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“65 Mustangs” Pick Your Spots, Spot Starting & Relief Pitcher Guide, Week 17, Trade Deadline Issue, What Happened to my Closer?

Once upon a time I thought I understood life and world order. I thought I knew who the best team in baseball was, the straw that stirred the drink, the “Evil Empire”, the people who severed Ted Williams head and froze it (Ok, so maybe not that part). But then the Apocalypse came. The Yankees may be sellers at the deadline for the first time in my adult life. Tell your people you love them as the world is coming to an end.everything must go

Ok, so all they did so far was trade Aroldis Chapman, lopping the lead head off the 3 headed monster, and it was a brilliant flip job by Brian Cashman to buy him for a bag of balls and then flip him a few months later for a pot of gold. He is the executive of the year just from that series of transactions. By the time you read this article the Yanks may look a whole lot different. I have to admit it was long overdue. Goodbye Aroldis. It was nice knowing you. The Juggs gun will never be the same at Yankee Stadium.chapman goodbye

Last week I spoke of my discovery of the “Pool Hammock”. I may have to sue the manufacturer as the thing almost killed me yesterday. I got in the pool after weeding the vegetable garden since I don’t have a ground hog to weed it for me anymore. It was hot and sunny and I was really tired. I got on my pool hammock and started watching the clouds go by. My wife found me there, I don’t know how many hours later, asleep on the hammock and my face burnt to a crisp from the sun. Thank God she found me, though she took pictures before waking me up. Now I have to be nice to her so she never publishes them. The problem is that there is no warning or disclaimer on the box that the Pool Hammock may be hazardous to your health. Did I tell you I bought a second one?

Yeah, Yeah, lets choose some streamers for next week while I am still here. My title says Week 17 again. Since the rest of the world is not counting the All Star week as a week I guess I should not either.

Trivia Question: What former 1st round pick (4th overall), and top rated prospect for several years, missed parts of three seasons to injury, but is finally getting his chance to pitch in an MLB rotation at the ripe old age of 23 even though you have known his name for what seems like a decade?   Answer below. (Wow, that was a long winded question)

It is time to add spot starters for next week. I recommend five or more spot starts from the 50% owned and under pool. Percentages listed are from Fantrax, so an over 50% owned pitcher might make the list if they are lower in in ESPN, CBS, etc.

There is so much going on in the closer trade market right now that I will discuss the Closer Merry-Go-Round later as a supplement once more of the dominoes fall. But you know the headlines. Chapman to Chicago makes Andrew Miller a closer and Hector Rondon not so much. Mark Melancon goes to Washington making Tony Watson a closer and Jon Papelbon not so much. More to come for sure.melancon

