game, with a 10.5 projected run total. Rubby de la Rosa takes on Kyle Kendrick, in a battle of “who can be worse against LHB.” It’s true, both of these pitchersREALLY struggle against left handed batters tonight. De la Rosa checks in with a .405 wOBA against them and Kendrick with a .422 wOBA. Mix that in with some Coors Field and lefties should have a field day tonight. Also tonight, both of these starting pitchers LOVE giving up home runs. Between the two of them, they’ve given up 53 home runs. 53 HOME RUNS, between the two of them! Truly, if you normally fade the Coors Field game to (hopefully) separate yourself from the rest of the field in case the game doesn’t go as planned, tonight would not be the night to do that. Between how poorly these pitchers perform against lefties and how easily they let balls fly out of the park, this one could be a mess. Target wise, anyone you can afford. Just keep your eyes on the lineup, as they’ll be playing a double header, so a couple of key guys could potentially get some rest in the second game. Let’s hope not.

Toughest Pitcher L/R matchup

  • Left handed batters
    • Johnny Cueto KAN (LwOBA ..240)
    • Zack Greinke LAD (LwOBA .249)
    • Justin Verlander DET (LwOBA .253)
  • Right handed batters
    • Joe Ross WAS (RwOBA .205)
    • Jimmy Nelson MIL (RwOBA .246)
    • Rubby DeLaRosa AZ (RwOBA .258)

Easiest Pitcher L/R matchup

  • Left handed batters
    • Rubby DeLaRosa AZ (LwOBA .405)
    • Kyle Kendrick COL (LwOBA .422)
  • Right handed batters
    • Cody Martin OAK (RwOBA .422)
    • Kyle Kendrick AZ (RwOBA .368)

All Pitcher Stats

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Hottest Hitters – last 7 days

  • Edwin Encarnacion TOR – DiRT Canon Value99.77
  • David Ortiz BOS – DiRT Canon Value96.25
  • Jason Castro HOU – DiRT Canon Value94.21
  • DiDi Gregorious NYY – DiRT Canon Value89.16
  • Jonathon Lucroy MIL – DiRT Canon Value – 88.26
  • Michael Cuddyer NYM – DiRT Canon Value – 86.20

Other notables:  Ryan Zimmerman – Marlon Byrd

Best BvP matchup Tonight

Evan Longoria vs. Chris Tillman – Last night we killed it with the BvP. For all the non believers, I hope you enjoyed watching from the outside. Tonight, we hope to do more of the same. To kick us off, we showcase Longoria and his long battle with Tillman. Longoria is 16-43 with 10 extra base hits, six of them being home runs, and a 1.321 OPS.

Salavdor Perez vs. Justin Verlander – Perez has really seen Verlander well in his career. Perez comes into tonight 18-38 against Verlander with nine extra base hits, two of them being home runs and a 1.266 OPS.

Jacoby Ellsbury vs Rick Porcello – This one is is absolutely mind boggling. Ellsbury isn’t a big power hitter, but how sure seems like one when he faces Rick Porcello. Ellsbury is an amazing 11-17 against Porcello with five extra base hits FOUR of them being home runs and 2.078 OPS.This is not a drill folks. This is insane. My mind is blown.


Weather

REJOICE – it appears to be all clear


Top 4 by Position – in no particular order

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A Pitcher To Consider

Gerrit Cole ($10,800) – You know, when you look at the pitching slate for a particular night and see that Chris Sale is associated with that slate, your eyes grow a little wide and you go YUP,this is who I’m going with. Then you see he’s going to run you for $13,900 and your eyes become a little droopy now. Not as enticing. Now, we realize he’s facing the Twins, well alright, I’m back on board! Surprisingly, the Twins actually are decent against left handed pitching. They own a .312 wOBA against them and the a K% ranked 18th in the league at 20.1 Am I saying the Twins are going to knock Sale around? Most likely not. Will I throw Sale out to the masses for $13,900 and tell you to start him? I don’t think so. Not for that much. Instead, I’m going to run with Cole tonight, who looks to be back on track. Cole takes on a Brewers team who seems to have fallen back to their old hitting ways, which is not good at all. The Brewers own a .307 wOBA in the second, good for 25th in the league with a high 21.7 K%, which runs for 7th in the league. His price tag tonight seems reasonable at $10,800, when you compare it to the likes of Sale. Cole has scored 28.2 and 23.5 in his last two starts, against the Giants and Marlins respectively, which gives me a good indication that he’s seems to be on the right path again. Cole enters tonight with a 2.44 ERA to go with a 1.11 WHIP and a K/9 of 8.8.

