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Fantasy Baseball Confidential: Week 4

Each week yours truly will be sharing various tidbits and revelations that I deem worthy of the attention of fantasy baseball managers of all formats and backgrounds. April 2022 has been synonymous with offensive shortages. Yet, April is always the worse month for offense as last year caused a massive panic too. So let’s see what’s happening on the down-low. Let’s find out what’s strictly hush-hush, on the QT and deserves to have a light shined upon it for Week 4!

The Past Is Prologue

Here you will find points of reference from this past week that you need to know going forward so you can be a fantasy baseball kingpin.

  • I will not claim to be the founder, but I am the current operating manager of the Ty France fan club. He destroyed the baseball in six home games last week with a .500/.522/.885 slash line with 3 dongs and 10 runs driven in. He even had his first career five hit day against the Royals on Saturday. He’s a cool dude with special bat control. I got a tad ahead of myself when I said he would win the batting title coming into 2021. He only hit .291 and wasn’t crowned the batting champ. Still, when he was traded during the short 2020 bozo season to Seattle, I was very excited for France because I knew he would finally get a chance to play every day! In 2019 France was stuck behind old man Ian Kinsler and journeyman Greg Garcia at second base in San Diego but was still able to launch 7 taters in 201 PA. The France deal with San Diego might be the shrewdest move by GM Jerry Dipoto during his reign in Seattle, which includes the deal to acquire Jarred Kelenic from the Mets for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano.

  • As of Monday last week, the Reds hadn’t ended an inning with the lead for 54 straight innings. That’s not good. David Bell is going to be the fall guy there sooner than later. BUT… he was extended for two years last September. So we should look forward to more of his closer by committee approach for the rest of 2022. Sure Lucas Sims is the guy, but his elbow will fail him again.
  • I had a plan to write about Jon Gray’s new and improved slider, but he sprained his MCL right away in his start against Seattle last week. So he’s on the shelf again. The Jon Gray truthers (they are out there) believed an escape from Coors Field would unleash the fury on the rest of MLB. One thing we forgot (I’m one of them) is that injuries travel too and Jon Gray has hit the IL six times over the last three seasons. Supposedly it’s a low-grade sprain and Gray could be back soon. We’ll see.
  • Usually, I wouldn’t comment on an event like the one that took place in New York with the Guardians last weekend, but as the unofficial representative of the underappreciated midwest baseball scene, I will never miss a moment to rip the bloated carcass known as the Yankees and New York City (I like the Mets though). The actions of the fans last Saturday showed the true colors of angry Yankee fans, with this definitely not being the first accusation of bigoted chants by Yankee game attendees. Now, every home ballpark has unruly fans, so I won’t single out the Yankees fan exclusively. I am also willing to accept that booze played a role in the affair since alcohol often lowers inhibitions in humans so they can say the things they think but wouldn’t dare say sober. As a former supervisor at Coors Field in 2011, I have witnessed the rage of fans who get stranded in the beer line when the third out of the bottom of the 7th inning means that all the keg lines in the park must be pulled. In the end though, Myles Straw believed he was standing up for his teammate Steven Kwan. In a vacuum, that’s admirable. When Straw climbed the wall to challenge fans though, he was falling for the oldest trick in the book. Instigators rely on being as cruel and callous as possible to get a response from the road player. I hate to invoke the Jackie Robinson example, but if Robinson endured what he did in the scariest situations possible completely alone, then Myles Straw can stand down from vicious, ignorant Yankee fan attacks.
  • This is a fantasy baseball focused article, so Miguel Cabrera’s 3000th hit doesn’t carry any relevance in that world. However, that many hits in a career will become more and more rare as time marches on. So kudos to Miggy! The Tigers never won a world series while he played here, but they went to one and were in the hunt a few times during the 2010s. Best Tiger ever?

