Hitters Unlock Key to Locke

Glenn Colton

Locke un-locked in Pittsburgh highlights this week’s Week That Was.

Before I get started, I want to alert those of you who have not already heard that Colton and the Wolfman on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio with Rick Wolf and me is moving to a new time. We will now be on every Tuesday night from 10pm to midnight eastern time. Feel free to call in to comment on anything you like (or, heaven forbid, dislike) about the analysis and tips below or just to hear the Wolfman howl. This week the annual CTW fantasy football listener league with all the usual suspects, some very interesting listeners and special guest the Carlton the Doorman of fantasy sports, Mr. Schultz himself.

Ok, now back to the business at hand . . . .

Jeff Locke: Jeff Locke got lit up again Thursday, letting up 3 runs on five hits and four walks in just four innings against the Giants (hardly an offensive force). Locke had a great run early but things tend to reach their own level. Since the break, Locke has an ugly 5.58 ERA. Fantasy baseball lesson: when something seems to be too good to be true it usually is. So, if you see something that does not make sense, look for the explanation. With Locke, you would have found it – a BABIP down 50 points, a strand rate up 25% and an average FB velo of just 90 MPH. Bottom line here is do not fall in love with your out of nowhere players unless the peripherals and what you see with your eyes back up the unexpected results. With Locke, they simply did not.

Robbie Grossman: Robbie Grossman continues to earn his keep in the bigs. Friday, the Houston OF went 2-4 with a dinger and 4 RBI. Over the last two weeks, Robbie is hitting .295 with 9 RBI and 6 runs scored. Those numbers will not make anyone forget Miggy Cabrera or Mike Trout. However, if you are in an AL-only league, Grossman is providing very strong production. The question is whether it can continue. Answer: probably not. Robbie hit just .267 at AA last year. Do not be surprised if he falls to .250 or lower the rest of the way. You are forewarned.

Victor Martinez: VMart caught two games this weekend against the Mets. Generally, this is bad news for his owners. Unless you are in a keeper league with super lax positional rules, Vmart will not be C eligible next year. So, there is just nothing in it for you and of course, far greater injury risk at catcher than DH. A bigger question is whether Vmart has paid off as a catcher eligible investment and whether he will hit in September. On the year, VMart is hitting .283 with 10 HR and 68 RBI. Those are strong catcher numbers but not likely up to what you paid. Over the last 30 days, he is hitting .325 – a number that will make him very valuable in the season’s final 5 weeks. If there is a frustrated VMart owner in your league and you are in contention, go grab the hot switch hitting DH.

Rex Brothers: Rex Brothers registered saves on Friday and Sunday and is firmly entrenched as the Rockies closer for the rest of this year and likely next year. The only question is whether he can put up the same stellar stats in the 9th inning that he has in the 8th. This writer votes yes. On the year, Rex has a 1.48 ERA with more than a K per inning. With the walks going down and the velo a tad lower, the reasonable conclusion is he is now pitching rather than throwing. If you are in a keeper or re-draft league, Rex is a guy to target. Betancourt is likely done for the year and is very unlikely to be back in a Rockies uniform. Buy Rex with confidence.

Jose Lobaton: Jose Lobaton had a big night Friday in the Rays’ win against the Yanks. Jose went 2-3 with a home run and four RBI. There are very few good hitting catchers, so any production one gets from their C2 is a bonus. Jose has paid that bonus this year. In just 214 AB, Lobaton has hit .266 with 6 HR, 32R and 27 RBI. If you are in an AL-only league, take a good look at Lobaton as a cheap upgrade at catcher. He is hitting .409 over the last 14 days and given that he hit .293 in his last significant action at AAA before making the bigs to stay, there is reason to believe that the solid average could be here to stay.

Yusmeiro Petit: According to reports, Yusmeiro Petit will take Matt Cain’s place in the Giants rotation. Petit’s 4.52 ERA at AAA this year hardly inspires confidence. Add in the fact that his last substantial action in the bigs was 2009 when he posted an ERA well above 5 and you know what you should do -- Pass.

Daisuke Matsuzaka: How the once perceived mighty have fallen. After the Mets picked him up off the scrap heap, Daisuke Matsuzaka went out and was, well, not good. Dice K gave up five runs over five innings, including 2 HR. If you think Dice-K can help you this year you are beyond help. This is a pitcher, who even when he was thought of as a solid pitcher has put up an ERA under 4.40 once and has never had a WHIP under 1.32 – and that was when he was “good”. I think it is fair to say that the enormous contract and fee the Red Sox paid to roster Dice-K had little positive effect other than to induce the Yankees to make an ever bigger mistake with Kei Igawa. As bad as Dice-K has been, Kei was worse. It cost the Yankees $46 Million to get the two, yes 2, wins he registered for them.

And last and but not least, Schultz says: “While the title of this column somewhat dictates that we look back on the events of the past seven days, every wise roto-owner knows that titles are won by looking forward, not backward. With the rosters expanding on September 1, there will be an influx of talent that may seem like prudent roto-investments for a 2013 title run. For the most part, this will be the fools gold - iron pyrite, if you will - of the fantasy baseball talent pool. In 2011, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper received the early Fall call only to put up disappointing numbers that hardly foreshadowed their breakouts eight months later. To put it succinctly, if anyone being called up in September could legitimately help the major league team, they would have been called up already.

For every rule though, there is an exception. If the Reds make the decision to call up Billy Hamilton, he will unquestionably be a factor in stolen bases. Even if used solely as a pinch runner, Hamilton has the potential to rack up 10 - 15 steals in the last month of the season and will shift the balance in any hotly contested stolen base categories. Should Cincinnati promote the speedster, anyone who has hoarded free agent money or withheld their waiver claim will have received their awaited reward.”

Response: I think Schultzie is half right. Yes, a lot of September call-ups would have been up earlier if so good. However, in addition to the speedsters, starting pitchers with good matchups could be useful as can middle infielders and catchers who do not have to tear the cover off the ball to be better than what is out there in deep leagues.

Some fantasy football thoughts: Many of you also play fantasy football – as you should! When you go to draft in the next week or two remember to take your RBs early and often. The WR position is very deep and the value will be there later. How deep you ask? Well, this very site ranks Brian Hartline as the 49th best WR – that means that he is a WR5 on some team in a 12 team league and he had over 1000 yards last year. Sticking with those rankings, names such as Anquan Boldin, Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt will be your WR4. I think you get the point!