Drops & Disasters: Fantasy Baseball Roster Moves (6/16)


On a recent FTN podcast, Vlad and Jason discussed the “Art of the Stash.” I thought the discussion was excellent and highly relevant for fantasy managers, and it also motivated me to organize and lay out my current thinking on stashes. Initially, I define a stash as an inactive player drafted or acquired in FAAB and held on a manager’s bench for a multi-week or longer period with the intention of starting the player after activation. The primary benefit of stashing a player is reduced cost – because the player drafted or acquired in FAAB is injured and/or in the minors (or, in the case of Noelvi Marte, suspended), he can be acquired for a materially lower draft cost or FAAB price than if the player was actively playing in MLB. Stashing allows managers to acquire what hopefully are very talented players at a lower cost, and it is a great feeling when stashed players are activated and become major contributors to your teams.

Importantly, stashing is not a risk- or cost-free activity. There are many cons to stashing, including: (1) the cost of drafting or acquiring the player in FAAB (which includes the cost of not rostering a different player during the draft or dropping a player in FAAB to accommodate the stash); (2) the cost of tying up a valuable bench spot for an extended period of time, limiting a manager’s flexibility; (3) the opportunity cost of foregoing rostering other players while the stashed player is occupying a bench spot; (4) the risk that the stashed player will take much longer to be activated than expected; (5) the risk that the stashed player will not perform as well as expected upon activation; and (6) the risk that due to changed circumstances (such as injuries to other players), the manager needs to drop the stashed player.

Notwithstanding those and potentially other cons to stashing, it is a practice I employ fairly frequently. Candidly, I am not sure if my habit of engaging in stashes is a strength or weakness of my fantasy game. I am keenly aware of the value of bench spots in high-stakes NFBC leagues, and yet I frequently sacrifice one and sometimes two bench spots to roster inactive players who may – or may not – pan out for me. Many times, they do not, and while I vow every season to try to avoid or severely limit my stashing of players, I currently find myself with five shares of Triston Casas, three shares of Gavin Williams and one share of Josh Jung across my six solo FAAB teams. For fantasy managers contemplating stashing, set forth below are some of what I feel are the most relevant factors to consider. Importantly, the “art of stashing” involves not only deciding who to acquire, but also knowing when to drop a stashed player if circumstances change and, equally important, having the willpower to do so.

