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GIF: Rafael Montero Gets Dee Gordon With A Tumbling Slider

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With Zack Wheeler out for 2015, Jon Niese battling shoulder fatigue, and the Mets considering trading Dillon Gee, there was a lot to prove when Rafael Montero stepped on the hill earlier today.  Fighting for a spot in the rotation, he got off to an excellent start getting Dee Gordon with an excellent Slider out of the strike zone:

Fantasy Tips

Top 5 Sleeper Prospect Pitchers For 2015

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Here are the pitching sleepers that you probably won’t have trouble acquiring as a mid-season flyer, even in some AL-only and NL-only leagues. It would be a crime to overlook them just because they don’t have the name value of more exciting prospects.  Just because they don’t have the parade behind them doesn’t mean they can’t help your team in a pinch and support you on your quest for victory.

1. Ben Lively (Phillies) – Although many think he just doesn’t have good enough stuff to hang in a major league rotation, I think he looks lively with his deceptive delivery – which is not unlike Yusmeiro Petit’s. That deception may also allow him to fool MLB hitters for long enough to give him value in his rookie year. A high 3s ERA is certainly possible before the league catches on, though I wouldn’t expect many strikeouts.

Fantasy Tips

Top 5 Sleeper Prospect Hitters For 2015

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These guys didn’t make my Top 25 sleepers list for this year, but I would definitely keep an eye on them. If a few things break right, they can find their way into playing time and be useful, and will be easier to acquire due to their lack of prospecty sheen.

1. Robert Refsnyder (Yankees) – He was starting to receive some offseason hype until the Yankees signing of Stephen Drew put a damper on that. Now find what’s wrong with that sentence. Drew? Really? While Refsnyder doesn’t wow in any category, he’s a solid contributor at MI and gets on base, so he’s a sneaky target in OBP leagues. Expect a May call-up, June at the latest, with a .250 AVG, 4-5 Homers, 6-8 SB but a solid number of runs produced. It’s not sexy, but he’s the kind of reliable underdog that can help you fill out a roster, especially in AL-only. 

Fantasy Tips

Top 5 Pitching Busts For 2015

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If you tuned in yesterday, we went over our Top 5 Hitting Busts For 2015, and we’re continuing the trend today be shifting our focus on the starting pitchers to avoid for the 2015 season.  Don’t forget, they are all worth a spot on your team – just not at their current prices.

Madison Bumgarner (ADP #23) – I’ve already expressed my discontent with Bumgarner entering the season, but I feel it needs to be reiterated as his stock has risen to be ECR’s #4 SP.  The concern is twofold: a heightened injury risk and overall ability.  Last season, Madison pitched over 260 innings as a 25 year old as he led the Giants to a World Series victory.  This is from a southpaw who relies on Sliders 34.1% of the time. You’re looking for reliability when you draft your ace, and those numbers induce paranoia amid a spring of TJS victims.  Even ignoring the durability issues, Bumgarner isn’t a top 5 starter.  He was a volatile pitcher (1.50 VPR last season) who carried a 3.05 FIP and only a 44.4% GB rate.  I’m not saying he’s bad – he’s far from it – just not worth the second round pick he commands.

Fantasy Tips

Top 5 Hitting Busts For 2015

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The last thing we want in our drafts is to overpay.  If you leave your draft with guys that will perform well for the price you shelled out, you’re in a great position to take the cup in October.  Avoiding the players that will make you cringe at season’s end could be all the difference.  While tomorrow will be all about pitching, today we focus on five hitters who are likely to be busts entering the 2015 fantasy baseball season.

Salvador Perez (ADP #106) – Catcher is surprisingly deep this year, with guys like Travis d’Arnaud, Matt Wieters, and Wilson Ramos often available in the late rounds of your draft.  You can flex that smart brain of yours and earn value by waiting for your man at the backstop, or select Perez in the 9th round and throw it all away.  We used to think Perez was an average guy, but then he elected to raise his FB% and lower his GB%, making it tough to maintain a solid .290+ average.  On the plus side, he did flash some more power last year by smacking 17 HRs, but it’s one or the other with Salvy – either expect 15-17 HRs with a .265 average or about 10-13 HRs with a .290 average.  If you want the power, the previously mentioned options will provide in a bigger way for a fraction of the cost – with more counting stats as well.  And if you get the average side, you’re paying way too much for a one trick pony.  I’m not trying to wrangle some pony hate, I’m just making sure you skip over Perez in your drafts.

