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NFBC Main Event Tracker: Week 8 review

Main Event Tracker: Week 8 review

Don’t call it a comeback. Like a true champion, we were able to put the brutal happenings of Week 7 in the rearview mirror and move forward in Week 8. Well, on the offensive side of the ledger at least. Things on the pitching side didn’t shake out as we would have liked, as we continued to chase wins and the ratios wound up in the stratosphere.

The big week on offense is encouraging though. We need to see a lot more of that as we creep closer to the month of June.

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Hitting Review

Week 8 Hitting.png
Week 8 Hitting.png

For the first time all season we hit all five of our hitting categories on the week. All five!

Despite the fact that we were playing without Willson Contreras – and without Luis Rengifo for the first half of the week and Jorge Polanco the entire week – we still surpassed the 300 at-bat target for just the second time all season.

We didn’t get much in terms of at-bats from the catcher position from our fill-in for Contreras, but we still got tremendous production. David Fry went 4-for-9 (.444) in his limited action with a homer, three runs scored, two RBI and a stolen base. If he could do that every week, that would be terrific. William Contreras continued to pace the offense, hitting .308 (8-for-26) with a pair of homers and seven RBI.

Paul Goldschmidt actually showed signs of life again, hitting .308 with a homer, five runs scored, three RBI and a stolen base on the week. If he could put up anything close to that weekly line for the rest of the season, we’ll be just fine.

Josh Rojas had a miserable week with just two hits and one RBI, but with as good as he had been he was due for some regression. Ezequiel Tovar continued to produce, hitting .333 with a homer, steal, four runs and four RBI. Jose Ramirez is a monster – hitting .375 with two homers, two stolen bases and a team-leading eight RBI on the week.

We got the bad version of Randy Arozarena again, hitting just .161 (5-for-31), though he did hit a solo homer and score four times. Jo Adell homered and stole a base again and looks like he could be a fixture in the lineup. Jurickson Profar homered and swiped a base as well – and did so while hitting a blistering .471 (8-for-17) with five runs scored and four RBI. Tyler O’Neill clubbed a pair of long balls and scored six times. Jarren Duran homered, stole a base and hit .333 for the week.

Jon Singleton had a down week, but still managed three runs scored and a pair of RBI. Luis Rengifo returned over the weekend and swiped a base. Max Kepler had his first down week since joining the squad, with absolutely no counting stats in an empty 3-for-16 (.188) week. Jake Fraley stole a base and drove in a run on the bench, but aside from that we didn’t really leave any production on the table.

When looking at our targets, we finally hit our goals across the board, besting the runs target by +2.3, homers by +1.9, RBI by +2.7 and stolen bases by +0.7 – while also making the batting average goal. This is what a fully functioning offense looks like and we need to get used to producing these types of numbers on a weekly basis going forward.

On the season, we’re ahead of the target in runs (+15), but behind in homers (-5), RBI (-23) and stolen bases (-2) while drawing closer to the batting average target.

Pitching Review

Week 8 Pitching.png
Week 8 Pitching.png

As I alluded to above, we’re still having a big problem earning victories. After winning just one game (our final start of the week) in Week 7, we were hoping to make up ground in the category heading into Week 8. After all, we had 10 starts on the books and plenty of strong matchups to take advantage of.

We were really hoping that big week would start on Monday, as we had four pitchers taking the hill – all of them at home and all four of them as betting favorites in the game. Surely, we could get two wins from that group, right? Matt Manning started out well in his start, and his club held a 3-0 lead over the Marlins, but he gave up three runs late to walk away with a no-decision, middling ratios and five strikeouts. Not ideal.

Corbin Burnes pitched well in his start, allowing just one earned run over six strong innings and even left the game with the lead despite only punching out two batters. Alas, it was not to be though, as we witnessed another bullpen blow a potential victory for one of our pitchers. The ratios help at least.

Colin Rea was never going to win his start, as he gave up three runs early and the Brewers never took a lead for him. He did battle though, and got through six innings on just those three runs while striking out five with a solid WHIP. Appreciate the effort.

