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Groovin’ with Govier: Fantasy Baseball Roundup (7/25)

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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 complement 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’re off to see the wizard in search of the ultimate … a league championship. Let the performances of newly inducted Hall Of Famers Fred McGriff and Scott Rolen be our guides as we dive into the latest and greatest across the fantasy baseball realm. 

For Those Who Were Patient, Sal Frelick Delivers!

This Is America, Jack!

Recently I poured my heart out in favor of Baltimore pitcher Tyler Wells. The statistical output he provided for fantasy baseball managers up until the All-Star break was an absolute bonus for all those fortunate enough to acquire his services. But wait! There’s more … unfortunately without the assurance of past performance over a large sample size or with the warning of additional supporting information that reveals overachievement, these players like Wells need to be considered declining assets (yes, I know players are human beings with mental health challenges just like the rest of us) who need to be moved now before their value becomes nil. It’s similar to the impossible task of trying to time the market with stocks, commodities or crypto. The likelihood of receiving a Blue Horseshoe tip just in time to maximize returns in fantasy baseball is unlikely. Or maybe it’s more akin to walking away from the craps table after a hot run finally craps out? Vegas banks on 95% of people believing in the hot hand fallacy. Fantasy baseball is no different. In the final analysis depending on the format, fantasy baseball often ends up becoming glorified gambling. Money is spent in the hopes of securing more of it down the trail. Outside of DFS season-long fantasy baseball is more of a long game. Many of us envision ourselves as the Michael Burry-type from The Big Short, who did the work and proceeded with the foresight to short the housing market in the face of unbelievable pressure. In the end though, it’s still betting. There are certain skills managers can learn and apply in the fantasy baseball realm which can increase the odds for success. Maybe it’s more business-like than gambling, but in my experience business in the good ole U.S. of A. shares too many properties with gambling to be perceived all that different. 

Whatever we call it, being a fantasy baseball manager requires making decisions that are not always favorable to the masses. These transactions go both ways though. Acquiring a player at the right time who is either middling, a rookie or coming off injury also requires the right timing. Let’s look at some players who one way or another, need to be considered in trades or as waiver wire drops: 

Tyler Wells, SP, Baltimore Orioles

As I mentioned above, the All-Star break was the time to move on from Tyler Wells. Even I failed in that respect as I did not move him in any of the four trading leagues where I still roster him. In one 15-teamer I flat out dropped him, because we pay money for trades and nobody seemed interested in spending real dollars to acquire his services. They probably knew what I knew. Though he held down the ratio cats while striking out more hitters than expected, his first two starts after the All-Star break were not stellar. The dong has been a big problem for Wells all season, with 23 already surrendered in 111 IP. His current 3.65 ERA coincides with a 4.89 FIP and a 4.15 SIERA. His 81% strand rate has to come down closer to his 73% last season which means more runs will cross home plate. His 0.99 WHIP has been his hallmark this year, but his .197 AVG against and .208 BABIP will certainly go up over the final two months. Sadly, it’s time to move on from Wells. Right now.

Possible Trade Targets: Max Scherzer, Brady Singer, Jameson Taillon, Mitch Keller, Bobby Miller, Jordan Montgomery

Mitch Keller, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates

I’ve never been on board with Mitch Keller unlike so many of the Keller-ites who have been waiting for him to pop. Yet, after his start to the 2023 season, I changed my tune because all of the underlying stats were verifying his output. Unfortunately, after 128 IP, Keller has fallen on hard times. Over his first nine starts Keller only allowed four dongs. Since May 20 however, Keller has given up an average of a dong per outing with 12 over his last 12 starts with 5 of them coming in his last two appearances against the Guardians and Angels. Keller’s ERA has ballooned to 4.01, but his FIP (3.80) and SIERA (3.82) are still showing that Keller may be having some bad luck. The Pirates’ schedule is middling the rest of the way. If Keller can improve his LOB% going forward by securing outs with RISP, I think he is worth adding. Especially now when his perceived value has plummeted as of late.

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Possible Trade Targets: Dane Dunning, Chris Bassitt, Justin Lawrence, Michael Lorenzen, Jon Gray, Kyle Finnegan

Randy Arozarena, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays have been scuffling lately. Randy Arozarena’s play has contributed to that. The Rays lost seven in a row to start the month of July and have now lost seven of eight games since the break. 4-14 in July is hard to believe after the torrid trail the Rays blazed to start 2023. Arozarena himself rolled up a 162 wRC+ by June 1, with his six steals to that point being the only disappointment. The Rays are going to come out of this awful July and tear it up in August. Randy is going to be a key reason for that. With a 50% HHR as comes into his prime, the best is yet to come for Arozarena. Including more swipes before the season is through.

