Insert sophomoric reference to Upton's initials here. (USAT)
Fantasy is a speculative game. Predict the future, and you look like a genius. Don't, and you're painfully human. Gazing into the crystal ball, here's our view on 10 intriguing over/unders this week.
From this point forward what soul-crushing commodity would you pitch a low-ball offer for: Ike Davis, Rickie Weeks or B.J. Upton?
Dalton – UPTON. All three look absolutely terrible right now, but Upton was drafted well ahead of the other two in March, so I'll stick with him. His contract and defense should give him an ample leash, and this is a 28-year-old who averaged 18.8 homers and 37.2 steals over the past six seasons.
Scott – It's UPTON by default, mainly because I can't stomach the other two guys (I'll be shocked if Davis isn't demoted soon). We saw what Upton did in the second half of 2012. He's always been prone to streakiness and contact issues. His upside has the most plausibility.
Brad – UPTON. Considering you could acquire him for a 40 of Old English and a pack of Planters, he's worth exploring. Braves hitting coach Greg Walker has diagnosed his problems and is working feverishly to remedy them. Yes, he's not only in bed with Mr. Mendoza, he's engaged to him, but a ROS line around .235-15-50-45-20 isn't improbable.
Nick Franklin, who tallied a .324-4-20-38-7 line over 177 at-bats at Triple-A, rest of season combined homers/steals 12.5
Scott – I see him sneaking OVER this line. But Seattle's recent history with prospects makes me nervous, and it's not like the marine layer is leaving anytime soon.
Brad – UNDER. His farm numbers are very attractive, but what much-publicized Seattle prospect in recent memory has actually lived up to the hype? Jesus Montero? Demoted. Dustin Ackley? Axed. Franklin could easily follow suit. He's a marginal middle infielder at best.
Andy – OVER, if not by a lot. Franklin should get an extended audition in Seattle, and I'd be surprised if he doesn't give us 5-7 homers with 8-10 steals. That's not elite production, necessarily, but it's enough to clear this bar.
Perennial hot dog on a stick Francisco Liriano, who’s surrendered just six earned in 23.0 IP, rest of season ERA 3.75
Brad – UNDER. His last start was a tad adventurous, but it was against the league's finest offense (Detroit). Because the NL is a more nourishing pitching environment and given his strong underlying profile (3,50 K/BB, 2.54 xFIP) an ERA in the mid-3s rest of season isn't outlandish.
Andy – OVER. Stop it. If you're placing chips on Liriano again, then you deserve what's coming. I won't have this discussion again.
Brandon – OVER. He's recorded a sub-3.75 ERA just once in the past six years, and four of those years his ERA was above 5.00. A wheel or two will fall off before too long.
Yasmani Grandal, reinstated after serving his 50-gamer for PEDs, rest of season rank among catchers 11.5 (Will he be a top-12 C?)
Andy – OVER. Nope, I don't think he'll finish as a top-12 catcher rest-of-season, except perhaps in OBP leagues. He's always had on-base skills; he won't clear the fences at last year's rate.
Brandon – UNDER. There's a strong top 10 at catcher, but then it's anyone's game after that. I think Grandal squeeze's just inside the top 12 over the ROS.
Dalton – UNDER. I was going to say no he won't be a top-12 catcher, and he has Petco Park going against him with no guarantee of regular playing time and all that, but the catcher landscape is just so bad right now, and Grandal has legitimate talent. He really impressed during his debut in San Diego last season.
Mike Leake, who’s quietly allowed a mere one earned run in his past 21 IP, rest of season quality starts 14.5 (assuming 20 more starts)
Brandon – UNDER. He's only turned half of his starts into Quality outings, thus far. Expecting him to convert at a rate of 75 percent or better the rest of the way is too big of a leap of faith.
Dalton – UNDER. There were only 18 pitchers who had at least 20 quality starts all of last season, so this could be tough for Leake with June fast approaching. He's solid enough, but Tony Cingrani remains lurking.