Kutter Crawford turned in his worst start of the season, giving up four runs over 5 2/3 innings against the Rays, but he did manage to record six punchouts. So much hope heading into that four-start day, and all we ended up with was a 4.18 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 18 strikeouts. That’s not what you’re looking for. To make matters worse, Alexis Diaz came on and blew a save at the end of the night, further torpedoing the ratios, making them 4.87 and 1.50 on the day. Bah.

On Tuesday, Erick Fedde took the mound and tried his best to erase all of the damage that had been done on Monday. He fired seven innings of shutout baseball with just three walks+hits, six strikeouts and a desperately needed victory. Michael Wacha pitched decently as well and earned a victory on our bench. Perhaps it was the wrong decision to roll out Rea’s double over Wacha this week.

Trevor Megill also came in on Tuesday and recorded another save. Guy has been absolute money for us and has gotten us back in the game in the saves department. Josh Hader also worked on Tuesday – firing two scoreless innings and earning a victory of his own. We’ll absolutely take that at this point.

All was then completely quiet on the pitching side until the weekend. No starters on Friday, but Hader picked up a save to go with his win on the week. He appears to be rounding back into form. The same can’t be said for Diaz, who pitched in a non-save situation on Friday and served up a two-run homer to Jason Heyward. He’s got a brutal 7.02 ERA and 1.68 WHIP over 16 2/3 innings on the season. Just a complete disaster.

On Saturday we finally had another pair of starters take the hill. Justin Verlander started out well against the Brewers, keeping them scoreless through the first four innings. They broke through in the fifth though, as they made him throw 43 pitches – including 13 to William Contreras with two men on and two outs in the inning. He fouled off seven straight full-count offerings before crushing a three-run homer that tanked Verlander’s outing. Fortunately, it was Contreras at least and not some random Brewers’ hitter. The other benefit of the Astros not winning that one is it meant that the Brewers had a lead to protect late and Megill secured his second save of the week.

Crawford pitched well in his second start of the week, allowing just one run on eight walks+hits with five strikeouts over 5 2/3, but he exited in a 1-1 ballgame and didn’t earn a win.

Rea wasn’t able to salvage his week on Sunday either. Instead, he gave up four runs in the opening inning and never could fight his way out. He managed to strike out five and keep the Astros off the board for a while but they tacked on another run while chasing him in the fifth inning.

Burnes did deliver in a big way on Sunday though, allowing just one run over six innings in a victory over the Mariners while piling up 11 strikeouts. We’ll take that all day.

The final start of the week came from Manning on Sunday afternoon against the Diamondbacks. Let’s just say, it didn’t go according to plan. He got torched for four runs on 13 walks+hits in just five innings of work, further crushing the ratios for the week.

So overall, we lost a ton of ground in both ERA and WHIP on the week, while falling further behind in wins and breaking about even on the saves total. The one place that we gained at least a little ground was in strikeouts (+2.5). On the season, we’re now chasing in every pitching category: strikeouts (-4), wins (-7), saves (-5) and a whole heap in both ERA and WHIP.

FAAB Plan

This week is actually a bit tricky for me, as our overall roster flexibility is still very limited. We’re still carrying two players on the injured list in Willson Contreras and Ryan Pepiot, though there’s a chance that Pepiot could rejoin the Rays’ rotation during the upcoming week. We’re also carrying Jorge Polanco who hasn’t played since Monday due to a hamstring issue. They still haven’t placed him on the injured list, so there’s an expectation that he’ll be back any day now, but he’s obviously not an option for our lineup unless we have confirmation that he has returned.

