The WBC Curse Hits Tampa

Glenn Colton
Matthew Pouliot breaks down the September relief pitcher rankings

The curse of the WBC and more injuries dominate this week’s Week That Was.

Before I get started, allow me to mention again that Rick Wolf and I will be hosting Colton and the Wolfman on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio this and every Tuesday night from 8-11pm 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. 

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

Fernando Rodney:  Fernando Rodney blew another save last night, his 5th of the year and second in a row.  Rays manager Joe Maddon says that Rodney’s job is not in danger but what is he going to say?  So far, the numbers are not pretty (6.05 ERA).  Advice: invest in Joel Peralta and in deep leagues, even Jake McGee.  Remember, Rodney’s 2012 was a MAJOR outlier.  He had not posted an ERA below 4.24 or WHIP under 1.32 since 2006.  Moreover, Rodney’s 2012 numbers show a strand rate more than 20 points below his career average and a BABIP more than 60 points below his career average.  Put all that together with the fact that Rodney was forced to air it out too early and too often in the WBC (which loyal readers know I think is just a March blight on the game) and you have a prescription for roto disaster.  Sell Rodney if you can.  [note - for those who disagree with my WBC stance, of course that is your right.  Just know that I am fine with it being in November after the season.  It just does not belong in March screwing up teams' plans, spring trainings and players’ health.]

Jim Henderson:  In news distressing to the Brewers and his fantasy owners, Cinderella closer Jim Henderson landed on the DL with a strained right hamstring.  From all indications, KRod will close while Henderson heals.  For those who are hoping Axford gets the closer gig back, don’t get those hopes too high.  It looks like the Brew Crew will leave Axford in his setup role as he has thrived there recently.  Even if KRod does the job, I see Henderson taking the job back.  With an average FB approaching 95 and 23K against 5BB in just 19.7 innings, Henderson is pitching exactly as a closer should.  Do not give up on him because of this DL stint.

J.J. Hardy:  I will say it:  My NFBC co-manager Nate Ravitz was right.  I voted no to drafting J.J. Hardy and fortunately he won the discussion.  Saturday, Hardy went 2-4 with 2 RBI in a win over the Blue Jays.  After a weak April, Hardy is hitting a solid .284 with six home runs, six doubles and 16 RBI in 22 games this month. Personally, I think the average will drop again but as I admit, I have been wrong about Hardy before.  With a walk rate down from an already low level, one would think there is danger on the horizon, but to be fair, his Ks are down and his contact is up.  Conclusion:  Hard to know whether to buy or sell.

Curtis Granderson:  Curtis Granderson’s season went from bad to worse when he was AGAIN hit by a pitch that broke a bone -- this time he should miss at least four more weeks.  If you own Grandy, keep him on your DL and hope lightning does not strike thrice.  For now, the rag tag playing like champion Yankees will go with Ichiro, Wells and Gardner in the OF with an occasional assist from Brennan Boesch.  All three starters should continue to be solid for the next month.  If anyone doubts that, take advantage.

Cameron Maybin:  Cameron Maybin is playing in rehab games and should return in the coming week.  This is good news for his fantasy owners who have a need, a need for speed.  Maybin has stolen 66 bags in the last two years and the Padres are not afraid to run.  Given that Cameron was suffering the effects of a wrist impingement, do not expect the power back as fast as the speed.  As you probably know, it takes time for the power to return to players with hand and wrist injuries.

Tom Koehler:  Tom Koehler looked pretty good Friday, giving up 3 runs on 6 hits with 3K and no BB.  Of course, not many wins are in his future pitching in south Florida. Is he really is a consideration for those in NL only leagues?  What do you do if you are in such a league you ask?  Good questions.  On the one hand, Koehler throws gas (average FB close to 94) and has had success so far in 2013.  On the other hand are the 10 BB in 17 innings in AAA this year.  Bottom line: Koehler makes a good streaming play in deep NL-only leagues.

J.D. Martinez:   J.D. Martinez went 2-4 with a three-run home run Friday (his second in two games).  Over his last 14 AB, JD has 6 hits.  Overall JD is hitting .253 with 5 HR and 17 RBI in 95 AB -- not too shabby considering the state of the rest of the Astro lineup.  My view:  JD is a sneaky pick, especially in AL only leagues.  He is only 25, has the opportunity to play and carries a very strong minor league resume in that he has hit over .300 in every stop where he registered at least 100 AB.  Buy!

And last and but not least, Schultz says:  “When the greatness of The Beatles is discussed, many focus on John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, the three that are not only inducted into the Hall of Fame as Beatles but as individual artists in their own right. Poor Ringo, sometimes forgotten, always underappreciated. Even Lorne Michaels suggested that The Beatles give him less were they to accept his offer to come play on Saturday Night Live. Bringing this discussion back to relevancy, the other 22 members of the Detroit Tigers may be evolving into the roto-Ringos of fantasy baseball.

Whenever the greatness of the Tigers is discussed, many focus on Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder and the Alphas and Omegas of a championship-quality baseball team. However, the other moving parts of this squad are not only what's keeping them on pace with the surging Cleveland Indians (timing of this writing may prevent them from being called the First Place Cleveland Indians), they should be helping roto-owners keep pace with their league leaders.

After a slow start, Victor Martinez is starting to regain his timing and one again becoming one of the toughest outs in baseball. Given that he is returning from a torn ACL, depending on your league rules, this might be the last year that V Mart retains his catcher eligibility. It's taking some time but he's ascending back to elite status - the RBI numbers will be there, but temper expectations for his other power stats. Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez and Austin Jackson are other budding roto-superstars and players like Jhonny Peralta, Andy Dirks, Omar Infante and Doug Fister are the type of extra infielder, fifth outfielder, sixth pitcher that help win roto-titles. It Don't Come Easy but don't say No-No, Act Naturally and let some of these players take the Weight Of The World off your shoulders.

One final note, if I may, I wanted to thank my beneficent overlord for inviting me onto the Colton & The Wolfman show last Tuesday. Not only was fun to pontificate on the airwaves, it was a pleasure to be part of a top-notch rotisserie sports program. Even when I'm not on, you all should be tuning in each week.” 

Response:    Well played!  It was fun having Schultz join the cast of Colton and the Wolfman last Tuesday and I am sure we will have him back again.  Oh, and I have no doubt that VMart will be hitting this summer. His former team will not be seriously challenging his current team by the time the summer ends.