  • The stashed player should have significant upside. It should go without saying, but given the considerable risks and costs of stashing a player, the potential payoff should be sufficiently strong to make such a strategy worthwhile if and when the player is activated.
  • The stashed player, when activated, should be significantly better than alternative draft choices or FAAB acquisitions. When I acquired my Casas shares, the options in FAAB at both corner infield positions were extremely limited, and a healthy Casas struck me as far more talented, and impactful for fantasy, than the available alternatives (other than Josh Jung, who I viewed as comparable but, at the time, appeared to require an even longer stash). Importantly, however, had there been one or more appealing – and active – corner infielders available at the time, I would have prioritized them over Casas. If an active player is equal or close in fantasy value to an inactive player, rostering the active player should be the better option when the full risks and costs of stashing the inactive player are considered.
  • Make sure the stashed player fits your team’s needs. Not every strong player fits teams equally. For instance, a team in first place in saves with multiple, healthy closers not named Trevor Megill probably could utilize a bench spot more effectively than to stash Devin Williams for multiple months. In my case, when stashing Casas on all but one of my solo FAAB teams, I did not pursue him for the team where I have Matt Olson at first base, Vinnie Pasquantino at corner infielder and Shohei Ohtani in my utility slot. That particular team has no pressing need for Casas, and even though I prefer Casas to Pasquantino, the potential upgrade was not nearly large enough to justify such a lengthy stash.
  • Make sure your team can accommodate the stash. If your team already has multiple injured players, think twice about adding another. I try very hard to make sure I have at least four or five active players on my bench. Ideally, I like to have one or more bench bats to insert in case of injury or to take advantage of favorable matchups (or avoid unfavorable matchups). I also want multiple, active pitchers on my bench, which provides me with options every week and minimizes the need to stream pitching via FAAB. One aspect of stashing I have tried to minimize recently (with uneven success) is the stashing of players at the draft. In my experience, the beginning of the MLB season typically has the greatest concentration of player injuries. Throughout April, my benches often carry multiple injured players (who were healthy when drafted), while my teams generally seem to get healthier after the first quarter of the season (knocking on wood as I type this). Thus, while others may have different experiences, I prefer in-season stashes if and when my teams are relatively healthy over the drafting of injured players and/or minor leaguers (which I will do on occasion).
  • Consider the reason the potential stash is inactive, your comfort level about the likely interval before he is activated and the player’s likely performance upon activation. Most stashes either are injured or minor-league prospects (some players, such as Junior Caminero, are both injured and in the minors). Evaluate the reason a prospective stash is inactive. If the player is injured, is the recovery period for his particular injury predictable or very uncertain? If the player is a prospect, is he truly elite? Does his team have a need at the prospect’s position? How aggressive is the team in calling up prospects (or are they likely to wait until a particular date has passed)? I tend to gravitate primarily – but not exclusively – to injured players for stashes. With such players, once they are healthy, they tend to be reinserted into their teams’ starting lineups. With prospects, the timing of activation often is based on other considerations, and the player’s use can be more uncertain and/or dependent upon how other players are doing. Finally, if the potential player is injured, consider whether and how likely the injury may impact his performance upon activation. For instance, I am more concerned about a power hitter’s wrists than his heels and have heightened concerns regarding a pitcher’s throwing arm, elbow or shoulder compared to other body parts.
  • Evaluate all existing stashes weekly as part of your FAAB process. Initially, as we have covered in prior articles, once a player is stashed, the cost of that stash becomes sunk. What you paid for that player and how long you stashed him are irrelevant to the decision of whether you should continue to stash a player rostered previously. This goes against our nature – the vast majority of fantasy managers have a tougher time dropping (i) a 10th-round pick compared to a 30th-round pick, (ii) a $150 FAAB purchase compared to a $10 FAAB purchase, and (iii) a player stashed for six weeks compared to one stashed for a week. But, logically, the decision whether to continue stashing a player should be a forward-looking evaluation – whether it represents the optimal strategy from this moment forward, not whether it was a brilliant move three weeks ago. Circumstances change. Maybe your team experienced two other injuries and retaining those players is more important than continuing a month-long stash. Maybe the stashed player suffered a setback if injured or is performing poorly in the minors such that the player’s activation is farther off than previously anticipated. Maybe the perceived need for the stashed player has declined thanks to unexpectedly strong performance from one of your active players. The point is, circumstances change constantly, and while the decision to embark on a stash is made at one point in time, it should be reevaluated weekly as part of a manager’s FAAB process. When warranted, managers should be prepared to abandon a stash that no longer represents an optimal strategy. Dropping a stashed player after multiple weeks, or longer, admittedly is unsatisfying, but sometimes represents a better strategy than stubbornly prolonging a stash and foregoing other opportunities to improve your team.

Some of the players who should at least be considered as potential drops this week are set forth below in the following two tables – the first includes hitters and the second includes pitchers. In addition to the player’s name, team and position, the tables include the player’s ownership percentage in the premier 15- and 12-team contests: the NFBC’s Main Event and Online Championship, respectively. Finally, the tables list my rankings as to how strongly – or not – I feel each particular player should be dropped in those 15-team and 12-team formats, respectively. The key to these rankings, from 0-4, is as follows:

  • 0 = Do not drop
  • 1 = Team context dependent; probably should not be dropped on most teams
  • 2 = Team context dependent; compelling arguments to drop and not drop
  • 3 = Team context dependent; probably should be dropped on most teams
  • 4 = Drop

Potential Hitter Drops

Name Team Position Roster% (15tm) 15tm Drop? Roster% (12tm) 12tm Drop?
J.T. Realmuto PHI C 100% 0 100% 1
Kevin Newman ARI SS/3B 7% 4 N/A 4
Eugenio Suarez ARI 3B 88% 1.5 63% 3
Anthony Rizzo NYY 1B 98% 0.5 91% 1.5
Jose Abreu F/A 1B 32% 4 5% 4
Leody Taveras TEX OF 95% 2 54% 3.5
Alex Kirilloff MIN 1B/OF 86% 4 33% 4
Kyle Manzardo CLE 1B 75% 2.5 30% 4
Jeff McNeil NYM 2B/OF 70% 3.5 33% 4
Connor Norby BAL 2B 44% 4 12% 4
Joey Loperfido HOU OF 53% 4 13% 4
Ty France SEA 1B 44% 2 32% 3
Jackson Holliday BAL 2B/SS 91% 3.5 61% 4
Colton Cowser BAL OF 100% 1.5 95% 3
Jo Adell LAA OF 88% 0.5 78% 1.5
Jake Meyers HOU OF 100% 1 93% 2

