OK, so even though this season seems to be goofy with whiffs, by the title I more mean let's get going, kind of like Lewis and Clark and the Expedition of Discovery, save we are exploring the second half of the MLB season rather than the lands west of St. Louis.
There was a lot of action over the break with a couple of swaps and some call-ups and even an anticipated one, so let's hop right to it. And we will start with the Pale Hose and three players, two the spoils of the Jose Quintana deal. In fact, just last week I wrote about a pair of minor leaguers who were due, Eloy Jimenez and Yoan Moncada.
I expect Moncada to hit the roster shortly, though Jimenez might not see some big league time till call-ups in 2018 unless something unusual occurs. Of course these days, that would not be odd.
But, the final interesting puzzle piece the Sox really got, Dylan Cease, does deserve some virtual ink. A sixth-round selection of the North Siders in 2014, Cease throws hard but has only managed 33 starts and 120.3 frames since being signed, so durability is surely a question. On the other hand, 160 whiffs with just 78 hits, three of which were homers, suggests some serious gas. I suspect Cease might wind up closing with the Sox, but either way he is worth tracking.
Another newbie to the league, Garrett Cooper, new of the Pinstripes, is a player I would certainly try to nab in a deep Mixed or AL-only format. Cooper, swapped by the Brewers for lefty Tyler Webb, is a 26-year-old who hit .366-18-72 this year, albeit at Colorado Springs. Still, the sixth-round selection out of Auburn is a big guy--6'6", 240 pounds--who does strike out (322 times in the Minors) but walks ok as well (143). The Yanks have pretty good luck with second half first base fill-ins, and Cooper should get a shot at being the right-handed platoon. And, he could indeed give ten homers and 25 knocks as the season crushes on.
Oakland also made a swap, dealing a pair of bullpen parts--Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle--to the Nationals for essentially reliever Blake Treinen and the interesting Jesus Luzardo. At 29, Treinen flirted with closing this year in Washington, saving three games, but getting knocked around to the tune of a 5.73 ERA and 1.619 WHIP, so he will likely not get much of a chance to do much in the Bay Area.
However, especially in an NL format, either of the ex-Athletics hurlers should get a shot to save some games. The edge probably goes to Madson, with better closing experience in the NL, along with being right-handed, but Doolittle is no slouch and who knows exactly what Dusty Baker will do when push comes to shove. Either/both make good FAAB acquisitions this cycle.
NOTE: This Thursday, Joe Pisapia subs for Justin (who is on vacation) and we will spend some time looking at closers on The Tout Wars Hour, at 9 PM, Eastern (6 Pacific) on the FNTSY Radio Network. Tune in and see what we determine.
Luzardo, 19, was a third-round high school selection last year and has had a brief professional career, toiling just 13.6 innings in Rookie Ball this year, whiffing 15, winning a game, and allowing a homer and a couple of runs. He is young, but Billy Beane is pretty good at spotting young arms as we have seen, meaning Luzardo is worth watching as well. For, the Athletics are reloading, and this time next year should fall into place in a pretty good way.
With Michael Pineda out for the season, the Yanks are looking to their system, and advanced Caleb Smith, a 14th-round selection in 2013, who has been a lights out 8-0, 2.11 with 91 whiffs over 89.6 innings this year. Smith, as a minor leaguer, has started 84 games and pitched 457.6 innings, going 32-23, 3.15 with 430 whiffs. He's moved pretty steadily up through the Yankees farm, improving eventually with each promotion culminating with his current stop in New York. Expect some bumps, but Smith is a good AL-only gamble and could be useful all over as we scrounge for starting arms while the season slips away.
The Cards, hurting in the outfield with Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk ailing, recalled Magneuris Sierra, who banged out four hits Sunday, making for an auspicious return. Sierra has a pretty good .297 career mark in the Minors, and swiped 92 bags, but has very little pop (11 homers, .386 slugging), so he is likely a fourth outfielder at best. However, for now, everyday play is probably out there for the next week, and at-bats are the name of the game, so exploit what you can where you can.
24-year-old Max Moroff hit his first big league homer Sunday, and with all the trade rumors swirling around the Pirates, the 16th-round selection in 2012 could slide through with some serious playing time, and be productive to boot. Moroff has a .256-38-237 line in the Minors, hitting .269-13-36 at Indianapolis this season while not with the big club. Moroff has a good eye with 327 walks to 530 strikeouts, good for a .358 OBP, so he could also pick it up and be a valuable part in a deeper format.
Finally, the Tribe recalled Tyler Naquin, a surprise last year but a disappointment this season. A solid .296-14-43 last year, Naquin struggled around .200 this year before being relegated to Columbus where he has done well, hitting .309-5-16. With Lonnie Chisenhall injured. Naquin should get some regular at-bats and could also be useful as we each try to push towards a title.
You can track me down @lawrmichaels.