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Groovin’ with Govier: Fantasy Baseball Roundup (6/27)

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Michael Govier

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Get into the groove as I take you on a stadium tour across the fantasy baseball realm! It is my hope that you will find this article both entertaining and informative. Don’t forget about our stellar season-long fantasy baseball coverage at FTN Fantasy. Save a couple bones with my promo code MJGOVIER when you sign up so you can get access to outstanding pieces like Matty Davis’ Weekly Hitter Planner. Also, I’ve started a weekly video compliment to this article. Each week a new episode will be live at 6 p.m. ET every Saturday on the FTN Network YouTube channel. Take advantage of the live chat in real-time to ask questions related to this week’s article or for questions you have for the following week’s action.

 

It is my ultimate goal for you to absorb and apply winning fantasy baseball wisdom from each edition of Groovin’ with Govier. It’s similar to when Neo was offered the blue or the red pill. If you continue reading this, you take the plunge to find out how far my fantasy baseball analysis can take you. Every Tuesday we hustle and flow in search of the ultimate … a league championship! Now, with the ageless Joey Votto as my inspiration, it’s time to get up to date on the latest player analysis and news around fantasy baseball.

When David Fletcher Goes Yard: Coors

Player Play On

Five low-key trades took place over the last couple of days. Two of these deals included the Los Angeles Angels while they spent the weekend blasting the Rockies at Coors. The Angels had a dearth at 3B losing Gio Urshela to a pelvic fracture and Anthony Rendon to whatever part of his body hurts now. So Eduardo Escobar of the Mets was shipped to the Angels Friday night for two pitchers named Coleman Crow and Landon Marceaux. Then after shellacking the Rockies 25-1 Saturday night, veteran hot corner lover Mike Moustakas said “get me the hell out of here,” as he walked across the diamond to the visiting dugout for good. The Rockies received right-handed hurler Connor Van Scoyoc in return. These two deals are low-risk moves that bring in veteran bats to replace the losses the team has recently sustained. The Angels can spin these moves to Shohei Ohtani as honest attempts to improve the roster. Frankly, not that much spin is required. Tell Bill O’Reilly to stay in whatever hole he’s been living in. We don’t need his spinning services for this one. I actually picked up Escobar in my 15-team CBS roto league Sunday night. Yes it was Coors, but Escobar will be of use to this team going forward. He’s incredibly streaky too. He wasn’t available Monday night because he was taking his citizenship test to become an American citizen. (That’s one of the better DNPs in recent memory. At least it beats the NBA’s load management. Good for him!) Over the course of a full season and year to year, I am anti-drafting Escobar. For those looking to improve their team’s OPS and homer output by catching a new player in a hot lineup, Escobar is your man! For Moustakas, who hit fifth in the lineup Monday against the Pale Hose, he hasn’t had a full-season wRC+ over 100 since 2019. Just staying healthy is a win for him at this point in his career.

The other three trades involved pitchers. The biggest one of note is likely the Andre Jackson deal, which sent the recently DFA’ed Dodger pitcher to the Pirates for hot cash. In three MLB stints for Jackson, 2023 was his largest sample size with 17.2 IP. All seven of his appearances were in relief this year. Jackson did lock down two saves. Overall though, his 6.62 ERA and 8.15 K/9 will not cut it in today’s competitive relief pitching era. As recently as last year in Oklahoma City Jackson did start 19 games. Unfortunately, he has 61 BB (!) in 75 IP. Right now, Jackson appears to offer nothing to the fantasy baseball world unless he can make some major adjustments. The Dodgers also dealt RP Tayler Scott to the Red Sox for more hot cash. It’s not like either of these two pitchers have hefty contracts, so I’m not sure these deals can be used by the “Ohtani to the Dodgers” crowd. The last of these five deals was Spenser Watkins being dealt to Houston for more hot cash. The 30-year-old former Oriole was in the dumps at AAA this year after starting 20 games for the resurgent O’s of 2022. Watkins has never been able to whiff enough bats to be scary on the mound. The Astros placed Watkins at AAA Sugar Land. Barring a Houston miracle, Watkins will not impact the fantasy baseball landscape this season. 

We Fear Change

I stopped to collect myself the other day while crunching FAAB bids, when I realized the 2023 MLB season feels like it has been pretty chill on the closer front in comparison to other recent seasons. Was this total hearsay on my part? Or has this season had less upheaval from job to job across the closer realm when compared to the last five seasons? Welp, I want the truth! So let’s see if I can get it or at least a close approximation to it.

