May 26, 2017

While everyone is enamored with Aaron Judge, there is another New York ballplayer that might be better.

Plus, the Dodgers gave up on Urias, should you on your fantasy team?

CHEERS

Michael Conforto, NYM - While all of the Big Apple attention has been on Aaron Judge, there is another New York outfielder playing just as well. Conforto's and Judge's stats are nearly identical across the board, and Conforto has made his mark with inconsistent playing time to start the season. What's even better for Conforto is that he's already gone through his adjustment phase after struggles last season. Judge will hit his at some point, and it's why he carries a lower floor than Conforto. Judge is already slipping a bit with a 31.4 strikeout percentage in May, which is concerning for his long-term average success. Conforto surprisingly has a higher hard hit percentage than Judge and has hit more home runs to the opposite field (left), which eliminates those pull hitter/shift concerns. This isn't a smear campaign for Judge; he's terrific. This is simply a call to value Conforto on the same level as Judge when many owners aren't, which means you can likely trade Judge for Conforto and an additional piece.

Lance McCullers, HOU - You should be fielding offers for McCullers and ramp up your aggressiveness to sell high as the season continues. Why is that? First, McCullers isn't as good as his past four starts ... no pitcher is. McCullers hasn't allowed an earned run and has a BABIP of .161 and 94.7 left on base percentage over those four starts. That's unsustainable. McCullers is pitching well, but luck has been heavily on his side. The second reason you need to sell high is that McCullers isn't going past 150 or so innings, and he's already at 59.1. McCullers has a history of injury issues and a career high of 125.2 innings in 2015. You've already gotten your return value on him or close to it, so trade him before the end of June.

TEARS

Julio Urias, LAD - The Dodgers have given up on Urias for now, but the question is if you should do the same. You likely don't have the bench room to stash Urias. You can try to trade Urias to someone who might see the upside for when he returns, but Urias is likely a throw-in piece at this point at best. Urias had an ugly 5.40 ERA and uglier -3.0 strikeout percentage minus walk percentage (SOBB). Yes, that's negative! Urias had a 10.8 K percentage, 13.7 BB percentage, 4.2 K/9 and 5.4 BB/9. While Urias has much more strikeout upside than that, the walks were a concern in his 2016 MLB stint and again in his time in Triple-A to start 2017. The biggest issue this year appears to be that Urias just hasn't figured out what works against advanced hitting. Before his demotion, Urias was throwing his changeup nearly twice as much as last year and barely using his curve. Additionally, his swinging strike percentage was down to 8.9 and first strike percentage was a weak 52.0. Urias still has a high ceiling, but he obviously needs more work, similar to Jose Berrios last year. Urias isn't even 21 years old yet, so don't write him off for 2018 and beyond. But it's doubtful that Urias will have any value this season.

FEARS

Odubel Herrera, PHI - It's telling how poor Herrera's season has been when owners are asking if they should cut him. Don't do it. In fact, try to buy low if you don't own Herrera. Herrera has two quality seasons under his belt, so it's not a one-year wonder or sophomore slump concern. Herrera still has double-digit home run power and the speed to steal 20-plus bags. Herrera's problems are a low BABIP (.296) compared to his first two years (.387, .349) and drop in his line drive percentage. Herrera is clearly in a prolonged slump, but he's a better hitter than this. Even if Herrera only moderately rebounds and mimics his 2015 season, you're still looking at a production bump in all categories.

STREAMING PITCHERS

The Rays continue to be the best offense to target for opposing pitchers with a league-high 17.1 SOBB and 27.3 strikeout percentage. Martin Perez (TEX), A.J. Griffin (TEX) and Ariel Miranda (SEA) are all quality options against the Rays. The Brewers are a high-risk/high-reward matchup given their propensity to strike out but also put up plenty of runs. Consider Zach Wheeler (NYM) and Rich Hill (LAD) the two more trustworthy streaming plays. The Padres are the best team to target, even with less strikeouts, due to their weak run production. Eddie Butler (CHC) and German Marquez, Tyler Chatwood and Tyler Anderson of the Rockies are worth starting against them.

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This column was provided to The Associated Press by Jake Ciely of the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com

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