Worth Considering

David Peralta ($4700) – As I mentioned earlier, getting exposure to Coors Field is a must tonight, in my opinion. Looking at either side, both pitchers have given up a combined 53 home runs, so I think it’s safe to say we’ll be seeing some balls leaving the park tonight. I think Peralta is a way to get “cheap” exposure to one of the premier players on the Diamondbacks. When I say cheap, I referring to how AJ Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt are going to run you for at least $6000. That’s going to be tough to do if you’re going to be rostering any pitchers worth over $10,000. On the year, Peralta owns a .388 wOBA against RHP with an ISO of .236. Peralta has been mostly in the clean up spot for the Diamondbacks, which I think makes this pick all the more intriguing. Of course, check that closer to came time, but I think this could potentially pay off well without totally destroying your salary cap for tonight.

Save $$$…

Andres Blanco ($2300) – Man, it is seriously getting hard to keep Blanco off my roster on a daily basis. I honestly find him becoming automatic. Tonight, he faces the leftie Niese, which is great news for everyone planning on picking Blanco tonight. He has crushed lefties this season, owning a .447 wOBA with an ISO of .220. Truly, these are numbers for a guy almost costing the minimum on DraftKings. The fact that his price tag has barely budged is not only amazing, but completely ups his value for a daily pick. Blanco doesn’t have to produce much to exceed his value, which he continues to do on an almost nightly basis.


The Rest by Position

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Randomly Generated Lineup Combinations – Ideas

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What You Need to Know to #win Friday Night #DraftKings #FantasyBaseball

kid - Copy - Copy (2) - Copy

Summer is almost out of here, so we are trying to drink the rest of the Daiquiries and Margaritas we have left from the machine – we have a lot left and so little time, scha-mon!  It reminds us that baseball still has the unwritten rules in place for awhile longer, like what we saw Tuesday night, when the Astros were killing the Yankees – if anyone thought you would ever say that the last few decades – we need to talk.  Anywhoo, it got crazy, and I have no idea why these rules exist, except to give grown men a reason to act like morons – makes them feel tougher when they are getting their a$$e$ handed to them, I guess.  Tonight it looks like a fireworks show in Toronto, so let’s open another case of tequila and rum, pour it into the frozen machine and enjoy!

Heaviest Favorites – according to Vegas

Max Scherzer vs. Miami Marlins(-240) – The poor Marlins. They struggle to hit as it is, now tonight they have to face Max Scherzer? That’s just unfair. Scherzer has been fantastic this season, as expected, checking in with a 2.79 ERA with a WHIP of 0.93 and a K/9 of 10.5. It’s been said time and time again if you read this article on the regular, but the Marlins are one of the worst offensive teams in the second half of the season. They come in with an overall wOBA of .293 in the second half of the season, ranked 27th during that time span. Their power is basically non existent, with an ISO of .109, which is dead last in the league. Truly, I don’t think anyone really has much to worry about here when it comes to this start. The only factor that causes some trouble is the fact that the Marlins don’t strike out much. They own the second to last strikeout percentage in the league during the second half, at 17%. Only the Royals have a lower strikeout percentage during that time. This could be a brutal night for the Marlins, as Scherzer not only is the favorite for Vegas, but one of the guys I like tonight as well. He’s going to be expensiveeeeee tonight at 12,500 so keep that in mind.cropped-logo_1260147_print-1-e14180934753933.png