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GIFs: The Best Pitches From Spring Training

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We’re about halfway through Spring Training and already have a plethora of fresh pitching GIFs to drool over.  There’s something for everyone here: perfectly placed Fastballs, biting benders, and tumbling Splitters, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the beginning of the baseball season with the best pitching GIFs so far in Spring Training.

1. Nathan Eovaldi strikes out Maikel Franco with a nasty Splitter:

The Yankees saw Eovaldi’s low 6.40 K/9 from 2014 and elected to teach him a Splitter to help put away batters.  The above GIF is the result.  I think he’s in good hands.

Holding On

Top 25 Relief Pitchers For Holds In 2015

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In this era of baseball, guys pumping upper 90 mile per hour heat is the norm not just for closers, but also many set-up men. While there are numerous pitchers on this list that are a teammate’s sore elbow away from being locking down saves, they will not weigh down your roster in the interim racking up holds and strikeouts while also limiting hits and walks.

TIER 1: Men Among Boys – These relievers are in a category of their own. With astronomical K-rates and dominant stuff, they are the best relievers in baseball right now. 

1. Wade Davis (Royals) – Wade Davis posted some phenomenal numbers last year including a 1.19 FIP, 13.6 K/9 and a 0.00 home run rate. That’s right, he didn’t give up a single home run in all 72 innings.  Crazy.  While we are not expecting that number to hold, we do expect him to continue dominating the middle innings. It also doesn’t hurt being stuck behind a top 3 closer either.

Rankings zx

Top 25 Pitching Prospects For 2015

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Following Friday’s lead with the Top 25 Hitting Prospects for 2015, we now focus on the other side of the coin: pitchers.  It’s not quite as exciting due to the reality that prospect pitchers often aren’t all that great initially. I didn’t even bother making projections here, since not only are pitchers less dependable and injury-prone, but also they are very hard to project for playing time due to rotation battles, injuries, and general volatility compared to hitters. Still, this list will wise you up to the best soon-to-be rookie arms to give you a leg up on your leaguemates.

1. Noah Syndergaard (Mets) – Not only does he have a cool Viking-esque name, but his great K-BB ratio combined with good stuff forebodes well for his future. Some think he’ll be more of a mid-rotation workhorse than an ace, but I think he could be a #2 starter as soon as this year and pillage the competition. ETA – Opening Day 2015

Rankings zx

Top 25 Hitting Prospects For 2015

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Back for another year and giving Nick a break, Ben Pernick is here to keep you up to date with your fantasy baseball prospects.  Today we have a list of batters geared for helping your fantasy team in 2015, and 2015 alone – with pitchers coming next week. I weigh potential for playing time heavily, so you’ll have to temper your expectations for your favorite blue-chip prospects that may not get a serious opportunity to contribute much this year. This year’s minor league system is all about offense, and 2015 brings a healthy mix of future stars, sneaky value sleepers, and international gambles. Without further ado:

1. Jorge Soler (OF, Cubs) – Let Soler power your team to victory! He’s improved every season and there’s no reason to expect that to stop. For a “prospect” he’s a safe bet to hit 25 Home Runs with a .270-.290 batting average this year, but he has the potential to exceed even those numbers. ETA – Opening Day 2015

Fantasy Tips

Top 5 Pitching Sleepers For 2015

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I’ve already spent a good amount of the off-season focusing on a few of my favorite sleepers (James Paxton, Collin McHugh), so I’ve elected to focus on a different set of starting pitchers who are earning an ADP well below their value.  Brush your teeth and get your night cap on because it’s time for some sleepers:

Shane Greene (ADP 375) – Last season, Greene was one of twenty-four starters who earned at least one strikeout per inning among all starting pitchers with 70 innings to their name.  He also did that with a beautiful 50.2% GB rate and a 3.40 xFIP.  If he lowers his walk rate from a near 3.00 down to anywhere close to the 2.00 per 9 rates he had in the minors you could be looking at a solid #2/#3 guy for the price of a #8 guy.  Do people really have an #8 guy?