Seven Starts – Choose Wisely

We have now played 10 weeks, and things are clear – pitching is VERY important. Not only do you need to make sure you can get seven starts out of your roster, but you need to choose the RIGHT seven starts.

Take us for instance – we acquired Colby Lewis, Mike Leake and Collin McHugh in the last couple of days and saw Anthony DeSclafani make his season debut. Add that to Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Kennedy and Michael Pineda and that is seven starters. We also have Robbie Ray and Chase Anderson as insurance.

We had to make tough decisions to choose just seven of the 13 starts our rotation had this week. Unfortunately, we picked nearly all the wrong ones.

Lewis was brutal on Monday, with a 14.5 point start, but rebounded nicely on Saturday with a 43 point day. Unfortunately, by Saturday, we had used up all of our starts.

Leake was even worse in his first start of the week, posted 7.5 solid points. But wouldn’t you know it, on Sunday he pitches a 49.5 point gem, that we could not use.

McHugh was just brutal on Thursday, failing to complete four innings and earning just 6.5 points.

DeSclafani’s debut wasn’t great, as he earned just 4.5 points.¬† The only run scored was on a solo HR, but he allowed 11 runners to reach base in six innings, walking three with just 2 strikeouts.

Zimmermann went negative on Wednesday night, as the Blue Jays hit two home runs off him in less than 5 innings. It was the first time Zimm went negative all year.

Kennedy was at his worst, allowing four home runs to the White Sox and posting a season low -34 fantasy points.

Pineda was our only good pitcher that counted this week, earning 72 points across two starts. However, we only saw 32 of those points from his first start.

We missed out on a 53 points gem from Anderson and a 59 point night from Ray.

Needless to say, it was a tough week.

On a more positive note, here are the top 10 pitchers through 10 weeks and the graph shows their weekly point totals.

spTop10

Jon Lester is the only pitcher in the top 10 to have had a negative week.

Clayton Kershaw has been the weeks top pitcher three times, while Jose Fernandez has done so twice.

Despite being the 2nd best pitcher in the league through 10 weeks, Johnny Cueto has two of the lowest weekly point totals among the top 10 pitchers.

TC (Cueto, Strasburg), IL4W (Syndergaard, Quintana) & TBD (Kluber, Bumgarner) each own two of the top 10 starters.

Trade: Preseason Double Stuffs | We Talk Fantasy Sports

Preseason Double Stuffs sends: SP Ian Kennedy ($6), 2B Rougned Odor ($22)
We Talk Fantasy Sports sends: SP Tai Walker ($27), CF Odubel Herrera ($2)

Jordan’s thoughts: Have you seen what Ian Kennedy has done recently? He scored 43 last week despite giving up a homer. He want 7 deep and struck out seven. The strikeouts seem be working for Kennedy since signing with the Royals this offseason. He looks incredibly good. Two starts is hardly a sample size for a reasonable change in value, but at $6 and after two starts, this seems like a good buy.

Odor on the other hand has had a rough go in 2016 thus far. He’s not getting walks, the base hits will come, but they are not here yet. While there’s reason to believe the 22 year old will find his own and continue to grow as a MLB hitter, its unlikely that he is a keeper at season’s end for $24. He can fill the hole for now, but next year you want him at a lower price.

I really like Tai Walker a lot. Obviously I’m a biased Mariner fan who cannot get over Walker’s stuff. His first two starts this year have been alright, going six innings in both, four strikeouts a piece. Not awesome, but not terrible. He’s 23 and potentially still an ace. He was a top prospects not long ago. I like Walker to get better as he continues to learn how to pitch through an inning. I watch a lot of him, and I believe he relies on his stuff more than he needs to. If he can put it together he will be electrifying.

Herrera has been hot this year. 5.96 points per game for the Philles so for this year. You have to like that he’s walked 12 times in 13 games, has three extra base hits and a stolen base to boot. If the walk rate is legit, then Herrera is a big threat to be very valuable in this league.¬†Last year he got on base 34% of the time, a slight improvement is not unlikely, and there is reason to believe his batting average can come up.

This trade is harder to break down than most. I would much rather have the Walker/Herrera side, but the arguments that Odor (being much better than this) and Kennedy (being legit again) hold their own. Likely I see Walker being better than Kennedy, and Odor being slightly better than Herrera, but not by much. Win for the oreos.