Francisco Liriano vs. Colorado Rockies(-220)- It’s funny because when you think of the Rockies, you think of an explosive lineup that can crush almost anyone, right? If you don’t well, maybe it’s just me. Regardless, I think the Rockies are at least thought of as a good offense, which they should be. It seems strange that once we start pulling numbers, their wOBA in the second half only sits in 13th, at .322. You’d expect it to be higher, wouldn’t you? They’ve been striking out quite often during that time frame as well, coming in at 21.8% with their power rating at .182, which is fantastic, good for 6th in the league. When it comes to lefties however, the Rockies really run into trouble. Believe it or not, the Rockies owns the 28th worst wOBA against lefties on the season, at .289. Even more surprising, is that their power is basically gone when facing a leftie, as they own the second to worst ISO in that respect at .107. I know what you’re thinking now, how about the strikeouts? Great question young chap, they strike out the 4th most in the league, with a 23.4%. Liriano has been great this season, of course with some bumps in the road. However, with his 9.6 K/9, I fully expect him to be able to mow down the Rockies tonight and rack up some strikeouts. With this game taking place in Pittsburgh and not Colorado, you have to like your chances with this one. Liriano is “cheap” tonight at 10,000. That is super enticing.

R.A. Dickey vs. Detroit Tigers (-220) – The first thing that popped into my head when I saw how much of a favorite Dickey was tonight, it’s because he’s matched up against Matt Boyd and his horrible stats. I still think that’s a huge part of if, however, it might also have to do with the fact that the Tigers are a sinking ship. So let’s just roll it all into a ball and figure this out. First and foremost, it should be full expected that the best offensive team in the second half of the season, is going to absolutely crush Boyd tonight. Can we all agree on that? Perfect. Second, the Tigers truly have been a sinking ship. Checking in with a wOBA ranked 16th in the league during the second half at .320, it’s baffling to think what happened to this Tigers team. Their ISO rating is still good, at .169, good for 9th in the league. The strikeouts aren’t that shabby either, only striking out 20.9% of the time. So, it comes down to, is this a good spot for Dickey? I think he certainly has a good chance to outduel (sarcasm, guys) Boyd here tonight, so it’s very possible to get the win, I just don’t think I trust Dickey to have a good game – see his value# below. He doesn’t strike out many guys, owning a 5.3 K/9 on the season, so you’re really hoping for some clean innings from Dickey. No offense, but I don’t see that happening to often with a knuckleball pitcher. He might be able to sneak in a good start tonight, but even with the numbers not backing up a good offensive showing from the Tigers in the second half, they’re too talented of a team to be down for so long. It also doesn’t help that this game is……

Top Overall Game per O/U

Detroit Tigers vs. Toronto Blue Jays(Rogers Centre) – 9.5 Over/Under –…the top projected overall scoring game of the night. Anytime we have a game in this category, I often stay as far away as possible from these matchups. Vegas thinks this game is going to produce a lot of offense, that’s not exactly odds I want for my starting pitcher. We briefly touched upon both pitchers and the Tigers offense, so let’s focus on the Blue Jays offense. As I mentioned, the Blue Jays have the top wOBA in the second half of the season by a decent stretch. Coming into tonight, it sits at .343, which is seven points higher than the Mariners are, at .336 (uhhh, when did they start hitting?!) It should also come as no surprise that their power also ranks at the top of the league, at .195. Tonight, when they face Matt Boyd, it’s against someone who hasREALLY struggled since being in the majors. His splits are downright ugly, with a .362 wOBA against righties and an atrocious .522 wOBA against lefties. Not exactly anything that makes you feel like he’s going to do well here, right? For as good as the Tigers “should” be right now, the Blue Jays ARE that good and should put up a crooked number by the time this game is over. Target suggestions for tonight? The guys with Toronto on their jersey.

Toughest Pitcher L/R matchup

  • Left handed batters
    • Erasmo Ramirez TAM (LwOBA .238)
    • Andrew Heaney LAA (LwOBA .241)
    • Sonny Gray OAK (LwOBA .235)
  • Right handed batters
    • Max Scherzer WAS (RwOBA .218)
    • Matt Harvey NYM (RwOBA .237)
    • Sonny Gray OAK (RwOBA .250)

Easiest Pitcher L/R matchup

  • Left handed batters
    • Ian Kennedy SDP (LwOBA .347)
    • Williams Perez ATL (LwOBA .375)
  • Right handed batters
    • Matt Boyd DET (RwOBA .362)
    • John Danks CWS (RwOBA .366)

