We're approaching mid May and about to head into summer baseball as well basketball and hockey championships. I want to give some of our friends and followers (@untalentedMR on twitter) an update on our podcasts and website. Mike and I have to commute over 3 hours in order to do a show together during the summer months, so we won't be doing any shows, together live, for a while. I do plan on releasing a podcast this weekend and, if he is free, I'm sure Mr. Fantasy Freak will chime in over the phone. To replace him for the time being, I will have a handful of guest host (including our IT guy, Jaxon) and some other fantasy geeks and nerds (like myself) joining the show. I will of course do a handful of shortened solo shows in between those (I'm sure Mr. Fantasy Freak will as well). In other news, I finally got the okay to do an interview with a childhood friend, over the phone during a show. If your wondering what the okay was, his father (and agent) told my father he would do it. Now, if your wondering who this mystery interviewee will be, it is non-other than Tennessee Titan's corner, Alterraun Verner. I haven't talked to him since his senior year at UCLA so this will be a treat for our listeners and for myself as well. I haven't set up a time to conduct the interview yet, so please be patient.
Getting back to some actual fantasy news and updates, one of my biggest story lines entering the season was the new look Miami Marlins. I wanted to give my readers a fantasy update on the Marlins and every NL East team, in my...
Mid May NL East Fantasy Update
(It's not the catchiest title but hang in here, I'll try to be funny in a bit.)
Ryan Howard PHI 1B
Here's a funny joke to get things started, the Phillies have hit 22 home runs this season as a team (tied for 25th worse). Josh Hamilton has 15 by himself. Replacement first basemen, Lance Nix, has a calf injury and is most likely headed to the DL and Jim Thome is already on the DL. This may very well mean that Ty Wiggington and John Mayberry Jr. will get the call to play first base until Howard returns. Those don't sound like ideal first baseman for a championship contending team.
Back to Howard, he just recently took swings for the first time since spring training. To give you an idea on what that means, he basically just started spring training over again. If your expecting him to return in a month you may be out of luck. I'm thinking more along the lines of 6-8 weeks, if not longer.
Chase Utley PHI 2B
The Phillies injury woes continue with Utley. Chase has been taking batting practice and doing some light fielding work but, he doesn't feel like he is ready to play in games. He will have to play a few weeks of minor league ball to ensure he is at full strength before returning to the big league club. My best guess is 4-5 weeks.
Cliff Lee PHI SP
Lee came of the DL and pitched Tuesday (May 9th). He was on a pitch count (ended with 84 pitches) but went 6 innings and had 6 strikeouts while only allowing two runs. His next scheduled start is May 15th against the Houston Astros.
Jayson Werth WSH OF
I wrote an article about fantasy replacement pickups if you were a Werth owner. He has a broken wrist and will miss at least 12 weeks.
I heard Nationals management went to Bryce Harper and asked him to heal Werth's wrist with his special 19 year old powers... Amazingly nothing happened.
Drew Storen WSH RP
Storen has missed the entire season so far, don't pay for saves, but is scheduled to begin a throwing program by the end of the week. Drew could return to the Nationals as early as mid June.
Did you catch my subliminal message in there? I will force feed the "Don't pay for saves" theory to all of my followers and readers.
Brad Lidge WSH RP
Lidge has missed ample time with a sports hernia. Expect an early June return and more than likely a late June exit again.
Mike Pelfrey NYM SP
Pelfrey had succesful Tommy John surgery and now has begun the long rehab process. Good Luck Pelfrey. This season Mike had a 2.29 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and 13 strikeouts in 19.2 innings pitched.
Chipper Jones ATL 3B
Jones has been playing off and on all year due to his knee, or lack there of his knee. Jones is actually putting together a great season (.295, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 14 runs). He's most likely available in your league, go pick him up.
I'm willing to bet that by the time you read this he will be on the DL with a strained back. The story will be, Jones went to reach across the couch for the television remote which led to severe old man pains... You're 40 years old!
Heath Bell MIA RP
There's no real injury here, unless you count "zero confidence in himself or from his manageritous"
Bell has to show Ozzie Guillen that he can be consistent before the Venezuelan manger puts him back into the closer's role, until then look for Steve Cishek (2 blown saves already) or Edward Mujica to get the save chances (Mujica is also from Venezuela).
On a side note: One of my best friends is graduating from college this Saturday. He is from Venezuela and has been nothing short of another great brother in my life. He hopes to one day become an athletic trainer for a major league ball club and with his dual language skills and 4.0 GPA he is well on his way.