2022

Coming into Monday night, there have been 30 different pitchers who have at least 10 save opportunities (I am focusing on chances over converted saves to get more of a feel for how many different pitchers are getting the opportunity to close out a game this season). As of July 4, 2022, there were 27 different pitchers with at least 10 save chances. It turns out my secondary source of a brain was clearly just imagining things when it comes to last season by comparison. By season’s end in 2022, there were 49 pitchers who finished the season with at least 10 save opportunities in an MLB game. 

2021

This was the year after the bozo COVID-19 disaster transport affair (also known as the failed attempt at a season where the Dodgers absolutely won the World Series but were given a joke of a regular season to qualify for it). As of June 28 during the 2021 season, there were 27 pitchers used frequently enough to qualify for at least 10 shots at the save label. Wrong again Govier! 2021 featured Mark Melancon leading MLB with 39 saves in 45 tries. ’Member that? There were also 52 different pitchers who had at least 10 save opportunities by season’s end. Lucas Sims of the used-to-be-terrible Reds had 10 cracks at a save closing out the list for 2021.

2019

The year that will now forever be remembered not for the Nationals winning the World Series despite starting 19-31, but for the juiciest ball in play in recent memory (for example: Gleyber Torres hit 38 dongs). 32 pitchers accrued at least 10 save chances by July 1 of that year. That’s the highest total yet by this point in the season, with 2023 coming in second. My feeling about 2023 was completely off-base. There were 49 pitchers who finished the season with double-digit save chances. It was a three-way tie at the top with 44 saves for Josh Hader, Roberto Osuna (yikes) and Kirby Yates. The recently DFA’ed airplane reviewer Anthony Bass and Diego Castillo rounded out the list with 10 opps a piece. 

2018

This was a special moment for the sport when it comes to closers, as Edwin Díaz ripped off 57 confirmed saves, tying the old record originally set during my childhood when Bobby Thigpen preserved 57 games for the White Sox. Diaz fell five short of K-Rod’s record of 62 closeouts in 2008. Diaz only blew four saves in 2018, which is still damn impressive for 61 chances. Going even further into his game log, Diaz secured his first 13 tries before blowing before blowing two of his next three attempts. On June 1, when he blew his third chance of the season, he only had one more blown save the rest of the year. Incredible. By June 26 of 2018, there were 31 pitchers who broke the threshold I have laid out here. Ryan Tepera and Sergio Romo both converged from the back of the list to land on 10 save opps each. They both also had 4 blown saves. 

Lessons

What can be gleaned from this effort? Well, maybe feelings or gut calls are no replacement for a solidly built spreadsheet filled with tangible information. Sure cutoff point I chose to snip each list for each season has a margin of error of 1-2 save chances. Even so, the bottom line is that the usage for relievers presented with save chances has remained fairly constant over the last five years outside of the pointless bozo failure of 2020. I also learned that I can use this space in an attempt to confirm my random fanciful whims about the season while it’s in progress.

Pointless Act

It’s important to find time for levity in each day we inhabit this planet. If we can do so with brevity, then we have completed the levity/brevity/regularity trifecta for the day! So let me introduce this week’s most innocuous transaction as found on MLB’s own website. Here it is:

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Jordan Westburg, SS, Baltimore Orioles

There is no way Jordan Westburg can match the passion that people have for Elly De La Cruz, but we have all been waiting a similar amount of time for the Orioles to finally put in the call to AAA to bring up Westburg. His debut will only stoke the fire of excitement for his arrival as he went 1-3 with a run and an RBI in a rout of the Reds Monday night. Westburg is fully capable of taking off immediately offensively. Just remember the lesson that Gunnar Henderson taught fantasy managers: even high-end talent may not produce right away. 

Jazz Chisholm Jr./Jean Segura, Miami Marlins

The Marlins are fully prepped for their series at Fenway this week as they called in reinforcements for their trip to the northeast. Both Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Jean Segura will be available for Miami Tuesday. Jazz is the player I am most curious to see in action because of the nature of his toe injury, which will still require surgery after the season. I would be concerned about him being stable the rest of the way. His toes are crucial to his game. Segura has little wiggle room to fail now after his horrible start. He’s an afterthought unless he proves otherwise.  