Possible Trade Targets: Francisco Lindor, Nolan Arenado, Max Muncy, Kyle Schwarber, Wander Franco, Cody Bellinger

Cody Bellinger, OF, Chicago Cubs

This one is a baffler! The Baffler is at it again. The lesser-known of Batman’s coterie of supervillains, the Baffler strikes without warning leaving his victims absolutely baffled by the events they’ve just witnessed. Can Cody Bellinger’s recent productivity be explained by the influence of The Baffler? That remains unclear. Bellinger has just exploded of late. Since June 24, when his 13-game hitting streak began, Bellinger has a 215 wRC+ with only 10 K’s in 102 PA. He’s hitting .436 over this span with a .430 BABIP. He’s making consistent contact, with 7 dongs as well since June 24. Bellinger is hitting .319 for the season, but his xBA is .264. He is not hitting the ball with authority even within this last month. His HHR for the season is 31%. Over the last month it’s at 30%. For the Statcast diehards, this is clearly a sell-now situation. Year by year, Bellinger’s HHR has declined, but in his MVP year of 2019 he was still at 45%. However, making consistent contact is a good thing even if it’s not very hard. If Bellinger continues to limit his whiffs while putting the ball in play, good things could happen. I’m not buying it though. When I look deeper I see things like his 15% IFFB% pop-up rate. This can’t last. Sell now while there’s still time. 

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Possible Trade Targets: Brandon Nimmo, Josh Naylor, Masataka Yoshida, Ian Happ, Nick Castellanos, Aaron Judge

Bryan Reynolds, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

The ho-hum season Bryan Reynolds has produced so far will be a distant memory by season’s end. This dude is simply better than the results he’s providing right now. Now is the time to strike before it’s too late. For the season he’s rocking a 50% HHR with a 12% barrel rate which really surprised me based on his stat line to this point. His K rate is below 20% (19.3%) too. At some point, the breaks have to go his way. There are rays of hope already with multi-hit outings in three of his last seven games. The final two months should be Reynolds’ best even if his team is out of the NL Central race.

Possible Trade Targets: Jarren Duran, Byron Buxton, Michael Conforto, Teoscar Hernández, Christopher Morel, Chas McCormick

Andrew Abbott, SP, Cincinnati Reds

I remember it well. When Andrew Abbott got the call to The Show, there was a lot of debate on what used to be known as Twitter about overspending FAAB bucks to acquire his services. Many fantasy baseball wiz-kids thought he was fool’s gold. Well, after eight of his nine starts resulted in 3 ER or less, it appears the money that was spent on Abbott was well worth it. But wait! There’s more … going forward however, is another matter entirely. Abbott has incorporated that hottest of hot pitches known as the Sweeper into his pitch mix much more since he was first called up in June. Doing so has led to a 2.10 ERA over 55 IP with 57 K’s to 18 BBs, including two double-digit strikeout performances both at home, with 10 against the Rockies and 12 against the Padres. Pitching at Great American Bozo Park requires a pitcher to miss that many bats to be successful. The problem is that can’t be the norm nor will it be. His 4.07 FIP and 4.36 SIERA are wide enough gaps between his 2.10 ERA to scream regression! It’s fantasy baseball 101. When his home ballpark is added to the mix, that absolutely terrifies me. That ballpark is about to unleash hell on Abbott. Get out of business with Abbott now if there is a poor sap out there who is willing to take on the risk.

Possible Trade Targets: José Berríos, Jhoan Duran, Kyle Bradish, Clay Holmes, Kodai Senga, Tanner Bibee, Charlie Morton, Pablo López

37 Piece of Flair

The MLB trade deadline is in a week. For many leagues, their trade deadline corresponds near or with the actual MLB deadline Aug. 1. For redraft leagues, it’s easier to let go of players where the future or offseason doesn’t impact the roster. For those who play in keeper or dynasty leagues though, the decisions made now will most certainly have ramifications down the road in some capacity. In my H2H 14-team home league Bless You Boys, which I have mentioned before in this series (this is my 10th year in the league), I am trying to secure my fourth BYB championship. With that in mind, I made two big trades over the weekend. Our league has rotating keepers meaning the number of keepers changes each year. Last year we kept eight forever (we don’t attach rounds or apply qualifications to our keepers as we each keep the best players on our team at season’s end with no limits to how many years we can keep players) and after this season is done the keeper total will be reduced to six.

