Despite a tough start to the season, Archie Bradley may still have a chance to make a difference in fantasy leagues.
Brendon Thorne/MLB Photos via Getty Images
By Michael Beller
July 22, 2014

Archie Bradley was supposed to be one of the big-time pitching prospects to dominate the minors and cruise into the majors at some point this season. There was even some speculation that he could start the year in the Arizona rotation. Instead, he began with Triple-A Reno after a few rough outings to end the spring, then landed on the DL with an elbow injury that cost him two months. Clearly he would not be forcing his way to the majors along the timetable originally in place.

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Bradley finally came back at the end of June, and the team eased him back into action. In his first four starts with Double-A Mobile, he never went more than 5 2/3 innings, though he allowed one or zero runs each time out. A few days after that fourth start, GM Kevin Towers said that the team might like to see Bradley in the majors at some point this season. Two days later, he responded with his best start of the year. In seven innings against Chattanooga, the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate, Bradley struck out 10 batters while allowing two runs on three hits. His ERA with Mobile is down to 1.78, and he has allowed just 17 hits while fanning 19 in 25 1/3 innings.

The Diamondbacks aren’t going to come anywhere near the playoffs and could definitely make some changes to their staff. It’s safe to say that Mike Bolsinger, Vidal Nuno and Chase Anderson haven’t exactly earned iron-clad spots in the rotation. It makes all the sense in the world to get Bradley some run in the majors this year to see how he acclimates himself and measures up to big-league competition in games that matter for everyone concerned.

Even if Bradley is only up in September, he could make a difference in fantasy leagues. He began the season as the No. 9 prospect according to Baseball America, and still projects as a frontline starter. Given Towers’ comments and Bradley’s recent performance, a promotion could be in the offing. If you have roster space to stash him, now would be the time to do so.

Pitchers of the week

David Price, Tampa Bay RaysLast week: 8 IP, 1 W, 9 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP

Price shut down the Twins over the weekend, allowing just four hits while striking out nine in eight shutout innings. He’s now 10-7 with a 3.06 ERA, 3.01 FIP, 1.04 WHIP and 173 strikeouts against 21 walks in 155 2/3 innings. Those of you in AL-only leagues should be careful, however. Each start could be his last with the Rays, and the Dodgers, Cardinals, Giants and Cubs are among the teams reportedly interested in trading for him.

Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox8 IP, 1 W, 8 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP

Lester moved to 10-7 on the year after tossing eight scoreless innings of his own against the Royals. He gave up just four hits and two walks while striking out eight. He’s nowhere near as likely to get traded, but he did just halt negotiations on an extension, and the Red Sox could move him if the price were right.

Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies7 IP, 1 W, 9 K, 1.29 ERA, 0.57 WHIP

Hamels, too, impressed teams that could be interested in trading for him, holding the Braves to one run on four hits in seven innings, fanning nine and walking none. The Phillies are asking for a lot in a trade for the lefty, however. They reportedly want any team acquiring to cover the entire remainder of his contract and give up at least three top prospects. It’s unlikely any team will make the Phillies such an offer.

Pitchers of the weak

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Yordano Ventura, Kansas City Royals4 1/3 IP, 0 K, 12.46 ERA, 3.00 WHIP

Venutra had his worst start as a major leaguer on Sunday, allowing six runs on nine hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings against the Red Sox. What’s more, he didn’t strike out even one batter. He’ll look to get back on track against the Indians on Friday.

John Danks, Chicago White Sox4 1/3 IP, 4 K, 14.54 ERA, 2.77 WHIP

Danks got shelled by the Astros on Sunday, surrendering seven runs on 12 hits. He gave up two home runs, one of which was to Jose Altuve. Danks now has a 4.35 ERA accompanied by a 4.80 FIP. Given that he doesn’t strike out too many batters (87 in 124 innings), he isn’t really much of a fantasy option.

Matt Garza, Milwaukee Brewers1/3 IP, 1 K, 135.00 ERA, 21.00 WHIP

Here’s how Matt Garza’s outing against the Nationals on Saturday transpired. Denard Span led off with a single. Anthony Rendon struck out. Jayson Werth doubled. Adam LaRoche walked. Ryan Zimmerman singled, scoring Span and Werth. Bryce Harper walked. Ian Desmond singled, scoring LaRoche. Wilson Ramos singled, scoring Zimmerman and Harper. And that was the end of Garza’s day. The start increased his ERA to 4.04 from 3.69.

Buy, sell or hold

Buy: Dale Thayer, San Diego Padres

We’ve been touting Thayer in this space for a while now, and the first domino to making him relevant in fantasy leagues fell when the Padres dealt Huston Street to the Angels over the weekend. Now he needs just one more piece to drop into place (more on that shortly). Thayer has been quite effective this year, putting up a 2.09 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 37 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings. He’s one trade away from inheriting the closer’s role in San Diego, and I believe that trade will happen. And that’s why you should sell this next guy.

Sell: Joaquin Benoit, San Diego Padres

Benoit is the Padres’ closer -- for now -- and rightfully so. He has been lights out this year, posting a 1.99 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 47 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings. He’s also one of the most attractive relief options on the trade market, and while the Padres have plenty of leverage, they also don’t have any reason to keep him. He’s about to turn 37 years old, and is in the first year of a two-year deal (with a club option in 2016) that still has about $10 million remaining on it. That’s an easy contract for a contender to take on, especially with the way Benoit was pitched this year, and one the Padres wouldn’t mind unloading. The bet here is that he’s traded, potentially to a team where he’ll be a set-up man. Cash in on his newfound value while you can.

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Hold: Andrew Heaney, Miami Marlins

Heaney was one of the hottest pickups when the Marlins promoted him back in June, but his struggles earned him a trip back to Triple-A New Orleans. He got roughed up in his first two starts after the demotion, allowing a combined seven earned runs on 10 hits and two walks in 6 2/3 innings. Having said that, Heaney is still a very talented 23-year-old pitcher who could soon be back in the majors. Those of you who own him in keeper or dynasty leagues should continue to stash him on your roster.

Baseball Throwdown Picks

Tuesday: Scott Kazmir, A’s (vs. Astros) -- Since allowing seven runs to the Mets back on June 24, Kazmir has surrendered just two runs across 17 1/3 innings, striking out 24 in that span.

Wednesday: Tsuyoshi Wada, Cubs (vs. Padres) -- This is largely a matchup play, but Wada has been very good in 19 appearances – 18 starts – at Triple-A Iowa this year. He has a 2.77 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 1.16 WHIP and 120 strikeouts in 113 2/3 innings.

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Thursday: Felix Hernandez, Mariners (vs. Orioles) -- Forget the projected score in this case. Simply grab Hernandez every time he starts, kick back and watch the points roll in.

Friday: Alex Wood, Braves (vs. Padres) -- This is my favorite matchup of the week. Wood has a 3.24 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 1.16 WHIP and 90 strikeouts in 91 2/3 innings this year. He just shut down the Phillies to the tune of one run on three hits with eight strikeouts in six innings. He’s going up against what is by far the worst offense in the majors this year when he takes the ball against the Padres Friday. It’s a layup.

Saturday: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (@ Giants) -- Exactly the same analysis as the Hernandez pick, just substituting Kershaw’s name for the King’s. You cannot go wrong with either of these guys. They’re artists with a baseball.

Sunday: Adam Wainwright, Cardinals (@ Cubs) -- The Cubs have actually gotten to Wainwright a couple times this year, but this is still a great matchup for one of the best pitchers in the game. In his last seven starts, Wainwright has allowed a grand total of six runs while striking out 34 in 52 2/3 innings.

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