SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

July 13, 2013

Fantasy Forecast: Looking ahead to the second half


The Salem News

---- — Fantasy Forecast Andy Silva

As the all-star break approaches, it’s time to look ahead and try to strategize for the second half of your fantasy season. And in doing so you’re left with a couple of pressing questions.

Can baseball’s young superstars continue their early success?

 

Manny Muchado. Yasiel Puig. Matt Harvey.

Three of baseball’s most exciting young stars have yet to play in a full major league season.

I’ve already gone on record as saying that you should sell high on Puig. Yes, he’s a prodigious talent, but no one can keep up the pace he’s at right now. Not to mention he’s done little to ingratiate himself to opponents (see this week’s minor dustup over his total dismissal of Diamondbacks 2001 World Series hero Luis Gonzalez), which could in turn make him a target in baseball’s ongoing beanball wars.

Muchado has slightly more service time thanks to his callup late last season and thus it’s easier to see him continue somewhere near his current production level. You probably didn’t have to take him high in drafts, so he is likely a pure value proposition for this season at least. And let’s be honest ‑ his hype isn’t nearly at the same level at Puig’s, so you probably can’t trade him away for more than what he gives you. His has been a quiet excellence. So, if you play in a keeper league, there is little reason to let go of this promising prospect.

As far as Harvey, innings limits could become an issue in the second half. The team is already skipping his schedule start today to help keep his pitch count down and Mets manager Terry Collins has talked about finding ways to extend Harvey’s season while still protecting his arm. He’s already pitched 130 innings this season. By comparison, he threw about 169 innings last season and it has been reported that the Mets’ unofficial number for Harvey this season is 220 innings. Collins said this week that he wants to see Harvey get the experience of pitching a full season, so that could mean skipped starts here and there. And I’m sure there will be so course correction by the rest of the league to the young Mets ace. So now might be the time to sell high on Harvey.

Can Justin Verlander turn things around?

If you drafted Justin Verlander with a first round pick you have likely been disappointed.

Verlander is just 9-6 with a 3.71 ERA and a surprising WHIP of 1.39 ‑ which is up considerably from 1.06 in 2012 and 0.92 in 2011. His walk per nine rate is up as well, from 2.27 last year to 3.18 this year. In three of the Tigers ace’s last five starts he has given up four or more runs.

Now there are some things to be optimistic about. His strikeout per nine rate is up as well (from 9.03 to 9.23) and his batting average on balls in play rate (.336, up from .273 last year) suggests he might be getting slightly unlucky. Plus, let’s not forget that Verlander plays for a strong contender, which means at the very least he should continue to earn wins.

The bottom line is if you believed enough in Verlander to pay his preseason price it makes no sense to sell him now at a depressed rate. Moreover, If I were a betting man I would bet on a strong second half for the former Cy Young winner.

How will the Biogenesis scandal affect Ryan Braun and A-Rod?

 

This week it has been reported that Major League Baseball is getting ready to bring the hammer down on those named in documents in the Biogenesis mess. More specifically, it has been reported that Brewers slugger Ryan Braun and Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez could be facing 100-game suspensions.

Now, there is no firm timetable. Reports have said sometime after the All-Star break. And of course there will be appeals and fights from the Player’s Union, so this likely will drag out and could not be resolved until next season.

Still, this could prove to be a distraction, especially for A-Rod who, let’s face it, welcomes distraction by his mere presence in the Bronx alone. But how will Braun respond to the harsh spotlight that will be undoubtedly on him for the remainder of the season? He was largely able to put the controversy behind him following his successful appeal of a suspension last year, but will the second steroid accusation against him ramp up the pressure? It’s a reasonable question to ask.

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Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard had surgery this week on his left knee and is expected to miss six to eight weeks.

Howard had been trying to play his way through the pain, but eventually it became too much to bear. The timing is unfortunate as the recovery time will likely cause him to miss most of the remainder of the season and find him attempting to get back into the swing of things as the season winds down.

Given that, as well as the fact I’m not a huge Howard believer anyways, I think it’s safe to drop Howard in most leagues.

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Andy Silva writes the Fantasy Forecast column for The Salem News. You can reach him at asilva@salemnews.com. You can also follow Fantasy Forecast on Twitter at twitter.com/sn_fantasysport.