JT Realmuto went on the IL unexpectedly this week due to right knee pain, and the Phillies announced that Realmuto would undergo meniscus surgery. Based on the projected recovery time, fantasy managers would have to stash Realmuto for approximately one month. At this stage of the season, embarking on a new, month-long stash does not leave a lot of time for such a strategy to be profitable. Potentially making the decision tougher, Realmuto is having a mediocre season, at least for him, with 7 HR, 48 R+RBI, and 1 SB with a .261 AVG. Looking forward, managers should not expect many stolen bases – one of Realmuto’s strengths – given that he will be coming back from knee surgery. That noted, Realmuto strikes me as a hold in virtually all 15-team leagues and the majority of 12-team leagues. The conclusion might be different if Realmuto was anything other than a catcher, but at this point of the season the replacement options at catcher in deep leagues reside somewhere between slim and none. In a few 12-team leagues, there might be an option or two available in FAAB that are close enough in likely production to a non-running Realmuto who managers may decide to forego a long stash if able to acquire one of the top available  replacements. In the majority of 12-team leagues, however, the gap between Realmuto and the best available option probably justifies the stash. Remember, even if not running, Realmuto will hit in the middle of one of baseball’s best lineups and is capable of helping managers in the other four hitting categories.

For fantasy managers with an injured player at a middle infield position, the Diamondbacks’ Kevin Newman has been a surprisingly useful fill-in with eligibility at shortstop and third base. Like a two-week-old quart of milk, however, Newman has hit his expiration date. Earlier this week, Geraldo Perdomo returned from injury and was reinserted as the club’s everyday shortstop. While Eugenio Suarez is struggling (more on him below), Arizona is placing Blaze Alexander – and not Newman – into the mix at third base. Thus, Newman’s playing time is expected to drop precipitously. Thus, if you are one of the few NFBC managers still rostering Newman, let this paragraph serve as a friendly wake-up call that it is safe (and advisable) to drop Newman tonight.

Newman’s teammate, Suarez, is a tougher hold/drop decision. Coming into today’s game, Suarez only has 6 HR and is hitting .202. Earlier this week, the Diamondbacks announced that Suarez would be ceding playing time to Alexander. Arizona manager Tory Lovullo subsequently clarified that while Alexander would receive starts at third base, Suarez is expected to retain a majority share of the position. Suarez is droppable in 12-team formats. While his name may evoke memories of big home run seasons (49 HR in 2019 and 30+ HR seasons in 2018, 2021 and 2022), he does not appear to be the same player. After posting HR/FB rates of 17.9% to 29.5% between 2017 and 2022, he fell to 12.9% in 2023 and is barely over 8% this season. Importantly, absent home runs, Suarez really does not provide much fantasy value. He rarely runs and his average is harmful. Absent power or average, the counting stats also are lacking. Although Suarez is capable of flashing power, he is not showing enough of it to continue rostering in 12-team leagues. In the 15-team format, Suarez is a league-dependent drop. He is the type of player I would be looking to upgrade from weekly, but only would pull the trigger on a player I was confident would be better even if Suarez’s production perked up a little (which is possible if not likely). Even accounting for Suarez’s diminished contributions, definitively better third basemen available in FAAB are surprisingly challenging to find in 15-team leagues.