Knowing this while also feeling the heat on my tail as I slipped from the one seed to the two seed Monday, I decided to part ways with the legend Mike Trout. Trout has been on my team since the start of the 2016 season when I traded George Springer and Kris Bryant for Trout’s services. At the time it seemed like a lot, but as always time tells a different tale. Seeing as I won three titles from 2016 to 2022, that trade was 100% worth it. Now Trout is gone. Enter Bo Bichette. Last season I lost in the championship playoff round to Travis. It hurt even more because the win gave Travis four championships to my three.

For 2023, I have modeled my season after the 2014 San Antonio Spurs. During Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, the Spurs were up on the Miami Heat 95-92, 12 seconds away from a championship. After a LeBron missed shot, Chris Bosh secured the offensive rebound, and then Ray Allen made NBA history with one of the most clutch shots of all time. The Spurs lost and would go on to lose Game 7. However, the following year they came right back to face the Heat again in the NBA Finals, and they would not be denied as they overcame that massive letdown in 2013 to secure the title in 2014. So I moved Mike Trout and a couple draft picks (second and third round) for Bo Bichette, because prior to that I was playing Brendan Donovan every day at SS. Now that hole is filled. I also traded Eury Pérez and Jorge Soler along with two draft picks (first and fifth round) for Jordan Romano and Brandon Woodruff. I was hoping Perez would come back for the stretch run as Miami made a run at the playoffs, but that ship has sailed. Each day that the Marlins fall back in the standings is another day where I have less confidence in seeing Eury Pérez as a starter for our 2023 H2H playoffs. Either way, my roster requires a lockdown closer like Romano for those always bozo fest H2H playoffs. I also needed another lockdown starting pitcher. Brandon Woodruff is rehabbing right now, and I expect he will be clutch for my squad in the playoffs. More so than Perez will be. Plus I still value Woodruff more than I do Perez, all things being equal. 

From that point on, the comments on both deals start coming from all angles in our league text thread. One manager thinks it’s a solid move for both teams. Another manager thinks I gave up too much. I am confident everybody who reads this article has a group text thread or group messenger for their league filled with endless comments and GIFs 24/7. Beyond the actual professional leagues, my experience tells me that fantasy leagues have even more divergent opinions from manager to manager when it comes to player analysis. Every single one of us wants to believe that we’re Brad Pitt or Jonah Hill holding a newfound edge over the other managers in our league. The truth is many of us are likely closer in spirit to Grady the scout who is hanging on to his old ways of doing things. Sure there are plenty of managers who do seek out additional opinions from close friends they trust or public analysts on what used to be known as Twitter. I get DMs daily from fantasy managers with questions about the moves they are going to make. I respect those people who reach out to ask for additional opinions on the potential trades or player adds they are considering. Not because they are asking me either.

I commend anybody who reaches out regardless of who it is to workshop their ideas. It reminds me of the old adage about Abe Lincoln and how he surrounded himself with people who would challenge him or disagree with his stance. It can be helpful to be open to additional commentary. I understand that in fantasy baseball we’re not making decisions that will lead us to war. Frankly, deciding which people to rely on for trustworthy advice can be a journey of trial and error riddled with less than stellar opinions. I’ve learned in my own experiences that some public analysts are more focused on their 37 pieces of flair than the actual substance of the game. Just remember when the league message thread is squawking away with all kinds of trash talk about the latest roster decisions, it’s all temporary. Each manager should feel confident in the moves they make. Don’t be as stubborn as a goat either. The fine line between confidence and stubbornness is razor thin. Especially the moves related to long-term outcomes with keepers and young prospects. In three years’ time, I may end up looking like a fool for moving on from Eury Pérez. If I win this year though, it will definitely be worth it. 