Digging further into Polanco, it’s not like he’s been lighting the world on fire this season. He’s slashing a mere .192/.298/.308 with five homers, 15 runs scored, 13 RBI and one stolen base. That’s the type of production from a middle infield position that you think you would be able to improve upon on the waiver wire. Perhaps we could. If we decide to cut Polanco though, and he doesn’t hit the injured list, he would likely be the best name available through FAAB the next time around. Sometimes it’s not just about cutting bad production from your team, you have to think about where your drops would slot in if they were available to be bid on. Given his track record, and the fact that he hits in the middle of the Mariners’ lineup on a nightly basis, Polanco would probably be several teams' top target if we were to throw him back.

So if we’re planning on keeping Polanco, where are our potential drops for this week? Whit Merrifield didn’t do anything in the period that we picked him up for, but he still does have 2B/OF eligibility and that flexibility does help. He also goes to Coors Field next weekend with at least one left-hander in that series. That means if we’re going to drop him, we need to make sure it’s for a better option for next week, or one with similar flexibility.

Colin Rea is an easy drop. He was picked up solely for his two-start week, and then had to be used an extra week after last week’s second start got pushed back a day. He lines up to face the Red Sox in Boston next week and that’s never a single that we would use.

Matt Manning was also picked up for his double, but also with the idea that he could turn into a long-term hold for us potentially. Kenta Maeda is making a rehab start on Sunday and there’s no clear indication on what’s going to happen to the Tigers’ rotation once he’s ready to return. His upcoming schedule – provided he sticks – isn’t great either. He would take on the Blue Jays at home on Friday, the Red Sox in Boston the following week and then the Rangers in Texas that third week. It’s probably best to admit that we paid too much for him last FAAB period, cut bait and move on.

When glancing at what we absolutely need to field a lineup for next week, we need at least one starting pitcher, preferably one with two starts since we’re still rolling three closers out and need to make up ground in wins and strikeouts. We’re also working under the assumption that we’ll be benching Max Kepler for the first period of the week because he gets two left-handers. Jon Singleton also gets two LHP and it might be nice to have an alternative option if he’s not in Monday’s lineup.

Alright, so we don’t really need a whole lot, and it would be nice to conserve some FAAB for once, so what’s out there that we are interested in?

The top bat available in my estimation is Joey Ortiz. The top prospect that the Brewers acquired from the Orioles in the Corbin Burnes trade has settled in as the team’s regular third baseman and has started to flash some of the power that his always strong exit velocities and hard-hit rates hinted at. He also has the benefit of being eligible at both 2B/3B and we know how much I value that flexibility. The problem is that he has had a huge week at the plate and isn’t going to sneak by anyone. He would be an upgrade for sure, and it would be nice to have him in the mix, but I don’t think I’m going to break the bank for him.

Nick Gonzales slugged a pair of home runs this week, but there’s concern that he’s going to lose playing time once Ke’Bryan Hayes returns from the injured list. Luis Matos has taken over as the Giants’ regular center fielder now that Jung Hoo Lee has been lost for the season with a shoulder injury and he drove in a whopping 16 runs during the week. He was struggling pretty mightily at the dish at the Triple-A level though, and those huge totals are likely to push his price much higher than I’m willing to go this week – especially since we already have an excess of outfielders.

Edmundo Sosa also has MI/CI eligibility and has been playing most days at shortstop since the Phillies lost Trea Turner to injury. He’s on the mend though and making quicker progress than anticipated – plus Kody Clemens has been hitting well and drew a start on Sunday with Bryson Stott sliding over to shortstop. He’ll be on the bid list, but nothing too crazy.

Kevin Pillar has been lighting the world on fire for the Angels and is probably worth at least a conditional bid. Elehuris Montero is playing as the Rockies’ everyday first baseman and had six RBI this past week. He’s got three split weeks coming up and could be utilized at home, though he may get squeezed with Kris Bryant and Nolan Jones close to returning.

Jake Bauers has been swinging a hot bat and is the Brewers’ everyday first baseman with Rhys Hoskins shelved and has been hitting fifth in the lineup. He’s got 1B/OF eligibility and would be an interesting addition with Goldschmidt struggling and Singleton not really settled yet. Colt Keith is a player that I loved coming into the season and he had a four-hit game on Friday night. Maybe he’s finally putting it together? He’s got 2B/3B eligibility and would fit the bill as well. Jake Myers has been crushing it for the Astros over the past couple of weeks, though it’s unclear what happens to his playing time once Chas McCormick returns, something will have to give there.

