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Miami welcomed the return (from Tommy John surgery) of Jose Fernandez this past week (6 IP, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K). Before bowing out early in '14, he owned a career ERA under 2.25 and a K/9 rate over 10.3. Now that he's back and, so far, throwing as hard as ever (95.7 mph average fastball), can the young Cuban at least pitch somewhat near his career levels to this point - O/U 2.99 ERA and 9.25 K/9? Also, O/U 74.5 second-half innings pitched?
Brandon – UNDER on the innings pitched, as without Giancarlo Stanton for a month and a half, the Marlins don't appear to have a prayer to make a run back into the wild card hunt. And once the Marlins are officially out of it, no doubt the kid gloves will come out for Fernandez. As for the other O/U numbers here, I'm bullish and will take the UNDER. There's a well-documented history of pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery as strong as ever, especially when you are talking about the recuperative power of a 22-year-old.
Scott – Have to take the UNDER on the workload, as Miami is nowhere near contention and there's absolutely no reason to push things. I'm not worried about the skills out of the box, though, so bank on the ERA being under 3 and the strikeout rate at a zesty level. Enjoy it while it's here.
Andy – I'll take the UNDER on ... well, everything. He's a wonderful pitcher, and TJ surgery clearly doesn't doom a career. I'm only going slightly under on the K/9 because that's just such a high strikeout rate; only 15 qualified starters are doing it now. The innings should be awfully close, but I doubt the Marlins will ride him in September.
Speaking of Cubans, in a March 16th Over/Unders, we tackled expectations for Cuban rookies Jorge Soler, Rusney Castillo and Yasmany Tomas. Our average projection for those three were as follows: Soler (26 HR, 5 SB); Castillo (11/17); Tomas (20/7). A little too bullish? I'd say so. Let's try this again - revised end-of-season HR and SB total for these three?
Brandon – After the immediate success of Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu, it was easy to buy into the sudden impact potential of subsequent incoming hyped Cubans. So much for that - you sunk my battleship, Rusney! Alright, here are my revisions - Soler (11/3); Tomas (15/6); Castillo (6/6)
Scott – Tomas is the only guy I can endorse with any confidence; you're otherwise on your own. Tomas 11/3. Soler 8/1, Castillo 5/4.
Dalton – Soler: 14 HR/1 SB. Castillo: 5 HR/7 SB. Tomas: 15 HR/5 SB. Yeah, it's fair to say I was a little too optimistic about this trio.
It's fair to say that Houston rookie Carlos Correa has been even better than advertised in the opening month of his MLB career, posting an OPS above .900. Before he was called up in early June, we asked you to project his line for the '15 campaign (May 27th Over/Unders). Please provide us your revised '15 projections in BA, HR and SB (original projections in parantheses) .
Brandon – (.260/8/15) Yeah, I didn't expect this rush of power right from the get-go, but he was crushing it in the minors too. That said, he's hitting about one out of every four fly balls out of the park, which is obviously going to regress a bit. Let's call his revised line .275/15/15
Andy – (.267/7/17) He's already met my home run projection, which seems crazy. For the season, I'll revise upward to .289/14/18. If he delivers those numbers, we're gonna be selecting this kid very early in 2016 drafts.
Dalton – (.255/8/18) He's not walking and has a high BABIP and HR/FB%, but I'm not going to say this rookie doesn't look like the real deal. I'll say .285/15/18.
Minnesota's Miguel Sano was the headlining call-up of the past week, and he's looked good in his first week on an MLB roster, collecting nine hits in 20 ABs. A big-time power prospect, can Sano reach double-digit home runs for the Twins in his debut campaign - O/U ROS home runs 9.5? Also, rank these rookie 3B-eligibles in terms of expected ROS fantasy production: Sano, Maikel Franco, Yasmany Tomas.
Andy – I'll take the OVER on homers, probably with ease. No one should question his power potential. Huge talent. Still, I'm placing Franco on top of this group; he's been a multi-hit machine lately. After him it's a near-tie, with a small edge to Tomas.
