Eight In The Box: IDP Waiver Wire Week 16

Sean Lee
Lee is a strong stash for next season, but have a backup plan in place

If you are in a dynasty league it’s time to start looking for diamonds in the rough that could be primed to break out next year. I like to look at teams that are out of playoff contention and are now playing some of their younger players, looking to see what they have in them. This is especially true on the defensive side of the ball.

Another good source of value are players that are free agents that may be changing schemes if they move to a different team. For example, you might be looking at a playing Brandon Graham with the Eagles. He is being used is an outside linebacker and has been underutilized. He is in the last year of his rookie contract and could look to move to a team that runs a 4-3 and wants a young player with upside to give him a shot. This could be a cheap way to acquire an impact player moving forward.

Rather than give you start and sits for the next two weeks I will be looking at these types of players while making recommendations on players you might be able to acquire on the cheap in dynasty formats.

 Week 14 results from the Sunday pod:

Player Stats Start/Sit Result Type
Matt Ryan 310 yds; 2 TD; 1 Int Neutral Win Offense
Devin Hester 5-85 yds; 1 TD Desperation Play Win Offense
Roddy White 7-58 yds; 1 TD Neutral Win Offense
DeSean Jackson 3-15 yds; 1-9 yds Sit Win Offense
Jordan Reed 3-13 yds; 0 TD Start Loss Offense
Brandon Oliver 12-26yds; 4-44 yds Sit OK Offense
Donald Brown 5-18yds; 4-38 yds Sit Win Offense
Keenan Allen 3-18 yds PPR Play Loss Offense
DeAndre Hopkins 5-77 yds Neutral Win Offense
Justin Forsett 16-48 yds; 1- (-1) Start Loss Offense
Steve Smith 5-37 yds Start Loss Offense
Cameron Wake 1/0/0 Sit Win IDP
LeGarrette Blount 8-17yds; 2-7yds; 1 TD Start Win Offense
Kamar Aiken 1 target Sit Win Offense
Chandler Jones 4/3/1.5 High Risk/High Reward -Sit Loss IDP
Martavis Bryant 3-31yds; 0 TD Long Shot Loss Offense
Donte Moncrief 0-0 Long Shot Loss Offense
Marquess Wilson 3-16yds; 1 TD Long Shot Win Offense
Steven Jackson>NYG RB’s 11-46; 1-11 Jackson Win Offense
Jonathan Stewart 22-73 yds; 1-6 yds Start Win Offense

Week 15 Summary: 12-7-1 (63%)

Season Summary (since week 8): 71-36-3 (66%)

*IDP Stats are listed as:  Solos/Assists/Sacks; PD = Pass Defensed; FR = Fumble Recover; INT = Interception

Week 15 Results from this column:

Player Stats Start/Sit Result Type
Ziggy Ansah 1/0/0 Start Loss IDP
Cameron Jordan 0/0/0 Start Loss IDP
Charles Johnson 3/1/0.5 Start Win IDP
Damontre Moore 4/1/0.5 Start &Dynasty Stash Win IDP
Rolando McClain 3/2/0 Start Loss IDP
Curtis Lofton 2/1/0 Start Loss IDP
Elvis Dumervil 1/0/1 Start Win IDP
Ryan Mundy 4/5/1/PD Start Win IDP
Barry Church 8/0/0 Start Win IDP
Antrel Rolle 4/0/0/PD Sit Win IDP

Week 15: 6-4 (60%)

Season Summary: 72-31 (70%)

I had a successful season of predictions overall, hitting at a nice 68% between the article and the podcast. I was brought down a bit with my offensive predictions as I was only 61% (podcast only) while my overall IDP recommendations hit at 70% (111-47).

I am open for suggestions. If there is anything you want clarified or think my thresholds are wrong please let me know. Any input is appreciated. On to this week’s information:

Week 16 injuries of note:

  • Muhammad Wilkerson (NYJ DL): Wilkerson missed the last couple of weeks with a turf toe injury. These can linger and a full off-season of rest should help considerably. If you can acquire him cheaply from an owner worried this could be an issue in the future do so. He should be fine next year.
  • Gerald McCoy (TB DL): He is one of the premier defensive tackles in the NFL, but his season comes to an end with a hyperextended knee. The Bucs had nothing to play for and did the smart thing by shutting him down. He doesn’t need surgery which is obviously a good thing. His stock for next year should be just fine.
  • Jadeveon Clowney (HOU LB): I touched on Clowney a couple weeks ago as he has undergone microfracture surgery on his knee. This is a long and difficult path back to playing and because of this his dynasty value has taken a big hit. If you have him I would look to move him for any value you can get. On the flip side, I wouldn’t be looking to acquire him. I wouldn’t expect much out of him in 2015.
  • Kiko Alonzo (BUF LB): Alonzo is probably off the radar for many owners since he has missed the entire year with a torn ACL. He should be back to 100% for training camp and should be roaming the middle of the field for a good Bills defense. If he is on your waiver wire pick him up and stash him for next year. You’ll be happy you did.
  • Sean Lee (DAL LB): Lee is another linebacker who missed the entire season with an ACL. He is an absolute stud when healthy, however, he is never healthy. He should be back to full health for training camp but will always be an injury risk.  If you have the space he is a good speculative add but you better have a backup plan for when he gets hurt.
  • Anthony Barr (MIN LB): Barr was the favorite for defensive rookie of the year before he got hurt. For now, he should be a player to monitor. Indications are that it should not affect his long term performance so if a worried owner in your league will ship him, it might be worth inquiring about. He is a stud and will be for many years to come.
  • Jerod Mayo (NE LB): Mayo missed most of the 2014 season with another injury. The injury bug is catching up to him and I would probably stay away in most dynasty formats at this point. See how the off-season goes and try to acquire him for a discount if all goes well but be prepared for the inevitability of the next injury.
  • Sio Moore (OAK LB): Moore was a semi-breakout performer with a few huge weeks. He has been placed on IR with a hip injury but it doesn’t appear to be too serious. Monitor him in the off-season to see how workouts are going. I would try making a lowball offer to his owner.
  • Eric Berry (KC DB): In general I don’t worry about rostering DB’s in keeper leagues. The turnover in the top 15 is very high and you can usually always find one on the waiver wire. You never know who will be performing at a high level from year to year and sometimes it’s better to find the hot rookie because they get picked on and get a lot of tackle opportunities.  I mention Berry here in hoping that he is able to beat this thing and get back to living a healthy life.

Watch list adds for 2015:

DL:

  • Damontre Moore (NYG DL): I mentioned him here last week and the window to buy low may have already passed. Moore has 5.5 sacks on the year including 2.5 over the last two weeks. I think he has arrived. If you can acquire him I would do so as he is poised to have a big 2015.
  • Olivier Vernon (MIA DL): Vernon is probably on most radars as he had a nice 2013 but has disappointed this season. With Cameron Wake slowing down a bit and getting older it might be a good time to try and buy low on the younger Vernon.
  • Geno Atkins (CIN DL): Atkins got off to a slow start in 2014 after knee surgery. If his owner has soured on him since he only has 20 tackles and 3 sacks on the year it might be time to investigate his price tag. He will 100% next year and should be back to wreaking havoc in the middle of the line. In DT-required leagues I would make a big push to acquire him below market value.
  • Demarcus Lawrence (DAL DL): Lawrence was injured most of the year so he hasn’t really had a chance to perform. As you may know, Dallas is 28th in the league for sacks so they are in desperate need of players who can storm the pocket. Look for Lawrence to get a shot in 2015. He is playing now so if you get a chance take a look at him over their last couple of games. A nice buy low stash.