The Orioles’ Jackson Holliday was placed on the minor league IL this week with elbow inflammation. At this point, it is not clear how much time Holliday may miss. While Holliday is one of the top prospects in baseball, he does not appear to be a compelling stash at this time. To recap: (1) Jackson was a surprise call-up very early in the season at age 20 but struggled mightily, compiling a putrid 0/5/1/0/059 stat line in 10 games, with a 50% K%; (2) he was demoted to Triple-A on April 26; (3) the Orioles have not recalled Holliday to date, and in fact promoted Connor Norby when Jorge Mateo was injured recently; (4) while Holliday has played better in Triple-A, he is not dominating the competition, posting a solid-but-unspectacular 7/55/28/5/.270 stat line in 50 games (with a .212 average in June); and (5) he now has an elbow injury that will keep him off the field for a week or longer. Given tremendous uncertainty regarding if and when Holliday may be recalled to the majors, and tremendous uncertainty regarding how he will perform in the majors if recalled given his early-season struggles and lack of dominance in Triple-A, there seems to be better uses for roster spots than continuing to stash Holliday.

The Yankees’ Anthony Rizzo is struggling. His power has been mediocre (8 HR), and his average (.226 coming into today’s game) is hurting fantasy teams. Rizzo will turn 35 in less than two months and his best days clearly are behind him. That noted, I think he’s a hold in 15-team leagues and most 12-team leagues. As frustrating as Rizzo has been to own, the 8 HR and 60 R+RBI are not terrible (although look worse in comparison to some of his slugging teammates). When I look under the hood at Rizzo, I have some concerns but not enough to make me want to rush to drop him. Without question, Rizzo is hitting the ball with less authority than he has in the past. His exit velocity has declined, as has his barrel rate. Rizzo’s HR/FB also is well below his career average. On the other hand, Rizzo plays in an extremely favorable home park (especially for lefties) with a strong lineup around him. Even in a down year, hitting behind Juan Soto, Aaron Judge, Alex Verdugo and Giancarlo Stanton should lead to ample opportunities to drive in runs. Rizzo still hits a decent amount of fly balls, and his HR/FB, while disappointing, still is in double-digits. Importantly, Rizzo’s strikeout and contact rates both are right around his career averages. While a strong rebound from last season’s concussion-plagued season does not appear to be materializing, I would hold Rizzo in the vast majority of leagues and only drop him where a clearly superior alternative is available. At least based on my own leagues, good corner infielders are in scant supply, and so while managers can shop for upgrades from Rizzo, I’m skeptical that they are readily available.

Remember when folks were excited about Ty France during draft season because he went to Driveline? When it comes to fantasy, France is about as far from exciting as possible. He lacks notable power.  He never runs. His average is rarely helpful or harmful. He has one of the most boring fantasy profiles available and is not someone I am rushing to roster. But, should he be rostered?  Last week, France was placed on the IL with what was described as a fracture in his heel. Fantasy managers fearing an extended absence dropped France in droves. Fast forward a week, and the latest news is that France is no longer experiencing any pain and should be activated sometime next week. For managers still rostering France, he should not be dropped due to his injury; rather, the evaluation should focus on whether better alternatives are available in your leagues. France’s fantasy profile is sufficiently lacking so as to warrant evaluating the player pool every week for potential upgrades but is not so lacking that he should be dropped for just anyone.

Orioles outfielder Colton Cowser is having an up-and-down year. After playing sparingly for the first two weeks of the season, Cowser finished April with 6 HR and a .303 average. Since then, Cowser has cooled off considerably. He hit .188 in May with only 1 HR, and, thus far, is hitting .154 in June with 1 HR. This decline in production has led to a decline in playing time, although Cowser still plays fairly regularly against right-handed pitchers. In 12-team leagues, I think fantasy managers can drop Cowser. His season average is down to .226 and his K% is up to 30.9%. Cowser profiles more as a platoon bat than everyday player. While I am no scout, it appears that after bursting onto the scene, opposing teams have adjusted to Cowser and he is struggling to adjust to how he now is being pitched. The Orioles are stacked and have plenty of options to fill out their starting lineups. Cowser has nice upside when hitting well, and the Orioles offense will help with counting stats. Thus, I would try to be choosy and keep bid lists relatively short if thinking of dropping him. He also would be a player I would monitor for signs of improvement and not be shy about re-rostering if/when his production picks up. Cowser is a tougher hold/drop call in 15-team leagues, and for me would be a hold unless there are really attractive replacements available in FAAB. Given the upside Cowser already has demonstrated, in 15-team leagues I’d give him a few more weeks to right the ship.

