Will first-half wonders Matt Harvey, Shelby Miller and Jean Segura trail off in the second half? Which young second baseman is the better stash? Are there closers on the wire worth grabbing? Our experts Michael Beller and Eric Mack have some answers for curious owners.
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1. Matt Harvey, Shelby Miller and Jean Segura have delivered huge first halves of the season. How would you handicap their odds of continuing to perform at this level?
Mack: You have to figure all three will cool off, if only because they've produced at a level few could have anticipated entering the season. Miller has already cooled, and he and Harvey are particularly unlikely to post comparable second-half numbers because they've yet to subject their elbows and shoulders to this innings load. Historically, the second half of a pitcher's first full season includes regression and slumps.
Meanwhile, while Segura looks like a legit fantasy star at the weak shortstop position, few have made the rags-to-riches jump he made and sustained it through 162 games.
All that said, selling high on these guys might be dangerous, particularly if my beliefs are widely held. It's hard to imagine getting an intriguing enough offer to justify parting with one of the true breakout fantasy players of 2013.
Beller: I'm going to pull a Charles Van Doren and take the last part first. Segura has been gradually cooling every month. He hit .367/.418/.567 in April, .345/.373/.538 in May and .291/.307/.477 thus far in June. The good news is that his power and thievery have remained consistent. He hit three homers in April, five in May and has three so far in June. He stole seven bags in April, upped it to eight in May and has eight so far in June. He may taper off in the rate categories, but the power and speed sure look legit.
As for the pitchers, both Harvey and Miller were big-time prospects who have immediately found tremendous success in the majors. No matter who you are, it isn't this easy. We need to expect both to slow down a bit, and there's a risk that the Mets could limit Harvey's innings given that the club won't be anywhere near the playoffs. But just because these two pitchers will likely regress a bit doesn't mean fantasy owners should shop them. There's room for them to regress and still be elite pitchers the rest of the way. I wouldn't trade either unless I was absolutely floored by an offer.
2. I'm in an 18-team points/keeper league, currently teetering on the playoff bubble. Still holding onto Braun?
Mack: You should consider Braun better than your alternatives right now, even if he is out until the All-Star break. I don't see any Biogenesis suspension impacting his season at this point, since the interview, decision and appeals processes figure to take months. You could try to trade Braun, but you'd probably just be aiding a team you are competing with for a playoff spot. I'd rather have Braun on my side than playing against me during fantasy crunch time.
Beller: Yeah, I'm not shopping Braun at all if I own him. Even if he needs to spend more time on the DL with his thumb issue, you won't get anywhere near appropriate value for him. Like Mack says, there really isn't any risk of him getting suspended this year. Keep Braun.
3. Anthony Rendon or Jedd Gyorko in a 12-team head-to-head league?
Mack: Rendon is off to an outstanding start and is a multi-hit machine right now, but I'd prefer Gyorko's power potential the rest of the way. Gyorko still has the chance to his 20 homers, something only four second baseman did last season. Rendon will cool off, while Gyorko should return this weekend. He has already overcome a big-league slump and made adjustments, so he should be set for a strong second half.
Beller: It's a little boring to agree, but we can't force a debate for debate's sake on these pages. Gyorko's power makes him the choice here. Not only does he have eight homers in 255 plate appearances this year, he blasted 24 in 408 plate appearances at Triple-A last season. I do like Rendon and think he makes a worthwhile starter in mixed leagues for the rest of the season, but he can't come anywhere near touching Gyorko in the power department. That makes the latter the choice.
4. How should owners who have closers like Kevin Gregg and Jose Veras prepare for those pitchers' potential loss in value?
Mack: Ah, the obligatory crumpled closer question. We could sit and discuss this one every week. You might as well through in Andrew Bailey, Jose Valverde and the recently human Jonathan Papelbon to the discussion, too. Pitchers give up runs, closers go through slumps. The revolving door at closer rarely stops, so fantasy owners have to jump on the setup guys pitching the best in late-inning roles for teams with shaky closer situations. That way, Koji Uehara and Joaquin Benoit are already on your roster when they inherit the big job. If you're looking for options beyond those guys, give Miami's resurgent Steve Cishek a look.
Beller: If you own Gregg or Veras, there's a very real chance that they won't be closers in the not-too-distant future. Hector Ambriz would almost certainly take over for Veras, but the situation is a lot murkier in Chicago. James Russell would probably be first in line, but Carlos Villanueva could get a chance to close. With the Phillies likely to shop Papelbon, meanwhile, Mike Adams or Antonio Bastardo could move into a ninth-inning role, too. And if you're in a shallow league where closers don't immediately get snatched, Uehara and Benoit are great options. Both have the ability to lock down their respective team's jobs with a few solid outings in a row.
* Editor's note: Tweets edited only for grammar and clarity.