Pictured: Jacob deGrom
Source: Scott Taetsch / Getty Images North America

Miami Marlins

Let the process continue. After 24 rookie-eligible players saw time in 2018 for the Marlins in the first year of a rebuild, Miami aims to see progress from its core in ’19. CEO Derek Jeter has preached building a sustainable winner by infusing young talent into all levels of the organization. Some — like former top prospect Lewis Brinson — are hoping for bounce-back seasons, all while rocking a new look. The Marlins have ditched the former ownership’s rainbow color scheme for a more Miami feel.

But what matters most is what happens on the field. The Marlins avoided a 100-loss season by going 63–98. In the process, they saw Brian Anderson blossom into a National League Rookie of the Year candidate. Starting pitchers Trevor Richards and Pablo Lopez showed promise after being called up. Time will tell whether they take the next step in their development.

Atlanta Braves

Anyone who has ever done a long highway drive has had that moment. You realize that, somehow, you have driven 20 miles from where you last remember being, but you have no recollection of how you got there. It felt like that in Atlanta. The Braves, who were coming off three consecutive 90-loss seasons, are suddenly good again, winning 90 games in 2018, and it seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. The Braves enter 2019 as not only one of the best teams in the National League, but also the veterans of a surprise playoff appearance last fall.

The problem with “prospects” (and Atlanta has plenty of them) is that they are like bread in an old toaster. You’re pretty sure that they’ll eventually pop up, but sometimes they don’t, and even when they do, you’re not entirely sure what the results will be. Fortunately for the Braves, there was a lot of good toast to go around at SunTrust Park, and there’s likely to be more popping up soon.

New York Mets

The Mets went looking for a new general manager last season, and some candidates recommended a roster teardown. That’s not what the Wilpon family wanted to hear, so they hired Brodie Van Wagenen, a charismatic agent who promised he could make the Mets a winner, both now and for years to come. We’ll have to see it to believe it with this offense, but the Mets’ pitching talent, that includes 2018 Cy Young recipient Jacob deGrom, at least gives them a shot.

Philadelphia Phillies

Despite an inconsistent offense and the worst defense in the majors, the Phillies put together four good months — followed by two horrendous months — and improved by 14 wins in 2018.

Management promised a busy offseason as it looked to take the next step in 2019, but vaulting from 80 wins into the playoff picture will depend largely on the improvement of a returning core that surrounds a few newcomers. The Phillies do have a star in right-handed pitcher Aaron Nola and a couple of potential stars in Rhys Hoskins and Seranthony Dominguez. But unless they add another one before Opening Day, the Phils are probably a middle-of-the-pack club in the National League East.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals thought they needed big changes after their 97–65 first-place finish in 2017, firing manager Dusty Baker following the NLDS flameout and replacing him with Dave Martinez. But after the Nats finished 15 games worse in 2018 and lost their stranglehold on the NL East, we can definitively say the manager wasn’t the problem.

This offseason was focused on a central question, with a corollary: Could the Nationals afford to keep Bryce Harper? And did they really want him? Even as those questions were playing out, GM Mike Rizzo continued building a roster meant to contend again in 2019, with or without Harper. And with a rotation headed by Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and newcomer Patrick Corbin, they’re a good bet to do so. 

Posted in MLB, Top Fantasy Picks

MLB InGame Showdowns

Another two games are set for InGame action.  A maximum of 5 swaps are allowed in this contest with play time of 5 consecutive minutes necessary before a starting player can be benched. Each entry will receive 2 Power Multiplier which can be applied to any starting player to receive 2x points for a duration of 15 minutes respectively. Check out the matchups previews below and play for free.

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Nationals at Yankees Preview

The New York Yankees have relieved heavily on homers of late, with 20 of their last 22 runs scored courtesy of the long ball. After Didi Gregorius recorded his third multi-homer performance of the season in the opener, the Yankees (43-19) vie for a sweep of the abbreviated two-game interleague series versus the visiting Washington Nationals (36-28) on Wednesday.

Gregorius is batting .313 over his last 12 games after belting a pair of solo homers in Tuesday’s 3-0 triumph for New York, which has won 10 of 12 overall and 18 of its last 22 at home. The Yankees’ bullpen pushed its scoreless innings streak to 21 2/3 innings with 3 1/3 spotless frames in the opener, lowering its ERA to a majors-best 0.63 in 42 2/3 innings over the last 14 games. New York’s fourth shutout this season resulted in the second time in as many games that Washington has been blanked, with the latter collecting just eight hits in the process. Manager Dave Martinez said Bryce Harper is expected to be fine after the 2015 National League Most Valuable Player was hit in the elbow and foot by a pair of pitches in Tuesday’s tilt.

TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, ESPN, MASN (Washington), YES (New York)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Erick Fedde (0-1, 4.76 ERA) vs. Yankees RH Sonny Gray (4-4, 4.81)

Multiple media outlets reported that Fedde is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Syracuse to replace fellow right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who was shuffled to the disabled list on Sunday with an ailing shoulder. The 25-year-old allowed three runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings to take the loss against San Diego on May 23 in his lone spot start with the Nationals. Fedde has a 3-2 mark with a 4.76 ERA in 56 2/3 innings with Syracuse this season.

Gray was saddled with a no-decision on Wednesday despite retiring the first 12 batters he faced while scattering two hits and striking out eight over eight scoreless innings against Toronto. The 28-year-old has recorded quality starts in three of his last four trips to the mound. Gray has limited the current crop of Nationals to just a .219 batting average against him, although the hurler has yet to pick up a decision in two career starts versus the club.

WALK-OFFS

1. New York manager Aaron Boone said slumping C Gary Sanchez, who is mired in a 4-for-53 stretch with 18 strikeouts, is expected to sit out his second straight game on Wednesday.

2. Washington CF Adam Eaton has hit safely in both games since being activated from the 60-day disabled list.

3. The Yankees are expected to call up Jonathan Loaisiga to replace fellow RHP Masahiro Tanaka to start either Thursday or Friday’s game against Tampa Bay.

Rockies at Phillies Preview

Scott Kingery has been shuffled around the field this season as the Philadelphia Phillies try to find a home for the promising prospect. The 24-year-old looks to follow up a season high-tying four-RBI performance on Wednesday as the Phillies (34-30) bid for a series victory versus the reeling Colorado Rockies (32-34), who have dropped a season-worst five straight and nine of 11.

Kingery belted a three-run homer for his first blast since April 10 as Philadelphia claimed an early lead and held on for their second straight win with a 5-4 triumph on Tuesday. Cesar Hernandez has hit safely in four consecutive contests and scored a run in three straight and six of his last seven for the Phillies, who evened their six-game homestand at 2-2 and improved to 21-11 at Citizens Bank Park this season. Trevor Story had two singles to record his fourth straight multi-hit performance on Tuesday and crossed the plate twice in the opener to give him six runs scored during his six-game hitting streak. Story will get his first look at right-hander Nick Pivetta while left-hander Tyler Anderson will get the nod for the Rockies.

TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, AT&T SportsNet-Rocky Mountains (Colorado), NBCS Philadelphia

PITCHING MATCHUP: Rockies LH Tyler Anderson (3-1, 4.81 ERA) vs. Phillies RH Nick Pivetta (4-5, 3.76)

Anderson recorded his fourth straight no-decision on Thursday despite working a season high-tying seven innings against Cincinnati. The 28-year-old allowed just two runs on five hits versus the Reds and kept the ball in the park after being taken deep eight times in his previous six outings. Hernandez (6-for-9) and Maikel Franco (3-for-7) have gotten their licks in on Anderson, although the left-hander has flustered both Aaron Altherr (0-for-5, three strikeouts) and Odubel Herrera (0-for-3, three strikeouts).

Pivetta has answered a three-start winning streak with three straight losses after permitting four runs on six hits in five frames in Thursday’s 4-3 setback versus the Chicago Cubs. The 25-year-old British Columbia native has yielded nine earned runs over 14 innings while allowing the opposition to bat .294 against him during his losing skid. Pivetta was torched in his lone appearance against Colorado, yielding eight runs on as many hits in 2 2/3 innings at Coors Field on Aug. 5.

WALK-OFFS

1. Colorado LF Gerardo Parra has recorded five multi-hit performances in his last eight games.

2. Philadelphia 1B Carlos Santana has gone 0-for-5 — albeit with three walks — in his last two contests on the heels on a seven-game hitting streak.

3. Rockies C Tom Murphy excelled in his major-league debut with three hits on Tuesday after batting .289 with 16 homers in 49 games with Triple-A Albuquerque to open the season.

Twins at Tigers Preview

The Detroit Tigers went nearly the entire month of May without Miguel Cabrera earlier and now will be without their slugging first baseman for the remainder of the season. Cabrera ruptured a tendon in his biceps in Tuesday’s 6-4 loss to Minnesota and will undergo season-ending surgery, leaving Detroit scrambling as it resumes the three-game set versus the Twins on Wednesday.

