In our daily fantasy baseball news and notes column, we'll be discussing hot topics in the fantasy baseball world, as well as offering up tidbits of information to help you set your lineup. Comments are welcome below.
Certain maxims have been established in fantasy baseball. Pitchers in western divisions are worth targeting because of the spacious ballparks and weak offenses to which they're subjected; pitchers in the AL East are generally to be avoided, save for the occasional beast like Masahiro Tanaka, because of how offensively loaded most AL East teams are. And now, there's a new maxim that fantasy owners should observe. Any starting pitcher for the Oakland A's needs to be considered immediately relevant in standard fantasy leagues, regardless of who that starter is or how awful they had been in previous years.
Case in point: Scott Kazmir threw 6.1 innings of two-run ball against the Yankees yesterday and struck out 10. Kazmir, at 30 years old, had a 5.02 ERA from 2009 to 2013, but he's been a completely different pitcher with the A's, totaling six wins, a 2.40 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. And it's not just him. Sonny Gray has a 2.45 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and six wins; Jesse Chavez has a 2.78 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP; Drew Pomeranz has a 2.37 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP; and Tommy Milone, who's easily the worst pitcher in the A's staff, still has a serviceable 3.60 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP.
Give Billy Beane credit; he really is talented at finding bargain basement rejects who can pitch as good as staff aces. Even Bartolo Colon had a 2.65 ERA in 30 starts with the A's last year. It's too late to adopt Gray, Kazmir and the others at this point, but in the future, the next time the Oakland A's throw out a starter with even the slightest trace of redeemability, that starter needs to be on fantasy owners' radars.
For your consideration
• Brutal news for Wil Myers' fantasy owners: the 23-year-old Ray was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his wrist and will be on the sidelines for the next two months. Myers was a gargantuan prospect coming out of the Royals' farm system, so much so that when the Royals traded him to Tampa for James Shields -- who's by all accounts a perfectly competent pitcher -- it was universally decried as one of the worst trades of the decade. And yet, Myers hasn't done much of anything in the majors, hitting a less-than-inspiring .227 average this year with only five homers and three steals. Myers has a promising future, but given the unlikelihood of him playing like a beast when he returns, his owners should probably cast him to the waiver wire.
• Jon Singleton matched the debut exploits of fellow midseason call-up Oscar Taveras, going 1-for-3 with two K's and a home run in his first career game. Singleton's numbers in the minors may pale in comparison to teammate George Springer's, but he still showed quite a bit of pop, and his home run last night was notable in just how easy his swing looked as he swatted the ball to the bleachers. He has LOADS of power. First base may be an easy position to fill, but the upside with Singleton is great enough that he's worth rolling with on a daily basis.
• Curtis Granderson wasn't awful on Tuesday, going 3-for-3 with a sac fly and a stolen base. The steal was Granderson's first since April 10, and with only six homers, 27 RBI and a .212 average, that isn't much of a consolation prize. The Grandy Man has been mostly awful this year, but there's always the chance that he could turn things around in the second half -- or sooner, preferably. He may not be worth starter, but he's worth owning all the same.
• The Marlins' Henderson Alvarez was tremendous against the Rays, shutting them out over nine innings while striking out five. Alvarez has been an all-or-nothing pitcher over the past two months; he's either allowed more than four runs or exactly no runs in each of his last seven starts. The good Alvarez has come to play lately though, as he hasn't allowed a run in his last 21 innings in starts against Tampa Bay, the Phillies and the Nats. Now sure: those three teams have some pretty weak offenses, and Alvarez has only 45 strikeouts in 75.2 innings this season, so it's not like he's been blowing people away. However, the prize acquisition in the Marlins' annexing of Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle has a nifty 2.62 ERA, and with the weak-hitting Cubs next on the docket for him, Alvarez is a terrific short-term fantasy add if nothing else.
• Playing in his first game since early April, Josh Hamilton went 1-for-3 and hammered his third home run of the year. Hamilton is hitting .433 in 30 at-bats, and if the early returns are any indication, Hamilton could be a major factor the rest of the way... if he can stay healthy. At the very least, his return to the lineup should make things a little easier for Albert Pujols, who's slowed down tremendously since getting off to a blazing start. (Pujols has five homers and is hitting .225 in his last 34 games, after belting nine homers and hitting .293 in his first 22 games.) Pitchers might be more aggressive in how they pitch Pujols now, and that could play to his advantage.