Enough with my sad sob stories, let's talk some fantasy (cut to a picture of me doing my best Mel Gibson Braveheart impersonation speech to about 20 fantasy geeks as we ride off to a public library to discuss Big Papi's high batting average).
Sleeper Pickups and Trends
Vance Worley PHI SP
This year Worley has a 2-2 record with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. He has been stellar at night this season posting a 0.90 ERA when the sun goes down compared to a 5.00 ERA when the sun is high in the sky. Worley as a whole has been solid this season with 36 strikeouts in 38 innings. I think that Worley is a solid spot start and is a borderline rosterable pitcher, just below my "Nolasco Line." With his next starts most likely being at home against San Diego (today) and at the Chicago Cubs (May 16th) I'm buying in for the time being. You can always cut him and move on, it's just my opinion!
Placido Polanco PHI 3B
If you were hit with the injury bug at third base (Longoria, Youkilis or Sandoval) then Polanco may be worth a short term look. Over his past 4 games he is 7 for 17 and is still hitting a respectable .275 on the young season. He is a career .300 hitter but has not had a season with over 10 homers since 2004 and a double digit steal season since 2003. Polanco is no more than a positive batting average on your team that will hit 2nd in the Phillies line up.
Hunter Pence PHI OF
Pence is the Phillies best hitter this season. He has 4 home runs in his last 6 games and 7 total on the year. He is a career .291 hitter so, his current .262 should rise as the season progresses. Pence is only hitting .200 this year against lefties, over the past three seasons he's managed a .300 average versus south paws so, theoretically Pence is due to come out of this "slump" shortly.
Ross Detwiler WSH SP
You know about Strasburg, Zimmermann, Gonzalez and even Edwin Jackson but how much do you know about their number 5 guy? Detwiler has delivered more than reputable numbers this season. He has a 3-2 record, 2.10 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. Ross has 25 strikeouts through his first 6 starts this year, to only 9 walks. I think he can continue his success and pitching as a number 5 in that rotation will only continue to benefit the 26 year old.
Henry Rodriguez WSH RP
With both Storen and Lidge down for another month, Rodriguez looks to continue his solid season. He's converted 7 of 9 save chances, although he did blow 2 of the last 3 prior to Thursday's perfect 9th. Rodriguez is a lock to get saves for the first place Nationals until either Storen or Lidge return and cause a ruckus.
Bryce Harper WSH OF
I can't write an article without mentioning Harper. He has a .265 average to go along with 1 steal (he stole home) and 5 RBI's. The power will come but what impresses me most is his plate discipline.
Adam LaRoche WSH 1B
After missing 4 games in early May, LaRoche appears to be fine going 4 for his last 8 with two bombs. On the season Adam has a .327 average, 6 homers and 21 runs batted in. He's worth a look in your flex or utility roster spots.
R.A. Dickey NYM SP
Despite his 8 run outing against the Braves on April 18th, the knuckle baller has been tremendous this year. This season he has a 3.76 ERA (2.12 ERA if you take out the April 18th blowout). Dickey is more than capable of putting up solid numbers, over the past two seasons he hasn't had an ERA over 3.28 as a member of the New York Mets.
Andres Torres NYM OF
I'm buying back in on Andres Torres. He got hurt during the first game of the season and since returning, all he's done is hit. This season Torres has a .333 average with 1 homer and 1 steal. He's played in 8 games since returning on My 30th and has already accounted for 8 RBI's and 8 runs scored. He's most likely available in your league.
Ike Davis NYM 1B
A horrible start so far this year but I'm not giving up all hope on the young first baseman. Davis may continue his early struggles but he still has more home runs (4) than Albert Pujols, David Wright, Troy Tulowitzki, Justin Upton, Brett Lawrie and Adrian Gonzalez.
He's hitting .281 on the road. His 0.061 average at home concerns me but, a lot of his home games have been against solid pitchings staffs such as: Wahington (2.70 team ERA, best in MLB), San Francisco (3.38 team ERA, 10th best in MLB) and Miami (3.16 team ERA, 3rd best in MLB), as well as Arizona and Atlanta (both teams with young talented arms).
Kirk Nieuwenhuis NYM OF
I told you to buy low on Kirk. Through 102 at bats he has a .302 average with 2 home runs and 16 runs scored. I'm a believer.
Daniel Murphy NYM 1B 2B 3B
Murphy doesn't offer a lot of power or speed but his .312 average is the real deal. He is a career .294 hitter.