LB:

  • Dee Ford (KC LB): With Justin Houston set to be a free agent after this year, Ford was drafted to take his place. He has shown glimpses in his minimal playing time. This is a speculative add situation and his value will be tied to whether or not Justin Houston re-signs or is franchise tagged in the off-season.
  • Telvin Smith (JAC LB): With the injuries to the Jaguar linebackers he got a shot at every down work. He is very athletic but undersized and some think he will wear down due to that. It appears that may be true as he started off with 10 tackles in his first game playing every down and has steadily gone down from there. His totals have been 10, 8, 4 and 1 over the last four games. However, I still think he has play-making ability as he has two sacks and an interception on the year. I think he is worth rolling the dice on.
  • Christian Kirksey (CLE LB): Kirksey has had a disappointing year. He could never crack an every down role even with Dansby getting injured. He has had a solid year with 44/31/2 so all hope is not lost. If an owner is frustrated because they expected more it would be a good time for lowball offer.
  • Jelani Jenkins (MIA LB): Jenkins got his chance early and ran with it. He has been outstanding this year as an every down linebacker and should only get better. I mention him here because he missed the last game and if his owner is fighting for this year he might be willing to part with him to win now. See if you can pry him loose. He will be great next year.
  • Khalil Mack (OAK LB): Mack hasn’t met expectations as he only has 3 sacks on the year. However, he has played much better than that. He will be outstanding in big play scoring leagues in the future. Get him now before he explodes.

DB:

  • I wouldn’t worry about DB’s and wasting a roster spot in the off-season. They change ever year and you can always find them on the waiver wire. Concentrate on the other positions and you’ll be happy. If you insist on trying to roster one I would target Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. He looks to be the real deal and has only gotten better as the season has progressed.

If you have any suggestions for some off-season articles or about specific players you want me to write about drop me a line on Twitter or in the comment section below.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/aTnoxT

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Shane Gallimore is a fantasy football contributor and co-host of the live Sunday edition of The Fantasy Forecaster. Follow him on Twitter @Gally4!

The Extra Attacker: Trendy Transactions

We’re now a third of the way through the hockey season. Hopefully you’re faring better than Craig MacTavish is with his “bold move” approach of turning the Edmonton Oilers into the Oakland Raiders (see fire, dumpster). If not, and you’re looking to add a few key players to bolster your roster as we approach the new year, you should be looking at these factors: average time on ice (TOI), power play minutes and probably most important, a skater’s current line mates. On-ice chemistry is the key, as a move from the 3rd line center to 1st line left wing could make all the difference in the world from a fantasy perspective. Here are 3 players that are trending upward right now:

Alex Galchenyuk, Montreal Canadiens: The third pick behind Nail Yakupov and Ryan Murray in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft (would you like a redo Craig MacTavish?), Galchenyuk, a natural center, has been up and down Montreal’s lineup at varying positions. It seems he may have finally found his way as Montreal’s top-line pivot. Here are his linemates:

Habs Line Combo
Over the last week, Michel Therrien might have finally figured this whole line combo out. Pacioretty, a bona fide sniper and 30 goal-scorer, was recently split up with his longtime centerman David Desharnais and placed on the top line with Galchenyuk and Gallagher. Gallagher is a scrappy right winger who plays big despite his small stature, while doing the line’s dirty work.

Galchenyuk is currently owned in just 43% of Y! leagues and is a must add at this point. Fresh off of a hat trick, Galchenyuk is averaging 1:57 PP time per game. We will very likely see that number continue to rise, as he is now a member of the top power play unit as well. 525 owners have added him in the last 24 hours, make sure you’re in that group.

Mika Zibanejad, Ottawa Senators: The 21 year-old Zibanejad, 6th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft has been on fire of late late, scoring 5 goals in his last 5 contests. He hasn’t quite been able to put it all together yet in his brief career, but this may be the start of something worthwhile. This is his current line:

Sens Line Combo
Centering a line with Bobby Ryan can never be a bad thing and Mike Hoffman is an underrated offensive player. This is Ottawa’s 2nd line, as Alex Chiasson joins Zibanejad and Ryan on Ottawa’s 2nd power play unit. Another strong sign for Mika is that he averages 2:42 of time on the man advantage per tilt. Further, a third of his points this season have come on the power play. Currently owned in only 17% of Y! leagues, he may be worth taking a flyer on. Others apparently feel the same way, as he has been picked up by 396 owners in the last 24 hour period.

Nick Bjugstad, Florida Panthers: I don’t know what’s more amazing, the fact that I am about to write about a Florida Panther or that I spelled his name correctly on the first try! Make no mistake about it, big Nick, 19th pick in the 2010 draft and former University of Minnesota Golden Golpher star has arrived as a legit NHL player. At 6 foot 6, Bjugstad has the size and reach to power through and/or around defenders. Oh and by the way, the kid knows his way around a shootout:

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=702207

With 12 goals and 19 points in 27 games (which included 4 in a recent 3-game stretch), Bjugstad has made it clear it’s time to pick him up in fantasy. He is currently owned in 32% of Y! leagues:

Panthers Line Combo
I know, not exactly the triple crown line from the LA King’s heydays, but there is some potential here. Huberdeau is a former 3rd overall pick and Calder Trophy winner and Fleischmann should be well known to fantasy owners, as he has been up and down over the years with Florida and Washington. Florida is a young team who trending in the right direction, and as their #1 center, Bjugstad is at the heart of their renaissance. With an average of 2:07 power play time per game and 3 power goals, there will be plenty of man advantage opportunities for Bjugstad in the coming weeks. He may not be as hot a pickup as Galchenyuk or Zibanejad, but I would keep him on your watch list and monitor his progress heading into 2015.

Notice a trend with these 3 players? They’re young, on the cusp of stardom and getting plenty of ice time. If you’re in a keeper league, I would consider all 3 of them to be must-owns.

Statistical credits: NHL.com, Dailyfaceoff.com
Photo/video cred: http://goo.gl/kb8fev, http://goo.gl/6cdlCK, http://goo.gl/Y7PSEz, NHL.com

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Derek is The Sports Script’s resident fantasy hockey guru. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @Extra_Attacker!

Transaction Scripts: Jason Motte and the Cubs Bullpen

Hector Rondon
Can Motte and Maddon rain on Rondon’s parade or does this create a buying opportunity?

“The best way to predict the future is to study the past, or prognosticate.” Robert Kiyosaki

When I saw that Jason Motte had signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs, it immediately jogged my memory to all of the closer reclamation projects of Tampa Bay’s past. Is it a coincidence that one of the first things the Dodgers have done under Andrew Friedman regime is clearing house in their bullpen trying to get rid of the salary burden? For years, the Rays built their bullpens with players who were discarded or unwanted by other clubs. As romantic and whimsical as all of this sounds, it also makes trying to predict what Joe Maddon will do with his closer as difficult as any manager in baseball.