Cabrera was hurt when he took an awkward swing at an offspeed pitch and immediately grabbed his arm, but the severity of the injury wasn’t revealed until after he was sent for an MRI exam. “It’s a very sad day for our baseball team,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s a special player and a special person to have around here. It’s a blow. I feel terrible for him.” Minnesota vaulted past Detroit into second place in the American League Central as Ehire Adrianza belted a grand slam as part of a three-hit game in the series opener. Jose Berrios owns a 3-1 record against the Tigers despite an 8.49 ERA, but he beat them with eight strong innings on May 21, allowing two runs on three hits.

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FS North (Minnesota), FS Detroit

PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH José Berríos (7-5, 3.66 ERA) vs. Tigers LH Matthew Boyd (4-4, 3.20)

Berrios tossed his second complete game of the year and his first since his season debut, striking out 10 and limiting the Chicago White Sox to two runs and six hits to improve to 4-1 over his last five starts. The 24-year-old has racked up 44 strikeouts over his last five starts, including nine in the victory over Detroit last month. Nicholas Castellanos is 5-for-10 with a homer and four RBIs off Berrios.

Boyd posted his first road victory of the season at Boston in his last outing, limiting the Red Sox to two runs and four hits over 6 1/3 innings. The 27-year-old had his second shortest outing of the season at Minnesota in a 6-0 loss on May 17, permitting only one hit while allowing two runs and walking four. Brian Dozier has been a nemesis for Boyd, going 13-for-32 with three homers, three doubles and five RBIs.

WALK-OFFS

1. Adrianza is 9-for-20 with two homers, seven RBIs and seven runs scored in his last seven games.

2. John Hicks, batting .285 with five homers and 22 RBIs, will take over as Detroit’s starting first baseman.

3. The Twins signed RH Matt Belisle one day after he was released by Cleveland.

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Posted in MLB

Ranking the National League East in order of watchability

5. Miami Marlins

FANGRAPHS PROJ. RECORD PECOTA PROJ. RECORD MVP (STEAMER)
64-98 65-97 J.T. Realmuto (2.8 WAR)

 

Oof. This is … going to be a shame. An unwatchable, contemptible shame. Without Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, and Dee Gordon – each of them liquidated in Derek Jeter’s barbaric offseason teardown – the Marlins are the baseball equivalent of the second season of “True Detective,” or anything starring Kevin Hart. Assuming he isn’t traded by the time you finish this sentence, their best player is J.T. Realmuto, who j– nope, he just got traded. Sorry. (Amazingly, the Marlins will still have a J.T. in their lineup on a regular basis in 2018: J.T. Riddle, who you probably best remember as the villain from the second Harry Potter book, will be their everyday shortstop once he’s fully recovered from shoulder surgery.) In a sense, the Marlins are the team that could most afford to be unwatchable, seeing as nobody watched them when they actually were watchable, but, like, yeesh. Imagine anyone saying these words in this order: “Man, I’m so stoked for the Marlins game tonight. Jose Urena is starting!”

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4. Philadelphia Phillies

FANGRAPHS PROJ. RECORD PECOTA PROJ. RECORD MVP (STEAMER)
75-87 81-81 Aaron Nola (3.9 WAR)

 

As the Phillies just proved, it’s virtually impossible to spend upward of $140 million on free agents in a single offseason and still wind up the least watchable team in your division (notable exception: the San Diego Padres). This is still a development year in Philadelphia, their winter spending spree notwithstanding, but aggressive re-investment in the 25-man roster suggests the Phillies think they’re close. Taking a look at their tentative Opening Day lineup, it’s not hard to see why: J.P. Crawford, their first-round pick in the 2013 draft, is a veritable toolshed; Rhys Hoskins, who turned 25 last week, blasted 18 homers in 50 games with the big-league club last year; Jorge Alfaro, who also dazzled in a late-season cameo with the Phillies in 2017, is widely considered the second-best catching prospect in the game. Now, in addition to those could-be superstars, the Phillies also have some legitimate, veteran studs in Carlos Santana, Pat Neshek (yes, he’s a reliever, I know), and former Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta. It’s a compelling mix. Oh yeah, and they still have Odubel Herrera, of course.

3. Atlanta Braves

FANGRAPHS PROJ. RECORD PECOTA PROJ. RECORD MVP (STEAMER)
72-90 76-86 Freddie Freeman (4.1 WAR)

 

Clearly, the Braves are a little behind the Phillies in terms of their rebuild timeline – following a 72-90 finish in 2017, the only major-league free agent they signed this offseason was Peter Moylan. But with all due respect to J.P. Crawford and Jake Arrieta, the Braves will still be more fun to watch than the Phillies in 2018, mostly because of Ronald Acuna, the consensus top prospect in baseball (non-Ohtani division) thusly summed up by Baseball Prospectus’ Jeffrey Paternostro in November:

Gary Sheffield came up in a discussion of the offensive profile to try to describe Acuna’s combination of bat speed and barrel control. He has potential 70 game power and an advanced, all-fields approach that doesn’t require him to sell out to tap into his mammoth pop. He has enough arm for right if you happen to have a 7 center fielder lying around your roster. This is how you smoke the upper minors as a 19-year-old. This is how you get an OFP 80.