Andrew’s thoughts: I think Taijuan Walker and Ian Kennedy may just be the same guy when all is said and done. They’ve both struggled some with consistency. Kennedy because of walks and homers, Walker because he’s young and young guys tend to be rollercoaster ride performers. I certainly don’t think Kennedy is $21 worse than Walker, particularly not pitching in front of that Royals defense. I’m not even sure Walker has more “upside” than Kennedy. Kennedy’s always been a high strikeout guy and he’s had some stud seasons — see 2011 and 2014 — so if he can resolve the walk/homer issue, there’s no reason to think he can’t make a huge leap. He’s only 31. He’s not old.

If you consider the pitchers roughly equal, then the Roughned Odor versus Odubel Herrera contrast is what makes or breaks the deal. And for me, I want Odor, though his $22 kinda stinks (hahahah get it?!).

Herrera was quite a breakthrough last year as a Rule 5 pick and has been even better this year. It’s super early, but he’s got a .366 wOBA, a 22.6% walk rate, and his ISO is up .025. All of that is good, but again: small sample. Either way, this was a 3.9 win player in 2015, so he’s quite good. That he only went for $2 at auction suggests he was viewed as a fluke, but his start to 2016 hints at maybe that being fallacy.

Odor, meanwhile, posted a March/April wOBA of .250 that sunk to .153 in May of last year. He’s at .284 two weeks into 2016, so he’s actually starting better than he did a year ago. But once the calendar flipped to June, Odor was a monster. His month-by-month wOBAs from June 2015 forward: .443, .405, .354, .304. Those are some superstar numbers. (To be fair to Herrera, he had a .415 in July.)

To me, this looks like a young player who makes adjustments. Maybe he’s just a slow starter. But the talent is in there.

Really though, Herrera and Odor are about as equal to one another as Walker and Kennedy, and the cash difference is there too. They play different positions, so for their acquiring teams, they can afford to make theoretical lateral moves if it means eliminating positional needs.

For next year, Kennedy’s price advantage over Walker is more alluring to me than Herrera’s advantage over Odor. I’d want the cheap pitcher.

So I think I prefer the Kennedy/Odor side myself, but it’s really close.

Trade: Preseason Double Stuffs | Rocky Mountain Oysters

Rocky Mtn Oysters send: OF Giancarlo Stanton ($72), SP Lance McCullers ($26) SP Luis Severino ($17)
Preseason Double Stuffs send: OF Bryce Harper ($109), SP James Shields ($28)

Jordan’s thoughts: I have now rewritten the introduction to my thoughts on this trade six or seven times and I copped out to talk about how flabbergasted I am. I enjoy trades, I do. They give me breath of life into writing which I always need practice doing. Clearly. This one is another fascinating one, but as we are all learning (or for some of us relearning) Dusty is shooting for the moon constantly.

Let’s look at this trade on the table. I see it as the second best hitter in MLB and a fringe #2 tier starting pitcher on his way down traded for a top ten MLB hitter capable of being a top three, a tier #3 starter and a fringe tier #4 starter. That’s where my pre-draft rankings had them. High/low whatever.

On paper I’d rather have Harper, Shields. Hands down. I’m still quite high on Shields and I would buy the over on any Shields over/under, and would bet the under on both Severino and McCullers. I think if both Harper and Stanton play a full season, Harper is the better OF four out of five times.¬†Both have a checkered enough past, that its easy to say whoever ends up playing more games, ends up being better.

Dusty was in a great position, created by himself, to make this trade. He trades two decent, younger, and inspiring pitchers who could be great this year for an aging former ace who you know at any time could fall off or return to greatness. Pitchers are fickle.

Frankly if you like the two pitcher package, you could argue that both could be or will be better than Shields and I’d take your commentary as valuable as mine. So lets review the trade as it currently fits their teams.

Dusty wins this trade on his side. He upgrades at right field with Bryce over Giancarlo. If Buxton flops, he slides Bryce into center and rolls the dice with Preston Tucker or Josh Harrison. He gets a better player and has some flexibility back. Less reliant on Buxton. As far as my projections go, Shields is rated higher than both pitchers traded away, so Dusty replaces their output with better output. A win on both levels. RMO is now rated at 581.6 points per week, good enough for 4th best. Bravo!

Sadly I believe our Preseason Double Stuffs lose this trade. You trade away Bryce for a right fielder that you did not really need. The best three hitters by projection are Stanton – RF, Shin-Soo Choo – RF, and Jorge Soler – RF. That inflexibility limits what you can really do. Or forces you into future moves. Gomez in center is fine. Shields to McCullers is a slight drop in projected value, more so in that McCullers is only projected for 26 starts this year. Severino is however 26 projected starts of improvement over Ian Kennedy and Jerad Eickhoff. Why not shop Bryce around?

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†Correct me if I’m wrong, but in the end, the Preseason Double Stuffs have traded Max Scherzer and Shields for Stanton, Severino, and McCullers. Is that correct? Because if so, that seems sub-optimal.