One other wrinkle that needs to be considered, is that the Astros are expected to bring back Jose Abreu on Friday. How much he’ll play remains to be seen, but I’d be crazy not to think that he’s going to eat into Singleton’s playing time. Maybe on certain bid lists Singleton could be a drop if it meant acquiring another first baseman? Doesn’t work with Bauers though because he draws three LHP the first period against the Marlins and probably won’t play any. Ugh.

So a lot of semi-interesting names behind Joey Ortiz, we’ll end up with one or two of them depending on what we settle on for drops, hopefully at cheap prices.

On the pitching side, as crazy as it sounds, I think that Cal Quantrill might be my favorite option of the week. He has turned in three straight brilliant starts since the calendar flipped to May, going 3-0 with a minuscule 0.92 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and a 19/6 K/BB ratio across 19 2/3 innings. He lines up for two starts next week but buckle up because it would take a real leap of faith. The first one is fine, as he takes on the Athletics in Oakland. The second one, could be a potential disaster, having to battle the Phillies at Coors Field. I think he can probably be had for $2 or $3 though, and I may roll the dice.

Another interesting option on the pitching side, though one that does not double next week, is Alek Manoah. After pitching very well against the Twins last week, Manoah shut down the Rays on Sunday afternoon and looks like he could actually be back. The upcoming schedule looks great as well, as he’ll get the Tigers in Detroit next week, the White Sox in Chicago the following week, and then he would double vs. the Orioles and at the Athletics. As the day goes on, I’ve been increasing my bid more and more on Manoah. If he’s actually back, he could be a legitimate SP2 for us with plus strikeouts for the remainder of the season. I may wind up cooking up a big bid here. One of those times where you could win one $159 to $23 and still feel alright about it.

Ryan Weathers has pitched well recently, but gets a tough double (vs. Brewers, at Diamondbacks). Simeon Woods Richardson lines up for a nice single against the Nationals and would then double the following week. This is why you want to have a bench to stream pitchers from, as the wire is picked pretty clean on most weeks.

So Manoah and Ortiz look to be the top targets. We’d like the Quantrill double at a discount and wouldn’t mind Jake Bauers. If we end up with anything below that, it is what it is and we’re just kicking the can down the road.

FAAB Review

So much for it being a light week and not really wanting to spend much. I guess it’s all aboard the Alek Manoah express now. This was honestly one of the hardest bids that I’ve ever had to put in. At one point in the day before his start I was in the $30-$50 range and as he continued to dominate and I looked more into the numbers, the more I liked what I saw. I had been as high as $205 at one point, so to get back down and only spend $167 ($75) was actually a bit of a win despite the big overpay. Manning was the drop on that one.

This one is going to wind up making or breaking our season potentially. If Manoah is who he was in 2022, he gives us a legitimate SP2 with huge strikeout upside. If not, we’re dealing with a diminished FAAB budget and are still looking for impact additions on the pitching side. It’s going to be dollar days on FAAB for the next couple of weeks at a minimum now.

We put in a real bid on Joey Ortiz as well but weren’t even close enough to be the runner-up there, as he went for $99 ($79). Jose Soriano pulled in a big price as well at $83 ($54), as did Luis Matos at $72 ($72).

Behind all of the big ticket items, we had Ryan Weathers on the conditional list, but didn’t come close to the winning amount of $22 ($22). We also had interest in Colt Keith who went for $18 to our runner-up bid of $4, Kevin Pillar who went for $16 ($12) and Simeon Woods Richardson who pulled in $16 ($7).

We got the second ranked hitter on our board in Jake Bauers for $11 ($7) with Merrifield as the drop. There was serious consideration given to dropping Singleton there, but since Bauers was unplayable the first half of the week with three southpaws in three games, we simply couldn’t do it.

