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Closing Time: Jacob deGrom, lights out

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade
New York Mets v Seattle Mariners
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Bad hair, good stuff (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

Here's the deal: you push Jacob deGrom's fantasy ownership past the 50 percent mark, then we can move on to a newer, fresher story. Got it? Good. Get out the ledger, it's time for another Tommy John success story (deGrom missed all of 2011 after having the procedure). 

New York's 26-year-old righty has strong overall ratios (3.01 ERA, 1.29 WHIP), but he's been especially electric over the last month. Check deGrom's last six starts: 39.2 IP, 33 H, 7 R, 11 BB, 45 K. Delicious. 

And it's not like deGrom is getting crazy luck over that span - the BABIP is a robust .333, and his seasonal FIP is right around his ERA. He's getting terrific results with his 93 mph heater, and he mixes it with a slider, curve and change. Fun to watch, fun to own. And yet, his ownership tag is barely over the 40 percent mark. 

There have been some friendly matchups along the way, to be fair - deGrom took down the Mariners on Tuesday, and he's had a couple of starts against Atlanta in the recent run. But the NL East is where you want your fantasy pitchers stationed. Miami (12th in runs) and Washington (14th) are capable but unthreatening offenses, and everyone runs to Philadelphia (26th, with a yard sale looming) and Atlanta (27th). The Mets are no offensive bargain either - they're 22nd in scoring

If you're more focused on the short-term, here's your upcoming deGrom schedule: at Milwaukee (tricky, but I'm still using him); home against San Francisco (fine), at Washington; home against Washington. And if we look ahead to the final quarter of the year, you'll find a bunch of exploitable matchups: Atlanta, Philly, Colorado (at home), Houston. It's last call, gamers.

• So Chase Headley has finally been released from Petco Purgatory. Good for him. He'll have to clean up his act in New York (facially speaking), but maybe he can jump start his career.

Petco Park is the most extreme pitcher's park in the majors, and it took a bite out of Headley's numbers over the years. He posted a .243./.331/.372 slash by the sandbox, with 35 homers in 1797 at-bats. On the road, here's the return: .286/.360/.444, 52 homers in 1708 at-bats. He's actually been a terrible hitter on the road for 2014, but in this instance, let's trust the bigger bank of numbers.

The overall context of the American League also helps the cause, not to mention the supporting cast. While the Yankees are a mediocre 23rd in runs scored, they're 102 runs in front of the Padres, the worst-scoring team in baseball.

Headley came off the bench in his Bronx debut, but he eventually got plenty of action in the extra-inning victory. His RBI single ended the game in the bottom of the 14th. If I were shuffling the corners right now, I'd give Headley something in the $9-11. Not a lofty expectation, but certainly worth rostering in a mixed league.

• Injuries are part of the game with Troy Tulowitzki, and to be fair, few thought he's stay healthy as long as he has in 2014. The other clear finally dropped Tuesday, with Tulowitzki (hip) landing on the disabled list.

The team and the player are talking down the injury, as per usual, but given where Colorado sits in the standings, you have to worry about shutdown mode if Tulo is still dinged up later in the year. To be clear, I fully expect Tulowitzki to return from this injury, but who's to say the team will expose its signature player to further damage if he gets hurt again this summer? 

 

 

If you're in the market for a replacement, note the hit list above. We've had plenty of Kolten Wong discussions in this space; he brings category juice to the table, and he's hitting No. 2 most of the time. Scooter Gennett plays mostly against right-handed pitching, but he crushes them. Danny Santana and Enrique Hernandez are versatility aces who are hitting over their head at the moment, but still interesting. Logan Forsythe is the same type of player. 

Josh Rutledge steps in for Tulowitzki, and Coors Field is good work if you can get it. And go ahead, keep laughing at Stephen Drew. He hit another homer Tuesday; after a layoff and a slow start, he's been useful this month.

• As if Danny Salazar hadn't wrecked your season enough already, he's back to sing more of the siren's music. He allowed just one run at Minnesota on Tuesday, scoring a victory, but it was far from a spotless performance (6 H, 3 BB, 6 K). Oh, the strikeouts are lovely, but when you combine nine baserunners with six strikeouts, that's how we get to 92 pitches in just five innings. It's hard to trust a starting pitcher who can't be trusted to work into the seventh inning.

I didn't bite on Salazar when he was recalled; keep in mind how ordinary he looked for Triple-A Columbus (4.02 ERA, 1.510 WHIP over 53.2 innings). I'm expecting a bumpy go with Salazar, a lot of walks, a lot of strikeouts. Maybe you can flip him after Tuesday's win, but it won't be to me. I'm not getting on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

• Casey Janssen dealt with food poisoning over the weekend, but maybe there's a bigger problem at play. He's allowed six hits and three runs over his last two outings, and he has just one strikeout over his last eight appearances. His velocity has fallen off, too. 

Aaron Loup has his own issues - too many walks - but nonetheless he becomes the hedge of interest (so long as Toronto doesn't trade for a solution). He's fresh off a couple of rogue saves over the weekend (Brett Cecil picked up the cheap one Tuesday). Crazy fortune in the luck stats (a skimpy BABIP and HR/FB) is driving his 3.04 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, but his usage in Toronto can't be ignored. Loup is owned in just four percent of Yahoo leagues.

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