Billy McKinney, OF, New York Yankees

Every so often, this dude shows up for a minute to be of service to fantasy baseball. And like that: he’s gone. Billy McKinney was a first-round pick of the A’s in the 2013 MLB Draft. He’s still only 28 years old; it’s not like he’s toast. Last year, McKinney missed his meet-up with his hot streak. So let’s go back to roughly around this time during 2021 to catch the end of his run where he racked up a 151 wRC+ from May 27 to June 18 with the Mets. That was already his second of three teams that season, too. The Yankees have always had an annoying knack for picking up remains who ball out for them because of the pinstripes or some other mystique. Ask about Matt Carpenter last year or Rougned Odor on occasion. McKinney went 0-3 Monday night back where it all started in Oakland. One thing’s for sure: The Yankees are desperate for offense. 

Yainer Diaz, C/1B, Houston Astros

We had an influx of young catchers come up recently, but one up-and-comer has already been here this season. Yainer Diaz made the team out of spring training this year at 24 years old. He’s gone yard 4 times over his last 10 games. Diaz has serious power. He’s had 135 PA this year with an excellent rate of return on dongs with 7 already. He’s only walked 3 times, but also only struck out 24 times. Houston needs his bat right now, which makes him very useful at the moment. In 12-teamers and deeper Diaz should be added for a boost at catcher.

Nick Gonzales, 2B, Pittsburgh Pirates

Once upon a time, this dude was a first-round draft pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, taken seventh overall out of good ole New Mexico State. The diminutive 2B has a penchant for K’s and not being available. Expectations are quite low at this time, but it seems like the Pirates are ready to give Nick Gonzales the chance. With no Bryan Reynolds and a sinking record, Gonzales has a chance to prove that he belongs. In redraft he’s not worth adding. In dynasty he can be had for very little.  

C.J. Cron, 1B, Colorado Rockies

C.J. Cron Colorado Rockies Fantasy Baseball Groovin' with Govier

The return of the Cron Dong! C.J. Cron had two quick rehab performances in rookie ball before being called upon to return. Michael Toglia suffers here as he was demoted for Cron. The Rockies are going to Rockie. They’re so scatterbrained. Seriously. I absolutely could do better if I had the chance to be their GM. I’m not kidding at all. 

Tarik Skubal, SP, Detroit Tigers

It’s happening! It’s very possible Tarik Skubal will be activated next Tuesday for the Independence Day game against Oakland. It’s getting to the point where it’s too late now to add Skubal in a lot of leagues as he has been rehabbing over the last couple of weeks. If he is available, Skubal is an absolute add, even in 12-teamers. The time is now.

AJ Smith-Shawver, SP, Atlanta Braves

All the talk about the Eury Pérez inning concerns pale in comparison to those of AJ Smith-Shawver. Or do they? Perez pitched 77 innings total during 2022. It seems as if it was clear AJ was even more likely to be limited or used in a relief role at some point because he only had a total of 68 IP last season. There’s only a 9-inning difference between the two, and both of them are 20 years old. Smith-Shawver will be back for the stretch run most likely as a multi-inning relief pitcher. As far as being a starter this season though, it’s a longshot. 

Brandon Lowe, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays

The man with the back is rehabbing with the Ray’s Florida Complex team. Brandon Lowe’s back was causing pain down his leg, which is something I have had experience with in my life. It is not cool at all. I love Lowe’s power at 2B, but unfortunately I am very paranoid and dubious of his ability to be an everyday player right now. Baseball is the ultimate grind every single day. This may be the worst sport to have a chronic back problem in. Be forewarned. 

Tyler Nevin, 3B, Detroit Tigers

My bozo Tigers finally demoted Nick Maton, who was just awful at the plate this season (.163 BA). It’s actually a miracle that he sustained a .289 OBP. He committed one final egregious act when he biffed an error that cost the Tiger’s their lead in the eighth inning in a game they would go to lose in extras to the Twins. Enter Tyler Nevin, a dude who doesn’t have much more to offer beyond cranking some dongs here and there. Yet, in 184 PA for Baltimore last year Nevin only ripped two homers. Nevin did show his pop during spring training in March before he got hurt. There’s not much here for fantasy baseball purposes outside of AL-only leagues. 

David Peterson, SP, New York Mets

Tylor Megill hit the IL recently, which has opened the door for David Peterson to get another shot. The 2017 first-rounder showed valid potential last year with a 3.83 ERA (3.57 SIERA) in 105 IP. In eight starts for the Mets this year before being demoted, Peterson had an 8.08 ERA with a 4.78 FIP and a 3.76 SIERA. Dude was clearly catching some bad breaks with the long ball and most obviously with his 58.8% strand rate. Peterson is a strong add for me because he is a better pitcher than he showed earlier this year and he has a two-start week. The Mets are underachieving, but Peterson will be a positive addition. He’s definitely an add in 14-teamers and deeper. 