In his nine-year tenure as the Rays skipper, only Fernando Rodney led the team in saves for two seasons in a row. Over those years the average age of the team’s leader in saves was 32.5 years old and if you take out J.P. Howell and Jake McGee who were thrust into the role to replace Troy Percival and Grant Balfour respectively, the number jumps to 34.3 years old. Speaking of coincidence (and this is bad news for Jake McGee), but the only two pitchers to lead the Rays in saves during Maddon’s tenure in Tampa Bay required surgery the next season. Reports that McGee’s surgery was just for loose bodies should relieve his fantasy owners in keeper leagues, but it took Jeremy Hellickson until July to return from a similar procedure.

How do we delve into the mind of Maddon and predict what his bullpen will do in 2015? For some clarity and to justify my research on his tendencies in Tampa, here are the leaders in saves over his time with the Rays:

2006: Tyler Walker 10 Saves, 16/7 K/BB, 4.95 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
2007: Al Reyes 26 Saves, 89/31 K/BB, 4.75 ERA, 1.21 WHIP
2008: Troy Percival 28 Saves, 38/27 K/BB, 4.53 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
2009: J.P. Howell 17 Saves, 79/37 K/BB, 2.84 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
2010: Rafael Soriano 45 Saves, 57/14 K/BB, 1.73 ERA, 0.80 WHIP
2011: Kyle Farnsworth 25 Saves, 51/12 K/BB, 2.18 ERA, 0.99 WHIP
2012: Fernando Rodney 48 Saves, 76/15 K/BB, 0.60 ERA, 0.78 WHIP
2013: Fernando Rodney 37 Saves, 82/36 K/BB, 3.38 ERA, 1.34 WHIP
2014: Jake McGee 19 Saves, 90/16 K/BB, 1.89 ERA, 0.90 WHIP

Off all of the above pitchers, Jason Motte has similarities with Troy Percival and Fernando Rodney in regards to his signing with the Cubs. At a relative low cost of 4.5 million dollars with incentives to close games, Motte is a chance worth taking.

If the Cubs are going to build toward contention they need a veteran presence in the bullpen to not only groom the up and coming pitchers but to set the tone for the other relievers. Only two years ago Jason Motte closed out 42 games for the Cardinals before requiring Tommy John surgery in May of 2013. Looking at his pitches thrown and batting averages against in 2012 versus 2014 show some changes, but being only a year removed from TJS, he still threw with good velocity:

Jason Motte 2012:
Fastball: 97.9 MPH, 59% Usage, .182 BAA
Sinker: 96.3 MPH, 13% Usage, .219 BAA
Change: 84.9 MPH, 2% Usage, .000 BAA
Cutter: 92.4 MPH, 26% Usage, .215 BAA

Jason Motte 2014:
Fastball: 95.1 MPH, 50% Usage, .245 BAA
Sinker: 93.6 MPH, 3% Usage, .000 BAA
Change: 89.7 MPH, 8% Usage, .000 BAA
Cutter: 89.7 MPH, 38% Usage, .400 BAA

In 2014 Motte relied much more on his cutter than in 2012. Further, he threw only 13 sinkers in 2014 as opposed to 156 in 2012. It will be interesting to see what pitches he uses with the Cubs this year and how much of his velocity he can recover moving ahead. It could be addition by subtraction if he can regain his sinker and throw more of them. In 2011, Rodney used his fastball and sinker almost equally. However, when he arrived in Tampa Bay he moved his spot on the pitching rubber and shelved his fastball, resulting in his best season:

Fernando Rodney 2011:
Fastball: 96.3 MPH, 32% Usage, .259 BAA
Sinker: 96 MPH, 31% Usage, .308 BAA
Change: 83.2 MPH, 26% Usage, .191 BAA
Slider: 89.3 MPH, 11% Usage, .217 BAA

Fernando Rodney 2012:
Fastball: 98.2 MPH, 7% Usage, .333 BAA
Sinker: 96.7 MPH, 55% Usage, .227 BAA
Change: 83.2 MPH, 37% Usage, .071 BAA
Slider: 89.8 MPH, 0.5% Usage, .000 BAA

Rodney ditched his slider and primarily used his sinker and changeup to record 48 saves with an ERA and WHIP under 1. What I find interesting are the seasons of not only Motte and Rodney prior to joining Maddon’s team, but Troy Percival’s also. Percival is interesting to take note of as he was returning from a forearm injury at a much more advanced age but still was able to save 28 games with Tampa in 2008:

Troy Percival 2007: 3 W, 34 G, 40 IP, 36/10 K/BB, 1.80 ERA, 0.85 WHIP
Fernando Rodney 2011:
3 W, 39 G, 32 IP, 26/28 K/BB, 4.50 ERA, 1.69 WHIP
Jason Motte 2014:
1 W, 29 G, 25 IP, 17/9 K/BB, 4.68 ERA, 1.52 WHIP

If Jason Motte can regain his velocity or at least his sinker, his three years prior to surgery were pretty impressive:

Jason Motte 2010-2012: 13 W, 53 Sv, 201 G, 192.1 IP, 203/51 K/BB, 2.43 ERA, 0.98 WHIP

Also, over those three years Motte had a K/9 of 9.5 and K/BB of 3.9. However, Joe Maddon has not had a weapon like Hector Rondon who will only be 27 during the 2015 season. While there is speculation that the Cubs need an upgrade at the closer position, it appears that people are missing some out on some of his statistics. Rondon had TJS in 2010 and fractured his elbow in 2011. After being selected in the 2012 Rule V draft by the Cubs he was able to regain his fastball and took over the closer role in 2014 replacing Jose Veras early in the year. His overall stat line passes the eye test, but going deeper into his splits by first and second half, there is a lot to like:

Hector Rondon 2014 totals: 4 W, 4 L, 29 Sv, 64 G, 63.1 IP, 63/15 K/BB, 2.42 ERA, 1.06 WHIP
Hector Rondon 2014 1H:
3.93 ERA, 39/13 K/BB, .259/.324/.311 with .290 wOBA, 10.2 K/9, 3 K/BB
Hector Rondon 2014 2H:
0.62 ERA, 24/2 K/BB, .162/.178/.202 with .170 wOBA, 7.5 K/9, 12 K/BB

In the second half, Rondon traded some strikeouts for contact but the results were something to like as his K/BB quadrupled from 3 to 12. Combine that with a .66 WHIP after the All-Star break and Rondon seemed to be gaining confidence in the role. Oddly enough, he and Jason Motte have similar arsenals:

Hector Rondon 2014:
Fastball: 97.1 MPH, 52% Usage, .222 BAA
Sinker: 96.6 MPH, 22% Usage, .278 BAA
Slider: 84.7 MPH, 17% Usage, .133 BAA
Cutter: 92.4 MPH, 8% Usage, .222 BAA

One area that Rondon does need to improve upon is his ability to enter a game with runners on base and maintain his effectiveness. If he comes in with no one on his slash lines against are .186/.234/.241, but if there are men on those numbers jump to .263/.307/.298. It is difficult to come in and put out a fire in the eighth or ninth inning if the BAA is .263 but that will be up to the Cubs to monitor and consider as he develops in the role. Therein lies the rub, can Rondon start in and maintain the closer role for 2015 in its entirety?