SPOT STARTS –                                                                                                                                         

  • Lucas Harrell, SP, TEX (18.3% owned) @ HOU, FRI: I recommended Harrell last week when he was a Brave in my “Not for the Faint of Heart” section and he did great in his first start giving up no runs on only 4 hits and 3 walks in 6 innings for a W in Minnesota. He has another start against the Royals today as a Ranger where he had given up 1 run in 3 innings as I write this. He now jumps from Korea, to the MLB, to a pennant race in a matter of a few months. This week I’m moving him up to top billing as his reward. As I said last week, “His biggest harrell.jpegbugaboo is his walk rate which has been over 5.0/9 since 2012, twice over 6.0/9 in that time.” he has had a problem with walks in his career and gave up exactly 3 in each of his last 4 starts. The free swinging Astros lead the majors in strikeouts but are also 2nd in the AL in walks, so Harrell needs to keep sharpening his command to win Friday. The Stros are also hitting only .240 at home and .249 vs righties.
  • ***Zack Eflin, SP, PHI (45% owned) Vs SF, TUE & @ SD,  SUN: I realize that Eflin’s last start didn’t go so well giving up 7 runs in 5 innings to the Marlins in Miami. Last week was a bad week for starters as a 11Eflinwhole. Also, if you watch successful spot starters they are seldom afraid to start a pitcher with a good match-up after a game that he blew up. All pitchers get blown up now and then. Several in a row is a different story. He faced the Giants once already pitching 6 shutout innings (1 unearned run) to get a W in SF with only 5 hits and no walks. The Giants hit about 10 points lower on the road and July has been their worst month to date hitting only .241 for the month. They did get Hunter Pence back but I still like the match-up for Eflin. I like the Sunday match-up even better at home vs San Diego, a team that may look completely different by then. The Padres are hitting .229 vs righties, .240 at home and .210 in the last two weeks covering 450 plate appearances. Pick up Eflin now.
  • ***Two Starts***Kyle Gibson, SP, MIN (36.4% owned) @ CLE, & Vs TB: I admit I have never taken Kyle Gibson seriously and this is the first time I’ve included him. He quietly had a pretty good season in 2015 as the Twins most durablegibson pitcher starting 32 games and pitching nearly 200 innings with an 11-11 record and 3.84 ERA. He does it with unspectacular strikeout & walk rates by keeping it on the ground (1.08 GB/FB & 1.20 in 2015) and seldom letting his mistakes get taken for the long ride over the fence. Four of his last six starts have been QS with three of them getting Gibson a W. In those six starts he has 35K’s in 38.2 IP vs 8 walks. The Tampa start is a no brainer as they are hitting .231 vs righties, 35 points lower than lefties and .249 on the road. The Cleveland start is a little scarier, with Cle hitting pretty well lately and hitting better at home than on the road. But they are also hitting .256 vs righties or 20 points less than lefties and Gibson’s ground ball propensity should help him by The Lake.
  • ***Two Starts***Dylan Bundy, SP, BAL (55.9% owned) vs TEX, TUE & @ CHW, SUN: This is more an acknowledgement of a pitcher with immense talent finally getting a chance to pitch in the O’s rotation than about any amazingly juicydylan-bundy-mlb-baltimore-orioles-boston-red-sox.jpeg match-ups or exploitable splits. Bundy was the 4th overall pick in the 1st round of the 2011 draft. In 2012, at the age of 19 he made it all the way from Low A Ball to AA even getting into 2 games in Baltimore as a September call-up. He went 9-3 with a 2.08 ERA and .916 WHIP, accruing 119 K’s vs 28 BB in 103.2 IP. He was a top five prospect on everyone’s prospect lists going into 2013. However, he lost all of 2013 to injuries and only managed 19 starts in 65 IP over the next two seasons as he battled back, putting up respectable numbers in very limited innings pitched. I was excited to see him make the O’s as a reliever in April realizing they were easing him back into their plans, and mine. Bundy pitched well enough in 22 games to get a chance to start, and after three starts he seems here to stay. He has a K/BB of 8.5 to 2.8 in 52 innings and a 3.46 ERA. In his past four games, including the three starts he has 24 k’s in 16 IP. Sure, there are some red flags, like the 1.4 HR/9, although three of them came in his first start in Tampa where he only went 3.1 innngs, and his .50 GB/FB rate. He is also pitching to a .338 Babip and a 4.35 FIP. This is one of those times where I think the samples are all far too small and one has to rely more on skill set than actual results. I’ll bet that 55.9% ownership will jump 30 points before this season is in the books. Last chance to get him off the wire. Oh, and he gets the Rangers at home Tuesday where his ERA is 2.70 and hitters are batting .259 against him. The Rangers are hitting .256 vs righties or 30 points lower than vs lefties, and also 30 points lower on the road than at home. The Chisox hit a little better at home than on the road but are only hitting .245, or 20 points lower vs righties than lefties. The Sox are also slumping badly of late hitting .208 with 17 runs in their last 7 games. As I often say. See how he does Tuesday before committing for Sunday.
                                                                                                                                                             NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART:                                                                                               
  • Jeff Locke, SP, PIT (28.8% owned) @ ATL, THU: This should be a gimme, although Locke has hit a pretty rough patch of late. However, Atlanta may not even be a major league team anymore by Thursday. The Braves are hitting .244 at home and also .244 vs lefties. I must disclose that Locke does not pitch well away from Pittsburgh and has poor numbers against Atlanta in his career as well. TheJeff-Lockes-girlfriend-Celine-MacClean-Facebook-1024x1024 sample size is 7 starts (3 in Atl) over his entire six year career. He last faced Atlanta May 19th at home giving up 2 runs in 7 innings for a W. If you are in a deep league and have to dig this far you could do a lot worse. He needs to pitch well as it gets cold in Pittsburgh in the winter. (Hey she’s been in a few of these articles already. I hope I don’t owe her royalties)
  • Homer Bailey, SP, CIN @ PIT, SAT: Why not? I’m going to trot him out there. I have to as I already took enough flack for stashing him in few leagues. He’s been aHomerBaileyP favorite of mine for years and seems like he has been around a long time, as well as on the shelf a long time, but he is still only 29. He is getting his first start today vs SD, so unless he blows up or hurts himself I’ll use him next week in Pitt where the Bucs are hitting better at home than on the road, but .260 vs righties and only .247 over the past 30 days. Like I said about Bundy, this is more about skills than splits/matchups. Plus I own him. Risk/Reward.



Tom Koehler, SP, MIA @ COL, SAT

Andrew Cashner, SP, MIA @ CHC, Mon, & @ COL, SUN: Welcome to Miami!

Colin Rea, SP, MIA @ COL, FRI.

Bud Norris, SP, LAD Vs BOS, FRI

 Closer Merry-Go-Round:  Currently Under Construction


*”CLEW” = Closer En Waiting

** IRS + H = Inherited Runners stranded plus Holds

See you next week. Thanks for reading.


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Major League Fantasy Football Radio: Join Ej GarrCorey D Roberts, and Coach Andy Macuga live Saturday July 30th from 1-3pm EST for episode #65 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. This is a live broadcast and we take callers at 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the hosts. This week we will break down the NFC South from an NFL and fantasy perspective.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”


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Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio: Join Corey D Roberts, Joe Iannone, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday July 31st, 2016 from 7-9pm EST for episode #74 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week is ALL about the trade deadline deals and how they effect us in fantasy.

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You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

I'm an accountant and an amateur writer of fiction and sports commentary, mostly baseball. I've been a student of the game of baseball since the Dinosaurs roamed the earth, or at least since a few years before the world knew what a designated hitter was. Otherwise, I like "antique" cars of the 60's and 70's and have been a fantasy baseball fanatic since my first draft many years ago. I live in CT with my wife Megan of 25 years, our daughter Caitlin and their (their) cats. I'm also the better looking of the two guys in the the photo.

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