We also nabbed our sneaky double that we wanted to roll out in Cal Quantrill. As expected, we bid too high there at $6 unopposed, but I’ve got a good feeling about what he’s going to do for us this week. Colin Rea was the drop on that one.

On the drop side, there’s not a whole lot that I was interested in at first glance. Alex Lange maybe, Mike Yastrzemski, Spencer Turnbull. There really isn’t much out there these days.

The big spend on Manoah takes a major chunk out of our remaining budget. We’re now down to just $405 remaining out of our $1000 budget for the season. Only three teams in our league have spent more. I know I’ve mentioned it several times, but we really do need to start being careful from here on out.

Looking Ahead

Alright, where do we start. The offense is humming and just put up a monster week across the board, so let’s look there first.

There actually aren’t too many decisions to make this time around, once again due to the limited roster. Both catchers are in, we’re rolling Goldschmidt, Tovar, Ramirez, Profar, Adell, O’Neill, Duran and Rengifo for sure. That leaves second base, corner infield, one outfield spot and utility to fill. Jake Fraley gets three games against all RHP, so he looks like the best bet for the utility spot, especially since Max Kepler gets two southpaws and probably won’t start either game. As mentioned in the FAAB recap, while we’re excited about adding Jake Bauers, he draws three LHP during that first period and can’t be used. That leaves us with just Jorge Polanco on the bench as someone that we could work in for Josh Rojas or Jon Singleton if we choose to do so – and if Polanco is actually back and in the lineup on Monday. He does, theoretically line up for four games on the week, so if he is in there he may be preferred to Singleton’s three. We also have Mark Canha on the bench who plays four games – three against the stingy pitching of the Royals and the fourth against Kevin Gausman. Is a tough four from Canha better than three from Arozarena against the Red Sox (Houck, Criswell and Bello)? Probably not. He could become an option though depending on how lineups play out on Monday.

On the pitching side, there’s a bit more thinking involved. Burnes, Verlander and Crawford have been every week starters for us. Burnes is obviously in at the White Sox, Verlander goes at the Athletics and Crawford gets the Brewers (Bryse Wilson) at home. Erick Fedde (at Jays, vs. Orioles) and Michael Wacha (vs. Tigers, at Rays) both double and should be in the lineup.

We should be playing all three closers while we have them. Diaz has really struggled though and gets a tough six-game week against the Padres and Dodgers – all at home. If we were to sit one of them, he would be the guy.

We really want to use Manoah for his single against the Tigers in Detroit. We also really want to use Quantrill’s double, but something has to give. That means either sitting Crawford against the Brewers, sitting Diaz down for a week or benching one of the new additions. This may come down to the wire, but I think my early lean is to sit the struggling closer.

Where we Stand

We entered the week with an even 100.0 league points, which was second in our league, 2.5 points ahead of third and a mammoth 14.5 points behind the leader. We sat in 141st place out of 855 competitors in the overall competition.

After a strong week on the hitting side and some middling production on the pitching front, we finished Week 8 at 102.5 league points. That puts us 10 points ahead of third place in the league and 11.5 behind the leader. Would be nice to close that gap in Week 9.

In terms of the overall, we moved up from 141st to 118th. At some point in the season, if it becomes clear that we won’t be a player in the overall standings, we may shift our focus to the league standings, but we aren’t there just yet.

We also didn’t make up any ground in the CLQ standings, falling further down the board to 45th place. The Main Event squad and the OC are doing their part, but the DC has fallen on hard times in recent weeks.

Let’s keep things positive though heading into Week 9. We’re looking for a repeat performance in the offensive side while finally putting together something meaningful on the pitching side. Perhaps a sub-2.00 ERA and six wins? Just putting that out into the world.

As always, I would love to hear your feedback on what you think of the article, the team, my poor decision making – anything. Those that have reached out so far, it has been very appreciated. Just drop me a line on X (@DaveShovein) and I would be happy to discuss.