If Rondon starts the year in the role and can avoid early meltdowns, I think Maddon will stick with him as his closer. It has been mused that since the Cubs are spending for pitching like Jon Lester that a big ticket closer will be acquired as well. But a Jonathon Papelbon has never been Joe Maddon’s style and I do not think it will change. In fact, Rondon seems like a player that Maddon would love to take a chance on, so I think Motte is a Cub to fortify the bullpen and to provide insurance in the event that anything happens to Rondon either by injury or effectiveness. Motte will be a popular sleeper heading into the season and that could be justified, but I think this will help keep Rondon’s price below what is should be and make him a value pick entering 2015, as long as we do not tell anyone. Just remind people of the blown saves with runners on for Rondon then steal him late in the draft for auction. Unless Maddon burns us all, Rondon will be the man.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, BrooksBaseball.net, Fangraphs.com, MLB.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/ZBW4Ln (Rondon), http://goo.gl/WNxj3o (Motte)

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

The Weekly Stream: Defense; Week 16

Titans Defense
No team has scored fewer than 7 fantasy points against the Jaguars this season.

As the holidays approach and we move toward the new year, the gift of giving always becomes more prevalent and (most) people seem to be in a better mood. Maybe it is because they get more time off work, maybe it is the extra time they get to spend with family, or maybe, just maybe, it is because they are in their fantasy football championship! While there are some leagues that will play in week 17, the majority of formats finish up this week to avoid having their star players sit in week 17 as they rest for the NFL playoffs. A couple of defenses gave us an early Christmas present last week as they provided huge performances in the semifinals. Let’s take a look at who they were and how they did it!

Last Week’s Results:

Baltimore got their chance at Bortles and the Jaguars in week 15 and it lead to a great fantasy day, as expected. The Ravens defense allowed just 12 points while scoring a touchdown in the battle. The reason I liked the Ravens this week was because of their recent surge in sacks over the past several weeks. 8 sacks and countless knockdowns left the Jaguars rattled while the Ravens cruised to a 23-point day, the highest scoring amongst all fake defenses. You do not have to look much further down the list to see the Kansas City Chiefs. I liked the Chiefs because they had a revenge game against Oakland, who beat them a couple Thursdays ago for their first victory of the season. This game was at Arrowhead Stadium so I expected different results. The defense scored a touchdown and held the Raiders to just 13 points en route to a 17-point showing.

Week 16 Targets:

Tennessee Titans: It obviously a strange week when I am recommending fantasy’s 29th ranked defense. That being said, I believe the Titans might just be the unit to lead your squad to fantasy glory! This defense has not been very good, but a lot of that is because have been on the field so much. Not this week. The Titans head down to Florida on a short week for their second matchup against the Jaguars. No defense has recorded fewer than 7 fantasy points against the Jacksonville offense in 2014. In their last meeting, Tennessee put up a 12-spot against the Jags, their 2nd best total of the season. Look for baby blue to have a solid Thursday night showing.

Philadelphia Eagles: I almost choked on my breakfast when I saw that the Eagles were only 66% owned. Their ownership went down a little after last week’s matchup with the Cowboys. Now the Eagles get Washington, the biggest mess in the NFL. This Eagles unit has scored double-digit fantasy points 7 times and rank only below Buffalo on ESPN’s Player Rater. Philly has everything to play for as they are in the middle of a heated NFC East battle with Dallas. A huge showing is coming for this unit in week 16.

Buffalo Bills: The Bills would be my defense of the week but they are only available in about 25% of ESPN leagues as of this writing. The number could be due to dead leagues but the fact of the matter is that they need to be owned. The reason I am suggesting a team with such high ownership is because of who they played last week. The Bills played (and beat) the Green Bay Packers. While some probably stashed Buffalo on their bench and picked up another defense last week, some owners have a phobia of owning more than one defense. I believe they call it Twodefensiveitis (Editor’s note: Jared Hines, MD). Regardless, the Bills are the number one fantasy defense this year and have scored double-digit fantasy points in 4 of the last 6 weeks. Now they face Oakland who has been terrible this year and has allowed opposing defenses to score double-digit fantasy points 6 times in 2014. Take a quick second to make sure that they aren’t on your waiver wire.

That’s 15 columns down, 1 to go! As always I had a great time writing this article and hope you enjoy reading it. Good luck in your matchups this week!

As always, happy streaming!

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/LZo8eH

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Jared “Minnesota Nice” Hines is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @Jared_Hines27!

Transaction Scripts: Melky Cabrera to the White Sox

Melky brings his career .307/.345/.477 slash lines in the AL Central ballparks home to Chicago and sees his fantasy value rise
Melky brings his career .307/.345/.477 slash line in AL Central ballparks to Chicago

Whether you buy into steroids being the reason for Melky Cabrera’s evolution from a fourth outfielder with the Yankees to a viable fantasy option three of the past four years, he has been relevant. In 2011 he broke through with a career best 18 home runs and 87 RBI for Kansas City and then had a chance at a batting title in San Francisco in 2012 until his PED suspension. Not an ideal way to enter free agency. In 2013 Toronto took a chance on Cabrera, signing him to a two-year contract, but the stain of steroids made this risky. After struggling through a number of injuries, Cabrera had a disappointing season, making 2014 a make or break year for him. The “Melk Man” delivered, rewarding the owners who stashed him late in drafts with a bounce back season across every category but stolen bases. Playing on the turf in Toronto has had an adverse affect on speedsters like Jose Reyes, but Cabrera had his theft numbers cut in half from 13 in 2012 to 6 in 2014.

From a fantasy perspective, the move to Chicago should not only help Melky maintain his value, but may even increase it with an uptick in stolen bases being the prize. Using three of his last four years as an indicator (I am discarding his shortened 2013) Cabrera’s numbers seem to hold up. His HR/FB in 2012 was 9.8 and jumped to 10.7 in 2013, holding steady at that number in 2014. Since U.S. Cellular and Rogers Centre are strong hitter’s venues, this should have not affect on his power production going forward. While there is a big discrepancy in his home run distances from 2011 and the years following, his average speeds off the bat have held fairly stable as well according to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker:

Melky Cabrera 2011: average true distance 406.9, average standard distance 403.1, average speed off bat 105 MPH
Melky Cabrera 2012: average true distance 393.1, average standard distance 390.5, average speed off bat 104.4 MPH
Melky Cabrera 2014: average true distance 395.1, average standard distance 394.1, average speed off bat104 MPH

Here is a 2014 overlay of his home runs with the Cell as a backdrop:

Cabrera overlaySo far his home run metrics hold up, so how will Melky Cabrera adapt to the American League Central? Already having played in the division with the Royals should make his transition easier. Looking deeper into his numbers, this looks like a match made in heaven for Cabrera, not only to keep his knees healthier, but he enjoys hitting in all five ballparks in the Central. Here are his aggregate numbers for his career in the division’s ballparks:

Melky Cabrera in AL Central parks: 198 G, 126 R, 23 HR, 110 RBI, 22 SB, .307/.345/.477

In 34 games as a visitor at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field, he has been even better:

