There are no daily fantasy baseball contests until Friday, so now’s a perfect time to review some of the guys I’ll be targeting a bit more after the All-Star break. This list includes several pitchers who’ve had some tough luck as well as a few high-upside hitters who are finding their stroke as we pass the midway point of 2014.
Note: The injury report, recommended starters and hitters to target will return next week after the All-Star break.
Stephen Strasburg, WAS—Strasburg has had a few real stinkers, but he’s carrying a 2.48 xFIP and .347 BABIP, indicators that his second-half ERA should plummet from the 3.46 mark it’s at now. With the lineup healthy and delivering better run support for all the Washington starters, I think I’ll be targeting Strasburg a little more often than I have during the last couple months. When that 12.1% HR/FB rate comes down, he’ll have a much easier time.
David Price, TAM—It seems crazy to think that a guy with a 10.00 K/9 rate, 7.81 K/BB ratio and 3.23 ERA is underperforming, but Price’s fantasy numbers have suffered from seven losses and problems keeping the ball in the yard. His .303 BABIP should regress toward his career rate of .283, and he’ll earn more wins as he gets more groundouts.
Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA—While he’s started just 14 games—a handful fewer than other top-notch starters—Iwakuma is maintaining solid ratios and represents a cheap alternative to the ace pitchers who eat into your team salary. He’s walking less than a batter per game (0.74 BB/9, has 25 SO over his last 21.2 IP) and his xFIP is a very impressive 2.77 entering the All-Star break. He can both induce ground balls and can miss bats—a very strong fantasy combination.
Brandon McCarthy, NYY—I’m not advocating him every time out, but there’s just no way McCarthy’s bad luck can sustain this level of ridiculousness. His xFIP currently sits at 2.96—eighth-best among qualifying starters, and his ERA has ballooned to 4.80. Much of that is due to an 18.8% HR/FB rate and .346 BABIP, but the early season despair of playing for the Diamondbacks may have compounded that air of negativity. The Yankees have no choice but to go to him for long innings and I’m anticipating a major turnaround.
Homer Bailey, CIN—While Johnny Cueto has used a .221 BABIP to his advantage, Bailey is being victimized by home runs and a .312 BABIP. Through 19 starts, Bailey owns an 8-5 record and has struck out 8.03 K/9, but his ERA is 4.21 and is bound to regress. I’ll be fading Cueto a bit as I expect better contact made against him as the season wears on, but Bailey could provide tons of value for his price point.
Roenis Elias, SEA—He’s a big bargain, and has tons of upside as he can strike out a few guys and pitches his home games in Safeco. Elias is carrying slightly better peripherals than A.J. Burnett, but his ERA sits at 4.54. I’ve seen him dominate in games against the Yankees and Tigers, and there will be at least three or four second-half starts where you’ll kill to go back in time and plug him in as your starter.
3B/C Carlos Santana, CLE—His career BABIP is just .275, which means that the .238 mark he’s carried into the Midsummer Classic isn’t going to elevate that much. But with a wOBA of .334, he’s bound to produce more in the second half. He’s cheap, he’s in a potent lineup, and he’s still sporting a solid .181 ISO.
1B/DH Albert Pujols, LAA—The Angels are scoring quite a few runs these days, and Pujols is right in the middle of it. The RBIs and run-scoring opportunities will continue to be there, and he’s already parked 20 HRs this season. The veteran slugger may be at a point in his career when anticipating a BABIP higher than .300 is unreasonable, but I’m expecting his batting average and OBP to increase in the second half as he gets even more comfortable in this group of young talent.
SS Andrelton Simmons, ATL—His awesome defense obscures the fact that Simmons is not yet 25 and is still growing into his 6-foot-2 frame, which allows for developing power and more overall offensive potential. He started off 2014 very slowly, and after a long time batting seventh and eighth, he’s the No. 2 hitter in a lineup that’s much better than the numbers bear out. He’s batting .375 during the month of July and has 12 runs scored in his past 12 games.
SS Jed Lowrie, OAK—Like Simmons, the 30-year-old Lowrie had a very slow May/June and has been moved all over the lineup. As a switch-hitter, he’s a little better from the right side and has amazing buy-low potential for the second half in such a productive lineup.
2B/OF Arismendy Alcantara, CHC—The rookie has gotten off a good start in his first five games, flashing some power and sporting an unsustainable .391/.400/.739 slash line. But after the hype dies down and he settles into things, there’s a lot to like (he’s a raw hitter with the ability to steal a few bases). His price is still relatively low, but it’ll go up quickly once he gets a couple more weeks under his belt.
Last week’s Tuesday/Wednesday starter review
Masahiro Tanaka, NYY (@CLE)—I had my fears about Tanaka’s workload catching up to him, and while we can’t stick a fork in him yet, Tuesday’s performance might be the last we see of him in 2014. Tanaka gave up 10 hits and five ER in 6 2/3 innings against the Indians, striking out only five batters. For now, the Yankees will try rest and rehab on the partially torn UCL in his right elbow, but he’s out of the daily fantasy picture for at least a month.
Julio Teheran, ATL (@NYM)—Speaking of prescient fears, I was somewhat hesitant to expect another gem from Teheran against the Mets, a team that’s hurt me a couple times this season. Well, Teheran got touched up for 11 hits and five ER in 3 1/3 innings on Tuesday, killing a slew of my fantasy contests. It wasn’t a great day for my bankroll, but I spiked a few contests on Friday night to make up for it.
(Day) Zack Greinke, LAD (@DET)—Greinke took the loss on Wednesday (7 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO) in Detroit and is now 3-4 over his past eight starts. I’m betting on some bounce-back outings in the second-half of July.
(Night) Yu Darvish, TEX (vs. HOU)—Darvish was knocked around by the Astros hitters Wednesday, giving up 10 hits and six earned runs in just six innings. He’s still striking out guys, but that home ballpark doesn’t do him any favors.
(Night) Chris Sale, CWS (@BOS)—Sale was the only one of my pitching recommendations to hold his own last week (7.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 SO) but some late heroics by the Red Sox killed his shot at a win. He remains a starter to consider every time he takes the hill.