I know Ferns wasn’t thrilled with his team post-auction, but I feel like this may be an over-correction. I disagree with Jordan on Shields. I’d rather have Severino and McCullers, for no other reason than Shields burned me in Dy-Nasty last year and I’m not overly interested in more stock. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that both of those guys are 30 PPG starting pitchers and, if so, the dynamic changes.

I think my big objection is that I had no idea Harper was available. Did you? Not that I have the pieces to go get him and probably wouldn’t have tried, but you’d think the market would be tested a little. Maybe it was and I just wasn’t aware. I don’t know.

I also think salaries are being insanely overrated in the early trade market. You can go over your budget in season, people. You have a year to get right for 2017. To me, if you’re selling one of the 3-5 best players overall (Harper), you need to hold out for bonus pieces. You need to pry a prospect or two, a pick, some budget cash next year, something else extra away. The season is still two weeks away. There’s no urgency to rush this stuff. You mean to tell me that if you don’t sell Bryce this week, you won’t ever have a chance to free yourself from¬†his $109 salary? I get that sometimes you just find the pieces you need and take it, but I just think I would’ve tested the market first.

And for Dusty, I just don’t even know. I’m a fan of big game hunting in trades too. What’s the point of expending energy trading for replacement level guys that you can manufacture through platoons or otherwise? I like turning Stanton into Harper and he doesn’t have a particularly big use for Severino and McCullers, particularly if the latter’s injury is a big deal. He’s clearly all-in for 2016, and that’s cool.

But I also see a team¬†with two gaping holes at the UT spot (depressingly, Ryan Howard and Yonder Alonso are there now) and a team where Byron Buxton went from the first or second guy off the bench to the starting CF. Maybe Buxton pops this year. He’d better, because if he plays like last year, that’s a black hole in your starting lineup. There’s no quality depth at 2B, 3B, or SS, or in the outfield. Actually, even 1B is lacking on the depth front. The offense just looked so, so much better before all the wheeling and dealing and while the pitching is improved, I didn’t think it was a glaring problem to begin with.

Of course, Dusty still has pitching to deal, and if there’s one thing Dusty will do, it’s deal. I said yesterday and I stand by it: a smart team looks at Dusty’s roster and recognizes that he needs to turn pitching into hitting, then uses that for leverage. And frankly, I’m not sure you’re getting an impact hitter for Mike Fiers or Hishashi Iwakuma (and I’m a big Kuma fan). Maybe you try to convert Kenta Maeda‘s strong spring into a haul and someone bites, I don’t know. At some point Dusty runs the risk of robbing Peter to pay Paul. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s clear there are more moves to come and so in two, three, four days, we’ll have to completely reevaluate how we perceive this roster anyway.

Trade: Rocky Mtn Oysters | Preseason Double Stuffs

Rocky Mtn Oysters send: OF Bryce Harper ($109)
Preseason Double Stuffs send: SP Max Scherzer ($86)

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†This is almost too surprising to wrap my head around, but I think my knee-jerk reaction is that I don’t love it for either squad but I prefer it from the Double Stuffs’ end.

Ferns and Chris still have a formidable rotation with Chris Archer at the top, and now they’ve got a transcendent hitter to plug into their lineup and slug¬†from Day 1. Their offense went from a bunch of question marks to a bunch of question marks surrounded by a stud. Any time you can flip a player that cost $23 less than another player at auction before any games have been played,¬†you’re probably feeling good.

Of course, Bryce is super expensive. If you’re the Oreos, $109 is a lot. It won’t matter in 2016, but I can see future seasons having to make some serious cuts to accommodate keeping this one guy. That’s the problem paying young guys tons and tons of budget. You feel some sense of obligation to keep them long term, but it’ll hurt your roster elsewhere.

For Dusty’s Oysters, I don’t get it at all. Why swing deals to get extra budget cash, splurge on the highest paid hitter, then trade him? The benefit of those previous deals is now eroded. Given that there’s no in-season budget, he effectively spent $109 on Scherzer which, if the strategy all along was to buy a hitter to flip for a pitcher, why not just pony up for Clayton Kershaw at auction? I love Max Scherzer, so getting him for¬†the top of your rotation is awesome. But I don’t think I’m trading Bryce straight up for any player not named Clayton Kershaw or Mike Trout (and you guys know I heart pitchers), so I can’t help but feel like simply waiting instead of rushing to make a splash may have paid off better.