Melky Cabrera in Chicago (A): 34 G, 23 R, 7 HR, 24 RBI, 3 SB, .336/.366/.591

I understand that Melky will not be hitting against the White Sox, though their pitching staff is vastly improved, but his .957 OPS at the Cell should encourage fantasy owners. Digging a bit deeper I was surprised about how consistent he has been in spite of the steroid cloud that has been attached to him. Again, looking at his last three out of four seasons (skipping 2013) his counting statistics have varied but that is more about games played than production. Over his 2011, 2012 and 2014 this is his average stat line:

Melky Cabrera 3-year average: 136 G, 89 R, 15 HR, 73 RBI, 13 SB, .315/.357/.478

I think Cabrera may slot in second which would follow Adam Eaton and precede American League Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu. That being said, I have a hard time believing his runs would slip but his Steamer projection looks like this:

Melky Cabrera Steamer projection: 134 G, 77 R, 14 HR, 67 RBI, 6 SB, .288/.341/.432

I do think that Cabrera has probably already had his best season, but the move to Chicago may be just what he needs to bounce back to a fantasy double-digit provider in home runs and stolen bases. In spite of missing time in 2014, Melky was able to finish as the 25th ranked outfielder via ESPN’s Player Rater after going undrafted in leagues coming off of his 2013 disaster. What remains to be seen is what this move will have on his value in upcoming drafts. Here is the projected stat line I am willing to attach to the “Melk Man”:

My 2015 Melky Cabrera projection: 145 G, 87 R, 17 HR, 84 RBI, 10 SB, .293/.344/.480

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, BrooksBaseball.net, ESPN.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/7z3JlW

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Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

Waiver Wire Wizardry: Pickups for Week 16

Harry Douglas
Any time Julio Jones or Roddy White can’t go, Harry Douglas becomes an attractive fantasy option

Quarterback:

Robert Griffin III (31% Y!): Despite not starting this week, Griffin had a solid game in relief of Colt McCoy, who re-injured his neck on Sunday. Going up against an average Giants defense, Griffin finished with 236 yards and a touchdown. He also scrambled for 46 yards as well and almost rushed for a score. Griffin is at his best when he can use his legs, which he did yesterday. Despite the pedestrian stat line otherwise, it was a productive day for Griffin compared to what he has done this season. McCoy should be highly questionable for week 16 and Griffin will probably start even if the former is cleared. He faces an Eagles defense that has given up some big plays. RG3 will be a high-end QB2 this week.

Eli Manning (61% Y!): Despite losing Victor Cruz earlier in the season, Manning was paired up with budding superstar Odell Beckham JR. The young wideout had a decent game yesterday (Editor’s note: decent?!). Manning had 250 yards passing with 3 touchdowns (all to Beckham) and put up  top-five numbers. Going up against a St. Louis defense that didn’t record an interception against the likes of Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley, Manning should be viewed as a high-end QB2 due to the Rashad Jennings injury, which will likely force the G-men into more passing situations.

Running Back:

Matt Asiata (38% Y!): Facing an extremely tough Lions front seven, Asiata managed 86 combined yards and a touchdown, while hauling in 7 receptions. With Jerick McKinnon out for the season and no possible way of Adrian Peterson returning, Asiata has been the main guy for the Vikings the past few weeks and will continue to be going into week 16. Asiata is not an efficient running back, but he is trusted by the Vikings coaching staff and has been getting the bulk of the work, making him an interesting add versus the Dolphins who gave up 79 yards rushing and a touchdown to the duo of LaGarrette Blount and Jonas Gray last week. View him as a mid-tier RB3 in standard leagues.

Andre Williams (59% Y!): Williams came on in relief of Rashad Jennings, who re-injured his ankle on Sunday. Williams finished with 44 yards  on 18 carries against an extremely tough Redskins run defense. With the Giants out of the playoff hunt, it would be wise to expect Williams to be the starter for the rest of the season. While not much can be expected out of him in the receiving game, he is a hard runner who should see the majority of work in week 16 against the Rams defense. As good as the Rams defense has been, they gave up 136 rushing yards between the committee of Kerwynn Williams and Stepfan Taylor last Thursday. Williams should be considered a low-end RB2 with upside heading into your league’s championship.

Latavius Murray (56% Y!): Murray had a somewhat disappointing but efficient day against a stout Chiefs’ run defense. He managed 4.9 yards per carry (12 carries for 59 yards) and had 6 targets in the passing game as well. Murray has taken over the Raiders’ run game completely and is one of the only offensive producers in Oakland right now. The Raiders have a tough matchup against a terrific Bills defense on Sunday, but Murray will be a focal point in the offensive plan again and should be a lock for 12-15 touches. With his explosiveness and athleticism, Murray should be seen as an RB3.

Wide Receiver:

Harry Douglas (25% Y!): Douglas had a terrific game starting in place of the injured Julio Jones. He was targeted 14 times, hauling in 10 catches for 131 yards. He even had more targets and receptions than Roddy White. Jones was a game time decision but never even got a chance to test out his hip before the game. Jones is no guarantee to suit up this week, making Douglas an attractive waiver wire add. Even if Julio does play, there’s a chance he could be used simply as a decoy. Douglas could have another great game against a Saints defense that has struggled this season. Douglas is a high-upside WR3 that could evolve into a solid WR2 if Jones can’t go.

Jarvis Landry (45% Y!): In 3 of Miami’s last 4 games, Landry has seen 11 targets. On Sunday he was again targeted 11 times, catching 8 passes for 99 yards. Undoubtedly the most consistent receiver in Miami, Landry has put up solid numbers over the past 7 weeks, averaging 8.57 targets, 6.57 receptions, 59.57 yards and .57 touchdowns per contest. That is an average of 15.94 points in PPR leagues, making him a solid WR2.

Charles Johnson (32% Y!): Johnson had another solid game versus Detroit, finishing with 5 receptions for 72 yards on 7 targets. In a tightly fought matchup with the Lions, Johnson tied for the most targets with Asiata (see above) and Kyle Rudolph. His five receptions were also the second highest on the team and he had the highest yardage totals as well. Teddy Bridgewater continues to use Johnson as his favorite wide receiver and nothing shows that this will change moving forward. Johnson is a mid-tier WR3with a lot of upside in a slightly easier matchup with the Dolphins in week 16.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/cz64ZC

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Doug Moore is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @DMM0822!

Transaction Scripts: Cespedes to Detroit; Porcello to Boston

Yoenis Cespedes takes his power to Detroit, but will his fantasy value rise as a result?
Yoenis Cespedes takes his power to Detroit, but will his fantasy value climb as a result?

Winston Churchill once said that Russia is “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”. Since Cuba was one of Russia’s main allies I will use that as a segue to try and figure out which team won the Yoenis Cespedes and Rick Porcello trade. It feels like every year fantasy players expect more of each of these players but walk away disappointed. After Cespedes’ rookie season in which he hit 23 home runs in less than 500 at bats, more pop in the future seemed likely. His home run derby win seemed to punctuate Cespedes as a feared slugger. Although he hit three more homers the next season, his batting average plummeted to .234 as opposing pitchers took advantage of his poor plate discipline. In 2014 he finally hit the 600 at bat plateau but had the lowest home run total of his career (22). His batting average and RBI total salvaged his fantasy value though. Can the presence of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez propel Cespedes to the fantasy season that we have hoped for or has he peaked already?