Jo Adell is having a Jo Adell type of season. Some days or weeks, he provides plenty of fantasy juice, while other times he drives fantasy managers crazy with a profound lack of production. Adell is consistently inconsistent and a better fantasy asset than real life player. Coming into today’s games, Adell is hitting a putrid .191 with a 31.6% K%. Like the Foreigner song, Adell is cold as ice, hitting .104 in the last four weeks (8 hits in 77 at bats). On the other hand, Adell has 12 HR and 9 SB. The universe of MLB players with at least 12 HR and at least 9 SB this season is comprised of: Gunnar Henderson, Kyle Tucker, Jose Ramirez, Shohei Ohtani and Jo Adell. Heady company indeed! Adell could stay cold for some time and potentially lose playing time. On the other hand, he’s very capable of stringing together several strong games and making fantasy managers who bench him hate themselves for it. Managers have to decide whether Adell’s power and speed provide sufficient compensation for what certainly will be a harmful average. Most rest-of-season projections forecast Adell hitting 14-16 more home runs, stealing 8-11 more bases and hitting .218 to .232. I will happily take that in both 15- and 12-team formats and would attempt to roster Adell if and where dropped. Sure, I may risk hating myself by benching Adell from time to time when really cold, but I also would think long and hard before throwing someone with 25/20 (or higher) upside with regular playing time back into the pool.

Finally, Jake Meyers has had a solid start to the season, seizing a starting role for the Astros. He currently has 6 HR, 43 R+RBI, 6 SB and is hitting .254. Lately, however, Meyers has struggled. He has not homered since May 24, and is 17-for-85 (.200) over the last four weeks. Looking under the hood, Meyers is slumping and pressing. Using weighted runs created plus as a guide, Meyers had a 104 wRC+ in March/April (slightly better than 100, which is league average), a 166 wRC+ in May, and a horrific 1 wRC+ in June. The current slump may reflect some bad luck; he has a .305 BABIP for the season, but it only is .233 thus far in June. Importantly, however, Meyers’ plate approach has deteriorated, indicating some pressing on his part. For instance, his walk rate was 5.5% in March/April and 9.4% in May, but is only 2.1% in June. On the other end of the spectrum, Meyers’ strikeout rate was 21.8% in March/April and 16.7% in May but has ballooned to 34.0% in June. Meyers is not as good as he looked in May but is better than he is looking now. If really strong at outfield in 12-team leagues, I can see moving on from him, especially if there are one or more appealing alternatives available in FAAB. I would err on the side of holding Meyers in 15-team leagues and giving him a little more time to work his way out of the current slump. If Meyers is able to do so, fantasy managers will retain a starting outfielder on a good hitting team who has some power and speed. This is the type of player I would look to bench before dropping but would be willing to drop if the slump does not show signs of dissipating by the end of the month or shortly thereafter.

Potential Pitcher Drops

Name Team Position Roster% (15tm) 15tm Drop? Roster% (12tm) 12tm Drop?
Kyle Bradish BAL SP 100% 4 100% 4
David Peterson NYM SP 100% 3.5 43% 4
Reed Garrett NYM RP 75% 3.5 59% 4
Adam Ottavino NYM RP 19% 4 4% 4
Robert Gasser MIL SP 18% 4 19% 4
Jordan Wicks CHC SP 86% 4 5% 4
Taijuan Walker PHI SP 47% 3 4% 4
James McArthur KC RP 100% 0.5 99% 1.5
Colin Rea MIL SP 84% 1 10% 3
Patrick Sandoval LAA SP 93% 4 22% 4
Michael Kopech CWS RP 86% 2 80% 3
James Paxton LAD SP 68% 3 62% 4

Mets reliever Edwin Diaz came off the IL this week and immediately was slotted back into the closer role. To the delight of his fantasy managers, Diaz secured a win on Thursday and a save on Friday. Not only that, he looked like the Diaz of old in doing so. It has been a rough season for Diaz, but, for the first time in a long time, the top-drafted closer truly looked the part. Thus, to the extent managers have been rostering Reed Garrett and Adam Ottavino hoping for saves, it appears that ship has sailed, and both players are drops in all formats, with the caveat that Garrett possibly retains some modest appeal in 15-team leagues as a high-strikeout middle reliever (although there are others of that ilk that I would rank above him).