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†Holy Cow! The first giant and meaningful trade of Dynasty Grinders is a big one. My favorite non-Mariner for an awesome pitcher. This has many implications, but this appears to be a classic case of I drafted a lot of this, you drafted a lot of this, we both need the other thing, lets switch. Bryce comes with crazy potential, but his keeper value is diminished at over 20% of your normal budget. Scherzer is under that 20% mark, but not by much. Enough of that, how did that change their teams now in the pre-season.

I have my handy dandy team projection calculator using FanGraphs’s Depth Charts Projections. Prior to this trade The Oysters were ranked 8th which a projected score of roughly 576 fantasy points per week. The Double Stuffs were considerably behind scoring 563 fantasy points per week, ranked 14th of 16 Dynasty Grinders clubs. Let’s calculate the difference!

Oysters -> 565.7 Points Per Week | Net -11.3 Rank 12
Stuffs -> 564.6 Points Per Week | Net +1.6 Rank 14

Wow. How does that work? Well…

Oysters replace Bryce with George Springer just fine. But George Springer who was filling the utility spot is now replaced by Danny Espinosa, James McCann, and there’s still 300 or so replacement at bats. Dusty had a glut at right field, but doesn’t currently have the utility depth.

On the pitching side he adds 34 Max Scherzer starts to replace Luis Severino and Jake Peavy starts. Severino and Peavy are not all-stars, but they were no slouches at a projected 26 points per start each. Max’s 37 points per start is nice, but not at this cost.

I’m sorry Dusty, I don’t like this move.

For the Stuffs, they insert Harper into the CF/RF slot which essentially moves Carlos Gomez to the 4th OF and Utility role. This is a huge improvement for a variety of reasons. They took utility at bats away from Yasmany Tomas, Eduardo Escobar and Cesar Hernandez. Awesome.

On the pitching side, they lose Max, and replace him with Ian Kennedy and Jerad Eickhoff. They turned from a 37 point per game starter and handed those starts to two guys who are below average at 22 and 23 points per game projected. Ouch!

For the Double Stuffs I don’t hate the move, but I don’t love it either. I love depth as much as anyone and they both sold off on it for a marginal gain and a potential huge loss. Count me out.

2016 Auction Review – Preseason Double Stuffs

Preseason double stuffs

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The cookie munching team¬†ended their draft with a case for the best pitching staff in the league. That’s hardly even a stretch. Value was gained¬†with a couple of guys at good values like James Shields and Jake Odorizzi. Value was lost spending on $45 on three second basemen. All of whom could easily finish outside the top ten at their position. Questionable and unreasonable risks.

Hitting – Uh-oh

Things must have gone wrong here on draft day. In a vacuum, I really like Carlos Gomez, Shin-soo Choo, and Michael Conforto. Nick Castellanos and Yasmany Tomas as your third base platoon for $25? Is that a hedge? Odor, Profar and Schoop at second base? I’m not even certain they’re good trade bait. Greg Bird for $7 to not play this year I like, but this roster needs Bird this year. Moreland at first base could be okay, unlikely. Eduardo Escobar seems prime to lose his everyday job, and Travis d’Arnaud is a perfectly okay catcher.

Pitching – Oustanding

This was a case of sitting on Very Good, seeing the bullpen and decided outstanding. I’m not sold on it, but I’m not betting against Max Scherzer. Chris Archer was great last year why not repeat. James Shields seems like a safe bounce back candidate. Odorizzi is pretty good. I like Aroldis Chapman in the bullpen even if when he misses time. Zach Britton has been solid for a few years. The first four starters cemented. When you fill out 5 and 6 with a choice of Eduardo Rodriguez, Jesse Hahn or Ian Kennedy that’s pretty exciting. They’re flush with pitching. Lance Lynn to hold the DL down this year like Greg Bird for under $10 seems like a potential steal.

Depth – Good

I think technically it is alright. But, again I gave myself credit for depth with injured guys, so I’ll do the same here. They have coverage even 3 or 4 deep at some positions, that’s a good thing no matter what. The starting pitchers are deep clearly. Frankly you could lose the entire hitting line up and probably still compete here.¬†#backhandedcompliment

Why 2016 would be bad…¬†

What if James Shields is broken. If Max or Archer go down too, almost all is lost. This team paid for future in a few spots, they can definitely handle some injuries if the upside shows up. However, a lot of that bet is hinged on Max and Archer. A great bet to make, but that can change in a day.

Why 2016 would be¬†good…¬†

If you get a tier 2 season from Shields or Odorizzi and a tier 3 from the other you’re so sweet. Scherzer and Archer should be at the tier 1 level. That alone will allow this team to compete all year at a good level. If they’re paying attention to matchups with the hitters, perhaps there’s some three headed monster that makes a good player at one position that I’m missing. More power to them. Well actually yeah, they need more power to them.