Derek Hill, OF, Washington Nationals

The Nats are just fartin’ around doing the best they can this season, which apparently is dead last in the tough NL East. Derek Hill was called up recently to play CF for the Nats after Victor Robles went back on the IL. Hill is in the lineup every day and has some speed. Another former first-round pick, this one in 2014 for my bozo Tigers, Hill doesn’t offer much beyond some steals. He is playing every day, albeit at the bottom of the order. Those fantasy managers jonesing for steals, give Hill a look. 

Kyle Harrison, SP, San Francisco Giants

Last week there was a moment where everybody in fantasy baseball circles acted like that Steve Carell meme from The Office. Everyone was running around yelling, “OK! It’s happening!” This was all in response to Giants’ pitching prospect Kyle Harrison rumored to be getting the call up to San Francisco. Shocker, but it turned out to be false. Regardless, Harrison is a big-time stud. I bought into it completely because I expected the Giants to be a good team who could use his services by June or July. Eventually Harrison will be called upon. All fantasy baseball managers should be ready. If you are on Yahoo with an open NA spot, use it on him. 

James Paxton, SP, Boston Red Sox

There are so many lame jokes I could make about James Paxton getting hurt last week. It turns out it’s not serious. It’s a knee issue that Paxton is not worried about. This is classic Paxton. If things go south, he can easily lay it on the knee while keeping an easy breezy attitude about it even if he ends up on the IL. For all those on Twitter who are worried about Eury Pérez and his inning limitations, remember that Paxton has basically been out of action since 2020. Plus the Red Sox are not going to be in the playoffs. They could look to dump Paxton at the deadline, but what team can rely on him? And if that is the plan, then look for Paxton to see skipped turns or a reduction in innings going forward. The Red Sox can’t have it both ways.  

Tony Kemp, 2B/OF, Oakland Athletics

The little engine that could, can! Tony Kemp has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games. He also led off twice in the weekend series at Toronto. It’s a rock-solid 10-game stretch for Kemp. Oakland has the Yankees and White Sox at home this week. For any fantasy manager looking for more runs scored on the offensive side, Kemp can definitely fill that need. Again, nothing special, but for now he can be of use. 

Emmet Sheehan/Bobby Miller, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Two for two so far for Emmet Sheehan! Round three will take place in Coors this week. If Brandon Williamson of the Reds can jump from AA to cruise to victory in his MLB debut at Coors, why can’t Sheehan? As for Bobby Miller, he’s been a buzzkill. He’s been ripped in his last two outings. It happens. Especially to young pitchers. Even to the dudes as talented as Miller. The good news for Miller is he misses Coors. Instead, he will get the Royals in Kansas City. I fully expect Miller to correct course against the Royals this week. The Dodgers have had three days off over the last seven. Now the schedule requires a full rotation going forward. Remember that Julio Urías had a 4-inning rehab start this past Sunday and will return to the Dodgers against Kansas City. Despite the last two starts, I put Miller ahead of Sheehan when it comes to who would be demoted first. But it doesn’t appear to matter as the word is both will stay in the rotation even when Urias returns. For now at least.

Grayson Rodriguez, SP, Baltimore Orioles

Right now, Grayson Rodriguez is still at AAA. That will likely change by July. He just had back-to-back double-digit K games and has given up 6 ER over 22 innings since being demoted about a month ago. I was dubious of his ability to be ready in this first go-around during draft season so I stayed away from him. Now though, there are changes afoot. Rodriguez got a dose of reality that many young players need to remind them that being in The Show requires another level of intensity. I expect Grayson to be back soon with a strong showing to boot. Managers in 12-teamers and deeper need to be on alert.  

Eric Lauer, SP, Milwaukee Brewers

It’s been a rough year for Eric Lauer on the field and now he has stepped away from the organization for unspecified health reasons. Maybe the two are connected? I wish Lauer all the best with whatever it is that is ailing him. He’s a talented guy who clearly has something going on with his health. For me there’s a world of difference between fairly criticizing players for not performing when they are able (like Nick Maton) and ripping players who are having health problems and can’t perform because of them. I wish Lauer well. 

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