Last week we talked about Felipe Lopez coming back and Brendan Ryan struggling. We recommended picking up Lopez because he would probably take the starting shortstop job. Now that he’s back, and it’s looking like that’s the case, we’re the ones looking stupid for not having followed our own advice. And yes, that’s the royal ‘we.’ On to this week’s recommendations.
Casey Blake (47% owned)
Bet you didn’t know that Casey Blake was 36 years old, did you? The fact that he debuted old (30 years old) isn’t good news for the bell curve of his career. We do know that players that debut later usually leave the league earlier, too. That seems to be the case whether that’s because players that debut later need to be closer to their peak in order to be MLB-quality, and therefore drop out earlier as they age because they fall from that peak level, or whether it’s for some other reason. Well, Blake has had a decidedly okay run, but things aren’t looking great. He’s got a six-year low in ISO and a career high in strikeout rate. It’s not luck that’s keeping him down, at least not batted-ball luck – his BABIP is .291. Instead, he’s seeing a career-low of pitches in the zone and swinging at a career high of pitches outside the zone. His contact rate is at a career low. Hmmm… why would you want to pick him up again? Well, because .260-hitting corner infielders with a little bit of power don’t just grow on trees. In certain leagues, he’ll be useful. In just such a league of mine he was dropped. Just don’t go trading your starting 3B because you picked him up is all I’m saying.
Jim Thome (5% owned)
Thome’s ownership levels are surprisingly low for a guy that’s blasted five home runs in only 75 at-bats. The good news is that he’s still his old three-true-outcome self – walking (17.6%), striking out (27.6%) and jacking dongers (.267 ISO). Though he’s also seeing a career-low pitches in the zone, the rest of his swing rate statistics are mostly in line with his career. It seems that he’s in a crowded house, but 75 at bats over 39 games is on pace for about 311 at-bats, and if he keeps hitting home runs, he’ll get more time against righties, against whom he’s done well this year (.280/.438/.600) and career (.294/.429/.614). If you have a space on your bench and can be vigilant about who is starting in Minny on a daily basis, Thome will collect you some home runs for sure.
Marc Rzepczynski (1% owned)
Maybe this is my ‘hunch,’ but Rzep/Scrabble just made his first rehab start today and might join the Jays within a week. Then again, he gave up nine runs in 2 1/3 innings in that re-hab start and Brandon Morrow and Brett Cecil are enough a part of the future and have shown enough this year that they should keep their jobs even when Scrabble returns. So that leaves Dana Eveland as the crux of the argument. Certainly his ERA (4.98) doesn’t argue for his inclusion in the rotation, and his secondary stats are even worse (4.15 K/9, 5.19 BB/9, 5.58 xFIP). Doesn’t seem like too much is in Scrabble’s way. As long as he can find his old groundballing (51.2% last year) and strikeout (8.8 K/9 last year) ways, he’ll be a much better solution. Hopefully the Jays will also see things this way.
Ownership numbers from Yahoo Fantasy Sports.