Gary Sheffield! Dude is evoking comparisons to Gary Sheffield! Imagine having a 20-year-old Gary Sheffield in your team’s lineup. Hell, imagine having present-day Gary Sheffield in your team’s lineup. He’d still rake, I bet. Seriously, though, having the game’s most heralded prospect counts for a lot, watchability-wise, even though Acuna will spend at least the first couple weeks of the season embarrassing Triple-A competition for the purposes of service-time manipulation.

2. New York Mets

FANGRAPHS PROJ. RECORD PECOTA PROJ. RECORD MVP (STEAMER)
82-80 80-82 Noah Syndergaard (5.5)

 

Watching the Mets is probably best suited to horror-movie fans, because the initial serenity of, say, Noah Syndergaard blowing fools away with his 101-mph four-seamer is invariably followed by some gruesome scene, like Noah Syndergaard tearing a lat muscle because the club didn’t force him to take an MRI even after he complained of soreness. Still, while most Mets fans probably don’t care for that whisper of doom around the corner, it does make for objectively good entertainment, especially when you’re watching a team as talented as the Mets. No, really. Between Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Jason Vargas, and Seth Lugo, the Mets could conceivably have one of the game’s best rotations again, just like in 2016, while the new additions to their lineup – Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, and, if you will, Amed Rosario – should definitely put them in a position to compete for a wild-card spot. Their grisly midseason demise will be epic.

1. Washington Nationals

FANGRAPHS PROJ. RECORD PECOTA PROJ. RECORD MVP (STEAMER)
89-73 88-74 Bryce Harper (5.7 WAR)

 

As usual, the Nationals will be a delight to watch this summer before they slip on a proverbial banana peel in the division series. If you can stomach the cognitive dissonance they inspire with their annual Jekyll and Hyde routine, the Nationals may be the best team in the league from a watchability perspective. Their lineup is totally stacked, with the obnoxiously talented and aggressively pompadoured Bryce Harper parked right in the middle of it all (and if you’re a Nats fan hankering for new drinking game to try out this season, take a shot every time a MASN broadcaster mentions Harper’s impending free agency; you’ll consistently be hammered by the third inning). Their rotation ranks among the game’s best, and each Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg start should be appointment viewing (frankly, neither pitcher gets enough love: Scherzer has as many Cy Young Awards as Clayton Freaking Kershaw, and Strasburg’s 29.0 percent strikeout rate is the second-highest of all time among pitchers with at least 1,000 career innings). And finally, as a division rival, they’ll play a principal role in the Mets’ inevitable combustion. That’s the trifecta, right there.

Posted in MLB

Philadelphia Phillies 2016 MLB season

Fantasy Baseball Philadelphia Phillies Preview 02-16-2016

FanPicks is proud to bring you this Philadelphia Phillies preview. Come enjoy daily Fantasy Baseball news at Fanpicks.com ahead of the MLB 2016 season.

The Philadelphia Phillies had an extremely tough year last season and had to face an important offseason to enter the 2016 season. They ended with MLB’s worst record (63-99) but the positive note is that they were able to secure the #1 draft pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, a pick they haven’t had since 1998.

Philadelphia Phillies Preview

 

The biggest news of course was when GM, Ruben Amaro Jr. was ditched by the organization back in September due to the obvious disappointment of the team’s results and poor 2015 campaign.

The Phillies showed during the second half of the past season when they almost posted a .500 record, that a sounder organization-building approach could do them some wonders.

The 3 main players to watch are:

  • Aaron Nola (SP)
  • Maikel Franco (3B)
  • Odubel Herrera (OF)

Nola, 2014 7th pick overall will definitely have a more important role and will be looking for his form of 2 years ago when he entered the majors with a solid season.

Maikel Franco will cast an important role using his power which helped him put up 14 home runs and 50 RBI in just 80 games as a rookie before he broke his wrist.

Herrera will be a steady contributor with his .297 batting average and solid on the steals department hoping for about 30 this upcoming campaign.

After the blockbuster trade involving Cole Hamels, the Phillies will be hoping to bounce back to their potential although it may take a while before they establish themselves back as a powerhouse in the N.L. East, having won before this past campaign, five straight National League East titles.

Posted in MLB