Speaking of peaked, it feels like the last three years have been the year that Rick Porcello is going to break out in the strikeout department. After being drafted in the first round in 2007, Porcello was put into the rotation as a 20 year old in 2009 and won 14 games. In fact, Porcello has won double-digit games every season of his career. In real life, that’s great. However, wins are hard to predict for fantasy purposes, making strikeouts the stat that fake gamers covet. Porcello has had great success keeping the ball on the ground and in 2013 struck out a career-high 142 hitters. The thought was that in 2014 he would continue to build on that number. On a positive note, Porcello won a career-high 15 games but his strikeouts dropped back to 129 for the season, leaving him with a pedestrian K/9 of 5.7. Now a member of the Boston Red Sox, is the breakout ever coming? Can John Farrell help Porcello reach his peak or was 2013 it?

Yoenis Cespedes moves to Motown

At first glance the move to Detroit seems like a great opportunity for Yoenis Cespedes as he will hit in the deepest lineup he has ever been a part of. Teaming up with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez should provide Cespedes not only tutelage, but the opportunity to drive in and score more runs. But Cespedes’ supporting metrics suggest that the ballpark and his downward trends may counteract his new opportunity. In 2014 drafts he was the 21st outfielder taken according to FantasyPros.com at pick number 66. While Cespedes finished 24th among outfielders via ESPN’s Player Rater, it has to be a disappointment to his owners that he finished lower than two of his new Tiger teammates J.D. Martinez and Rajai Davis.

Much has been made about Matt Kemp’s move to San Diego and how it mat have an adverse affect upon Matt Kemp’s fantasy value but Cespedes seems to be getting a pass due to the improved lineup. Digging deeper however, there appear to be some warning signs. Small sample size alert, but in eight games in Detroit Cespedes has a .686 OPS. Over the last three years his power numbers according to ESPN’s home run tracker have been in freefall:

Cespedes 2012: Avg.. True Distance – 409.1, Avg. Std. Distance – 407.1, Avg. Speed off Bat – 106.4 MPH
Cespedes 2013: Avg. True Distance – 403, Avg. Std. Distance – 403.1, Avg. Speed off Bat – 104.7 MPH
Cespedes 2014: Avg. True Distance – 387.5, Avg. Std. Distance – 387, Avg. Speed off Bat – 101.7 MPH

Not only is Cespedes hitting the ball for less distance, but the speed off the bat has dropped 5 MPH over the last three years. It is unfair to just judge his overlays in regards to lost home runs but if he were hitting in Comerica over the last two seasons, the charts suggest he could have lost up to 13 home runs:

Cespedes Comerica Overlay
Cespedes Comerica Overlay 2013
Even if I take half of those 13 homers off the table and round down, he loses 6 long balls. Unless Cespedes can get his swing speed back to 2013 levels, his power numbers are due for a dip, especially since his HR/FB% has been in decline. However, I also felt like Ian Kinsler would suffer a bit in Detroit after leaving the comfortable confines of Texas, but he was able to maintain his value. This is where the Cespedes peripherals come into play. Using Fangraphs’ weighted statistics in runs created plus (wRC+) and weighted on base average (wOBA), Cespedes has been in decline since his debut.

Cespedes 2012: wRC+ 136, wOBA .368
Cespedes 2013: wRC+ 102, wOBA .318
Cespedes 2014: wRC+ 109, wOBA .326

Once is a mistake, but twice is a trend. Since the weighted numbers do not rely solely upon ballpark effects, they are a truer measure of what a player has done. Over the last two years Cespedes is getting on base less, creating fewer runs and hitting for less power. A look at his zone profile may provide a glimpse. Note the amount of pitches that Cespedes saw in the lower four quadrants representing low and away:
Cespedes zone profile pitches seen 2014
This number has grown over the last three years as well. In 2012, Cespedes only saw 522 pitches in those quadrants, but in 2013 it jumped to 602 and in 2014 it reached 665. One of the reasons that Cespedes chases the pitches low and away is that he hits the bottom third of the strike zone well for power. It is a fine line to walk as a pitcher when you see Cespedes’ zone profile for slugging, noting that he hits the low and away in the strike zone for his second highest slugging percentage at .794.

Cespedes zone profile slugging 2014
But if he drives these pitches to center field, how many fewer home runs will he hit? Steamer projects the following season, which is almost a direct reflection of his last three years averaged together:

Yoenis Cespedes Steamer Projection: 138 G, 75 R, 24 HR, 87 RBI, 7 SB, .268/.319/.467

Since I usually use the last three years to try and project players, I came to almost those same numbers. Due to the ballpark, I will take the under on 24 home runs (I say 18) but the over on runs and RBI due to the support of the Tigers lineup. Cespedes has stolen seven bases each of the last two years so that is tough to dispute. I will also take the under on his slugging percentage unless he has a career year. Let others buy into the Tiger hype while you remember that he is a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

Rick Porcello comes home to New England

Rick Porcello comes home to Boston, but is the best yet to come?
Rick Porcello comes home to New England, but has he already reached his peak?

After being spurned by Jon Lester (Editor’s note: spurned, Greg? Only you), the Red Sox took their return in that deal and replaced him with Rick Porcello. Porcello is coming off of a 15-win season for Detroit and is a consistent but unspectacular pitcher. He features five pitches including a sinker, change, slider and curve to go along with his fastball. For Porcello to thrive, he needs to pitch to contact, primarily inducing ground balls. He’s similar to Cespedes in that he likely already reached his peak. Here are his last three years averaged out:

Rick Porcello 3-year average: 13 W, 186 IP, 126/42 K/BB, 4.08 ERA, 1.34 WHIP

While his wins were valuable to fantasy owners, his lack of strikeouts limit his ceiling. After reaching a 7.2 K/9 in 2013, he dropped back to 5.7 in 2014 which is in line with his career number of 5.5. Even though he is viewed as a ground ball pitcher he only had a 1.69 GB/FB ratio in 2014. His career number is 1.89 and in 2013 it was 2.34. Porcello threw fewer sinkers (42% 2013, 33% 2014), struck out fewer batters but set a career-high in wins and career low in ERA (3.45) last season. He is a good pitcher who has seemed to reach his ceiling but he is still young. Porcello will turn just 26 this season, but the breakout may not be coming. He will still have value in deep and AL-only formats, but I would be hesitant to use him in more shallow leagues. While John Farrell has helped to turn around pitchers before, Porcello’s career swinging strike percentage of 8.6 and K/9 of 7.2 really mitigate his fantasy ceiling.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, ESPN.com, BrooksBaseball.net
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/KHoVUy (Cespedes),  http://goo.gl/sXy15A (Porcello)

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

Transaction Scripts: Santana, McCarthy & Masterson

Can a healthy Masterson fix his command and rebound on his former club?

Woah, what a couple of days. A flurry, no, a blizzard of deals were made at baseball’s Winter Meetings yesterday. The storm is by no means over, as there are still some big name dominoes that have yet to fall. While the blockbuster deals involving Jimmy Rollins, Matt Kemp, Yoenis Cespedes and others have stolen the headlines, some notable free agent veteran arms have found new homes. Overlooked by some, these transactions will have immediate fantasy repercussions.