Milwaukee Brewers prospect Robert Gasser’s 2024 season appears over.  Gasser went on the IL on June 5 with a left flexor strain and recently was seeking a third medical opinion as to whether reconstruction surgery would be needed.  Regardless of that opinion, fantasy managers should not expect to see Gasser again in 2024.  In discussing Gasser, Wade Miley and Brandon Woodruff, Brewers manager Pat Murphy was quoted this week as saying: “It would probably be safe to say those three are out for the year.” Thus, to the extent fantasy managers are stashing Gasser, it is time to drop him in all formats.

Kyle Bradish was placed on the IL this week with a second sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. Bradish missed the first month of the season with a UCL sprain but has pitched great since being activated (2.75 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 53 strikeouts in 39.1 innings). While I’m sure Bradish’s fantasy managers – the vast majority of which held him patiently while recovering from his first UCL strain – would love for the great performances to continue, that sadly is not the reality as we head into FAAB this evening. Season-ending surgery appears quite possible here, but even if Bradish is able to avoid surgery, he is looking at an extended outage. Bradish’s first UCL strain was discovered in February, and he was not able to pitch in the majors until early May. Using a similar recovery period looking forward – which strikes me as optimistic considering he reinjured the same body part – Bradish would not be back until September. That timeline makes him a drop in all formats.

David Peterson is an example of the need to carefully evaluate your own players. After re-entering the Mets’ rotation, Peterson has made three starts and won two of them, pitching to a mediocre 4.32 ERA and lousy 1.50 WHIP. Given the two wins, complacent managers might be satisfied or even pleased with their mid-season acquisition and continue rolling him out. If digging into Peterson, however, the outlook appears much worse, and I would not roster him in a 12-team league and am fine dropping him in 15-team leagues. Initially, while Peterson has had flashes of solid performance, his career ERA and WHIP are 4.50 and 1.41, respectively. I question whether a 1.4 WHIP starting pitcher should be rostered at all. In 2023, Peterson pitched 111 innings and had a horrific 5.03 ERA and 1.57 WHIP. Thus, Peterson’s track record leaves much to be desired. Nevertheless, fantasy managers – including myself on one very pitching-hungry team – rostered Peterson in the hopes of improved performance. While the two wins in three starts are nice, there has been no improvement in performance; in fact, Peterson’s skills look worse this season. Peterson continues to be quite hittable; and his 4.32 ERA actually compares favorably to a 5.63 xERA and 4.87 SIERA. Surprisingly, Peterson now is not whiffing anyone. For his career, Peterson has a solid 24.4% K%; this season, it is 8.1%. His K-BB% is an atrocious 1.4% (versus a career-average 14.1% K-BB%). I realize that after only three starts, there is room for improvement, but given his unhelpful-for-fantasy track record and horrific start, I am ready to move on and recommend that others do likewise.

The Cubs’ Jordan Wicks missed approximately six weeks with a forearm strain earlier this season. In his very first start after being activated (following a short appearance in relief), Wicks suffered an oblique injury and is returning to the IL. The oblique injury is a Grade 2 strain, which I understand usually results in a roughly 6–8-week recovery period. Consequently, Wicks now is a drop in all formats.

Patrick Sandoval is a mediocre (at best) starting pitcher, and as a fantasy asset he is worse. Yet, despite pitching to a 5.24 ERA and 1.50 WHIP this season, Sandoval is rostered in 93% of Main Event leagues. That number shocked me. To some extent, Sandoval has been unlucky this season – a .342 BABIP is high, and his 64.8 LOB% is below league average. Sandoval has a career 22.7% K% which, while not bad, is woefully inadequate compensation for the damage he does to fantasy managers’ ratios year after year. For instance, look at Sandoval’s WHIPs since he entered MLB in 2019: 1.37, 1.34, 1.21, 1.34, 1.51 and 1.50 (1.39 career average). Also, it is not as if Sandoval pitches for a good team and is a strong source of wins. The Angels are in fourth place, barely above the A’s, and Sandoval, who is in his sixth season in the majors, only has 19 career wins (in 99 career starts). I do not understand Sandoval’s appeal to other managers and think he should be dropped in all formats.