Carlos Zambrano MIA SP
Big Z has been unlucky this season with only 1 win to his name but the veteran righty maintains a 1.98 ERA with a superb 1.02 WHIP. Zambrano has had 5 of his first 6 starts labeled as quality outings and his next start is at home against the Mets. I think Zambrano is worth a pickup in every league, especially if your hurting for pitching.
Ricky Nolasco MIA SP
One of my fantasy Kryptonites, Nolasco has been solid this year with a 4-0 record, 2.72 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. The key to Nolasco's success has been getting ahead of hitters. This season when he jumps out to a 0-1 count, opponents are hitting .186 off him. When he falls behind to a 1-0 count batters are hitting a robust .288 off him. He is having a solid year.
Read about my "Nolasco Line"
Mark Buehrle MIA SP
Mark deserves some credit as well due to his 2.83 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. The old lefty isn't exciting but if your looking for ground ball outs you'll find them with the 33 year old.
One place you won't find ground ball outs is in Jose Reyes' glove. The big money contract free agent already has 6 errors in his first 29 games as a Marlin. I know I would have made more than 6 errors in 29 games but I would have been a lot cheaper. I also think I would have had enough luck to hit over .230, unlike Reyes.
Josh Johnson MIA SP
This year Johnson has a 5.87 ERA, 1.70 WHIP and an 0-4 record. Look at the Marlin pitchers listed above, now think where they were drafted in your league compared to Josh Johnson? Enough said.
Hanley Ramirez MIA SS 3B
HanRam has solid counting numbers this year and his .220 average is just a bad case of luck. Ramirez has a .236 BABIP, which I'm sure will trend upwards.
Jose Reyes MIA SS
Reyes has a slightly higher .252 BABIP but he never has been a power hitter so the slugging percentages concern me as he is not lifting the ball as much this season. Reyes has a career high 49.5% ground ball rate and a career low 29.9% fly ball rate. Once Reyes begins to put some lift under the ball he will begin to turn things around.
Hopefully he can turn things around before he gets hurt. I swear Jose gets hurt on purpose just to enjoy the nightlife. First it was the New York nightlife and now it will be Miami, I'm expecting him to get hurt right about the time when the Heat make it to the finals. I know I called the Bulls to come out of the east but come on, I can't predict an injury like that.
Giancarlo Stanton MIA OF
On May 1st I said to buy low on this guy. Here's proof. I hope you listened.
Omar Infante MIA 2B
Infante is on pace for a career year and I'm a believer. He already has 6 homers, 15 RBI, 16 runs with a .313 average. I'm all in on Omar and with his .304 BABIP I don't think luck has anything to do with it. It's actually his 47.1% fly ball rate and the fact he is attacking the junk thrown at him. This year he is seeing a career low 50.8% fastballs and the rest are off speed (17.6% are sliders, 6.4% are cutters, 9.7% are curveballs, 10.6% are changeups, 4.8% are either splitters or knuckleballs).
If your wondering where I get my stats from, I use fangraphs.
Emilio Bonifacio MIA 3B SS OF
Bonifacio has been getting dropped in some fantasy leagues now. My advice: go pick him up asap. He has 15 steals with a .238 average. This is just a case of him not being aggressive early on in the 2012 season. He is swinging at a career low 36.9% of pitches. Once he begins to attack pitchers, he will be up his average closer to his career .266 mark.
Tim Hudson ATL SP
Hudson had a bad outing against the Rockies on May 4th where he gave up 6 runs in 6 innings. In that game he served up 5 runs in the first. If you take away his bad first inning and couple it with the rest of his stats he's thrown 17 innings and only given up 4 earned runs. Feel good with Hudson on your team. He is still a ground ball machine. Go get him if he's available.
Brandon Beachy ATL SP
Brandon has been stellar this season with 27 K's in 39 innings of work. Beachy has a sub 1 WHIP and 1.62 ERA so far this season. The 25 year old is the perfect example of the Braves farm system spitting out young talented arms.
Jason Heyward ATL OF
In his 3rd season as a pro the Say Hey Kid has come to play. Heyward has begun to lift the ball with more frequency this season, a 42.7% fly ball rate and a very impressive 20% line drive rate (his previous career high line drive rate was 17.8%). Heyward has the natural strength to hit the ball out of the park and as long his is fly ball rate remains high he will be a candidate for a 25 home run season in 2012. He also has 9 steals in 11 attempts.
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or want to chat fantasy sports with me then hit me on twitter @Awies28