Ervin Santana finally gets a multi-year deal

Santana pitched well for Atlanta in 2014, winning 14 games behind a 3.95 ERA and 179 strikeouts. One of the few big league pitchers to ever successfully rehab and pitch through a partially torn UCL, Santana was unable to land a multi-year contract over the past couple of years due to free agent draft pick compensation and uncertainty around the elbow. However, Santana has been remarkably durable throughout his career, failing to reach 150 innings only one time since 2005. The Twins seem comfortable with him, as they gave him a 4-year deal (with an option attached) for 54 million dollars on Thursday. He’ll slot in behind an improving Phil Hughes in 2015.

There’s no doubt that Santana benefited greatly from his short stay in the National League. He saw his strikeout rate (K%) balloon to 21.9%, his best since 2008. Santana, who turns 32 today, took advantage of facing the opposing pitcher. According to Mike Petriello of Fangraphs, Santana fanned 23 of a possible 60 pitchers in their plate appearances last year. The right-hander got almost 2% more swings and misses in 2014 then he did the year prior as well. He did this by fooling the opposition into chasing pitches outside the zone, again seeing a 2% increase in his O-Swing%.

The move to Target Field should be good for him. He, like former gopher ball machine Phil Hughes has historically had a problem with the long ball, something that the Twins’ new stadium has fixed for Hughes. Like Hughes, Santana has evolved a bit in recent seasons. Since 2011, he’s induced grounders at least 42.7% of the time. Couple this with Target Field’s uncanny ability to depress power and Santana should be quite comfortable rocking the Minnesota pinstripes in 2015.

Of course, he doesn’t come without his concerns either. We know about the UCL, and that’s not something that just goes away. In fact, there are really no stories of pitchers successfully being able to overcome that completely until they go under the knife. Santana also threw more sliders than any other pitcher in baseball over the last two seasons. In case you weren’t aware, sliders are elbow mutilators. Nevertheless, Santana is a slightly above average arm and if he can avoid landing on the disabled list, he will probably wind up being a pretty good value for the Twins over the course of his contract. What they are paying him is comparable to what Brandon McCarthy and Fransisco Liriano got in their respective deals, with the inly caveat being that Santana has been lightyears more durable. The verdict here is that Santana will likely continue to be a solid SP4 or 5 for your mixed league fantasy team. Unfortunately though, his whiff rate is going to come down some.

Brandon McCarthy is Hollywood’s newest talent

The Dodgers have been nothing short of busy. They shipped off Dee Gordon, Dan Haren and Matt Kemp on Thursday in return for Jimmy Rollins, Yasmani Grandal, Howie Kendrick and several prospects. They also cleared salary room for future transactions. To replace Dan Haren they signed veteran right-hander Brandon McCarthy to a 4-year contract. McCarthy will be immediately inserted into one of baseball’s best starting rotations that includes the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu.

McCarthy is an anomaly. He tossed a career-high 200 innings in 2014 between Arizona and New York, but he’d gone past 111 innings just one other time in his career. McCarthy drastically outperformed his ERA last year before being shipped to New York. Once he got the Bronx, things corrected themselves. Go figure. After the trade, McCarthy was money, posting a 7-5 record with a 2.89 ERA in 14 starts. He was one of the best pitchers in baseball down the stretch.

The former Athletic has made 30 starts just one time in his career (2014). The problem with McCarthy has always been his health. Check out his graphed injury history, courtesy of Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs:

McCarthy Injury HistoryYour guess is as good as mine as to how his shoulder is still attached. He’s missed an almost infinite amount of time with throwing shoulder injuries throughout his career. You could always, always, always pencil McCarthy in for a DL stint, but it didn’t happen in 2014. Is it just a fluke that he was able to get through an entire season without landing on the DL? Maybe. Jeff Sullivan has a different take. Maybe, just maybe Brandon McCarthy has turned a corner in the health department.

Supposedly he started a new workout routine last winter which allowed him to get his body in better shape. Lifting heavier weights helped him physically in order to deal with the long, grueling season. This theory may have some staying power as his average fastball velocity went up more than 2% between 2o13 and last season. It’s probably safe to assume that his shoulder is feeling pretty good if he’s throwing the ball harder.

As I mentioned, he really struggled in Arizona before being shipped to the Bronx. However, his peripheral numbers were still solid. Some bad luck was likely the culprit there. After the move, McCarthy dominated. He and catcher Brian McCann tried a new approach to keep hitters off balance, and it worked. This included throwing a ton more four-seam fastballs up in the zone, laying off the sinker and mixing in his cutter about 20% of the time. These adaptions helped McCarthy post the best groundball rate (GB%) and strikeout percentage (K%) of his career, 52.6% and 20.9% respectively.

Digging deeper, McCarthy allowed a lot less contact and in turn induced a ton more whiffs. He increased his swinging strike percentage (SwStr%) by a robust 2.9%. Steamer projects McCarthy and free agent right-hander James Shields to have very similar 2015 seasons. Shields, 33 is two years older than McCarthy and will come at a much higher free agent cost. If McCarthy can stay healthy, and that is a big if, the Dodgers may have acquired a #2 for the price of a #4. More whiffs, better velocity, a more articulate use of his arsenal and a finally healthy shoulder may make Brandon McCarthy a steal in the ladder portion of your fantasy draft next year.

Justin Masterson returns to Boston

In an effort to rebuild their rotation, the Red Sox seem to be going the way of the groundball. They’ve acquired Wade Miley, Rick Porcello and now Justin Masterson, who pitched for the team in 2008 and 2009. Compared to the market, Masterson came relatively cheap and represents a low-risk addition to their rotation. Boston has guaranteed Masterson 9.5 million dollars for his services in 2015, with incentives if he reaches certain innings thresholds.

The trend here is to force the opposition to beat the ball into the ground. Masterson definitely fits that mold. The lanky right-hander has never recorded a groundball rate (GB%) below 53.6% in his career, an impressive feat. In 2013 at age 27, Masterson broke out. He won 14 games for Cleveland en route to a 3.45 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and a massive spike in strikeouts. He seemed primed to enter free agency after 2014 and demand a big contract. However, Masterson regressed and was an almost complete mess a year ago. Between Cleveland and St. Louis, he posted a career-worst 5.88 ERA, earning himself a demotion to the Cardinal bullpen by year’s end.

While Masterson definitely got unlucky in the BABIP department last year, he pitched ineffectively. His strikeout to walk ratio fell to a career low 1.68 after he posted a solid 2.57 the year prior. Masterson has always had an issue with the free pass, but his walk rate (BB%) ballooned to just under 12% in 2014, something he could just not overcome. Opposing batters hit .278 off of Masterson last year as opposed to .220 in 2013.

In all fairness, Masterson did deal with a knee injury for the entirety of 2014 that he admitted he couldn’t get right. It had a negative impact upon his performance, as we can see in his pretty drastic dip in velocity from the year prior, an almost 3 MPH dip in fastball speed. Masterson is a two-pitch hurler, and last year he reverted back to throwing his heater more than 80% of the time. During his breakout 2013, he used the fastball less in favor of more sliders. It will be interesting to see if he goes back to what worked for him during that season and use his slider more again.