Scott – 1) Franco, 2) Tomas, 3) Sano. Being around the block once or twice has a value to me. I'll go OVER on the Sano homers, but I also think he bats around .225.
Dalton – OVER for Sano's homers, as I think he reaches double digits. 1) Franco 2) Sano 3) Tomas but the latter two are very close.
Coming into the '15 season, Phillies 25-year-old utilityman Cesar Hernandez had a total of 1 SB in 100 career games. In his past 11 games, he's swiped nine bases, giving him 12 SB in 72 games. Can Hernandez continue his "run" and finish the year in the 25-steals club - O/U ROS steals 12.5?
Andy – OVER. Hernandez is raking, plus he was a consistent 20-plus steal guy in the minors, with a career-high 33 in 2013. This isn't some total fluke.
Scott – Easy OVER. There's signature significance to someone running this much in this compact a sample, and Hernandez also gets high marks for his walk rate and contact rate. They'll find a position for him, if need be.
Dalton – OVER. He might double this total. I'm a believer and don't think Chase Utley's eventual return will be an impediment.
Washington shortstop Ian Desmond is the only player to finish with at least 20 steals and 20 homers in each of the past three seasons. But the wheels have come off for him, thus far, as this season he's projected to finish with 14 HR and 6 SB to go with a .213 BA. Give us a second half projection for Desmond in each of those stats.
Brandon – Well, for whatever reason, he's run a lot more in the second half the past few seasons, and two of his three steals this year have come in the past 13 games, so maybe there's a little hope in the speed department, but I'm not expecting much, in general. I'll say he hits at his career average clip (.264) to go with 8 HR and 7 SB - that would give him a tidy (albeit still disappointing) 15/10 line.
Andy – I'm not willing to project a full return to previous levels; this isn't simply a case of a player having a stretch of bad luck. Desmond's K-rate is up, his line-drive rate is down, and, well ... he's been bad, period. Put me down for a .245 average, eight homers and four steals.
Dalton – For the second half, I'll project a .250 BA with eight homers and eight stolen bases.
Texas starter Yovani Gallardo has pitched four consecutive outings without allowing a run, and now owns a scoreless streak of 29.1 IP, dropping his ERA into top 15 territory (2.56) among MLB ERA leaders. Can Gallardo hold up well enough in the second half to finish with what would easily be his best career ERA mark - O/U final '15 ERA of 3.29?
Brandon – UNDER. You look at Gallardo's past four seasons, he's been about three-fourths of a run better ERA-wise after the All-Star break. With a mid-2s first half ERA, he'd have to pitch a bit above a 4.00 ERA the rest of the way to go over here and he's only once finished with an ERA above 3.84 in his career, so I think he's a decent bet to beat this mark.
Scott – OVER. Not missing enough bats. Several Texas pitchers have hit jagged Regression Tours of late; it's coming with Yo Gabba Gabba.
Dalton – OVER. His 9.9 K-BB% is the lowest of his career, and his 6.7 SwStr% ranks No. 86 among all starters in baseball. I'd bet on a big downfall moving forward and would sell if at all possible.
The Mets recently called up their latest pitching prospect sensation, Steven Matz, who has lived up to the hype in his first two MLB starts (1.32 ERA) - O/U Matz's final ERA 2.99? And who would you rather have for ROS, Matz or Noah Syndergaard?
Brandon – UNDER. I say Matz comes just under this O/U. He's in the right league, the right division (Philly, a Stanton-less Miami, Atlanta), and he's never produced an ERA above 2.61 in any of his minor league stops. And I'll also give him the slight nod over Syndergaard for ROS value.
Scott – OVER. Obviously you can't keep a perfect strand rate forever, and the control could be a little better. Matz should be a Top 40 pitcher forward, but now is a good time to shop him, while expectations are sliding out of control. Syndegaard had better strikeout and walk rates in the minors, a good way to break the tie.
Andy – Look, you can't go wrong with either pitcher. I hate to pick a favorite here. Matz delivered a 2.19 ERA at Las Vegas this year, in an exceedingly hitter-friendly environment. He's great. I'll take SYNDERGAARD in this debate, but not by a wide margin. And I'd be thrilled to own either player.