Fantasy Baseball: Three Up, Three Down

Value is in constant flux throughout the fantasy baseball season and the key to success is capitalizing on recent trends to turn a profit. Today, we are going to take a look at a couple of players who’s recent performance or circumstance has shifted their value in one way or another, and just what you should do about it. Let’s dive right in!

Three Up

Rick Porcello (DET): Last 7 starts – 44.0 IP, 4 wins, 3.48 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 44 Ks

It’s fairly easy to overlook former 1st-round draft pick Rick Porcello after he’s posted a middling 4.55 ERA and 1.41 WHIP over the first four season of his career. It’s also easy to overlook the fact that Porcello is still just 24 years old. What is difficult to ignore, is the fantastic run that Ricky has been on since a disaster outing against the Angels on April 20 in which he allowed nine earned runs while retiring just two batters. Porcello’s season-long numbers will be forever marred from that brutal turn, but he’s pitched much better than a guy with a 5.21 ERA for the year. Porcello supporters have long been waiting for his strikeout rate to finally tick up to a usable level, and he’s delivering a strikeout-per-inning over his last seven starts. Porcello has replaced the use of his slider with a cutter and his modified arsenal is playing well so far in the bigs. Add the improved K-rate to an elite 56.6 GB% and you are looking at a very attractive fantasy commodity. Now, the Tigers defense is not exactly elite, but you simply cannot ignore a pitcher with a K/9 rate over 7, a BB/9 rate under 2 and a GB% over 50%. Porcello is owned in just 9% of standard leagues on both Yahoo! and ESPN and it is time to start buying into this maturing talent.

Mark Texeira (NYY): .167 BA(2-for-12), 1 HR, 4 RBI

Teixeira returned to the Yankees last week after missing the first couple months of the season with a torn tendon sheath in his wrist. There were concerns that his power stroke would suffer, but a grand slam on Monday may quell some of those concerns. Still, Teixeira opted for rehab over surgery on his wrist and we can’t help but think there is a risk for recurrence here. When on the field, Teixeira will be solid batting in the middle of the Yankees lineup, but it is also important to consider that he’s seen his OPS drop in four-straight seasons and appears to be slowing down as he enter his mid-30s. Teixeira is no longer a top-10 first baseman, but if he can continue to flex his power stroke coming off of the injury, a sell high opportunity could certainly present itself. Though he’s worth starting in most leagues when healthy, the injuries issues and overall decline in his production make this a guy you should look to deal.

Mike Aviles (CLE): .283 BA, 16 R, 3 HR, 18 RBI, 4 SB

Aviles stock is on the rise not just due to his solid work at the dish, but he also gets a significant boost as Asdrubal Cabrera is looking likely to hit the DL with a quad injury. Aviles figures to step into an everyday job at short as the Indians’ use Mark Reynolds at third base on a day-to-day basis. When given a chance to play regularly, Aviles has consistently brought the fantasy juice, averaging 14 home runs and 20 stolen bases per 162 games played. He’s a batting average risk and doesn’t walk a ton, suppressing that on-base percentage, but Aviles is a perfect candidate to fill-in at your middle infield spot whether you were a Cabrera owner or not. Aviles is currently available wit in over 90% of standard leagues and is worth an add right now.

Three Down

Rickie Weeks (MIL): .192 BA, 24 R, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 4 SB

Prior to Monday’s game, the Brewers called up prospect Scooter Gennett to work into a platoon with Weeks, leaving the struggling veteran’s fantasy prospects for dead. Rickie immediately responded to the news, blasting a home run and a triple on Monday evening. We saw something similar from Weeks last season as he carried a pathetic .199 average into the all-star break. Over the second half, however, a switch was flipped and Weeks reverted to a fantasy stud the rest of the way. In his final 76 game sin 2012, Rickie weeks batted .261 with 13 home runs, 10 steals, 51 runs scored and 34 RBI. He simply cannot be in your lineup in roto format right now, but if you have Weeks on you roster a head-to-head league, hope remains that there will be better times ahead. If Weeks’ gives you a stretch run similar to what he did last season, he’ll be an asset to your team during a playoff run. Weeks can be had for next to nothing at the current moment and makes a nice flier to rebound the rest of the way if you have the bench space to stash him for now.

Mark Trumbo (LAA): Since May 8 – .235 BA, 14 R, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 1 SB

Trumbo got off to another hot start in 2013, but much like last season, his plate discipline has quickly unraveled. He’s struck out 25 times in his last 26 games and though the 12 walks are an improvement from his performance down the stretch last year, his OBP has been just .315 over that time. Trumbo’s power is legit–he homered again on Sunday–and he figures to get back to the 30-homer plateau again this season, but the rest of the stats just are not there. Over he past two seasons, Trumbo has averaged 30 home runs and 90 RBI, but he’s also scored just 66 runs per season over that time with a so-so .261 batting average. Trumbo continues to be little more than a two-category contributor and until he figures out how to get on base a little more consistently, he will remain a limited fantasy asset. As his numbers continue to slip, you may be running out of time to sell this guy based on his strong April. Shop Trumbo now, before his slump lingers into the summer.

Zack Grienke (LAD): Since return from the DL – 4 starts, 18.2 IP, 6.75 ERA, 2.20 WHIP, 10 Ks

Greinke’s first season on the National League side of Los Angeles was rudely interrupted after Carlos Quentin slammed him to the turf and fractured his collarbone back on April 11. In the first two starts of the year, Grenke had been his regular old dominant self, piling up 10 strikeouts with just one walk over his first 11 innings pitched. Since he has returned from the DL, however, the former Cy Young has been a shell of himself. The K-rate is down, the walks are up andhe’s become way too hittable. Greinke has been one of the most consistent hurler’s in the bigs since 2008, putting up 200+ innings in five out of six seasons while averaging 14 wins, a 3.39 ERA and 1.19 WHIP over that span. The Dodgers have been snake-bitten by injuries and bad luck this season, but the talent on that roster remains impressive and it is simply unwise to count this team out of a playoff run this early. Greinke’s control has bee a concern since returning from the injury as he’s walked seven batters in just 18.2 innings pitched. It’s hard not to think the Dodgers rushed him back just a bit from the injury and with his fastball velocity down 1.5 MPH from where it was in 2012, it is reasonable to assume that Grienke is not yet back at full strength coming off of surgery. Fortunately, Grenke’s injury was to his collarbone and following the surgical procedure, there is minimal risk for re-injury. The velocity dip remains a bit concerning, but the situation is not nearly as alarming as it would be if he were coming off of a shoulder or elbow malady. It’s a bit of a leap of faith to invest in Greinke at this point as his fastball velocity remained down in his latest start against Colorado. He has, however, been a much better pitcher at home (2.87 ERA) than on the road (6.91 ERA) this season and with a pair of home starts vs. the Braves and DBacks in his immediate future, now would be as good a time as any to turn things around. Greinke remains a top-20 starting pitcher based on his track record and if he can show some stride in his next couple of outings,he’ll move right back into consideration for the top-10. As he continues to get stronger and put the collarbone injury further in the rear view mirror, your window to buy low will begin to close.

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