The Way Of The Future

In 1999’s Boiler Room, Ben Affleck’s character said “always be closing”. In fantasy baseball “always be looking ahead”

  • May 1 is the day all MLB teams have to trim their rosters down to 26. I can’t wait for this! Yes, the reasoning for expanding rosters was sound. It doesn’t mean I haven’t found it slightly irritating as a fantasy manager. Players like Lucas Giolito could sit on my roster as active with the dreaded “day-to-day” moniker while I am stuck waiting for him to finally be put on the IL. The expanded rosters are the reason they didn’t have to rush because certain teams were not going to immediately call up another player depending on who had to be exploited for service time or not. Bottom line is teams like San Diego will have to make some tough calls with players like Mackenzie Gore and C.J. Abrams. Gore might stay a tad longer until Blake Snell or Mike Clevinger can slide into the rotation. Snell could be activated in correlation with May 1. The confluence of injuries and need will make for some curious choices this weekend.
  • You already know this by now, but Tanner Houck isn’t available for the Red Sox in their four-game showdown in Toronto. The good news though is he gets to face the Orioles on Friday when they get back to the States. For future planning, the Red Sox are in Toronto for three games starting June 27 and September 30. Otherwise, Houck should be available all season.
  • The Giants have a secret recipe that every organization in MLB should spend millions trying to acquire. Jakob Junis seems to be the latest player to benefit from the Giants Secret Sauce. He got the win in 5 IP against the Nats last Friday with a 45% whiff rate using his changeup. Junis will get those same Nats again at home this week. Streamer material for sure!

  • The Nationals don’t have much to play for this season unfortunately, but Josiah Gray has two starts this week. That’s fun, right? I tend to think it is. What causes me to slow my roll though are the 7 walks in 14 IP. That’s a countdown to extinction when you include his fastball being one MPH slower than last season. Sure it’s early and he’s ramping up still to get into midseason form. My point here is both of his starts could be risky and it’s easy to decide which one will be a meltdown with free passes. The Marlins have 58 walks as a team while the Giants have 51 coming to this week’s action. Josiah Gray rules. Just not this week.

Speed Round Musings

The musings you find in this segment are just my thoughts. Assume total bias on my part in this section.

  • Eric Lauer struck out 13 Phillies last weekend with a silly 55% whiff rate using his 4-seamer. The Brewers know pitching.
  • Luke Voit is on the IL (shocking) with a biceps issue. Serves him right for benching my guy Tyler Stephenson who is all class.
  • Daulton Varsho is cranking bombs in early 2022. He’s crushing the ball, leading off and has 8 walks in 61 PA. He’s legit!
  • J.D. Davis will need a trade or a couple injuries to play more with the Mets. He is healthy now for a trade deadline showcase.
  • Glenn Otto got the victory in his first start last weekend. It was at Oakland, which is a great park for pitchers. I like what I saw.
  • Eloy Jimenez is sadly made of tissue paper and will likely fall short of 100 games played each year until his approach changes.
  • Gerrit Cole’s start was fantastic! His spin rate on his fastball was much better. I’m not saying he had gunk on his butt though.
  • The Garrett Whitlock for closer campaign looks mostly dead as of this writing. Regardless he’s still a special pitcher to roster.
  • Aaron Hicks batted leadoff in 5 straight games with a couple of steals. Once the ball changes again, he will show off his power.
  • Connor Joe is not a fluke. He is the leadoff hitter for one of the most potent offenses in baseball. Definitely 12-team-worthy.
  • Nico Hoerner is not a 20-homer player, but he can hit for average with decent pop and steal 10 bags. I like him!
  • I remember Joc Pederson when he was a highly-touted prospect. It was a reminder to take what he’s doing now seriously.
  • Luis Urias will rejoin the Brewers by early May. Jace Peterson is a solid utility player, but Urias is a difference-maker.
  • Royce Lewis is going to make it to The Show this season and will have an impact on redraft leagues this year. Be forewarned.

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