Masterson is a solid arm with walk issues and problems putting left-handers away. However, if he can move back to using some of the adjustments that made him so successful in 2013, we’re looking at a fantasy-relavant starting pitcher. If he can’t get his walk issues back in check, then he’s best left of off your draft board.

Statistical credits: Startribune.com, Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, ESPN.com, Baseballheatmaps.com

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/z5Sy6q (Masterson), http://goo.gl/MQJIs7 (McCarthy graph)

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Timothy is a co-owner, head editor and sometimes writer at The Sports script. Follow him on Twitter @TKing978!

Transaction Scripts: Kemp to San Diego; Grandal to LA

Is Kemp's move to San Diego that drastic of a downgrade for fantasy? His career .837 OPS in Petco suggests otherwise
Kemp’s career .837 OPS at Petco suggests he’ll be just fine in San Diego

Things are fast moving places like Los Angeles. So, in an effort to continue restructuring their roster, the Dodger brass have freed up some space in their outfield by moving the mercurial Matt Kemp to the division rival Padres in return for catcher Yasmani Grandal along with minor league pitchers Joe Wieland and Zach Eflin. While this move is definitely about money it is also about the Dodgers addressing a need behind the dish.

Eflin is essentially going to be the return for Jimmy Rollins, which is probably why the Dodgers wanted him involved. It’s obvious that they needed to shore up their infield defense and Rollins definitely helps them do that.

Matt Kemp is a Padre

As the fantasy pundits are lining up to jump off the Matt Kemp bandwagon, I am actually intrigued by this trade. Not only has Kemp played in Petco but if his surgically repaired shoulder can stay glued together he may not fall as far as people are forecasting. I realize that the ballpark effects do not favor Kemp in this move as Dodger stadium is rated as a 100 for right-handed hitters while Petco is only rated a 91. Over the last 3 years Kemp’s homers have an average true distance of 404.3 feet, average standard distance of 398.2 feet and average speed off the bat of 102.3 MPH. Here is an overlay of Kemp’s 25 home runs from 2014 with Petco Park:

Kemp Petco Overlay 2014
While the fantasy community was going to be split on what type of year Kemp was going to have based on his splits from 2014, one thing is clear, he was a beast in the second half. San Diego has a hard time luring free agent hitters to sign because the ballpark can suppress power numbers. But in a time when power numbers are at a premium, this seems like a good chance to take. First, here are Kemp’s 2014 splits:

Matt Kemp 1H: 86 G, 38 R, 8 HR, 35 RBI, 5 SB, .269/.330/.430
Matt Kemp 2H:
64 G, 39 R, 17 HR, 54 RBI, 3 SB, .309/.365/.606

It’s obvious that Kemp will be hard pressed to replicate that second half over a full season but what if he is changing as a hitter? Because of the injuries it is apparent that the 30/30 days are over for him but that shouldn’t be a problem as long as he can be a 25 home run and 8 steal player. He is only 30 years old. For fun I wanted to see what his career numbers at Petco looked like:

Matt Kemp vs. San Diego: 123 G, 61 R, 17 HR, 63 RBI, 16 SB, .296/.358/.479
Matt Kemp in Petco: 59 G, 28 R, 7 HR, 34 RBI, 8 SB, .322/.372/.495

The former MVP runner up has a career slash line of .292/.349/.495 and when you look at that in comparison to his numbers in Petco, they are almost in line. But Kemp will play half of his games on the road, no? I also wanted to take a little time and run his average numbers from the last 3 seasons even though his injury shortened 2013 is involved. Even with that factored in, his slash lines from 2012 through 2014 are .282/.349/.493. If we use 2012 and 2014 to average his counting stats they look like this: 76 runs, 24 home runs, 79 RBI and 9 steals. Taking that into perspective and knowing his 2014 second half is an outlier is this projection really that bad?

Matt Kemp 2015: 150 G, 80 R, 25 HR, 80 RBI, 9 SB, .288/.345/.480

If people are not going to buy any stock on Matt Kemp so be it, he’ll be cheaper for us.

Dodgers add Grandal, Wieland and Eflin (for now)

Grandal may lose sleeper status but do not forget his 15 HR and .781 OPS as a left handed hitter
Grandal may lose sleeper status but do not forget his 15 HR and .781 OPS as a left-handed hitter

Prior to the Dodgers adding Yasmani Grandal I was starting to target him as a sleeper for 2015. Now that his arrival in Los Angeles may take that option away, it bears looking at why he is being acquired to play as the left-handed bat in a platoon with A.J. Ellis. Taking a look at Grandal’s 2014 numbers they seem innocent enough:

Yasmani Grandal 2014: 128 G, 47 R, 15 HR, 49 RBI, 3 SB, .225/.327/.401

Kind of standard for a second catcher in an NL-only league or deeper mixed as his power is enticing. But looking deeper there is a reason that he should only play as a left-handed bat:

Grandal as L vs RHP: 303 AB, 15 HR, 43 RBI, .241/.329/.452
Grandal as R vs LHP:
74 AB, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .162/.323/.189

Since he can be on the positive side of a platoon and in a lineup more prone to generate runs and RBI opportunity, Grandal stands to benefit. He is only 26 years old and may be approaching his peak, offensively speaking. In 2014 his standard true distance for home runs was 400.5 feet and the speed off of his bat was an impressive 104.1 MPH. Here are his home runs with an overlay of Dodger Stadium:

Grandal overlay in LA
Better than that, he was showing progress in the second half slashing .242/.356/.440 as opposed to .210/.299/.364 prior. In his 58 games after the All Star break, Grandal hit 8 home runs and drove in 30. If he is going to play in a straight platoon, Grandal is a player to target at catcher late in auctions or drafts for a run at 18-20 home runs before he is a known entity.

Joe Wieland is one of the pitchers to come over in the Kemp trade with a strong minor league pedigree but also the victim of Tommy John Surgery in 2012. Featuring an above average curveball and changeup, Wieland has an impressive 5.2 K:BB in 476 innings in the minors. His fastball sits at 92 MPH and has been very hittable in the majors with a batting average against of .330 in his time with the Padres but his curve’s BAA is .222 and his changeup is only .188. Since he is still building up his innings due to the surgery and minor elbow complications last year, Wieland only logged 50 innings last year. Like Andrew Heaney yesterday, it is not yet known if Wieland is wanted by the Dodgers or if he is a piece they will move in a future trade.

According to most reports, it appears that Zach Eflin is the player to be named to make Jimmy Rollins a Dodger so he will be moving to Philadelphia. He is only 20 years old but won 10 games in high A last year with 93 strikeouts in 128 innings. His fastball touches 95 but his changeup is a work in progress. Moving to the Phillies may help him get the call up to the big club a bit quicker then if he were with another organization.

Since the Padres were dealing from strength to address a need, this was a deal they had to make. They get the power hitting corner outfielder that they have been unable to attract and Yasmani Grandal gets the chance to hit in a deeper lineup. While Kemp may see a slight drop in his counting stats, the fact that many are going to avoid him creates a unique buying opportunity on a player that is not done yet.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, MiLB.com, BrooksBaseball.net, ESPN.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/PkC3na (Kemp),  http://goo.gl/rxDnkm (Grandal)

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Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!