All Pitcher Stats

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Hottest Hitters – last 7 days

  • Trayce Thompson CWS – DiRT Canon Value – 122.96
  • Mike Moustakas KC – DiRT Canon Value – 111.38
  • Francisco Lindor – DiRT Canon Value97.78
  • Nick Swisher ATL – DiRT Canon Value93.96
  • Michael Cuddyer NYM – DiRT Canon Value93.88
  • Rusney Castillo BOS – DiRT Canon Value92.72

Other notables:  Travis d’Arnaud NYM is 9-23 with 3 HR’s, 9 RBI and 6 runs scored.  Evan Gattis HOU 8-22 with 4 HR’s, 7 RBI and 6 runs scored.

Best BvP matchup Tonight

Austin Jackson vs John Danks- Every once in awhile, we get a real good sample size of a batter and pitcher, and it shows how well that particular batter has done against said pitcher. Well tonight, we have Austin Jackson against John Danks. The fact that Danks has someone that hits well against him is SHOCKING to me. Jackson is 23-52 with six extra base hits, three of them being home runs, and a 1.164 OPS.

Dexter Fowler vs. Clayton Kershaw- If you asked me, “name a hitter that has hit Kershaw quite well in their career” my first answer would HAVE to be Dexter Fowler. It’s SOOOO obvious, right? Maybe not. But regardless, Fowler is 17-40 with three extra base hits and a 1.002 OPS.Sure, Fowler has singled Kershaw to death, but anyone with good numbers against Kershaw can certainly give you a slight edge.

Ian Kinsler vs. RA Dickey- Small sample size compared to the other two, but nonetheless, Kinsler has seen his success against Dickey. Kinsler is 6-16 against Dickey with two extra base hits, and a 1.194 OPS.


Weather

REJOICE – it appears to be all clear


Top 4 by Position – in no particular order

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A Pitcher To Consider

Francisco Liriano ($10,000)- Truly, we have a LOT of good pitching options tonight. This could be a number of different pitchers tonight, and all would be worthy of a roster spot. Kazmir vs. Minnesota, Jungmann vs. Cincinnati, Tanaka vs. Atlanta, Gray vs. Arizona, Kershaw vs. Cubs, but he’s too expensive. You get the idea though. Overall, value wise and matchup wise, I love Liriano tonight. As I mentioned earlier, the Rockies are BRUTAL against  left handed pitching this year. If you need a refresher, just scroll up, I did all the research for you, so don’t roll your eyes. At the price point of 10K tonight, it makes Liriano all the more enticing. He hasn’t been as sharp as he was in the first half of the season, as he’s scored 20, 10.4 and 15.5 in his last three starts, which would most likely explain the drop in salary. Honestly, that’s fantastic. Again, you have a TON of options to pick tonight and I’ll be super curious to see what pair of pitchers end up taking down tournaments tonight. I just think Liriano deserves the extra long look.

Worth Considering

Josh Donaldson ($5700) – I know, I know. Give me a night you WOULDN’T want to roster Donaldson. So yes, it’s an obvious choice. But at least let me give you some numbers as to why Donaldson is a must in my eyes tonight. First off, he’s got Matt Boyd. I mean, I could end this section right here and you’d understand. But I’m not that kind of guy, I’ll give you some more. Boyd is a leftie, Donaldson loves lefties. This season, Donaldson owns a .464 wOBA against them with an insane .361 ISO. In other words, Donaldson destroys left handed pitching. Again, I get it, he’s an obvious choice, but I think it’s crazy not to include him in your lineup tonight.

Save $$$…

Pedro Alvarez ($3200) – The problem with Alverez is that he’s not starting like he used to. For someone who was always a lock in the lineup, Alverez isn’t seeing the starts he’s used to. Regardless, when he’s in the lineup, he’s always a threat to go deep. If he does indeed start, he faces Jonathan Gray, who’s averaging about 1.5 home runs per nine innings. Alverez has some good power against RHP, with a .224 ISO and wOBA of .324. They aren’t slam dunk numbers, but at the same time, you’re not paying much for him to begin with.


The Rest by Position

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– player capsules via Steve Buchanan


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