Scott – I was prepared to go under on this, but maybe Leake is better than we think. He has 53 quality starts in 88 career turns, he's got a first-round pedigree, and he's in a groove right now. He'll need to be a little better than past performance, but it doesn't seem like a crazy bar to hurdle. OVER it is.
So Watcha, Watcha, Wacha want (USAT)
Pick a top pitching prospect: Michael Wacha or Kevin Gausman?
Dalton – WACHA. If only because he's in the easier league and division.
Scott – WACHA for the better league and division, and the upside of the unknown. The AL East is still jagged on the edges. It's a shame Wacha can't work in the paper-thin NL East, but the National League overall is a soft landing.
Brad – GAUSMAN. Generally speaking, most would ere on the side of the National League when confronted with this type of dilemma, but the Oriole is the prettier bird. His K/9 was nearly double Wacha's at Triple-A. Based on his BB/9 results at the same level, he's also the more polished of the pair.
Scott – Craig, Cespedes, Marte, Kemp, Trumbo, Brown. Am I petrified of Kemp's shoulder? Heck yeah. I almost listed him behind Trumbo, too.
Brad – Cespedes, Trumbo, Craig, Kemp, Marte, Brown
Andy – Kemp, Craig, Cespedes, Trumbo, Marte, Brown. I'd happily bet on a second-half surge from Kemp. Where are these leagues where I can buy low? None of the Kemp owners I know are selling.
Red-hot Indian Michael Brantley, who ranks No. 13 among outfielders in overall worth the past 30 days, combined rest of season runs/RBIs 99.5
Brad – OVER. Brantley is the sexy librarian of the fantasy baseball world. Remove the hairpin, take off the glasses and unbutton the blouse, and he's quite attractive. He's a strong contact hitter who's seen ample time in RBI-friendly spots, including clean-up. On pace to post a pair of 80s in RBIs/Runs, he should accumulate another 45-plus in both categories.
Andy – UNDER. What a boring player for the mixed league crowd. No further comment.
Brandon – UNDER. Will probably be close, but that would be keeping with his pace to this point and, like each of the past three seasons, you have to figure an injury of some kind will knock him out for at least a few games.
With Fernando Rodney’s value on life support, waiting-in-the-wings closer Joel Peralta rest of season saves 14.5
Andy – OVER. The loyalty that Maddon has shown here is impressive, in a way. But Rodney is basically looking like the version of himself that we saw before 2012, and he has no business in the ninth.
Brandon – UNDER. Rodney hasn't officially lost his job, Peralta is not officially considered the No.2 and this O/U is 3.5 saves more saves than he's recorded in his career.
Dalton – UNDER. Rodney has struggled mightily, but it appears the team really, really wants him to stay in the closer's role. And he does have 28 strikeouts over 20.1 innings.
Requiem for a STREAM. Pick one little used starter: Nick Tepesch (vs. KC), Ricky Nolasco (vs. TB), Juan Nicasio (vs. Hou), Mike Pelfrey (vs. Sea) or Jason Marquis (vs. Tor)
Brandon – NICASIO. Happily take Nicasio at home (where he's been a run better for his career) against the anemic bats of the Astros.
Dalton – Nicasio's team will be favored more, but Nolasco has a 47:8 K:BB ratio over his last eight starts. I know, I know. I'm an idiot for believing in any peripheral stats when it comes to him.
Scott – Pelfrey is never the answer and I can't use Marquis against an AL club. Forget Coors, too. Looks like it's University of Illinois NOLASCO by default.
Brad – NOLASCO. Yes, offensively the Marlins are the Bad News Bears of baseball, but the righty has quietly put together useful numbers in deep mixers. Against a free-swinging Tampa club, he should log his third-straight quality start with roughly 6-8 Ks.
Andy – TEPESCH. The match-up works, plus he offers respectable K potential. (Why the hell are Pelfrey and Marquis on this list? Let's hope you never get that desperate. Yikes.)
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