Author Archive

Just How Good is A.J. Pollock?

I have been a pretty big A.J. Pollock fan for some time now. I made a bold move that could be conceived as an overpay for Pollock in a dynasty league (Ryan Braun for Pollock and Odor – with prospects moving on both sides), which I believe shows how much of an advocate I am for Pollock – and Odor for that matter.
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Taking Another Look at Josh Reddick

Josh Reddick has had an interesting career. Playing top tier right field defense along with having decent power has allowed him to be a two win player in each of the past four years despite only eclipsing 500 plate appearances once. However, he has only really been useful in the fake game once, in 2012 when he hit 32 homers and stole 11 bases.
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Rougned Odor’s Slow Start Should Not Bother You

Rougned Odor, slight of frame and young in age, impressed in his debut last season despite playing just 62 games above double-A. Forced into a role due to injuries to Jurickson Profar, a 90 wRC+ is not world beating but he did hit nine homers and steal four bags which is certainly appealing for fantasy purposes given he played in just 114 games.
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With Travis d’Arnaud Out, Kevin Plawecki Gets His Chance

For those of us that drafted Travis d’Arnaud in the hopes of a true breakout season are certainly disappointed that his hand was broken this weekend on a hit by pitch. I went so far as claiming that d’Arnaud would hit 20 home runs this year in our Bold Prediction series. He was certainly on the right track, hitting .317/.356/.537 over 56 plate appearances.
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Andrelton Simmons is Getting Better but Should Not be Rostered

The two things we know about Andrelton Simmons offensively is that he will not be good at stealing bases and he will not take many walks. The rest of whatever Simmons is offensively is up for interpretation.
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Is Sal Perez Ready to Breakout?

A player I ended up with but did not love entering the draft this season was Salvador Perez. On a split team that I was forced to miss the actual draft of, my co-manager drafted Perez as he fell pretty late given the league is on on base percentage league. Coming off of a 92 wRC+ season with a .289 OBP, I was a bit worried about owning solely Perez so we decided to pick up Derek Norris as a backup.
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The Braves Long Term Outlook at Closer

Following the Braves trade of Craig Kimbrel, their only legitimate long term closer for the past 20 or so years, those in deep and long term leagues may be curious about what the Braves outlook is to replace Kimbrel both in the short and long term.

In the short term the answer certainly looks like it will be 38-year-old Jason Grilli. For as long as Grilli can consistently close games, he will be the ninth inning man. If he begins to struggle, Jim Johnson would be the likely successor – given he is pitching well at the time Grilli would be pitching poorly. Braves management also mentioned a candidate who would potentially fit in both the short and long term plans, if he were to stick I the role. They also have a few candidates that are either injured or in the minors, so below is my take on each of the three most likely long term closer candidates in Atlanta.

Juan Jaime

The Braves front office mentioned Jaime may get opportunities to save games down the line following Kimbrel’s trade. So, who is Juan Jaime? He is a fireballing 27-year-old Dominican who has essentially no command of his pitches and no legitimate second offering. That is not exactly a confidence booster I potentially acquiring him as a hopeful future closer, but Roger McDowell helped Craig Kimbrel and many others get their command under control and turn them into very impressive relievers. Kimbrel was going to be great anyway, but it is not certain that he would have handled his walk issues that he had as a minor leaguer as well as he did without the help of McDowell.

Jaime is in the bullpen right now and is likely the first right-hander the Braves will use before handing it over to their set up man Johnson. I picked him up in a long term dynasty league as he does have upside and is not terribly far from the role. I don’t love Jaime, but I could see the Braves developing him into a decent enough reliever that he can pile up strikeouts to mitigate his walk issues and be a reasonable closer.

Shae Simmons

If not for succumbing to Tommy John surgery in spring, it is likely that Simmons would actually be the Braves closer today. It would have been quite appropriate too, because Simmons is essentially a Kimbrel-lite in that he is small in stature but still throws heat and a quality breaking ball. He is of course not on the same level of Kimbrel, but he does possess the tools to be a dominant late inning reliever. In his short stint in the majors last year he recorded a 2.91 ERA and a 26% strikeout rate.

Walks were an issue and have been in the past, but across single and double-A in 2013 and 2014 he seemed to have honed in his command problems. Tommy John surgery will have him out the entire season but he could be ready for the start of next year. I would not anticipate him being handed the closer job right after returning from elbow surgery, but unless someone steps up and grabs the role with a choke hold lock, he should be a front runner to be the team’s closer by May or June of next season.

Mike Foltynewicz

During the Braves rebuilding process, they made sure to grab a number of high quality, high ceiling starting pitchers. This winter alone they acquired Matt Wisler, Tyrell Jenkins, Ricardo Sanchez, Max Fried, and Manny Banuelos. On top of that, their top three starters are under control for at least four seasons, so the Braves have a ton of young starting pitching. They will do whatever they can to allow Foltynewicz to shine as a starter, but it would not be the end of the world if they eventually decide the flame thrower who can hit triple digits would be suited best in a late inning bullpen role.

Given that they have such a plethora of young pitching, it would be a way to allow a number of them to get acclimated into major league roles that suit their talents best. Foltynewicz has made a number of top 100 lists and if he does move to a bullpen role, his fastball and curveball combination could make him deadly. He is probably the most valuable asset of the players I have covered in this article due to his potential as a starter, but if you are looking for the potential long term closer to stash away, I would be far from shocked if the Braves opt to move Foltyenwicz there in the near future. They already flirted with the idea of putting him in the bullpen during spring.

Shane Greene, Late Round and Waiver Wire Monster

To start off, Shane Greene is currently owned in 3% of Yahoo! leagues so he is essentially risk-free and costs absolutely nothing. I have mentioned this before, but having guys like that on your roster is a positive as it gives you built in waiver wire drop-ability. I know prior to using the “waiting on pitching” strategy I often would come into some issues when my roster was stacked with guys I invested in or felt I couldn’t drop, and when an appealing add came across the waiver wire I struggled with being able to let anyone go.
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Ben Duronio’s 10 Bold Predictions

1. Marcus Semien will be a top ten shortstop

I lauded Semien last year and he struggled to start out the year and could not find the playing time at any infield position. In a new city and starting the year as the A’s shortstop, I like Semien to replicate his ZiPS projection of 16 homers and 12 steals. His average may not suffice, but he takes enough walks to be even more valuable in OBP leagues.
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Steven Matz’s Timeline After Zack Wheeler’s Injury

Losing a young pitcher like Zack Wheeler is never an easy thing, but there are not too many teams positioned well enough to handle a season-long injury to a young starter as well as the Mets. The Mets have three top-10 prospects that could conceivably fill in for Wheeler right now, though the likelihood is that Dillon Gee is given an opportunity to eat innings in the back end of the rotation while the prospects continue to develop in the minors.
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