Finally, Royals close James McArthur had a very rough May, pitching to a 9.00 ERA and 1.90 WHIP in the month. For the season, McArthur has a lousy 5.08 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. Before rushing to drop McArthur, however, fantasy managers should consider: (1) McArthur currently is the Royals’ closer; (2) he has 3 wins and 12 saves on the season; (3) the Royals are solid this season and so there should be plenty of save opportunities to come if he retains his role; and (4) McArthur is a ground-ball pitcher who is having lousy luck with batted balls in play (.352 BABIP for season; .400 in May); his 3.06 SIERA is a full two runs less than his ERA; and (5) because closers pitch only a limited number of innings (only 28.1 IP for the season in the case of McArthur), a few bad outings can distort appearances and poor ratios have a reduced impact on team statistics compared to starting pitchers who contribute significantly more innings. For the second season in a row, it seems there only is limited turnover at the closer position, at least so far. Thus, if rostering McArthur, I would be reluctant to drop him despite the recently-harmful ratios. The prospect of ample future saves opportunities places McArthur on a higher tier for me than mediocre (or worse) closers on crappy teams (for instance, the Rockies’ Tyler Kinley or the White Sox’s Michael Kopech).

Potential Disaster Starts

Set forth in the table below are starting pitchers I believe have real disaster potential for the coming week. In order to make this section of the column as actionable as possible, pitchers who are sparsely rostered have been excluded. Instead, I am challenging myself by focusing solely on pitchers who are at least 90% rostered in the Main Event or at least 60% rostered in the Online Championship. The pitchers are ranked from 1 to 10 for disaster potential in the coming week, with the highest numbers reflecting pitchers I am highly unlikely to start and who strike me as the biggest potential disasters.

Pitcher Team Matchup #1 Matchup # 2 Disaster Level Notes
Albert Suarez BAL @ NYY 7.5 Better than expected, but @ NYY is the scariest matchup right now; I wouldn’t throw this
Cooper Criswell BOS @ CIN 6 Has not looked good to me recently; puts more balls in play than I’d prefer for a Cincy start
James Paxton LAD @ COL 8 Even the mediocre Rockies lineup should enjoy a home start versus the current Paxton
Walker Buehler LAD @ COL 6.5 He’s better than Paxton but not by much; a sub-8% SwStr% shows how far he’s fallen
Bobby Miller LAD @ COL 5.5 Welcome back! Go start at Coors! Are you brave enough to throw this one?
Matt Waldron SD @ PHI 7 The knuckleballer has been very good, but taming the Phillies in Philly is a tall order
David Peterson NYM @ TEX @ CHC 8.5 Had 26+% K% last two seasons; it’s 8.1% this season; downside outweighs upside here
Patrick Sandoval LAA @ LAD 9.5 A bad starter on the road versus a very strong lineup – this one could get quite ugly

Regression is a powerful force, and after several weeks of identifying many disaster picks successfully, last week’s picks stunk (and apologies to those who followed them). Somehow, I managed to identify potential blow-ups who surprisingly pitched to levels that I happily would have taken for every single one of my fantasy teams. While I am hoping my picks for this past week “recover” with several lousy outings anticipated for later today, I will strive to significantly improve upon this week’s results in the coming weeks. In the interests of accountability, set forth below are the results of my “Disaster” picks thus far. Week 12 shows results through yesterday’s games and will be updated next week to include today’s stats.

Week IP H+BB ER Wins Strikeouts ERA WHIP
Week 2 55.2 69 28 2 60 4.53 1.24
Week 3 33.0 55 14 2 30 3.82 1.67
Week 4 40.0 55 21 3 36 4.73 1.38
Week 5 36.0 32 11 2 38 2.75 0.89
Week 6 46.2 56 19 4 34 3.66 1.20
Week 7 52.1 70 30 0 49 5.16 1.34
Week 8 32.2 43 12 3 30 3.31 1.32
Week 9 34.1 38 9 4 23 2.36 1.11
Week 10 40.0 64 22 1 57 4.95 1.60
Week 11 45.2 66 22 3 43 4.34 1.45
Week 12 39.0 44 12 4 35 2.77 1.13
Season 461.1 597 202 29 438 3.94 1.29
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