Prospect Buy and Hold
With the news that Gregory Polanco will be called up on Friday…..oh wait, no he won't. It seems the Pirates were upset that the news of the call up were leaked before they could announce it to the world, so they decided to wait. So Pirates. We had a few other prospects called up this week, including Astros first base prospect Jon Singleton, Rockies starter Eddie Butler and Orioles starter Kevin Gausman, who is pitching today.
Here is Jason Hunt's list of the players who could be called up in the next few weeks, or later this season. His weekly Buy and Hold series takes a look at players you should look at grabbing off your league waiver wire before they are called up, and before your league mates grab them.
Top 25 Fantasy Prospects for 2014
Matt Mattingly offered Fake Teams readers his midseason Top 25 Fantasy Prospect rankings on Sunday morning, and his rankings will make Cubs fans very happy.
Matt also offered readers his take on which prospects will be called up after the silly Super Two deadline:
Super Two Deadline: Prospect Call Ups
Madison Bumgarner: Top 5 starter in 2014?
Giants ace Madison Bumgarner is one of the game's best starting pitchers, ranking in the top 12 on most preseason starting pitcher rankings this season. But, this season, he seems to be taking another step up in his performance on the mound.
On Thursday, Bumgarner limited the Reds to one run on three hits, no walks and five strikeouts in eight innings of work in the Giants 6-1 win. Bumgarner moved his record to 8-3 with a 2.68 ERA, 2.71 FIP, 2.89 xFIP, a 1.17 WHIP and an excellent 90-18 strikeout to walk rate in 80.2 innings this season. He has raised his strikeouts per nine from 8.90 K/9 to 10.04 K/9, has reduced his free passes to 2.01 BB/9 and is keeping the ball on the ground at his usual 46% clip.
He throws more sliders than any other starter in the big leagues this year, choosing to throw it 39% of his offerings. The slider, as we all know, puts enormous strain on the pitchers' elbow, so he is at an increased injury risk. With that said, ride him out as long as he is healthy because he is moving up the starting pitcher rankings this season, and is one of the three early candidates for the National League Cy Young award right now, along with Dodgers ace Zack Greinke and Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright.
For more on Bumgarner, check out McCovey Chronicles, SB Nation's Giants fan site. Boo.
Justin Verlander: Time to drop?
I have written about the possibility of dropping Tigers starter Justin Verlander in fantasy leagues in the past, and many questioned (read: laughed at) my opinion. Well, Verlander put up another Tim Lincecum-like start on Thursday afternoon. That seems to be the norm for Verlander of late, as his fastball velocity is down another notch this season, and he is becoming more and more hittable.
On Thursday, Verlander lasted seven innings but gave up 6 runs, 5 earned, on 8 hits, 4 walks and 4 strikeouts in the Tigers 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays. The loss moved his record to 6-5 with a 4.19 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 4.73 xFIP, with a 1.47 WHIP and a 61-35 strikeout to walk rate in 86 innings this season. Certainly not the stats we expected from Verlander this season.
He started the season by giving up three runs or less in each of his first eight starts, but since then has given up five runs or more in four of his last five starts. His strikeouts per nine have dropped from 8.95 K/9 to 6.36 K/9, and his walk rate has jumped from 3.09 BB/9 to 3.66 BB/9.
After putting up a 2.48 ERA in April, Verlander's ERAs have jumped to 5.54 in May and 6.43 in his lone June start. Certainly troublesome.
Should fantasy owners drop Verlander now? Maybe not, but I would try to deal him if he can put up a Verlander-like performance in his next start.
For more on Verlander and the Tigers, make sure you check out Bless You Boys, SB Nation's Tigers fan site.
Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon is enjoying a breakout season in 2014, leading the majors in stolen bases, but has cooled off after a very hot April. After hitting .333-.356-.464 in April, Gordon struggled in May, hitting .248-.311-.309, so he has come down to what we expected from him back on draft day. But last night, he enjoyed a big night at the plate, going 3-4 with a walk, 2 runs scored, 3 RBI and a stolen base in the Dodgers 7-2 win over the Rockies at Coors Field. He is now hitting a respectable .287-.336-.396 with 33 runs scored, 18 RBI and 36 stolen bases in 40 attempts. He is on pace for 94 stolen bases, which was unthinkable coming into the season. I doubt he steals 90 bases, but I think he can steal 70 or more if he can continue to get on base above league average and keeps the starting second base job all season.
I have to apologize to the Twitter follower who asked me to pick between Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman and Indians starter Trevor Bauer last night, as I picked Bauer vs the Rangers over Stroman, and that was a bad decision. Stroman had his way with the struggling Cardinals lineup last night, giving up just one run on 7 hits, 2 walks and 7 strikeouts in 6 innings of work in the Blue Jays 3-1 win last night. Stroman moved his record to 3-0 with a 5.40 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, and a 17-3 strikeout to walk rate in 18.1 innings. In his two starts, Stroman has given up just two earned runs on 12 hits with a 13-2 strikeout to walk rate in 12 innings. In addition to striking out more than a batter per inning in his two starts, he has induced 22 ground ball outs. He is owned in less than 5% of leagues right now and is a great streaming option going forward.
Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras is having a tough time since homering in his first major league game last weekend. Taveras went 0-4 last night and is now hitting .192-.184-.346, with 5 hits in 26 at bats thus far. He is just going through an adjustment period and should be the Taveras we expected in the coming weeks.
Speaking of the Gregory Polanco call up, what are the Pirates going to do with Josh Harrison when Polanco is called up? Harrison is currently manning right field until Polanco gets the call, and would appear to be out of a job, but he has been one of the Pirates best hitters this season. Last night, the Pirates put up 15 runs on Kyle Lohse and the Brewers in a 15-5 rout. Harrison went 1-5 with a walk, 2 runs scored and an RBI in the leadoff spot, and is now hitting .313-.348-.508 with 4 home runs, 21 runs scored, 14 RBI and 2 stolen bases in 128 at bats thus far.
I see Harrison getting time in left field, right field, third base and second base going forward, as he is having a better season than Starling Marte, and could spell Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker vs tough lefties.
For more fantasy baseball (and football) news and rankings, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, your one stop for all the fantasy news you need on a daily basis.