What a Pleasure

How about a quick update on my first season in Tout Wars? This best of the best analyst-only fantasy baseball competition has many types of leagues. I am competing in the 12-team H2H points league that has been dominated by Frank Stampfl of CBS, as he has won the last two titles. Each week, a team gets either a win or a loss for the week’s point total against their opponent. I am currently 10-6, tied with Ariel Cohen of ATC Projections for third behind Frank and league leader Greg Jewett of Reliever Recon. Our draft was also an auction instead of a snake draft. Right now getting Cody Bellinger for $1 has been quite the return on investment. The top six teams make the playoffs. As long as I don’t choke like the ‘64 Phillies or the ‘95 Knicks I will make the playoffs in my first year which was my original goal seeing as the competition was tough. It is a pleasure for me to participate in these leagues. There has always been some guff on what used to be known as Twitter about high-stakes leagues versus best of the best analyst leagues like Tout Wars. I don’t worry about that kind of crap. All I know is I take each opportunity afforded to me as a pleasure and an opportunity to compete. That’s why I play the game in the first place. Also, every week Tout Wars publishes their Tout Table. Every week there is a new question posed with answers from over 40 different analysts. It’s a great tool for gaining multiple perspectives on important questions surrounding the game of baseball. 

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. This one is special though as I was instantly reminded of the classic film Scarface. Isn’t Gaspar Gomez one of Tony Montana’s main rivals in the drug trade? 

 

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Brandon Woodruff, SP, Milwaukee Brewers

Woody is working on his rehab assignment as he prepares to return to the Brewers to help them lock down the NL Central over the last two months of the season. As I stated earlier in this piece, I traded for Woodruff because outside of this scapula issue that he has suffered from this year, he’s been pretty reliable since coming on the scene in 2019. Woody will make another rehab start Thursday before he heads to AAA Nashville to make another start. After that, it’s very possible he could rejoin the Brew Crew during the second week of August. Get hyped.

Yonny Chirinos, SP, Atlanta Braves

The Rays finally parted ways with YonnyChirinos after many injuries. It would be hard to argue that the Rays were not patient with him. Now he hops on the bandwagon of one of the other best teams in baseball who have the ability to maximize potential from their starting pitching. It may not be the Leo Mazzone heyday of the 1990s, but it’s certainly worth monitoring how Chirinos is used going forward by the Braves. 

Pierce Johnson, RP, Atlanta Braves

Pirtvr Johnson is now a member of the Braves after being dealt by the Rockies for Double-A pitchers Tanner Gordon and Victor Vodnik. Johnson has struck out 58 hitters in 39 innings. Clearly he’s got the stuff to make hitters whiff. Again, another pitcher now in better hands with Atlanta as opposed to playing at home in COORS. Raisel Iglesias is not sweating this move by any means. 

Adam Wainwright, SP, St. Louis Cardinals

Maybe Waino should have followed suit with Yadier Molina and called it a career last season. This year’s Cardinal’s team is not fun. However, Adam Wainwright was able to return Monday from the IL while also giving his team 5 decent innings. He did not factor into the decision while striking out three Dbacks in Arizona. In 51 IP this year Wainwright holds down a 7.66 ERA (5.88 FIP). No way in hell Waino gets dealt at the deadline either as this is likely his last season.

Trevor Larnach, OF, Minnesota Twins

Trevor Larnach returned to the big-league roster after Byron Buxton left to welcome his new child into the world. Larnach started Monday, going 1-3. This is a temporary move for a team that is now crawling with hitters who are producing. It’s noteworthy that he was called up, but he’ll be Major League III: Back to the Minors in a few days. 

Jake Bauers, OF, New York Yankees

The former Cleveland prospect was selected for reinstatement from the IL Sunday where he hit lead off against the Royals going 1-3 with a BB and a run scored. I have ignored Jake Bauers’ mini-resurgence with the Yankees this season, but I may have been too harsh on the fella. He’s holding down a 12% BB rate across 158 PA with a .241 ISO and a 115 wRC+. The Yankees are desperate for offense, so Bauers absolutely warrants attention in 14-teamers and deeper with particular attention required for those managers who play in OBP leagues. 

Corey Seager, SS, Texas Rangers

Major buzzkill for the Rangers here, losing Corey Seager for the second time this season with a sprained right thumb. Seager always has his injury issues, but he also is mashing like never before in his career. According to Seager, he doesn’t think this injury will cost him more than two weeks. No need to panic then. I’m sure everything will be just fine when he returns and there will be no issues with his thumb in relation to his hitting performance. Right?

Brandon Pfaadt, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks

Brandon Pfaadt returned to the big club to take on the Cincinnati Reds in their very scary home ballpark last weekend. It turns out Pfaadt was up to the task this time as he went 6 innings with 6 K’s, However, he gave up three solo dongs in that game accounting for all three ER allowed. This start is fool’s gold to me because Pfaadt’s biggest problem is allowing homers. Though his stat line looks good on the surface, giving up three home runs doesn’t inspire confidence in his ability going forward. Until he can learn to limit the dong or make adjustments to induce more grounders, Pfaadt is a scary proposition in fantasy baseball. 

Sal Frelick, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

Sal Frelick seems to have that quality in him which instills confidence in everybody he plays with. His first career home run came Monday in a big win over the Reds at home. I’ve been waiting all year for Frelick to get the call. When Garrett Mitchell was lost for the season I figured it was his time, but Joey Wiemer was already up and then Frelick had an unlucky thumb injury that caused him to miss a chunk of time. That’s all in the past now though as Frelick is here and he’s never going back to the minors. Trust me. Add this dude now in 12-teamers and deeper.

Alejandro Kirk, C, Toronto Blue Jays

Alejandro Kirk Toronto Blue Jays Fantasy Baseball Groovin' with Govier

Alejandro Kirk is showing signs of life finally after a mostly miserable season offensively. Last week Kirk had two big games with the bat. He went 3-3 with a homer against the Padres last Thursday and then went 4-5 last Saturday against the Mariners. Danny Jansen is still in the mix, but he did suffer a contusion on his forearm Sunday after being hit by a pitch. The Blue Jays are in a major battle in the AL East though, so whoever can provide the most production in this situation could be the one who benefits. 

Chas McCormick, OF, Houston Astros

“The Accountant” had a monster game Monday night, going 2-3 with a homer and 6 RBIs. Chas McCormick is playing every day and is well on his way to a 20/20 season. With Yordan Alvarez preparing to likely return Tuesday for the Astros, McCormick will only continue to be valuable over the final two months of the season.

Elieser Hernández, RP, New York Mets

Remember this dude? Elieser Hernández is making his season and Mets debut after finally getting healthy enough to pitch 9.1 innings while striking out 12 hitters across a couple different levels in the minors. Right now, he’s nothing more than another arm in the Mets bullpen. I always had a thing for his stuff. He couldn’t quite hack it as a starter with the Marlins. Those managers playing in holds leagues though should take note of Hernández to see how he gets used by ole Buck Showalter. 

Ha-Seong Kim, 2B/3B/SS, San Diego Padres

After two more home runs Monday night, Ha-Seong Kim continues to be a major factor in fantasy baseball this year. As the leadoff hitter for a team with a lot of talented bats, Kim absolutely should be rostered all over. I was surprised to discover that he is only 77% rostered in Yahoo leagues. With his 18 steals and multi-positional eligibility, Kim is the real deal. One thing to be aware of: he has a similar Statcast profile to Cody Bellinger. Kim’s HHR is 29% for the year. He’s never hit the ball very hard since he came to MLB. It’s very possible he is getting lucky right now. But the steals aren’t luck. Those will always play. Just wanted to keep it real. I’m not here to be a party pooper, but the stats are the stats. 

Merrill Kelly, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks

The Dbacks are stoked for the return of Merrill Kelly, as they could definitely use his reliable production in the rotation every fifth day. Kelly will take on the Cardinals Tuesday in his return from the IL. Kelly hasn’t pitched since June 24, but the veteran hurler should return to his old reliable self. I will note that sometimes the first start back for a starting pitcher can be challenging. The Cardinals know how to hit too. Food for thought. 

Nick Madrigal, 2B, Chicago Cubs

The always-on-the-verge-of-getting-hurt second baseman is hoping to return to the Cubs Tuesday. He was slated to be the DH for the AAA Iowa Cubs this past Sunday, but he didn’t take the role because of some weird body fatigue. It just seems that whenever Nick Madrigal starts producing consistently he ends up with a muscle injury of some kind. I used to be in love with Madrigal, but now I can’t trust him to stay in the lineup. Plus he’s only really useful for steals. I wish him the best though.

Wilmer Flores, 1B/2B, San Francisco Giants

Every season Wilmer Flores inevitably becomes a hitter to stream as he goes on an offensive binge. Over the last week he’s hit 5 bombs, including one Monday in a makeup game in Detroit. Flores is a great pickup right now while he stays hot. Eventually he will cool down. That’s when it’s time to cut bait. For now, we toast.

Trevor Story, 2B, Boston Red Sox

Trevor Story is upgrading his rehab assignment to AAA Worcester after swinging a good stick with the AA Portland Sea Dogs — who still have the coolest team name in all of minor league baseball, which is really saying something! Story is going to join the Red Sox in August after the team feels he has done enough to be ready for the season. Remember this is his spring training, so he will need plenty of at-bats before he’s ready to roll for the Sawks, who are very much in the AL Wild Card race. 

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